Sunday, August 31, 2014

having it all has nothing to do with all you have

Today I am reminded of how finite life is.
We simply have 
a beginning and an end,
a hello and a goodbye,
a start and a finish.
And a few fleeting minutes in the middle.
Having it all has nothing to do with all you have.
It's not about stuff.
Or crossing off to do lists,
or accomplishments or accolades.
It's not about where you live,
or what you drive.
It's not about what's lining the shelves of your refrigerator,
or hanging in your closet,
or boasting quietly in your trophy case.
It's not about job titles or degrees,
or paychecks or bonuses.
It's about making chocolate chip cookies from scratch,
baiting a fishing hook,
reading a bedtime story,
taking a Sunday drive,
splashing in puddles,
listening to stories about the good ole days,
making mudpies,
walking hand in hand down the sidewalk,
handwriting notes.

It's all about love that endures,
grace that saves,
friendships that persevere,
family that supports,
memories that sustain,
and hope that restores.  
Tonight, as we tuck in tightly, snuggle up soundly,
and whisper our bedtime prayers,
I can't help but realize, and be eternally grateful, we really do have it all.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

first days of school

My littlest love started his second year of school on Monday.
Baker was over the moon!
We spent the week prior grocery and school supply shopping,
 laying out his outfit, packing his backpack, and labeling all the things.
There is no mom who loves back to school like a teacher mom!
He couldn't wait to see his friends and teachers.
We are looking forward to another wonderful year!
Baker Boy,
This week you started your second year of preschool. I hung back as you walked in, hugged on, and high fived all of your friends - old and new. I watched you wash your hands and then hang your backpack in your cubby, as is the routine. Then, you walked to each of your classmates and greeted them, settling in to your new classroom with ease.  
You have been so excited about your return to school. Each night before bed, we read "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See?" - a personalized version with each of your classmates' pictures. We called them by name and talked about how excited we were to see each of them again. These classmates are friends, of course; but you love them like family. They help you up when you fall, and encourage you when something is difficult. Together, you laugh and play and learn. You're their Baker Boy, and they are your very best friends.
You love school. And it warms my heart dearly how much your school loves you. The walls of your school provide structure and security, warmth and encouragement, and a lot of love.
You are becoming more independent. This is a bittersweet stage for me. I love watching you do things at your own pace, and in your own way. You need me a little less, and some days, that's tough for your ole mom. You'd rather walk than have your mommy carry you, and you much prefer to sit beside me than snuggled in my lap. And my heart broke into a million teensy pieces never to be put together again a little when you wanted to walk into school with your backpack and lunchbox and without me holding your hand. But more than anything, my heart is so happy at the little boy you are becoming.
Today and always, I am so very proud of you.
Baker Boy, this school year is yours. 
Yours to learn from and grow in.  
Yours to love.
Yours to thrive.

With all my heart,

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

sometimes God answers no when i pray

"sometimes God answers 'yes' when I pray,
sometimes God answers 'wait' when I pray,
sometimes God answers 'no,' just because He loves me so,
but I know God always answers when I pray"

I remember signing this verse in children's church, and today, 25 years later, I still find myself humming the tune and singing the lyrics.

When I pray with faithfulness, with an expectant heart, with an eager spirit, I often misinterpret a "not right now" or "not at all" for God not hearing my prayers.

when a diagnosis is confirmed,
when a heart hurts,
when His timing is not my own,
when farewell is uttered,
when a door closes,
when a job fails,
when a storm devastates,

God is still God.
He is still reigning on His throne.
The Creator of the universe still knows my name.
The Almighty still holds my life in His hands.

If he had answered yes to one very strong, very purposeful prayer.
A prayer that was uttered just over two years ago.
A prayer where we begged and pleaded and petitioned for our son to come into this world without Down Syndrome.
We wouldn't be us.
And I just cannot fathom how that could be.

His ways are better.
His grasp is stronger.
His thoughts are higher.
His love is greater.
His plan is bigger.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Three Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

I cannot refuse peanut butter in any form -
spooned onto a banana, blended into a shake, whipped into a pie, spread onto a warm waffle, or baked into cookies -
I am powerless to its creamy, crunchy goodness.
These Three Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies have won our hearts and there's no turning back.

They are easy peasy and super delicious!
Shopping List
1 cup peanut butter (we use Jif Natural)
1 cup sugar
I egg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine peanut butter, sugar, and egg.
Mix thoroughly.
Spoon by rounded teaspoonful onto ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake for 9-11 minutes.
Let cool.
PS - Baker suggests dunking them in milk.
What can I say, the boy's a genius!

We also like these variations.

Nutella Delight
1/2 cup Peanut Butter + 1/2 cup Nutella + 1 cup of sugar + 1 egg

Candy Bar Cookies
Add in 1/2 Cup of favorite candy bar/candies (imagine the possibilities - chopped M&Ms, Heath bar bits, Reese cups, Reese Pieces, Skor bar)

I cannot wait to send these yummy treats with Baker as a back to school teacher treat with this cute printable!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Birthday Bucket List - A Check Up

I am almost nine months into this being twenty-nine thing.
It's neither here nor there that I am also closer to thirty years old than I have ever been in my whole entire life.

In true Type A, crazy planner, over the top, Jenn Bell form, I am revisiting my list to see where I stand.
I will cross out and add links and/or pictures to anything I have checked off, italicize anything in progress, and leave undone those not yet addressed.

This is the original post from November 29.
In honor of my twenty-ninth birthday, my very last year as a twenty-something, before hitting the big 3-0, I am making a birthday bucket list.
A list of things I want to accomplish in what God promises to be a year full of even more than I could ever ask or imagine.
So, why not?

One. Spend an entire weekend free of social media - no blogging, no Facebook, no Instagram, no Twitter, no messaging, not even any Googling. Just me and my boys. We live in a world that says, "If you don't _______ (fill in the blank - tweet about it, take a picture of it, post about it), then it never happened." Well, shucks. I'm proving that way wrong.
Two. Take off a day of work to volunteer at Baker's school. Here's to shucking my teacher badge for a whole day and wearing my mommy hat. Yippee skippy.
I even convinced Brian to join the fun! We rendezvoused for a fun breakfast date and then spent a fabulous Friday being Baker's mommy and daddy. We even got to serve at the Gene Stalling's golf tournament, and took advantage of a priceless photo op. We had so much fun we're already planning this in the upcoming year....when we're thirty. Womp. Womp. Womp.
Three. Buy a stranger's lunch.
 It was actually dinner. See here. While this one is technically accomplished, I will strive to do this over and over. Because it is way fun!
Four. Watch a sunrise. Watch a sunset.
For once, I let the snooze button sleep in. Totally worth it. Totally.
Five. Read a just for fun book. Read a devotional. Read a how-to book.

Love Does by Bob Goff
A Simple Act of Gratitude by John Kralik
Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver
The Pioneer Woman Cooks - Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl by Ree Drummond
For others, see my Summer Reading List
 Six. Share the gospel with twelve people. Ten seems too predictable, thirteen seems way scary.
Seven. Send an I'm thinking about you happy note to at least one person every week.

This is one of my favorite parts of each week - sitting down with my favorite pen and stationary, fancy address stamp, and sending happy thoughts to those I hold most dear.
Eight. Go on a fancy date with my husband once a month. Here's to high heels, and bright lipstick, and big hair, and dazzling, and wooing, and falling all over in love.

I love this one being ongoing. I think we'll promise to do this once a month for all the months of the rest of our forever.  
Nine. Do at least five spontaneous somethings - plan a vacation and leave in the same hour, eat something new off the menu at my favorite restaurant, make an unplanned purchase.

This is hard for a planner. Super duper hard.
Trip to Chattanooga. We transferred Baker from his crib to the car and hit the road for a fun-filled day trip!

A date with my biggest love on a school night. Talk about living on the edge!
Does an unplanned hospital vacation count?
This. A daddy and his boy and a favorite fishing hole. I am realizing that some of life's most precious moments are the ones I can't perfectly orchestrate.
Four words. Impromptu. Ice. Cream. Date.


 Ten. Train for and run a race. It's neither here nor there that I failed to acknowledge the length of the race. We'll see.

I bought a new pair of tennis shoes and running socks. They look really cute with my leggings. That's all I know for now. Baby steps, y'all.
Eleven. Adopt a child from World Vision. I have wanted to do this since Baker was born. While I think it would be perfectly fine to choose any child, I want a boy or girl who shares Baker's birthday. Each year, as we plan his party, we will also help this new friend celebrate the day of his or her birth. Birthdays are special, and should be celebrated as such.
Twelve. Get something waxed. Never have I ever, ever had any part of my body waxed. And as an almost thirty year old, I think it's a rite of passage.
"L'7 Weenie!
Yeah, yeah, Oscar Meyer even, footlong, dodger dog, a weenie!"
Sandlot, anyone?
Thirteen. Learn how to change a flat tire. Learn something new. Or at least how to pop my hood. Being married to a Mr. Fix It, I need to know none of these things. I think, as a woman of age, I should be educated.
This summer, I assembled a new desk, with tools and without my husband. And it functions. Perfectly. Don't miss those key details. And, for the record, I now know how to pop my hood. Boom. Maybe that will make oil changes slightly less embarrassing.
Forget the rest. As an almost thirty year old, I will delegate the rest. Smart women "of age" know their limits, and know when to sit back and let someone else do the dirty work.
Fourteen. Go to an Alabama football game outside of Bryant Denny Stadium. I have been to my fair share of home games, but it's high time I visit some of these non-championship winning SEC stadiums. Roll Tide, y'all.
Fifteen. Plant a garden with Baker. Grow fruits and vegetables. Eat them, cook with them, share them. Enjoy this. The dirt digging, and fingernail cleaning, and seed planting, and soil watering, and plant sprouting amazing process of things growing from the ground.
Blueberry growing, Blueberry picking. Blueberry eating. That, my friends, is how it's done.
Sixteen. Go to a movie. Buy a huge drink and a big bucket of popcorn. With lots of butter and zero regrets.
Seventeen. Kiss my husband in four different states.

Tennessee. Boom.
Florida. Bow Chicka Wow Wow Chicka Wow Wow
Alabama. Duh.
Mississippi. Check.

I'm okay with being an overachiever here. You know, for the purposes of this bucket list.

Eighteen. Go to the beach. Build sandcastles, keep Baker up way past his bedtime to experience the thrill of hunting crabs by flashlight, go on a dolphin cruise, take cheesy beach pictures in coordinating outfits, get airbrushed t-shirts made to commemorate the event.

Nineteen. Go to a concert. Preferably one that involves the outdoors and cowboy boots.
Preferably Garth Brooks. Consider this my current mission.

Twenty. Sit down in chair at the salon, sans pictures, sans specific instructions with pointing and measuring, and all the details of how I want my hair cut and styled, and say only, "Go."

Eeeekkk. That one took a lot out of me.

Twenty-one. Buy a fancy bottle of wine. No fancy occasion required.

Twenty-two. Do a service project with Brian and Baker. I'm still praying about how this looks for us.

Twenty-three. Take a photography class.

Twenty-four. Join the Be the Match registry.

Twenty-five. Go on a girl's trip. Only friends. No children. No husbands. Tons of belly-aching laughter, inside joke sharing, memory making fun.

The best. No pictures allowed. What happens on a girl's trip stays on a girl's trip.

Twenty-six. Teach Baker the simple joy of cooking. Pancake batter head to toe, chocolate chips strewn haphazardly across the counter, syrup sticking to every surface. Yes, I think we will start with chocolate chip pancakes.

Twenty-seven. Test drive an impractical car. I envision something with only two doors, no top, great speakers, faster than law allows, music blaring.

Twenty-eight. Go to an amusement park. Ride roller coasters, eat funnel cakes, buy the expensive souvenir pictures.

Twenty-nine. Live intentionally. Love each day. Cherish those most dear. Be purposeful. Spread joy. Smell flowers. Read books. Hand write notes. Sing loudly. Skip in the street. Smile. Play board games. Walk barefooted in wet grass. Swing. Make homemade bread. Pick pecans.

I want this to be my purpose every single day. I am working on living a life with less clutter and more meaning.

Here's to a year of life loving, double dare taking, memory making, dreams coming true.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Down Syndrome, for what?

I've traded my summer reading of "Where'd You Go, Bernadette," and sunscreen labels, and "Must Make Recipes of Summer" and "How to Survive the Beach with a Toddler in Tow" in exchange for professional development materials. But I'm still clutching this Word like my entire life depends on it.
And it does.
Today my reading was not new. It was very familiar. But I read it with new eyes. I read it with a renewed spirit. I read it with hope.

"As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"

"Neither this man nor his parents sinned, said Jesus, "but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him."

John 9:1-3

I sometimes change the words. I don't think He minds. I change a few names, conditions, and even the tenses. But the last part always remains. Baker was born with Down Syndrome "so that the works of God might be displayed in him."


and this

and this, too

"so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

And they are. Every single day.

Through his dancing, his winking, his finger pulling, his joy so infectious, his laugh so contagious. His whole body points to the greatness and faithfulness of my Jesus.

What did God make so uniquely you to display his greatness? What doors has He closed and which others has He propelled you through to evidence His goodness.

Is it your job? Your relationship status? Your different ability? Your career? Your gains? Your losses? Your talents? Your gifts? Your hurts? Your fears? Your parenting style? Your voice?

Whatever you are, wherever you are, be you "so the works of God might be displayed in you." 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Five on Friday

Happy Friday, friends!
We have had the best week!
We are still reeling from a fun day yesterday.
This week has been all about soaking up the last few minutes of summertime,
and squeezing in a few necessary appointments.
Baker and I spend a lot of time in the kitchen.
I love to bake, and I love to bake with Baker!
Fitting, huh?
One of our favorites are Muddy Buddies (or any variation of Chex Mix),
and sampling as we go is an absolute must!
Research has proven, the more chocolate and peanut butter on your face, the better they are. True Story.

These two boys, y'all.
There's something about a boy in a backwards cap that makes me go weak in the knees.
And these two do it better than anyone else.

Baker visited our family dentist and a new specialist at Children's Hospital this week.
Both visits went really well!

Croutons and milk. The snack of champions.

My sleeping baby.
My most favorite part of summer has been rocking Baker for his afternoon naps and sneaking a peek at him while he sleeps. I am going to miss these long summer days when school starts back on Monday.
This summer has been the very best!
I love my job, and I love that my job allows me summers at home with my family.
Here's to great memories of a fabulous summer and the anticipation of an exciting school year!