Monday, July 21, 2014

Five Years of Life-Changing Adventure

I believe there are few things in life that truly change a person. Ultimately, we are all "wired" to be a certain way... and we abide by the same set of beliefs for as long as we exist. That is, until one of these life-changing situations comes into our own life.

That  chubby, lil' puppy face! Sigh...
Our life-changing situation was Lucas. Five years ago (on the 16th of July), he eventually came into this world... after a few days of labor, his nine pounds of chubby, adorableness locked eyes with me, and I knew I'd never be the same.

Lucas celebrated his fifth birthday last week and my heart is both joyous and grieved. This is the perfect description of parenthood for us. This little being of our flesh, our intellect, our spirit... he can both frustrate and bring joy in the same moment. Only a child can do this.

Lucas has taught (and continues to teach) us about patience, tolerance, flexibility, selflessness, giving, grace, laughter, the simple, the complex, sacrifice, creativity, boundaries, discipline, compassion, emotions, our deep need for a higher power and acknowledgement of The Creator, and a healthy awareness of our own selves.

These are just a few things that have changed in us. It's not gradual... the learning curve with a child is steep, as we are constantly trying to keep up with our intelligent, inquisitive, creative little creature!

And, now he's five.

Good gracious, my heart!

We celebrated Lucas with a simple day. 

Matt spent the evening of his own birthday (which is the day previous) finishing a tree swing. It's beautiful! Ropes, wooden seat, clips to remove the swing when necessary... the guy thought of everything.

I made Lucas a cake... from scratch, you guys! I'm proud, because I've never made a white cake at home, that isn't out of a box. You can stop judging me now, because seriously... I didn't know any better! But this cake... it was good. So was that butter cream frosting... I'll never do a box again.

To finish off the day, we set up the tent and had a "cookout" for dinner. We sat around the campfire, roasted hot dogs, ate watermelon, corn on the cob and had a treat of sodas to go with dinner. After s'mores, Lucas went to bed in the tent while looking at lightening bugs and the stars. It was such a fun evening!

Five years ago, this little boy changed our lives. We know we wouldn't be the people we are today if it weren't for this special little heart that chose to be in our lives. Every year we are increasingly more thankful for his spirit, and we know without a doubt, he'll continue to push us, encourage us, and change into better people. There is truly nothing... NOTHING that changes you like a child and we couldn't be more thankful for our little life-changing man. 

Thursday, July 03, 2014

This Kid

This kid:
  • Will be five years old in two weeks! Sigh...
  • Loves superheroes
  • Eats yogurt like it's going out of style
  • Racing and general competition is everything. "Mom, I beat you!" is a statement that happens at least five times a day.
  • Desperately loves his family
  • Asks for candy on the regular
  • Plays with his Lego collection nonstop... prefers to build vehicles that have some type of warfare included.
  • Wants to be a "good boy" and shows deep concern when he is under the impression he's somehow failed. This grieves Matt and I, though we are glad he's intuitively listening to his heart.
  • Hide-and-seek... all the time
  • Loves Katy Perry, Mumford, Veggie Tales, and "rock and roll!!"
  • Calls Rascal Flatts "girl music"
  • Could play at the playground all day, if allowed.
  • Makes friends everywhere
  • Falls down, gets up, continues running. If bleeding profusely, he will deny it in an effort to continue play.
  • Blanket/couch forts are the preferred hide-out
  • Still collects rocks/sticks/random outdoor things and asks to bring them in
  • Helps with dishes, laundry and picking up
  • Loves having his picture taken
  • Surprises are the best form of entertainment... hiding, jumping out and yelling "surprise!"
  • Reading. Constantly. Lucas' love of written word is just joyous for Matt and I.
  • Upon seeing babies or a baby animal his reply is always: "Cuuuuuuute!"
Love this little critter!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend in Ohio

Lucas and I had a great time with "family" in Ohio this past weekend. My sister's husband, Eric... his family lives nearby, which enabled Lucas and I to have an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend of relaxation, play, sunshine and friendship.

Lucas and Audrina were in the water all weekend long.

They did take a few breaks to "Jeep" around the yard.

Boating with Pops and Liam... Grams helped load in the Critters. 
Trailer rides may have been the highlight of the weekend.

Preschool Was Great!

Last week was Lucas' last days of preschool. It was a great experience for all of us, him especially. If given a second chance, I would have changed a few things... but overall, our little man benefited greatly from a few hours a day outside of the home (so did mama!).

It's cliche' but I just can't believe how much growth and maturing happens every year... it seems just a few months ago our little guy was still having tantrums, sleeping hours a day, and barely writing his name. Now we have a little reader on our hands who loves friendship and listens carefully to his elders.

School was beneficial for Matt and I, as it allowed us to see where Lucas was both emotionally and cognitively throughout the year. It gave us a glance at how he handles stress and social challenges. Granted, our little guy will continue to grow and change... constantly keeping us on our toes... but we have a better idea of who he is through circumstance and challenge.

If it were not for Lucas' teacher, I don't think this year would have been such a success. She paid special attention to each child, and it seemed nearly every day she would give me an update. Mrs. Candace was a gift, for sure... as she kindly and patiently discussed ways we could help Lucas over hurdles and give him a boost in character.

Matt and I are still exploring what it means to educate our child. As a family, we go the extra mile to ensure all of our values are being met. With that in mind, we want to be sure Lucas is being challenged, respected and being allowed to explore childhood in the best manner possible. Preschool was an excellent springboard into years of understanding what it means to learn.

Lucas friends!

Singing songs for family and friends. Exept Merit... he's just bugging his neighbor.

Lucas receiving his certificate of completion from Mrs. Candace and Miss Allysa (See that little girl in the blue... she's crazy. Can't trust that one!).

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Today is Earth Day, and I've gotta tell ya... It's a beautiful Earth Day here in Indiana! Spirits are high, the sun is shining, the birds are singing and the grass couldn't be greener.

Spring is a wonderful time of year. It has lifted my heart to a place of hope, and for this I couldn't be more grateful.

I had to get out and take a few pics this afternoon... because I just can't forget how sweet Spring is... the dainty flowers, the fresh dirt, the blue skies, the white toes and the dandelions! Oh the dandelions. They're everywhere.... and they're darling! Even if some people consider them a nuisance...

Thank God for Spring!

I just LOVE taking pictures of the kiddo's toes. Aren't they adorable!?

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Aggression, Messes and Yelling!

I gotta tell you guys... raising this boy of ours is a challenge! Every day feels like a fight to teach gentleness, manners, kindness, empathy, cleanliness, tidiness, respect, obedience and general social skills. On some level, I've always thought children inherited most of these life-lessons from their parents... gleaning attributes into their own lives as they live among their elders.

I cannot say this is true at this time in our lives.

Every day feels like dirt, loudness, defiance, rough housing, running, stomping, sassy talk, disrespect, disobedience, undoing everything, making messes, eating a lot, eating loudly, refusing food, demanding food, whining, chasing the cat, getting muddy, changing clothes, getting muddy again...

This boy will find a stick anywhere... it could be a parking lot, and he'll find it. Any object can be a sword and will be used as a weapon while running and jumping, nearly impaling himself, or another. I've found my child lodged underneath, beside and between things. He has hit his head on nearly everything. Smashed fingers, stubbed toes and slammed all appendages on all things.

There are many plans made. Plans for rockets ships, tree houses, forts, underground tunnels, digging lakes, adopting puppies, adopting kittens, collecting worms, feeding the birds, collecting the "worlds largest rock collection", finding dinosaurs, staying up all night, eating all the pizza, jumping the highest, running the fastest, being the sneakiest, and riding "all the animals!"

*Deep breath*

I end my days often sitting on the couch... with a cup of tea and blissful silence. After a day full of conversation, conflict, and compromise... I find myself empty. Hoping to fill my emotional tank just enough to start all over again the next day, I sit and mentally review the events... remembering the tough moments... but also remembering the sweetness.

Our boy is full of sweet. His morning greeting when he says: "Good morning mom. I love you and it's time to get up." The joy on his face when I place peanut butter and apples in front of him at the table. His giggles when we play hide and seek. The deep desire he has to be just like his Dad! I see sweetness between the hard moments... and though I often feel like our boy is too much "all aggression and messes and yelling!" I have glimpses of what his heart will always be like.

It will always be loving. Lucas will always have a heart that wants to serve others. He will always want to impress his father. Our boy's heart will always love his mother and always want to see her happy. That heart of his will always want to be adventurous and a physical challenge to make him feel like the brave soul he is!

This is the greatest challenge I've yet to come up against... this child of ours. He is opinions, and defiance and hard-headed... but the sweet, loving heart pulls me back in every time. Some days I wonder "what am I doing!?" because I am not equipped to raise this boy! But that heart... it slays me, and makes me want to try harder each day following.

Maybe, just maybe... this boy will be okay. As far as his mother goes... all bets are still out.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Blessing With A Big Heart

Every day I count my blessings. Well... maybe not count them, per say... but I'm aware of them and every day I notice new blessings I failed to recognize the day before.

Early Winter, I was given a gift in the form of a friend who happened to live next door! Sharon is a strong, independent, seventy year old woman and we first met while shoveling snow. About two feet of snow, to be exact. She genuinely came to my driveway, took off her glove (because she's a lady with manners!) and shook my hand while introducing herself. We exchanged pleasantries and after she walked away, I felt a pull or a tug, or a nudge, or something in my heart saying: "Invite her over!"

I did. I spoke up, saying: "Sharon!" As she turned around... I said, "Would you like to come over for coffee one day next week? I have very few friends here in Muncie, and you're very kind, and you live next door!"

She chuckled and agreed. I was excited.

Her first visit felt natural... like we'd known each other for years. She brought me a "housewarming" gift, and I made scones. We talked for hours and as she readied herself to leave, we hugged... both thankful to have a friend in such close proximity with so many kindred qualities. How is it possible a woman of immense grace, wisdom and kindness could have such a spark with me!?

 Sharon's visits have been a weekly occurrence since January, and I have to say, it's been an immense blessing. Sharon has listened to my heart, offered advice, loved on my kiddo, brought food over, helped me paint my house, met both my mother and mother-in-law, shared her story with me (my favorite!) and made me feel valued in her own life. It's amazing how much of a difference one person can make in the life of another, and Sharon has done exactly that for me.

Sharon is a blessing with a big heart.

This past week, Sharon suffered from a stroke and though she is at home now, the injury has taken parts of herself that allow her to love others in her special way... like her speech. My heart felt the blow and my breath caught in my throat as her kind husband told me what happened over the phone, because... well... it just sucks. I felt shocked and painfully aware of how much I care for my friend.

 Sharon is a woman of great strength and dignity... sharing her gifts and talents in this community. She has served those who are unwell and loved on those who need love. She is an immense gift to all of us, and when we grow to love a person like Sharon, we too feel her pain in our own hearts. I feel her loss. I also feel the hope of recovery, but right now... I feel the loss.

As we learn more about what has happened to Sharon's body and mind, I can only hope we can serve her just as well as she has served us. To give her the feeling of being loved and valued... treasured. To remind her that she is special, not for all the things she has done for us... but because her spirit is unique, loving and tender. As Sharon copes with and learns to recover from her injury, I hope to remind her that she has been one of my biggest blessings in my own life and will continue to be so. She is my blessing with a big heart.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Difference In A Day: What I Do When I Start To Feel Low

Today is grey and cold. I feel that way a little bit inside too... like, inside my heart or my spirit... or wherever we feel our feelings. I feel kind of blah today.

This week has been a little low for me, to be honest... and when I feel low, I just want to sit around and do nothing. So instead of doing nothing, I've tried to stay busy with this and that. Here are a few ways I keep myself from diving deeper down:

  • Craft time. Pull out paper, glue, scissors, doo-dads (I had buttons), sparkles and go for it! Be creative, have very few boundaries and see what happens. I made a few cards and Lucas created the cutest little crocodile I've ever seen!
  • Cooking. I've severely cut our grocery budget this past month (because yikes!), which has resulted in creatively making meals and snacks with pantry items I already have. My favorite is to make baked goods using substitutions like peanut butter, bananas and non-dairy nut beverages. It's fun, and there are always delicious treats as a result!
  • Writing. I've written a blog post on disappointment, but have yet to post it online. Still in the works.... Writing is a great way to clear my heart and head. Often I keep the writing private, because if we can't be fully honest in our thoughts, then it's not helpful to our hearts. 
  • Nutrition. When I'm feeling low I can often see patterns that have led up to a bad day. Too much sugar, inconsistent meals, lots of caffeine, and not enough wholesome foods. In addition to cleaning up my food habits, I tend to add things like lemon water, turmeric tea and smoothies to my diet. Usually within a couple days, I feel better... mostly.
  • Naps. For some... naps are not a good pattern to get into when suffering from depression. This can lead to avoidance, withdrawn behavior patterns and apathy... resulting in more depression. For me... a nap can help jump-start my late afternoon and evenings. As a mother and wife, I often feel weary and worn down. The day in and day out of constantly serving can lead to emotional and mental weariness. A nap can feel like a break for my brain and body in what often feels like a long day.
  • Movies or series. I'm not gonna lie... on days when Lucas lays down for his own nap, I get excited to turn on the tv and watch whatever interests me that day. Sometimes it's a documentary, and other times it's something frivolous and silly. Whether it's a good laugh or a good cry, it's a distraction from my internal dialogue, responsibilities and again, what feels like a day of serving others non-stop.
  • Something physical I can do indoors. I typically choose yoga, but sometimes prefer pilates, a game of hide and seek with the kiddo or just a tickle fight. Whatever gets the blood moving, always helps.
  • Reading. Lately, reading has been a little bit more challenging. Not sure why... but my focus hasn't been what it usually is. That being said, reading can be a great little escape when you have a few minutes here and there.
  • Reading something inspirational. For me, it's usually something spiritual, but we all find inspiration in different ways and whatever makes us feel like we've got the umph! to put another foot in front of ourselves, do it.
  • Looking at funny things on the internet. I'm not gonna lie, you guys... sometimes I go on Pinterest and look only at the "humor" section. Because some days... that's what it takes. Plus... you can always send the pins to your friends and then you have someone to laugh with! Laughter increases special hormones in your brain, and then... you feel just a little bit better.
  • Talking to friends. When I feel crappy, I email my bestie and text my sis. Always cheers me up. In addition, I try and FaceTime, Gmail Chat and be in touch with people who are both encouraging and honest. The temptation to withdraw and stay private has to be resisted, especially when a good chuckle or a sweet story from a trusted friend can make all the difference in a day.
Everyone has things they like to do, but depression can distract us from holding on to our "hobbies." Often, I just sit and dwell in my thoughts, which is super unhealthy for me. My internal dialogue isn't always in a good place and I find myself feeling convinced of things that are severely untrue (feelings of worthlessness...etc.). Staying busy can really help get us through the "dark times" and though we should remain self-aware, making efforts to do the things we enjoy can make a huge difference in a day.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Blessing In Spring

It's Sunday afternoon and as big chunky snowflakes fall I find myself internally rolling my eyes and thinking: "Not again... when is it ever going to end!?" Winter... it's lasting forever this year. This Winter, or so I've been told, has been unusually frigid, dark, snow-packed and long. It's been one helluva Winter!

As I sit huddled in front of this space heater, in an effort to warm my toes, I can't help but compare this winter to my heart after our last move to Muncie. Moving is so hard, you guys. And this... from a gal who has moved... let's see... um, eight times since I was young (moving when you're young counts, because it changes you). That's a few times and at this point you'd think I'd be good at this relocation business. Well, lemme tell you... I'm not. In fact, I think it's harder every time!

Moving can leave a person feeling depressed. In fact, if someone tells me they have moved (to a new state/country) and they don't feel sad, lonely or low... I figure they're either incredibly unselfaware (this is not a word, I know), or lying. There is no way the human heart can go from a place of attachment and familiarity to aloneness and not feel something in their heart. No way!

Depression can feel like Winter... cold, isolating, lacking in color, lonely and trapped. It can leave you feeling like: "What's the point? Why do I even keep at it? Will Spring EVER show?"

Indeed. Spring is always around the corner. And without Winter... there is never a Spring. Truth.

See, there is always hope in the relief and warmth of fresh days, and it is just beyond the horizon. This HAS to end at some point. It can't last forever. It just can't....

As I hold on to the hope of Spring, I can now pull the shades and see the meaning of Winter/Depression. It is not just a cold, bleak time... but a time to hunker down and observe what has importance in life; real importance. When we are in a season of darkness, it is an opportunity to look toward our Creator and the promise to us of better times. We look to the Creator when we are unsure where we fit, or what purpose we serve. The Creator offers us meaning, love, and identity at the core.

Only the Creator can offer this identity. Not our friends, our families, our church, our jobs, our hobbies, our sports, our gardens, our children, our pets... nothing, but God. Sure, these things can add to our identities, but they do not define it. They do not create our core. God created our core from the moment we were birthed... our core was filled with meaning, love and identity... and that is something that is often lost when we are filled with attachment and familiarity to the World. We allow ourselves to be distracted by things that hold little importance compared to the love of our Creator. Taking these things away though relocation is an opportunity to find our core again. To find the love again.

Now, don't get me wrong. If you are in a time of attachment and familiarity, and this is where God has placed you... live it up! Those of us weathering a Winter are envious of the warmth, encouragement and fullness you experience during this time of your life, because it's great! The Lord bless you in this time!

For those of us barely making it through the rough patch, Spring can only come when we've weathered a Winter. Some of us have harder Winters than others, but find blessing in that too. We must have hope that our God is great and he will see us through with his love. This is a time in which I find my core and let it bathe in the warmth of Spring. A time of blossom and enrichment. It's going to be a beautiful and loving Spring!

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven; Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted; Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the Earth; Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled; Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy; Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God; Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God; Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you, for great is your reward in Heaven for in the same way they persecuted the prophets before you. - Matthew 5:3

Friday, March 21, 2014

Life Within

As all family situations would be, when one person is struggling... everyone struggles. Especially the kiddos. Children are flawless examples of the ripple effect. Their seemingly "normal" behaviors can be examples of hurt, loneliness, misunderstanding, and basic internalization of emotion. Children have a narcissistic view of the world, therefore believing everything is about them... including their parent's feelings.

As I have been navigating all my feelings and emotions this Winter, I can't help but be sensitive and aware of Lucas' heart. This boy feels hard and deep! I love him for it... but also find myself nervous that somewhere I'm failing. Don't we all feel this way!? Help! Someone tell me how to raise this child... someone!


On the flip side, there is SO MUCH to be thankful for in this child of ours. He is beautiful. Seriously you guys... we have a beautiful child, inside and out! He's handsome with his big brown eyes, smooth skin and thick dishwater-colored hair. So handsome, that one.
His heart... where do I start?!... it's big, open, sensitive and intuitive. Lucas' heart is full of wild wonder; constantly seeking answers and approval. This child... he wants to be a part of all things big and wonderful. He wants to be seen and understood. I don't think this desire will change within him. He will always fight to be understood.

Lucas is full of life! He runs and jumps and hurdles and rolls with all his might. He finds sticks, rocks, bugs, dirt, mud and water... and will be fully engrossed for all of time, if allowed. He loves critters and just wants to play! Lucas has a light behind those big brown eyes... it's full of smiles, laughter, loud talking, belching... that light is life!

I love these things and more in our son. He is truly special to us... like no other boy I've known. He's uniquely made.

So often we don't talk about parenting while in the midst of depression or emotional lows. How does a parent care for a beautifully full child, when they themselves feel as if their tank is empty? Often I feel this way... and I have no advice. These are moments when I turn to prayer, devotion toward something that fills me (poetry or scripture), and a form of physical activity that leaves me feeling rejuvenated. Also, counseling. Parenting without solid, safe advice seems impossible. I couldn't do it.

Being aware of our own feelings allows us to be intuitive to our children's feelings. When we see our kids' hearts, we see them for what they need and who they are... at the core. I see my child's beauty, light, and life within!

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. - Psalm 139:14