52 Smiles: #3

I am kind of getting obsessed with this idea of being “other centered” each week. It feels like my mind is constantly on how we can help someone else or make someone else smile. How can I get the kids involved, how can we do something they understand+appreciate, how can I keep this a priority are all  question flooding my mind lately. I was thinking about it the other day walking out of our church after dropping PJ and Grayman off at preschool when I noticed how messy the gardens were. Just small strips of land next to the sidewalk parents walk up each day for drop offs and next to the playground, they are small but a big part of the front of the school (which is the back of our church). They were full of old leaves, weeds growing already and overgrown bushes. I immediately called Adriane and asked if she wanted to gather rakes/bags/kids and go work yesterday afternoon… of course she said yes!

I always get caught up capturing the kids instead of getting good before or after shots but Ade got some great shots she just posted HERE on her blog so go see what we started with and how clean we got them!

Here is my best “before” pic!

See all of those leaves? They’re gone now!

See all of those kids? Left to right… Ahren 6, Maria 1, Parker 4, Annie 3, Bailey 5, Lydia 4 (almost 5!) and Grayson 2. Seven kids six and under!

The kids, um, helped. For like 5 minutes. Of course I stopped working to capture these few minutes! Adriane and I talked yesterday about how even though we picked a project that was harder for them to help with, we think it will be such a good thing for them to watch their moms do things for other people just as much as if they’re doing it themselves. When I die I pray that the main thing my kids remember about me is that I had a giving heart… I feel like I try every day to live up to this (failing miserably so so so many days) and pray that all the little things we/I do add up. And ultimately I pray that it adds up to three young people (seven actually!) that have kind+giving hearts even bigger than their mommas!

My FAVORITE shot of the day! HA! And I swear, Bailey needs to GROW! She looks so tiny next to Ahren!

The only reason I’m posting this crazy shot of Gray is b/c it cracks me up that in the background Adriane is taking a shot of Maria! HA! I swear we DID work hard for over two hours, we just paused every once in a while too!

Minus the snotty nose, let’s call this Maria’s BEFORE pic! Just wait until you see this sweet baby at the end of our afternoon!


All of our kids were a MESS! Annie is so stinking cute though even when filthy!

We really do love our preschool! And we hope that the teachers walked in this morning feeling so loved! Because they truly are!

I love the relationships I see building in our kids. I love that both Adriane and I have a passion for teaching our kids about giving to others. I love that we can travel this road with friends. Good good friends.

52 Smiles is already blessing us more than we’re blessing others. It’s amazing how that works. It dawned on me yesterday that I always thought “mommy days” needed to be me taking the kids to the park or doing an art project or playing a game together. And while all of those things are great, working together to bless someone else is SO much better. I’m SO glad we decided to do this and SO glad I have every Friday with my kids and the Muehl family! Thanks again to Katherine for the idea!

a day

Sometimes I don’t feel like writing but have photos I want to remember…

Last Friday, a Mommy day, we went to the park to play, watched construction digging in the mud, were so excited my Valentine’s gift from Parker started blooming, painted a box to make a fort, went to the library and composted with PawPaw.

Love that one day a week it’s all about my kids.

52 Smiles #1 & #2

Adriane and I are determined to make 52 Smiles work this year but our kids and schedules are giving us a run for our money! Two weeks ago our whole family had colds that turned into bad ear infections for Gray and Bails so rather than go visit Grandma Berta like we wanted to we had the Muels over and the kids made bookmarks for the library. It was a SIMPLE project and hard for me not to step in and make it cuter but way harder. I always want things to be adorable even if it means more work for me so this time I stepped back and we let all 7 kids create the bookmarks themselves.

I find myself taking more pics of A’s kids because they aren’t photog-kids and don’t hate my camera like my own kids do… the shoemaker’s kids never had shoes right?

Ahren was so cute with his two missing teeth! A, I’ll email you this pic today!

So we felt good that we got that much accomplished for day #1 even though we should have made them and actually delivered them too. Whatever. Sick kids make going places hard. Then last Friday, which is our 52 Smile day each week, Adriane had to work so I ended up taking my two littles to the library in Kirkwood to deliver our bookmarks.

We took them in and the librarian in the children area was SO sweet. She really seemed touched that the kids spent their time making bookmarks for people! She gushed and gushed over them which I thought was really nice and she couldn’t believe I was willing to leave the jar with her!

She put them right by the checkout and then took our address to write the kids a thank you note. Of course it was too hard to explain our 52 Smiles project and that we had friends that helped us so I’ll just share the thank you note with the Muels when it comes!

I always forget how great going to the library is, Gray and PJ had so much fun picking out books to bring home!

Not sure what we’ll do this Friday but I love knowing we’re two weeks down and have our list compiled for so many other awesome projects. The hardest part is keeping the kids healthy and our schedules open!

If you forgot what 52 Smiles is, HERE is the creator of the idea and HERE is where I first blogged about it and HERE is Adriane’s latest blog!

dreaming of spring. and then the post took a turn and I’m now not sure what to title it.

Today was dreary. But overall truly not a bad day. The kids were good, my mom watched Gray so I could get work done, I let the kids have a movie night with pizza, we had a few inquiries which is always great to have a work boost and yet my mind and heart were somewhere else. All day. Hurting. Frumpy. Down. I’m blaming it on the weather. The cold miserable dreary weather. When all I want is spring.

Every once in a while I get a little hopeless about our situation. Feelings of being a burden on our parents (first C’s and now mine) are overwhelming at times. Feeling like I can’t keep up with anything, working all the time and getting nothing done. Praying our credit score keeps climbing and terrified we’re not doing enough. Saving what we can and always wanting more. The financial stress could eat me alive some days. And when i have days when I worry about money everything else feels like a failure too. My business, my mothering, my friendships. It’s like this fast moving downward spiral and the only thing I can cling to on days like this is the Lord.

I think I was in some kind of constant state of prayer all day. Just pleading with the Lord to do something. Take away my worry. Guide us financially. Give me patience with the kids. Help me get on task and stay on task.  Praying and thinking and wondering and praying and pondering and worrying and praying and contemplating and talking and praying.

Sometimes I thank God just for the simple fact that I have Him.

And then tonight, movie night went great. I edited a few family photos. I had an amazing conversation with Chris. We sat and watched a movie together. I got to announce nine families we gifted sessions to.

Ultimately, God answered my prayers today in our simple conversation. Chris made me think about things I hadn’t thought about. And he reminded me, without saying a word to this effect, that he is the best partner and I don’t always have to go it alone. Because I don’t see or talk to him all day, sometimes 16 hours a day, I make a lot of our family decisions myself. And then I carry a lot of the worry and stress. What he reminded me tonight is that I can rely on him. I can talk to him. I can make better decisions with him than without him.

We don’t make enough time in our life to talk. And tonight reminded me just how important it is.

Chris, if you read this, I love you. For calming me down. For calling to check in on me today. For sitting and talking through so much of my concern tonight. For being my best friend who knows me better than anyone in the world.

It isn’t ironic I don’t think, that tonight as we watched a movie I edited images from a day a couple of weeks ago when we went hiking with our best friends. Because it’s one of the things I love best about Chris. On weekends he’s awesome at coming up with ideas of things to do locally. We truly make the most out of where we live. We explore. We play. We have adventures. This was one of them!

This photo totally cracks me up! Like Parker’s head disappeared in Kevin’s belly! I don’t even know what he’s doing to her here! HA!


I’ve been hoarding so many good things in my Google Reader that while I watch the end of the Gonzaga game with C I thought I’d share some!

1. Loved THIS post on Inspire Me Baby about getting your email in control! I just read this one tonight and can’t wait to work on my email system tomorrow because I seriously struggle with the number of emails I need to answer each day and how many I lose/forget/ignore!

2. I think THIS would be especially cute in Gray’s room someday! And I really want a birthday one!

3. Bailey and Gray both have raging ear infections and are staying home again tomorrow and I think I might try THIS art project with Bailey. I’m thinking black/gray/white maybe? Maybe even white/off white/cream or something that could hang anywhere in our future home!

4. I want to surprise my sister with THIS one day as it would look super cute in their playroom! And I want a few other ones for myself!

5. I am totally obsessed with THIS and want it for my kitchen someday! Or a bathroom. Or somewhere in our future home!

6. THIS is a super informative post by my friend Lyndsay and in fact, just read that whole blog!

7. I loved finding out that I was the first blog SHE ever read! Surprised she kept at it after reading here! HA!

8. I’ve been reading more and more about getting our kids+family healthy and THIS post made me happy. She’s a stellar writer and I totally envy her GET MOVING attitude b/c YOU GUYS I’m supposed to be running in a 5 mile run this Saturday and the 3 solid weeks of SICK around here has me on my ass! I asked Chris tonight how embarrassed he’d be if I came in last of like 12,000 people! HA!

9. THIS is SO bad but seriously had me laughing hysterically!

10. I think on Friday I want to try THIS art project too! My sister is awesome at taking a story and pulling ideas out… I need to start doing creative things with the kids again! Taking a year (less hopefully!) away from our art room at our house has put a huge hit on my creativity with them simply b/c we’re not in our own home. And painting+gluing is nerve racking when it’s not my stuff they might destroy!

SO Gonzaga just won and I can stop at 10! Have fun internet hopping! SO much goodness out there!