The Mother Letter

I am not sure who it is, but there is a man who is putting together a really cool letter to his wife. I am sure you have read about it, but if not, go here to check out The Mother Letter. I think gifts like this are such treasures, so I decided to participate.

Here is my entry (I wrote it quick):

Dear Mother,

Did anyone ever tell you how amazing it is to be a mom?? Or how hard it would be? My journey as a mother has been incredible. The love I have for my children is immeasurable. The joy I feel when I think and talk about them is immense. Along with my husband, my two kids are the loves of my life. Though there are many days when I question my abilities, my love and affection never changes. It is hard to imagine what life was like before wet kisses, football tackles, siblings belly laughing together.

I wish I could say I cherish every moment and have a happy heart (that I require of my children) every day. But I don’t. I wake up grumpy. I have been thrown up on, pooped on, and peed on. I have stayed up all night. I have cried. I have yelled too loudly. I question my ability to mother my children often. I have never felt more inadequate for anything in my life.

And yet, as you know, dear mother, it is worth every moment. I would endure many more sleepless nights if it means seeing my son pray for his little sister. If it means walking into my daughter’s room and being greeted by her huge contagious smile. If it means hearing “Mommy, hug you,” from my son. If it means snuggling my baby girl. If it means my children crawling all over me while laughing. If it means understanding the love of Christ in a way I never knew before becoming a mother.

In the nearly three years of my journey as a mom, my life has been transformed. This is the best time of my life, as I imagine it is yours. One the greatest parts of the journey has been the friends I have made along the way. Ones who reassure me that we all get more frustrated than we care to admit. One who reassure me my son will eventually be potty trained. Ones who have gone before me, and ones who are beginning their journey. What a joy it is to be in this society of women that understand.

May your Christmas be blessed.

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My kids make me smile.

On Wednesday, when we were putting up our Christmas tree (by “we” I mean Caleb and me), I was telling Caleb the story about the birth of Jesus. It was super fun! He was loving hearing about it. Brett came home, and Caleb hurried to show him our “Jesus tree”. Caleb keeps calling it the Jesus tree, so I think it is going to stick. What a sweet reminder of the true reason we celebrate.

Finally!

I spent 8 days at my parents’ house. Brett’s family comes up there each year for a hunting trip. They do not have internet that far out in the country, so I was without the ability to update my blog. I know you were so sad.

But I am back.

It took me a few days to enter back into the real world. I had a lot to do the last few days, and I still do not feel back in my normal routine. True to myself, I have done really random things that have contributed to my inability to feel in a routine.

I put up my Christmas tree today. Caleb helped me. He was so cute. My tree is definitely decorated with the fact I have two toddlers. All of the breakable ornaments are at the top, and there are only a few ornaments at their level. It looks lopsided, but most of our ornaments are sentimental….and I do not want them broken.

Brett’s grandma bought him an ornament each year. His mom gave them to us when we got married. It was definitely one of my most favorite gifts ever. Added to that are a few ornaments from my childhood Christmases. We started the same tradition in our family. Brett and I bought each other ornaments our first Christmas. Since then, I buy a family ornament. Then, I buy each of my children an ornament that shows what they’re into that year. I am limited on my choices because I buy ornaments you can put a photo in. This year Caleb’s is a race car, and Chloe’s says “princess” (because she is our little princess). Caleb likes cars, trains, etc. I wish I could have found a train, but they did not have one. I knew these ornaments would be meaningful eventually, but I underestimated how much seeing the past 3 years of ornaments bring back so many memories. While hanging them, it was fun to think back…..to the Christmas we were engaged, the next one I was married and pregnant with Caleb, the next I was already pregnant with Chloe (but did not know it), and then last one was with two kids. I cannot imagine what it will be like in a decade from now.

I also ordered my Christmas cards. I won a $50 gift card to smilesacrossmilescards.com in an online giveaway. You can check out my actual card here. She changed the names, as you can see. Christmas cards are my favorite, but I usually have to be super cheap with them. You can imagine my excitement to get awesome cards for free!!!!! The best part is that the owner sends proof after proof until you get exactly what you want. Poor thing, I changed my order like 6 times.

I love the Christmas season. It just feels so cozy and fun. I like the decor. I do not go too overboard in my own home. Partially, because I do not have much decor…but I also do not have many places to put decor. I do not have much wall space or countertops or shelves. A lot of Christmas stuff is breakable, so that is out. I have a cute Nativity scene, but I know the pieces would be lost the first day I put it up. Unfortunately, my ability to decorate is pretty limited. However, I do love everyone else’s decorations.
Oh, this is funny. As part of our marriage, Brett and I had to go through pre-marital counseling (which was super helpful). We had to talk about holiday expectations. One thing he said is that he would never put up Christmas lights on the outside of the house. It was because he saw his dad struggle through it every year…..it was too much work for a few weeks! I do not mind. I am so cheap that I always think “wow, their light bill must be so high in December”. But I do love to look at lights!

I also love Christmas parties and all the fun stuff like that!

We have a few traditions in our family. I started them because I like traditions. One of them is that my kids wake up in their own house on Christmas. No matter where we travel, we are always home on Christmas. When I first started it, people said I was making a mistake because Christmas is boring with just your immediate family. I totally disagree. I love the calmness and togetherness of having just our little family of four. We are not in a hurry to get anywhere. No schedule to keep. We take our time opening presents, playing with them, etc. We do not have family in town, so we either have to be home all day Christmas or not at all.

This year, I am going to make a birthday cake for Jesus and CELEBRATE!! When putting up the tree, I told Caleb about Jesus’ birth. When Brett came home, Caleb told him, “This is Jesus tree.”

What traditions do you have??

This is getting long, and I did not even write much about my trip.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving….also known as the National Day of Eating.

Hodge Podge

It has been quite a week.

I was overwhelmed (in a good way) by the kindness of a stranger. Kindness is a core value of our family, and this week, when a stranger helped me in a time of need, I realized that it truly is very important to me. Caleb was having a crazy fit in Target, and a mom stopped to help me. There was not much she could do, but her thoughtfulness really moved me.

I thoroughly cleaned my house. I usually clean a lot before a trip, but this one has been a record setter. I love a sparkling house. Though it does not last, I enjoy it for the few minutes of bliss.

But true bliss is watching my kids love life and have a happy home. I may have nasty carpet and lots of crayon marks on the walls, but we enjoy life. I know that is most important.

I found out this week that I have to have surgery. I have a hernia, and I just have to get it repaired. God watches out for me, though, because I scheduled it with a doctor who a friend of mine works with sometimes (she’s a nurse). The surgeon is apparently horrible. I am so thankful she told me that, so I could switch to a good one! I scheduled the surgery for January, because I want God to heal me. Not that he is on a timetable, but I want to wait as long as I can! He actually has already healed the pain (it no longer hurts, YAY!), but I just need it to mend now.

The hilarious thing (to me) is that they told me I could not lift anything over 10 pounds for 6 weeks. So apparently Chloe is going to have to put herself in her crib. And in her car seat. And her high chair. And hopefully she learns to change her own diapers. Luckily Caleb can do most of that (except the diapers, but maybe I will potty train before then!). Brett is awesome and helpful, but he cannot be home 24-7. Should be interesting.

That also means I cannot rearrange furniture for 6 weeks. How will I survive?

I’m pretty sure my laundry basket weighs like 12 pounds. So I guess that is out too.

On a different note, we are leaving today (minus Brett who has to wait a few days) for our annual family hunting trip. It will be really fun. My parenting requirements will be minimal, which is always a nice break.

I am done with my Christmas shopping!!!!! I already blogged about my kids’ presents. I cannot write about Brett’s present because sometimes he reads this. He does not really care about presents, so I have to be creative. I think he will like it. Nothing can top what I got him a few Christmases ago…..a gun he had wanted. I am not sure which he thought was better: the gun or the thought of me buying it!

Christmas is easy this year. I only bought stuff for my immediate family. Everyone else will get a card. Cheap, yes. But at least I will be able to pay my credit card bill in January!

Have a wonderful week. I will be internet-less for awhile. My parents house is too far in the country to get service.

The Evolution of Me-Me

A few days ago, I realized I am not the person I was four years ago (when I got married). I have changed much more than I ever thought I would. I loved college and matured a lot during that time, as well, but the last four years have changed me. I was about to write “nothing dramatic has happened”, but I would have to recant that statement. In less than four years, I got married and had two children. That would constitute a dramatic change, especially if you would have seen my schedule in college (i.e. sleep a lot!).

I was a Christian when I got married, but my faith has deepened. I married the most incredible man of God, and his example/words/prayers/etc have contributed to my growth. God has completely shifted my paradigm and worldview. My children have, of course, given me a deeper understanding of the love of God. I love what God has done in my heart. I am definitely not where I want to be, but I am so thankful for how far I have come. I am excited to continue my journey with Jesus.

The other big thing I have noticed a change in is myself as a wife and a friend. I have many amazing friends, but two (Allison and Melissa), in particular, have taught me what it looks like to be a friend and a wife. Allison is my neighbor, who reached out to me as a first time mom. I knew very few moms, so this was very timely. She, in turn, introduced me to Melissa. Both have unique giftings, but both are really hospitable. I jokingly (but truthfully) call myself their taker friend, because I feel like I just take from them. I really did not know how to create a home when I got married. I had a wonderful upbringing and have a fantastic mom, but I never learned how to make a house a home….or how to cook….or decorate. When I first met Allison, I remember mentioning how she planned to update her home a bit (she has since moved, but we had the exact same house…just flip flopped). I thought to myself that my house looked fine just the way it is. Through these two friendships, though, I learned how to tastefully decorate, which makes a house feel like a home. I did not update my house out of peer pressure, but by the example of seeing how a few changes create warmth.
Before knowing Allison and Melissa, I had a hard time inviting people over. Even though I love socializing, I am really insecure about my cooking abilities, and it makes me hesitant to entertain. Though they definitely are better at it than me, I have gained the confidence to have friends over.
Hospitality is really important to me, and I feel so fortunate to have friends who inspire me towards greatness. I love that I feel confident creating a home that Brett enjoys coming home to and that my kids feel safe in. My house is definitely not going to win any decor awards, but I feel at home. And that is what I value.

While I am on my sentimental wagon (which, by the way, I am really tired, so this may not be making much sense), I also have two friends (in addition to Al and Mel) that have really been irreplaceable in my motherhood journey. My two friends, Carol and Ty, do not live near me, but they have been the best go-to friends for questions/concerns/frustrations/etc as a mom. I admire their parenting, and their advice is always so timely. Carol is also the most fashionable person I know, and she has helped me in that area.
I have a lot of other awesome friends that have been so wonderful to me as a mom. Lizz is a mom of three young kids who excites me about having more kids (she makes it look so fun). Anytime I feel like the worst mom in the world (which, really, with all the weirdos out there, do I really believe that?), she reassures me that she has been there and understands. Michaela and I have kids the same ages (our boys are 6 weeks apart and our girls are 8 months apart), and her friendship has been so great. It is so fun watching our kids grow up together and serve the Lord together at church. Jen was my first friend who had a child in KC. Seeing her make the transition to motherhood helped me do the same.

When I graduated from Florida State and moved all the way to Kansas, it was really hard for me. I was so excited to be married and live with Brett, but I had (and have) the greatest friends in college. We have the funniest and best memories from our days in Tallahassee. Though I am still very close with those friends and they are definitely irreplaceable, God has enriched my life with new friends.

I am the type of person who has a few really close friends and immensely value those relationships. It was not until a few days ago that it dawned on me how much each friend (in college until now) how positively impacted my life in so many ways. I am not who I was four years ago, but I am glad for that. I have changed, developed, grown. Even my college friends and I have gotten closer as the years go on. Distance has not changed that. We laugh about how lame we were in college.

I think back to how I decorated my house when I was first married. My budget was much greater then because Brett played football, but I was still so cheap. I laugh when I think back to the tacky things I thought looked good. I also laugh when I think how terribly I used to dress. I have really worked hard in about the last year of trying to dress better. I am still not a fashionista, but I definitely am an improvement over the t-shirts and tennis shoes I used to wear everyday.

I am forever grateful for the friends God has hand picked to be a part of my life. Each has blessed me so much. It is so fun to adopt the traits/habits/etc in people that I admire and make them my own. I am a better wife, mom, friend, host because of the impact people have made in my life.

For those of you who read my blog and were mentioned in this post, I want to thank you for your friendship.

October, in photo form

Johnson Farms…
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Halloween….
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And now my kitchen improvement project. I had planned to put off replacing our ceiling fans and drawer/cabinet pulls, but I like how my bathroom turned out so much that I could not wait any longer.
I took the before picture of my kitchen fan and the after is the living room fan. But both fans are the same, except the before living room fan did not have a light (now it does).
Other than Brett helping take out the old fan and hold some things, I did most of it myself (he had to work). I actually was really excited, because I love learning new things.

Before…
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After…
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And remember these ugly things?? Well, I had the same in the kitchen (but forgot to take the before picture)….
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The after…..
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I got nicer spray paint (yes, there are levels of spray paint LOL) for the kitchen, but the cheaper spray paint actually worked better. However, the nicer spray paint (by that I mean it cost $6 instead of $3) looks sharper.

Brett could care less about things like this, so he was supportive but not excited. However, once he saw the finished product, he was surprised how much it changed the look of the room. I could not agree more. I love it. It is a little change that really makes a big difference. The other big thing is that we actually have an overhead light in the living room. There are two flood lights in there, but they serve to illuminate the fire place more than the rest of the room. So if we try to read on the couch, it was not well lit. The new lights add so much.

Since I am already posting so many pictures, I will just show you what we got our kids for Christmas. Brett took a morning off this week (since he has to work basically all weekend), and we went on a date and shopping for all this stuff. We decided to get our kids each one big gift. Family will put either money towards them or give accessories to go along with it. And some family will get small gifts, as well. My kids always have a great Christmas, and it is mostly from our families. I am so thankful for that!

Here is Caleb’s gift….(he rode a Power Wheel for the first time a couple of weeks ago and LOVED it!)
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And Chloe’s doll house….(it is so funky and big, just what I was looking for. The crazy thing is that it is the same price as a lot of doll houses that are much much smaller and cheaper looking…I got it on sale, but I was still surprised at the price!)
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Have an awesome weekend!!!!!!!!