Before the sun comes up

I wake out of a dead sleep.  Lily is crying and yelling, ‘Momma, Momma’ over and over again.  I roll over out of bed and take the fifteen steps to her bedroom.  I open the door, walk in as she is still sniffling ‘Momma’ and pick her up into my arms.  She clutches me tight, like a starfish clings to a rock.  Her legs wrap around my middle and her arms grasp my neck.  Her breathing is quick at first and then slows as I sit down in the cushy rocking chair and rock back and forth back and forth back and forth.  

I am awake, but barely and my eyes and mind wander to sleep as I rock my baby girl.  As I abruptly come out of my slumber, Lily is calmly sleeping in my arms, her breaths deep and slow and perfect.  I thank God for her breath, for this sleeping girl in my arms.  I thank God that I get to rock her like this and that I get the chance to be her mom, even at 4:00 in the morning. 

A child waking in the middle of the night is tough.  I don’t have an infant so I’m not getting up every two hours right now.  That is really really tough, a venti-doubleshot-latte-every-hour-tough.  But, I can speak to my 20 month old toddler getting up every once in awhile for some cuddles.  These moments, the ones that happen unexpectedly, without warning, might make me weary, but they are oh so sweet all at once.

I know in ten years I will wish for these before-the-sun-comes-up cuddles and pray for just one minute of my little girl clutching me tight.  I can’t do anything about time running out on these toddler years, but I can thank God for these moments and try to really, truly experience each and every second she’s here in my arms. 


Summer Pizza Party

This past week my Cooking Club girls and I had a Farmer's Market pizza night at my friend Annie's house.  We fried up bacon, chopped herbs, sliced tomatoes, and shredded cheese for our crispy, gooey pizzas.  We used a lahvosh crust, which made the pizzas just absolutely heavenly.  It's a thin cracker crust that lets the toppings do the talking.

The night consisted of mouthfuls of artichoke, mushroom, bacon, pesto pizza, cold Prosecco, and the best key lime ice cream dessert I have ever eaten in my life.  We chatted about our husband's 'interesting' show watching habits, how our kids make us laugh daily, the Olympics, and some deep deep things that only pizza and good girlfriends can understand.

Since Cooking Club night is pretty much one of my favorite nights of the month and pizza is surely one of my favorite foods, I thought I would share some things that make homemade pizza making a bit more fun and delicious.  

This pizza board is beautiful and sturdy and so fun for 'throwing' pizzas onto a pizza stone in the oven.  I borrowed this from my mother-in-law and it was so fun to make the pizzas on and serve them on as well.  Dual purposes, people.  I found a similar one on Amazon.

My garden is a bit overgrown right now, but this teeny tiny basil plant is just beginning to make an effort to earn it's keep.  Luke and I planted this basil from seeds and it's only taken about 3 months for it to look like this. Fresh basil is a must for the perfect pizza.  We picked up this seed kit at Target in the spring, but I found one on, you guessed it, Amazon.

Have you ever had this goat cheese?  It is perfection.  Kevin believes it to be potent, but I could literally eat it on bread or toast or pizza or with a spoon everyday.  Lily does eat it as a main course and not a topping, but her breath (and our nostrils) suffer for it.  I had some leftover crusts from Cooking Club, so we cleaned out the fridge to make some pizzas with the kids and this cheese has now become a topping favorite.  Local friends, it's cheaper to pick up at Trader Joe's than Hy-Vee or another big grocery store.

When I made my nightmare trip to IKEA in Denver toting two children about a month ago, I picked up this bamboo tablet stand.  I use my iPad when I cook and this piece allows me to cook without bending over a screen.  And, it's super cute sitting in a nook on my counter.  

If you haven't made homemade pizza, I suggest you fire up the grill or turn on the oven and get creative.  Better yet, get some girlfriends together and make a night of it.  The thing I love about pizza is you can literally put almost anything on it and it's going to turn out yummy.  

I hope you have a Sunny Saturday today!


Lazy eyelids

Kevin just stretched out on the couch, Luke laying on his chest.  Luke is waking up from his nap.  Kevin covers them both with a fuzzy blanket.  I say hey to Luke, touch his face, and give him a kiss on the cheek.  He looks at me with a glazed over look and I know instantly he is still not fully awake.  I watch him in his Daddy's arms.  He is staring past me and then slowly, slowly, slowly his eyelids start to drop.  He attempts to keep them open, but suddenly fails and they fall shut.  I sit there, watching him, mesmerized by my sleeping not-so-baby-boy.  He is absolutely perfect in this moment.  Round cheeks, fingers in his mouth, eyes closed, mind and body quiet.  

I watch him for two or three minutes and his eyes flutter open again.  He is back...kind of.  He looks past me again as I caress his cheek with my thumb and then his sleepiness wins one more time as he closes his eyes and rests once more.  Finally, it is time for him to get up, so I whisper his name as Kevin cuddles him close in his arms.  He opens his eyes, but I can tell he wants to close them like before.  I talk to him and ask him about his dreams.  Talking isn't his favorite thing when he wakes up, but he needs to come alive from his nap and greet the afternoon.  He finally keeps his eyes open longer than three minutes and begins to show signs of life.

My sweet firstborn son is growing up from a toddler to a little boy.  Some days I long for him to get bigger and able to do more things.  But that time on the couch, Luke in his Daddy's arms...I'm pretty sure I could handle him staying just like that forever and always.  It's okay if you stay this way just awhile longer my little Luke.


Sunny Saturday

We are free birds this weekend.  We have absolutely no plans except to enjoy this uninterrupted time together and celebrate the fruits of our labor: Luke is no longer in diapers!  PTL! as my dad would say or text or whatever over voice text.  Translation: Praise the Lord!  

This week was quiet and loud and messy and just right.  We had a house full when a wagon train of about eight covered wagons passed by our house on Thursday.  The rest of the week our home was as still and quiet as it can be with two littles running around.  We read books, played on the swing set, blew bubbles, had pancakes for breakfast, and stayed in our pajamas until noon.

This week I am sharing some random items that made this week just a bit sunnier. 

First up is the classic children's book, Charlotte's Web.  I love reading novels to Luke after he wakes up from his nap in the afternoon.  It is a special time for the two of us before our Lily is up and all over the both of us.  We finished all the Winnie-the-Pooh books and went looking for another novel to read.  My sweet friend, Annie, is letting us borrow this book and it has been wonderful to share this story with Luke.  I have had to change some of the wording as I read because E.B. White didn't sugar coat anything about the facts of life, death included.  I'm sure we will read this again in the future when talking about life and death in a super direct way is more appropriate.

If you have been reading awhile, you know I love Jamie Ivey and her podcast.  She is selling these downloadable scripture cards on her website and we have been using them for about two weeks now. There are eight weeks of verses you can download and print off to memorize as a family.  Like I said, we have been doing them for two weeks, but we are still on week one.  Luke enjoys them and it helps me to be more intentional with memorizing scripture.  The first week's scripture, Psalm 56:3, couldn't be more needed with what has happened in our country over the past week.  #pray

Kevin's mom has plump, glorious raspberry bushes at her house and we have been going up there to pick for the last few weeks.  The kids can eat raspberries by the pound, so thank goodness for Grandma Diane and her ability to grow anything!  I had some leftover mushy raspberries that I used to make this just-sweet-enough raspberry sauce.  My searches on Pinterest often include the word 'easy' and this sauce is both that and the perfect condiment for buttery pancakes.  If you have some raspberries in your fridge, you must try.  Tip: I halved this recipe and it still made enough for our entire family plus some.

My hydrangeas look like fluffy white clouds as I peer at them through my bedroom window.  They are all in bloom and are donning my countertops, making this week just a bit lovelier and sunnier.  Don't fresh flowers always do that?

I hope you have a Sunny July Saturday wherever you may be today!


I love you.

Luke is calling my name from his room, 'Momma!'  I just put him down for his nap and am racing around putting laundry away and picking up the kitchen.  His 'Momma!' sounds a bit different than his usual stalling antics, so I open his door to peek in at him.  He is laying on his back, smile on his face as soon as I open the door.  He knows he has won, he dared me to open the door and I complied.  

I walk the two steps to his bed and crawl in beside him.  I snuggle my nose into his neck and I can feel his breath on my forehead and a smile on his face. We lay together for a few minutes and then, in an almost inaudible whisper he says, 'I love you.'  My mommy heart jumps and leaps and wants to laugh and cry and shout all at the same time.  This might be the most pleasant thing these ears can hear in this moment.  

I whisper back 'I love you' and I can feel his mouth and eyes smile against me. He whispers again, 'I love you' and giggles.  We repeat this simple phrase back and forth back and forth until he is giggling uncontrollably.  I can't help but giggle with him and feel such immense joy all at the same time.

This boy of mine, he loves me.  I feel like a fourteen year old school girl frantic with happiness that the crush of a lifetime smiled at her in the hallway.  I feel like a teenage boy who just successfully held his girlfriend's hand for the first time at the movies.  Although I know my Luke loves me, hearing him say it over and over again makes it feel real and tangible and genuine. 

He probably won't remember this moment when he is sixteen or twenty or thirty-three or even tomorrow, but you can believe that I will be remembering for him, telling him over and over about that moment when he made his mom's world stop, just for a few moments at nap time, and made the world a much brighter, lovelier, beautiful place because he said those unforgettable words, 'I love you.'


What's your couple thing?

It’s 5:00 a.m. and we are on our way to the airport.  Kevin is driving and I am sitting in the passenger seat in my traveling gear: leggings and a hoodie.  I look behind me and the car seats are empty.  We are heading to the airport sans kids for an adults-only beach vacation.  I literally have a purse for a carry on and a small suitcase, not my three large suitcases, backpack, and double stroller that I’m usually toting to the security line; as well as my two littles.

We pull into the parking lot, take the shuttle to the airline door and head in.  We are calm, collected, and get through security in plenty of time to grab a coffee and breakfast and hang at our gate for a good hour before our flight leaves.

Once every year or two Kevin and I head south and leave our babies with their grandparents.  Traveling has always been our couple thing and we have tried to protect that even in this season of raising toddlers.  It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it. 

This past February we headed to Turks & Caicos for five days.  It was five days of reading on the beach and four nights of dining at non kid-friendly restaurants.  We tried to sleep in, but mostly woke up when our faces felt a glimpse of sunshine.  We strived to stay up late, but usually fell into a deep sleep before the bands started playing on the beach.  We set out to go on some adventures, but sat on the beach most days with books in our hands and sunscreen on our relaxed bodies.

It didn’t matter what we did or didn’t do, what mattered is that we were together.  We were able to connect in a way that isn’t quite possible when Luke is asking for more milk at dinner or Lily is dropping pieces of half-chewed bread on the floor.  We sat together, read together, chatted about anything and everything, and got on the same page again.  It makes my body relax just thinking back to this winter and that trip with my sweet husband.

Traveling is our couple thing.  It’s what reunites us, energizes us, brings us closer, keeps us on the same page, and makes our marriage thrive.  Kevin and I knowing that an adults-only vacation is on the calendar gets us through those hard, beautiful, exhausting days of raising our babies. 

Maybe traveling isn’t your couple thing, but what is?  What do you love to do together?  What brings you and your spouse closer?  What keeps you on the same page?  What helps your marriage to thrive? 

A happy marriage makes for happy kids makes for a happy family.  Our marriage is a priority for us because we know the benefits of a great marriage far outweigh the work it takes to get there and stay there.  We know it will help our kids feel safe and loved and secure. We know modeling a healthy marriage for our children will help them know how to love, honor, and respect their future spouse someday.  All of these reasons give us motivation to make time for us and remind us that our marriage relationship is the relationship that affects and helps or hurts all other relationships in our family.

I pray that you find and maintain your couple thing, whatever it may be.  Whether you are raising babies or are empty nesters…your marriage matters.

“A great marriage isn’t something that just happens, it’s something that must be created.”

-Fawn Weaver


Sunny Saturday

It has been a week, friends.  From sicks kids to potty training to getting a cold myself, it has been one of those weeks where a three day weekend looks like the rainbow after a storm.  It's beautiful and needed and makes you feel as if the storm that just passed wasn't so bad after all.  

We have a few parties this weekend, but are unsure if we are going to be able to make any of them, due to our potty training journey.  And, it is a journey. Potty training my sweet boy is no joke and isn't for the weak or tired or sick. (Did I mention I am all three right now?)  I feel like I am super mom simply because I have survived the last three days and, yet, I have made such little progress in this potty training thing that I have absolutely no right to feel that way.   

There have been a few things that have kept my head above water this week and have kept my eyes on the rainbow after the storm.  They have given me some kind of relief or enjoyment in the midst of the good and wonderful chaos that is motherhood.

Have you heard of MOPS?  MOPS stands for Mothers of Preschoolers and is movement that empowers and encourages moms across the world.  They believe better moms make a better world and I couldn't agree more.  The MOPS magazine, Hello, Dearest came this week and it has made my heart and world a bit more calm and centered after a week of storms.  If you are a mom, I urge you to check out MOPS and find out if there is a group that meets near you.  It has been an incredible blessing to me and the relationships I have built there with other moms are irreplaceable.

These purple flowers are growing all over my yard.  I look forward to them every year because of their sturdy stems and vibrant, egg-shaped purple blooms. I believe it's a drumstick allium, after some research, but I am just guessing here.  They are filling my yard and vases right now.

Last week we were in Denver and I made the mistake of taking two toddlers to IKEA alone.  #dontdoit  One of my beloved treasures from that what-was-I-thinking trip is this small sheepskin.  It is soft and thick and the perfect cream color.  It's beautiful on the brown leather chair in our living room and I am now on the hunt for a larger one that is not outrageously expensive. 

This is not pictured, but I ate a lot of Laughing Cow cheese this week.  I know, it's random and ridiculous, but it made nap time that much more enjoyable.  Spreadable cheese and a box of Wheat Thins, you can't really go wrong.

The last thing that helped me this week was an extra dose of grace. I can be so hard on myself when it comes to teaching my kids, I talk myself into believing that I'm doing it wrong and research, research, research to make sure I'm doing it 'right'.  Well, the deal is there is no 'right' way to potty train or teach kids to read or show them how to tie their shoes.  All kids and moms and families are different and it takes a lot of trial and error to figure out what works for each kid in each home in each family.  For example, who knew that putting green food coloring in the potty will actually get my son to use the potty?!  I gave myself some extra grace this week and allowed myself the indulgence to put my feet up at nap time and not do anything after some long mornings. 

I think I'm going to need that grace next week as well...and the week after that and the week after that.  Being a mother requires loads and loads of grace.  

I hope you have a Sunny Saturday wherever you may be this July 4th weekend!

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