Friday, November 30, 2012

A Child's Love

Before having Olivia (and accepting Jesus as my savior) I'm not sure that I ever really knew what it felt like to be on the receiving end of unconditional love.  Of course my parents love me, I've never doubted that, but it's a different feeling than when your child loves you, adores you. 
When you can do no wrong in their eyes.

There are so many conditions to most kinds of love. 
Couples fall in and out of love all the time. 
Relationships end, friendships part, parents are disappointed in their children, etc, etc, etc. 
All of those factors take little bits and pieces away from the true unconditional love that can be shared.  

It's no easy job raising a strong willed, has mind of her own 2 year old.  She's feisty and silly and mischievous and amazing all wrapped up into one little being that I love so fiercely.  I'm not a perfect parent and I have my moments where I lose my cool and yell while disciplining Olivia.  She pushes my buttons for sure and I can tell exactly when she's going to do it by her motions and the little smirk on her face.

Recently, when I was having a bad day already and she was having an
"I'm going to be bad today" day I yelled at her about something. 
I don’t recall if it was hitting the dog or standing on the table or dumping the dogs water bowl or...or...or... 

You know?  
One of those days when your 2 year old goes from one mischievous activity to the next almost seamlessly?  When you haven’t even finished cleaning up the first mess and she's already on the third? 
It was one of those days. 

Well, in the midst of my frustration and her craziness I yelled at her....
and in the midst of my yelling at her
...she says "Mommy?" 
...frustrated I huff "What Olivia???" 
...and in the sweetest little pixie voice she says "I love you Mommy." and gives me a hug.

In the middle of me being a less than good parent and taking my frustrations out by yelling,
she told me she loved me.  That is unconditional love.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

A (late) Thanksgiving Recap

Life has been busy with work and a death in the family which has
kept me away from the computer and blogger for over a week. 

Let's back up to Wednesday night, Joe and I went to "Pie and Praise" at church. 
It was beautiful to hear everyone's testimonies and listen to all the various blessings
and trials that people are thankful for this year. 
I felt moved to speak and it was an emotional experience. 
I thanked God for my and my husband's salvation. 
He's changed our lives this year, my husband and I were both saved within 3 months
of each other and now we're a Christian family raising our daughter to know Jesus. 
To me, that's amazing
Olivia's life will be radically different than if God hadn’t done work in our lives and hearts. 
So, I thanked Him publicly for our salvation. 

Thanksgiving day we had dinner with my parents, mother-in-law, sister-in-law and nephew. 
Olivia had a blast playing with her cousin and the food was delicious!  Of course Olivia wouldn’t know that the food was good because I couldn’t get her to eat anything besides a roll!  Kids.

Joe and I did a little shopping on black Friday but NOT in the middle of the night!  We enjoyed the rest of our long weekend at dance, a play date with friends and their kids, church, shopping and more church! 

Now, it's time to start decorating for Christmas!

(I didn't take any pictures on Thanksgiving, I'm so bad with remembering to take the camera out!)


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

So What! Wednesday

Linking up with Shannon at "Life After I Dew" today for her So What! Wednesday series. 
This week I'm saying So What! if...
~ I'm still feeling all warm and fuzzy after gifting two local families in need full Thanksgiving dinners.  Read more about it HERE.  Get inspired and do something for the greater good.
~ I can't wait for Pie and Praise tonight at church and Thanksgiving tomorrow.
~ I started cooking for Thanksgiving already to free up some room in the oven on the day of.  I made roasted butternut squash yesterday and oh my! it was delicious.  I wanted to eat it right then and there!
~ Making a chocolate cream pie with Olivia yesterday took twice as long and was twice as messy but it was also twice as fun!!  This age is awesome.  She's so fun and funny and she gets super excited about little things just like I do and I love it!  This is my girl licking the leftover pudding.  She rocks!
~ Olivia started saying "shut up!" and I was so, so appalled!  I blamed my husband, my mom and my dad...until I realized that it was me she picked it up from.  I don't normally say it in a mean way but more in the context of "no way!" type of shut up.  It has to stop because it sounds so horrible coming from my 2 year olds mouth.  I have to admit that I also say it to my obnoxiously loud barking dog... ugh.
That's all I have to say So What! to this week.  I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving. 
I'll be back after the long holiday weekend! 
So What Wednesday

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Thanksgiving Blessing - x 2

The holiday season always makes me mushy and weepy for many reasons but one of which tugs at my heartstrings like no other.  People.  Just a general love and worry and care for people.  Less fortunate people who have to worry where their next meal is coming from, how they'll support their family, how they’ll provide basic necessities that many, including myself, take for granted.  As I was writing out my shopping list for Thanksgiving dinner yesterday my mind drifted to those people.  People I don’t even know.  People who could be making the same list yet simultaneously crossing things off that they can’t afford.  At this point I prayed for God to give me an idea, something to do for the greater good, to glorify Him.  I picked up my phone and texted my husband saying that I wanted to buy a turkey for someone in need.  We discussed my thoughts and he was excited about the idea too!  He posted the following ad on our local Craigslist's free section...


...and within minutes we received two responses.  We only planned on buying one turkey but we just couldn’t ignore that second email.  The first email came from a woman whose husband had passed away earlier this year and her daughter also hit hard times so she was living with her daughter and two grandsons and was barely making ends meet.  The second email was from a disabled father who supports a family of 4 on his disability income and couldn’t afford a turkey. 

We contacted both people, got their addresses and headed to the grocery store. 
What started out as buying one turkey, turned into two turkeys, 10 lbs of potatoes, 4 boxes of stuffing, 4 jars of gravy, 4 cans of cranberry sauce, 2 pans to cook the turkey in, 2 cans of corn, 2 cans of peas, 2 cans of green beans and 2 apple pies!  My husband and I also felt moved to include tracks (or pamphlets from our church to share the Gospel) in the bags. 

We were able to provide two full Thanksgiving meals for families in need and share God's word.  What an awesome feeling it was go deliver these meals and meet these amazing people.  Both families were extremely thankful and surprised that what started out as a turkey ended in much more.  They both said "God bless you and your family" to us and we left each home feeling encouraged that they'd read the tracks we included.  We prayed for both families last night and plan to reach out to them by email on Thanksgiving to wish them a happy holiday. 

"Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God." 
- Hebrews 13:16

We've decided that this is going to be a family tradition.  We want to teach Olivia to have a kind heart to all people.  To help people in need and to do it for the right reasons, to honor God.   

"Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" - Corinthians 10:31

 We hope that this will inspire more people to reach out in your local community to help someone in need.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tagging the tree

Every year for as long as I can remember my family and I have gone to a local Christmas Tree farm to tag our tree.  Buying one from a parking lot just doesn't have the same appeal as walking through the "forest" and choose the perfect one for our home.  This year was no different.  After church we piled into the car, stopped at Dunkin Donuts for obligatory hot chocolate or coffee and munchkins and were on our way. 
Since Olivia is older now, this year was fun.  She was able to walk through the tree farm with us and help choose our tree... all while picking up sticks and rocks and pinecones along the way. 
She fell in love with this little Charlie Brown tree that was just her size.... we may get her one for her bedroom this year.  I think she'll love it!
We finally found our tree. 
My Dad and Husband were so funny trying to convince each other that this tree was "the one".  
Their conversation went like this... 
Dad - "it's perfect"
Husband - "no bare spots"
Dad - "just the right height"
Husband - "not to big"
Dad - "not too small"
Husband - "not too wide"
Dad - "not too narrow"
When they were done discussing the physical attributes of our future Christmas tree we tied on our tag and signature tree tagging penguin (see pics) and took some pictures to mark the occasion.

I adore this picture of Olivia and her Papa (my dad).  She loves him SO SO much!

Our tree tagging adventure was a success. 
Now, let's just hope that we can find our tree when it's time to pick it up!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Randoms

TGIF - this week has been good.  I'm just glad it's Friday which means tomorrow is the weekend and weekends are fun around here!  Saturday is dance for Olivia and Sunday is church and my BFF's 30th birthday!  Although she'll be busy studying for her nursing exam I'll be texting her Happy Birthday lyrics throughout the day.  30 is a big deal!
Today after work I have discipleship - my last class.  I'm sort of sad that I won't have weekly one on one meetings but that just means that now I'm further along in my faith and I need to pray more and rely on myself and my husband to strengthen our walk ourselves. 
I can't wait to deliver my friend's birthday present.  I made her a survival kit for her 30th year to help her stay young at heart.  The idea was inspired by a pinterest pin but mine didn't come out nearly as pinterest worthy.  I know she'll love it.  I included fun things to give herself a makeover, take a relaxing bath and get cozy and watch a movie.  Not to mention a sappy letter and an awesome card. 
Tonight I'm meeting my cousin for dinner.  We haven't spent time together in a long, long time, just us.  Truth be told, I miss it.  When we were younger she lived down the street from me and being 5 years older she drove and had an awesome mustang convertible and 90% of the time you could find us crusing the streets of our town with the top down and the music up.  I miss those days.  I'm so excited to see her because she just found out she's expecting and I couldn't be more excited for her! 
This is her first baby and she's going to be an awesome and fun Mama!
Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

So What! Wednesday.

Linking up with Shannon again for So What! Wednesday! 
This week I'm saying So What! if...
~ Olivia pretty much started potty training herself.  We have had a potty in the
bathroom for her to get used to it but at church this past Sunday she was all "let's do this!"
(see yesterday's post for details!) 
~ It's almost Thanksgiving and we don't have any plans yet.
~ I'm probably more excited about our "Pie and Praise" night at church than I am
about Thanksgiving.  Members of the church are going to bring pie and share their personal
testimonies of how they came to know the Lord and their experience this far. 
What's better than eating yummy pie and hearing true life stories of how Jesus changed lives?
~ I finally got started on my Christmas shopping for Olivia. 
I bought her 4 things online yesterday and I'm super excited about all of them.
~  I need a haircut like yesterday.  I really want to do something drastic (my hair is pretty long)
...but I don't have the guts, the time or the extra cash right now.
~ the women that work at Dunkin Donuts know me and my order by heart.  I start to order my coffee in the drive thru speaker and they interrupt me half way and say "Good morning!  Drive up!"  ...and sure enough, every time they have exactly what I always order waiting for me.  Awesome!
So What Wednesday
That's all I'm saying So What! to this week.  Check out Shannon's blog and be sure to link up.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Time-outs and Potty Training.

This is what I saw when I walked into the church nursery after service on Sunday.
...this is Olivia in the time-out chair. 
Apparently she refused to keep her clothes on. 
Highly inappropriate for church. 
See, in the nursery there is a toddler bathroom with a half door that has a toddler
size toilet and Olivia is obsessed with it. 
She likes to "help" all the kids who are potty training and I guess she
figured that if she kept taking her clothes off the Mom's working in
the nursery would get the hint that she wanted to use the potty. 
She did successfully go potty while at church so
I figured I'd take advantage of her eagerness and interest and go with it. 
After church we went straight to Target and bought her big girl Minnie Mouse panties!  She was so excited.  On the ride home we talked about going potty and wearing her big girl undies.
I put her new undies on her and she was so excited to show them off to Daddy, Gram and Papa.
She spent the rest of the day in her big girl panties, slippers....
...and sometimes a tutu!
I'm so proud of Olivia.  This is a pretty big transition and she's doing an awesome job with it.  After each successful potty-ing she gets a ton of claps, praise and high-fives!  She soaks it in...which could explain why she went potty about 3 times in the first 10 minutes of wearing her new undies. 
My girl is a rockstar - I'm so, so proud of her!
Now, if you'll excuse me, we have some reading to do.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thankful Thursday

I just found Sar's and Megan's blogs and I think her Thankful Thursday link up is such a great idea! 
Being the month of Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday season,
this is the time of year when my gratitude for the normal every day things that are sometimes,
often times, taken for granted shines through. 
It's the season for family, worship, fellowship, gatherings, feasting, gift-giving, crafting...
all those things warm my heart.
Today I'm thankful for...
~ Jesus.  This year has been a whirlwind of growing in my faith and getting to know His love.
~ my husband and my daughter Olivia.  They are the loves of my life.
~ coffee - it is essential to make my morning run smoothly.
~ a reliable car that's good in the snow.  We had our first (of probably many) snowfalls last night and this morning I didn't have to worry about making it to work on time and safely.
~ a Church family that has welcomed me and my family with open arms.  The women I've met are so friendly and caring.  I foresee long-lasting relationships.
Of course I have many, many more things to be thankful for, my life has been very blessed. 
Check back next week on Thursday for more!
Thankful Thursday

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

So What! Wednesday

It's Wednesday again which means I'm linking up with
Shannon from Life After I Dew for her So What! Wednesday series. 
This week I'm saying So What if...
~ the candidate I voted for didn't win.  I heard him speak on the radio this morning and
I was so proud that he humbly stated
"Ann and I will stand behind President Obama and pray for him
during his term earnestly.  God Bless America!" 
~ I'm super excited that I'm making lasagna for dinner tonight, we haven't had it is so long!
~ every year I say that I'm going to get a head start on Christmas shopping and every year I don't.  UGH!
~ our bedtime struggles with Olivia have changed from getting her to fall asleep to
getting her to stay asleep.  Lately she's been waking up at 1AM or 2AM
and she refuses to go back to sleep unless one of us is in bed with her. 
~ I struggle with being super strict with her bedtime because I flip flop between wanting her to be
able to fall asleep on her own and knowing that she's only small once and I should take the
cuddles while I can get them.  There are Mama's out there who've lost babies and would do
anything to be able to sleep beside their children so why am I so dead set against it? 
~ I'm still drinking iced coffee and it's about 35 degrees in the morning when I'm on my way to work. 
That's all I'm saying So What to today.  Happy Wednesday! 
So What Wednesday

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Vote - Election 2012

This year, voting has taken on a new meaning to me. 
Now, living for Jesus, my entire purpose is to do everything to glorify God. 

~ Today I will vote with Him on my heart.  
~ Today I will not forsake my beliefs. 
~ Today I will vote for the candidate who believes that each life is valuable
and here for a purpose from the moment it's conceived. 
~ Today I will vote for the person who believes that He is our King and I pray that whoever wins this election has an open heart to the Lord and seeks His will when running our country.

This world is such a jaded place and the one solid rock that I have to
stand on when I have nothing else is my God. 
There are 4 words that have been on my heart while listening to the debates and sermons at church. 
This nation was formed on the foundation of God and we wouldn't be here without Him. 
Why is the world so determined to remove Him from the equation when He is the answer and the way? 
Jesus has stood by me faithfully, how shameful of me to not stand by Him. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Double Dose

For the first time yesterday, we got a double dose of church. 
Every Sunday we spend from 9:30 - 12:15 at Sunday school and our morning
service but we've never gone back for the nighttime service. 
It was the first Sunday of the month so our church had the monthly Lord's Supper and
since we've never seen it before, Joe and I were interested in going. 
We had an early dinner and headed back to church for 5:30. 
The service was awesome, it was so refreshing to get another solid hour of worship and praise,
especially at night so it was even more fresh in my mind at the start of the week.
Joe and I aren't yet baptized members of the church so we weren't able to participate but it was so informative to watch and learn just how important and serious taking the communion is. 
We got a double dose of worship, music, fellowship, praise, messages, time with Him and bible study. 
Needless to say, Sunday night service is part of our new routine.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fears - Let Go and Let God

(this post is prompted by 2 blogs I read, both of their daughters were just diagnosed with brain tumors.  Please lift the Wecks family and the Skelte family up in prayer.)
Before I had Olivia I used to worry about things, but I never knew the
true meaning of what it felt like to really worry
After you have a child, there's a part of your heart walking this earth outside of your body.  Exposed to things that you can't control with the possibility of coming into contact with sickness, hurt, danger, bad people...the list goes on and on.  Right after Olivia was born the fear and anxiety I had was so bad that I spoke to my ob/gyn about it and was diagnosed with post partum anxiety.  I knew that it was a mix of my hormones, having a new baby and no longer being able to protect her safely in my womb. 
I also knew that the severity of my PPA would pass but it would never fully go away. 
It wouldn't go away because there will always be new situations and experiences I'll have to face as a parent that will makes me a little uncomfortable... first day of daycare or school, leaving her with a new babysitter, letting someone else take her in their car, going to a friend's house... etc.  
I spoke to my mentor at church about this and she challenged me to trust in God and believe in His plan for us and our family.  Regardless if I want or even feel like I'm in control, the control is ultimately the Lord's.  For me, this was a hard concept to grasp.  Being a newly saved Christian, I lived the last 29 years of my life my way, by my rules and yes I believed in God but I never knew or had this deep of an understanding of what and how I was supposed to trust and rely on Him.  I've been challenging myself to really trust God in this area lately.  Taking steps to let go a little more and trust that His plan for us is perfect.  I know that life won't always be easy and there will be bad or unfortunate things that happen but in the grand scheme of things, it's part of His plan.  His plan for us is good, His heart is kind and He doesn't want to hurt me. 
I will worry every second of every day for the rest of my life about all things involving my daughter.  
My greatest love is walking around outside of me, a piece of my heart is on its own.  
You see so many horrible things happening around you, how can you not worry.  
It's just such a difficult balance to step away from my worldly fears and trust in Him, but I'm learning. 
What these families are going through is unimaginable to me. 
The fear, pain and heartache that I feel just from reading their stories scares me to death. 
What would I do if that was my daughter? 
Would I be able to handle it with grace and truly trust Jesus to help me through? 
Could I really step back and trust in God's great plan? 
I'm not really sure and I know it would be so, so difficult, but what I do know is that I absolutely would not be able to do it without Him.
...please pray for these families in this difficult time...

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween 2012

Our Halloween day was spent at my Dr.'s office and Olivia's pediatrician. 
We both have ear infections and I have a sinus infection. 
After our appointments and we got loaded up on antibiotics and Tylenol and prayed we felt better soon. 
My husband and I were undecided if we were going to take Olivia trick-or-treating
because we knew she wasn't feeling 100% but after dinner she seemed a bit
more like herself so at the last minute we decided we'd take her to
our church's Trunk-or-Treat.  We layered clothes under her costume ...3 shirts,
a sweatshirt, a hat and fleece lined pants to be sure she stayed nice and warm. 
(I even stopped at Target to buy an ear warmer for myself) 
...and off we went, with cotton in our ears and a pumpkin bucket.
I didn't bring my camera, but luckily our church had an awesome photo
booth for everyone to take pictures, so at least I have those! 
Olivia had a blast!  There were about 50 cars lining the parking lot of our church, all the trunks were decorated in different themes and most people handing out candy were dressed in costume too. 
It was a great way to trick-or-treat without having to worry about where the candy is coming from,
since it was all our fellow church goers and we were nice and safe in the church
parking lot with no worries of cars driving near us or Olivia running into the street. 
Before going to this church I'd never even heard of Truck-or-Treat but I'm so glad that our church hosted this and we got to go.  They did an awesome job with organization, they had popcorn and apple cider, the photo booth, tons of candy and it was a great night for fellowship and outreach!
We didn't stay too long because we were all really tired. 
I was really bummed because we wanted to
trick-or-treat with my sister in law and nephew but since we
decided last minute there wasn't any time to plan. 
There's always next year.
You can see pictures of Olivia in her costume from our day at the Spooky Zoo here.