Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Squish is Ten Months Old!

Happy 10 months, Squishy!

Ten months + two teeny baby teeth!

I literally just found these two teeth yesterday (Tuesday, 4/17). I *never* would have guessed the boy was teething... much less having TWO pop through at the same time! He is such a happy lil' babe!

We're starting to round the corner into mobility. He's scooting a bit, and has essentially mastered the front to back AND back to front rollovers... even if he still has a tiny struggle pulling an arm out from underneath himself once over. And the boy LOVES to hold fingers and WALK. I haven't seen any notion towards crawling as it seems this guy has his sights set on the walking game.

His only/favorite word continues to be DADA. And my feelings aren't hurt or anything... ((sigh))

The boy can EAT. He's up to 21 lbs. and we have yet to find anything he won't devour. He still loves baby foods and yogurt but his favorite thing these days is pizza crust. My little carb lover! Basically anything he sees us eating, he wants to have some, too. It's a messy life we live, y'all!

He's seriously just the sweetest thing.

I just can't get enough.

Sweet baby!

Those rolls though. Love this dough baby!!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Easter 2018

What a busy whirlwind of Easter excitement, y'all! I haven't been able to catch my breath for what seems like weeks, but that's another topic for another time... For now, I'll just focus on Easter last weekend!

I was super excited to join the worship team at our church for Easter services by singing in the worship choir -- along with my mom! It was awesome. We had rehearsal Wednesday evening, and it was really so wonderful! We had three Easter services, one Saturday evening and our usual two Sunday morning.

On Saturday afternoon, the kids dyed Easter eggs and had a blast! Squish was napping so he didn't make it into any of the pictures. ;)

My super sweet and smiley Rock Star, Chase!

My beautiful daughter, LO!

The family goofball: E!

Let's do this!

See above. Goofball.

Love this boy!

Pretty eggs!

E liked placing his eggs in ALL of the colors... which basically left him with either poop brown or army green. Good times.

LO going for turquoise here. Win!

So many pretty eggs! I especially love the turquoise creations.

The finished products! I spy Lloyd from Ninjago... Silly Chase!

After our Easter service Saturday evening, I prepped some food for Sunday, and had an EARLY morning on Sunday to do it all again... twice!

Y'all, we typically attend our 11 AM service, which means I usually don't get up on Sundays until around 9:45 AM. Holla for weekend sleep! But to sing in both morning services, I needed to leave the house at 7:40 AM for our 8 AM call time. Whaaaaat! Whoa.

Everything with my family was super low-key this year. I did buy LO a new dress several weeks ago, but only because it was cute and majorly on sale. I wasn't even thinking of it as an Easter dress at the time. And I literally forgot until Saturday evening (after the kids went to bed) that I hadn't even bothered to figure out what the boys would wear! Sheesh. Sorry, hubs! He was flying solo Sunday morning to get 4 kiddos fed and dressed for Easter Sunday. #epicwifefail

The Sunday morning services were so incredible! Afterward, we literally went through the Arby's drive-thru for lunch on our way home. What can I say... it was a busy week! I forced the kids to let me take a few pictures before we let them inside to eat lunch... and find their Easter baskets! #hahahaha #momwin

Here are my Easter cuties!

Love this Squishy kid of mine! Just look at that toothless grin!

I mean, really... he IS the biggest goofball I know!

This boy. My heart!

Pretty girl!

There's that smile again!

Meanwhile, back inside opening Easter baskets... or, for some, watching everyone else open Easter baskets.


Oh! A new book! Love! And a frisbee? Totally practical for a 9-month-old. LOL!

E's Easter basket had a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and a tiny Ray Stantz action figure from Ghostbusters. Squish absolutely loved the Marshmallow Man! I think I have an idea for his Halloween costume...

After a quick lunch and Easter basket fun, we loaded up the kids and the food I'd prepped the night before, and hit the road to head to hubs' parent's house. My MIL had hip surgery and has been homebound, so we really wanted to bring Easter to them. A couple of casseroles, rolls, and cranberry sauce paired perfectly with my FIL's amazing grilled pork tenderloins. Oh, and a blizzard cake from Dairy Queen. Yes, y'all, I phoned it in with this year's Easter dessert! We also had an egg hunt for the kids in the front yard and my MIL was even able to come outside and watch the kids run around like little crazies. It was beyond perfect!

This really was not a "typical" holiday for us, but I don't care. I worshiped along with our amazing church congregation... THREE TIMES. I loved on my family. I got to spend time with my incredible in-laws. It didn't matter to me what we ate or what we wore. My focus was on relationships -- investing in the lives of the people I love. And I wouldn't have it any other way!!!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Squish is Nine Months Old!

Happy 9 months, Squishy!

Happy 9 Months (+3 days) to my sweet Squishy!!!

I'm getting much better at making the time to take his photos somewhat within the vicinity of his monthly birthday, so yay!

He's just so sweet and squishy... I can hardly stand it!

Of course I couldn't leave out a few pics of these sweet toesies!

Confession: I. Love. Baby. Feet. like some kind of crazy person! Haha!

In a surprising, unprecedented move, Squish did NOT throw a fit when I put him on his tummy for a few quick pics. In fact, he even pushed up on his arms almost the entire time he was on his belly, which he pretty much never does.

I mean, he's obviously not totally thrilled with the idea of tummy time, but at least he isn't straight up bawling for once, right?

So here's something a little bit fun and interesting... Check out this sweet fella:

Any guesses? It's sweet baby E! Awwwwww!

And of course there's this guy, who, coincidentally, is a year old here!

Love these boys! And my sweet girl of course, too!

But back to Squish. He's still awesome. He still sleeps wonderfully. He is pretty much sleeping through the night, eating around 8PM, going to bed, and not waking to eat until 6AM or 7AM the next morning. He'll eat and go back to bed until around 10AM or 11AM. Seriously, the BEST. SLEEPER. EVER. He's nursing about 3-4 times per day, and is eating a plethora of baby foods, yogurt, finger foods, etc. For some reason, he still isn't quite fond of eating "real food" with us, but I'm sure that will come with time. And let's be real: the boy isn't hurting in the weight department.

Ya. So there's that. :)

This sweet guy is in absolutely no hurry to get mobile, which is totally a-okay with me! He sits up pretty well, but still hasn't quite figured out how to catch himself if he starts to fall over. Crawling does NOT seem to be in the cards anytime soon, as he basically despises tummy time. However, he does still seem to absolutely love standing up when grabbing onto our fingers. Apparently hubs didn't crawl and went straight to walking, so that may be Squish's intention as well.

The boy is VERY vocal and quite loud at times. He did happen to "say" his "first word" that just so "happened" to be "da da" but please don't assume the excessive use of quotes to mean I am even the slightest bit jealous. No, really. Not jealous. Not one bit.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Squish is Eight Months Old!

Happy 8 months, Squishy!

Happy Valentine's Day, and Happy 8 Months (+1 day) to my sweet Squishy!!!

Can we take a moment to bask in the fact that I was only ONE DAY LATE in taking his 8 month photos? Thank you, St. Valentine, for just the push I needed!

He wasn't nearly as smiley as he was last month, but I don't mind! Sometimes you just have to focus on the little (okay, BIG FAT!) details of baby numero IV. #wristsandthighsyall

Seriously. Let's just take another quick look at them thighs! What!? #squishyfordayzzz

Not too much new to report this month. He does love to stand (as evidenced above). And he's still eating and growing and sleeping (though never quite long enough for mommy) and being super chill and fun and awesome. He sits up independently for periods of time and still loathes tummy time. See?

Pretty much the second I put him down on his belly he gets M•A•D and immediately insists on flipping over on his back. Whatevs. He'll figure it out eventually. No rush here! I'm just enjoying every sweet moment with this gorgeous baby of ours. He literally is the best.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The One with the Big Move

Okay, y'all. I've been debating for literally months about whether or not to write this post. But this blog has been my place to express my thoughts, document moments of significance, and share openly since I began writing in June 2008. It wouldn't be fair to my future self (or my kids!) reading through this blog in 30 years not to share what I'm about to.

Let me add one caveat: it's not personal. There's nothing in here that you will read below that is intended to be hurtful to any one person nor group of people. I have nothing but love in my heart for the people whom God has placed into my life -- whether for a day or a season or more -- so please know I do not intend to hurt or offend anyone by the honesty I'm about to share below.

In October 2017, God led my family to make a big move. As in, like, a gargantuan move. After what I look back on now and see as months--even years--of leading, He called my family to find a new church home. If you know me IRL, this may be surprising to you, considering my family has called the same church our home for TWENTY-SIX YEARS! That's basically 2/3 of my life that I've attended and served in just one church. So as you can imagine, leaving was not an easy decision. But as I have learned over the past few months, it was definitely the right one.

Here's a little backstory:

I was raised as a Nazarene my entire life. My family moved to South Carolina the summer before my first year of high school. So, like, 1990-something. ;) Without question, they began attending the local Nazarene church, which at that time was a large, active, thriving fellowship of believers. I enjoyed the youth program there during my high school years, but found it difficult to connect after high school because there wasn't much of a "college/singles" group to speak of at that time. The senior pastor who was there when we first started attending had left to take on a new congregation, and we had a new senior pastor take his place.

Over the next several years, I saw such a decline in the overall attendance of our church. Even worse, though, was a decline in the health of our church. People left in droves. Some of those who stayed behind were often frustrated with the overall (lack of) direction of our church.

It was during that time that I made my first attempt--as a single, working gal in my 20s--to find a new church home. A bigger church. One with an active college/single ministry. One where I could plug in and "do life" with others. And most importantly, one where I could both give of my time and God-given talents through worship, and grow in community.

I was reminded around that time by a great friend and spiritual mentor that nothing will change or improve in a broken church if everyone just jumped ship and walked away in search of something better. The reality was that some people just needed to stay behind to do their part in helping revive the church. Heal what was broken. Serve where servants were needed.

Ultimately I heeded that advice and stuck around. And I served. And I prayed. And I lived out 1 Samuel 12:24. I did all.the.things. I felt the Lord calling me to do. I was only one person, but I believed God would use my efforts--along with others--to accomplish His work. And I feel He did! I felt peace about serving. I felt God was pleased with my sacrifices. But I never truly felt like our church had become all that it was capable of becoming. All that it had once been. I'm sure that's not fair thinking on my part, but this is my blog and I'm allowed to be honest with how I felt, rose-colored glasses and all!

So fast-forward to more recent time (i.e. the past 2 years). I began feeling as though all of the things I had been doing just weren't enough. I was pouring more and more of myself into serving in various ministry areas at the church, and spending less and less time focusing on my family. My husband. My children. They were always so gracious when I'd have to leave home or miss special activities for any number of reasons (practices, meetings, etc.) and I told myself it was fine because all of the things I was doing were for God. For His church. But it started to become too much. I started to see where my marriage and family were suffering due to my commitments to the church. I don't think that's what God had in mind for me or for my family. I became convicted by Paul's words in 1 Timothy: "Anyone who does not provide for...their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

Whoa. That's heavy. And eerily specific to how I was feeling. So I started to pull back a bit. I let go of a few obligations here and there. I stepped down from this ministry or that council. With each step, I felt like the scales were tipping closer to where they should be for the proper balance my family deserved. But they weren't quite there yet. In all of this, I was praying for God's guidance to ensure I wasn't taking a misstep. To be sure my motives were right. To be sure the choices I was making, and the consequences of those choices, were in alignment with His will for my family and I. Through it all, He gave me His blessing. Even when it wasn't easy--for me, or sometimes for others--He gave me His peace. So I continued down that path.

A side effect I didn't expect was that, in my experience, it seemed as though if I wasn't actively involved in serving in one (or more) ministry area(s), the community aspect of the church quickly began to melt away. Now, I'm the FIRST PERSON who will tell you that actively serving in your church is not only a necessity, but is a Biblical command. Ephesians, 1 Peter, Psalms... it's in there, folks! Serve one another so that in everything God may be glorified. So of course it's important to serve in your church. But what happens if you're new? Or what if you hadn't yet found a place to serve? Or if you feel God is calling you to step back from serving for a while? Are you suddenly less than? Are you no longer eligible for community?

I can't say there was a single moment or event that ultimately led to the decision to officially leave our home church. Looking back, it seems it was a gradual thing. It's as if (spoiler alert!) God had a plan in mind all along, and that slowly removing myself from the roles I had served in just so happened to pave the way for my family and I to move on quietly. There were no major holes left behind. No catastrophes. No official goodbyes. Everything went on as scheduled, only we were no longer a part of it. And that's truly a wonderful blessing!

Eventually, however, it did surprise me that seemingly no one noticed. I had been a member of this church for 26 years, blessed to serve in various ministry areas, and suddenly, without warning, my family and I were no longer there. I only need one hand to count how many people reached out to me during the following months as we began searching for a new church home (and I'm so grateful for those faithful friends!).

In reality, what was most heartbreaking for me was that my children, who have never known any other church, never received so much as a one single note, or card, or text, or phone call--anything!--to let them know they were missed. Nothing. I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised, as even as of the time of this post, hubs and I never received a single message from any member of the staff to inquire about our extended absence, or to let us know we were missed, or to wish us the best, or tell us they were praying for us. And that's okay. Because that which could have easily been upsetting and hurtful, God used as a confirmation in my heart that we were doing the right thing by seeking a new community of believers. That we were following Him wherever He led us. That He had another plan for us. And boy does He ever!

I am SO grateful for His leading and for where we find ourselves now. And I'm beyond excited for the many things He is doing now and for the ways He is going to help us grow in our faith and use us in the days ahead! I give Him the glory and praise and could not be more thankful for everything He is doing in the lives and hearts of my family! It was a scary decision to make this move, but in the end, all it required of us was to listen and obey. And God is taking care of the rest. We praise Him!