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Our Neighborhood Thankful Tree

Three years ago my dear friend Stacy and her sweet little family started a Thankful Tree in their neighborhood. I thought this was the neatest idea and last year, with some helpful tips from her and the enthusiastic support of my husband, we decided to do one in our neighborhood.

Our first year was a little rough. Between icky weather, last minute planning and sick kids, we got a pretty late start in putting our tree out. I think we had everything in place maybe 10 days before Thanksgiving. Even with short notice and a Charlie Brown looking thankful tree, we still had a few neighbors who participated and enthusiastically applauded our efforts.

Here’s look at our tree from last year. (you can click on the pictures to get a better view!)

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This year, armed with a little more experience and determination, we began talking about our tree in September and starting gathering supplies in early October.

Below is a pic of our last day with the tree up! We had a little under 20 Thankful Cards!! We did quite a few of our own but several families participated and it was just a thrill to walk by every few days and see a new card on our tree!

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Last day with the tree up!

I’d love to share with you what we did to prepare this year for our Thankful Tree.  I know that there were at least 2 standing in the Plano area. I hope this will spread to other neighborhoods where I live and elsewhere. I challenge you to read what we did and consider doing something similar in your neighborhood next year!

First I made a sign. I took foam letter stickers and placed them on a spare board of plywood leftover from another project. Then I took some blue spray paint and went to town. Once it dried I peeled off the stickers and the words remained (thankfully!) I took my glue gun and attached a few fake leaves and an acorn and ta dah..we had a sign. (One thing I learned is that I should have sealed/treated the wood. It started warping after the first rain. It still looked good after a month of manic weather but I doubt it will be around for years and years of Thankful Trees).

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My sign!

Although our neighborhood does not have a HOA we do have a Neighborhood Watch as well as a nifty Social Community where you can do everything from sell a bookshelf to ask for a referral for a plumber by posting on their site. Last year we sent out an email explaining our tree on the Social Site but that was it. This year we decided to increase our efforts and made these thankful bags. We filled them with candy and a laminated thankful tag (more on that in a minute). Then we attached a letter explaining our Thankful Tree and inviting them to add a note of thankfulness to our tree!

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We made 30 Thankful Bags!

Then came the fun part. Putting up our Thankful Tree! The kids were a great help this year.

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I love these cuties!

We learned from last year that level ground and the proper supplies are key in making sure our tree can survive the uncertainty of November’s weather. Last year our tree fell down a few times! Loaded with that knowledge, my husband identified a level area in our yard that still was close enough to the public sidewalk that neighbors would feel good about walking into our yard. He then leveled the ground even more with his shovel.

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So thankful for a husband who not only supports my shenanigans but often times comes up with the idea himself.

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Love how all my loves are captured in this pic

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Our Tree pre-pretty-fied

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Our Thankful Tree Post-pretty-fied

Basic supplies needed to make a thankful tree include a 5 gallon bucket, about 70 pounds of playground sand, and a tree branch. Total cost for these items was about $10. Not bad. I purchased some pretty burlap from Hobby Lobby last year with the tree in mind. I can’t remember how much it was but as frugal as I tend to be it couldn’t have been too much. And I had twine and scrapbook paper for the actual Thankful Cards on hand. Laminating the cards was $1.50. I already had brown paper bags and the price for the candy was minimal. So a very inexpensive creation!

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Finished product!

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Never miss a photo opp!

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Dom, mommy and baby on the way

And now back to those thankful bags and laminated cards. First the thankful tags. Thanks to the wisdom of Stacy, we learned that it was a wise idea to laminate the cards so they could handle the weather. One night of rain and our paper thank you’s would have been ruined. So laminating them is a definite must unless you can keep your tree out of the elements or guarantee no snow or sleet or rain for the entire month of November.

Just a piece of scrapbook paper laminated, hole punched and twined

Just a piece of scrapbook paper laminated, hole punched and twined

Armed with our goody bags, red wagon and children, we set off to deliver our Thankful Bags to 30 of our closest neighbors.

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Delivery Day

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Drop off

Delivery day was the day AFTER Halloween which my son had participated in and fully understood for the first time this year so it was really neat to see the reverse concept taking place for him. Instead of knocking on doors and asking for something we were going up to our neighbors’ doors and leaving a gift for them.

Our Thankful Tree was up for 30 days and during that time, we saw thankful notes for freedom, the ability to vote, for babies on the way and friendships. It was such a neat neat experience. We are hopeful that our community of thankful cards will continue and that this will spread to other neighborhoods in the years to come!

 

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Welcome to Dom’s Room!

I really wanted Dominic to have a big boy room before his sister came. Charlotte Leigh is nearly 20 months old and we are getting really close to getting his room to that place.  Ah… good intentions.

When we moved in, we tried to set his room up as close to what his room was in the old house to make him feel good about being in a new home.

Dom's room when we moved into our home.

Dom’s room when we moved into our home.

 

Another view

Another view

 

About a month before our daughter was born we were able to paint the room a beautiful blue but that is really all that happened for a few months. The pictures below show the room as it looks today. From about February 2013 till now has been a slow and long process but so worth all the additions, changes and hodge podge attempts to make what I saw in my head match what I could see with my eyes.

So without further delay, welcome to my boy’s Transportation Themed Room!!! (P.S. you can click on the pics to get a larger view!)

The picture below was taken from the entrance of his room. So much to talk about. But let’s focus on the big boy trundle bed. We purchased this from a friend for a great price! As I said, it’s a trundle but also has another bed that makes it a bunk bed! This bed will make raising two boys through different ages and stages a blast!

View from the door!

View from the door!

 

Here’s another view of the room. The door with the stop sign is his closet which is really big and again will make raising two boys more convenient.

Closet , corner opposite airplane

Closet , corner opposite airplane

Dom has had several different toy holding contraptions. This one is amazing. I love how there are so many different buckets. Being the weirdo I am. Each bucket serves a certain purpose. There’s a bucket for his cars. There’s a bucket for his puppets. There’s even a bucket for random toys like his lone army man and bouncy ball. And he does a pretty darn good job at putting things where they belong.

Love these toy storage units.

Love these toy storage units.

Here’s an area I’m working on. A dress up area.Yes that’s a Bumble Bee costume hanging there.  I’d love to get a fun mirror (maybe this one from IKEA ) mounted to the right of the costumes. I’d also like to purchase a soft cloth toy storage chest I’ve had my eyes on at IKEA to store extra costumes.

Dress up area {in process}

Dress up area {in process}

Below are just some really fun close ups. And just as if you were in the room with me, I’d love to tell you the story behind some of these awesome items.

Dom’s nursery was decorated with jungle animals and very heavy on the monkey theme. Marshall’s mom sent us this amazing sock monkey for Dom’s first birthday or maybe first Christmas? Even with the change to a big boy room with a transportation theme I could not….can not bring myself to part with this adorable fella. Dom loves him!

Ginormous Adorable Monkey from Grandma

Ginormous Adorable Monkey from Grandma

This pillow. THIS. PILLOW. Marshall’s uncle Gordon made this shirt for him when he was Dom’s age. Once he outgrew it, Mar’s mom turned it into a pillow. I think it goes perfectly with his room and I love the history it has!

Pillow made out of a t-shirt Marshall's uncle made!

Pillow made out of a t-shirt Marshall’s uncle made!

I love thrift finds. In this era of the internet, I have gotten hooked on garage/yard sale sites on Facebook. I found this cute little sun clock on one of those sites.

Clock I bought on the cheap from a Facebook yard sale site.

Clock I bought on the cheap from a Facebook yard sale site.

This puppet stage has been here and there and every where. It is now housed in Dom’s room. It’s not getting a lot of use these days, but I am hopeful in the coming years as all three kiddos age and their imaginations bloom that our entire family will get  a lot of entertainment out of it. The fact that it retails over $100 and I got it at a yard sale in perfect condition for $15 is pretty sweet too!

Puppet stage

Puppet stage

Love the IKEA storage baskets that hold all of Dom’s books these days.

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Bookshelf I found at a children’s consignment sale.

On top of Dom’s bookshelf are two of my favorite things in Dom’s room. The Jesus Storybook Bible which is so awesome! I highly recommend for children nearing 4 years old and older. It points every story back to Jesus. So you’re reading about David defeating a giant and saving God’s people and it wraps up by talking about how there would come a hero who would defeat an even bigger giant and save God’s people for always. Dom. Loves. It.

Two of my favorite things in Dom's room

Two of my favorite things in Dom’s room

The second thing that means the world to me is this framed piece of blue copier paper that holds Dom’s LifeVerse. We gave our son the name Dominic Truth because we pray that he would always know where he came from…Dominic means from the Lord. And that as he grows to understand faith that he would place it in Jesus and NEVER EVER waiver from it regardless of what the rest of  society deems as truth.

Dom's Life Verse

Dom’s Life Verse

Here’s a few more fun close ups:

Airplane acquired at a store  in my favorite shopping locale; Downtown McKinney

Airplane acquired at a store in my favorite shopping locale; Downtown McKinney

Got all four of these cute pictures from Hobby Lobby. 50% off of course.

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I love these clouds. My husband made them starting from free handing the design on plywood, cutting them out and then painting them.

My very talented husband made these clouds!

My very talented husband made these clouds!

The Stoplight is on the bedroom door and the Stop Sign is on his closet door.

Found these in, you guessed it, Downtown McKinney!

Found these in, you guessed it, Downtown McKinney!

 

 

Some more things I’ve learned that I hope will help in your adventures in decorating:

1. Buy pieces that will outlast your theme. Dom’s big boy bunk/trundle bed will serve so many purposes beyond the here and now. Try to stick with me. It’s my hope that by the time we are ready to move baby boy due in January out of our room (to a yet to be determined location), Charlotte will be ready for a big girl bed and we’ll be able to use the top bed (currently stored in the garage) for her and baby boy can inherit his sister’s crib. One of these days, baby boy will outgrow the crib and we can either use the trundle part of the bed or convert Charlee’s crib to a toddler bed. Then when the boys can actually handle bunk beds we’ll put them together and look into big girl furniture for Charlee’s room.

2. Be patient with your decorating endeavors. Dom’s room was freshly painted with no other improvements for months. Then we put the clouds up. They stayed like that for another few months. Piece by piece was added like the transportation pictures from Hobby Lobby. And then I stumble upon the clock that just happens to have the same blocky look as the sun in the hobby lobby pics that also have clouds very similar to the ones my darling husband made! And then the Stop Sign and Stop Light I got from a second hand shop and you’d think they were a part of the same set as the Hobby Lobby pics!!!

And yet…it’s been two years in the making and I still have one more idea in my head.

This:

Inspiration for above Dom's bed

Inspiration for above Dom’s bed

It is on my honey do and I really feel that once I get this completed, and placed between those clouds above Dom’s bed, I will be at a place where I will just be adding touches here and there.

3. Be proud of your work. It’s not easy to decorate a space. Pinterest and blogs and magazines  can put a lot of pressure on people to make glamorous amazing spaces, but as the Nester says in her book: “Perfection is overrated”. Acknowledge your hard work and celebrate your space. You did it. You took the time to pick paint colors and find the perfect pieces to make it work. That is worth celebrating.

Thanks for stopping by! Next stop: My little girls room!

Welcome to Our Playroom

Perhaps it was teaching preschool for five years or just some type of inherent mommy gene that surfaced after having my first child, but whatever the source I was adamant we have a playroom for our children. It was a prerequisite that ranked right up there with an office space for my husband when house hunting.

Today I’d like to share with you what our playroom looks like as of right now. It’s taken two years filled with painting, countless shuffling of furniture, wall-art tweaks and purging to get it to a place where I’m hopeful we’ll keep it as it is for a while. Fortunately, for my husband, I am 31 weeks pregnant and not able to physically rearrange as much as I’d like, so it may stay this way by default.

Regardless the reason, I welcome you to our playroom. But before I show you it’s current condition, shall I show you a few progressions from the time we moved in until now?

This isn’t the best quality picture but it lets you see the overbearing red walls we inherited.

a little view of the room with no alterations to paint

a little view of the room with no alterations to paint

With a very limited timeline until our daughter arrived on the scene, my husband and a friend set to work to get the playroom and our son’s room freshly painted.

Here’s a picture of how we initially set up the room with it’s new friendlier colors. We made the obnoxious accent wall a more pleasant yet bold teal color and the supporting walls a silver grey.

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Over time, the room took on many different looks. The train table went here. The toy shelf went there. We added an art wall with a lovely decal. We put down this carpet and that foam mat. I just kept experimenting.

Then one day I realized that our dining room table wasn’t working in the kitchen anymore and with the advent of a fifth family member I decided to move the dining room table from our kitchen nook down into the playroom. This added another challenge to making this space work. Not to mention EVERY WALL has an opening be it a door or hallway.

So finally we landed on our current arrangement and I have to say I am very pleased with it.

 

view from the kitchen

view from the kitchen

Let me tell you about a few things in this picture. The clouds were leftover from a project we did in my son’s room that I can’t wait to tell you about in a later post.

The chalkboard banner I found at a store in one of my favorite shopping spots: Downtown McKinney. Currently it says PLAY but I’m looking forward to changing what it says from time to time.
I’m sure my fellow IKEA fans recognize a few things like the cube shelf, easel and number containers. This space has housed so many different storage units: from a larger   8 cube unit, to bucket shelves to now a simple four cube unit. I was finding that the more toys were out the less they were actually played with and the more my son was just dumping buckets and making messes. I imagine I will rotate what are in these green buckets but right now I’m enjoying him playing with just a few cars . I’m loving my daughter pulling out just a few toys at a time.

view from my bedroom entrance

view from my bedroom entrance

Here’s the other side of the room. It is set up like a little home complete with a play kitchen and table and chairs. My daughter will sit at the table with her stuffed animals and baby dolls and I overheard my son this morning telling daddy that he was making coffee! Again, I simplified the space and they are playing in it!

She was feeding her baby doll but decided feeding herself was more fun.

She was feeding her baby doll but decided feeding herself was more fun.

A few items to point out. The table is another IKEA favorite that I got on a yardsale site for $5! Most of the toys are second hand too. The bakers rack has been used in so many different spaces for multiple purposes. The rug under the table started out in our bathroom and has moved around the house here and there.

Oh and I’m sure you noticed that nice little crack above the cute teal picture frames from you guessed it IKEA.

gotta love foundation issues

gotta love foundation issues

We have foundation issues that we will be tackling soon. Ah the joys of living in Texas.

But look at this cute little canvas I found in my neighbor’s trash. {it was leaning against their fence next to their trash can. }

one man's junk...

one man’s junk…

I thought the colors were perfect for our playroom. I bought a clock kit and one day soon, we’ll transform this into a clock!

 

As I said we are sharing this space with our dining room table currently. I doubt we always will. I’ve contemplated walls, half walls, book shelves to divide the space. You name it and I’ve probably mentioned the idea to my husband. But for now, this is what the rest of the ‘playroom’ looks like.

our little dining area

our little dining area

And here’s the view when it hasn’t been cleaned up for picture taking purposes.

It's a mess but it's home : )

It’s a mess but it’s home : )

Another thing worth noting. We have a rug that I plan on putting under the dining room table soon. Soon as in: as soon as I can mop the floor to put it down. Being pregnant can slow you down quite a bit.

Here’s proof we really have it.

rug for the dining room

rug for the dining room

The kids love their space and I’m pretty proud of it as well.

 

Here’s a few tips that might help you in your decorating adventures.

1. If you see something you L-O-V-E but you’re not sure where you’ll put it, BUY IT!!! I have so many pieces of furniture that have started in one space and migrated to multiple locations until it found it’s final place of honor in my home.

2. Don’t be afraid to break rules. The playroom really didn’t start coming together until I stopped allowing the boundaries of the room to play a part in how I placed items. Just because there’s an entrance to a room doesn’t mean that entryway can’t be blocked.

3. Experiment a lot. My personality lends itself well to this one. Lots of what if’s and tweaks go through my mind about lots of things every day. I was determined to make this space shine and be practical for the kids and I think we are finally seeing the fruit of trying something that didn’t work but led to a better solution.

4. Love it. Even if the magazines or blogs or {insert your source of savvy decor tips} say you’re doing it wrong, if you love the outcome, that’s what matters. This space makes me happy and more importantly my children love it. I’m sure I’ve broken a million decorating rules. Oh well.

Thanks for coming by for a visit. Next stop, my son’s “Big Boy” room. 

 

Welcome To My Home

Marshall and I were married 7 years ago this coming April. Although I had seasons of life where I could decorate my own space, this started the true beginning of my home decor journey.

For the first 5 years of our marriage, we rented and so our decorating bandwidth was limited to what we could do with minimal nail damage and living with the paint choices and carpet that our landlords deemed worthy.

But then…we moved into our first home. We could choose our own paint colors! We could knock walls down or build them! We could rip up carpet and lay wood flooring!

Two years later, many spaces in our home make me quite proud and other areas leave a lot to be desired.  Up to a few months ago, when people would come over, I’d have these pockets of proud spaces I’d  show off followed by a million excuses or explanations as we passed by a less savory area of the house… what this lack luster space would be…eventually.

And then I picked up a copy of this amazing book called The Nesting Place by Myquillan Smith. I LOVED IT.

She gave lots of wonderful tips but the best thing she communicated was freedom to decorate without the expectation that it be perfect. Take a look at this cover.

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Amazing!  But  look again. Did you happen to notice that beautiful chair is propped up by books???

After reading her book, I started looking at my spaces asking questions like: Why not? and What if?

And not worrying about the number of holes in my walls. Or if I the placement was perfect. Or as much about what others might think.

Making a home  home takes time. Just like any other part of your life worth the investment. And lately I’ve been a lot braver and as a result a lot happier with our home sweet home.

I would love to invite you into my home in the coming months as I share with all who care to read and see my journey of home decor scores and definitely some fiascos as well.

Welcome to my home!

Home Sweet Home!

Home Sweet Home!

 

 

The Mom Life: Leave {Day 31}

As a mommy, the word leave evokes so many different emotions.

The thought of Dom leaving for his first day of Kindergarten.

Charlotte leaving for her first overnight stay with a friend.

Our sweet baby boy in the oven leaving for his first school trip.

Each child leaving for college.

Each child leaving and cleaving to their spouse.

I’ve been on this parenting journey for almost four years now. I’ve survived the newborn phase with two thus far. I’d say the first 6 months are the longest. Between middle of the night feeds, lack of  mobility and interaction the first few months can be a bit daunting and boring.

But then:

They roll over.

They sit up.

They crawl and before you know it they are not just walking but running and climbing and exploring every nook and cranny of your not-so-baby-proofed home.

The words start as babbles and then strung together become sentences.

And then that newborn outfit that swallowed your sweet little bundle of joy looks like doll clothing beside their tall lanky no more baby cheeks body.

I know in my mind that the days are long and the years are short but I don’t always comprehend it in my heart. But every once in a while I’ll have a moment when I’ll hold on a little longer before placing my darling daughter in her bed. Or I will let my hug linger just a little bit longer when I drop my son off at Preschool.

Because faster than I will like (or can fully comprehend at this stage), my children will leave the nest. And although they will periodically return and bring with them their newfound loves and newborn babes, the littles years will be far behind me and all that I will have left are the memories.

Dominic Truth born January 20, 2011

Dominic Truth born January 20, 2011

 

Charlotte Leigh born March 28, 2013

Charlotte Leigh born March 28, 2013

 

This post is part of a 31 day movement. You can learn more about it here but the gist of it is that I take 5 minutes to write on a one word prompt that is provided following a theme that I have chosen. My theme is The Mom Life. So every post will center around my life and experiences as a mom and what comes to mind when I think about the prompt given. Hope you enjoy following my writing journey as much as I will love crafting the words. 

<- {Day 30 – First}

The Mom Life: First {Day 30}

I sat down, opened my laptop, searched for the word prompt for day 30 while simultaneously opening iTunes for a little musical inspiration. The song and the word prompt had something very special in common. The word: FIRST

I wrote earlier that being a mommy warrants a permanent second place to my children. But who gets first place?

The rational answer would be my children or family and they do have priority but to be the best mommy possible and quite frankly the best me I can be, I desperately need to keep God first. To seek him first.

With all the demands of life, He sadly gets 5th place or worst on some days.

But on those days whether through devotional or prayer whispered from the depths of my heart microseconds before embracing the joyful morning shouts of my children I give him first place, I see a difference. Perhaps my circumstances are the same. Sometimes they may even be more difficult. But the level of peace and joy in my heart is different.

Being a mom is hard. It is a beautiful journey of growth more for me than my children I’ve surmised in the past few years. God is using these little years to do a wondrous work in my heart. If I will keep him first in all that I do I believe I will be able to look back in a few years and say: Look what the Lord has done. In me, in my children, through my marriage and friendships.

May I keep him first in all that I do and see what keeping him first does to make me the best mommy to my children I can possibly be…flaws and all.

 

This post is part of a 31 day movement. You can learn more about it here but the gist of it is that I take 5 minutes to write on a one word prompt that is provided following a theme that I have chosen. My theme is The Mom Life. So every post will center around my life and experiences as a mom and what comes to mind when I think about the prompt given. Hope you enjoy following my writing journey as much as I will love crafting the words. 

<- {Day 29 – Unite}              {Day 31 – Leave} ->

The Mom Life: Unite {Day 29}

Had you told me four years ago as I prepared for the arrival of my sweet Dominic Truth that I would be lonely, I would have neither believed you nor fully comprehended what you meant.

Alone? But I’ll have a 2-foot tall 24/7 shadow. I’ll have a little guy calling my name non-stop asking me to play with him and wanting me to spend every moment with him. I’ll have a little fella who adores me. How could I possibly be lonely?

And yet I have been and continue to have moments of loneliness even with the advent of another child and the promise of a third.

Parenting opens many wonderful doors. It also closes many other ones as bedtime routines and middle of the night feeds trump spontaneous dates nights out or marathon movie nights.

But it doesn’t have to be lonely.

If mommies would unite. Be willing to admit that they don’t have it all together. That they need help and that it is okay to need  help. If people would stop saying “enjoy these times they go by so fast” and would start helping struggling mothers enjoy said years.

If those without littles would reach out. If we could truly be community.

I have a friend who has plans to help others when she is no longer in the littles stage. She means it with all her heart.

What if someone came to her aid now while she is still in the moments that she longs to treasure but can’t because she’s overwhelmed by keeping the home clean, preparing a healthy dinner, and keeping her children alive and happy.

Mothering is an honor. It’s a rare privelage that I do not take for granted. I do enjoy precious moments I have with my children like the rare time-stands-still moments I had this morning. But I also struggle. I also lose my temper, cry into my pillow and beat myself up for feeding my children peanut butter crackers again for lunch.

I’m not failing, I’m not a bad mommy, I’m not complaining. I am however asking for help on behalf of myself and all mommies you know that have littles.

Consider their journey. If you miss those precious years when your child needed you, consider helping a mom who is so overwhelmed she can’t appreciate her own child’s need.

Consider being the light in a dark place when a mom feels like if she complains she is rejecting the gift God has given her in raising children. That is NEVER the case. She just needs help to see the light. To have some breathing room.

You could be that for her. You could be the relief she needs to take your words to heart. To enjoy these years that go by so incredibly fast. 

What if we as mommies would unite regardless of stage with more than words on our lips and memories in our heart. What if we took the ammunition of experience and rest that we have and offered that helping hand to another in need?

What if?

This post is part of a 31 day movement. You can learn more about it here but the gist of it is that I take 5 minutes to write on a one word prompt that is provided following a theme that I have chosen. My theme is The Mom Life. So every post will center around my life and experiences as a mom and what comes to mind when I think about the prompt given. Hope you enjoy following my writing journey as much as I will love crafting the words. 

<- {Day 28 – Wake}              {Day 30 – First} ->

The Mom Life: Wake {Day 28}

Time changes can be glorious happenings. They can also be a parent of littles worst nightmare. In the past, time changes have been more of the latter kind.

But today.

Today, I woke up to my own internal alarm clock and not that of my children alternating calls for mommy and daddy.

Although this quiet was short-lived, it was kind of nice. It was followed by the aforementioned kid-calls for parents, but I was ready for it.

I walked in my son’s room and began the morning preliminary activities of instructing him to go potty and get dressed. My husband followed shortly behind taking care of our daughter’s diaper changing. And then we all gathered on the floor of her room rather spontaneously and watched our children play. We joined in some, of course, but I was mostly taking it all in.

No rushed agenda to get us out the door.

Brushing teeth could wait just a minute.

No hunger cries from the littles.

No distracting agenda thoughts racing through my mind.

Just wide-eyed enjoying these first few moments of wake time with my children and the man I love. 

Bliss. photo 5

photo 2

 

This post is part of a 31 day movement. You can learn more about it here but the gist of it is that I take 5 minutes to write on a one word prompt that is provided following a theme that I have chosen. My theme is The Mom Life. So every post will center around my life and experiences as a mom and what comes to mind when I think about the prompt given. Hope you enjoy following my writing journey as much as I will love crafting the words. 

<- {Day 27 – Free}                {Day 29 – Unite} ->

My Iron Man’s Story

On Sunday,  my husband accomplished an incredible feat. He swam 1.2 miles and cycled 47 miles of a 56 mile bike ride before being pulled off the Austin Iron Man 70.3 race course.

Had you told him 7 years ago that he would even compete in an Iron Man 70.3, he would have laughed and asked the name of the video game to which you were referring.

Just a few months before we were married.

Just a few months before we were married.

Our Wedding Day

Our Wedding Day

At that time, my dear husband had lost a significant amount of weight but to many he still appeared to be a rather large guy. He was exercising regularly on an elliptical and a few months into our marriage had tried his hand at a spin class and really liked it.

Fast forward the clock a year and our move to Texas introduced us to an event called the MS 150. The then pastor of our now church was participating in this event. My husband commented how neat it would be to participate one day. A guy who had not been on a bicycle since his youth dreaming about riding over 100 miles in two days. And yet a year later, he did just that. He rode in the first of 5 MS Rides to date.

If a two day bike ride were not amazing enough, Marshall began dabbling in triathlon sprints. Swimming, biking and running. My husband who says he doesn’t run or swim was doing both and getting stronger by the mile on his bike.

First Triathlon Sprint

First Triathlon Sprint

Every race he got stronger

Every race he got stronger

 

His events became a family affair!

His events became a family affair!

So when he came to me with the idea of an Iron Man 70.3, I knew he could do it. Little did either of us know or truly comprehend the amount of hours it would take each week, swimming, cycling, and running to prepare for such an event. Every Saturday morning, Sunday afternoon. Every Wednesday and Thursday night devoted to training. Did I mention we have two small children and another on the way?

Lots of obstacles got in the way of training. Cranky kids, pregnant wife, demanding job,needs galore. And yet my husband braved it all. Trained his heart out and last weekend braved an event that many only daydream about.

Waiting for the start

Check in day!

Waiting for the start!

Waiting for the start!

He’ll be the first to tell you that the lake was not easy. He swallowed a lot of water, wondered often what he’d got himself into…but he finished. When he stepped onto the running path from the lake, I could not have been more proud.

As I watched him in the transition area, drying his body and suiting up in his cycling gear, I could tell that he was tired, that the less than friendly current of the lake had drained him significantly. But he was steadfast and determined to keep going. And so he rode out on his bike with nothing but determination on his face.

As I found out later, there were plenty of moments of vomiting lake water, and pushing through pain and exhaustion to keep going. And keep going he did. Until mile 47 as he rode into a rest stop to reload on fluids and was told what every athlete dreads. He was out of time. They were pulling him off the course. As he described it to me, there was both disappointment and relief that flooded his body. Disappointment that he could not finish but relief that he didn’t give up. He would have kept going.

Many people could describe this story with a sense of pity or ‘that’s too bad’, but I neither see a sad ending nor would I label my husband’s exploits as a DNF (did not finish).

My husband has been on a journey that spans deeper than our marriage of almost 7 years. It’s been a trek of weight loss, healthier eating habits, and the development of an inner strength and belief in one’s self. For that I just couldn’t be prouder to say: that’s my husband!!

The Austin Iron Man 70.3 for 2014 is over but my husband’s journey as an athlete is far from complete. He will continue to swim, bike and run and become a better husband and father as a result. And in my book, medal or not, he is an Iron Man.

My Iron Man

My Iron Man

The Mom Life: Free {Day 27}

A few minutes before the kids wake.

A quiet car ride after work.

Time spent on the couch watching tv after the kids are in bed.

Typing up my thoughts in blog form while sipping my favorite coffee drink.

Silence.

The older I get the more I realize how introverted I am. 

I love my kids but when I have moments alone to recharge, I find that I am all the more able to love them well.

I am free to:

  • sit on the floor with my daughter and her dollhouse
  • push my son in his swing
  • read stories to my darling children
  • cook meals that my family enjoys
  • sing songs and answer the endless why questions coming from my almost four year old’s mouth

I am free to choose to love and affirm my children and husband. 

 

photo 1

photo 3

 

This post is part of a 31 day movement. You can learn more about it here but the gist of it is that I take 5 minutes to write on a one word prompt that is provided following a theme that I have chosen. My theme is The Mom Life. So every post will center around my life and experiences as a mom and what comes to mind when I think about the prompt given. Hope you enjoy following my writing journey as much as I will love crafting the words. 

<- {Day 26 – Visit}                       {Day 28 – Wake} ->