Friday, November 1, 2013

Good In The Chaos

The house is a mess.
The laundry is piling up.
I should probably clean these glass doors that have more than a smudge or two on them.

Our bedroom: atrocious.
The floors need a good cleaning.
Switching out the girls' seasonal clothes has been going on longer than I'd like to admit.

As the girls are getting older, they're getting involved more with friends, school, and activities.  Bill has been busy with different aspects of work.  I oftentimes feel torn between what I need to and what I want to do.

Those of you who know me personally know how much I love my husband.  It's kind of ridiculous.  Yet this same man that I love completely is the same man who can drive me the most crazy.  That's fun.  I would say that this season of our lives have been the hardest (even more difficult than having a newborn!) - just even in these last couple of months.  

It's a struggle at the moment to find the time to communicate and spend time with each other.  When we're both running on empty, our patience is less than stellar for each other and our girls.  At the same time, amazing things are happening with friends and family - and God is working.  Bill and I are in a fantastic place to see life stories change, and we're excited to be along for the ride.

Instead of focusing on all the things that I should or could be doing,
today I will be thankful.

Life cannot be taken too seriously when your favorite dresses like this:

And despite the everyday struggles, there are these fantastic little people that forgive their mother's imperfections time and time again:
Despite all of the pull my hair out moments, there is happiness.
In the midst of the daily chaos, there is good.
Through the bickering, there is laughter.
I am thankful for the Love that carries me day in and day out.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

5 Things: Hope Spoken Style


I'm so very excited about Hope Spoken - a women's conference in Dallas, Texas hosted by these lovely ladies (Casey, Danielle, and Emily).  I don't know them personally, but I love their heart and passion for loving Jesus & encouraging other women to do the same.  This conference also makes me happy because I just happen to be going with some of my favorite people.
Wonderfulness all around!

Tonight, I'm linking up with the Hope Spoken girls - can't wait to make new friends...

5 things for Hope Spoken:
- post your picture so that we can recognize you.
- introduce yourself!
- something that you are little timid or nervous about for the weekend
- something that you are hoping to take away from Hope Spoken
- share something fun/random about yourself

So, this is me and the person I like best on the planet.  I love this picture because we're at the beach (on vacation), and one of our girls took it at our favorite frozen yogurt place.  Everything in the previous sentence makes me smile.

introduce yourself!
I'm Grace.  I love God, my husband Bill, and our four girls.  I love them like crazy even when they drive me crazy.  We live in Virginia where the weather is ridiculous.  Our life is chaotic, wonderful, hectic, and beautiful all at the same time.  I also love coffee - maybe a little bit too much. 

something that you are little timid or nervous about for the weekend
I'm an extrovert, but I get somewhat shy on the inside about meeting brand new people - random combination, I know.  I'm also slightly nervous about leaving our girls for a few days.  Their father is completely capable - I'm just slightly Type A and have a hard time relinquishing control.
(Pray for me.)

something that you are hoping to take away from Hope Spoken
I know it will be an amazing, fun, encouraging time getting to spend grownup time with old friends and making new ones.  Even more than that, I'm looking forward to seeing Jesus
and knowing Him more.

share something fun/random about yourself
I love to sing even though I can't.
I'm sorry if you're within range when a good song starts playing.

See you in March!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Mom Of The Year

Sorry, ladies - I just won.

Our Gianna loves jumping on the trampoline.  In fact, all our girls do.  Evangeline loves it when everyone sits on the trampoline and watches her "jump" (no simultaneous jumping for Evy), but I'm sure she'll be bouncing like crazy once she gets slightly bigger and more coordinated.

Two weeks ago, Gianna was stepping down after a trampoline session and missed a step.  She landed on her arm and immediately started crying.  Gianna doesn't cry easily when she's hurt so we knew the ground probably gave her a good hit.  After a few hours of icing her arm and keeping it still, she was back to her old self - outside play, swimming lessons, soccer practices, etc.

She fell twice at soccer practice one night and started complaining that it hurt again.  I thought she was being dramatic.  Bill decided to take her to the doctor.  Our pediatrician is fantastic.  He told Bill that her arm was probably badly sprained or bruised.  He didn't think it was likely that it was broken, but he wanted us to see the orthopedic surgeon - just in case.

I took Gianna to the specialist that afternoon.  As soon as I saw the x-ray, I knew -
but I was hoping deep down I wasn't right.
The doctor was so very sweet and compassionate when he told me that Gianna's arm was in fact broken.  I promise I tried to hold back the tears so when we were talking,
and he looked over - he looked so surprised,
What's wrong?  She's fine!  Don't cry.  Here's a tissue.

Gianna walked over, climbed in my lap, and rubbed my back - reassuring ME that it was ok that SHE had a broken arm.  What in the world?

We're so thankful that it's not a bad break and that she doesn't need a cast.  She has to wear a sling until she's completely healed.  The saddest thing was Gianna's expression when the doctor said no sports.  The girl loves her sports.

So I apologize, girls:
if you were vying for Mother of The Year, I've got it hands down -
the mom who let her daughter run around & play with a broken arm.  For two weeks.

High five.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Not My Most Favorite Day Of The Year

real life
Yesterday marked the big day - when summer officially made its exit.  Three of our girls are in elementary school now, and my heart aches even typing that sentence.  I'm a soft, emotional pile of gushiness when it comes to these tiny (some not so tiny) beings.  I don't think I'll ever be able to shake that quality - even though they continue to grow & change by the minute.

Isabella woke up first (thankfully after I was dressed & had my first cup of coffee in hand).  I would say she was the most excited of the three.  First of all - she's a big girl now (apparently you get big girl status when you turn five years old).  Secondly, she's in Kindergarten (only big girls allowed in there).  And most importantly, she's going to school with her sister Gianna
(I'm so excited about riding the bus, Mom!).
Gianna and Espy followed suit - having breakfast and getting ready for the day.  All of them tolerated the photo shoot(s?) I put them through which I'm always thankful for.  As mom, I'm official memory keeper of the family so we will be taking pictures every first day of school
(sorry in advance, girls).
A good friend asked if I cry every year.  That I do, at some point of the process - even if I will myself not to.  Yesterday it was during breakfast.  Evangeline was still asleep, but her sisters were eating breakfast & chit chatting about their new teachers, classes, and friends - no bottles, no diapers, no random crying - just three girls having breakfast together.  I had to go into the kitchen and have a moment -
a moment to enjoy their sweetness with each other
a moment to be thankful for their unique selves
a moment to forever remember them just as they were:
hair tousled, pajamas wrinkled, and eyes brightened with thoughts of a new day
not a fan of the first day of school

Monday, August 19, 2013

Amazingness in a Bowl (A Recipe)

Our friends had a sweet baby girl last week, and I'm super jealous that my husband has gotten to see her twice already!  Since some of our girls aren't feeling 100% - so instead of sharing our germs, Bill brought over this dinner to them yesterday.

I've been craving something light and fresh (and different), and I found this recipe online.  Lindsey approved, and I thought it was delicious - not too heavy, just the right amount of sweetness, and filling enough to have as a meal.  It was the first time I had made this dressing so I'm thankful it turned out as tasty as it sounded.  I had it for dinner last night, and I plan on having it for lunch today:

ASIAN CHICKEN SALAD
adapted from food.com
DRESSING
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons canned mandarin juice
2 teaspoons soy sauce
4 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
(I triple this recipe.)
SALAD
romaine lettuce, torn in pi├Ęces
4 cooked boneless skinless chicken breasts (shredded or chopped)
2 cups dry chow mein noodles
1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds or 1/3 cup chopped peanuts
(I like to use these honey roasted almonds - they're delicious.)
canned mandarin oranges (drained, reserve 2 teaspoons juice for the dressing)

Mix all dressing ingredients until well combined - refrigerate for a minimum of one hour.
In a large bowl combine the lettuce with chicken, dry noodles, and almonds/peanuts.
Mix to combine.
Pour on the dressing.
Toss to combine.
Top with  mandarine oranges.
Serve immediately.
(I store the lettuce, chicken, mandarin oranges, and dressing in separate containers
in the refrigerator to make assembling single servings easier.)
Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

While We Wait

Maileen & Peter
There are lots of views regarding social media, smartphones, and the like.  There are also thoughtful debates on the technology & the medical advances we have available to us in our society - and how we use them.  Today, I'm a huge fan - of ALL of it.

Today - our family is in Virginia - but our family can also be found in:
Honduras
Georgia
Illinois
Brussels
California
Washington
Canada
Illinois
North Carolina
New Jersey
Australia
The Philippines
I could go on and on and on.

Today - Maileen had brain surgery in Georgia.  Her husband and children are in Honduras.  Her family and friends are many, and wherever they are - they are supporting her tremendously.

Today - I am thankful that my cousin's husband in Honduras can tell us via Facebook that my cousin in Georgia is done with surgery and doing fine.

Today - I am thankful that I can wake up, check my phone, and read an encouraging message from Maileen asking me to rest well so we can face today with joy and praise.

Today - I am thankful for the ability to text those that I love and to ask them to please pray for my cousin, her surgery, and her recovery.

Today - I am thankful that I can check my laptop for updates from our family.

Today - I am thankful for all the talented doctors & staff who will be with Maileen and use all of their medical knowledge and technological abilities to help her rid her body of this nasty disease.

Maileen is the older sister Sarah & I never knew we needed, but God sure did.
She's the oldest granddaughter of the family, and we all look up to her.
She's an amazing wife, mother, and friend.
Those who know her (personally and even online) can attest to that.

She's loud, and she's joyful.
She's always ready with a smile or a laugh.
She's honest - sometimes brutally.
And, she's in love with Jesus.

Thanks so much for praying for her.
And for all of us.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Maileen's Journey - August 8

cousins
Dec 2012
So many thanks to all of you who have been faithfully praying for my cousin Maileen.
Would you mind praying with us again?

JULY 29
I am scheduled for brain surgery August 13th to remove the tumor on the lower left lobe...it is active. I am praying for shrinking or diminished tumor(s) and I would rather not go through surgery, to be honest. Our God hears our prayers. If I go through the surgery, pray for Dr.V and his surgical team (rest, clear minds, wise decisions, blessed skills as individuals and as a team) and for me (healing and healing well). Due to not having visas for the children, please pray with me for my wonderful husband Peter as he takes care of Marissa and our foster son 'Baby J' (about 3 months old) ---strength, help, love and emotional stability and rest. Thank you for your prayers...we are deeply moved by your involvement in our lives...may our Lord bless you and grant you deep joys and moving peace.

AUGUST 6
Looks like my body (neck down) is one year cancer clear to the month...Praise God...HE Is FAITHFUL...and Generously Full of MERCY..now to get my head tumor clear too...Praying it will be...Thanks for praying with us these coming months...traveling...praying for Peter and our kids, doctors' appts.  Friday, Monday night (MRI) maybe surgery Tuesday morning...still praying not needing to...it's a lot to ask for shrunken tumors...or even gone...but if surgery than praying for that operation team...it's nice to have God's angels helping us to do God's will.
Sol   Maileen   Joel   Lucy
Dec 2012
Maileen is now stateside awaiting possible surgery this coming Tuesday.  Thank you for praying for Maileen, for Peter who is home in Honduras with Marissa and Baby J, for my uncle and aunt (Sol & Lucy if you're a detailed person like I am), and for the rest of our family.
We are all thankful for you.
Maileen   Marissa   Peter
Dec 2012

Thursday, August 1, 2013

My Other Mom

I have mentioned before that I'm surrounded by awesome women - it's amazing.

One of these ladies has a birthday today, and we wish we were there to celebrate with her.  Judy is Bill's mom, my other mom, and the girls' NeNe.
She is gorgeous inside and out, and I'm not just saying that.  How does one get more and more beautiful as she gets older?  I don't know, but she does a great job of it.

To say that I'm intimidated by her awesomeness is not even the half of it.  The first time Bill invited me over to their house for dinner, I was a nervous wreck.  I will never forget walking into their living room and seeing her sitting on the couch - beautiful (as always) and as sweet as can be.

I was (and am) a huge fan of hers (and her son - clearly).  She's been nothing but supportive as
Bill & I became friends, dated, got married, and started our family.  She's been involved in our girls' lives from the moment they were born - either by supporting us in the delivery room or watching little ones while we went to the hospital.  The girls love her like crazy and cherish the time
they get to spend with her.
I'm crazy blessed that all of our parents get along - I know that's a rarity these days.  It might even be slightly weird - but it's true.  Not only do they get along, but they really love (and like!) each other.  It makes my heart full when we're all together.
Judy's an incredible cook and as crafty as they come.  Not only that, she has a heart of gold - and the love flows for Tommy/PaPa, her children, and all of her grandchildren.  If we love you, then Judy loves you.  If you've had the pleasure of ever meeting her in person - I know that you've felt welcomed & loved right from the start.
  Happy Birthday - we love you!

Dear Judy,
Thank you for being awesome.
Thank you for loving God and loving us.
Thank you for raising a son who is an amazing friend & husband and a fantastic father to four girls.
Thank you for your generosity.
Thank you for coming to visit us when our schedule doesn't allow us to visit you & PaPa more.
Thank you for cooking and baking for us without complaint - everything is always amazing!
Thank you for loving me all the time.
I know where your son gets his patient heart.
I love you & I hope you have a fantastic birthday - you certainly deserve it.
Love you forever - your brown daughter,
G

*For more on how much I love you: one, two, three, and four.*

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Isabella Talk

There's something about the ages of three and four that make discussions awesome and funny most of the time.  Or maybe it's just our four-year old's personality?  At any rate, please enjoy these fantastic conversations that we've had with our Isabella the last few weeks or so:

ISA: Mom, when are we going to get a new baby?
ME: A baby in my belly?
ISA: Yes.
ME: Oh, we're not going to have any more babies in my belly.
ISA: But, why?  When I was at Tita and Tito's house, I was watching when they were getting married.  Guess what?  I saw Gianna in your belly.  But how did she get in there?
ME: God put her there.
ISA: But how did she gonna come out?
ME: This way.
ISA: Oh!  Did you cry?
ME: No, I just pushed really hard.
ISA: You should just bang on the top of your head so she can come out.
ME: You're funny, Isabella.

ISA: I wish I could color the wall.
ME: No, Isabella.
ISA: Why not?
ME: It'll be pretty!
ISA: No, thank you.

ISA: When's the next baby coming, Mom?  I like all these babies.

ISA: Caillou's mom has boobies.
ME: That's because she's a grown-up girl.
ISA: Do you have boobies, Mom?
ME: Do I?
ISA: Yes - that's because you're a girl.
ME: You're right, Isabella.  Mommy is a girl.

LOLA: Isabella, did you find the ring I bought you?
ISA: No!  I don't know where it is!
LOLA: It's ok.  It's just a ring.
ISA: But I need it for when I growed up and get married.

ME: Isabella, stop messing with Baby Jonathan.
ISA: I...{shrugs shoulders} just love him.

ISA: Mommy, look at me - do I look fascinating?

ME: Are you all done in the bathroom, Isabella?
ISA: Yes!  Do you smell it?

ISA: I wish you could be a real mom.
ME: What do you mean?
ISA: Real moms don't spank children.

Just for my girl:
Sweet Isabella,
You bring sunshine into my day, and you don't even know it.  I'm sorry when I get easily frustrated with you, or don't make the time for you that I should.  I think you're amazing no matter what.  I love you, and I'm so happy God let me be your mom.  Never lose how much you love life and how most everything makes you happy & excited.  You are my most favorite Isabella ever.
Love you forever,
Mom

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Memory Keeper

One of the main reasons I blog is to remember life for me and our family - at the moment.  I so easily forget things from one day to the next, but I want to make sure our girls have something to look back on when they're older.  We take a bazillion and one pictures, but I'm not the best at organizing said pictures & getting them into albums (please don't ask me how many years I am behind). 

I certainly don't want to hold those memories hostage with my intent
to scrapbook so instead, I blog.

When I'm old and (more) forgetful, I want the girls to be able to see that their mom used to be young once.  I want them to see that their mom was very much in love with their father.  I want them to know that their mom just may understand what they're feeling & what they're going through.  I want them to realize that their mom tried her best to love God & other people
the way that He continually loves her.

When it's hard for our girls to remember, I want them to have a place
where they can be reminded of:

how much their dad & I did in fact love them
(albeit sometimes imperfectly, but it was love nonetheless)
the meals their mom cooked from time to time (that they sometimes enjoyed!)
the things they used to say and do

what made us laugh
and what made us cry

the places we went
the people we spent time with
and the memories we made together

One day, they will be all grown up and have lives separate from ours (sigh).  They may even have children of their own (many many many years from now).  When that happens - I hope they, too, will find a way to tuck all of those memories they make into a forever place
to visit from time to time.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Our Village

They're home!
They say it takes a village to raise a child, and I couldn't agree more.

Bill and Espy just got home from their trip to Arizona, and it's been fantastic to have them physically in our home.  When you add in all the experiences and stories that they've been sharing with us, it's been one big ball of emotion around here (at least for the wife
and mother of the house).

I applaud those of you who are both dad and mom for much longer than eleven days.  The only reason why Bill and Espy came home to a sane (not completely exhausted) woman and somewhat tidy home is because of the awesome support system we have.  It's beyond amazing.  All of these things were an encouragement to me (and to Isabella and Evangeline) while they were away,
and this list isn't exhaustive:
texts
grass-cutting(s)
phone calls
gifts
messages
meals
movie nights
snacks
carpooling
conversations
coffee!
playdates
pre/post-bedtime visits
prayers

Thank you so much to all of you who were a helping hand, ear, hug, etc. just when we needed it.  Thank you for sacrificing your own time to spend time helping us or being with us.  Bill and I appreciate it more than you know.  I'm thankful and ridiculously blessed by the example of your friendship.  Our hope is that we can be same kind of friends to you -
and for you to call us on it if we're not.  Not a joke.  We love you!
(Special shout out to my parents who were readily available whenever we needed a meal,
a playdate, a ride - or when Mommy needed a time out.)
presents from our Espy
family dinner
 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
John 15:13

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Bye-Bye Google Reader

If you happen to use Google Reader to read your favorite blogs -
I'm sure you know it will be no more starting July 1st.  Sad times.

I've switched all my subscriptions over to bloglovin'.  You can follow this one by clicking below

Follow on Bloglovin
or by clicking on the bloglovin' icon in the sidebar to your right.

Feedly is another option:

follow us in feedly

I've also heard that The Old Reader is enjoyable:

Hope you find one that you love.
See ya, Google Reader - it's been real.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Friday, June 28, 2013

VBS: Day 5

Left for Phoenix at 1ish.  You will probably be bombarded with all of the jammed up pictures when we get there, and the phone works better.  What a day!  About fifteen kids slept out with us last night - it was special.  Everyone is doing pretty good.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

VBS: Day 4

Our group is being cautious with the water supply:
If toilet stops working do not use.  Contact plumber immediately.  Thanks.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

VBS: Day 2

We are so thankful for the running water - they are able to use the shower, sinks,
and toilet (girls only).  Thank you for your prayers.

Our group had a good morning at VBS enjoying lots of one on one time with the kids.

After VBS, they had lunch in town at Pizza Edge and washed their clothes at the laundromat.  They also made a grocery run.  It was fantastic to be able to talk to Bill & Espy while they were there.

Later on in the afternoon, they got to participate in a community 3K Walk / 5K Run called Just Move It.  This has been a great opportunity for our group to spend time with the Navajos outside of the church/VBS in years past.

Can you hear this now in the desert?
Woke up to Bill playing "Ghostbuster" on the iPod.  Can't get better than that!

Monday, June 24, 2013

VBS: Day 1

We were able to shower...water is not coming in fast. Water only being used for showers and dishes. Everything else outside.

We did get some rest thankfully.  No visitors last night. ... We have some water for dishes, and we were all able to take showers between last night and this morning so that was amazing!  Still going to the bathroom outside to save the water.  Waiting for the buses to get back and start day one of VBS.

Still conserving water, potty outside, but can shower and do dishes!  First VBS morning done.  Everybody happy.

Day 1 of VBS:

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sunday Service & Pre-VBS Prep

Saturday night
Our group spent the morning freshening up without running water for the service at our host church, Hidden Springs Bible Church.  Afterwards - they passed out flyers and prepped for VBS.

Here are some texts I got throughout the day:

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Saturday Shenanigans - AZ Style

Today's happenings shared via text:
 Good morning!  Everyone is up, and it is 5:20.
We have no water pressure this morning.  The water ran out of the tanks last night.  It is teaching