Monday, January 31, 2011

Memory Monday

This time a year ago, Justin and I had the opportunity to drop Brig off for a night and enjoy some one-on-one time with Harrison seeing exactly what boys love best...the Monster Truck Jam

This was his first trip to the big stadium and after being overwhelmed at first site of the size of the stadium itself (and how nauseatingly high up our seats were), we settled in and his excitement grew with every passing minute.  When the show first started and all those trucks came roaring out, I thought that boy was gonna jump right out of his skin!  It was bitterly cold and windy that night, but Justin and I had the most fun - just us and our Big Boy.

**And as a side note, he's already reminded me that the Monster Truck Jam is coming up very soon.  No, not Harrison.  That would be Justin. **

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thursday Thought

What, you may ask, am I thinking about today?  Well, if you must know, I'm having a little pity party about how much whole bunch (myself included) is sick yet again.  This dreary gray winter has been brutal enough, but now we're a germ-fest as well. 


Just so I can vent, here's a list:

1.  I'm annoyed that the extra money I had "squirrled" away for a much-needed shopping trip for myself (a rarity in itself) got spent at the pediatrician's office yesterday.  Final diagnosis = Yet another ear infection and an early sinus infection for the baby.  But wait, it get's better. 

When I picked Harrison up from school yesterday, he was hacking a dry cough.  On the bright side, this is his only symptom, and thanks to Delsym that's under control and he's off on his merry way at school today. 

2.  As if having sick little ones isn't bad enough, Mama doesn't get sick days and she's stuck in the middle of the mess as well.  Boy, is this mess cramping my style!  We've had to miss church last night, will be missing small group tonight and will probably be missing a fun girls-only (plus kids) get-together tomorrow night.  Does this cold not realize that my spirit craves quality time out of the house??  (Stuck in the car with sick kids traveling to said pediatrician noted above does not count.)  Sheesh!

3.  Alas, in the daily battle to turn the bad upside down and take the focus off everything going wrong to the innumerable things going right, I am grateful this is only our second round with illness.  Our whole bunch was sick just before Thanksgiving and we've all managed to stay well up until now...nothing short of a miracle considering the brutally cold weather combined with every other germy kid who fills Harrison's school and our church nursery.  I have a handful of friends who've just been put through the ringer with sick babies over and over this season. 

4.  This Florida girl is warm-blooded to the core, and I earnestly await warmer temperatures...even the 100-degree August days.  I never find myself on those muggy, steamy summer days thinking, "Oh, I wish it were winter..."  BUT, nearly every day of winter, I find myself craving the exact opposite, "Will it ever be summer again??" 

My Florida blood runs deep.  Gimme sunshine and balmy weather!

Suppose that's enough complaining for me, but it sure feels good to get that griping off my chest.  Now, excuse me while I go wipe some snotty noses...including mine. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Memory Monday

In true Memory Monday style, let's take a look back to exactly one year ago...

We were rockin' the ExerSaucer!  This was Harrison's most favorite play thing as a baby and Brigdon loved it too.  Now, he's entirely too big to even fit in the thing much less be happy in any contraption that would require him to be restrained for a specific period of time. 

That boy's on the go!

His little feet wouldn't reach the bottom of the ExerSaucer -- even on the lowest notch.  Easy fix thanks to my hardly-ever-used medical dictionary.  Thanks Mr. Dorland!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Friday, January 14, 2011

Santa and His Helpers

"Santa" and "Mrs. Claus" (ahem...Justin and I) had a big surprise planned for the boys for Christmas...a wooden playset for the backyard!  Mr. Handy Manny had decided that he was going to build it himself, which you can imagine led to a little skepticism on my part.  I had complete faith that he could build it, but was concerned about him making it happen in the small time frame we had.  Oh yeah...this whole thing was to be done incognito

** Just for the record, it's harder to keep a 4-year-old out of the backyard than you think.  I could devote an entire post just to the tactics we used the week before Christmas to keep Harrison out of the backyard or from even going to the backdoor (which is glass) or from even peeking out the windows into the backyard.  Sheesh. **

We managed to hide it well and Harrison was so very surprised on that cold Christmas morning!  Seeing the look on his face was unbelievably worth the while. 

AND I'm pretty proud of my handsome handyman for making it happen (with a little -- okay a lot -- of help from his "Elf" Bryce)!

Supplies...Trip 1 of 4 made to Lowe's over the course of the week

Phase I

Phase II - Seriously, wouldn't it have been easier to just use a ladder?.  Silly boys and their toys.

Phase III - nearly done!

Phase III

Done!  (Minus one special baby swing that got installed on Christmas Eve!)

Christmas Morning - Daddy & Brig testing out the slide

Brig loves his swing!

Just a swingin'

So happy!

Festival of Lights

Probably one of our smartest purchases of 2010, were annual passes to Silver Springs/Wild Waters.  We went to Silver Springs in the springtime, and made quite a few trips to Wild Waters over the summer.  About an hour and a half away, this is the perfect day trip and we've had a great time every time we've gone. 

For Christmas, they were having a special "Festival of Lights," where the park was open from dusk til 8:00 and featured an incredible amount of Christmas lights throughout the entire park as well as carolers and a special lighted boat parade. 

Though the evening was much colder than this warm-blooded Florida gal would like, we had a great time.  The lights were amazing and it was obvious the team that put it all together had worked very hard.  I will say the best part was Outback afterwards with the Thomas fam!

Thursday Thought

(yes, I'm aware today's not Thursday, it's Friday... A day late and a dollar short - that's me!)

"I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
He who watches over you will not slumber;
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep."

Ever finding yourself needing a hand?  Whether it be in a spiritual sense or more physically needing help to meet certain commitments, we are all needy.  No matter how I try to psych myself up that I'm "Super Woman" who wears all these different hats (or capes, so to speak), on my own I'm just plain helpless. 

This psalm suggests the writer is climbing and truly in need of help.  And in this fallen world, every day is a climb.  No doubt I may start my day off on the right foot, but on my own, I'm doomed for least by God's standards. 

I read a beautifully written and moving blog post yesterday by Ann at A Holy Experience  that (yet again) encourages me to make the most of every and every moment.  (I should add that I read this at 7:00 a.m. and was not prepared for tears at that of the morning - it moved me.) 

All too often, I find myself begrudgingly forcing myself through the crazy amount of mundane tasks that comprise my day-to-day life.  And unfortunately, at the end of the day, I fall into bed not feeling accomplished, but feeling guilty.  Guilty that I let another precious day go by simply going through the motions, keeping up with the erratic pace of life.  Overwhelmed by the simple fact that I will never get that day back again.  Never be able to relive the giggles and kisses of my babies or the embrace of my husband.  And instead of feeling accomplished at a productive day, I'm weary...inside and out. 

How can I change this?  With a little (okay, a lot of) help from Above. 

Sounds simple right?  And the Truth is, it is simple. 

In describing her day, Ann brings to mind this act of simplicity...

"I do the next thing and begin picking up what is everywhere, the leftover peelings of bandages, the balloons one little girl keeps blowing up everywhere, one of her hair bows. I realize: One day and soon, I will not be gathering up bandage, balloons, bows. Bandages. Balloons. Bows. I laugh happy! All this glorious mess! We’re here! A house reflects the pursuit of living!"

How true and how simple.  By simply readjusting her mindset from one extreme to the other, that begrudging attitude becomes an attitude of grattitude.  And other thought comes to my mind as I apply Ann's words to my life:  "This too shall pass." 

So grateful for the Holy Spirit to encourage me to shift my focus from the 20 things around me that are just going all wrong, to the 20,000 things that are in place and just right
That's grace.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

First United Methodist Preschool Christmas Program

Quite possibly the perfect way to celebrate the Christmas season is to watch a crew of 3 and 4-year-olds portray the simple miracle of the birth of our Savior. 

"Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a
little child will never enter it.”

We found out just before Thanksgiving break that Harrison was given the part of Joseph for the Christmas program at his school, complete with lines to memorize and songs to practice.  At first, he wasn't too sure who exactly Joseph was, but once we reinterated the story again, he was quite excited and the proceeded to tell anyone who would listen all about it.

We had a good laugh when he was telling his Meme ...

Harrison:  "Hey Meme, guess who I'm gonna be in the Christmas program?"
Meme:  "I dunno."
Harrison:  "Joseph!!"
Meme:  "Joseph??!?  Man, he's like the star of the show!"
Me:  "Ummm, I'm pretty sure Jesus is the star of the show..."
Meme:  "Well, Joseph's pretty importnat too!"

Those little guys had practiced for weeks and weeks and finally the time came for their performance.  We laughed and laughed at their cuteness and mess-ups and carrying on.  Maybe a few tears of joy too...  (well, maybe that was just me)

"The Innkeeper" (Elijah - in green), "Joseph" (Harrison) and "Mary" (Eden)

"Please sir, my wife is very tired.  Do you have a place we can stay tonight?"

Red-faced from belting out the tunes!

After the show - So proud!

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, January 10, 2011

Memory Monday

Have you ever been this tired?  This was our sweet 3-month-old plum exhausted after play gym time.  I didn't even bother moving him to his crib, but let him sleep right in the floor.  Funniest to me, is that he has his arms stretched out like that.  Looks like sheer exhaustion. 
It's hard work bein' a baby!

This was before that nap.  Bubs loved (and still loves) to hold Brother and this was such opportunity. 

Sweet boys.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Makin' a List

My hope is that this post makes you laugh all while stopping to think about setting some goals yourself. 

I'm gonna start off being honest here and just so you know, it's not all that pretty. 
So here goes...

I am trapped in a world of lists.  There, I said it.

I have a daily to-do list, a weekly to-do list, an ongoing list for Mama Couture with new ideas and promos, an ongoing grocery list that I amend daily, a list of suppers for every night this month...and on and on I could go.  It's sickening.  And, it's my own fault.  BUT, these lists help me be organized and help me feel accomplished (you know it feels pretty awesome to scratch through those mundane tasks when they're complete!) and make me a great -- wait, good -- wait, okay -- manager of my household. 

"Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and He will establish your plans." 

Though the lists above are tedious and most are pretty unnecessary, there are a few lists that are worth their while.  For years and years (probably since high school?), I have made a "Goal List" at the start of each new year.  I hate to use the word "resolutions," because these are things to aim for.  "Resolutions" are over-rated.  My list isn't usually all that long either.  I don't have the list in front of me, but going way back to 2010, my goals were (briefly -- yeah, right):

1.  Be diligent about spending quality time in the word on a daily basis. 
I had been guilty of a quick 10 minutes in the Bible once or twice a week.  So the 2010 goal was to spend true time studying and journaling and in the Word.  I can honestly say that this goal has been met and I get so blessed to browse back in my little journal notebook thingy and literally see the Holy Spirit workin' on me.  Good stuff.

2.  Teach Harrison to write his name. 
Okay, this goal took way longer than I expected it to.  Wow.  He had a good grasp on the alphabet, but teaching him to write the actual letters was a bit of a challenge.  Overall, he had it down pretty good, but after he started school in the fall, his wonderful teacher mailed it.  So I can't take credit for 100% of this one.

3.  Teach Harrison to wipe his own butt.
Yes, I just said that.  We knew with him starting school, the teachers had made it clear that they do not wipe little booties.  This meant Harrison had to get the hang of this on his own.  And let me just say, I had no idea how huge an undertaking this was.  Wow.  We worked on it ALL summer, but needless to say, he's an expert booty-cleaner-upper now!

4.  Better prioritize my time.
Too many needless hours get wasted around here and it's no one's fault but my own.  This isn't something I saw through all that well and is one that will be making an appearance on my "2011 Goal List."

The best part of this Goal List -- and any list -- is seeing visible proof of accomplishments, both big and little.  Looking at 2010's list, it's pretty cool that the majority of these were totally crossed off by the end of the year!  How's that for feelin' productive??!

OK, fast forward to the present.  Been thinking about the "2011 Goal List," and it's pretty lengthy.  Yikes.

1.  Make it a priority to take better care of myself.
I'm just gonna come out and say it, by taking "better care of myself," I mean diet and exercise.  Ugh.  No, I'm not trying to lose 20 pounds by March or anything like that.  Just to overall be aware of what I'm putting into my mouth and making it a point to get active every day...even if that means speed cleaning the house or pulling my critters to the pond and back in their wagon.  After Brig was born, I got right on diet and exercise to burn off that baby weight, but once it came off, I slowed down - way down.  I will say that I didn't wait til January 1, 2011 to start this goal, but I actually started the week before.  I'm journaling everything (and I mean everything) I eat and am getting a good burst of activity in every day...except Sunday.  (See goal number 2.)

2.  Remember the Sabbath.
Too often in my hurried life, I have directly dishonored what God says about Sunday and not devoted it to rest like I should.  Sadly, Sunday usually ends up being a catch-up day...catch-up housework, catch-up ironing, catch-up washing my truck, catch-up yardwork.  There's a reason those lazy Sunday afternoons are so addictive, it's because that's what God has commanded us to do.  It would be like my boss at work coming in my office and commanding me to take a nap and rest and me blatently not doing it.  Does make sense?  Hooray for our new Sunday schedule at RRC, in which services have been moved an hour earlier = an extra hour in the afternoon for rest.  Though the services do start early, it feels so good to roll out of bed and start the day at church. 

3.  Better prioritize my time.
This is a rollover from 2010, one that needs better attention.  Working from home, I figured out right away how important it is for me to be productive with my time.  This stretches over to all aspects of my day.  How wonderful a feeling to fall into bed at the end of the day and say, "What a productive day."  This is how King Soloman described the Proverbs 31 woman's (whom I adore) productivity:  "She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants.  She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.  She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.  She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night."  (Proverbs 31:15-18In summary, that girl's a workhorse and I wanna be just like her.  The easiest way to get there is to make the best use out of the time I do have.  While at the same time...  (See goal number 4)

4.  Be more "in the moment."
I'm not gonna lie, routine day-to-day junk fills a good part of my day most of the time.  Not only am I not prioritizing my time, but I'm missing out on my babies all the while.  I'm ready for a slow down.  Sounds simple; hope it's simple to carry through.  And a big part of being "in the moment" is not sweating the small stuff...but that's another post entirely. 

5.  Buy a piano.
Well, not just buy a piano, but start playing again.  I played growing up, but after I started college and got married, I just didn't have the time to devote to it any more.  When we sold our house and moved, I really couldn't think of a place to put the piano in our new house and I sold it.  The piano I've had and played on since I was 6 years old; I sold it.  And have regretted it ever since.  But that's soon to change!  

6.  Save more money.
We blow much more money on silly frivilous things than we should and we are making it a point to be more conscientious about every dollar spent.  And this is going into effect across all areas of our budget.  Other than the obvious, directly depositing extra money into savings, we're re-evaluating things we thought we "needed" like cable TV and Netflix.  We're looking at ways to cut our spending on insurance and home utilities.  I'm even making it a point to be better about couponing.  It's the easiest way to save tons of $$ on groceries and 80% of the time I don't even do it.  I've adopted the motto "Save Money.  Live Generously" (without sounds like a Wal-Mart ad) and we're stickin' to it!

7.  Take time out for myself.  
Whether this be an hour at Starbucks with a book or an entire afternoon of kid-free time on a golf course with my main squeeze, this is something I've realized just in the last month or so that I desperately need.  So often, that "me time" is the first thing out the window when the day gets hectic and I've got to get it back...soon!  

So, looking at this list now, I'm a bit overwhelmed.   But these are ALL things I can control and really can make happen. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some work to do!

...And She's Here!

That soon-to-be niece we were awaiting here??  Well, she made her arrival on Monday, January 3, 2010 weighing 7 pounds and 9 ounces. 

Emma Joy Chapman

This is Justin's brother Jarrod and his wife Ponnie's first baby and I can't help but think back to the day we ourselves became parents and how overwhelmed with joy Jarrod and Ponnie were that cold and snowy Monday morning in Missouri. 

Though little Emma lives many many miles away, I can't wait to see more pictures of her and watch her grow and change and know that she is so very loved. 

Newborns get me every time...whether they're mine or someone elses.  So innocent and perfect and needy.  Aunt Sue can hardly wait to get a hold of her!

Tuesday Truth

It's been a bit too long since I've written a Tuesday Truth and I realize that.  I also realize that I'm not real sure where to go with this.  Folks say, "New Year - New Beginning," which is true to some extent.  But as Christians, every day is a fresh start. 

Why should we limit it to only one day a year?  

I could compile a long pity-party list of things in my little life that I'm facing with anxiety and guilt...a few are things I cannnot change, but many (okay, most) are things that I can change - with a little help from Above. 

"Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”

I have a soft spot in my heart for old church hymns; powerful words and an unforgetable melody.  From the excerpt above comes that great hymn "Great Is Thy Faithfulness."  The chorus of which reads...

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

I think maybe for a long time I just assumed that because I was a "good girl" and a "church go-er" and a "sometimes-on-occasion-Bible-reader," that somehow I was immune to conflict and struggle.  Happily ever after, right? 

Enter in His. Great.  Faithfulness.  Even in the face of adversity - HE is faithful.  Why does God want to see me at my worst?  Because as the faulty human I am, there is no other choice but to run to Him and rest in his renewing mercy.  

And in hindsight -- it's always 20/20 -- those things I thought as heartache were for His glory.  Not that I could boast, but moments of refining to make me more like His Son.  Better yet, how great His faithfulness that He loves me enough to not leave me in the sad place of complacency. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

Memory Monday

A NeW YeAr! 

And an exciting time to start fresh..."out with the old and in with the new" so to speak.  A few changes happening around here and a few changes from 2010 that are sticking around - all good. 

So in true Memory Monday fashion -- this time last year, we were getting into the swing of things as a newly-expanded family of 4.  By January, we were through the holidays and establishing a little routine.  I was also back to work, which conveniently can be done at the kitchen table in between naps and feedings and that's exactly how we simply existed in those early weeks.  Looking back, though only a year ago, it's all a bit of a blur. 

One thing I can distinctly remember is that it was a time in my life where I felt unbelievably exhausted and stretched thin and unbelieveably blessed and overwhelmed with gratitude all at the same time. 

A cold and rainy January day -- one that we spent the entire day in our pajamas...
which doesn't happen all that often.  Just that kinda day!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010 Recap

Whew!  2010 was a whirlwind of a year for sure.  No doubt the older I get, the faster and faster those years fly by.  So here's a (somewhat brief) recap. 

This little family of mine started 2010 with a new bundle of sweetness...our Brigdon David.  We were in the early days of getting into a routine with two small children and the exhaustion in those early days was unbelievable.  Over the course of 2010, these two boys have brought more joy and laughter and even tears to my life than I ever thought possible and can't imagine life without them in it.

Brigdon David Chapman - Birth Day

Since Brig's birth, I had the nagging feeling (and a bit of nagging from my dear friend Jennifer as well) about starting a blog...again.  So, in the spring of 2010, this little blog was born.  My goal from the beginning has been to do this for my boys.  When they're grown, they'll have more than just a baby book or a photo album.  They'll have the true "story" of their lives...straight from their Mama.  That goal has not changed.  No doubt there are very few folks who care about the day to day silliness that happens in our life, but if there's one thing this blog has taught me that I didn't expect, it's that every day is special.  And all that silliness?  It's special too and if I hadn't taken a sec to put it into print, my little pea-brain would've long forgotten those moments.  And for that, I'm beyond grateful. 

Spring also brought a new niece to our family...little (well, not so little anymore) Claire.  Exciting for me to finally be able to buy and make sweet, prissy girly things, which is a big change from all the boyish-ness the last 4+ years have consumed.
Harrison - Cousin Claire - Aunt Sue

Read the shirt folks...that's all I'm sayin'!

Spring became Summer.  Ahhh, summer.  We've just come out of a 3 week period of insanely cold temperatures (anything below 50 is cold for this Florida girl!), so just thinking about summer warms me right up.  And summer means...vacation!  We made our annual trip to Sanibel/Captiva yet again this year.  It was Brig's first trip AND we celebrated Harrison's 4th birthday while we were there.  A wonderful week of fun, sun, family, good food and memories - both old and new.
Sweet Summertime

Big 4-year-old

As such, Summer became Fall.  And a b.i.g. change.  That innocent 6-pound 12-ounce June baby of mine started school...yes, school.  (Preschool, but school nonetheless).  I've always tried to be the type to not be sad about my babies growing up, but rather to look forward to and celebrate the next stage.  BUT, Harrison starting school affected me much more than I planned.  We're well into the school year now and he l.o.v.e.s. school...he adores his teacher and his new friends.  And all the things he's learned?? totally blows me away. 

And with Fall starts a whole mess of holidays.  All first-time holidays for our little Brig and making sweet new memories.  Something new for me was a month of "Bountiful Blessings" for November.  Sadly, I have to force myself to see the numerous blessings, but after a month of Bountiful Blessings, that gratitude became much easier. 
Cutest cowboys this side of the Mississippi - Halloween

...and a Super-Cute Punkin too!

Coordinating Turkey Shirts - Thanksgiving

2010 brought yet another milestone for our bunch...a first birthday for our sweet Briggy D!

Lastly, Fall became Winter.  As mentioned above, a bitterly cold and dreary winter.  But also a time for warm bowls of chili and steamy mugs of cocoa and a cozy fire in the fireplace and sweet squishy munchkins to cuddle with....pure bliss. 

And best of all...Winter brings Christmas!  A special day set aside to worship our King.  As Christians we're called for daily worship, but how refreshing to have a day specifically set aside just for that.   
Christmas Eve

We are awaiting the birth of another sweet niece nearly any day now.  And though she lives many, many miles away, no doubt she will capture our hearts and pictures of her sweet face will soon fill this little blog as well.

As we've ended 2010 and started 2011, I am beyond excite for what God has in store for us this year.  Though it may not all be peachy, no doubt He is faithful and we are only promised today. (Proverbs 27:1)  I spent a good part of my morning attending a funeral.  Although at first I thought it was odd to have a funeral on New Year's Day, I left there thinking it was quite appropriate.  No better fitting a time than New Year's Day to celebrate life and a reminder to make every day count like it could be our last. 
Happy New Year Folks!