Category: my heart

a letter to Rory on her 7th birthday.

My Sweet Rory,

SEVEN.

It happened in a blink.

You ask me all the time to tell you about the night you were born and every time I tell it I get teary-eyed. If you have babies of your own you will know that there is nothing on earth more magical than having your first child and holding it for the first time.

When you were born you were immediately so observant of every detail around you, and that still continues today. It is one of my favorite things about you. Now that you are reading so well that just added a whole new sense of wonder to light your beautiful brown eyes. 

Your dad and I watch you in complete amazement 90% of the time. It doesn’t matter what you do, you conquer it. From climbing trees, to flipping on the trampoline, to riding your bike, to playing soccer, to doing the monkey bars, to swimming, to reading, to math, to drawing… you have this amazing gift of being good at everything you want to do. I’m not just saying this because I am your mother- I would say the same if I weren’t. We have watched you this year absolutely thrive. You have worked your tail off at school to get better at reading especially, but all of your grades have improved from the first of the year. Your favorite thing to do is climb trees and you have climbed trees all over Tennessee and also in North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida. Every time we go on a trip and stop at a rest stop you find a tree to climb and declare you will climb a tree in all 50 states one day! Simple things like that remind us how amazing you are and give us a glimpse into your future.

You are a goal setter, an adventurer, a conqueror

When I watch you being fearless when you tackle every single day and with such force, I can’t help but wish that I was more like you. Your fearlessness gives you no boundaries in life and I so admire that about you. You often tell us at the most random times that you know you are going to be moving away to be a missionary when you grow up. And while my heart flutters with pride and brokenness of not seeing you every day, I do not doubt for a moment that you could do that. I can so see you fearlessly spreading the Gospel to the most desperate places. My prayer every single day as a parent is that I will never stifle this in you. I pray you will always be fearless in your life. Before I even knew your personality I claimed Joshua 1:9 as your life verse –  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” This is proof to you that God will place verses and ideas in your mind before you even know the future that will one day apply so well. I couldn’t have picked a better verse for you if I tried. You ARE so strong and courageous. I’m praying with everything in me that remains true and that you always find strength in the Lord.

The biggest thing that has happened in your life this year was getting saved. In October, all on your own, you asked Jesus into your heart. It was the most amazing day. My heart as not stopped expanding with pride over this. Next week you will be baptized and you are so excited. We are so proud that you followed your heart and the tugging of Jesus speaking to you. I have no doubt you will do amazing things for Him in your life.

I think the biggest blessing to me, besides your salvation, is seeing you finally be proud of yourself this year. I know you feel so appreciated for just being yourself at your school and with your teacher this year. As your mother, I cannot tell you the joy this brings to me. We went in for a check up the other day and you told the doctor that you were so proud of yourself for making such great decisions now and having better self control. You told us how you are working so hard and are just doing a great job. The doctor and I both looked at each other with tears in our eyes- that was the best outcome we could have ever imagined. Although you know why you are on a daily medicine and that it is there to help you, you aren’t giving the credit to that- AND YOU SHOULDN’T. It is all you, Rory. You are making changes and better decisions because you want to. Yes, the medicine helps, but sister- YOU SHOULD BE PROUD. You have matured and grown so much this year. You recognizing your hard work is wonderful- I hope you never sell yourself short and let anyone or anything take the credit for your hard work.

You are still equal parts girly and equal parts tomboy. You will go outside dressed in a tutu dress with tennis shoes and climb the tallest tree or make the biggest mud-pie. I absolutely adore this about you. You’ve decided to play flag football and when I told you that you may be the only girl you said, “AND?! I am just as fast as any boy out there.” AMEN, SISTER. Yes you are! I can’t help but giggle knowing that you are ready to get down and dirty and show those boys how it is done! And who knows… you may even throw a tutu on while you do it!

The older you get, the more beautiful you get, Rory. You have the most perfect eyes that squint in the cutest way when you laugh. And, oh, that laugh. Your laugh is your dad and I’s favorite sound. Your eyebrows let everyone know exactly what you are thinking and you better not ever touch those perfect brows or I will ground you! ha! Your toothless grin gives me all the giggles and I love it when you smile so big showing it off. Basically, what I am saying here is that you are the most beautiful seven year old in all the world… I can say that with conviction because I’m your mama.

You are so thoughtful and kind. You are a friend to every one, no matter what they look like or how they act. I love this about you.

Every year with you is my favorite year. Six was so good to us and I know seven will be even better. It is so fun to have actual conversations with you. You ask such tough questions that sometimes I have to tell you I need to do some research and get back with you on that! Ha! I so admire your desire for knowledge and wish I was more like you- you definitely get that from your dad. In fact, you get most things from your dad. But all my favorite things about myself I see in you 20 times better and it makes me so proud. 

Rory Eve, you are the light of my life. You challenge me, you give me such joy, and I love you more than words could ever say.

Love,

Mama

 

At Seven You:

-Weigh 41 lbs, 46.25 in tall

-Wear size 12 shoe, size 5/6 clothes

-Love all vegetables but asparagus are your very favorite. Your favorite meal is spaghetti. You aren’t a picky eater- you will try anything- but you eat like a bird! We have to sneak calories in all the time!

-Your favorite shows are Good Luck Charlie and Ninja Turtles. You could seriously binge on TV if I let you!

-You LOVE to sing and you and I take songs all the time and sing together. You naturally harmonize and I’m definitely signing you up for voice lessons soon!

-You also LOVE to dance and are really good at it! Dance parties after school are a must around here.

 

Goals for 2017

I’m not sure there is much more cliche than a New Year Goals post, but here we are anyway. 2016 was a year of self discovery and quietness from me in life and on the blog. I regret not documenting the fun, hilarious, and crazy adventures like in years past.

Every time I start thinking about what I want 2017 to be like or what I want to focus on, the words “HOPE” and “JOY” spring forward immediately. So, I am declaring 2017 the year of both hope and joy. I will hope with joy and I will have joy in the hope I am given by Christ in every situation I face. Even if it is hard to do.

I do have a few personal goals for myself and my family. I’d love to look back this time next year and see what I stuck to and what I didn’t. Hopefully I will be able to keep them up!

  1. Dating. I have declared 2017 the year of dates for our family. Andy and I have committed to going on a date every single month this year. This doesn’t seem like a huge deal, but when you don’t have family around it takes a lot of planning and money sometimes. But we can spare $100 a month to go on a date together. Andy and I are finally at a stage where our kids can be with a babysitter without us worrying about how they are doing. We have kids who sleep (ish), who sit at the dinner table, are out of diapers, and don’t wear us out with all the pitching of fits. We are finally more rested and I want to rekindle the romance and really focus on my marriage this year. Last year we had a great year, but I was more focused on how I was as a mom because that needed more work. But 2017 is the year for my marriage. Andy is also going to take the girls on their own separate dates each month. They are so excited about this and so am I!
  2. Quiet Time. Last year I made huge strides in my quiet time, but want to continue that consistency. Reading my Bible (almost) every day this past fall really changed things for me. It was so much easier to find joy in the ugly and to face my busy days. This year I want to continue that and also journal more. I’ve been thinking a lot about how I would love to leave the girls Bibles that are all marked up with dates and situations going on in my life. I want them to know I had hard days and that joy came through the words on the page of the Bible.
  3. Organization and Time Management. It is no secret that I’m pretty much the worst time manager. This is probably my least favorite thing about myself. I’m going to REALLY work on that this year. Last fall I was busier than I’ve ever been and about lost my mind trying to manage all the time and failed so bad so many times. A key to success in this will be having my home more organized. I’ve already made huge improvements over Christmas break and hope I can keep up the momentum!
  4. Adventure. In 2017, I really want to seek out adventures- for myself and as a family. I have irrational fears of camping and would love to face that fear and go camping with my family. We live in the perfect place to do that and hike as much as our little legs can handle! I want to take advantage of that more this year. The girls and I have a goal to visit all 50 states before they are 18 and this year I’d really like to knock off 5 states (they have 11 already!). So I am already planning our summer road trip to include some stops in new states.
  5. Hand-written notes. This sounds silly, but I would love to keep up the goal of writing one hand written note a week and mailing it to the person. There is nothing that lifts your spirits more than a hand written card, right?!
  6. Health. I’m not making huge claims of losing 239283 pounds that I need to lose, but I do want to concentrate on cooking more healthy meals and not eating out as much. I want to meal plan better and cook some things out of my comfort zone.
  7. Finances. Along with the health aspect, I want to cook more because I want to save the $. I want to cut down on eating out to 2 times a week MAX. We always go eat on Sunday so I’m hoping we can continue that and maybe one other night at the very most. I also want to be more intentional with our money and think more Dave-like. This will all also help my #1 goal because Andy likes me more if I stick to the budget- HA HA!
  8. Skincare. I know you are thinking- wait what?!- right now but for real. 2017 I’m going to concentrate hard on skincare. I was fortunate enough to not have acne as a teenager but LORD HAVE MERCY after having kids my skin has gone through some struggles. Not only do I have wrinkles popping up every day, I also have times where there are lots of spots. IT IS RIDICULOUS. So this year I’m going to try and find the right fit for my skin and stick with that routine. I’m open for any suggestions on retexturing my face while also getting rid of sun spots.
  9. Learn something new. I would love to learn a new skill this year. I have no idea what, but I want to find something and learn how to do it well. Or maybe practice something until I master it.
  10. Writing. Nothing fills me with more peace and joy than writing. I don’t know if I would call myself a writer, but I do love to sit down and let my fingers fly across the keyboard. I would LOVE to make the goal of writing on the blog once a week. This has a lot to do with my #3 goal of time management. I’m planning to set aside a writing time each week to sit down and blog or work on something else. To risk putting myself out there, my ultimate dream in life is to write a book. I’ve been working on one for quite some time but haven’t gotten the momentum to finally finish it. I would absolutely love for 2017 to be that year. And y’all, listen. NOTHING scares me more than that. But each year that ticks by and I haven’t done it is such a deep regret for me that it is almost physically painful. I’m finally at the point where I can say that even if no one ever read it, I would still reach for my ultimate dream.

Ten goals seems like a lot but they are all very simple and attainable (I hope).

What are your 2016 goals? If you are someone who really sticks to your goals do you have any tips for doing so?

Happy New Year, friends! I hope your year is filled with hope and joy!

Christmas Letter 2016

It is absolutely true what they say about how each year goes faster the older you get. I can’t believe it is time again for another year to end.

The year 2016 has been a year of growth, reflection, successes and heartache all rolled into one. I feel like that is every year for every one though, isn’t it? Looking back I have to say I am just so overwhelmed at God’s goodness and timing. The ways He has blessed me will never cease to amaze me. 

Andy’s job is going well, though quite stressful. He has been in charge of major projects at the mill and been successful in completing those. I don’t even pretend to understand what all he does, but I know I am so proud of him. We are praying this year leads to more success for him and also a little less stress. 

Rory ended Kindergarten and began 1st grade. We decided to go to a new school this year after a lot of trials at the other school. It was such a tough decision, but one I am so glad we made. The first of the year came with some major struggles, but I cannot even begin to tell you how much Rory has matured and grown through all of it. She is so tenacious and resilient and I’m so very proud of her for sticking with it and keeping her head up. The most profound blessing of my life, other than my own salvation, came this year when Rory gave her heart to Jesus. Oh, and she is so proud of it too. She tells everyone that will listen, “Did you know I am a Christian now?!” It is absolutely precious. In the midst of the heartache I felt when we found out Rory also had a heart defect, God gave her a new heart in Him. The timing was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever encountered. With every hard thing, God brings good. Rory also started on some new medicines to help her focus at school. The doctor asked her how she thought it was going and Rory said, “well you won’t believe this but I’m doing so great that my teacher is BRAGGING on me all the time. And I’m reading everything now and actually like to sit and read!” Her doctor looked up at me with tears in her eyes and you all know I was a mess. This is what we had been hoping and praying for. Rory at age 6 – almost seven!- is an absolute joy. She is still so funny and smart. Her personality hasn’t changed with this medicine, but she is shining through more than ever. Oh, I am so proud of my Rory. 

Ryder started Kindergarten this year and is absolutely in love with school. To be honest, I was a little worried I was making the wrong decision in sending her when she is a young 5. But I trusted my instincts and I am so glad I did. Her teacher is such a delight and we are so thankful for her. Ryder loves school so much that she had strep and was feeling awful but didn’t tell me because she didn’t want to miss school. She comes home from school every day and immediately goes to her “desk” to write or play teacher. She is like a sponge, absorbing every bit of information that she can. She is beginning to read and, of course, that is just the best thing to watch develop. I’m so proud of her. Ryder is still the joy that lights up any room and I can’t believe she is already 5 and in school.

I have to say, having two kids now that are “big” kids is JUST THE BEST. The girls and I went on our first roadtrip this summer and it was so easy and we had the very best time. The beach this summer was a breeze. We have been on day trips, week long trips, and everything in between and each time I think- LIFE IS GOOD. I feel like this stage with kids is by far my favorite. I cannot wait to see what adventures we get ourselves into in 2017.

As far as myself goes, I think this year has come with more growth in myself than any other. I took a step back and re-evaluated my life and knew I needed change. This time last year I didn’t like myself very much, if I’m being very honest. I had let so much negative in my life and needed to break away. I remember when I was going through one of the hardest times of my life at the beginning of the year, I laid on my face and begged God to shine some light into me. I didn’t like who I was as a mom, friend, family member. At that time, God started whispering into my heart and I’m telling you, I have changed in so many ways this year. Do not read this as I have any of my crap together because I STILL DON’T. Read this as God has shown mercy and grace on my life this year. In the depths of my sorrow through miscarriages and infertility this year, He has been a guiding light. He has saved me from despair by filling me with things that bring me so much joy. He’s given me such peace that whether I have another baby or not, life is still so good and I am so blessed. He stripped me from my former self and has made me stronger. I’m more thankful for every moment with my girls. I’m less selfish, but taking care of myself more in the important ways. I’m a better mom and wife, though I still struggle daily. I’ve learned this year that joy is not in the circumstances, but in God’s grace on my life. Through every heartache this year, God has shown up in ways I never could have imagined. I’m so thankful that I can say that my joy is still holding strong and that God has brought me through hard and amazing times this year. I’m proud of the mom I have become this year more than anything. I’m also proud that my girls have seen me on good and bad days so they know nothing is ever perfect. But by God’s grace I have lived another year and am better for it. With every hard thing, God brought good- that has been the theme of 2016.

I hope that you all have such a Merry Christmas and so much joy in 2017.

 

Rory’s heart.

It’s an unusually warm fall which, at times, I am tired of the heat but nights like tonight I’m thankful for it. We ate dinner outside Saturday on the back deck, still in our pajamas from the day of alternating between cleaning and laziness. Andy grilled fish and I made quinoa and corn and black beans- basically the leftover/end of the grocery cycle crap I found in the pantry. Despite that, the food was delicious and our bellies are full.img_8504

Rory is climbing her tree that she calls her buddy. It’s a sycamore tree and has changed into beautiful orange and yellows.
She climbs high, too high for most parents to allow, but I know my Rory. She lives for this thrill and is an expert climber and strong as an ox. I remember the trees I claimed as my trees in my childhood and it makes me so delighted she has that same love of climbing and exploring outside as I did.
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I could sit here forever watching her in this late evening sun. Her beautiful face peeking out proud amongst the branches with a gleeful, “look mom! Look how high I am now!” My heart swells with pride at the thought of it.
The past few months have been a blur of school and Rory has had to overcome and adjust to so much this year. She has made great progress, but even still she is struggling to make it through the day every.single.day. Last week we had an appointment to start her on medication for ADHD- and please do not even think of debating me about this. Medicines aren’t what they used to be and this isn’t a decision we came to lightly. We know the best for our child.
As a precaution from Ryder’s congenital heart defect, they ordered an EKG before starting medication for Rory. I never heard back from them and because of the way the EKG tech said, “you have a perfect heart” to Rory with a wink to me, I assumed everything was fine.
At the appointment to discuss medication, the doctor looked at her EKG report just to be sure as we were about to leave. She looked at me with wide eyes and said, “wait, so… the EKG came back abnormal, did you not know this?”
My own heart stopped beating, I am not even kidding. I let out the smallest gasp out of shock.
Somehow between the EKG and our follow up we weren’t contacted- fell between the cracks which so often happens in healthcare.
The doctor explained that it indicated a right bundle branch block on the EKG.
I started to cry softly, but that was enough to scare Rory. I felt, feel, so terribly guilty for letting her see that fear. That same night she would have nightmares and tell me she had a dream someone sawed her chest open. That is the problem with having a sister who has had open heart surgery- you just know too much.
We called and told a very small amount of family and I texted my closest friends. Everyone told me they would pray for her heart and that even if something was wrong they were praying God would heal her completely before our appointment.
That night after everyone was asleep, I went into our living room and laid on my face and cried out to God to please not let this be true. And if it were a heart defect, to please let it be something we can manage with medicine and is “no big deal”. I prayed for Rory’s heart just as hard and earnestly as I prayed for Ryder’s for all those months and years.
Meanwhile, God was working on Rory’s heart in ways more beautiful than I could have ever expected.
Several times over the last few months, Rory has come to us asking very hard questions about Jesus and sin. I’ve had open and honest conversations with her and was so thankful that she felt comfortable coming to me.
Last night she came downstairs and told Andy and I that she had gone into her closet and prayed for Jesus to come into her heart. On her own, without any prompting, she made that decision. We talked about what it meant to be sure she knew and we all prayed together. When we got to AWANA she told everyone that would listen that she accepted Jesus into her heart.
After church, we sat down again and talked and prayed. She was BEAMING. From ear to ear, so very proud and happier than I’ve ever seen her. She couldn’t wait to call her grandparents. Ryder cheered her one and was so excited for her sister. img_8554 img_8558
As you can imagine, I cried and cried all night long.
You see, I had been begging for a miracle and I had our families and friends praying for her heart- who could have known the ultimate heart healing would happen instead.
Yesterday, October 30, 2016, was the very best day of my life. I know the day I accepted Jesus is also the best day, but there is something so much more beautiful when your child comes to that decision in her life. Knowing her eternity will be spent in heaven is the best gift of peace I’ve ever been given.
No matter what comes of her cardiologist appointment tomorrow, I know her heart is healed. God has already performed a miracle for her and has saved her precious heart.img_8565
God is so good to us. ALL the time.
I’m still praying for an outcome that determines the abnormal EKG was a fluke and there is absolutely nothing wrong with her heart (and would appreciate your prayers too), but even if it were the worse case scenario- my God is good and merciful and has given Rory’s heart the best miracle of all.
“He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” – Matthew 18:2-5
“… for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” – Romans 3:23
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” – 2 Corinthians‬ ‭1:3-4‬ ‭
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

fearfully and wonderfully made

It was 5 years ago when we were learning the significance of Ryder’s heart problems and that surgery would be the only solution. It seems like yesterday and a lifetime ago all at once.

I thought getting through that would be the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but turns out, parenting is full of “hardest things I’ve ever done”.

As you all know, we have struggled for years trying to find solutions for Rory’s significant sleep issues. We finally have a good routine and she is sleeping decently.

Now that REAL school of first grade has started we have realized there are much more significant things going on with Rory.

A few weeks ago, Rory and I went to Chattanooga and spent the day together. She had an appointment with a developmental pediatrician to do some testing for some of our areas of concern.img_4162IMG_4174

That day Rory was formally diagnosed with ADHD and also Sensory Integration Disorder. Both things were not shocking to me- and even a relief, to be honest.

For years I thought it was me. My poor parenting. My poor judgement. My focus on Ryder’s health problems for so long that made Rory spin out of control. I truly believed my mothering was the route of all “evil” going on.

So when they finally diagnosed her I cried with relief. It wasn’t just me. This was bigger than me and out of my control. Of course I am sad that Rory has something that makes her “tick” differently, but I’m also relieved because that means we can get help and work on it in a different way.

School has been hard for Rory this year, and my heart breaks for her. I literally have a physical pain anytime I know she’s having a tough go of it.

Everything in this new world we have entered takes so much time. It took 8 months to get the appointment. It takes two months to get the Occupational Therapy evaluation done. It takes two months to have our next appointment to start medicine if we decide to go that route. It takes several months after that to tweak the medicine until it is the perfect dosage.

There is so much waiting.

Meanwhile, Rory is still struggling.

And my heart is breaking more and more every day for her. I feel like there is nothing I can do to help her.

I lose my patience too quickly. I am sometimes too lenient. I am sometimes too harsh. The balance hasn’t been found yet and I’m struggling with that big time.

Basically, we are a mess right now. Rory is fighting a battle and she doesn’t even know she’s fighting it. I’m having such severe inner struggles it is hard to find my breath sometimes. I wish I could sit with her at school and love on her and show her the right way all day. Sometimes I want to just pull her and homeschool her but I know that is not my calling and won’t get her the help she needs. I also have incredible guilt because right now my focus is so much on Rory that Ryder has been acting out and doing things SO out of character for her and I know its because she needs attention.

Today I was sitting with a new friend of mine and a lady we are trying to build a relationship with and I noticed a verse on the lady’s wall.

image_zpsd6b90b78 My friend noticed it too and mentioned it. She started talking about how she prays that over her daughter and it was all I could do to not just sob right there.

God made both my girls with INTENTION. He knew exactly what he was doing. They are made with love. There is nothing “wrong” with either of them. They are fearfully and wonderfully made.

I’m so overwhelmed with thankfulness that the God who created the universe created my girls and entrusted them into my hands. I feel so undeserving and feel like I am failing them every single day (and I am). God’s grace will continue to shine on us and I will grasp at it with every fiber of my being.

We are praying for answers and for the help Rory needs. She is such a delight and I’m so thankful she is mine.

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survived the first week of school.

WHEW SWEET MERCY.

It is Friday and we all officially survived the first week of school. We are all exhausted but also excited about the new beginnings of this year.IMG_3813

I haven’t talked much about this since it all went down, but last year proved to be a little rough for us. So many reasons that I won’t discuss here but we just felt with 100% certainty that it would be best for us to change schools. It is hard when your children get older to blog because the things I say here and on social media can really affect them now. I learned that the hard way. I want to be wise with my words and not vindictive over others who may have done me wrong. Especially because my reaction could and has caused chain reactions that aren’t what I want for my life or for my children’s lives. All that to say- I’ve struggled to find balance between my old blogging ways of hilarious honesty and also protecting my children. I think I’m starting to find the balance though.

We started our new school and it has been a wonderful week. Both girls absolutely love their teachers and cannot talking about how pretty and sweet they are. Oh, how I have prayed for these teachers even before I knew who they were.

Ryder’s favorite part has, of course, been the food.

Side note: FREE BREAKFAST AND LUNCH. Holla.

She has absolutely loved eating lunch every day and she cannot contain her excitement each day when telling me about it. Bless it.

Rory has actually enjoyed it too! She is really going through a growth spurt and eating well consistently for the first time in her life. But I also think that has to do with the Whole 30 we have been on. No sugar means better meal times. She’s been doing a great job with this diet change and I can really tell a difference in her.

I forgot to mention this on Monday but a few weeks ago when we went to get school supplies, new shoes, and new outfits for the first day I told the girls they could pick anything they wanted to wear. Well when we got to the store they both decided without my prompting to wear the same thing. They decided on the outfit because they said it would be easier for people to know they were sisters. IS THAT NOT THE SWEETEST?! They wanted to match every day this week but contrary to popular belief I really don’t have much that matches anymore besides dresses for church and a few outfits. So they were forced to wear different things and I think they survived it. ha!IMG_3763

All of this to say, we survived and I am just so proud of the girls for doing so well the first week. Some seeds of doubt were planted in my mind a few weeks before Ryder started Kindergarten and I really struggled with “are we doing the right thing?!” by sending her. I got a few papers back that confirmed she was ready because she did so great and got a little note from the teacher saying so. I’m thankful I trusted my gut.

Rory has done great too. Any time you change schools and don’t know anyone is so hard- I know from personal experience- so I was so nervous for her. We talked it up and prayed lots about finding new friends and I know that really helped to settle her nerves. The first day she hopped right in and she has already made a few friends. Rory is so resilient and I’m so thankful for that. She has also worked so hard this week and I’m very, very proud of her. We are excited about this new chapter. I’m also so proud of her for being such a great big sister and helping Ryder’s start to school. I know that has helped my heart and Ryder’s nerves so much!IMG_3809

This morning I was dropping them off and Rory helped Ryder out of the car and then they walked in holding hands. There is just nothing sweeter than that.

As for me…. well. Its been an emotional week. On Wednesday I pulled into the garage and sat and cried because I didn’t want to go up into the quiet house. I let the devil take over my brain and cried to God asking why, WHY, can’t I have another baby? That is the desire of my heart and coming home to a quiet house sent me over that edge. But God is always perfect in His timing and answers so I have to push that negativity out of my mind and keep on praying. One of my best friends just found out she is pregnant after the same struggle as me and I am so happy for them and know that it can happen for me too in the perfect time. God is good and I’ll continue to trust Him.

Also on Wednesday I crawled back in bed and went back to sleep until 12:00. I’m not gonna lie- I enjoyed that very much. I’ve been working on normal house things and just relaxing this week. Next week I’m going to tackle some major organization issues in the house. And who knows what else!

AWANA and choir start next week and soccer starts shortly after. I already miss the easiness of summer but also enjoy this season of fun activities. It makes the days we are together at home so much sweeter.

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Happy Friday, y’all!

Whole 30: Days 1-10

 

I wanted to update every week on Monday and will do that the rest of the Whole 30 but the girls started school and this went to they wayside.

If you don’t know what Whole 30 is- basically it is a “diet” that helps you reset your body by eating whole foods. Here is the website to find out more of what you can or cannot have: Whole 30.

I’ve been wanting to start this for a while mainly because over the past almost two years I have been on a lot of hormones/fertility medicines that have caused weight gain and the over all feeling of CRAPTASTIC. I wanted something to truly strip the crap out of my body- both what I put into it by emotional eating during this hard time (yes, I am admitted that) and the medicines I have been on. I did a lot of research and this seemed like the best for what I wanted right now.

I will tell you upfront that it has been hard. Especially because, as I admitted, I am an emotional eater. It is embarrassing and humbling to admit that to the world, but it is true. This is probably the thing I am most ashamed of in my life, but transparency is what I always talk about so there it is. If you aren’t an emotional eater it is hard to understand and easy to judge. I will say this- the people I know who are this way don’t even realize they are doing it most of the time, it is as if they are on auto pilot and just snack on whatever crap is around.

ANYWAY. All that to say- I needed something strict and that would reset me. I needed something that would make me SO extremely conscious of what I’m putting into my mouth at all times.

Let us move on from that mess.

They key to Whole 30 truly is prepping for it. I researched and made a meal plan and tweaked it for about two weeks before we started. I’m going to show you some meals we have had and I’ll link recipes.

Note: I know a lot of people will notice that we eat on paper plates a lot. This is true. They are my fine china in this state of life that I am in called Young Children. This is my truth.

Breakfasts are all pretty much the same- eggs, fruit, avocado in rotation. Sometimes I eat just fruit if I’m not feeling the egg vibe but all but two mornings I’ve had eggs.IMG_3194 IMG_2939 IMG_2896 IMG_2925

Lunch is my hardest meal. My friend Erin is doing this with me and she agreed. I’m not a big salad person so I have to make sure I have leftovers or else I will just have grapes or something. WHICH IS NOT GOOD. I am telling you that I do this wrong so do not do this. The days that I don’t eat a good lunch are my hardest days. From now on I’m going to do much better about this because I know how hard it is to make it to dinner without it.

Dinners!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This, in my opinion, is where this whole 30 thing shines. I have cooked like crazy and have been really enjoying that. I am looking forward to finding even more recipes. I wanted to keep everything simple at first because I knew it would be so hard. I needed to be guaranteed good food in order to get through my withdrawals from sugar and coke and dairy and CRAP.

Night One: Taco Salad – homemade taco seasoning with ground beef, guacamole and cilantro. I forgot to pick up a compliant salsa/make one and that would have definitely made this meal better.IMG_2916Night Two : Chicken, broccoli, sautéed fresh green beans (olive oil, onion powder, kosher salt, pepper)
IMG_3621 Night Three: Chicken, Cauliflower rice (click for recipe– this is so good I promise), roasted sweet potatoes.

(I have never liked sweet potatoes until I roasted them and GAME CHANGER. Cube them, toss in olive oil, kosher salt, pepper and roast for 40 minutes-ish at 425.)IMG_2943Day 4  we went out to eat and I got plain BBQ and it was dry and gross and that is all I have to say about that. HA! We last minute decided to go and it was just not good. Especially when the table next to us had a huge plate of BBQ nachos and Rory said, “Don’t even look over there.”

Day 5 : Steak, leftover green beans, cauliflower and broccoli.

IMG_3141Day 6: We had an event at church and they provided Honey Baked Ham. So I brought grapes and had that for dinner and then came home and scrambled an egg. This is why you always have grapes or something in your purse! I also went to a movie last weekend and brought grapes with me to curb my craving for chocolate and a coke.
IMG_3662Day 7: Leftover steak sautéed with shrimp with a roasted potato with ghee and S&P. This was just ok. Basically I ran out of veggies and hadn’t had a chance to go to store.IMG_3786

Day 8: Leftovers.

Day 9: Pulled pork and sweet potatoes. IMG_3805

Today is day 10 and I’m heading to the grocery to pick up more veggies!

This is what I will say.

Day 2-4 were extremely hard for me. The coke addiction is REAL and coming off of that and sugar in general is hard.

Monday I had a moment where I was so thankful I was doing this because when I dropped the girls off to school all I wanted was a GIANT coke and a chicken biscuit from CFA or a donut. Again- that was my first thought because I’m an emotional eater and all I wanted to do was get that coke and cry into it.

I have made it 10 days and I can honestly say I can tell a difference. I am sleeping SO MUCH BETTER. I don’t quite have the most energy built back up during the day but I’m certainly not as sluggish in the afternoon like before. I am much less bloated and not having tummy troubles like before. The sugar cravings are going away- I do crave something more than water to drink but it isn’t as bad as the first few days. I am really feeling very good- and mostly because I am just proud I am sticking with it and haven’t cheated.

One more thing because I’ve been asked this a lot- yes, my entire family is doing it…. mostly.

Let me be clear on this- MAMA ONLY COOKS ONE MEAL, OKAY?!

I am not cooking something for me and then doing something else for everyone else. OH HECK NO HONEY. So the girls are eating what we eat and are 100% okay with that because 1) they don’t know any different 2) the food is freaking delicious. So far I haven’t had any dud meals that I have cooked. My girls have gobbled it up and asked for seconds.

Rory is a huge dairy eater. But I’m only allowing her to have it with breakfast with her gluten free cereal. Sometimes kids need a reset too! They haven’t complained at all. Winning!

Andy is doing it too and he is having a harder time than me and the girls because he really hates veggies. Bless. At one point he was actually YELLING at me (yes, Andy the one who never speaks) because he was so hangry and wanted a coke so bad. HA. I just stood there trying to stifle my giggle. Bless his heart. He is feeling better too and I can for sure see a difference in him.

Our motto right now is this:im_sorry_for_what_i_said_when_i_was_hungry_t_shirt_textual_tees_grande

On Saturday we went for a hike and I couldn’t believe how good I felt doing it this time. It was hard because I’m out of shape but I enjoyed every second pushing my body unlike the last time we went when I brought a coke for lunch.  I AM TELLING YOU IT WAS PITIFUL UP IN HERE.

Hope you enjoyed this update. The rest won’t be so long- I just had a lot to say about the first 10 days.

The main thing I am focussing on is that if I can do this extremely strict diet for 30 days then I can surely count calories and eat mostly whole foods with the occasional dessert or grain or whatever after. We need a lifestyle change and this has really motivated me.

I am dang proud of myself for sticking with this the past 10 days. It is hard but not impossible.

Ryder goes to Kindergarten, Rory goes to 1st.

Oh my sweet girls, I cannot believe our summer of fun is over and it is time to send you to school every day! I couldn’t possibly tell you how much I am going to miss you! IMG_3737

A few years ago when you were tiny toddlers and babies that cried all day or got into all-of-the-things, I couldn’t wait for you to go to school! I had all these plans to enjoy my coffee in peace and not have anyone hanging on me all day.

AND NOW ALL I WANT IS TO DO THAT AGAIN.

Motherhood is a crazy thing, girls. One day you will understand.

Rory- you were so excited to start 1st grade! You’ve been looking forward to going back to school all summer. I can’t wait to see how you grow this year in your knowledge and self confidence. I spend so much time praying for you and your sweet heart right now. You have big emotions and I know you are just having a hard time understanding all these new feelings that come with growing up. I’m praying so hard that you find a friend that is so kind and dear to you this year in your class. You are so kind to others and I’m so proud of you for that. I know you are going to shine this year academically and with your personality. IMG_3705

This morning you SERIOUSLY did not want me to walk you in. But you weren’t ashamed to give me a huge hug and kiss in front of your friends. I will cling to that as long as possible! IMG_3707

Oh, Rory. I am so proud of you and cannot wait to see you grow this year in 1st grade! Never let anyone dull your sparkle, girl!

 

Ryder- oh my precious Ryder. HOW, how how how how how, are you big enough for Kindergarten? You were so excited to go today you barely slept. Then I had the hardest time waking you up!

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This morning you were SO SERIOUS about the whole process of getting ready and going to school. I love seeing you focus so intently and take every detail in. You are the silliest girl in the room but also can be the most serious. I love this about you. You looked so tiny walking the halls of school, but you are also ready for this. You have been so excited to start Kindergarten. I hope that excitement continues throughout the year. IMG_3687

My biggest prayer for you this year is that your self confidence grows and that you realize how smart you are. I think because Rory is so naturally smart and determined to learn it intimidates you so you think you aren’t as smart. Girlfriend, I have news for you. You are so smart and so brave and so amazing. I have prayed long and hard that you would get a sweet, nurturing teacher and I really think that is what God gave you. I cannot wait to see you learn and grow this year. I know you are so excited and I know you will completely dazzle everyone in your class like you do every single person you meet. We know you will keep everyone laughing and entertained all day long!IMG_3737

My beautiful girls – I am so incredibly proud to be your mother. I think you two are the most magnificent people in the entire world. I believe in you and know you are going to soar this year at school. I am so thankful I get to be your mama. Don’t ever forget that I love you more than anything. You are my most precious gifts. I am always here for you to listen, to hug, to wipe tears, and to cheer you on.  IMG_3763

I did a pretty good job holding my tears in and keeping it together this morning.

Until.

I was giving Ryder her last goodbye hug and she squeezed me tight and said, “Its okay mama- just be brave.” It flashed me back to all those years of doctor appointments and unknowns when I would whisper that into your ear. After you said that I straight up RAN out of that school because all the other moms were sobbing and I just couldn’t handle it anymore. I made it to my car with just a few tears trickling and then let loose. I SOBBED and sobbed and sobbed all the way home. This growing up business is just so hard! But I’m so proud of you two going into school brave and strong. That makes all these years of hard work as your mom pay off!IMG_3764 I am praying for you all the time and am so excited to see you two grow this year! IMG_3756

 

a letter to Mrs. Janice on the last day of PreK.

Mrs. Janice,

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I typed your name and tears of thankfulness and love are already flowing down my cheeks. I have dreaded this day for so long. The last day of PreK for Ryder. I cannot believe it is here.

You know I wouldn’t be so sad if it weren’t for the fact that the preschool were closing. I mean, I would definitely be sad that we wouldn’t see you next year all the time, but this has such a gut-wrenching finality to it that is so hard to bear.

Today I just want to tell you how much you have meant to me, and I am 1000% sure what you have meant to other moms and dads in Cleveland.

When we found out we were moving to Cleveland, I got on my face and begged God to show me where to send Rory to PreK. She had been torn down and beaten up at another preschool and so had I. I was so tired and weary. I knew that I needed to pray for direction on where to send her in a town where we knew no one. There is not a single doubt in my mind that God led me straight to Weekday because He wanted you as Rory’s teacher.

I want you to know that you completely changed our lives, Janice. Your unconditional love towards Rory and encouragement brought my girl back to life. You put her spunk back in her. I will never be able to thank you enough for encouraging her to be Rory and not some other version of herself. I sent her to school every day with you knowing that she would be loved, hugged, laughed at/with, and shown compassion to. I can’t tell you how many happy tears I have cried over the last two years because I knew my babies were loved so well.

Rory went to Kindergarten with a fierceness and a confidence that would not have happened without your love on her.

Thank you for changing Rory’s life.

The best part is that I also got to send my baby to you. I will never forget Ryder counting down the days until she got in your class.  I was counting down the days too. I knew she would be so well loved and encouraged.

Now. We both know Ryder needs a little kick in her pants encouragement to actually do her work, unlike Rory. Thank you for having so much patience with her and encouraging her. The other day we were working on Ryder’s letters and sounds and she told me, “Mama, you are not as nice and calm as Mrs. Janice is when she works with me.” I got a good laugh out of how much truth was in that statement. Thank you for teaching her and encouraging her.

She has also grown in confidence and matured so much under your care. Ryder will go to Kindergarten with confidence and sass because of you.

Thank you for loving me, too. You’ve seen my faults and seen me in some dark times the past two years. Thank you for your love and encouragement with my miscarriage. It meant the world to me.

Janice, I want you to know on this last day that you are a world changer. I know that your job  might seem so small some days and that it seems silly to think of yourself as a world changer. But you are.

You changed my world and the world of two little girls. You gave all of us exactly what we needed the past two years- love. I cannot think of another person on earth as loving as you. You have loved us so well.

I know that I am not alone in thinking this. Several of the moms from your class and I have talked about how devastated we are that the school is closing and that you won’t be there anymore. It is so important that you know that because we don’t want you to think we don’t care or that we don’t feel outraged/sad/disappointed in this decision to close the school. There are too many amazing teachers there to be able to understand why the school has to close. I hate there isn’t better closure for all of us, but especially you and the staff at school.

I just want to make sure you know on this last day that the school closing as no reflection on you.

You are an absolutely light and joy in this community and world. You have made my days brighter and you have certainly made my girls’ days brighter.

I am eternally grateful to you for loving my children and loving me so well these last two years. I am praying that God shows you exactly what your next step should be. I know your days changing the lives of parents and children are not over.

The Harris girls love you so very much, Janice. Don’t ever forget it.

First Baptist Weekday has been such a blessing to my family. It is a sad mistake that they are closing it. I am praying blessings over each teacher because they deserve better and so many students need to be blessed by them like I have been. Rory and Ryder had such a wonderful time there and have made such great friends! Thank you for the last two years and what a difference you have made over the decades you were open.image2 image1 image3

Oh, Ryder. I cannot believe how much you have grown this year!

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the new {shared} big girl room

As soon as the girls left for school this morning I started working on their new room to get it finished up today! It has been two and a half weeks since the shared room process started and I was more than ready to finally get it together!

This is what it looked like when they left (and what it looked like two nights ago when we put the beds together!)- the rest of the room was a disaster of CRAP EVERYWHERE: 
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Can you tell they were excited about their new beds?!

And here is their finished shared big girl bedroom!

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I got their reaction on video too! After I turned it off Rory hugged me and told me she just loved it so much! There is absolutely NOTHING better than making my home pretty for my girls. I can’t wait for all the fun they will have in their new room!

Bedding: Target

Monkey’s Sign: Hobby Lobby

Unicorn Head: Target

Beds: Walmart