"When you called me to be a Mama, You didn't ask for perfection. But that with every breath, I'd point them to You."

Thursday, August 31, 2017

A New School Year

We are one week into a new school year and settling quite nicely into Lincoln Elementary. The boys love being Tigers, and I am loving hearing about all of their new friendships, adventures, and classroom routines. And their teachers have already gone above and beyond to impress me and make me feel more than comfortable with where we've ended up!

As the big day drew nearer, Brandon seemed to get more excited, and Jaden seemed to be the one getting more nervous. While Brandon was becoming nervously chatty about the whole thing, Jaden was getting quieter. I was so anxious for Backpack night two nights before the first day so that we could see their classrooms, meet their teachers... and start to make that school building our home away from home.

It had been two years since we had gotten them new backpacks, and it was definitely time. While Jaden preferred a plain black bag, Brandon picked out a new Star Wars backpack - one that lights up in the back when he walks!

Backpack night was a success - especially when Brandon saw that he has his very own locker with a red Tiger paw on it - his favorite color!

And just as in previous years, when the first day of school came, I had anxious butterflies in my tummy - maybe even more so than the kids! Something about starting a brand new chapter and opening a door to a brand new year always makes me a little nervous and excited. I set my alarm extra early, we went to Village Inn for our traditional first day of school breakfast - and then headed to school a bit early in order to beat the rush, grab a good parking spot, and spend some time figuring out where the heck they are supposed to go when they show up every morning!

Right away the boys discovered something to love about their new school. Whereas they used to have go straight into their classrooms at the old school, at Lincoln they get to spend some time outside on the playgrounds before the bell rings. Brandon was so brave at drop-off. We found Mrs. Witt on the East playground, she gave him the warmest of welcomes, he gave me a super tight hug and then bravely marched off with his teacher so she could show him where to line up when the bell would eventually ring.

Jaden and I then walked over to the West playground - the playground designated for the older grades, found Mr. Rhoads, said our goodbyes... and that was that. They were quiet but courageous, and I just couldn't wait to see them later that afternoon.

And now that we're six days into the school year, we have nothing but positives to report. They have both eased into new friendships and a comfort-ability in their new home. I love our new routine in the morning - heading outside together to sit on the front deck, read our daily devotion, and wait for the bus to pull up right in front of our house. What a blessing that is! Their teachers are excellent communicators, have been so caring and helpful in our newness, and have already fallen in love with our boys, it seems! We were only a few hours into the first day of school when I received an e-mail from Mrs. Witt about how much of a sweetheart Brandon is and how happy she is to have him. And Mr. Rhoads shared with me that another teacher in the school told him he needed to request to have Jaden in his class as soon as the teachers found out we were moving into the school district earlier this summer. Jaden's classroom is decked out entirely in super hero and UNI Panther decor, and Brandon loves all the new books in the school library.

Proud of them!

Monday, August 28, 2017


"a portrait of each of my children, once each week, in 2017"

Jaden: You were not at all ready for a new school year to start but seem to be enjoying 4th grade, your male teacher... and just as I expected, have had no problems making new friends and enjoying your recess time! ;) In addition to your new school and classmates, you've joined a new football team, and we're all enjoying meeting new people and developing new friendships. What a crazy season of life it's been over the last several months!

Brandon: 2nd grade started off well for you, too. The only other kid you knew in your grade at Lincoln turned out to be in your class with you - and Mrs. Witt put your desks right next to each other! You have your own locker, got to check a library book out on the very first day - and already had to give you first presentation in front of your classmates! Your homework was to fill a small bag with four or five things that showcase who you are, what your family is like... and what your hobbies are. You told me you weren't even nervous presenting your items to your brand new classmates, and I was so proud with how bravely and positively you approached your very first day. It's been an exhausting week, but I am very proud of my brave and courageous boys. :)

Friday, August 25, 2017


"a portrait of each of my children, once each week, in 2017"

Jaden: You LOVED the zoo last week, especially seeing your favorite animals - all those of the cat variety. It was really quite powerful to see this lioness make direct eye contact with you from the other side of the glass, and you both sat there staring at each other for a minute. She looked sleepy, you were smitten... and it only re-enforced your dream of moving to Africa one day and studying/caring for all the wild things. Your mom's not sure how she feels about all that!

Brandon: You little daredevil! While at the water park, you were super bummed to learn you were half an inch shy of the height requirement for the big drop slide. Next thing I knew, your daddy had walked you to the top of the slide, you made contact with the lifeguard who never even checked your height... and down the slide you came right before my very eyes and without a moment's hesitation! I couldn't believe it - but you were so adventurous all day long.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Brandon the Baseball Player

Brandon wrapped up his second season for Coach Pitch baseball last week, and he had a fun season - this year with the Twins! In the chaos of the move and the summer schedules that we had, I completely forgot to register him until the day after registration had ended. We were told he wasn't going to get to play, there were tears on his end, Mom guilt on my end, and then a phone call to Leisure Services BEGGING for an exception... and after about a five-day waiting period, we were given a spot on a team! Never underestimate what a determined Mama Bear can accomplish for her cub. ;)

I just adore this stage of baseball. It's quite a step up from t-ball, with kids starting to understand the game a bit better... and fewer kids pulling grass and doing cartwheels in the outfield. ;) But scoreboards aren't kept yet, and there isn't the intensity of competition that comes later in Kid Pitch. It's a fun and relaxing way to close out our summer nights, and we were blessed with some pretty awesome weather and temperatures this season.

And our little guy is just the cutest baseball player there ever was. I love how the batter's helmets never quite fit him just right, how he'd always give us sideways glances through the fence as he'd make his way to the batting plate, how focused and driven he always looked when he was taking warm-up swings on deck, and the way he always looked so proud running from 3rd to Home.

That look through the chain link! "Stop taking pictures of me, Mommy!" ;)

He is a good little batter, never needing assistance from the tee, and always sprinting as fast as he could to make it to 1st.

This older boy really took to Brandon, helping coach him whenever he got the chance, giving him pats on the head after a good play, and high-fives after every at-bat. At one point he came up to Jaden and told him, "Your little brother's a good baseball player!" Brandon was pretty proud on the way home that evening. ;)

From April through August - not a single week off from baseball with these two. The bleachers start to get pretty uncomfortable, but I've loved our summers spent watching them play. You can always count on a bag of popcorn from Papa Tim, on Jaden sneaking into the dugout to sneak a post-game snack and on our boys having the largest cheering section every single night.

Love them!

Monday, August 21, 2017


"a portrait of each of my children, once each week, in 2017"

Jaden: We found out you have Mr. Rhoads for a 4th grade teacher this year, and you were so excited to hear that you have a guy teacher for the first time. You also are thrilled that Mommy now has an app on her phone that will tell us what you get to eat for lunch at school every day. You have your priorities. ;)

Brandon: You will have Mrs. Witt for a teacher in 2nd grade, and we are so happy that your friend Kenley from Blessed Beginnings will be in your class with you, too! You received a letter in the mail from your new teacher telling us to prepare for weekly spelling tests every Friday, and this made you a little nervous even though you had already been working on 2nd grade words last year with Ms. Kimpston. I'm so excited to see how this new school challenges you and blesses you - you are such a little smarty, and I'm anxious to watch you spread those wings even more!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

An End of Summer Ramble

I've been slow and infrequent to update this blog this summer. Not only have we been incredibly busy, but there's been a bit of a writer's block going on in my mind for the last few months. Not because there isn't anything to write about - but maybe because there's so much I could write about if I could find a way to put it into words!

Here we are just a little over a week away from the start of a new school year, a new season, and the end of a summer that has been full of huge blessings and answered prayers. When I look back at our spring of selling our house and purchasing a new one... and I think about how we literally kicked off the first week of summer by making our big move... it's crazy to actually think about how much we've accomplished and how much we've packed into our days and our months.

And it feels so, so good to feel settled. Sure, we have ongoing projects and big home renovation plans in the works, but we adore this home of ours and love how perfect it feels for us. I am absolutely certain every single day that He personally hand-picked this one out, and knowing that His design and His hands were in on this whole thing... just make it feel that much more special.

We landscaped the front yard and are almost finished with a portion of the backyard. We spruced up the great room, have begun decorating and hanging things on the walls, have put together initial designs for a kitchen remodel and have all new windows on order - expecting them to be ready for installation in the next couple of weeks. We are currently stripping wallpaper in one of our main floor bathrooms and started our backyard firepit over the weekend. We've strung lights over our patio, organized SO many closets and shopping around for our furniture for our four-seasons room. And in the midst of all that, we've lived summer.

I'm so anxious for some vacation time at the end of the week, a little family getaway before school starts... and a Fall that awaits. Our first Fall in this home, our first football parties in our own living room, watching the trees in our new yard change into their vibrant colors, having bonfires in our backyard sanctuary... and even a surprise or two we have up our sleeves.

Home. We are home, and we are grateful. And I think the fact that we get to make over this house ourselves, that we get to put our own special touches on it all on our own, makes me appreciate this house so much more. We could have purchased a home with more updates in it from the start... but nothing we walked into called to us like this one did. We're where we're meant to be, and that's a powerful feeling.

But - before vacation time and the hustle and bustle of school and football starts... I still have unfinished business! Or - in other words - pictures yet to be shared. So without further adieu, snapshots of a summer that went by so darn quickly. We really did stay close to home these months... not really feeling much of a desire to venture out too far.

//A covered front deck good for bedtime stories, ice cream sandwiches, card games in the rain... and watching thunderstorms roll in. I love our little front patio, and the views I soak in while sitting here.

//Game nights around the new dining table and the boys' first Poker lesson on a Sunday night.

//Quiet mornings and our friendly breakfast visitors we so love watching. We have so many squirrels and so many birds, and a picture window perfect for viewing them all. Sometimes the morning shows and news take a backseat to our nature friends. I never knew squirrels could be so entertaining until we moved in here!

//A Sturgis Falls parade and a family birthday party that followed.

//Plenty of room to build Lego's and Lincoln Log towns.

//A new swing... and a backyard we're still swooning over. I prayed and prayed for a beautiful backyard sanctuary, and boy did He ever provide.

//Ongoing landscaping projects, pretty lights over patios and fire pit plans that have me giddy!

//An actual entryway, complete with a big ol' closet to store all the coats and shoes and winter gear. I never thought I'd be so happy to have an entryway!

//So many visitors and unplanned gatherings. It's not unusual for our doorbell to ring at 7:30 at night, for people to stop by with a case of beer or a bottle of wine... and I love how much our friends and loved ones love to be here.

//A golf tournament in the morning and a baseball championship in the evening. They keep us running non-stop, and it's only going to get crazier, but these years will be short, and there's nothing I love or enjoy more than cheering them on.

//Scooter rides and bike rides without training wheels and a neighborhood that hosts summer block parties and where neighbors knock on your door at 8:30 at night to hand-deliver invitations.

//A week of soccer/swim camp with Uncle James and how cute they look... all the time.

//Our very first movie night in our new home. We rented Jaws, popped popcorn, stretched out on blankets and pillows... and imagined what this will feel like with a fire going and a Christmas tree lit. :)

//Our annual family reunion and going fishing the old fashioned way - with sticks. Hey, it actually worked! ;)

//Nine holes on the Aplington golf course, followed by a stop at Matt's for supper in Parkersburg and a walk on the Sacred Acre at sunset. Showing the boys the special sign that survived the tornado - all beat up - that Daddy convinced Coach Thomas to keep prominently displayed over the football field. It still stands there - strong as ever. And serves as a special reminder of so many things.

//Friday nights with the driving range all to ourselves. Watching the sun set over the greens.

//A Sunday afternoon boat ride and a dip in the lake - just the four of us.