Friday, August 31, 2012

22 Weeks Closer

To meeting Baby #2. It's funny, because this time around time seems to be flying past me at lightening speed and I often feel caught up in this whirlwind that is life. And yet I love that I am so busy living in the present that I don't have time to get trapped in the future. I remember being pregnant with Burke and thinking that it was the longest and slowest 40 weeks of my life. And now... Well I can't even begin to tell you where the first 22 weeks have gone. Yet here we are, 22 weeks closer to meeting our second little blessing.


On one hand, I find myself impatient for the arrival of this little one but for a surprising reason: I can't wait for Burke to have a playmate. A buddy. Someone other than a furry friend to play with. Some days, after pulling him out of the dogs' water bowl for the 10,000th time that day, I pray to God that Baby #2 hurries up and grows to a good 8-9 months so that he or she can begin learning from and providing entertainment for Burke. I know, I know. When the kids are fighting over a toy or getting a little too physical, I may wish for the dogs' water bowl again. But I'm here, not there {and maybe I'll be the lucky one to have 2 angels who never fight...please--let me be delusional for a moment}.

On the other hand, I pray that the next few months will pass by like molasses. Sweetly and slowly. I am nowhere close to ready for this child and I do enjoy feeling all of his or her secret movements on the inside. I'll never get tired of the kicks, somersaults, hiccups and punches to my bladder. With the blur of movement on the outside, I am so thankful that my baby constantly reminds me that he or she is there. Growing. Being. And not wanting to be left out even at 22 weeks of gestation. It's almost like we share a fascinating secret as I'm doing life on the outside but conscious of the little tap tap thump on the inside. And no matter how quickly or slowly 9 months passes, I am so thankful that I get to partake in these beautiful moments.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Homemade Christmas

I know, it's only August, so why am I writing about Christmas? Let's just enjoy the end of the summer season and the beautifully delightful transition into {my favorite season} Fall. Right? Yes...unless, like me, you'd like to be intentional about your gift giving this holiday season.

For years now, I've made it my priority to only support local businesses when purchasing gifts for family and friends. At times, it makes the gift-giving process quite tricky, because quite frankly, some people in my life are cookie-cutter commercialism. No fault, no judgment. Just harder to buy for than others. Fortunately, everyone on my list likes to eat. And fortunately, there are many wonderful local restaurants in my town. So, when I'm really in a bind and grasping for something, anything, I can always give a gift card to one of these local establishments. They need love too. Throughout the process of buying local, my husband and I have enjoyed the thought and intention that went into choosing each gift. And it gave us great joy to give these special gifts to each of those who holds a special place in our hearts.

But this year, I've decided to be even more intentional in my gift giving. I'd like to make as many gifts as possible. I realize my limitations and so I'm not setting out to make this a 100% homemade holiday, but I think it would be nice to supplement a local purchase with a homemade gift made specially for the intended recipient. I have created a pin board on Pinterest with some of the homemade gift ideas I've discovered in my search so far. Feel free to check it out for some inspiration. Here are some of my favorites so far:

Burke loves animals, especially farm animals, and gets so giddy when you drill him on the sounds. For him, I'd love to make this cute pillow:

I also love this quiet activity book for the toddlers on my list.

These make a sweet addition to any little girl's gift!

For the cooks and bakers in your life a homemade apron made from their favorite colors and/or patterns would make a thoughtful gift!

Another thoughtful toddler gift is a homemade wooden puzzle such as this:

For the grandpas or daddies in your family who are attached to hankies, I think this makes an adorable gift from a child. {Since Burke doesn't have much interest drawing yet, I'm thinking that his pudgy little handprint would be a nice touch.}

These knit pouches are not only useful, but with all of the gorgeous yarn available, they can really be stunning as well. On the plus side, they look like they'd come together in a snap!

For the coffee lovers in your life, a knitted coffee cozy would make a nice gift. Save the planet and grab coffee in style.

For a more sophisticated gift for sister, mother or friend, these lovely bird nest necklaces have me wanting to make a few extra just for me to keep!

And finally, aren't these glove animals just irresistibly sweet?

So now that I have some good ideas, it's time to get crafting. After all, Christmas is only about 4 months away!

Do you have plans for a homemade Christmas? What are some of gifts you'll be crafting?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Celebrating A New Season

and I'm not talking about Fall. Although I am pretty excited for cooler weather, jeans, boots and colorful tree lines!  

Our little family has been celebrating a new season in our lives. {I'm so thankful for seasons, aren't you? Life would be pretty boring living the entire thing in just one season!}

My hubby and I celebrated our four-year wedding anniversary! What an honor and a blessing to have spent the past four years building relationship with a man who loves me unconditionally and tells me that I'm the most beautiful woman in the world. No matter whether I feel beautiful. To him, I am--at my worst, at my best, always. I thank God for him each day. For the man he is, the integrity he possesses, and the love he has for Burke and me.

I stepped into a brand new decade last week! Cheers to my 30s! Ben was terrified to turn 30. I, however, have always thought that I'd probably be my most glamorous at 30. {I was in for a rude awakening when, as an adult, I discovered that the Victoria's Secret models were more like 18 rather than the 30-somethings I thought they were as a child.} Glamorous or not, I am thankful for 30 in so many ways. Maybe some of you had figured out life much earlier than I did, but my journey was quite long and winding. By grace, I've arrived at a place where I know who I am {a daughter of the King, saved by grace, worthy and perfect in His sight} and I now have the confidence to raise my children in love that I did not have even a few years ago. I really believe that the best of life is ahead of me. So cheers to 30!

We are halfway to meeting Baby #2! This second pregnancy is flying by at an alarming speed! I'm sure it's mostly due to the fact that Burke keeps us so busy that we hardly have time to think about the life growing inside of me. But here we are--halfway to January 3! {By the way, this means there are less than 20 weeks til Christmas!} This pregnancy has been so completely opposite my first. I was sick for the first 12 weeks, I'm carrying higher, I felt movement {strong movement} very early on, no heartburn {praise the Lord!}, and I have absolutely no gut instinct as to what the gender of our baby will be. Although we never found out Burke's gender, I knew from day 1 that he was a boy. But this one--I just don't know. Ben and I did wake up the same morning having both had a dream the night before that it was a girl... But who knows? And we're not finding out again, as it makes it all the more exciting! Either way, whatever Baby #2 turns out to be, we are looking forward to finding out even how much more love we will experience.

I have begun my new job as a full-time mama! This is perhaps the most exciting part of this new season! Today is my first day in my new role and I couldn't be happier. Over the past four years, I have been blessed to learn how to be a good attorney from some of the best in town. And even more blessed by the support they gave when I decided to resign so that I could invest my whole self in my family. I spent the past year working part-time, but even with that amazing flexibility, I found myself unable to be fully present with my son on the days I was home because I was so busy trying to do all of the chores and cooking for the rest of the week. I am so thankful for this gift of time and I look forward to discovering all of the treasures it contains.

Are you experiencing or on the verge of experiencing a new season?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Fully Present

photo courtesy of Ken Bruggeman Photography
 I remember when I first discovered Pinterest. I was instantly hooked, and I remember wondering when I would ever have time to actually make and do all those things I was pinning. Blogging and Facebook have the same allure. My iPhone makes it so easy to check email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and all those other things that "keep me connected" to the outside world. But I came to a point where I realized that these things were interfering from my ability to be fully present with my family. I would be "playing" with Burke while flipping through my Facebook news feed or "listening" to Ben while pinning. And I hated the fact that I felt so compelled to be present for an outside world and people I hardly knew while the people that I love so much got only my distracted and disingenuous presence.

Knowing that I want to be fully present for my family, friends and anyone else who has my ear for a moment, I have made a few changes. Set a few ground rules. Here are some examples of the ways in which I make sure to give all of my presence to those who mean the most to me:

~ Take time to have meals together. We always begin our day by sitting down together for breakfast. Before Burke {our new alarm clock}, that meant that I had to wake up earlier than necessary in order to make it all happen since Ben had to be out the door before me. But beginning our day as a family is worth the early wake up call. While lunch doesn't always happen at the same time for everyone, we always sit down for dinner as a family as well. With a toddler who goes to bed at 7, this means that Ben and I eat an early dinner, but again, this quality time is worth any inconvenience.

~ No phones/devices at the dinner table. Sure, every now and again the phone rings during our meal and one of us will answer it. But as a general rule, we try to avoid making calls, checking email, Facebook or any other smartphone trap during this time together.

~ No phones/devices in the car {except for long trips, in which case occasional iPhone checking is acceptable}. We use car rides as opportunities to catch up, share what's on our hearts and minds, and {mostly} entertain Burke. The kid lights up when you drill him on animal sounds and loves to "sing songs" of his own. It's really the sweetest thing! Usually, the only music playing in our car is what we're singing--we have great renditions of "This Land is Your Land" and "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" complete with harmony and gestures. However, if we sing ourselves dry, we do have some backup tunes from groups such as Lynyrd  Skynyrd, James Taylor, Jackson Browne and the like. One day, Burke will be old enough to choose his listening preferences, but until then, at least he'll get some culture!

~ Take time for play time. Instead of only halfheartedly playing with Burke, while trying to do one of ten other things at the same time, I have made concentrated efforts to take some play breaks throughout the day and focus on being fully present with him during those times. Sure he needs to learn independent play {and he's really great for being an only child} and sure I need to get things done {I mean, he'll be very unpleasant if there are no "nacks" for him to eat at dinnertime}. So with that in mind, I try to take time out from my tasks to spend just with him. To let him know that he's important. And that he can trust me to be present when he needs me.

Since I have made it my priority to give my full presence to my family, I have found such happiness and freedom in our interactions. I no longer feel pulled between two worlds. I have made the decision to be fully with them and I love picking up on all those details, intricacies and expressions that I would otherwise miss. It has added profound richness to my relationships and I wouldn't change it for the world!

What are some of the ways that you make time to be fully present with your family or friends? What are some family activities or traditions that are important to you?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Naturally Sweet?

Like sugar? Get a load of this:

Nursing Your Sweet Tooth
Created by:

When I stumbled across this infogram, I must admit I felt a bit sick to my stomach. The fact that our kids are consuming nearly 3 times the amount of sugar recommended daily makes me just so sad! No wonder we are facing epidemics such as childhood obesity!

We are a soda-free house. Mainly because we {thankfully} don't like the taste of it. My son has never tasted anything but water or milk in his 14-months on this planet. He's just like his mama in that he loves his water! As for the way we eat, I try to be intentional about replacing white processed sugar with more natural alternatives. I've used honey, maple syrup, cane sugar, agave nectar, maple sugar and  xylitol {birch sugar} to date. Since some baked goods just don't look appetizing with brown cane sugar {last year's peach jam is an off-putting shade of orangish-brown, but still tastes delicious} I do keep a bag of Wholesome Sweetners Fair Trade Certified organic sugar on hand. However, even this "white" sugar still has more of an unrefined blonde color.

While it's true that there are many products on the shelf that claim to be sugar-free, they are laden with artificial sweeteners rather than natural sweeteners and come with their own set of problems. {A whole other discussion}

While I cannot say that we are entirely free from sugar {although I generally prefer savory over sweet, if you make me a coconut cream pie or a gooey-bottomed shoofly pie, I will happily devour both in minutes} I can say that it is my goal to be more intentional about our consumption, especially for my children. My goal for this season is to eliminate the sugar from my canned fruits and to can them using their own natural juice or even just water instead.

What is your goal to reduce your sugar consumption? How have you already taken steps to replace sugar with natural sweeteners?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Steps Toward Sustainability: Cloth Diapering

If you know me at all, then you probably know that, too often, I quickly proclaim I will NEVER... only to find myself doing that very thing I just swore never to do. And while I'm sure I'll find myself in this position again at one point or another, I've really taken extra caution to avoid such comments since I've become a mama. {I hope I never hear myself say My kid would never...}

Growing up as the oldest of 7 kids in a home parented by a rather old-fashioned perspective, I begrudged each diaper change since they involved those blasted diaper pins! My fingers were always the sacrificial pin cushion. Needless to say, I confidently proclaimed quite a few times that I would NEVER use cloth diapers on my kids! Disposable diapers were much more civilized. And afterall, aren't we supposed to be making forward progress?

But there I was, expecting my first child and proudly announcing {like it had been my idea all along} that I would be using cloth diapers on my baby. And just as quickly, I also pointed out that I would not be using the dinosaurs of the past. No weapon-like hateful-looking diaper pins in my future, much to my husband's relief. No ugly rubber pants either! After a few months of researching cloth diapering options, we went with the Fuzzi Bunz all-in-one one-size diapers. Snaps instead of pins. Adjustable elastic around the legs and back to allow the diaper to fit 5 pounds all the way up to 35 pounds. And the best part was that they came in all sorts of brilliant colors.

They make great swim diapers too!
We have had such a great experience with our Fuzzi Bunz and have made every skeptic a convert in the process. Not only have we saved hundreds of dollars by not having to buy disposable diapers every week or month, but we feel good about the fact that we're not contributing bags full of stinky diapers to the landfill each week. Our son has not had a diaper rash even once in his 14 months. What’s even better is that our diapers don't look like they've been soiled after a good wash, and the more they're washed, the softer they get.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and/or experiences with cloth diapers!