Travel and Priorities

Written last week in Nanaimo, British Columbia...

Snuggled under a soft, dreamy, cream-colored blanket, my book and laptop sits upon my lap.  My toes are being warmed by the fire in front of me and the guy I'm doing this life thing with sits to my right.  My ever expanding belly bulges before me as a place to rest my hands.  I am staring out a massive picture window at the sea with islands littered beyond it and raindrops falling slowly, almost silently on the water. 

I am calm, centered, free, and uninterrupted.  I am cozy, breathing deeply, peaceful, and (almost) bored.  As a pregnant mom with two littles, I never really thought I would be bored.  But, here I am, 1800 miles away from home, tucked under a blanket (almost) bored.  My littles are at home with Grandma and Papa having the time of their lives while my husband and I reconnect, dream about this baby, explore and experience new places, and read big, thick books, uninterrupted.  

Traveling is our 'couple thing'.  If you've been reading for long, you know our family enjoys travel whenever we can get it, and Kevin and I try and take a vacation, just the two of us, as often as our time, schedules, and little ones will allow. 

If I'm being honest, I was hesitant about this trip.  It's much easier to stay home and do daily life together as a family.  Plus, I always get this queasy feeling just as we are about to be apart.  I like when our family is together, a puzzle with all it's pieces intact.  I don't like the idea of being scattered, some of us on one side of the country and some on the other.  I like us together, as a unit.  So, as I readied us all for being apart, something nudged at me and started to make me feel guilt for leaving Luke and Lily at home.  It made me feel like a 'disconnected mom', a mom not winning, but failing at this motherhood thing, a mom who needs to retreat for a few days to recollect herself.

That feeling and those thoughts sloshed around in my head and my heart and as I said my good-byes to my littles before we left, I couldn't help but feel like a 'bad' mom.  

But, as He always seems to do, God reminded me as soon as we reached our destination why we do this.  Why Kevin and I travel.  Why we pour time and energy into our marriage.  Why we make sacrifices and humble ourselves to ask for help from grandparents.  Why we make this a priority.

It's because our marriage is important and a priority.  It's because we want to not just survive, but thrive.  It's because I want to be the best mom to my babes, and getting away for a few days allows me to do that.  It's because I want our kids to see their parents love each other well and someday know what a strong, thriving marriage looks like.  It's because adult-ing and parenting is hard stuff and sometimes time away is exactly what is needed to refresh the spirit and mind and rewind the patience.  And also, because we enjoy it so so much. 

And you know what?  I feel like a better mom and a better wife, in this chair, feet up, listening to the rain fall (not so silently now) while Grandma and Papa care for and love on our kids and Kevin reads next to me.  I remind myself that this is good, good for our marriage, good for our kids, good for our family.  And it is. 

I sit and bask in the stillness of this place with no noses to wipe and no meals to prepare and no books to read to little ones on my lap.  But, I miss them and that is good.  Because when I wake them up on Sunday morning after this trip is a memory, my reserves will be replenished and I will be a better mom and wife for the days I spent away.  I will wipe those noses without a sigh and prepare meals with love in my heart and read books to my littles with the kind of energy they both deserve.  

And when, inevitably, Luke takes a toy from Lily or Lily screams the high pitch shrill that only us and dogs can hear, I will remember this place, this cream-colored blanket, my toes being warmed by the fire, count to ten and do the parenting and adult-ing that needs to be done with patience and joy accumulated from the time spent apart from my babes.


The Real Deal

Life is about people and relationships and people.  We have some of the best people in our lives and around our kids and I am grateful for these friends everyday.  They are the ones I text for prayer, the ones I can count on for meals or cards or the sweetest signs of friendship when it's needed, the ones that are in the trenches of this parenting stuff and don't judge or eye roll or gossip, they are the ones that cheer our family on through the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Life is about people and relationships and I'm pretty sure we are blessed with friends who are the 'real deal'.

This past weekend we had a bonfire at our home and had the best time with the ones we do life together.  Here are some highlights from our fun evening together.

Our crew is growing and we are even missing some.  Love these parents and their littles!


Band called 'Def'

I am wiping down counters after a messy meal of broccoli, chicken and rice. The rough crumbs and sticky rice are now absent from the counters that just minutes ago, had been smattered with them.

It's my regular night time routine and as I am finishing up, I hear 'greater is the one living inside of me...' as well as a host of musical instruments playing from Kevin and I's bedroom.  I walk down the hallway, a little weary from the full day and a little interested to see what I am going to discover as the music gets louder and louder.  As my feet hit the carpet in the bedroom, the singing continues and I see Luke, Lily, and Kevin laying on the bed singing their hearts out while playing the triangle, the moroccos, and the homemade corn shakers.  They switch from 'Greater' by Mercy Me to 'God's Not Dead' by the Newsboys.  In a 'quiet' moment, in which Lily is still playing an instrument, Kevin yells at me from across the room, "We are the band called Def".


I giggle as I start to wash my face and prompted by Luke, I join in on the singing.  Kevin is belting out the tunes as loud as anyone and, bless his heart, he could possibly be tone deaf.  The kids don't care and neither do I. Lily is smiling ear to ear, red hair in her eyes (as is normal), with her leggings and tutu covering her bottom half while only a purple beaded necklace covers her top (which also is normal).  She switches back and forth from playing the triangle to playing with her babies as Luke continues the serious singing and playing of every musical instrument we own.

As I finish washing my face, the singing gets louder as Luke decides to sing his own songs.  As each of these new songs end, we all clap furiously and shout 'YAY', as does Luke.  He sings the lyrics to 'Farmer in the Dell' somewhat correctly, then continues on with 'Stop in the name of the LORD...'.  For those of you not familiar with The Supremes, 'Stop in the name of LOVE' was one of their hits released in 1965 that gets sung maybe a little too often around here.  Luke has replaced the word 'love' with 'Lord', which makes total sense.

This was a movie moment for our little family.  It emulated a college student's reckless abandon on karaoke night and a child's joy when he gets his first lick of ice cream and a childhood memory that brings all the feelings of home and family and love to the surface.  Those ten minutes were some of my best minutes as a mom.  They were some of the best minutes of my life.

Mostly because those minutes made a precious memory for Kevin and I and our family of four.  But also for another reason.  Getting the chance to witness Kevin interact with our kids that way just makes my heart want to explode.  The love he has for them and our family is irreplaceable and I can't help but think how truly blessed and lucky and privileged Luke, Lily, and I are that he is our's.

So, I am making a promise to myself to stop and watch and listen and interact and notice those moments.  I almost thought about cleaning up the rest of the kitchen and then finding out what all the ruckus was about, but I would have missed it.  I would have missed it all.  

I want to remember to stop and not just be a witness, but a participant in my family's minutes and memories.

Those ten minutes will be with me now and tomorrow and probably when my kids are grown and I can no longer remember much else.  Because those minutes, they were some of the best.  


Sunny Saturday

This week was good, in a see-a-lot-of-people-do-a-lot-of-things kind of way. Not every week is as jam packed with good things as this one, and I sure do like it that way.  I love the rhythms of lots of things on the calendar one week and not so many on the calendar the next.  I love going and doing and I love staying home, so I try and balance that as much as possible.

Last weekend my awesome better half watched the kids so I could go do a few fun girl things.  I hit up Junkstock in Omaha as well as went to a friend's LuLaRoe party.  I found some things that I wanted to share with you today that made my week a bit sunnier.

First up, this simple, white vase.  As if I needed another vase in my life, but I love the simplicity of white and have been switching my clear, glass vases out for more of the not-see-through-kind.  I have this up on a shelf in my kitchen now and am loving it there.

I am a sucker for pretty cards and Pleasant Avenue Paper didn't disappoint. She was a vendor at Junkstock and I wanted to buy everything, but settled on a few beautiful card sets.  I love sitting down with my fine point Sharpie and scribbling a note to a loved one, and these cards are going to be used fast.

On Sunday I went to my first LuLaRoe party.  All their items were buttery soft and I love the idea of shopping in a friend's home.  This shirt is super soft and comfy and I can even where it now with my belly bulging.  I will probably have to retire it for awhile in a few weeks, but I am going to be sporting it as much as I can until then and will (hopefully) be able to wear it post-baby.

Last up is this beautiful book by Adrianna Adarme I ordered from Amazon.  I have spotted it on a few of my favorite blogs and I just couldn't resist.  The title: The Year of Cozy, just won me over and I have had fun sifting through the pages.  The book is organized by season and month and contains homemade recipes, crafts, and other ideas.  Everything I have seen so far is fun and relatively simple.  And the pictures...stunning.  It is a perfect coffee table book or display book for the kitchen.  After October slows down, I will definitely be picking it up to find something fun to do with or without my kiddos.

This weekend will be spent preparing for some upcoming events including a bon fire at our home and family pictures on Monday.  Fall is just the best.  

Have a Sunny Saturday wherever you are today!


Tastes and Smells of Fall

This week was pretty glorious.  Everything about this month and this season makes me happy, and it didn't hurt that this past week was a Cooking Club week. Girl time is so needed in this stage of life. #amenandamen

Here are some things that made this week sunnier in my world...

Wax Buffalo.  If you're from Nebraska, you have probably heard of this small shop that carries the most beautifully scented candles in the land.  I want to burn this candle every second of every day, and yet, I don't want to, because then it will be gone.  (Insert sad face emoji.)  I picked up the autumn scent and it makes my house smell exactly like October.

I'm all about bringing the outside in.  Since I hosted Cooking Club this week, I spoiled myself with some beautiful buds from Trader Joe's, but these burgundy beauties are from my backyard.  I have tons of mums blooming right now and I decided to pluck some to put in every nook and cranny around the house.  This color, spot on.

This pumpkin found it's way inside my cart at Trader Joe's, along with a few friends.  I love the shape and color and I'm forbidding myself to go back and get any more because...I want them all.

Banana bread is yummy in any season, but I really love it in the fall.  The kids and I whipped up this recipe for almond banana bread on a slow morning this week and I found myself slicing off a piece and slathering it with butter anytime the kids weren't looking.  I blame this boy in my belly...

I can't end without saying more about our Cooking Club.  It was my month to host and I am so blessed that the girls drove all the way from the city...on a stormy night...got lost twice...and brought the most delicious food with them. I might venture to say we ate some of the best food our little hands have created this past week.  Butternut squash pasta with goat cheese, sweet potato and sausage bake with gruyere cheese, vegetable soup, green well salad, and pumpkin ice cream sundaes for dessert.  My mouth is literally watering.  We do what we do every Cooking Club night and had great food and even better conversation.  These girls fill my bucket and it feels good and necessary to have like-minded women to talk to, listen to, and do motherhood with.  I am blessed with the best!

Hope you all have a Sunny Saturday wherever you may be today!


Life Lately

As I have mentioned 4,532 times, I love fall.  The cooler temps, the warm drinks, football, and cozying up on the couch with my littles are just a few of my favorite things about this lovely season.  

As my babes grow older, I am starting to feel life get a bit busier or try to, at least, especially in the fall.  There are things to be done, places to go, people to see, and a million organized things to sign up for.  Kevin and I are just starting to experience the pulls of this season of 'busy-ness' and we are trying to hold fast to our belief to be home as a family as much as possible.  

As we debated what to get involved with this fall, we thought about what is important to us.  The number one thing we want for our children is to grow up knowing and loving Jesus.  So, we took the leap and our sweet Luke is officially a Cubbie every Wednesday night at church.  It is surely a commitment, as we drive him an hour each way, but it's so worth it, and the kid just loves it.  It's simply the best to watch him memorize Bible verses and learn more about Jesus and he adores Cubbie bear.  His joy before and after Wednesday nights is enough to keep me trekking him there every week.

Another thing we are involved with this fall is our Journey Group or Bible study group.  We are going through the book of Genesis as a church until Christmas and as many times as I've heard the story of Adam and Eve and creation, I am getting a new and fresh perspective this time around.  It doesn't hurt that I get to study with some of my favorite people.  

As you probably saw on Instagram, we are going to be welcoming a baby boy to our family in February.  We are so thrilled he is healthy and strong and we already have a name picked out, so now we just wait. :)  Luke and Lily talk about him daily and it's so sweet to watch their little minds think about this new life growing inside Mommy's belly.

Crazy as it may sound, we are undergoing an addition and renovation this fall and winter, hopefully finishing up right before baby comes.  As I write this, it is pouring rain outside, which is totally not boding well for our timeline. We are excited and nervous and totally not prepared for doing a reno with kids, but know it will be oh so worth it in March when we are enjoying our new space. Plus, the kids have built in entertainment for the next four months.(See below.)

Life is fantastic and messy and unexpected these days and I am grateful for this season of cooler temps, warmer clothes, and change for our family.  Life lately is pretty good.


Sunny Saturday

Fall has finally come on the Trail.  It's been picture perfect weather this week and we spent our days doing all kinds of fall things...picking gourds, going for long walks at night, and enjoying warm bowls of fall food.  All weekend long we are celebrating Kevin's birthday, so football and fajitas is on the schedule for today.  

Fall is so short and I just want to savor every day, so this week I'm sharing some fall things that made my week a bit sunnier.  Hope you enjoy!

First up is this beautiful sign I picked up at the Omaha Vintage Market from Here with Us last weekend (search for them on Instagram).  I walked around the market twice and just couldn't leave without taking home this piece.  It is one of the first things you see when you walk up our stairs into our home and I am partial to the verse.  I absolutely love it.

While Luke was at Wednesday night church this week, I snuck off to Trader Joe's to get some white pumpkins.  I planted a few rows of them this year, but not one made it.  Not one.  Trader Joe's to the rescue!  I picked up a bunch of baby ones along with a few big ones for our dining room table and I can't get enough of them.  I actually want to head back for more next week, but we'll see how it goes. Our house is full of gourds and pumpkins and baby popcorn.  I love this time of year!

Pumpkin spice used to be my jam.  I loved a PSL just as much as the next person, but my tastes have changed and it's not my favorite anymore.  BUT, these little petite pumpkin spice cookies from TJ's have won me over.  I had to resist eating the whole box on my way home the other night.  And, they're from Trader Joe's, so they're healthy.  #amiright

The last thing that made my week sunnier were some thoughtful friends.  Kevin and I had some friends send us a completely unexpected thank you card and gift card this week that made us smile.  We had friends praying for us and listening to us about our little old life.  Friends are one of life's greatest blessing and I may be bias, but I think we have the best.

I hope you have a Sunny Saturday wherever you may be today and you have the best fall weekend! 

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