cultivate (kuhl - tuh - veyt)
v. 1) develop 2) nurture

graft (grahft)
n. 1) transplant 2) bud 3) union

Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 In A Nutshell

I won't bore you with long-winded stories from this year. Here's the skinny on 2012:

January-We traveled to Texas to be with family, including rallying around my sister who was about to begin chemotherapy.
February-We celebrated the union of my sis-in-law to her husband.
March-We found out we were pregnant with our sweet Jubilee.
April-We traveled to Nebraska to celebrate the life and mourn the passing of Timothy's grandma.
May-We sold our house and moved into a home provided by God via dear friends.
June-We traveled to Texas to celebrate our niece's big tenth birthday and also keep rallying around my big sis (who later kicked cancer to the curb!).
July-My mom had a shiny new pacemaker installed.
August-We celebrated eleven years of marriage, and it keeps getting better!
September-The calendar is chock-full of visits with family and friends.
October-Mikayla had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Disneyland with her cousins, uncle (who was on leave from deployment) and grandparents.
November-We welcomed our fourth daughter, and last biological child, into our home.
December-The beauty of celebrating this season with ones we love, and missing those who cannot be near.

The one word God gave me for 2012 was "intentional". I'm not sure where that fit in with the above highlights. I'm not sure where it fit in between appointments to see the midwife, dentist, and piano lessons. I'm not sure where it fit in birthday parties and gatherings with friends and missionaries. I'm not convinced that I learned to be intentional. I'm a work in progress, to be sure.

God's word for me for 2013 is "preparation". For what, I have no clue. I can speculate, but nothing more. I feel slightly conspiratorial and awe-filled, like the moment Beaver tells the Pevensie children, "Aslan is on the move."

Whatever is in store, I pray we have grown from 2012 and stand in expectation of God's movement in 2013.

Happy New Year,

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Year Of Our Lord

If you could see my feet right now, you'd know they are cold. Why are they cold, you ask? Because my family has blessed our socks clean off! 2012 will be henceforth known as The Year of the Dolls and iPads.* Our daughters received not one, but two unique and precious dolls this year, each resembling them.** My husband and I BOTH received iPads!***


I don't even have to share. 

Shush. Just let me be a little bit selfish about it.

Now we can FaceTime each other across the dining room table. Not that we've done that. However, if we had done something so silly I would inform you that there is a fantastic stadium-like echo effect. 

I had better wrap this up before you think I've completely taken leave of my senses. Between wonderful time with family (near and far), Christmas celebrations, and precious house guests (okay, and an iPad high), I find myself hard-pressed (and pressed for time) to write something heavy and thought provoking at the moment, so here's my reminder to myself and to you: Had I received nothing but coal, I'd still want to remember (and celebrate) that every Christmas truly is The Year of Our Lord, who came once as a helpless baby and will return again as the Absolute King. 

Until He Comes Again,

*I will also refer to this as The Year of the Popcorn, due to an overabundance of homemade gourmet popcorn strewn across my kitchen counter. 
**This is extra exciting for multi-racial families.
***This is extra exciting because they're iPads. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Be Thyself Our King Of Peace

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of Might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai's height,
In ancient times didst give the law,
In cloud, and majesty, and awe.

Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave.

Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death's dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
And order all things, far and nigh;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And cause us in her ways to go.

Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of peace.

Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Let it be so, Emmanuel.

May We Be Changed This Christmas Season,

Friday, December 21, 2012

Four Is The Magic Number

Apparently we've crossed the threshold of socially acceptable family size. Three kids was pushing it, but four is utterly ridiculous. Other utterly ridiculous families, help me out here. Do people start telling your kids what to do because they assume you're not paying attention? I'm trying to figure out if people think I'm too sleep-deprived with a newborn to notice where my children are, or if I obviously have my hands too full to adequately watch all my children out in public.

On more than one occasion, I have had (well-intentioned) people "help" me corral my children. If they had needed corralling, I suppose I would have been appreciative, but instead I told them to bugger off "Thank you, but my children know the boundaries." So far, they haven't looked too confident in my assertion. 

So, to all well-meaning do-gooders out there, may I make a few suggestions?

If I'm crying in the middle of the grocery store, I could use your help. 

If my child is crying in the middle of the grocery store and I am eye-level with her addressing the problem, I don't need your help.

If I have a crazy look in my eyes and am playing in traffic, I need your help.

If my two year-old has a crazy look in her eyes and is jumping along the sidewalk in front of Target, she is being a two year-old and doesn't need to be "pulled to safety". 

If my nine year-old momentarily needs my attention, and the other three have disappeared, they've been kidnapped and I need your help.

If I am facing my nine year-old while my other children are a foot away, I do not need you to keep an eye on them until I am facing them again.

If my newborn is crying and I'm about to join her, a compassionate gesture is nice.

If my newborn is crying and I'm about to join her, a lecture on birth control is not nice.

If one of my children has gone to the (highly visible) playground a couple minutes ahead of the others, and a masked man grabs her on the run, please call the police while her daddy rescues her.

If one of my children has gone to the playground ahead of the others, and you aren't sure she's ours, before calling the police, feel free to ask us if she is ours instead of walking right past us to quiz our child on "where is mommy?". Also, feel free to believe her when she is clearly pointing to me, as we are the only other people at the park.*

If you see my oldest offering my youngest a pacifier or rocking her, an encouraging word about her being a great big sister, is sweet.

If you see my oldest helping her siblings, it is not so sweet to assume that my oldest has it rough and is required to help raise her sisters. Over-the-top sympathetic comments about "Mama needing your help" suggest I'm in over my head and need to quit before I end up costing tax payers millions in food stamps.**

Whether my children are standing calmly at my side or acting like monkeys, there is no need to tell me my hands are full. I don't tell you that your hands look sadly empty. It's annoying and I don't know a single large family that appreciates this comment.

Whether my children are standing calmly by my side or acting like monkeys, know that I am blessed beyond measure and wouldn't trade my monkeys for the world's greatest fortunes.

Time To Turn Heads Go Grocery Shopping,


P.S. No, she did not actually call the police, because I confronted her on the playground and worked waaaay too hard convincing her that all the children on the playground were, in fact, mine. With phone still in hand, she warily returned to her car and kept a close eye on us for several more minutes before driving away. SWAT didn't show up, so I assume she was eventually satisfied that I was telling the truth. 

*I know skin color played into this particular event. Chocolate children can belong to vanilla mamas. I know it's confusing. 

**Do I ask Mikayla to help? Yes. Am I sucking her childhood right out of her? No. She is receiving on-the-job training in motherhood, and I believe her character is the better for it.  

Monday, December 17, 2012

I Am Beautiful

Once upon a time there was a moley little girl who was oblivious to her freckles and moles. There was a little boy in her grade-school classroom who was not so oblivious. One day he walked by her desk and in utter repulsion pointed to one of her moles and said (in a not so library-appropriate voice) "Ewwwww! What is that?!?" 

I was mortified. The whole class (which was actually two classes in one classroom-double the embarrassment) turned to see what was disgusting enough to elicit such a response from a grade-school boy.  

Thank you very much.

Believe it or not, I was self-conscious in my own skin until halfway through high school. Now it seems ludicrous to have let one comment impact me so thoroughly, but we all know how strongly the spoken word can pierce us straight to the heart (especially a physical appearance comment aimed at a girl on the verge of puberty). If anyone else ever made a negative comment regarding my moley-ness, I sincerely have no recollection of it. 

I don't remember the process of overcoming my insecurity.* I just remember adopting my mantra, "God's holy and He made me moley". Catchy isn't it? I should have t-shirts printed. Here's the rub: Moley mamas make moley kids. We're one big, happy, moley family (better print a passel of those shirts). Lest you think Sophia is exempt, she has a couple of small moles and possibly a touch of what might be Vitiligo. Does God know how to knit families together or what? 

I desire for each of my girls to exude confidence in who they are - body, mind and soul. The problem is that my brand of beauty doesn't match up with mainstream beauty. Just the other day I stumbled across an article offering at-home remedies to cure moles. The reason? They are ugly. How do I combat such nonsense? 

We intentionally celebrate our uniqueness and it looks something like this:

We count our moles for fun (I still outnumber the girls). This doubles as a great way to check for irregularities.

We get to laugh when someone (*cough*Mikayla*cough*) excitedly announces a new mole only to discover it is a blob of melted chocolate.
We get to play connect the dots and create our own body constellations.
We get to tickle moles in armpits and on collarbones. 
If ever we dress up as Mexican food for Halloween, we've got the tortilla look covered.
We can laugh when Sophia says she thought one of my moles was a turtle.**

I hope my girls can look to me as an example of someone who is self-assured despite having average looks. Mamas, we need to silence our thoughts when we are looking in the mirror. Little ears hear your self-inflicted criticism, and will mimic your behavior until they believe it about themselves. Whether we feel like supermodels or not, it's time to consider how our view of ourselves is affecting our daughters. Mamas of boys, you are not exempt. Boys need to learn to respect women, and it starts long before they are men. A mama who puts her looks down is encoding this behavior to her son. 

Whether it's a muffin top, crooked teeth, permanent scars, a zit on the end of the nose or just a bad hair day, let's instill confidence in our daughters by recognizing and valuing our own beauty. 

You owe it to a moley little fourth grade girl.

You Are Beautiful,


P.S. I bet you never thought you'd read the word "moley" so many times in one blog post.

*Sorry to those who were hoping for a 12-step program to overcome melanin insecurities.

**Seriously happened, folks. I have no explanation.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Where Was Jesus?

My heart breaks for these families. There is an irreparable hole in the lives of scores of families today. There is never a good time for such evil, but Christmas is an especially shattering time of year for such a senseless atrocity. A random blogger, saying they're praying for these families seems paltry, but just in case someone connected to this calamity is reading this, I'm so sorry for your loss and you are in my prayers.

In the wake of the Connecticut tragedy, blame is being slung all over the place. It's the gun's fault! It's the school's fault! It's the local government's fault! It's Adam Lanza's parents' fault! It's some counselor-somewhere-who-once-had-a-conversation-with-Adam's fault! 

May I make a suggestion?

It's Jesus' fault. 

Bold (and slightly sacrilegious) statement.

The Lanza family obviously had some struggles. Where was Jesus when their marriage failed? Why didn't Jesus reach out to them and dig deep into their hurting lives? How is it that Jesus was too busy to befriend a young man described as being "a little bit different"?* Didn't He think this family was worth His time and attention? I mean, sure it can be messy to truly invest in others, but think about how much brighter Friday, December 14th would have been had Jesus shown some compassion, friendship and love to this family. Maybe all Adam needed was just someone who could offer professional help. Maybe all Nancy needed was the support of other women who understood how difficult it is to be a single mom.

We are called to be Jesus' hands and feet. The blame is ours. We have failed yet again. I understand that every potential intervention may not have halted Friday's tragedy. We still should have been the hands and feet of Christ for the sake of the gospel. It's not just about reaching out to the families reeling from loss. It's also about reaching out to the people who seem "a little bit different". It's too late to rewind this piece of history, but it's not to late to rewrite the next chapter. However, our motivation cannot be that of self-preservation. Our motivation must be Christ and Christ alone. We don't get messy in people's lives in order to avoid tragedies in this life (although there is value in that). We get messy in people's lives in order to avoid the greatest tragedy: A life apart from God. 

Praying For Unquenchable Boldness,

*According to an ABC interview with Barbara Frey. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Eraser Challenge

Every December approximately a bazillion blogs and articles crop up, instructing us in the finer ways of slowing down and enjoying the Christmas season. My inbox is flooded with well-meaning advice. As a blogger, I was feeling left out, so I figured why not make it a bazillion and one? 

Here's my simple two-step process:
1. Grab an eraser.
2. Apply it to your calendar.


We are seriously over-thinking this. If you have too much going on in December, then finding time alone, taking a bubble bath, or shopping online is not going to solve the problem. Eliminating engagements on the calendar is. 

I promise you that not attending all three cookie exchanges will be OK. It seems every small group (Sunday School, MOPS, business, school, etc) feels obligated to have a Christmas party. Here's a novel idea: Don't. There are eleven other months in the year. Try one of those on for size. I think you'll find that group parties actually can occur outside of December. 

"Christmas" and "stress" are two words that should not go together with such familiar regularity. This season, go bold! Take a bubble bath because you have time, not because you need Calgon to take you away. 

Here's To Blank Spaces On The Calendar,


P.S. An insane December is indicative of an over-committed schedule all the live-long year. Carry the Eraser Challenge into January. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

I'm Just A Mom

Dear Acquaintance I Ran Into At The Market,

It was so good to see you! I'm happy for you and thrilled to see you using your talents so successfully. You've always had a "go-get-'em" spirit and I'm glad to note that hasn't changed.

I couldn't help but notice that as we chatted, you repeatedly referred to me as "just a stay-at-home mom." Usually people misspeak once and immediately start backpedaling, saying something like "Not that what you're doing isn't important. I just meant you're not employed somewhere. You have the toughest job on the planet!" Your lack of backpedaling spoke volumes. I was left with the distinct impression that you thought yourself better than I and that I was somehow wasting my purpose by staying home. I hope you will indulge me while I prove you wrong share my heart for a moment.

I'm not a fan of those stay-at-home mom salary comparisons. You know the ones: If a stay-at-home mom got paid for all the different hats she wears, she'd be raking in half a million dollars annually. Nurse, counselor, taxi driver, cook, seamstress, launderer, coach, and whathaveyou. I think it belittles the years of training and schooling some of these professions require. However, just because you can't put a price tag on my job doesn't diminish it's worth.

I may not be an RN, but I have the privilege of praying with my children when one of them is hurt and administering band-aids as well as love. I may not be a counselor, but I have the Wonderful Counselor in my corner every time I address a tear-stained face and a hurting heart. When we climb in our van, you would think we're the von Trapp family.* We sing it up often, and I don't care if anyone thinks it's cheesy. It's not always convenient, but I'm doing the best I can to train my girls to manage their own homes someday (whether they choose to work or stay at home, have children or never marry!). My daughters will know what a roux is and how to make one. Every meal isn't a culinary masterpiece, but every meal is an opportunity to connect as a family around the table. They will be able to sew a button on a shirt and remove stains from their clothes, because I have invested in their home education. That's more than a professional could ever hope to offer them.

Every morning I wake up to precious faces inches from mine, eager to discover the promises of a new day. The best alarm clocks in the world can't hold a candle to that. Every night before bed, kisses adorn my face while little arms wrap around my neck. That's light years better than the best make-up and designer jewelry money can buy.

I may not truly have the toughest job on the planet, but I believe I have one of the most important jobs in our society (regardless of whether I work outside the home or not). The moral, spiritual, professional and emotional success of the next generation is fundamentally dependent on the hard work of parenting them now. Intentional parenting is hard work and can leave me exhausted at the end of the day (or by happy hour). But it's a good kind of exhausted and a day well spent.

So, acquaintance, You may have it all together. I'd rather have my kids all together with me.
You may be trendy and sexy. For a season, I'll keep my postpartum flabbies and nursing-friendly shirts.**
You may be filthy-rich. We don't have a six-figure income or drive a luxury vehicle. We don't have the biggest house on the block or live in the ritziest neighborhood. I shop at Goodwill and Savers. Our birthday and Christmas budget is always small.

Despite all of this, I can't help but think I'm richer than you.***

Blessed To Be Just A Stay-At-Home Mom,

P.S. Wasn't it nice of me to refrain from going postpartum crazy on you? You're welcome.

*Minus the matching lederhosen and ability to sing on key.
**Besides the fact that my girls get to see me taking care of my body and working to get into shape again.
***After all, my off-brand bag from Ross and your Louis Vuitton handbag are both equally capable of holding diapers and spit rags.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Home Births and Midwives and Doulas Oh My!

OK, here's the deal: Some people like reading birth stories and some people think it's weird to share those details on the World Wide Web.

I'm in the latter camp.

However, home births are a question (as well as an eyebrow) raiser. So, in order to satisfy the curiosity of several readers, I'll set aside my qualms and share (some of) the details. Gentlemen, this serves as your warning. Read at your own risk.*

Let me break it down for you:
8-ish pm: Contractions began (and lasted all night)
6-ish am: Called Midwife and Doula
1:21 pm: Le Bebe makes grand entrance weighing 7 lbs, 13 oz and measuring 20" long.

Let me begin by saying, were I to have more biological children, I would not hesitate to have another home birth. I would call up my midwife so fast it would make your head spin. Let me also say that I had never seriously entertained the notion of having a doula present, but after having one VOLUNTEER her time, I would empty my little piggy bank to have her present for another birth. Of course, all of this is a moot point, unless God has an ace up His sleeve.

Fine, I'll quit stalling.

Due to contractions all night, I was already fairly exhausted when Carol and Laura arrived. I had given up trying to sleep by 2:00 am and timed contractions from then until I woke up my husband around 6:00 am.

This promised to be a long day. 

Carol began checking vitals and was a little concerned about Jubilee's heart rate. Her main concern was the umbilical cord and it's propensity to wrap around wee necks. Her calm demeanor took away every fear that I would normally associate with such a risk.** One of the things I was most excited about was the opportunity to labor and give birth in the water. If heart rates are uncooperative, this isn't an option. Thankfully, Jubilee decided to behave.

Unfortunately, my body didn't behave. Alas, the water was wonderful, but it stalled my labor and I had to get out or stay pregnant forever. I sat on a birthing stool (those aren't nearly as comfortable as birthing tubs) and eventually moved to the bed. I was not dilating in a timely manner and my strength was fading faster than labor was progressing. Carol had to help me dilate to a ten. Whoo-Whee, is that ever a hoot! Sign me up for that never. By the time serious pushing needed to happen, I was feeling a little rebellious and trying to figure out a way around pushing (apparently options are limited). I have never pushed so long, sweat so much or been left so hoarse as with this birth. God has a way of infusing us with just enough strength to go the distance. As I saw Carol pulling on Jubilee's noggin, I knew I just needed to muster up one more superwoman push.

I didn't, but God did. Seriously.

So, to summarize:

-Home births are amazing and I highly recommend you give it a whirl if you are able. I have never had serious postpartum depression-just the usual weepiness for a spell. I have not had one single rough emotional day. Not one. I can only credit that to being home and not under fluorescent lights, being poked and probed every two hours. Jubilee and I had the benefit of fresh air and sunshine from Day One. We didn't have to farm our kids out to friends, and they got to meet their newest sister moments after she was born. No one whisked Jubilee away to wash her. She didn't need a warmer. I did the warming. She was never separated from us. What a blessing!

-Midwives are amazing. No need to get defensive about why the world needs doctors and hospitals. Standard western medicine definitely serves a great purpose. However, it's not the end all, be all answer to everything. We have two children who were born in the hospital with an ObGyn. It just simply does not compare with the attention and care received from Carol. From the very first meeting, I felt that my midwife was invested in my pregnancy and delivery. Everything was explained to me. I wasn't made to feel like a convicted criminal for choosing to opt out of standard tests and procedures. (Can I get an "amen"?!?)

-Doulas are amazing. Having a doula present for our birth was unscripted. Just a couple days before Jubilee's arrival, Laura asked me if she could attend our home birth for the learning experience, but I think I learned more than she did! I admit, I didn't really "get it". I didn't understand the purpose and scope of a doula. I had chatted with Laura about her calling, but it's kind of like describing a show on Broadway; you really need to see it for yourself. Any attempts to explain it fall flat.  Basically, a doula does whatever needs doing. She is there to assist with the birthing (although I couldn't talk her into trading places with me), support the mom and dad, take care of older siblings, mop up vomit, hold a fan up to the flushed face of a tired mama. Whatever.

-Water births are amazing. OK, so even though I didn't have the joy of completing my labor/delivery in the water, I'm still sold on the benefits. It's worth it. Just invest in a few extra towels...

Lest anyone think Timothy was smoking cigars with the menfolk...He was boiling water (how cliche), applying counter-pressure, putting cool washcloths on my forehead, supporting my weight during contractions and being my all-around rock star husband, just as he was during the pregnancy and still is as he  tenderly cradles his newest daughter so I can catch a few more Z's.

Also, I was blessed to have my mama present. Hers was no easy task. She spent several days corralling, entertaining and feeding the children. All the while running hither and to for my needs. Cinderella had it good in comparison!

To answer a few common questions:

Did your girls watch?
We tried to talk Mikayla into catching Jubilee (anyone who knows Mikayla knows that there isn't enough money in the world...) They were in and out of the room throughout the labor. We left their level of involvement completely up to them. At times they helped comfort me, and when things got intense they were more than happy to stand outside the door and peek in periodically. We did have them exit for the placenta and other post-delivery fun.

Isn't there a huge mess to clean up afterward?
We're not pioneering it here. We took full advantage of modern conveniences such as garbage bags and plastic sheeting. Now, I didn't get drawn for clean-up duty, but it seemed to be a cinch.

What if something goes wrong?
These are midwives, not cavemen. They are well equipped to handle emergencies and know when transport to the hospital is in the best interest of mother and/or baby.

What do you do with stuff like the placenta? 
It's yours. You can do whatever you want with it. I put mine in a jar of formaldehyde to use as a table centerpiece.

Just kidding. I gifted it to someone.

Not kidding.***

So, there all you birth story junkies have it. Our birth story as told by moi.

Reveling In The Miracle Of Life,

P.S. In case you missed their links, go check out Carol and Laura's websites. If you live in the area and are pregnant or planning on being in the family way, call them both.

Also, I'm pretty sure this is the best way to use a birthing stool.

*And to think just the other day, a very kind gentleman encouraged me to keep on writing. The joke is on him today!
**It turns out, the umbilical cord was exactly where it was supposed to be and probably just got pinched between shoulders and pelvis...stuff.
***People on our Christmas list can relax. The recipient knows it was gifted to them. Otherwise, I would win "Lousiest Friend of the Year" award.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Moments Versus Milestones

I'd like to introduce you to our newest family member.
This is our sweet Jubilee!

She was born last month, healthy and dearly loved. Even if the former weren't a reality, the latter would still hold true. We all are quite smitten with this wee bundle.

There's something unique in knowing you're facing your last pregnancy, last labor, last delivery, last newborn, last...everything. I was very intentional throughout this pregnancy to savor every moment possible.* I even tried to soak in the miracle of labor and delivery.**

In the first few days of Jubilee's life, her sisters wanted to hold her non-stop. They were just as taken with how precious life is. After being asked for the umpteenth time, I told my oldest there would be plenty of days to hold her. Her answer resonated with me in a very tangible way. She said, "Yes, but not when she's this little." I looked my nine year-old in the eyes, and had to admit she was right. Have nine years really gone by since I was first made a mama? With Mikayla everything was new (shout out to all firstborns!) and it was so easy to get caught up in the milestones. I feel like I spent more time waiting in anticipation of what she would do next than truly reveling in what she was currently doing. Jubilee has already taught me an invaluable lesson:

Savor the moments, not the milestones.

There will always be new milestones, new achievements, new goals. Just don't let the moments go unnoticed. Moments are the stuff of life. I doubt Mikayla will be truly impressed that I cataloged her first smile. To be honest, I don't really care if anyone knows when she first sat up on her own. I want each of my children to know they are loved. I want the love of their family and their God to be firmly etched on their hearts and visible in their lives. That simply cannot be accomplished through baby books and a bazillion pictures. It can only be accomplished in the moments.***

I'm learning what a gift it is to be surprised by the milestones. Instead of pushing our oldest to learn to ride her bicycle without training wheels, she surprised us by figuring it out herself. There were no tears and no frustrations; just good old fashioned joy in the moment. The first tooth will pop out eventually (as will the rest of them). I will get around to taking a picture of their toothless smiles, but first we're going to celebrate those little steps toward growing up.

So, it is with joy (and a tad bit of nostalgia) that I look into this new chapter of life. I'm hanging up my maternity clothes and challenging myself to savor each precious, fleeting moment.

Each beautiful moment...

Overwhelmed With Blessings,

P.S. This was the last maternity shirt I wore. How fitting!****

*Yes, even the nausea and middle-of-the-night bathroom trips.
**Yeah, that one was a little bit tougher. More on that later (for those who care to read that kind of stuff).
***Don't get me wrong. Baby books are fantastic, and I love doing them for my girls. But they take a big, fat back seat to actually spending time with my girls.
****Aaaand thankfully it doesn't fit anymore.