Category Archives: Parenting

Daily Goals for Momma Printable FREEBIE!

I live with many, many little people. I LOVE it, and most days I truly feel like the wealthiest woman in the world. And then there are the days that are long, stretching, exhausting, and emotional. It can be challenging balancing the needs — physical, emotional, and spiritual — of our little tribe with the needs of the house & to-do lists. Too easily I see my most successful accomplishments as what I have finished & gotten through. If I have the tidiest house, with all the socks arranged, and toys put away, but have bulldozed little hearts in the process, I have built a well-organized museum, not a refuge; if I make all the meals, healthy and homemade, but have served them with grumpiness and resentment, I have given them a cafeteria to eat in, not a table to feast at; and if I cross the finish line of the day with my list checked off, yet have not loved the souls that fill the house I’m so desperately trying to maintain, I have accomplished nothing of real value.

I made three different “Daily Goals for Momma” — I need to help myself keep the main things, the main things. I want to remember the good portion.

If you feel like you’d like some daily goals for Momma — here is a free printable in two different versions. This is the first one I handlettered, made after an earlier version I drew up two years ago.

Click the link below each picture to download an 8×10 PDF file you can print & enjoy! Print several more to pass along to your momma friends! All I ask is that you do not sell this print, in physical or digital form.

 

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Pink Watercolor Daily Goals for Momma PDF

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Daily Goals for Momma PDF

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The other two versions (last picture) will be available in my Etsy shop later this week!

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Be Available! Peptalk Free Printable

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This little peptalk — “be available” — has kept resurfacing over and over in my life the past few weeks. For Anna’s school, we read a few chapters (from this book) about others who were “available” and therefore able to do what needed to be done because they were willing.

This struck a chord for me in my own life. I can be very task-oriented. I can feel the pressure of limited time and a long, long list of things to do– and in an effort to be efficient and quick, I can be a little bit of a tornado of productivity. : ) Not necessarily in a good way: those sweet little souls of mine can quickly become interruptions right in my path. Don’t we often view people that way, in general? You’re a speed bump slowing me down. Your personal life story is taking too long to tell. You’re taking too long to walk to your car. You’re too slow to pay. Just make up your mind! I have too much to do to listen, help, go out of my way…

I met with a (newish) friend this week, also a mother of many little people. She challenged me think through piling too much on myself in the “crunch” moments — those frantic, everyone’s-fussy-and-needy moments when, for whatever reason,  I also decide to do three things at once! I am not available then, when they need me the most.

I want to be available — to spend ten minutes playing dollhouse, to watch a new dance move, to wrestle with drooly & growly twins,  to see “something amazing!” outside that the girls have discovered — with a joyful, peaceful soul! I mean, aren’t all of these — the things drawing me away from my “tasks” — meaningful, beautiful, and important? Aren’t these what really make up “life”?

After meeting with my friend, I was reminded of two C.S. Lewis quotes. Maybe I need to handletter these, too, as a reminder to me!

“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life — the life God is sending one day by day.”

and

“Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.”

Maybe you’re caught in a fast-paced race of productivity but not availability, too?

You can download & print this little reminder, then. : ) 4×6 & 6×6 in one PDF.

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Be Available Watercolor PDF

(I have Staples print mine on 110-lb full-color cardstock… it looks lovely!)

(Next week, another printable!! –> think Cinderella…)

Learning from Anna Minibook

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Writing the post about Rust’s coffee party (and how my six-year-old helps me grow as a person) reminded me of a minibook I had made exactly a year ago recording five ways Anna has taught me to be a better person. learn-a-1

I did an unusual size — 4×8 — but I loved the look of these pictures! It was a fun change from my standard 4×6 mini’s. I printed the pictures from my favorite online print shop, Persnickety Prints. Almost all the pictures I use in minibooks I have printed by them. When I get impatient and print pictures through Wal-Mart or Wal-greens, I am almost always disappointed. I have never been disappointed with Persnickety. : )

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I definitely made this minibook with the future in mind: so that Anna, when she is much older, will be able to know how much she impacted me just by being herself, who God made her to be. I marvel at the personalities He gives us — He is so creative! I know a day will come when she will doubt herself — doubt who she is, wonder if she is enough, or be tempted to cover up parts of herself. I don’t want her to be afraid to live out her personality: her people-loving, hopeful, experience-hunting, daydreaming, story-loving, easily excitable, super enthusiastic self! I want her to know: we love you for you. 

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One of my most treasured memories as a child is of my mother, at night, tucking me in, whispering to me: “Thank you for being you.” She said this to me over and over and over, through the nights of my childhood. I felt loved and delighted in! My parents let my sister and I be our weirdo, eccentric, funny selves, and I am a better person for it! I want the same for our kids, too. : )

One Year Ago, Today

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One year ago today, I thought my twin pregnancy was finally getting easier — or, at least, manageable! My nausea had subsided, I was getting off the couch for longer periods, and I was celebrating the news our twins were boys.

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One year ago today, we had not officially decided the names of our boys. We had settled on Noah Ryan for our Baby A, but we were still deciding Baby B.

One year ago today, I had my first appointment with the maternal fetal specialist, an appointment I wasn’t really prepared for, an appointment I went to alone because I was told “not to worry,” and that it was “no big deal.”

One year ago today, Rust was out of town traveling for a few nights.

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One year ago today, I ended up being at the maternal fetal specialist appointment for three hours while they had a long anatomical ultrasound for both boys. The ultrasound tech spent forever looking at Baby B, and as I watched her spend so much time measuring him, my heart cried out, “Something’s wrong with Grayson!” and I knew that was his name.

One year ago today, my maternal fetal specialist very gently told me about Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome, how our boys were showing signs, and how I would need to go to Cincinnati for further evaluation while I cried.

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One year ago today, I drove around after my appointment, crying, calling Rust, not even sure where I was driving, coming home to sweet joyful girls, not sure what to think.

One year ago today, Rust cried on the phone with me, prayed for me, and later texted me James 5:11, “As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”

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One year ago today began the long second-half of my pregnancy, full of ups & downs, tears and hope, unknowns and new friends, hospital visits, long worrisome nights, wrestling with faith & hard questions, travels & bedrest, finally culminating in our baby boys’ early births & NICU stay, then home home home where — one year later — life is FINALLY seeming “normal”.

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One year later, our family is so much closer because of what we have gone through.

One year later, I get to spend my day with five joyful souls who are loud, cheery, and brimming with life.

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One year later, our life is still chaotic & unpredictable, but this time I have two almost-mobile, almost-sleeping-through-the-night boys to thank for that — not constant doctor appointments, hospital visits, or fear of the future.

One year later, I watched yesterday at an allergist appointment as Grayson gave open-mouthed slobbery kisses to the nurse who was holding him, while Noah gave me an open-mouthed slobbery kiss as the doctor was trying to talk to me, and I thought, “I love these kids.”

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One year later, I have the honor to take my boys to their nine-month check-up this afternoon, and as much as it is a lot of work, I am joyful that I get to do it.

One year later, I am a changed woman, who the past year saw God love us, and love us, and love us again through our family, friends, church community, and beyond.

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One year later, I am more in awe of Him & the way He works — how He unites the horrible, hard, and scary and somehow outlines it in beauty, shades it with goodness, and uses it to amplify His grace and love.

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A Longing for God Minibook

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This minibook is very dear to my heart. I completed this minibook over a year ago, and it is still one of my favorites. I love using minibooks to not only record special times in my life, special  days, or seasons, but also as a “house” for  verses & spiritual encouragement.

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This idea for this minibook was prompted by two quotes from my favorite book on homeschooling, Educating the WholeHearted Child by Clay & Sally Clarkson. These quotes stirred my heart as a mother who spends all day with her children…

“…your first responsibility as a parent is to lead your children to the life-giving presence and reality of Christ in your heart and home. Your desire should be to implant a longing in their spirits for God that can be satisfied only with the water and bread of life in Christ. No matter how good your church may be, a few hours each week cannot create the longing for Christ that God has uniquely designed you to impart to your children. You are to be the primary life-giving presence of Christ to your children, through his Spirit living and working in your life as a Christian parent and through his Word, just as Christ imparted life to those who came into contact with him: ‘The words I have spoken to your are spirit and are life.’”

And —

“Your children are asking you to give them a taste of real spiritual life-the same life of the Spirit that they see at work in your own heart. They want to learn from you not just how to live for Christ, but also how they can have the life of Christ they see in you in your own lives.”

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What could I pray over my children that would help “implant a longing in their spirits for God” as the book said? I spent months pondering that question & collecting my favorite verses that have, in my own spiritual path, breathed Life into my spirit & helped me hunger for the presence of God. These verses are beautiful, powerful, comforting, & challenging to me.

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I combined it with my favorite pictures I had taken over the course of the girls’ lives. (When I finished this, I had not yet discovered I was expecting our twin boys!–but I sure want to make them a minibook like this, too!)

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Cherished photos & cherished verses… my favorite combination.

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The mint + gold + gray color combination is also one of my favorites!

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The Twins

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Our sweet boys! I have wanted for a long while now to sit down and just let all my thoughts spill over into a blog post… about our boys and our life the last ten weeks.  I have been just so exhausted — physically & emotionally — that writing it all out seemed too overwhelming.

In November of last year, we found out we were expecting again — my sixth pregnancy (in between Anna & Noelle, I had an ectopic pregnancy with an emergency surgery and then an early miscarriage five months later).  What a surprise! We had just moved into an out-dated, 1980’s tri-level house roughly three months before and had busied ourselves with painting, updating, and dreaming of future projects for our house. The pregnancy was a happy surprise & a sweet “interruption” to what we had thought our life may look like the next year.

At six weeks, early December, I had an early ultrasound to rule out another ectopic pregnancy. (With every pregnancy since my ectopic in 2009, I have had to have an early ultrasound to make sure the pregnancy isn’t another ectopic. If you’ve had one ectopic pregnancy, your chance of having a second increases.) It was at that ultrasound we discovered — identical twins! I couldn’t stop laughing. Just a few days before I had been Googling “early signs of twin pregnancy” because I just had a vague feeling something was different about this pregnancy.

We were THRILLED by the news. And shocked, of course! : ) I tell everyone who has asked how I feel about having twins, “It is the sweet surprise you think you will never get.” I know not everyone feels that way, but I have always loved the idea of twins. I can remember as far back as 2010, in my “crazy moments,” praying for twin boys. Yes, praying. I just never thought God would take me seriously!

Nausea was horrible the first four months. Daily dates with my toilet to throw-up. Laying on the bathroom floor because if I moved, I would throw up. Waking up at night to throw up. I could barely finish my sentences sometimes. About 15-17 weeks, I felt so much better. I thought that we could sail through the second & third trimesters and then welcome these two precious babies!

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At our 19-week anatomical ultrasound (where we officially confirmed — boys!!), everything looked great. However, right after my appointment, my doctors’ office called and said they wanted me to see a specialist to determine if each boy had their own placenta, or if they shared the placenta. In early appointments, they had told me about the risk of twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome in identical twins who share a placenta but have different sacs (which was looking like our duo had) — also called mono/di twins.

I went to the appointment a week later — at 20 weeks — expecting it to be a simple ultrasound. It turned into a three-hour appointment.

Here is the email I sent to our family & friends following that appointment:

Hey precious friends and family!
First, I’d love to officially introduce our beloved boys to you all… Noah Ryan & Grayson Eli. They are both so large now it is hard to get an ultrasound photo of them both, or I would have loved to have included one in this email. They are precious, and active, and so fun to watch on ultrasound.
Yesterday I went for an ultrasound with a specialist team based out of Chattanooga, who comes to town twice a week with their services. I thought this was going to be a simple ultrasound to determine — for my OB’s records — whether there was, in fact, one or two placentas. What I thought was going to be a simple ultrasound turned into a 3-hour appointment. Their office did a full anatomical ultrasound on both boys.
Basically, the specialist OB there believes that I am in Stage 1 (out of five Stages) of a syndrome called Twin-to-Twin Transfusion — a very serious complication of identical twin pregnancies where the twins share one placenta (which they believe is what I have). It seems that my placenta is beginning to better nourish one baby — Noah — more than Grayson. This condition affects amniotic fluid & blood flow, so Grayson had significantly less amniotic fluid than Noah; this can put stress on both babies, so both babies are considered in danger.
There are many possible outcomes for this… we are still trying to wrap our heads around it all. We could lose both babies. We could lose one. I may be a good candidate for a special kind of surgery that may help them. The babies could come significantly early (….as in, 28 weeks) and spend much of their first year in a NICU. Right now the specialist OB said we are to focus on getting both babies to viability — 24 weeks. I am 20 weeks & 3 days today.
Rust and I are waiting for a call to set up a special consultation at the Cincinnati Fetal Center. We will be traveling up there next week. They said to plan on staying at least 1-2 days, and if I am a candidate for surgery & we choose to do the surgery, we would need to stay in Cincinnati for a week.
There are so many unknowns! We are still processing everything. Rust is currently out-of-town traveling with work, and when he returns Wednesday we are going to have a phone conference with the specialist OB I saw yesterday so she can explain it clearly to Rust.
If you would like to read about twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, the Fetal Center has good information the doctor recommended.
Prayer requests —
– Yesterday, the OB said that she has seen twin-to-twins where there is low fluid with one baby and then a week later, it has corrected itself. We are praying that that could happen — that the fluid will even out and both babies will have enough for proper lung development. She said resting off my feet may help encourage more blood flow to Grayson. I am trying to do that as much as possible!
– That I would stay at Stage 1 instead of progressing further. Yesterday, the OB said she “saw a lot of positives” — both boys are extremely active; they are healthy anatomically; both boys are good sizes with little weight discrepancies (you would typically see one baby normal size and one baby significantly smaller); and Grayson had more fluid around him than she originally thought. She said she was hopeful for a good outcome.
– That they would live! We want to have BOTH our sons in our arms someday. We are SO thankful we live in a time where we have options — surgery, if I meet qualifications; she mentioned a medicine that may help bring more blood flow to the placenta; and diligent doctors who are committed to monitoring me and the boys weekly from here on out.
– That I may not take for granted every day I have with my sons. I want to treasure every kick, every movement, every weird hunger craving and not waste the days I have with them, but celebrate and rejoice that God gave them to us! They exist! They have a soul that will long outlast their frail little bodies! They are valuable because God has place a soul within them and crafted them in His image! They will always be our sons, even if they do not live long outside the womb. Pray that we can communicate with our girls what a GIFT these little boys are, how special life is — even when there are complications, and to invite them to daily rejoice in their brothers!
– Our girls! My heart breaks at the thought of being separated from them for up to a week! Please pray we can arrange the right kind of childcare, and that I would not fear to leave them so long!
– That we would entrust our boys, ourselves, our whole family to God daily, hourly… I KNOW He loves us. I KNOW He loves our boys. I KNOW He is good, and tender-hearted, and steadfast in His faithfulness to us. We don’t know the outcome, we don’t know what will happen with the lives of our sons, but I KNOW He will remain the loving, good God He has always been to us. May we praise Him in the dark as we have in the light! May our hearts SING with confidence that hearts & flesh may fail, loss may come, our family story may not be what we want, but God is our portion FOREVER.

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And that was the beginning of a rollercoaster that included three trips to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital at the Fetal Center,  for a fetal MRI, fetal ECHO’s, and ultrasound scans, as well as constant appointments here in town, and one 4-day stay at Erlanger for low fluid levels.

It has been a challenging, draining, scary, hard time for our family. I live between appointments, never knowing week-to-week how the twins will be. I have spent the most time away from my girls the past 10 weeks than I have their entire lives! We have prepared for the worst while hoping for the best.

While this has been a hard, stressful time for us, in so many ways it has also been a beautiful time for our family. God has sweetly answered so many prayers. When I reread the prayer requests I emailed to friends & family during the past two months, I see so many ways He faithfully answered them! We are forever changed by this pregnancy–rather, we have been changed by God through the events of this pregnancy. And we have found ourselves thankful, so very thankful. Not just because things — so far — have “turned out good” for us, but because of the things God has done in our hearts & through other people. 

This post is already getting incredibly long, so I will save the thousand of ways God has been ever-present & gracious & beautiful to us for another post. : )

 

 

 

Thanksgiving Rewind: Last Year’s Grateful Leaves + Chalk Verse

 

Last year for the month of November, we focused on one particular ‘thanksgiving’ passage (1 Chronicles 29:10,11,13) & as we learned about the verse, we also thanked God for all His blessings & recorded them on paper leaves…

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Looking at these pictures makes me really miss our large chalkboard! We have been in our home three months (today!) and there is NOTHING on the walls! I just don’t want to add anything to the walls before we’ve painted. So our house is pretty bare right now!

Tomorrow I will show what we’ve done with our grateful leaves this year at our new house!

Easter 2013 Round-Up

Rust & I truly want to live intentionally, to have holidays and everyday infused with true, deep meaning — and also very much fun. We are continually striving to answer this question well: what’s the best way for our family (not yours!) to celebrate Easter? Right now we are “rounding-up” different ideas for how to celebrate this day with our four-year-old, two-year-old, and soon-to-be one-year-old daughters.
Because a dear friend asked, here’s what we’re seeking to do:

Easter Baskets:

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Since Anna was born, we have sought to make Easter not about candy or bunnies or whatever (though, don’t get me wrong, there’s chocolate to be had & eggs to be found!), we have chosen to try for make their Easter baskets encouraging, useful, & focused on God. I am so thankful for my generous parents who also love our girls & give fun stuff to go into their baskets, too — candy, books, stickers, bath crayons, and such. We typically give our girls Bibles, books, artsy stuff, bubbles, etc. Another idea would be to give music! : )

Here are some books we’ve given over the years: Sing-a-Story bookset, Questions from Little Hearts, Rhyme Bible Storybook for Toddlers, The Very First Easter, Because I Love You, Sammy & His Shepherd, The Priest with Dirty Clothes.

Easter Books:

I have an Easter Advent Booklist on Amazon which I consult before we go to the library. If they don’t have the books I’m looking for, I try to request so they can get an inter-library loan or order them. We are also choosing a couple from this list this year to give to the girls in their Easter baskets.

Easter Playlist:

Here are what songs we have been enjoying on our Easter playlist: In Christ Alone, How Deep the Father’s Love, At the Cross, Jesus Paid it All, How Great Thou Art, Jesus Thank You, Hosanna, Hallelujah What a Savior, Christ is Risen, Death in His Grave, Come Ye Sinners, Wonderful Merciful Savior, & At the Foot of the Cross (Ashes to Beauty).

Meaningful Times with the Girls:

I want the following weeks to be filled with illustrative, impactful activities that do well to tell the Resurrection Story and all that we have been freely (!!!) given because of that! Here’s what we’re going to be doing:

I had a gift card to Barnes&Nobles leftover from Christmas, so this year I bought the Resurrection Eggs. There are many, many tutorials floating around Pinterest for how to make your own if you’d rather go that route! : )

Have I ever mentioned one of my favorite blogs, Our Family for His Glory? I love this woman’s heart for her family and how she seeks in all areas to put Christ & His Word on display & into her children’s hearts. We are basically going to do her Holy Week & Easter activities! : )

We will also probably make either some Resurrection Rolls or Easter Story Cookies, too.

I am working on an Easter chalkboard for a super-simple decoration. Having a little trouble deciding what to do because of all the wonderful verses & songs!

And…. I never get tired of this:

Motherhood in the Trenches Verses Minibook

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Yes, the title is a phrase taken from one of my favorite motherhood books, Loving the Little Years. I’ve latched onto that phrase because it feels so accurate!

I put together this collection of my {current} favorite verses to help me in my mothering. And by favorite, I don’t necessarily mean “ones that make me feel all warm and cozy.” I mean — ones that pack a punch! Ones that convict & challenge & encourage me to lean on God’s grace because I really can’t “do” or “be” these verses on my own.

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Here are some of the ones in the book:

Philippians 4:5 – Let your gentleness be evident to all.

2 Corinthians 12:15 – So I will gladly spend for you  everything I have {my time, attention, desires, sleep, energy} & expend {to be used up} myself as well.

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Proverbs 10:21 – The lips of the righteous nourish many.

Proverbs 11:24 – One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.

Proverbs 11:25 – A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

Proverbs 12:18 – Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Pretty simple! I just cut up Crate Paper’s Portrait accent cuts, punched holes, added rings, and wrote out my verses. I keep it in Cate’s room, by the nursing chair, so I can read through it while I’m nursing her.

What have been verses that have been the most helpful/impactful/convicting as you try to parent your children?

Vday Chalkboard + Vday Thoughts

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Rust & I have never gone crazy over Valentine’s Day for various reasons. We’ve never done anything fancy, and the first Valentine’s after we had gotten engaged, we began the tradition of just staying in & enjoying take-out pizza. In a sense, we kind of “skip” Valentine’s Day every year. The day is just not a big deal. Yet this year was the first year I awakened to the fact that even if I don’t feel like I need an over-commercialized day to be a time for me to be validated & affirmed that I am loved & remembered, I have three little hearts who are constantly looking to be filled up with love & delight. I have three very big, very precious love tanks in need of filling! And while Rust & I seek to do this daily, through our care & nurture of our little girls, why not GO BIG on Valentine’s Day? Especially since Anna was brimming with excitement over pink & hearts & little cards & sweets?

So, my goals for this Valentine’s Day became:

  • Share with them God’s deep, incredible, steadfast, overflowing love for them.
  • Share with them that we treasure, love, and delight in them, because they are our precious daughters and because God gave them to us.
  • Help them see that they have so much love to give to those around them, and that we can love freely, because God freely loves us; and that by loving others, we not only impart God’s love, but we also express our love for God.

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So we made pink cupcakes with red sprinkles for ourselves & for friends and family. We cut out hearts & colored them for others & delivered them around our neighborhood. We had a pj day because the girls love their jammies. We talked about verses from the Bible of God’s amazing love (on the chalkboard above). We appreciated the sweet Valentine’s cards & treats & gifts from friends & family. Rust surprised the girls with heart balloons (Anna’s favorite!). And we followed an inspiring mom‘s example and did a little experiment to illustrate God’s love pouring over us. (She has other great ideas I can’t wait to try in the years to come!) (She is one of my favorite bloggers!!)

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I’m so thankful my girls’ infectious excitement helped change my ho-hum attitude about Valentine’s Day. I’m thankful they spent the day in eager anticipation for what was next. I overheard Anna say to Noelle, “I just LOVE Valentine’s Day!” I do, too, now, little girl, thanks to you!