Friday, July 12, 2013

I Heart Faces Photo Challenge | Summer Fun


A picture of my Hailey Bug seeing monkeys for the first time, at the zoo. :D

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Remembering My Dad

In 9 days, it will be the anniversary of my father's death two years ago. He died on July 20th, 2011. It's hard to believe it has almost officially been two years. It doesn't feel like two years.

My father and I didn't have the best relationship. Lots of drama and pain in that part of my past that I don't really feel like writing about anytime soon. But I loved him and I miss him. I didn't think I would grieve when he died (he was sick for a long long time, and his death wasn't exactly unexpected), He was in pain every single day of his life for many years. and he was miserable. And in the end, he also did his best to make sure everyone around him was too.  So no, I really didn't think I was going to be sad when he left. But I was. I didn't cry at his funeral, but I did cry during the quieter moments in the days leading up to and after it.

For the first few days I was in shock.His death was not unexpected, we knew he was sick, but the way he went was. He was in and out of the hospital constantly because of his heart and his lungs failing. I always just assumed it would be one of those times that he would go. But instead, he dropped dead on the kitchen floor with my 9 year old little brother next to him, and that was it. He passed out all the time, so neither of them were alarmed. They called 911 expecting him to be just fine like every other time, and none of us really believed it when they told us he was dead. I remember, we picked my little brother up from my sister Maggie's house at around 3am, and he causally said, "so they are keeping him again I guess? Think he will be home anytime soon?" Because he, like I, was so used to him having episodes or whatever you call want to call them, and then coming home, that it never occurred to him our father could be gone.
 For the weeks and months afterwards, I was just really kind of numb. I didn't realize how numb until today. I was sorting through a box of cards that I have saved, showing some to my kids, and just reminiscing, when I came upon a stack of sympathy cards. I literally had no recognition of them, and when I started reading them I realized they were from friends and family sent to me when my dad died. I don't remember reading a single one of them. I remember getting them and being comforted that people were praying for me and my family, but honestly it was like looking at them for the very first time. How is that even possible???
After reading through them I realized that it is July and that my Dad must have died recently. Sure enough, 9 days to go. THAT'S when it hit me that it didn't hurt anymore. I can think about my dad and while it makes me sad, it doesn't hurt. Not the way it did before. Not that stabbing oh my gosh, please make it stop way. Not the I need to think about anything else but this way. I don't remember when I stopped counting the days since he had been gone. I know this time last year was hard. He died 3 days before his birthday. That whole week was hard, especially for my mom. One day it just wasn't on my mind anymore.
It's funny how you don't notice that you are done grieving until later. It's kind of like how you don't always notice when something stops hurting immediately. Huh. I wonder if it ever just stops hurting all together? Will there be a day that I can think of him and it won't hurt at all?

                                                                                          <3 Sarah

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A NEW DIRECTION

It's been awhile since I have posted anything on here... obviously. I decided to take a break to think, and make some decisions about this blog. I was trying to figure out exactly what I wanted to accomplish here. I have been dealing with the problem of lack of direction for awhile. Every time I wanted to post something, I would struggle with whether or not it was relevant. I was trying to fit my posts into a tiny little box of a certain type, and I was feeling very strangled by that. After much internal debate and introspection, I realized a few things.

1.) The most important question I had to ask myself is: Why do I blog? Once I decided that, I asked myself, what do I hope to accomplish by blogging. My answers were pretty simple. I blog because I have things I want to share. Not with anyone in particular (although I of course have a list of people that I would love to have read my blog), but that I don't want to keep to myself. Sometimes that is pictures of how much fun my kids and I had with popsicles one afternoon. Sometimes that is all of the bows I made in my last batch. Sometimes that is how sad I am about this that or the other. The point is, sometimes I have things that I want to share. And that is when I blog. What do I hope to accomplish by blogging? That one was harder to answer. Lots of things. I was tempted to shrug and answer, nothing. But that is not entirely truthful. I love that blogging brings people together. It makes this big wide world a little bit smaller. Assuming that someday people actually read this blog, it will help them get to know me better and hopefully, give me a chance to know them better. At least a little. I have a small list of things I hope to accomplish. I will spare you, but they are all basically slight variations on the one I did share. The list will change and grow I am sure, as this little journey continues.

2.) This blog doesn't really have a theme. I am not a style blogger or a craft blogger. I guess you could fit me under the umbrella of mommy blogger because I AM a stay at home mom and my kids are a major part of my life, and therefore a common topic of posts. But I don't want to be stuck only blogging about my kids either. I want the freedom to not fit into a box.

3.) I am not going to censor myself anymore. I did for a long time for fear of turning away anyone who might be interested in reading my blog otherwise. And I don't mean naughty things. This has and always will be a family friendly blog. But I tried not to mention any polarizing religious beliefs or politics because I wanted to be PC. I realized that I am not PC. And this is MY blog. I really want to be able to write about whatever I want whenever I want. And so I plan to from now on.

3.) Which lead me to another thought. I don't know why I was so concerned about being PC for fear of turning away a reader anyway. It's not as though I care about numbers or even have numbers to begin with.... I have nothing to lose! :D

5.) I often hesitated to write anything at all if I didn't have a picture to go with it. I have never considered myself a writer, and I am a photographer so on some level, that makes sense. But it was stressing me out because several times I had things I actually wanted to write but had no picture to post and chose to write nothing at all. Even when it made me sad. This post is step one in getting over that. I am probably going to continue to post tons of pictures most of the time, but not always. Sometimes I don't have time to upload and edit pictures but I still have something I want to share. From now on, that won't be stopping me. :D

6.) And last and actually least... I sometimes refrain from writing because I don't have the most poetic vocabulary and my grammar skills are lacking. I often use the wrong tense of word or drop commas. It used to stress me out. I wanted my writing to be perfect or I didn't want to write at all. Now I don't care. I am not perfect and I don't even have time to pretend to be. My bad grammar is probably very annoying to some people, and maybe it will get better as I start writing again. But honestly, not writing at all because my grammar needs a little work doesn't make any sense and it isn't fair to myself. So just cringe and pretend you didn't see it when I use the wrong word or put commas in the wrong place pretty please.

Well. That's it. I intend to blog a lot more frequently now that I have those things sorted out. Not that anyone missed me while I was gone anyway. Lol. :) But that's ok.
                       
                                       <3 Sarah

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Buggy's First Time Ice Skating!

We went ice skating with the youth group at our church last week. I wasn't able to skate but there were enough people willing to help my husband out with Hailey Bug that she got to skate! It was her first time on the ice. She loved it! I was pretty far away, so I wasn't able to capture the giant smile she had plastered on her face most of the time. Nor was I actually able to capture with my camera any of the hundreds of times she fell over. Oh well. She didn't really seem to mind falling.
This is a picture of Chris (hubby), helping Hailey Bug out onto the ice for the first time. It kind of looks like she is dragging him. Hmm.... Lol.
I love this picture because Hailey's little belly is sticking out. Not sure what was up with that, her shirt fit. Must have been a Daddy thing. Ha!

Here, one of the other youth leaders, Steph, is helping Hailey Bug.

I think Bug liked skating with her best of all because she did more with her. Every time they passed me, her smile was the biggest I have ever seen on her!

Toddler get to wear those little double bladed "skates" that strap onto the bottom of their shoes. I was glad for that, because it gave her stability and she had no trouble keeping her balance. I think it would have been a lot harder for her otherwise. She pretty much just walked around on the ice. She didn't really get the whole gliding thing. Next time!
She really enjoyed bending over and picking up the little piles of ice shavings and then eating them. Kind of gross, but I wasn't out there to stop it so there was nothing I could do. Blech. This kid loves to eat snow.

Poor Alex had a much harder time of it. He also went skating for the first time when he was 2, and has been many times since... but for some reason he has never really gotten the hang of it. This kid is SO much like me, it's just not even funny. Hailey Bug is just like her daddy (anything sporty or dangerous seems fun to them and they are good at everything that they do!), and poor Alex unfortunately got the goofy, nonathletic, slightly nerdy, scaredy cat, artistic genes instead. I was hoping all of my kids would be more like Chris.

He and I are both wall huggers when we skate. He only fell over when he let go! :D
 I wish I had gotten a picture of the three of them together but they were never in the same place at the same time. Alex skated slowly alone or with his friends (I didn't share those pictures for privacy reasons), but he didn't really hang out with his dad and sister too much. 




I have a feeling we will be doing this again sometime very soon. :D
<3 Sarah

Saturday, February 9, 2013

I Heart Faces Photo Challenge | Love

 

This picture always makes me smile because of the story behind it. I got a cute onesie for Hailey Bug that said Lilly Sister and Alex was immediately upset that he didn't have a Big Brother shirt to match it. He made me make him one with puffy paint. It wasn't pretty but he was soooo proud of it! He wore it all the time! The day I made it, he begged me to put her shirt on and take a picture. This is what I got. Alex is such a great big brother! :D I think I need to keep this picture out so that on bad days, I can remember moments like these.

 <3 Sarah

Thursday, January 31, 2013

MICROWAVE SOAP FUN

If you have used Pinterest for very long, you have probably come across the pin that shows a kid holding what looks like a cloud, with the caption that says something like "microwave a  bar of Ivory soap!" We have been dying to try it, so today we did. (Normally I would link to the place I originally got my idea, but in this case, there is no way to know which is the original, so I will leave you to search Ivory soap if you want to see the choices). I had to split the soap in two so that they could each have half. My toddler simply had fun exploring it as a whole at first, whereas my son immediately started to take it apart and smush it into pieces. Sorry, these pictures aren't the highest quality, I was using a snapshot camera. This was not done with the intent of sharing. :D
 Once Hailey Bug noticed that her brother had started taking his apart, she decided to try it too!
The texture is super light and fluffy. To me, it very much resembled that fake snow stuff that you can buy at Christmas time to decorate the little house villages. But softer. I expected it to be a lot heavier than it was. And stickier. It wasn't sticky at all, actually.
As you can see here, it can be picked up by the handful and smushed back together, or played with kind of like sand, once it is all pulled apart. Which was surprisingly easy to do.

Next time, we are going to do this and then put it in the bathtub with a little bit of water. I can't wait to see what will happen. No matter what the result, I know it will be fun. I would definitely recommend this activity for anyone with kids. This entertained both of them for at least half an hour. And for a toddler, that is pretty good!

<3 Sarah


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Thursday, November 29, 2012

DO NOT READ if you are under 15. Just in case. I mean it.

I am going to start by saying this: This is my blog and this is where I share my feelings and opinions. I am not writing to open up debate or cause anyone else to feel bad. I have no interest in debating anything with anyone, and any rude or argumentative comments will be deleted. I am simply writing this to share what I believe. Oh, and for the record, none of my pictures featured here are of our home or our decorations.
 We don't "do" Santa in our home. We made that decision the year our son was born, back in 2003. We discussed it at length and came away deciding that we were definitely not comfortable with it. Both of us have happy memories of Santa Clause being a part of our childhoods, and neither of us had a rude awakening or anything. But having fond memories of something was not enough of a reason for us to embrace it. I am not a Santa hater. Let me try and explain...

We became Christians the same year that we got married (2002). Through reading the bible and learning about our faith, we learned about all of the things that most people take for granted. For example, why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. Most people KNOW that Christmas is about baby Jesus being born and that Christians celebrate his birth. Maybe not everyone knows or cares why, but most people at least know that much. Head knowledge of something from a distance is so much different when you are up close and on the other side of the fence. All of a sudden we got it. We KNEW that Jesus was born to die for us, to save us from our sins, to rescue us, because God loved us so much. And we realized THAT was the entire point of celebrating Christmas. Because God loved us enough to send his son. Because that was the ultimate gift. And then sharing that gift with others.

 All of a sudden we struggled with what felt right for us, and what felt like it was just part of a tradition. A lot of stuff that we considered fun, no longer seemed important. And a lot of things felt distracting to us. Santa was one of those things. I get that Santa has a great back story, and his roots are all good... but we just didn't feel like pretending a big fat dude slid down chimneys to give our kids presents was going to help us focus on what the purpose of Christmas. Which to us, by the way, is remembering what God did for us, focusing on all of the ways that took place, spending time with and being grateful for our family and friends, and then sharing his love with others. Sometimes in big ways, sometimes little. This includes donating toys to Toys for Tots or Angel Tree, Samaritans Purse, etc... and helping with food drives, among many other things. We also try to throw in random acts of kindness all year long, but especially in December. I don't ever talk much about any of that stuff because it kind of feels like horn tooting. On the same note, I love scouring other blogs for the wonderful RAK ideas they share, so if they felt the same way, I would be out of luck. None of my ideas are original so there is not reason to share them.

I realize that there are plenty of ways to embrace Santa that really wouldn't be all that distracting. But it still felt wrong to us. Besides that, I never could get past the whole lying to my kid thing. It just felt bad. I get that the trade off is having fun and the anticipation of the surprises on Christmas morning (or whatever the exciting part is), but I couldn't do it. And by the way, we don't do the Easter Bunny thing either. We kind of do tooth fairy, but I never ever actually told him it was real. His friends had already told him that if you put your tooth under a pillow that a fairy will come and give you money. He never asked, he just told us he was going to do it. The first time he did ask, when he was 8, I told him the truth. He was disappointed, but I had never lied to him. Yeah, that may be hypocritical in some way, but I don't think it is so I don't feel bad. And the tooth fairy isn't distracting my children from any real life thing that is much more important. I also realize that most kids don't feel betrayed when they find out they have been lied to, but most kids do feel a crushing disappointment when they find out, and that Christmas is often a hard one. I wanted to avoid that whole situation as well.

I do a lot of little things to try and reconcile making our faith as big a part of this holiday as possible. We constantly try to reign things in so that we are purposeful in most of what we do. We do have a Christmas tree. And while some say it has meaning to them, (the evergreen representing our everlasting life in God and all that), we don't necessarily feel that way. It's pretty. We prayed about it and didn't feel a good reason NOT to do it. We had peace about it. Every year we continue to reexamine the things we have embraced and willingly change whatever no longer right. In the past that has meant doing things like changing out the ornaments on the tree. Instead of things like Disney characters and Santa and snowmen, we focus on ornaments that have meaning to the holiday. And to our family. It also means we don't do things like Elf on the Shelf. He may be cute and it looks like a lot of fun to hide him every day and surprise the kids with his new antics, but I just can't justify how that is relevant. And it would be VERY distracting.

I would never ever judge another family for what they choose to celebrate in their own home. I don't actually see a problem with Santa Clause, and I do not in any way feel that no one should do it. It just wasn't right for US. One thing that I have really enjoyed as a Christian is being around all of the other Christians and learning what they believe and why. I love to observe other families and see what works for them and sometimes that means our beliefs change because we see the way someone else chooses to do something and we pray and research and it changes us. I think that is how God uses us to help one another grow. If I didn't have a church family that I could rely on and share with and learn from... I would be lost. I would be stuck in my own little world with my own little ideas and it wouldn't be pretty. There are probably several things that we still embrace that would be better left out. Hopefully as we grow and learn, we will realize it and left go of anything unhealthy. I am very uncomfortable with the whole consumerism side of Christmas. I would be relieved if we never exchanged presents again as part of Christmas. At least not store bought ones. But I also realize it would be pretty hard on the kids because it's something we have always done and all of their close friends get big expensive presents, and it would be hard to be the only one left out. I don't think I could do that to them. Hopefully when they are older...
We have several nativity scenes in our home at Christmastime. It helps us remember what its all about. We also have a little Fisher Price nativity set that our little one plays with on a regular basis, but it stays in the living room for Christmas. She is only two so she doesn't get it yet, but she loves to carry around baby Jesus. And her innocence makes me smile. In the end, it's just a little way to celebrate Jesus and it's a great teaching tool.

Starting this year, we are going to do a Jesse Tree. The Jesse Tree represents the family tree, or genealogy of Jesus Christ. It tells the story of God's salvation plan, beginning with creation and continuing through the Old Testament, to the coming of the Messiah. The name comes from Isaiah 11:1, "Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit." (NASB) Each day of Advent a homemade ornament is added to the Jesse Tree, a small tree made of evergreen branches. These symbolic ornaments can each represent a prophecy foretelling of Christ. Other variations include creating ornaments that represent the ancestors in the lineage of Christ, or using the various monogram symbols of Christianity as handmade ornaments.We wanted to do this last year, but I ran out of time to make the ornaments or research it properly, and was too busy planning for Hailey's 1st birthday party instead. The one we chose to use has a family devotional that goes with it for each day's ornament. I am very excited about it!

The original reason for this entire post was to tell you about a movie we watched last night. We watched

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I Heart Faces Photo Challenge | Orange

I love this picture. It was a completely candid moment where my son was having a ball climbing on a huge stack of pumpkins at our local apple orchard, and he had no idea I was even watching.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I Heart Faces Photo Challenge | Friendship

My baby girl has always adored her big brother. He was the first one to make her giggle, and the first one to make her belly laugh. In fact, for at least a month or two, we couldn't ever get her to do it, but he always could. He is the first one she looks for when she wakes up in the morning, and the one she misses at bedtime. With her, he can do no wrong. When he does anything silly or funny or sweet (or sometimes anything at all), she literally sighs, "Oh Bubby!" That is what she calls him, although I have NO idea why. We have always called him Alex or brother. Weird. But cute.

Even though she temporarily annoys him, he adores her too. It started when he found out that we were having a baby. He had been praying for a sibling. He asked me all the time if she was "done yet". He was so excited to meet her at the hospital. Those are some of my favorite pictures of our family. He is looking shyly at her with a cute little grin on his face. You could tell he loved her already. Then, while I was taking her newborn pictures, he couldn't resist sneaking up onto the bed and snuggling with her. It has been that way every since. With that much love, you can imagine why she thinks he hung the moon. These two literally are best friends and I count my blessings every single day for it. He is 9 and she will be 2 in December, so I never saw it coming. I knew he would help with her, but I never thought they would be so close. I pray that it remains like this for their entire lives.

<3 Sarah

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hailey's First Trip to the Zoo


 Last weekend we took Hailey to the zoo for the first time. I was really excited because she really enjoys animals, and I knew she was going to love it. I was wrong... Sort of. The most excited she got about any one animal was the monkeys. And even then she was more interested about climbing the fence that enclosed the monkeys, than she actually was in them. They just kind of sat there and she lost interest.

Part of the problem was that the zoo was VERY crowded, so she didn't really ever get an opportunity to walk around. I was afraid she would get run over or lost. It was a genuine possibility, it was that crowded. Most of the time, this is what we looked like:
It's hard to excited about animals (that are really far away behind bars and glass), when you are riding around in a stroller. Especially when 20 other people are pressed up against the glass in front of you.
She only got to see a handful of animals the whole day. If I think about it too hard, it makes me sad. Instead, I am choosing to be happy about the animals she did get to see. She actually got to see this little guy as up close as possible. When she saw him, she pointed and said, "OWL!". Which surprised the heck out of me, because I had not taught her that one yet... I gotta say, he is kind of cute!
Alex and Corey (my friend's kid, Alex's buddy, and Hailey's favorite person on the planet), had a good time. They just squeezed between all the other people and had themselves a look at whatever they wanted. The crowds didn't phase them a bit. Must have been nice. Lol.

 Hailey Bug never got to see the tiger, which is sad because she LOVES tigers and lions. This is because whenever we watch a movie where the intro has a lion that roars, she gets all excited and roars too. And squeals, "LION! ROAR!". So I know she would have been very excited to see a real one. :(
She saw the gorilla, but seeing as how he just laid there all lazy the whole time, she was unimpressed. Chris (my hubby), says that we just got there too late and the animals were too tired and hot to do anything. I say that's as good an excuse as any but it still stinks. After NOT seeing a bunch of random animals that literally melted into their backgrounds (another reason it was hard for her to see them), we moved on to the carousel. I knew she was going to love that because she loved it so much at the fair.
 She had a blast. Until the ride stopped. Then she flipped out. I mean, full on tantrum. The picture below is the expression on her face as she realized the ride was stopping. I knew she would be upset but I had no idea what was coming. She threw herself on the ground and screamed bloody murder. 
There was no line, we literally got off the ride, walked around and got back on. But she was screaming and crying so hard by the time we got back on, that despite her happiness to be back on the carousel, her cheeks were streaked with tears. I tried to explain that we were going to ride again, but she didn't get it.
So, while all of the other children were basking in the post ride glow, she was having a cow. I got some really strange looks. Strangely it didn't bother me that much. Eh. Alex is my mellow child. :D
 Looking at Corey. She is still upset from her tantrum, but trying to be happy. That's ALMOST a smile.
 I didn't have it in me to put up with two epic meltdowns in a 10 minute span or I would have let her ride again, but one was all I could handle. Sad. Wish she could skip the freak out part when it is over and just  enjoy the ride. It makes her SO happy to be on the carousel. Wonder what she likes so much?
Such a cutie when she isn't having a cow. Sheesh. I wish words could describe how much she loves the stupid carousel. Chris even said we need to build one in the backyard now. If only!
Her favorite animal of the day was the matinee, which happens to be my favorite animal as well. I think she liked it so much because it was SO CLOSE. Especially after looking at a bunch of animals that might as well have been pictures on a wall. This one moved constantly, was huge and was only a few feet away!
She got to watch the baby matinee eating a head of lettuce while sitting in a bubble. She thought that was awesome.  I thought it was cute. And I got to get a picture of her little toes. 
If you are ever in doubt about which one to take a toddler to, an aquarium or a zoo... pick the aquarium.

<3, Sarah

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