Daughter, Wife, Mother... this is what I do

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

7. Whoopsies.

[Sheepish grin...] Oops. Not sure where all the days went, but I certainly haven't been writing.

Well, I'll just list off my excuses and then pick back up where I left off. Ready?

Baby teething.
Stomach virus.
Reading a really good book.
Consistently falling asleep on the couch around 9:30 or 10. Drives my husband bananas.

Ok. That's it. I'm back. And I have a list of things to write about. Goodie!

First things first- I've been wanting to blog this recipe for some time. It is one of my favorite go-to's. It's delicious, clean and packed with lots of good things. And it has lots of gooey, creamy goat cheese. It's dreamy. It's my favorite recipe to take to friends with new babes and I frequently double it so that we'll have plenty for lunches throughout the week. And I'm typically not great at eating leftovers. It grosses me out to have the same thing for dinner, lunch and then next lunch. BUT I could eat this for lots of meals without getting sick of it. AND my 13 month old kiddo adores it. What more could you ask for in a dish?

Roasted Veggie and Goat Cheese Pasta

2 cups Quinoa Pasta (regular pasta will do.)
Olive Oil cooking spray
1 red bell pepper, sliced into wedges
1 green bell pepper, sliced into wedges
1 red onion, thickly sliced into semi-circles
1 zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 cup whole cherry tomatoes, halved
5 oz (or more if you adore it as much as I do) soft goat cheese, crumbled

1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
1/4 tsp each sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 tbsp EVOO
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh chives
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
1/2 packed cup whole fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup white wine vinegar *

*The original recipe calls for verjus. But I found it to be pretty expensive and difficult to find. White wine vinegar or lemon juice is a cheap and tasty alternative. 


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F while you cook your pasta.
2.In a single layer spread chopped and sliced veggies onto a cookie sheet sprayed with Olive Oil. 
3. Roast for 10-15 minutes. I like for there to be some caramelization without them being too soft. But adjust cooking time for desired crunch :)
4. While your veggies are roasting, prepare vinaigrette: In a blender or food processor, blend all vinaigrette ingredients into a smooth liquid.
4. Add pasta and vinaigrette to bowl with veggies and toss well to coat evenly.
5. Mix in all that goat cheese-y goodness. 

We often make this an entire meal by adding chicken or turkey sausage or grilled chicken into the mix. Mostly this makes my manly, protein-loving husband happy :) 

See? Everyone adores it. :)
I hope you make this pasta and then forgive me of my failure as a writer... Because my recipe sharing obviously makes up for it! 

Happy Wednesday!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

6. The Castle I Love to Hate...

With parks getting to be fun and exciting for my 13 month old, I'm L O V I N G living 4 minutes walking distance from our fabulous neighborhood park. I've learned that playing hard in the morning is crucial to a good nap for Elle. So we've been trying our best to get out to the park around 10 lots of a mornings and make it home by 11:30 for a little snooze.

One of the best things about our park (aside from the location and the shadiness of it) is this huge, magical castle. If I was 4 years old, you better believe I would be playing princess and having tea parties at the very top of that mighty, green castle. 


As the mama of a newly toddling little one. This castle is my worst enemy. It was NOT made for adults. But what do you do with a adventurous walker who MUST climb all the way up the tiny, windy steps? 

You climb with her. Herein lies my hatred. 30 or so doubled-over, sweaty, squeezing-past-big-kids, steps and I'm donezo. 

Well after about 7 times of this circus while at the park yesterday, I moved Elle to a different section of the park to play, hopefully buying me 10 or 15 minutes of upright breeziness. Inevitably, though, she found her way back to the castle she so dearly loves. I didn't follow her immediately, but could see her the whole time. And as I was enjoying conversation with a dear friend, I saw her start to climb the dreaded steps. But, I figured, I would go chase her down once she was half way up so that she could make it safely down. Well, only 3 steps up the stairs, she fell. A mama's worst nightmare. So I ran as fast as my Mizunos would take me and swooped under the kiddie sized doorway to rescue her. 

She was scared and probably hurt a little, but other than that there were no bumps, bruises or scrapes and she perked right back up after 30 seconds of crying. She was fine.

I, however, in my concern for my child, totally forgot about the kiddie-sized doorway I just swooped under to get in and on my way out slammed my head against the castle and got a huge egg on my head and my ego. :/

That was yesterday. And while that goose egg still smarts, my kiddo may have learned that going up those stairs is not as fun as she thought yesterday, because she sat quietly on the first step today. Never going up, though I would have gone up there with her, begrudgingly, if she had insisted. Maybe she'll remember that tumble for a few more months, until she figures out stair climbing safety. :)


Sunday, May 20, 2012

5. Past grace and future reminders...

This post will be simply to serve as a reminder when (God willing) I have another little bit and am struggling with anxiety and a battle of the wills over naps.

Naps have been the bane of my mama existence for a long time. Elle has always napped. But not well. After about 5 months, she decided she was DONEZO with sleeping for longer than 30-45 minutes at a time. Along with that, I felt (feel) like her sleep needs constantly shift and I never have any idea what I'm doing. What works one week won't work the next and I'm a frustrated puddle on the floor.

Currently, Elle is taking only 1 nap. I'm still not certain that she was completely ready to give it up, but she was fighting me tooth and nail on the morning nap and it was more of a source of stress for both of us than it was beneficial. Forty-five minutes of crying (or rocking if I had nothing to do) for 20 minutes of sleep was not enough of a pay off to make the morning from hell worth it. She was honestly pretty OK without it. She stopped dozing off after her 11 am feeding, so I knew that she had adjusted.

BUT at this point, during her one and only nap during the day she was ONLY napping in the afternoon for 40 minutes. I could pretty much time it. So I had JUST enough time to slap together a sandwich and eat it and maybe clean up the breakfast dishes.

I had no idea what to do to lengthen this afternoon nap. I left her in her crib until it had been at least an hour so. Because I needed to try to help her understand that I wasn't going to come get her at the first sound of her waking if she hadn't taken a solid nap. [Turns out, that did NOT work for my kid. I'm not sure if it has something to do with the fact that I held/rocked/nursed her to sleep for so long so she was aware that there were other, more snuggly options out there and was upset  about it. Or that she just is not a good self soother... either way. It was ineffective for us.] And she's not a happy, play-in-my-crib-until-someone-comes-to-get-me waker. She's pissed. She wants some TLC stat when she wakes up. [I'm not complaining a bit. It is one of the single best parts of my day. But it does make the whole sleep issue a bit trickier.]

Then, one day I stumbled upon some site that promises to solve all your children's sleep problems and make you happy forever on the ever reliable internet. I read there that putting your little down too late or too early could cause the early waking in your kiddo. Automatically ruling out the need for a LATER nap (because she had just moved to 1 nap, I knew she couldn't handle a longer wake time) I tried putting her down at 12 instead of 1. And that did it! She slept for 1 1/2 hours that first earlier nap time. The next day, however, she did not. But I soon became certain of a molar busting through (which has to be so painful! Yeesh!) that I could blame for her early waking.

We're still taking one nap. Napping more consistently for 1 1/2 hours (praise Jesus!) and still trying to figure things out. (Lately, she's been wanting to nap at 11:30 , which just makes that stretch before bed a little tricky. )

Moral of the story- it is a puzzle. But we are figuring things out. That's the story of being a parent, right?

2nd moral of the story-  (but, unarguably the most important moral) every time my child naps for a significant amount of time is a gift from God. A gift of rest and rejuvenation. A gift of productivity. A gift of peace.

Even BIGGER than that, I've learned, is that even the non-nap, up all night "partying" days - weeks even-  is a gift. A gift from a God who loves me and does every single thing for my good and His glory.

It's not a gift that is immediately fun and restorative. Nope, He has never promised me that. But He has promised me Himself, and all the gifts He gives me serve to point to how wonderful He is.

Ultimately,  HE is the source of any joy, peace, restoration, (insert your own fancy feeling noun) anyway.

Friday, May 18, 2012

4. Kisses and Crying

Today (well, yesterday... I'm a bit behind...) my little lady learned to kiss. At some point I'll cringe at the thought of her knowing how to kiss. But today, it melts my heart. I tried to get a picture or video, but the girl is quick. And she never ever performs on command. Figures...

So I'll do my best to describe it to you. If I catch her at a particularly cuddly moment (which isn't tough, my kid is one of the best cuddlers ever...) and say, "Can mama have a kiss?" She'll lean her little closed mouth towards mine and say "Mmmmmaa" Sometimes she'll make the smacking noise afterwards.

Melts my heart to even recount it. I'll do my best to get some sort of visual evidence of the kissing queen and put it in this post so that my story doesn't just fall flat. :)

Speaking of sentimentality and kids... I had a conversation with a group of moms about crying the other day. Not our kids' crying. Mama crying. The happy kind of cry. The kind that happens when your kiddo takes her first steps or moves to a big girl bed or all of a sudden turns into a teenager.  I am totally a crying mom. I well up when people tell me how sweet my little girl is. (This happened to me a few weeks ago. I'm sure I did not hide it well.)  I cry at commercials featuring chubby, precious babies and new mamas. (not recently, so I guess I have hormones partly to blame here...) I cry when I see someone else crying over the astonishing rate with which their child is growing up.

It embarrasses me slightly. But mostly, I love it. Emotion is a beautiful and God given thing. But it can be tricky. God has taught me (through His Word and my experience) over and over again that my heart is deceitful. So, while I will cherish the emotion I experience because of my kids, I won't let it run me.

For example, it can be tricky to gush out love and emotion for my husband that equals my emotion and affection for Elle. It is my calling as his wife to be more loyal to and more in love with him than I am with my kids. I believe that it is the absolute best thing I can do for them. To show them an accurate, though flawed, picture of what the relationship of Jesus and His Bride, the Church should look like.

I must fight to love my husband above my kids like I must fight to love Jesus above all else.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

3. Rainy Day

Who doesn't love a good rainy day? There's not much better than the occasional wet, grey, stay-in-your-comfy-pants-all-day day. Right? 

Today was that day for Elle and I. I realize that getting to do this with my daughter is such a gift. I think that's what made today so sweet. 

I can all too vividly remember the grey, rainy mornings where I fought to get out of bed and get going. There were kids to teach, by golly! I couldn't just put in a movie and lounge with them on rainy days. Nothing slowed down on rainy days in 3rd grade. In fact, rainy days were MORE stressful because that meant indoor recess. And antsy children. And mud on my floor. And cancelled outdoor science experiments. Yeesh!

[What's funny, is that even as I recount what I loathed about rainy days as a teacher, there's a part of my heart that longs for that again. How does that saying go? You can take the girl out of the classroom, but you can't take the classroom out of the girl...? :/ Whatever... you get it, right?]

But today. I got to stop and soak up time with my little girl. We watched cartoons in our comfy pants. She fell asleep cuddling with me as the rain poured outside. Then I just let her take her nap on the couch. I turned all the lights off and sat and read a book, because any sort of door slamming or kitchen cleaning and I'd be one sorry mama. 

We pulled all the cushions off the couches and ran and climbed and wrestled. We stood at the door and watched the rain. 

I soaked her up. We rarely have days where I have nothing on the agenda. I do my best to utilize the time that I've been gifted with well. We have play dates and meetings and errands and make it home for nap time (usually). But today. I just enjoyed the rain with my little girl. I enjoyed the sweet gift of time with her that I've been given. Because I'm not promised to have this time with her forever. 

2. Becoming Family

The sweetest part of my day was dinner. Tonight we celebrated with some very dear friends before they embark on a new journey out west. We shared dinner, drinks and dessert as we ooh-ed over sweet new babies and laughed until our bellies ached at the all-of-a-sudden-not-babies-anymore toddlers and kids.

We used to meet with these families weekly in a discipleship group. It was because of this group I learned to look at the local church and the people in my community as family. Not individual events and meetings that occupied my time and kept me from sleep that I felt like I desperately needed, but family that I spent an evening with. I would never in a million years think of coming home to my husband and daughter as an event that replaced something else I should be doing. But often, that's how I viewed things like discipleship groups and missional communities. Events. Keeping me from doing whatever else needed to be done. (And if I'm brutally honest with you, usually what needed to be "done" was my lounging on the couch with a book or a good TV show. Yikes.) But as we shared Papa Murphy's pizza after Papa Murphy's pizza together, (seriously. we ate a lot of pizza. It was easy and delicious. But it's a wonder we don't all weigh much, much more.) sat around drinking decaf coffee and discussing scripture and theology, God began to shift my paradigm of what was going on. This was not an event. It was a really good meal and great discussion with family.

And like any family, we've grown [Fun fact: our group, which started with 1 kid total, now numbers 10 kids total. We've got that whole "be fruitful and multiply" thing down.] and changed and are beginning to move on. And that's healthy and beautiful. And bittersweet, for sure. I probably won't get to meet the Williams' new little girl, due in November, for some time. We won't get to watch wildman, Caleb, become a little boy. (He is maybe one of the most entertaining children I've ever been around. Second only to Hudson. Who, lucky for us, still lives in Austin less than half a mile away.) But it is a joy to look back on all our family dinners with deep love and look forward to enjoying eternity praising the God who united us as family together.

And. My kid fell asleep at someone else's house. So Tyler and I soaked it up and partied until 11:30. And got into a very mind boggling discussion on Quantum Physics. Well, I did not. Tyler and Todd did and Olivia piped in every now and then. I listened, only half attempting to wrap my mind around what was being said. I'm worthless after 10:30. and maybe worthless when it comes to chemistry and physics all together.

And just for fun:
I signed up to bring a dessert for tonight. Because we're eating clean again. (Minus Mother's Day, of course) I wanted to bring something we could all enjoy, guilt free and it's literally the easiest, tastiest dessert in the history of all desserts.

Ready? Here it goes

1. Slice a banana in to 1/2 inch chunks.
2. Place a 1/2 a dollop of natural peanut butter (or any kind of nut butter, I suppose) on banana chunks.
3. Melt dark chocolate chips. (The key here is to NOT burn the chocolate. I start with 1 minute in the microwave at 50% power and then stir, then do 15 second intervals always stirring in between until it's smooth.)
4. Pour your dark chocolate (Really, it can be any sort of chocolate your little heart desires.) over your peanut butter dolloped bananas. 
5. Stick in the freezer until they're cold and frozen. Or just eat them on the spot.

Another delicious and awesome variation on this is to stick all these ingredients (bananas must already be frozen) into the food processor to make ice cream. 

It. Is. Awesome. It's not really ice cream, but it is genuinely a tasty replacement. WAYYY better than that low sugar, low carb business. 

Easy. Not horrible for you. Delicious. Done. You're welcome.

Happy Writing Day #2!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

1. Child Dedication

Tonight at church, a sweet family that I don't know stood before their church family and asked that we would commit to praying for their sweet son, Tyler. (not my Tyler, obviously.) They asked that we would pray for them, that God would guide them, provide wisdom, encouragement and correction as they seek to raise their son to love and trust our King and Savior, Jesus.

I. lost. it.

Did I mention I don't know this family at all? I have never even seen them before this evening. But it was such a beautiful picture and reminder of the importance of community in raising my kid.

I NEED people around me that are praying for me. Praying for Tyler. Praying for Elle. Correcting me when I'm harsh or lazy. Encouraging me with the truth that Jesus uses my failures as a mom for my daughter's good. Reminding me that if I do anything right and good for her soul, it is because God is using me and ultimately because He loves her more than I could ever dream! (Which is quite mind boggling, because I cannot imagine anyone loving anything more than I love her.)

And at the end of it all, God willing, if her soul is well with her Creator, there will be a group of people going cuh-razy with joy because they fought alongside me for her to know Him and love Him above all else.  And THAT is what makes my knees go weak with joy and my heart pound with hope. I am not in this alone. I am speechlessly thankful for a community of men and women (and all their crazy kids) that love Jesus, want Him more than anything, and want me and my family to want Him more than anything and everything as well.

Praising Jesus tonight for His beautiful, beautiful Bride. What a gift to get to raise another life, with all it's failures and victories, heartaches and joys, trials and gifts, together with the Body of Christ.

30 Days...

...of writing.

I'm a horrible blogger. I have great intentions. I want to document everything. I plan to document everything. But I am what some might call a "procrastinator." I put overwhelming things (like sharing my thoughts with the world) off until it's completely passed and I've forgotten what it was that I wanted to write down.

Well. I started reassessing my goal as a blogger. I decided that I wanted this to be a place to document the extraordinary in my everyday. I want to look back as the years go by and be able to clearly recount the sweet, colorful moments in a life that is slightly blurry because it has gone by at lightning speed.

To make this pie-in-the-sky vision a reality, I'm going to have to step up my writing game. I really do love writing. It's not burdensome for me. It's the discipline of sitting down (after I've put the munchkin to bed) and NOT turning on the TV and getting the pen to the paper, er, my fingers to the keyboard, that I struggle with.

We all know how resolutions go. I have a graveyard of resolutions filed away. Run 10 miles a week! Drink 64 ounces of water a day! Read the Bible in a year! Never eat cake again!

That's why I'm going to commit to writing every evening for a month. I'm going to be realistic and face the music, though. There will likely be weeks I don't write 7 days. That's ok. I just want to make sure my goal in having this blog is worked towards.

So, let the writing begin!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to my sweet little love bug.

One year ago this was happening.

Now I'm chasing Ellerbe Anne around and playing like there's no tomorrow. What a fabulous little miracle she is.

Before having her in my life I was of the mentality that kids were awesome. Incredible in fact. But it stemmed from the thought that it would be a great thing to do. To work and strive to do my best to depend on Jesus and raise a little girl that loved Him and desired Him above all else.

Well, that is definitely part of why my little love is so wonderful. BUT. It's so much more. She's not just a task given to me to complete. But a gift given in love to enjoy.

Ellerbe Anne, you are so wonderful because you are just a really good, sweet gift given to me by a kind, good, caring Father in heaven. With that in mind, I will do all that I can to teach you how good God is and how worth it it is to center all of your life around Him.

We had one killer party for her 1st birthday party. It was simple and so much fun. (Let's be honest, the party was really for the adults.) Here are a few snapshots of our fun filled day.

 Daddy and the big 1 year old.

 Saying hello to her sweet friends, Brooks. 

It was a pretty happening party.

That's a lot of babies.

Leah, Caroline, Katie and little Caroline made it out. Love these ladies!

Her birthday mobile. Girl rides in style.

Presents. Hudson was SUPER excited about all of them.

Gigi McBride came out to celebrate too! She was my sweet sweet coworker at Parmer Lane Elementary whom I love dearly :)

Liv and the little ladies. I think Elle was a bit overwhelmed.

GG, Daisy, Hudson and Elle. Love that they were partying on the blanket together.

Pretty cakes and cupcakes from Belly's Bakeshop. (If you're in the DFW area, check her out. Lucky for us, Aunt Kailey drove them down. Thanks Aunt K!)

Smash Cake!

She cried when everyone cheered after she busted into her cake. 

Daddy had to show her how it's done.

Emmy was sneaking cupcakes. She's crafty with her sweets.

Happy Birthday, sweet little one. Thank you for being such a tangible picture of God's intense love for His children and for poignantly illustrating the infinite sacrifice of giving His Son. You are a beautiful gift.

Friday, March 9, 2012

A Handy Dandy Go-To

I've been so crafty and creative lately. (Creativity is relative, my friends.) I've even busted out the sewing machine. AND USED IT! Successfully, I might add.

Usually I just get stuck threading the bobbin. After taking 30 minutes to figure out why no fabric is being sewed together. i know. i know. I claim nothing more than amateur sew-er.

Well, with the help of a few thorough, all-be-it cheesy YouTube tutorials on how to thread the bobbin, what a straight stitch is, and other embarassingly basic things, etc. I made a few VERY cute onesies! Complete with ruffles on the butt! I can only show you one, because I have yet to give away the others and I don't want to ruin it. :)

All that to say, I spent 3 days drowning in crafts when I wasn't corralling the sweetest little walker in all the land and I completely abandoned all housekeeping. Sorry, dear husband of mine. Dinners included leftovers and sandwiches. And one really great salad. Which is the reason for this post. It's such a delicious and easy salad that I have to share.

I don't have any pictures. Because Tyler and I literally ate every little bit of it. And I was ravenous after all my crafting and didn't have the presence of mind to think about this post before the frenzy. You'll just have to trust my words that it's delicious.

Tastiest Asian Chicken Salad

-Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast (about 1 per person) Grilled and sliced thin
-Your choice of lettuce. (My favorite is Spring Mix, but all we had last night was Romaine, which was also crispy and delicious.)
-Grated Carrots
-Red Bell Pepper cut into thin strips
-Cucumber sliced thin
-Snow Peas (We didn't have any last night, and it was still fabulous)
-Totilla Strips or crumbled Tortilla Chips

Other great additions:

You get the idea. Just take any veggies you've got in the fridge and throw them in there.

Dressings- BOTH are crucial to the tastiness of this dish

Honey Lime Dressing:
1/2 cup lime juice
4 tsp honey mustard
1/3 cup + 1 Tbs honey
4 Tbs vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, minced fine
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Peanut Sauce:
4 Tbs peanut butter
4 Tbs soy sauce
4 Tbs hot water
4 Tbs honey
1 Tb ground ginger


1. Toss veggies of choice and thinly sliced grilled chicken together.
2. Mix dressing in separate jars. or large measuring cups. whatever works.
3. Serve yourself a generous and mostly healthy portion.
4. Enjoy.

Easy. You're welcome.

And because everyone loves a good baby update :)

Elle is most definitely walking. I thought, for some reason, it would take much longer for her to figure out that she could actually GET places on her feet than it did. A couple of days ago, I found her toddling across the living room. And she hasn't stopped. She's OFFICIALLY official. Sheesh. Where's my little teeny tiny baby girl? I'm not going to be one of those sappy, "I MISS MY NEWBORN" moms. But, there is a twinge of sadness in watching her grow into a little girl. I can't say that I MISS my teeny tiny because I am so much in love with my on-the-brink-of-toddlerhood lady. But I'd be lying if I didn't say that I never thought fondly of my tiny, cuddly, swaddled, coo-ing baby girl and got a little sad because that's gone forever for her.

The little walker with a freshly busted lip. Looking especially pathetic and sweet. She got lots of cuddles after this mishap.

I'm going to go look at all the pictures of Elle before she was 6 months and cry now. Kidding.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Elle's new skill! About 2 weeks ago, Elle (drum roll please...) took her first steps!! Crazy, right?

She's been pulling up and cruising around since 7 months or so, but I didn't think she'd take off this soon. Wait. Let me be clear. She definitely has not taken off by any stretch of the word. It's really more like a lunge and her sweet little chubby feet pitter patter behind.

Literally the day before it happened, she started standing unaided for about 20 seconds at a time and I thought, "It looks like she's just going to take off any day now!"I didn't really believe that she would, it just looked like she was stable enough to do it.

Fast forward to the next day after all the standing. I was putting laundry away, and Elle was standing beside my dresser undoing all my nice folding out of the bottom drawer that I was putting things into. (This is my life, people.) I squatted down to play with her to distract her (and because she's way more fun than putting away laundry...) and she took a step towards me! I thought that I surely imagined it. Later that evening, interested to see if she would do it again, I held my arms out, she got REAL excited and then took 3 big girl steps towards me! It was WONDERFUL!

I definitely teared up and screamed so loud that I think I scared her from doing it again for a while. (I think we're past that now.) I caught a slight glimpse of what it's like to watch your child really excel at something. I was (am) SO proud of her! Up until that moment, it's been little milestones. These are FOR SURE exciting and rewarding, but watching her figure out something like walking made me sympathize a little bit more with crazy parents who push their kids to ridiculous limits at things like piano, basketball and UIL Calculator. (The latter, of which, I took part in and won a few ribbons for. My parents were not crazy people. I genuinely liked it. You can laugh.) It's wonderful to watch your child succeed. WONDERFUL! I'm thankful that Jesus is giving me and will continue to give me perspective on my role in helping her develop her gifts so that her worldly success is neither my identity nor my goal, but I get it.

Crazy, screaming volleyball mom, I get you.

It's not right, but I get you.

And just to prove to you that my 9 1/2 month old took steps, here's a video some friends took while babysitting for us so we could have a night out. (Thanks again, Justin and Tara!) And, Justin really loves Elle, despite his negative reinforcement. :)

happy walking little walker!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Recounting a Year Full of Firsts...

How is it already 2012? Something mysterious and twilight-zoney must happen after you have a child. Time seems to move 10 times faster than it did before. Can I get an "amen" mamas?

Because it's a brand new year, and because it's fun to look back fondly on the year that has just past, I wanted to take some time to reflect on 2011. Tyler and I did this together and it was great. It will be great for me to have it documented here.

[It's long. Please don't feel obligated to recount the details of my year with me. :) ]

2011 in review:
January : I started the year off very pregnant. See below.

I returned back to my 3rd grade classroom after a much needed winter break for the last time for a while.

February : We celebrated our 3rd Valentine's Day together. I tried to make a romantic dinner for us to eat in our little Town Lake Apartment. I bought Filets, but neither of us were sure how to grill a steak. They didn't turn out well.

Katie and I sent out the girls we had been discipling for close to 2 years to lead their own groups. We were all a little sad, but we knew it was right. And it has been SO incredible to watch as God grows them into women of faith and love. So many cool things happening with them. 1 off to DC , 1 leading her own missional community in the Music Building and seeing God move and change people's hearts, 1 off to work in Houston, 1 still looking and waiting :) but all of them are growing in obedience to Scripture and love for God. So cool to be a part of.

March: With my due date fast approaching, I treasured every little "last" as my life before parenthood. Here's what I did on my Spring Break with Elle safely tucked inside my belly. While my life most certainly does not look like that now, it's not quite the calamity I imagined it would be at that point.

April: At the beginning of this month we had our first fake-out hospital visit. That was fun. (Or very not fun and exhausting for me the next day at school.)

I said "goodbye" to my sweet sweet 3rd graders and fellow teachers. Oh, how I miss them.

At the end of the month we welcomed this little booger home.
What a beauty.

We also learned our limit for exhaustion. We struggled to communicate. I struggled (read, still struggle) with control over our daughter. I wanted things done my way and had a tough time making way for Tyler to learn to be a daddy. God has brought me a long way... (blogpost on that to come soon...)

May: We lived life in a newborn induced fog. I was always tired. I honestly don't remember much about this month.

I do remember how anxious I got when it came time for bed. Nights with Elle were hard at that point.

Now that I think about it, I remember Tyler preaching at our church (The Austin Stone Community Church) for the very first time. It was a very big deal and such a huge and weighty task. He did fabulous. He preached on how God calls us into a family. Hear it here. (It's the first one. Titled: Missional Community: Living as Jesus' Family.)

June: We packed up all our belongings in boxes and sat in the living room and sipped coffee while movers hoisted everything onto their big ole truck and drove it all to Maple Hollow Trail in North Austin.

[side bar: Movers are THE WAY to go. Especially in the summer. Especially with a new born. Worth every penny, I say.]

July: We went on our very first "vacation" as a family of 3. Vacation is in quotations because it's not quite "vacation" with a 3 month old. I learned very quickly that Elle could really care less if we were at the lake or the beach or in a Motel 6 outside of Austin. My perceptions of vacation have since been corrected, and I have been able to enjoy them for what they are and not get annoyed because they aren't what they used to be. :) See? God's at work in my heart.

(Kidding. I am hopeful and CERTAIN that he has done much bigger and more eternal things in me than shifting my view of vacation.)

August: After being pregnant and working (also known as: had no energy for anything but laying on the couch and eating rocky road most evenings) and then adjusting to life with a little one (also known as: can't write your own name or remember if you ate that day,) it was this month that I finally felt normal. I had resurfaced and realized that I. Was. Missing. Out. I realized that I had a lot of insecurity that had been festering in my inability (or unwillingness, perhaps...) to do anything but what was in front of my face.

It was good to be reminded that I'm not accepted or valuable or more loved because of what I'm doing. But because Jesus has called me His.

Thanks, Tyler.

Seems like I may have learned that lesson a time or two before.


September: Tyler and I spent our first nights away from our sweet girl. We were in the same hotel, but my parents kept little E while I got my first full night of sleep in 4 months. However, much like vacation, a full night of sleep has to be enjoyed for what it is now and not what it used to be. (The constant worry about how she's doing and discomfort that comes with not nursing when you're used to takes away a tad bit from the peace of a full night of sleep.) However different it may have been, it was marvelous and I love that my mom was so excited to do that for us. :) Thanks, KK, you're the best!

October: I turned 26.

Elle got 2 teeth.

I started meeting with a group of young mamas that live in my neighborhood in hopes that we would continually challenge each other to be obedient to scripture and love Jesus more and more. This has been so good and challenging for my soul.

I also got baptized this month!
The story behind my baptism is this: I was baptized when I was 9. Mostly because my mom encouraged me to, because our pastor at the time said I should be. Looking back, I did have a desire to know God, but had no understanding of the implications of God becoming man to take my deserved punishment and giving me undeserved love and acceptance. I was baptized out of a love and obedience to my parents. My mom said I should, so I did! However, as my love and affection for Christ has grown out of the knowledge of the depth of my sin and the heights of His perfection, I began to feel that I needed to be baptized again. This time out of a knowledge of the symbolism and proclamation of the event: That I was a new creation, buried with Christ in His death and raised to walk in the newness of life in His resurrection. Also, because I ultimately want to be obedient to Jesus in this life. Because I love Him and trust Him as King. If He says to be baptized in faith, I want to walk in that.

It was so special to have Tyler baptize me. I also got baptized alongside Tyler's cousin Luke and a good friend, James Ornelas. Such a good day and beautiful evidence of the way God doesn't let go of me. Even in my obstinate disobedience.

November: The ladybug's first Thanksgiving! We got to see both sides of our family, which is always such a blessing.

After much anguish over Elle's crazy sleeping habits, we enlisted the help of a very experienced friend. She's had 5 kids and has gotten all of them to sleep through the night at a reasonable age. Those are some serious credentials. It was with her help that we moved Elle to a 4 hour nursing schedule. (She was still nursing every 2 hours. I had no idea that that was too much. But apparently, nursing only ever 2 hours doesn't keep her tummy as full at night.) And we fully introduced solids. I had only been giving her about one meal a day from about 5 1/2 months up to this point. Here's what our schedule looks like now:

7:30 wake up and nurse
8:30 solid breakfast
10 morning nap
11:30 wake up and nurse
12:45 or 1 solid lunch
2:30 nap
4 wake up and nurse
5:45 solid dinner
8 bottle and bedtime!

(giving Elle a bottle before bed has been so helpful for me to know exactly how much she ate, that way if she wakes up in the night I know if she's hungry or not and I don't fall into the trap of nursing her because I think she might be hungry and it turns into a nursing dependency. Which, I know nothing about. I've never done that. Ever.)

Granted, this is just a skeleton. She just got done teething (and, is working on another one. 5 down, 15 more to go! Sigh...) and that means she will NOT nap longer than 45 minutes. Since we're letting her figure out how to put herself to sleep at this point, that also might mean that she sleeps until 8:30 or 9 if it took her awhile to fall asleep the night before.

**I am very proud to announce, however, that my sweet, precious, wonderful, beautiful little girl slept for 11 hours STRAIGHT last night. This. is. a. big. deal. people! She only cried for 7 minutes and slept until 7:30. She even woke up around 6, cried for a few minutes and just as I was stepping out of the fog to get her up, thinking that she was probably hungry at that point, she put her little self back to sleep. Hoping that this becomes normal in our lives.

December: Tyler and I celebrated our 3rd anniversary with a wonderful meal at Uchiko. Very seriously the best and most interesting meal I have ever had. It was great. We recounted what a great year in our marriage it has been. Our friendship and enjoyment of one another continues to grow. And as the Lord works in my heart to change me and make me more like Him (very, very slowly sometimes...) I've grown in my capacity to trust Tyler. Not because Tyler is infallible, but because God is perfect and wise and perfectly placed Tyler as my husband. To refine and shape me. All that to say, God is gracious and loves my husband and has made him very wise and trustworthy when it comes to leading our family. He's wonderful. I'm very thankful to have been married to him for 3 years and excited about however many more years God gives us together.

We celebrated Gods Gift to us with our little girl for the first time! It was a blast. She didn't quite care about unwrapping anything, but loved pulling bows off packages. We didn't develop any traditions this year, but began talking about how we'd like to do Advent next year.

We ended the year with a few friends at our house for dinner and kicked them all out by 11 because Tyler had to preach the next day and needed rest.

Wow. What a wonderful and blessed year it has been! So many firsts! Thankful!