Wednesday, October 31, 2012

31 Days, Day 31: A VLOG for Operation Christmas Child

Today I'm blogging about something that's really close to my heart. The bonus is that I'm not only writing about it but, at the bottom of this post, you're going to find my first ever VLOG- A video blog post.

First, I'm just going to say that making a perfect video with a 2 year old and a 3 year old is nearly impossible. Our video is real, honest and I hope that it'll inspire you to teach your kids to think of others as we enter the Christmas Season.

Operation Christmas Child is an outreach that I'm a huge believer in. By nature, we think of our needs over the needs of other people and as I'm parenting my little ones, I try to look for creative ways that we can make a difference and teach our kids that it's not all about them.

I want to teach my children to think of other's needs above their own and today I want to talk to you all about Operation Christmas Child. This year, you can help Operation Christmas Child surpass 100 Million shoe box gifts, packed and distributed since 1993.

Packing a shoe box with your kids is easy, fun and it's a perfect way to show your children that giving to others is a wonderful thing to do! The first thing that I did was show my kids the videos on the Operation Christmas Child website. These videos excited the kids and helped them understand that we'll be shopping for a child that we don't know in real life, but that we'll be part of making his Christmas extra special.

After watching the videos that explain Operation Christmas Child, the kids picked out a boy 5-9 years old to shop for.
When we went shopping for "our boy" we made it a special shopping trip, where we didn't buy anything except items for the shoe box. I know it isn't always possible to plan a special trip but, for us, it really helped the kids understand that these items are all being sent to bless this child.
Next, we decorated our shoe box with wrapping paper and loaded up the box. The kids (especially Judah, the 3 year old), have been really that a boy, in another part of the world, is going to be opening this box!. I feel like it's been a great way to teach the kids that giving to others is something that God calls us to do and we are blessed, to be able to bless others!

On the Operation Christmas Child website, you'll find simple and detailed instructions regarding what CAN and CAN NOT go into the shoe box. Also, you'll find many drop off locations near you. Shoe boxes must be packed and dropped off between November 12-19th so, you still have time!

As a parent, how are you trying to teach your children to think of other people's needs? Have you ever packed a shoe box for Operation Christmas child?
Below, please pledge that you and your family will pack a shoe box for Operation Christmas Child this season. Teach compassion, generosity and kindness. 
Operation Christmas Child and influencer marketing platform BlogFrog have teamed up with 200 bloggers like me to spread the word about this great cause. 
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Operation Christmas Child. The opinions and text are all mine.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

31 Days, Day 30: Tuesdays

Over the last few days, life has become much more complicated than it needs to be. From all different angles, I've felt bombarded with "stuff". Last night, I went to bed with a heavy heart. For so many different reasons, things seemed more difficult than they needed to be.

Yesterday trickled into today. For most of the day, I felt like my kids were one step ahead of me and my patience ran low. Like, really low. To be honest, I wanted to run for the hills most of the day.

The good news is that on Tuesdays, we have home group. We get together with this wonderful group of couples and although we've only been going for a little over a month, I feel so welcome and like we belong there.

Tonight I shared my prayer request for patience. I shared that I feel like I can't even turn around without some sort of crazy mischief going down and that it's basically driving me bonkers. We all prayed and God provided such a sweet time for Judah and I before he went to sleep tonight. It was the perfect ending to a not-so-perfect day.

Tomorrow I'm going to be sharing a video post about Operation Christmas Child. The kids and I have assembled our shoe box and we've made a video for YOU all, encouraging you to do the same.
Come back, check it out and try not to laugh too hard at us and our video making skills.

I hope you've had a wonderful day!

Monday, October 29, 2012

31 Days, Day 29: Simple Things

Wow, it's day 29! That means there's only 3 days left in the 31 day challenge! It's been good but, I'm ready to move on. Mostly I'm ready for November...Sweet November filled with Thanksgiving, a vacation that we'll be taking with my family, an ultrasound where we'll find out the gender of this sweet little baby and the month in which we'll go get our Christmas tree. Oh, it's going to be good, ladies....isn't it???

I chose to write about "31 Days of Celebrating the Moments that Matter" because often, I'm too focused on my list to be present and really see the moments that matter in my life.  See, we write to taste life twice and when I'm tasting life twice, I only want to taste the sweet bites. I want to search for those bites, the bites of our days that have real meaning.

So, when I'm blogging, I'm trying to intentionally write about the good stuff, the stuff that deserves to be remembered and the stuff that's worthy of my time. 
I've come to realize that the stuff that matters ISN'T when my house is clean for 10 minutes, when I'm having a good hair day (which never happens anyway!), when the laundry is all done or when I've made something Pinterest worthy. In the big picture, those things have 0 eternal significance.

Simple things matter like 7:30am painting sessions and preschool crafts that decorate our dining room.
My boy's first harvest party and how excited he is. Those are the things that matter. 
The longer I'm a Mom, the more I realize what has value and what doesn't. I'm a type-A who desperately wants everything just right but, I'm also a work in progress, with so far to go and so much to learn.
Can you relate? 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

31 Days, Day 28: 18 Weeks Pregnant!

Lately I feel like I've entered the most wonderful stage of pregnancy. The morning sickness is mostly gone, my energy is pretty good and I can still bend over without turning blue in the face. The most wonderful thing is that I've been feeling tons of baby movement lately. When I sit down, it usually only takes a few minutes before I start to feel little pokes and kicks and I'm loving that!

Over the last few weeks, I've felt myself completely bonding with this baby. It's incredible to be able to love someone so much that you haven't even met. Without knowing who this little person is, or even knowing if we're having a "he" or a "she", I've already fallen so in love.

As I was falling asleep last night, my mind was filled dreams of holding this baby, all tiny and swaddled. I can't wait to kiss his or her cheeks and breathe in that new baby smell. 

Looking ahead, I know the next few months will go by fast. For the next 3 months, we have either a Birthday or a Holiday literally every two weeks. This time of year is the absolute best, isn't it????
I really don't love these pictures that we took of me today at the pumpkin patch but, they'll have to do. Writing about this pregnancy is really important to me because I want to remember the little things that I might otherwise forget. 

The nitty-gritty details of 18 weeks:
Weight Gain: I've got to say that I'm pretty sure everyone loves reading this part. It makes YOU (yes you, the reader), feel good about yourself and me (the big pregnant lady), feel like a freak'n cow. I've gained 13 pounds. See, now you feel like you can go have another cookie. You're welcome.
On a serious note, my weight gain so far is actually less than it was with my other two kids so, I'm doing better than I have in the past. I'm still shooting to be in the normal range so, if I gain less than 35lb, I'll be happy.
How I'm feeling: Good! Morning sickness is mostly gone!
What I'm wearing: Regular pants and mostly regular shirts. 
What I'm eating/craving: I haven't really been craving anything lately or having any weird for aversions. For the most part, I'm eating pretty normal. 
How I'm sleeping: I've been sleeping well! I get up once or twice a night to go pee and then I'm right back to sleep. Of course, I've been having some really crazy dreams!
Emotions/Thoughts/ Feelings: Love, excitement and joy! I can't wait to know more about who this little person is!


Saturday, October 27, 2012

31 Days, Day 27: Town Halloween Party

I'm one of those gals who doesn't do scary. Creepy and weird don't fly with me and I know that makes me different than most people. I just can't help it, I guess. I don't like the scary side of Halloween and I can pretty much guarantee that I never will.

At our house, we're 100% in the cute phase of dressing up so, we had fun going to our town's Halloween party today. The kids dressed up, trick or treated a few businesses, took a train ride, hugged Elmo and of course, "drove" a firetruck.
 They were totally into it and we had a great time. I love living in this fun, little town!

Friday, October 26, 2012

31 Days, Day 26: When You Know They Get It

This morning, as I stood in front of our sink, loading the breakfast dishes into the dishwasher, Judah came running in. The look on his face clearly showed that he had an important thought to share.

"Mommy! Paisley really likes books and babies! I like lots of trucks!" I nodded my head and told him that yes, that is very true. Paisley does like books and babies and of course, he really likes trucks.

I decided to dig a bit deeper and asked him "What does Mommy like?" He paused, his face broke into a smile and then he said "Mommy likes ME!"

In parenting, I often feel like I'm missing the mark and that I'm not all that I should be. Most days, I feel like I wish I would've have played more, been more patient and done many other things better. But, once in awhile, I get a glimpse of the fact that he totally gets it. When he thinks about the things that his Mommy likes, I'm so glad that he puts himself at the top of the list.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

31 Days, Day 25: When I'm with just one

{Hay rides with my girl}
{Hugging every sign at the pumpkin patch}
{These goats were made for kissing}

Right now, when I go out with just one of them, it seems so easy, so simple. It makes me remember what being a Mom of only one was like. It wasn't very hard but, I didn't realize how easy I had it at the time. See, you can imagine what it's like to have more children but, you never really know until you're there.

At ages 2 and 3, I feel like I'm busier than I've even been in my life and the funny thing is that in a few months, I'll have a 4 year old, a 2 year old and a new baby. At that point, I'll probably look back at these days and realize how simple it was to only have two kids. 


If you haven't already, go enter my Tiny Prints giveaway. It's for $50 off your awesome would that be for Christmas cards??

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

31 Days, Day 24: Girlfriends

This morning we had a playdate over at a sweet friend's house. Between the three of us Moms, we had 2 three year olds, 2 two year olds, 1 one year old and 2 babies. Her home buzzed with activity but, the conversation was easy and I feel so blessed to have friends that are in this same stage of life.
These friends don't care if you show up in your jammies, they actually encourage it! These friends know that  hot coffee is practically mandatory...especially with Sugar-Free Peppermint Mocha creamer. These friends serve your child a bowl of Cheerios and then don't even blink an eye when she turns around and spills the entire bowl onto the floor. 

The conversation is often interrupted, babies fuss, toddlers fight, preschoolers get time-outs for playing with light switches and my kids politely ask  say they want  sandwiches but we're all there, in the same spot and it's a good spot to be in.....together. 

So, for Day 24 of "Celebrating the Moments that Matter", I'm celebrating friends.....real friends that don't judge or if they do, they hide it dang well. Just kidding. :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

31 Days, Day 23: Different

Committing to writing for 31 days is something that has surprisingly been easier than I anticipated it to be. However, over the last few days, I've felt the words slip out of me. I want to write. I have 100,000 things I'm grateful for. I have opinions, thoughts, challenges, struggles, dreams, hopes and a desire to put these things down onto paper. I have a life. A beautiful, crazy, imperfect life. But, right now.....the words seem to be stuck in me, unable to filter from my brain, down through my fingers.
{Kissy Face}

Lately I've been over thinking it. See, most people aren't bloggers. Sure, lots of people do blog but, I know very, very few of them in real life. Possibly I've been focusing too much on the fact that I know I'm different....most people don't do what I do and once in awhile when I really think about that, I get terribly self conscious and I just want to stop.
{100% boy.....don't stress, it's just a doll}

This morning I read a post from The Gypsy Mama titled "For the days when your blog or your life feel small" and it was exactly what I needed to hear. Most of the time I feel like a tiny fish swimming in a big sea and although we aren't all called to blog, and very few of us actually probably want to, the truth is that I do love it. This is a way that I share my imperfect story, my life that is sweet, ugly, blessed and real. I know this makes me different and I don't really love that but, I'm working on being okay with it.

Monday, October 22, 2012

31 Days, Day 22: She believed she could

This quote encourages me when I forget that I'm capable of something that sometimes seems out of reach. What is it that you need to believe you're able to do?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

31 Days, Day 21: Sunday Photos with a Tiny Prints Giveaway!!!

Over the last few weeks, Sunday's have evolved into our family adventure day. We always do church in the morning, then the kids usually take naps and after that, we bundle up and head out.
After we came home, my husband gave me some time alone outside, with just my baby-bump. I cleaned up the garden and planted bulbs. It may sound strange but, working outside in the cool weather is so relaxing for me. 
It started to rain and I stepped into the garage to call my sister and ask her if it's worth it to save our green tomatoes (apparently it is, or so she says). As we were getting off the phone, we both commented on how beautiful it is outside and how there's just gotta be a gorgeous rainbow around, somewhere!

Just a few seconds later, I stepped back out into the rain and saw this.......... 
I wish my picture did it justice but, it does not. 
Now onto the reason why you're probably still reading this post..... ;) The Tiny Prints Giveaway!!!!!
Most of you have heard of Tiny Prints, an amazing site where you can order photo cards, invitations, announcements, gifts, photo books and the list goes on.

In particular, I've used Tiny Prints in the past for special occasion cards and the quality has continuously exceeded my expectations. Their special offers page consistently has great deals, coupon codes and special promotions....go check it out!
Recently they launched their new 2012 Holiday Collection of Christmas Cards, filled with fresh designs and fun features—especially their new Premium DoubleThick™ Matte Paper, their most luxurious cardstock yet.
This year, Tiny Prints has a wonderful collection including traditional colors and embellishments to merry and bright colors that take on a modern feel. They also feature religious/scripture based cards, and cards that you can showcase your fur babies photos on. Whatever your style is, I know they'll have something you’ll love.

I'm super excited to order our Christmas cards through them and here's the BEST news....One of YOU is going to win $50 off your entire order!!! Enter below. The winner will be randomly selected and announced on October 29th. 

This post has been sponsored by Tiny Prints but as always, these opinions are entirely mine. For me, part of the fun of blogging is getting to share products that I absolutely love with you. Tiny Prints just happens to be one of these products.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

31 Days, Day 20: Ice Cream Shop Party

Celebrating you today was so special. I'm still in awe that God picked me to be your Mommy. If I could have dreamed up a daughter, I couldn't have ever began to imagine a girl as wonderful as you. 

At two years old, you love to sing, dance, play with your babies, read books and build your pink princess castle. You can count past 10 and you can say your ABC's. More importantly than being a smart little are sweet. 

You constantly shower us with hugs and you tell me many times a day that you love me. I love you too, sweet girl. You brighten my days and I'm so glad I'm your Mommy.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Friday, October 19, 2012

31 Days, Day 19: Rain and the Smell of Pink

As the rain falls quickly outside, we've been inside, staying cozy and preparing to celebrate sister's Birthday. 
I've decided that trying to clean house and then keep it clean with the kids is like straightening my hair before going out in the rain....basically pointless. Sure my hair and the house stay put for like 5 minutes but, as soon as we take a deep breath and then exhale, the fun is over. My hair frizzes, smoothies get spilled on the floor, crumbs fall, the dogs water gets tripped on and little boys forget to 'point down' while using the bathroom. Blah. 
And so we bake cupcakes. The house smells ridiculously amazing, like what I imagine pink would smell like, if it had a smell. They smell warm and sweet, with a hint of vanilla. The recipe is from Joy of Baking and the frosting is my favorite cream cheese frosting recipe
I hope you're having a wonderful Friday!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

31 Days, Day 18: Make a Creative Mess

Over the last few days, I've dove head first into "birthday" mode. Before speaking at Pregnancy Choices, I was totally emerged in all things baby food and healthy snacks for Moms. Switching gears has felt good and even though I've waited until the last minute for any party prep, it's getting done. Frankly, last minute is how I roll these days......

Twice in the last two days, the kids have been caught sneaking off with the bag of marshmallows while frantically stuffing their mouths. The good Mommy in me is trying to teach that them that this is NOT a good choice and that being sneaky is NOT going to fly in this house. The bad Mommy in me is dreaming up 100 super scary things to hide in the marshmallow bag. Oh sweetie, sorry about that big plastic spider in there! Sorry you'll never want to eat a marshmallow again....serves you right. Just kidding, I promise I won't do that.

One thing I often forget is that when I create an environment where they can play creatively, it really pays off. Today we dressed the animals up in pajamas, Judah built a fort, brought books in there and I let him borrow one of our flashlights. The living room was basically a disaster zone but, the fun they had was so worth it and no one was stuffing their face with marshmallows. Everyone wins......well, except the living room.
So, for day 18 of "Celebrating the Moments that Matter", go make a creative mess. Not just any mess but, an intentional, creative, cozy at home type of mess.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

31 Days, Day 16: These Girls

Last week, my very favorite speaker came and shared with our MOPS group. This lady is nothing short of amazing. She homeschooled her 4 girls who are now grown, she inspires women all over the place and her personality is magnetic. We've had coffee. I've cried. She's listened.
Basically, when I "grow up" I'd like to be Donna.

Anyway, part of her ministry is working with women in the life-skill part of a Pregnancy Resource Center. These women are from all different backgrounds. Some victims of abuse and others who simply need someone to hold their hand and assure them that yes, they can do it.

About a week ago, she invited me to come do a workshop on Baby Food Making and Healthy Snacks for Moms and Toddlers. It's a long story but, let's just say that God planted the seed in me a long time ago for this organization. When she asked me, I was like "Yes, yes and yes!!".

Because my kids are so young, my main mission field is right here in my home. I can't run all over the place, doing lots of this and that but, when God opens a door and I know it's meant to be, I'm all over it. Today was so much more than teaching these women to make homemade baby food, smoothies for their toddlers and granola for themselves. It was about empowering them and showing them that they matter and that they can make choices for their families that will make them feel good about themselves.

Some of these women  barely even speak English and as I was preparing my presentation and feeling nervous, I realized that we aren't all that different. They are Moms. I'm a Mom. They have a story. I have a story. They love their kids. I love my kids. We all have our struggles, we all have our gifts and we all have our pasts and our futures. We are different, yet the same because we have common threads that tie us together.

I feel like I'm definitely the one who was blessed today. These girls are amazing.

Monday, October 15, 2012

31 Days, Day 15: Jump

I'm speaking to myself here......
More on why I needed the pep-talk tomorrow.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

31 Days, Day 14: Quiet

When trying to celebrate the moments that matter, you might find yourself celebrating a moment of complete silence. For most of us, these moments of complete silence are often few and far between and when they do happen, it's perfectly fine to enjoy the heck out of them. 

That's me tonight, with my cup of decaf Trader Joe's chamomile tea and two squares of Trader Joe's 72% dark chocolate. The leaves on my table were collected from the Burr Oak tree this afternoon, with the intention of creating something fall inspired with them. Will that crafting happen tonight? Maybe but, most likely no. 

For now this tea is delicious and the silence is sweet.
What about you? When do you find your moments of quiet?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

31 Days of Celebrating the Moments that Matter, Day 13: Family Walks

Fall started a little late for us this year and as the weather changes and the leaves begin to cover the ground, I'm drawn outside. After a morning of cleaning up the house and an afternoon of helping at our MOPS Consignment Sale, we headed out for a family adventure.

I'm thankful that we live in a place where we experience the four seasons. Celebrating the moments that matter is truly about living in the moment, not worrying about what lies ahead or planning our next step. Slowing down and enjoying the present is a daily challenge of mine but, also it's something I'm striving for.

Yesterday I read a beautiful post titled "Busy? You're missing out." Take a moment to pause from the hustle and bustle of daily life and go read it. Maybe it'll speak to you, like it did to me.



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