Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Its been a great year!

 I often feel like we have more than our fair share of challenges. And maybe its true. But we all have our challenges. I try not to let people say that mine are bigger than theirs, because we each have our own mountains to climb. What is the use in comparing?

This past year had its fill of challenges. Lots of medical paperwork. Countless phone calls with insurance, doctor's offices, therapists and medicaid personnel. Tantrums and tumbles. Dirty diapers and tear streaked cheeks.

Awhile back I read an article online that really captured how amazed I often am with Nate. Dear Sibling to a Child With Special Needs could have been written about Nate himself. In a way it is.

 Throughout the early part of the year Nate was getting frustrated to the point of tears almost daily. The tantrums from his brother and seeing me frequently frazzled really got to him. Can't blame him for being shaken up sometimes.

We had a lot of talks about finding the good in each day. Not letting a bad situation or frustrating circumstance get us down. We had this conversation a LOT. Frankly, I think I was talking to myself as much as I was talking to him.

At first I didn't really notice that these talks were starting to make a difference. But after awhile Nate started saying "its been a great day". Sometimes it was in response to something good that had happened (going to a playdate or out to lunch) but other times, it was just because he knew that even though we sometimes have to deal with hard things, we are still blessed. Even Nate's friends and their parents have taken notice of his new "outlook on life".

I have told him how remarkable that it is for him to have purposefully changed the way he thought about life, his life. There are plenty of adults who have not been able to grasp this concept of recognizing the good in our life even while going through hard times. This wonderful outlook that he has taken on gives me hope for the man he is on his way to becoming. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Good Lie Review and Giveaway!

I can't express how excited I am to share this giveaway with you all!! 

If you haven't heard about it yet, The Good Lie follows a group of children orphaned by the brutal Civil war in Sudan that began in 1983. As the tattered children make the difficult trek to Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, they meet other fleeing children, forging a bond with Jeremiah, who, at 13, is already a man of faith, and Paul, whose skills become essential to their survival.   Fifteen years later, a humanitarian effort would bring 3600 lost boys and girls to America. Three brothers are given the chance to resettle in America arrive in Kansas City, Missouri.  
Upon arriving in Kansas, they are met by Carrie Davis (Witherspoon), an employment agency counselor who has been enlisted to help find them jobs—no easy task, when things like straws, light switches and telephones are brand new to them.  Together, against the backdrop of their shared losses, the Lost Boys and some unlikely strangers find humor in the clash of cultures, and heartbreak as well as hope in the challenges of life in America. 

I was seriously blown away by this movie. The heart and soul you see in these children as they go through such hardships and just keep going is amazing. The sincerity throughout the movie is evident in the excellent performances and direction. I was moved to tears more than once as I followed these endearing people on their incredible journey. Frankly, after watching the movie I feel I want meet them in real life to glean some wisdom from them! I left the theater feeling truly inspired by this true story of strength, sacrifice and loyalty.

I have the privilege to give one lucky winner a copy of The Good Lie DVD!! Giveaway ends at midnight on Christmas Eve! So the winner will have their prize by New Years! Take a moment to enter the giveaway via the Rafflecopter below:
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Sunday, October 05, 2014

Our Fall Family Pictures

In preparation for our mini-session I scoured Pinterest for pose ideas. Because two of my kiddos cannot walk (or really stand) unassisted I had to keep that in mind while choosing inspiration pictures. Here are a few of the ones that I liked.

Then came the whole ordeal of figuring out what to have our family wear! I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to What To Wear pins. Thank goodness for Pinterest! Am I right?? ;-)

Capturing Joy had a whole series on different color schemes for family photo outfits and the post on "yellow" caught my eye. I was also inspired by this post and the rule of thumb that they suggest which is {the “three colors + POP” rule}.  The last couple of times we have had pictures done I worked everyone's outfits around something cute I found for Christine. This year I took a different approach. I haven't been feeling great about my body this year (put on a few lbs) so I picked an outfit for me that I really like and feel confident in. It was a gray dress which was neutral so it was easy to build a color palette around it. I looked in everyone's closets and found bits and pieces until it came together. I ended up buying a shirt for Joe at Goodwill to round everything out. I ended up choosing the same color scheme as the pictures above - navy, gray & yellow with a POP of pink.
In case you can't tell, my kids are incredibly hard to pose. The younger two are on the move so much and the oldest wants to do bunny ears the whole entire time! But despite my crazy kids, my lovely friend Lehi was able to get a few great shots of our little family. I love them!! 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Bucket List Update

It has been quite awhile since I updated my Bucket List so I figured it was about time! If you remember, this started out as my 30 by 30 list, but since I am no longer 30... its become my Bucket List. Some of these are more realistic than others, some will be ongoing things that I work on forever. But having them in black and white helps keep me accountable and give me something to work toward.

1. Take a "real" vacation with my husband! Not just to the family lakehouse (though it is nice, It is not the same as really getting away together - ALONE!). ;-) -

DONE – Our Wisconsin trip in '09 was great. Also, for our 10year anniversary we went on a cruise!

2. I want to go to one (and only one) of the following: Colts game, Pacers game OR the Indy 500.... Those are huge Indianapolis things to do and I've lived here my whole life and not done any of them! * Changed to sporting event with hubby. So that includes the Cubbies. - DONE – Sallie took me to Pacers game (front row seats and all!) and Isaac and I went to a Cubs game in Cincy. And last year we got some tickets to a Colts home game at Lucas Oil Stadium!

3. Go on a trip with my "girls". We've been talking about doing it for years but none of us has had the money... but somehow we need to make it happen!! - Done... sort of. I want this to be an every couple of years thing. I don't think just one trip is gonna do it. But I did have a great trip with a couple of my favorite ladies in the fall of 2012. This summer I got to visit Savannah, Georgia with two of my college pals!

4. Watch a silent movie. I don't know why but I think it'd be really fun! Charlie Chaplain here I come! – AFI Top 100 - DONE - for my 32nd birthday my hubby planned this really great at-home-date that included a home-cooked meal (by him) and a silent movie on a projector screen. It was so great!

5. Going to a scrapbooking retreat with a group of my Scrappin' Sisters! This one will totally happen! Right girls?!? - DONE – we did a DIY retreat at the lake.

6. Take my older son to an amusement OR water park. He loved the carnival rides at the county fair... I know he'd love the kiddie area of Kings' Island or Holiday World... something like that. -

DONE – we went to Great Wolf Lodge. Still hope to go to an amusement park someday. ;-)

7. Get really good outdoor family pictures taken of us and the boys. I'm a photographer myself... but it is hard to do your own family's pictures! - DONE – I can't bring myself to spend a fortune on an expensive photographer but I am willing to spend a little by having friends do our pix, or by getting a deal on Groupon and so far I've been really happy with them.

8. Have my entire house clean at the same time. (I'm not saying I will do said cleaning... just that it will be done!) - Um, yeah. Not sure if this will ever happen but one can always hope! In the mean time I am working on developing a better routine for household upkeep.

9. Ok, please don't laugh or think I'm awful! I want to go skinny dipping! Though I'll probably have to do it alone because my husband does not do water.... DONE.  ;-)

10. Do some community service OR mission trip. I've kind of let stuff like that sit on the back burner since I had kids and I think it'd be good to give in that way again. DONE - family pictures for Sheltering Wings families a couple of times now.

11. I know this sounds lame but... I want to own a minivan. It is hard having two kids in car seats in a small sedan! It'd be nice to have my siblings be able to ride with us instead of having to drive separate cars! - DONE – love it! Thank goodness we got it when we did because now that we have three kids we could not all fit in the Cavalier together.

12. Feel comfortable in my own skin. Whether that includes losing weight, getting in better shape, or not... I just want to be able to look at myself and love me without being so critical of myself and pointing out all my flaws. - ** Its a work in progress. I think every pregnancy has given me more and more of an appreciation for my body even if I don't always like how it looks. Major milestone... I did a boudoir session last summer! Talk about empowering!

13. Get better at managing my time... sometimes I feel like I work all day and get nothing done! There has to be a better way! -I'm trying to get the hang of the FLY Lady thing!  Fly lady didn't work out for me... but I just finished reading Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by MoneySavingMom and I'm trying to use her tools to help create better habits and use my time and money more wisely.

14. Paint our master bedroom. It’s a fairly inexpensive way to change the look of a room and I think it’d help me to be satisfied w/ our hand-me-down furniture instead of longing for something new. - DONE – love it!

15. Get in touch with a few old friends that I haven’t talked to in awhile. I know that some friends are seasonal friends and aren’t meant to last forever… but sometimes it is nice to catch up with people that you’ve lost touch with too. *Done - I have been able to reconnect with some old friends via facebook.

16. Read a Jane Austen book. I loved the movies of her books and I liked The Jane Austen Book Club… I think it’d be fun to make an “all Jane Austen all the time book club” of my own! - this seemed like a good idea at the time... but I have a hard time reading books if I've already seen the movie. So I'm not sure this one is going to happen. ;-) I'll be happy if I can finish just one!! Maybe I will do audiobook?

17. Find a new Christmas tradition to replace gifts. Every year we’re overwhelmed with the amount of toys and stuff that our boys get from friends and family. I want to stop exchanging gifts within our immediate family and take a trip or have a special outing that we do together instead – I’m working on it. We have downsized our gift-giving some.

18. Begin home-schooling. I was home-schooled and while I think there are many advantages to doing it… I’m a little intimidated. I want to get organized enough to do it well. *DONE - Nate is in third grade. Our homeschooling style keeps evolving but no matter how we go about it, he is always learning. We are involved in a homeschool co-op and have lots of homeschooling friends in our church.

19. Decide if we are going to have more kids. When we got married I wanted four kids and Isaac wanted two. Well… after having one via unexpected c-section, and one vbac at home…one who tries my patience daily and the other who pulls at my heartstrings constantly… I’m not sure if I can handle any more kids. - DONE – Christine is the perfect final addition to our family!

20. Expand my photography business. I’ve kind of just let my business be primarily friends and family so far. But I’d like to take it a little more seriously and actually do some marketing and put my business out there for more jobs. I want to do this for two reasons: 1) I love taking pictures and want to improve my skill and a lot of that comes from experience. 2) It would be helpful to our family financially if I was able to bring in some extra income. **  I still have a few gigs here and there for friends and family and that is fine for now. You can see my work HERE.

21. Get all my completed scrapbook pages into albums! I have piles of pages that are stacking up that I have no albums to put them into! - When we staged our house a couple of summers ago I packed up almost all of my scrapbooking stuff and its still in storage. Been making Photobooks on Shutterfly lately. Not the same, but still good.

22. Finish reading through the whole bible with my husband. We got off to a good start awhile back and got out of the habit. Need to start back up and finish this time! - Totally dropped the ball on this one. But want to get back into the groove!

23. Go to a Hearts at Home conference. I’ve wanted to go for a couple of years now and have not been able to work it out. One of these days… it will happen! -

DONE - I have now attended the last three Hearts at Home conferences. Each year I seem to get more out of the experience than I did the year before. It is such a great thing to be a part of. I cannot recommend it enough. Great for moms of all ages and stages!

24. Find a way to show my husband how much I appreciate him. He is such a big part of my life and while he certainly challenges me… I think I take all the good things about him for granted sometimes. - DONE - or so he tells me! ;-) But naturally its an ongoing thing that I try to work on every day.

25. Help make some positive changes to the women’s ministry at my church. I think there are a lot of women who would benefit from some regular fellowship time where we can develop our relationships on a deeper level than what we can do on Sunday mornings.- I am resistant to work on this one right now. Its kind of been a difficult road with our church's leadership. We don't always see eye to eye as far as where we want the direction of women's ministry to go. Still hope to work on this goal in the future.

26. Go see Wicked (or some other live musical). I have always enjoyed musicals and haven’t been to many live shows lately. I’m one of those dorks who will sing along and annoy whoever is sitting next to me!! DONE - I went to Wicked with a few of my best girls last year. LOVED it!!!

27. Become involved in a mom’s group/play group of some kind. - DONE-ish. While we don't have anything structured set up, a few friends and I have been getting together pretty regularly for play/learn dates. I love sharing our lives together!

28. Write out our will. It is not a fun job. No one (ok, I don’t) looks forward to thinking about what will happen when their gone from this world. But it has got to be done.

29. Take a continuing education class for fun. I was looking in the paper a few weeks ago and there were a few that I am interested in: cooking, etiquette, sewing, how to build your photography business, and others. Maybe I could talk someone into doing it with me!

30. Read a book that my husband recommends (from cover to cover!). My DH and I do not have similar taste in books at all. I read mostly fiction with some fluffy self help or DIY books in the mix. He on the other hand reads mostly theological stuff that generally bores me!

New ones:
31. Complete a 5k. I am not aspiring to win one or anything, just think it would be a fun thing to do. 

  - DONE - In July my friend and I dragged my kids out on a Saturday morning and we all did the Color Foam Run together! And just a couple weeks ago a couple of us gals did the GloRun! It was so much fun! We weren't real competetive but we finished and had a blast!

32. Visit a foreign country.  I have visited a couple foreign countries when I was younger, but now I want to go somewhere as a family. I really want to go somewhere with my husband and oldest son.

33. See some of the Wonders of the World.

34.  Go to Disney/Harry Potter World. We're hoping to get a group together to go in 2016.

35. Climb to the top of a waterfall.

36. Take my family to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.

37. Go to New Zealand and see all the Lord of the Rings locations.*I know, I am a big dork.  ;-)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Celebrate Your Kid

It has been a fun but challenging summer. The kids have really been pushing my buttons these past few weeks. I've needed reminding of some basic truths about parenting and love.

I just love these "Kathyisms"!! Little nuggets of truth and encouragement to help me be a better mom! Thanks Kathy Koch!

 Kathyism #27- "Raise the Children You Were Given" from Dr. Kathy Koch on Vimeo.

I love my children SO much. But its not always easy to not wish they were different in this way or that way. The challenges they bring to the table for me as a mom are infinitely more than anything I imagined I would have to deal with when I dreamed of being a mom. I am so thankful that my kids are quick to forgive because I have not been my best self lately. Hoping the routine of the school year will help bring about some better habits for me.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Very Harry Potter Birthday

A couple weeks ago was my oldest's 9th birthday! AH! I can't believe I am mom to a soon-to-be 4th grader!
Well, this boy loves Harry Potter so we put together a pretty Pintastic, magical Harry Potter party for him.
My awesome friend who runs a before and after school program let us borrow a Sorting Hat to sort the boys into the different houses at the beginning of the party.
Each boy had a lightning bold drawn on their forehead, Harry Potter style glasses (really just these that we cut up to be like Harry's), a Hogwarts robe and house tie.

Each of the boys got a Harry Potter goodie bag with some fun treats including: Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, a pair of Chinese handcuffs, a box of sparklers, a Hogwarts notebook, and a Hogwarts certificate/scroll.

Our local library had a Harry Potter party on the same night as I had planned the party so we decided to incorporate it into the plan. So, after the boys were sorted we all loaded into the van and headed to the library.
They had Potter themed snacks including: pretzel wands, butter beer, wizard hats (Bugles) and magic color changing potion drinks.
There were craft stations where the boys were able to decorate their own wands, color pictures, get house badges, and make Monster Book of Monsters.

After the fun at the library we came home for dinner and movie.  We had some Potter themed drinks, Wizard Chex Mix, fruit and of course a party staple... PIZZA!  ;-)
Because I wasn't sure which kids had seen which movies I chose for us to show the first Harry Potter movie (The Sorcerer's Stone)
** Because the Harry Potter books and movies get progressively darker Nate is permitted to read a book each year around his birthday and then we follow it with a family movie night to watch the corresponding movie. Shortly after the party he and I finished listening to the audio book of The Goblet of Fire and watched that movie as a family.
I am wondering how much longer Nate will be into themed parties and such.  As much work as they are I love being able to make his birthdays special and unique every year.  He is an incredibly special kid and I am proud to be his mama!  Love him!