coffee talk.

Let’s catch up shall we?

1. Bailey scored 4 goals in her soccer game tonight! BIG NEWS in her little world! And really I couldn’t be more proud of her or how far she’s come. In the fall she cried at every game not wanting to play, now she’s confident, quick and scoring goals! Way to go Bails!

2. Fresh Art has been insanely busy. And I feel totally and completely equal parts intensely blessed and overwhelmed. A good problem to have right?

3. We close on our house tomorrow! YAHOO! I can’t wait to share more info with you guys! Maybe not the address for obvious reasons, but how we’re celebrating tomorrow, paint choices, before pics, thank you gifts we’re giving, etc. I can’t wait to share this journey! And I still can’t believe with just a few (thousand) signatures a little white house in Webster is OURS! So amazing.

4. I have a three year old. Actually, right now, I have a three, four and five year old! HA! I can’t believe my little Grayman is three years old. My Bubba. My Gray. The kid who called Parker a “stupid woman” the other day and threw my mom’s soap+lotion in the potty. The boy who loves to pee outside and took to potty training like a champ but still has a paci in his mouth most of the time. The little man who tells me “you’re the best Mommy ever” and has a special kiss (on my nose) he reserves just for me. This kid totally and completely has my heart.

5. Parker had a rockin’ kidney infection this week and we missed being admitted to the hospital yesterday by .6 degrees! SO glad the fever broke yesterday and all seems well today! Luckily, this time it was just ecoli and not the super random+super rare+super dangerous bacteria she had last time. We love us some ecoli!

6. Buying a house is so much more stressful than having three under three. Give me more babies any day over the hell we’ve been through on this house!

7. My sister is in town and I’ve LOVED spending time with her the last two days. It makes me tear up knowing she’s going to see us buy our first home tomorrow! Thanks for coming in Ab!

8. Every spare non-kid second her and I have been watching THIS show. Totally obsessed thanks to Kim!

9. New favorite blog! HERE! Go look and you will see into the center of my decorating soul. Mmmmmmm. Turquoise. I spent way too much time blowing through all the amazing photos tonight!

10. The stress of our life recently (1o photo sessions in two weeks, one super sick kid, buying a house, Chris out of town for three days, etc.) has brought Chris and I closer together. The exact reason why I married him. Friends through it all, he makes me laugh when I want to cry from the strain. He has been my rock through all of the change lately and I couldn’t love him more. Even though he is sleeping on the floor tonight so Sam can have Parker’s bed which means Parker is in his bed and my tiny double bed which really only fits me will still be all mine so I can sleep good tonight before closing. Whew did that even make sense? Basically, there are too many people in this house and too many small beds! So C is taking one for the team and letting me sleep comfortably.

Everyday there are about a million stories I think about blogging and I have literally hundreds of images I will eventually share. But for now hang with me. I will catch up soon. And in the meantime, I’m off to BUY A HOUSE!

the best dad day ever.

I love Mother’s Day. And I had a great one this year, although as I sit here I can’t for the life of me remember what we did! HA!

But today takes the cake. We celebrated the dad’s in our lives ALL together down at the Allen family lake house. And it was awesome. So so awesome. To be able to share the lake experience with my parents for the first time, to chat with Terri in the lake, to play with Chris on the tubes, to see the kids enjoy trying new things as they get braver and braver every time we go down there. And I have lots of photos to show you guys but not tonight.

Tonight I just wanted to say THANK YOU to our dads. Chris and I both have incredible dads who support and encourage us. And who LOVE our kids!

This photo of Bill is one of my favorites because in it he is laughing hysterically at our kids being silly in his yard! I’ve rarely seen him laugh SO hard!

And this one of my dad and Gray planting flowers together is so great too. My dad loves to teach our kids about things he loves which we appreciate SO much!

We love our dads. Bubba and PawPaw.

My focus today though was for Chris. I wanted to him to enjoy himself, to relax and have fun! Because you guys, this is the most intense time in our whole lives. We close on our first house on the 27th, I start a new job tomorrow at Petunia (doing design/marketing/etc… more details soon!), we have three Fresh Art sessions this week, Chris is out of town for three days, he starts a second grad class tomorrow night, we teach a Fresh Class on Saturday, we have to pick out+buy appliances+paint colors, Bailey has art camp and Parker+Grayson have swim lessons. WE ARE SO BUSY RIGHT NOW I had a melt down on the phone with my friend Adriane the other day and just cried. Actually, I’ve been crying a lot lately.

But I trust that God has a plan and that He only gives us what we can handle.

So through all of this, this crazy+intense+most stressful time ever, Chris has been amazing. Calming me down, encouraging me, supporting me, just being there. My brain hurts when I think about all that has to get done in the next couple of weeks (the list above is just for the next 7 days). And I’m not sleeping hardly at all because my TODO list just won’t stop moving around in my head. So tired+stressed makes me NOT the most fun person to be around right now. Actually, if I’m honest, I’ve been a nightmare to live with.

I don’t deal all that well with change. HA! And God has been showing me lately that I really have control issues. And in a roundabout way God is using Chris to teach me.

Anyway.

All this to say, through all of this chaos Chris has been my rock.

So today was all about making him happy. Which meant I brought him beers in the lake (I hate drinking so this was huge for me) and went tubing with him. He relaxed, we laughed, had a great day with our families and loved on our kids. It was perfection. The absolute perfect way to start the most crazy week ever!

I pulled some recent Daddy photos to end this post!

Daddy: breaking up crashes in the Allen drive-way!

Daddy: painting nails!

Daddy: helping the kids cross the street.

Daddy: carrying tired kiddos.

Daddy: searching for ticks (something that totally freaks me out!)

Daddy: boat driver.

Daddy: birthday gift helper! (more on Gray’s THIRD birthday soon!)

Daddy: with his BFF, our dear friend Kevin MacBryde.

Chris is the best dad+husband+friend I could ever have asked for. And I’m SO glad we had such a good day today!

april showers brought… april flowers.

I would not call myself a green thumb by any stretch of the imagination but luckily my mom is! Her and my dad have a gorgeous garden and it was fun to take the macro out one day back in April and play with their flowers!

It’s always fun to play with your camera outside shooting something out of the ordinary!

Hannah.

We are so blessed to have LOTS of sitters to chose from since Chris coaches two girls sports and we adore all the girls that love on our kids! But one that will always be dear to me is my parent’s neighbor, Hannah, who I babysat when I was a kid and have been blessed to watch her grow into a beautiful woman. She is SO good with our kids and I can trust her with anything. Luckily I had my camera out one day while she was over and I snapped a few shots of her!

Isn’t she lovely?

(April 2011)

my parker.

Fresh out of an early bath, self-combed hair+teeth, waiting for movie night to start when she fell sound asleep. My big four and a half year old who is still such my baby at times. Love her.

(images from April… finally trying to catch up on personal photos!)

I forgot which number we’re on but we’re still cruising through 52 Smiles!

I have no idea what week we’re on or which weeks are the ones I haven’t posted yet but I thought I would share our latest adventure! Our latest 52 Smiles adventure as we tend to have quite a few adventures around here! If you don’t know what 52 Smiles is go HERE!

While my sister was in town last week we decided doing a FUN family activity would be awesome. So we planned a quick trip to the MO Botanical Gardens in like a million degree weather. The kind that makes my thighs sweat and things uncomfortable in that general region. ALSO the kind of heat that makes kids excited to be somewhere for the first 20 minutes and then drag their feet, beg to be carried and WHINE the rest of the time until you get them to the fountains!

Anyway, since we were going I thought I’d do an idea Adriane and I had talked about for months… bring a jar of quarters so people could feed the fish for free! Nothing huge here, just something that might leave a mom who dug around her giant purse only to produce old gum, a paci and one quarter for her three kids (this only happened to me once! HA!) smiling and doing a happy dance when she realizes she can make her kids stop the incessant whining with our quarters!

Oh course my idea was to leave them in an adorable jar all decorated cute but then on the way out the door that morning I realized that glass and concrete and millions of tiny hands don’t mix. So I grabbed an old cup and called it done!

In case you can’t read my horrible hand writing it says, “feed the fish on us today! love the allen family”.

What was neat about this SIMPLE idea? The kids really got it. At least Bailey and Parker did. Sam and Gray didn’t care too much about what I was doing as long as their hands had smelly fish food in them!

The cup was about half full so although I didn’t count it really was a lot of money… so I hope it blessed a lot of little people that day!

Oh… and just have to share my favorite photo of the day…

Samantha and Parker who played so well together that weekend!

In OTHER news…

1. Chris and I get to GO AWAY this weekend! More on that soon…

2. Did I mention we get to GO AWAY kid-free? YEAH BABY!

3. The home inspection was great today! A few kind-of-minor things they found (luckily my dad was there with the inspector the whole time “helping” him find things) we’ll have to talk about but luckily nothing that’s a deal breaker!

4. We meet with our lender tomorrow to officially apply for the loan! EEK!

5. I get to have an EARLY breakfast with a dear old friend tomorrow… can’t wait!

6. I’ve been running a lot lately. In this totally insane heat. It’s hard but it makes me feel hardcore so I keep going every day! AND it’s making me start to feel better about myself! Funny how that happens!

7. Grayson is POTTY TRAINED! I love that I can say that before his third birthday this weekend! He’s doing great with very few accidents. He took to pooping in the potty really well after just a few days or fighting that part of the process. He loves his little potty (that he picked out) but loves peeing outside more. He also loves his peanut (as my kids call “it”).

8. We made a few pretty major design decisions today for the house and I’m just ITCHING to make it mine!

9. WE NEED HELP! Not to move (did you just sigh in relief? HA!)…

9a. Any suggestions of kitchen appliances? We have to buy a new fridge, microwave and dishwasher. Our friends hate G.E. so I guess we’re staying away from that brand but any others? Anything specific?

9b. WE NEED A COUCH. Anyone have one that could be recovered in white demin they want to sell??? Or GIVE us (I could trade…)?

9c. We also need to start buying paint… does anyone know the safest+best brand for kids? Sort of anti-chemical paint?

10. After two years of not wearing my weddings ring and engagement ring b/c I was too fat I finally took them in to be resized (actually my mom was the one that took them!) and I got them back today! I’m so excited I keep looking at them as if I just got engaged! LOVE them.

That’s all I got! Happy almost weekend!

Feeling so blessed tonight.

Tonight as Chris and I were driving home from dinner with our best+dearest friends, the MacBrydes, I couldn’t stop this feeling of being completely blessed wash over me. There I was, in the car with the guy I love after an awesome dinner with our best friends after the day we got a signed contract on our first house with my phone constantly beeping at me as more and more of YOU left comments and notes and emails and voice mails all celebrating with us!

SUCH A GOOD DAY!

Thanks to everyone who has prayed for us this year, walked with us this year, helped us this year, listened to us this year and just been there. Been there for us. For my family. The gratitude I feel for the people in our lives each day can be overwhelming. We are loved. By SO many. It’s truly amazing.

We had a women speak at the summer Bible study I’m going to this year this morning about service and one thing she talked about was teaching her kids that not everyone in the world has as much as we do. She used the example of kids starving in Africa when her kids complained about the dinner in front of them. She even showed them a video which freaked them out enough they totally got the lesson, which I loved!

Anyway, tonight her talk was swirling in my head and it started a thought. I feel like we’re always worried about starving kids and homeless people and great poverty… we send money or volunteer our time or both. But tonight, as this overwhelming feeling of being LOVED coursed through me I wondered how many people have never felt this before? How many people feel unloved each day? Because you know what? Even on my darkest day I knew someone loved me. Actually, I’ve always rested in the fact that lots of someones love me. And while we can measure how many people are starving for food, how can we measure how many are starving for love?

I obviously don’t know the answer but it has me thinking tonight as I lay in bed researching mattresses, appliances and tvs (all major purchases we have to make unless someone has something they’re selling!). And it has me feeling even more unworthy of such great love.

But thank you for blessing me with it today. Regardless of my worthiness, it has been so amazing to have so many of you celebrating with us!

PRAY BIG.

This year has been quite the journey. Quite. The. Journey. And what will forever stand out the most to me is that it’s the year I drew closer to the Lord.

For the last 8 years or so I’ve felt very distant from God. For a long time it was a choice and then it became habit. Then a couple of years ago I wanted to start praying again but felt, well, distant. It literally felt like an old friend I had purposely ignored for years and then suddenly wanted them back in my life. But I felt so guilty I pushed it off. As if to start praying again I’d have to sit down and have a super long discussion about where I’d been and why I’d ignored Him and what I’d been doing. Which I know sounds crazy but it’s honestly how I felt.

And then three things happened in my life this year that all aligned perfectly I guess.

1. I became friends with Adriane.

2. I started ONLY listening to 99.1 Joy FM (a new local Christian station)

3. We moved in with family.

Adriane has the most amazing heart for the Lord I’ve ever seen. Bearing witness to her loving her children, raising her children as Christians and getting to know her heart+spirit better has been the most incredible example to me. She’s also been an awesome friend, but I have awesome friends. The impact she’s had in my life is more of me watching her mother her four kids than anything else I think.

Listening to a new radio station sounds so simple but this has been literally life changing for me. I think one of my spiritual pathways is through music. Which is funny b/c I do NOT have any musical talent, but singing praise songs is when I feel God the most. SO having Christian music on day in and day out, in the house, the car, my iPhone, etc. has been so good. It’s also opened up so many discussions between me and the kids. They ask questions about what songs mean and since they are all about God in some way we’ve been having oodles of conversations revolving around the Lord. It also, I think, was the catalyst that opened my heart to prayer again. I started noticing that as I drove and sang I was praying. And the first time it happened it actually surprised me a little! As if it started in my head without me even noticing! When I listen to people calling in I noticed I would start praying for them, the kids and I started praying in the car on the way to school each morning (something we’d never done before) and slowly but surely prayer entered my life again.

Moving in with family was sort of a last ditch effort to get our life in order. To figure out our finances. To get a grip on our life. To understand budgeting (which I still REALLY struggle with) and credit scores and saving. It’s been hard. Harder than I ever imagined. I’ll do a whole blog post soon about how awesome it’s been but it’s the hard that drew me closer to the Lord. Because we were stuck. We had no where else to go. We needed our parents help ONE MORE TIME (and I’m sure not the last unfortunately!) to get things straightened out so we could buy a home and stop renting. And thus started my daily struggle of guilt. Every day for the last 10 months I’ve had an overwhelming sense of guilt from the moment I wake up until the minute I fall asleep. For making life harder on our parents, for disrupting their lives, for making messes in someone elses house, for having loud children, for getting frustrated when i should feel thankful, and the list goes on. And so through all of my struggle came a desire and need and URGENCY to pray.

All of this aligned in the last 10 months and suddenly I find myself, somedays, in an almost constant state of prayer. Praying as I drive, as I shower, as I work, as I run, etc. And at first they were little prayers but as my prayer life repaired itself they got bigger and bigger. Praying for things I’ve never prayed for, as if praying for them would mean i thought I deserved them. Because I don’t feel, ever, like I deserve anything good. I started praying for my marriage and my kids (in BIG ways and for future things) and our finances and my own sin.

I always find myself starting my prayer time, which is sometimes almost happening without me realizing it, by making sure God knows I accept HIS timing for my life. Thy will be done, as my sister reminded me one day. HIS will be done. It’s like I have to remind Him AND myself that I’m ok with His timing in everything. And because I pray for this constantly, it’s hard for me to truly open up and let God know my heart. Especially because I believe strongly that He already knows my heart so I kind of feel like I’m just restating the obvious. I have issues! HA!

Anyway, for the first time all year, this morning I asked God to give me my hearts desire. I prayed and prayed that the seller of the house we’re trying to purchase would sign our counter offer today and we could start the closing process. I prayed that the process be smooth, the offer accepted, the finances worked out, etc.

SO when we got the call this afternoon that SHE SIGNED I almost burst into tears of gratitude! THANK YOU LORD JESUS FOR GIVING US A HOUSE! Because I truly believe this was all because of Him. We found our little house one rainy Sunday afternoon when we happened to see a sign for an open house. We walked in and I felt a sense of comfort like I’ve never felt before. I knew that was our house.

AND NOW IT IS!

Or it ALMOST is as our closing date is the 27th!

I have had my stressed out days for sure. And I haven’t slept much the last week during contract negotiations. But now I feel at peace. I feel like God has walked with me and rejoiced when I opened my arms to Him again this year. Truly, I felt like Jesus did a happy dance in heaven the day I realized I was praying again. Not stumbling through what I thought prayer should be but just PRAYING. I have a long way to go on my spiritual journey and that’s ok. I have a LONG way to go on my financial journey as well. And that’s ok. I have a long way to go on my parenting journey, my marriage journey, my creative journey… I have a long way to go in life. And that’s ok. Because now I know I have God, once again, walking right here with me. He’s on this journey with me. He was just as happy as we were that the home owner signed today!

Yesterday I bought myself a little treat. It’s a sign that says, “PRAY BIG” and I bought it so that I will always remember what this year brought me. It didn’t just bring me a house. It brought me SO much more!

I will try my best to blog in the coming weeks as we close, pack and MOVE! I’ve already asked a few photog friends to help me document this time in our lives! And I have LOTS of random posts of older stuff we’ve had going on. But I will do my best to keep this updated because I KNOW so many of you were praying for our family when even i couldn’t and that means the world to me. So THANK YOU for the prayers!

WE’RE BUYING OUR FIRST HOME!!!

the rainbow board…

Sorry i left you guys hanging! Not that it was making you lose sleep at night or anything! We actually got pre-approved for a loan early last week and are in the negotiation process of buying our first house! Today I have a raging headache because the stress of putting offers and counteroffers and waiting and waiting and waiting does not sit well with me. This is HARD.

But I wanted to share what I did with that rainbow board so I thought I’d pop on here!

When I finished the board and it was dry I set it up in my parent’s driveway for these…

But then I used all of those to make this…

FRONT:

BACK:

Just sent them off to print and can’t wait to see what they look like! She sat over my shoulder for most of the time I was making these and when I at first had a single color background she said, “Mommy, can’t you make it more rainbowy?” Done. So it’s not exactly my taste but she LOVES it and that’s all that matters!

And do you like that I said “the allen home”? HA! If we get the house we’re wanting we close on June 27th which means we could have it at OUR house maybe! Who knows. But I left it open ended just in case!