Thursday, November 28, 2013

Images of Gratitude - Day 4

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.  Wishing you a delicious meal (I think my favorite is the stuffing), great conversation with the ones you love, and lots of blessings as we kick off another holiday season.  We're traveling to my grandparents for dinner at noon, then on to Gabe and Gina's tonight.  I'm convinced this holiday is best when pregnant. :)  No guilty feelings over here!

The last of my gratitude posts...

16.  Music (especially the kind that makes you move)

We've been living a sort of musical renaissance over here lately, from the three concerts we attended this summer, frequent dance parties in our living room with Cruz, and the constant strum of Beau's guitar as he learns more all the time.  The familiar sounds that fill our house - the Avett Brothers, Lumineers, Alabama Shakes, and of course, Mumford, have become a soundtrack for this chapter of our life and they do wonders for our souls.    

17.  Traveling to new and familiar places

While there's truly no place like home, I do love traveling to new places and escaping from time to time.  We've been so blessed to spend some time in some pretty amazing places - from the beaches and swim-up bars in Mexico, the crystal clear lake and mountains in Tahoe, the culture and amazing food in New Orleans, the relaxing cabin life in the Smoky Mountains...and the many rich memories and lessons learned along the way.  This picture was taken on Cruz's first getaway to one of our favorite cities, Chicago, and I can't wait to revisit the city with one more in tow this summer.

18.  My camera

I love my camera and love what I see through its lens.  It's not only a hobby and outlet for creativity, but a chance to examine my life and the beauty in it a little bit closer.  It's my chance to live this life twice - to pay attention, be astonished, and tell about it. (Mary Oliver)

19. A life worth celebrating

It's easy to get caught up in the motions and redundancy of life and I am thankful for the desire to light a candle every now and then and make the ordinary moments a little more extraordinary.  Whether it's a handmade banner for one special daddy's birthday, an unexpected early pick-up from daycare and a trip to Scratch for a cupcake, or Saturday morning pancakes and candles for Dr. Seuss' birthday, life's too short and our kids are little for only so long  - enough of a reason to celebrate for me.   

20.  A good book

I'm thankful for the adventures found within pages of a good book.  I'm thankful for newfound perspective, books that become road maps for navigating the challenges of this life, and for a little boy that loves books as much as I do.  I look forward to board books evolving to chapters of some of my favorite childhood adventures - from Dumbledore's castle, to the courtroom of Maycomb County.  

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Images of Gratitude - Day Three

11.  Holding you for the very first time

Childbirth was the most surreal, amazing experience of my life.  It's one of life's miracles that can only be explained through something much bigger than ourselves.  I won't ever forget the day that I met Cruz Bennett, the relief I felt to see him and hold him in my arms, and the love that instantly filled my heart.  I am so thankful for the chance to do it all over again and my arms are aching for that warmth of a swaddled newborn babe.  

12.  Our wood fireplace

I love our fireplace, love that any night with a fire is a special one, and love all the sweet pictures I have of a pajama'ed Cruz nestled under snug blankets with that familiar orange glow behind him.  Movie nights are a ritual this time of year, and are always paired with blankets piled high next to the Christmas tree, a bowl of air-popped popcorn, and that soft crackle of the fire in front of us.  This is home to me.  

13.  Family

We are blessed to have our families close and I am thankful for images like the one below.  For cousins growing up together, a papa with an endless supply of lawnmower rides, a grandma with the best shoulder to sleep on, and a childhood home I can now share with my babies.  I'm thankful for the familiar comfort of being surrounded by those who know you best, the old traditions that are reignited once again, and the new memories made each year.  

14.  The carefree days of summer

I know I already mentioned the changing of seasons, but the mid-year months of June, July, and August deserve their very own spot on my thankful tree.  I am thankful to have a job that allows me to be home in the summertime, especially now that I have these little people to spend them with.  Life slows down when the days get long and we spend our time with our toes in the pool and our heads in the clouds.  That, and my boy gets a wicked tan in the summertime and looks like a little surfer boy.   

15.  Baby feet

Thankful for them.  Because someday, they will indeed turn in to adult feet, so it's important to appreciate them while they're tiny and cute.   

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Images of Gratitude...Day 2

6.  God's timing

I spent this past Mother's Day sad after another negative pregnancy test and another month of disappointment.  Three days after, I found out I was pregnant.  We tried for a year for this second baby, and I got my very small taste of the agony so many women go through each month as they try to get pregnant.  So oftentimes, I fall guilty of having this blueprint in my head of how my life should go, and when things don't go exactly as planned, it's difficult for me to give up control and rely on God.  I've been learning, though, that God's plan is better than mine - that He's working on me through the every day challenges and that if I continue to put my trust in Him, things always fall into place.         

7.  The change of seasons

Aside from those last few weeks of wintertime, I am thankful I am a girl with a heart for the midwest.  I love the changing of seasons, the anticipation of that first snowfall, the first weekend of spring when every one seems to be outside, and those crisp fall days that call for boots, thick socks, and knit scarves.  We are resilient in the wintertime, thankful in the fall, and we fully immerse ourselves in those perfect summer nights because we know each season is temporary.  I've always said growing up in Iowa, you never take a nice day for granted, because we know it could change on a pin drop.  It all makes for a pretty good metaphor for life.

8.  For the love of food

I'll admit I have a deep relationship with my food.  It started developing about the time my relationship with my husband did, when we learned to cook together in his college apartment almost a decade ago.  It was there I learned the power of scent as garlic, basil, and tomato sauteed in a fry pan and there I began to understand that some flavors truly do dance in your mouth.  I am thankful for my food journey, for new flavors and favorite dishes, and for the hours of conversation I've had around my kitchen table.  I'm thankful for cilantro, olive oil, Indian food, and a husband who likes to try new things as much as I do.   

9.  Our sweet town

I'm thankful for Cedar Falls, Iowa, for it's storybook Main Street, it's community focus, and for Scratch Cupcakery.  I'm thankful that every Thanksgiving weekend we can all gather to march with Santa in the street and that every Friday in the summer we can gather on the lawn for popcorn and an outdoor movie.  I'm thankful for its brick sidewalks, its bike trails, and its Farmers' Market Saturdays.  I'm thankful to be raising my family here and thankful to call it home.

10.  Moments of kairos

Glennon Melton defines kairos moments as those beautiful little moments that stop you in your tracks and force you to shake your head in awe at the life you are living.  They happen amidst chronos time, and are usually small, unexpected, but beautiful.  Moments when you find yourself staring at your baby as they sleep, studying the shape of their nose, or feeling the softness of their cheek.  Moments when you really hear their laughter, or really smell the top of their head after a bath, or really notice how adorable it is when they drink the milk out of their cereal bowl.  These are the moments that make all the frustrating moments worthwhile - the moments that buy us a lifetime of days.  

To see yesterday's images of gratitude post, visit here.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Good Things...Weekend Edition

It was a good weekend.  Our last slow one at home before the holidays and all its yuletide.  Beau and I scored a date night on Friday and enjoyed a yummy dinner at Red Lobster and Catching Fire on the big screen.  Saturday started with pumpkin pancakes and ended with popcorn and our first fire of the season.  We stayed in our pjs all day and Beau helped me waddle around the house and decorate for Christmas.  Sunday, we watched the Bears and munched on football food all afternoon.  It was so so cold outside and a perfect weekend to hibernate and ready our house for the holidays.

Good Things...

56.  Hot cocoa and Catching Fire curled up on the couch after Cruz went to bed.  There's nothing better than getting lost in a good book.  
57.  I am so thankful I attend a church with a band that sounds like Mumford and Sons.  The worship band's version of Rend Collective's, "Build Your Kingdom Here" was so good and I had to hold myself back from dancing in the aisles.  Someday, maybe I will...:)
58.  A spontaneous date night with Beau.  Cheesy biscuits and coconut shrimp at Red Lobster, and opening night of Catching Fire on the big screen.  We laugh that we never make it to movies before they leave the big theaters - that we're always two of eight people in a room with a screen slightly bigger than our TV at home.  Friday night, however, we were in a sold out room, on opening night of one fantastic flick.  Now it's onto Mockingjay before this baby girl arrives...
59. Listening to Cruz tell us the story of the three little pigs.  The hilarious way we puts his hand over his mouth to muffle his voice when he says, "and I'll huff, and puff, and blows yous house down," and his high little pitch when he says, "not by the hair on my chin chin chin."  
60. The crackle of a wet log on the fire.  Our first fire of the season...
61. Pot roast in the dutch oven.  Carrots, yukons, and the smell of rosemary lingering in our house all day long...
62. Saturday morning breakfast with my boys.  Striped pajamas stirring pumpkin pancakes, hot tea in favorite mugs, and plans to stay in our pjs all day long.
63. A little boy sprawled out in an inch of snow on our deck before school, declaring he wanted to make a snow angel.  
64. A lazy Sunday of football and three crock pots to accompany.  We had peanut butter smoked chicken wings, spinach artichoke dip, and cocktail meatballs, per Cruz's request.  Cruz randomly requested meatballs on Saturday and did not let me down.  Ten toothpicked meatballs later, we cut him off!
65.  The first fire of the season and a little boy just old enough to understand just cool it is to stay home on a Saturday night with a bowl of popcorn and Monsters University.
66.  Cruz and his 'car wash' in the tub.  Give the boy a wash cloth and toothbrush and you've just scored yourself 30 minutes of productivity! 

Images of Gratitude...Five Days

In church this morning, Pastor Dave said something that stuck with me.  He said that many people will go through the motions of Thanksgiving week without really stopping to give thanks or be grateful at all.  At first this thought seemed absurd, but then I thought about my own actions around the holidays and realized that I often fall short when it comes to slowing the pace and spending time in reflection of thanks for all that's been given to me this year.  It's true the simple pleasures and traditions of this time of year oftentimes serve as fuel for our own joy and thanksgiving, but it's all too easy to get caught up in the motions and hurry through a time that's supposed to be slowed and experienced fully.  Whether it's through a simple talk about what we're thankful for with your littles, hands folded with family amidst a table a turkey and stuffing, or some quiet time to yourself in the car on the way to get groceries, I hope to carve out a few moments throughout this special week to reflect and feel overwhelmed with all the good surrounding me.

One of the things I love to do this time of year is look at old blog posts that recount memories from each of our end-of-the-years together.  The pictures and revisited moments make me smile...and make me feel so grateful.  This week, I've collected twenty of my favorite images that represent things I'm thankful for. 

1.  Final days before baby...

We took this picture with my camera's self timer just a few days before Cruz was born.  It was one of our last official 'date nights' without needing a baby-sitter, and it was surreal knowing life was about to change forever.  Now, I'm reliving so many of those feelings again as we await baby #2.  Every emotion is heightened, every moment viewed with a sense of conclusiveness, knowing we are soon closing one chapter of this life of ours.  And while it's always hard to turn that final page of one amazing story, the anticipation of the sequel is even better.  

2.  The chance to relive childhood through the eyes of Cruz

It's been the one thing I've maybe loved most about raising this little boy of mine.  The perspective he offers me, even when I'm not searching for it, has shaped me into a better version of myself every day.  I have undoubtedly smiled, laughed, and shook my head in awe at life more in the last three years than all the previous before.  He's my free spirit, my little light, and constantly challenges me to see the good all around me.   

3.  The magic of Christmas

We decorated our house for Christmas on Saturday and it is now transformed into this cozy little gingerbread house that begs for wood fires, movie nights, and carpet picnics of popcorn and hot cocoa.  I love this time of year for so many reasons, and especially love experiencing it through the eyes of my little sprite.  The reflection of another year coming to an end, the recurrence of familiar traditions, and the magic that seems to fill our space during the month of December truly make it the best time of the year.   

4.  Watching him be a daddy

Perhaps nothing makes my heart swell up more than watching the two of them interact.  I knew before I married him that he'd be such a great daddy and getting the chance to be beside him as we figure this whole thing out is one of my favorite adventures.  

And soon, I get to watch him with a baby girl.   

5.  The house that built me 

We have spent nearly six years in this house, a house that has and will welcome our two babies, and has become a place that we've truly built together.  I became a wife and a mama here, and learned to cook, and garden, and take pictures here.  I know that the best place to take pictures is in mid-afternoon by the picture window, just how far to turn the hot and cold faucet on the shower to shut it off, and that the living room looks best right after it's vacuumed.  From the hickory kitchen we spent hours building in Ray's shop, to the many nights and mornings crowded in our single bathroom, and that upstairs nook where I tuck Cruz in every night, this house means so much to me.   


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Eight Months Pregnant!

We've made it to eight months!  Some days, it feels as if I just found out I was pregnant and other days (more often as of late), I can't believe I still have two months to go!  Being pregnant is such a surreal, astounding thing and I try to not wish it by, but the closer we get to the holidays, the more anxious I get for her to be on the other side of the womb!  The good news is that with Christmas shopping, family gatherings, and lots of festive yuletide lined up for the next two months, I have plenty to focus on before baby's here.  Beau is a little freaked about traveling too far away at Christmas time, so I'm also looking forward to a wonderful excuse to be cooped up inside by the fire and under Christmas tree, sipping on hot chocolate and watching lots of Lifetime movies!  I'm looking forward to a simple Christmas this year, gearing up for baby and soaking up these final, very special days as a family of three.

Baby girl is taking up more space every day and some days I swear she moves all day long.  I felt her get the hiccups for the first time yesterday and had forgotten how adorable and pathetic that is!  She had them forever and got them again for about twenty minutes at 3:30 in the morning.  When I'm able to sleep through the night, her constant moving doesn't bother me, but if I wake up for any known reason (my bladder, my three year old, you know), I have a hard time falling back asleep.  Just my body gearing up for sleepless nights, I suppose, a sure-to-be shock to our system in January!  

I'm finally feeling like I'm nesting around here, and spent a greater part of the weekend washing lots of baby clothes, going through all of Cruz's baby things, and filling drawers with sweet newborn onesies and sleepers again.  I had forgotten how small newborn clothes is!  I found a diaper bag full of newborn diapers and had so much fun rearranging everything just so.  I open her closet at least three times a day and breathe in that familiar smell of Dreft and smile at the unfamiliar sight of so much pink in that closet!  

I cleaned the coat closet the other day, dry-cleaned my winter coats I'm unable to button right now, and have plans to purchase new cozy bedding for our bed and Cruz's before the new year.  We've been listening to Christmas music, doing some online shopping, and planning some fun, special adventures with our boy before he becomes a big brother.  His life is going to change and I'm already feeling the call to be deliberate about the quality of time spent with him.  I can already tell he's going to be so great, but know it's important to maintain some normalcy for him at home, too.  

Like bedtime stories.  Perhaps our favorite time together.  


Monday, November 18, 2013

A Saturday Afternoon...

Last weekend, Beau and I looked at our backyard covered in leaves and grumbled at the sight of it.  Since I'm not of much help when it comes to raking this year, I could tell he was torn as to whether to mow and bag them up during Cruz's nap, or take the long road and rake up a big pile for Cruz to play in.  Cruz would know no difference and I was surprisingly willing to forgo this one tradition as I had other things on my to-do list for the day.  I was drowning in paint samples, drowning in laundry, and quite frankly didn't feel like putting the effort in to bundle up and take the time to jump in a pile of leaves.  

It was somewhere in between Benjamin Moore's, Gray Owl and Stonington Gray that I heard the two of them laughing outside.  I peaked through the window and watched my little free spirit sink into a big pile of leaves.  His smile and the rosy tint of his cheeks lured me outside and I sat on the cool ground and watched him play.  Completely unphased by man-made forces - time, stress, efficiency, plans - things that dictate so much of our day-to-day lives, he's just there, to be himself, to soak up all the fun and goodness in his world, and to live deeply in the beauty that surrounds him.  With a canvas of blue sky and thick white clouds behind him, my boy twirled, laughed, and let himself fall freely into the leaves.  And as I watched, played, and snapped pictures of this perfectly spontaneous moment on a Saturday afternoon, I felt my own stress begin to fall like those crisp autumn leaves.   

Time and time again, he teaches me what it means to live.  Seasons are so short, and there are so few opportunities to play in the leaves.  


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...