Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Mr. Frog

I've have been wanting to sit and get this story on here since April. April! It's time. 

Here is the story of the frog...

Back in April while weather was beautiful, we spent a LOT of time outside. While outside we are never out of adventures. Especially when your name is Nora. 


We tend to have several that make their homes in our yard- I love it but Mama's room faces the back yard so she gets to listen to them all night. Ha. 


During a sunny spring day, Nora found a frog and was able to catch him. This is always her goal but not always possible. This guy seemed to stand out from the rest she had caught and played with. This guy was quickly her buddy. She played with him ALL day.

She loooooooooved him. 

The next morning while I was sitting outside and the kids were playing, Nora came skipping over. "Mommy, do you want to say good morning to my pet frog?"

"Of course I do!" I responded. 

The joy was bubbling out of her as she opened her bug catcher cage and dug between some leaves and mulch she had stuck in there and pulled out her friend. 

There's not a way to type out the sound that leaked from my mouth. 

Kind of like...a gasp...a shriek...with a yell mixed in. 

Between her fingers was the stiffest and driest frog. 

"He's DEAD!!"  came out with the awful shrieky noise. 

I definitely could have handled that moment...with a little more grace. 

Instantly her little face sunk and the tears came hot and fast.

"My friend is dead?!" 

so. many. more. tears.

The gentle mommy in me kicked in and I brought her over to one of the flower beds and dug up some mulch. We talked about how frogs die and I laid him in the hole and covered him up. We found a dandelion and put that on top. 

Guys, this is not the whole story. It keeps going...

Fast forward a few days.

Every Thursday night we host our community group. I absolutely love it. How this usually looks is the first hour we eat dinner all together and then afterwards we dig in to discussing scripture. Some nights we linger a little and this was one of them. We had finished dinner and had moved onto ice cream. The kids were all running around the back yard exploring and playing. The adults were gathered around the table talking and sharing stories. Our friend September was visiting from Washington so it was extra special. 

Nora walks up to the table and plops a quart size bag full of muddy water down...amongst our dessert. 

"Uh...what's that?"

Nora's friend Bella is standing next to her with a funny grin. 

"My frog just needed water to come back to life!" 

"Nora...what's in the bag?"

I'm asking with a little bit of confusion...and a little fear.

"My frog!"

This was a thrilling moment for her. 

Courtney asked her if she had dug up the frog...

Nora said yes...

Courtney asked "by yourself?" 

Nora said yes...

"I used my hands!"

Please try to picture this.

My kid. 

She was about to turn 4. 

She collected muddy water in a bag and went and dug up a frog that had been buried for a few days...with her hands and then put it in the bag to bring it back to life. 

It was dry, so why not give it water?

We all laughed so hard. 

I'm pretty sure I laughed for weeks. 

He was not buried again. 

He was thrown...

...over the fence and into the woods.

I'm not sure anyone ate anymore ice cream.



This girl.

You guys, I didn't know before becoming a mommy how easy it is and how often the questions come loaded with doubt as a mom. 

There are so many "am I messing this up?" questions that come, and it's sometimes hard to battle. You here people say things to help make the doubt not seem not so harsh until you read an article about all the things parents these days are doing wrong...and it all comes back.

Often I remind myself that I love Jesus and because of that, I live in the freedom of grace that covers all of the things I am messing up while knowing that Jesus loves her more than I do...and ultimately, she belongs to Him. 

But...the worry and doubt come. 

I have been trying to be very intentional with Nora about her character. I want to make sure as she grows that I'm not super focused how she does in whatever sports she plays, or how good her grades are and all that she learns and knows.

I want to help her grow and mature in her character and her strengths as she becomes the woman God has designed her to be-I want that to be the center and focal point in all that we do. 

This morning I had a conference with her preschool teacher. It was for the purpose to discuss if we should wait a year for Kindergarten or go ahead and send her. She did really really good on the school work part which of course was so fun to see and hear about. I love getting to hear that she's always excited to learn, especially because I see that too. 

The best part of this morning and what has stuck with me today are the things the teacher talked about with Nora's character.

She talked about how she's compassionate and kind. How she's really funny and confident and strong. 

My heart swells. 
 I can sit and spend hours with flash cards (let's be real...I really couldn't. Ha.) and teach her facts about things and how to figure out counting and reading, but I can't spend hours pounding into her good character. 

That comes with prayer. With being intentional. With a life at home that can be really challenging but allowing our family to be thankful for who Jesus is through it. 

It's not me who gets the sticker for the good job of all that I've taught her. 

It's Jesus that I can praise because of how good He is.

There's a brokenness in our family that so often I tend to fear the affect of it...but we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.

He knew before the accident happened that Nora would be a part of our lives and that she would grow and live in a home with brain injury...and that He was going to use her in big ways for His glory.

I am so thankful.

I'm thankful for the gift she is to our family. 

Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Next Right Thing.

January has been fun so far. :)

Nora started off the year ready to adventure! See that bug catcher? There's a centipede in there. It's been in there since October...and it's still her pet. She hasn't tried to take him out (thankfully!) she just keeps loading leaves for him to eat. 

This reminds me I still need to tell you about the frog story. I will do this next post!

Cale's first practice of 2019 he played as goalie for his team!!! He did SO good for his first time. It's going to take some learning. With anyone it would of course, but change is hard for him and it's just going to take time. He had started to get frustrated and on the way home as I talked through it with him, I realized on our way to practice I should have had a conversation about more than what I had. Learning for me too! Ha! I think this could be really good for him...

Friends from community group went out with me for a birthday dinner. So fun :)  

Easton has had a cold this week, so we stayed home a lot more and spent a morning making cookies...that Nora wouldn't touch! Silly girl. Guys, this girl is not just picky...she's like, to the max. I'm praying through what our next plan needs to be. It's been for about 3 years that we have struggled and tried everything everyone has told us to try. It has been so hard. I know we're not alone in this! 

And don't worry, we didn't share our cookies and spread germs! ;)

We've had some beautiful weather and have taken some walks and played outside. Nora and I went out just the two of us and I always always love time with her when it can be just us. She has so much to say and so many thoughts. I try to often remind myself to pause and take time to listen. 

One day this week we had been outside visiting with friends and it was pretty cold. When it was time to go, I was getting her buckled in her seat and she loudly announces, "I'm so cold, even my bacteria is cold!" 

She insisted on doing her own make up because my niece is getting married and asked Nora to be her flower girl! Nora is SO excited!!!! She told me she needed to do her make up to practice for being a flower girl. It was so sweet. 

She was also the only kid in her preschool class that wouldn't try green eggs & ham!! NOT a surprise speaking of her terrible eating...

Her teacher did say she at least was polite about it! Haha. 

Speaking of school...

Yesterday I turned in the registration for Easton to start preschool in the fall and then went and did the paperwork for Nora to start Kindergarten. OH. MY. WORD. 

"They" say it goes fast. Ya'll it is beyond fast. 

My friend is having a baby and today we had a gender reveal party. This was so so so special for me and I'm SO thankful she let me host it and be part of all the celebrating. My kiddos enjoyed having their friends over as well! I did not get a picture with her which is a HUGE bummer! 

Later today I went on a birthday hike with some other friends! This was amazing and I want to do it again and again. These three ladies are definitely some of my favorite people. I enjoyed the 8 miles so much! 


That's a quick catch up! :) 

One thing that I've been pondering recently is "do the next right thing" 

I'm doing a bible study and after a break for the holidays we met again the other day. In part of the study these words were printed as it talked about David during the time he was running from Saul. 

There is so much uncertainty. There's often a circumstance I'm not sure how to respond to or a situation I'm not sure what my part in it needs to be. 

Things can be hectic or just full because life is full when kiddos are needing lots of attention. There are conversations I need to have with Cale or wish I could have with him. 

There are plans that need to made and things that need to be figured out.

Or...there's just a whole lot of waiting going on...

If I with a heart of surrender, choose to do the next right thing, God is God and He will continue to lead and guide me. The big things no longer seem as big when my lense can focus on the next thing, and not the next 10 things. 

It changes where my focus is. 

I encourage you today to work on doing the next right thing...and then the next...and then the next. 

Friday, January 4, 2019

Thirty Two.

I've done this before for Cale and thought it would be fun for me to do as well! 

I'm a few days late but I just celebrated my birthday! It actually wasn't the greatest day...but that's ok! Tomorrow will be a fun day :) 

Here are 32 things I love. Not in any order other than how they come to mind. 

1. Jesus. I mean, I truly wouldn't be able to start this list any other way. 

2. Getting to be Cale's wife. I'm so thankful.

3. Being a mommy. It's hard guys, but so so so good. 

4. I love that Mama lives with us. This also can have its challenges, but she is amazing and sacrifices so much for us. 

4. Eating really good flavorful food. I used to enjoy cooking but I will say, at least in this season of life, I extra love eating really good flavorful food that was made for me. Ha. 

5. Birthdays. I really love celebrating other peoples birthdays. It's such a special day! 

6. Yummy coffee. Sweet yummy coffee.

7. I have a new love for tea. I'm starting to really enjoy a warm cozy cup.

8. Friends. Oh so much! Friendship is the BEST gift. 

9. Going out for ice cream. Sitting at home having ice cream is enjoyable of course, but I would much rather go out and experience getting to look at all the different kinds and struggling to decide which flavor I'm going to choose. I also really love those big waffle cones. Yum.

10. When Easton comes running for a kiss after he gets hurt. He usually isn't even hurt, but that bump feels 100% better after a kiss. 

11. Traveling. I love home and coming back to home but since I was young, I've loved traveling. 

12. Being around my brothers and sisters. Guys, they are cray cray sometimes...or all of the time, but I love them so much. They pick on me and drive me crazy but they also make me feel cared for. 

13. Listening to Nora tell me about something she's really excited about. She talks faster than her brain organizes what she needs to say and her hands start moving all over the place...kind of like me. Haha. 

14. Easton's smile. Man, when he flashes those dimples...

15. Taking walks. I am not one to go for walks by myself. Really I don't do too many things by myself-ha! Walks with the kids or a friend is always a great time. 

16. HAPPY mail! I love getting mail. At Christmas time, I'm like a kid waiting for the mailman to deliver Christmas cards to us. Mama may have teased me a little this last Christmas...

17. Pregnant belly bumps and all the thrills of pregnancy. I rub bellies. I'm guilty. I also awkwardly stare at women's bellies as I walk by them. I can't help it! I love everything pregnancy and birth related. Weird. I know. 

18. I love having people over and walking into another room and listening to the conversation and laughter. It makes my heart sore. 

19. I love when Nora is first waking up and stretches. Her hair is usually stuck to her little face and she has the print of her blankie across her cheek. 

20. Giftcards. I mean, doesn't everyone love these?

21. SUN. I love sunshine and if I lived in an area with little of it-I would die. 

22. I love when Cale cracks himself up. He makes this face and almost has this silent laugh at first until this noise comes out. I usually end up laughing because he's laughing. 

23. Running errands with Mama. It's quite interesting right now with Easton doing gymnastic moves in the grocery cart BUT I still enjoy her being with me. 

24. RUNNING. I actually really love it. I love that I don't have to be competitive. I can just run. Or I can push myself. I love feeling my feet take turns hitting the pavement. 

25. I love listening to Audio books while I run. I know there are some that think I'm crazy but I loooooove it. I love that I can drive around and sometimes remember a part of a book I was listening to on a run in that spot. 

26. I love when people are telling you something from their heart and they start to get tears in their eyes. 

27. I love when someone will tell me God was laying me on their heart and they prayed for me. Isn't that actually such a cool thing?! One that God put my name on their heart and then that they took the time to pray for me! I love so much when someone takes the time to pray for me-or Cale or my family. 

28. That feeling after I get my hair cut. It feels so fresh and new.

29. Podcasts. I will say, I was late to the game but now that I've discovered them and have listened to many, I love them. 

30. I love Christmas time! 

31. I love cozy sweats and a good movie. 

32. Hmm...last one I'll say is, going to hockey games with Cale. He just really loves the game and over the years I've come to love the game which makes it so fun. Oooh. I'll also add watching Cale get to play sled hockey. It does something to the heart. 

I could keep going but...that'll come on a different year! 

I also love all of you that take the time to read this blog and the words I type. 

Happy late birthday to me! 

Monday, December 31, 2018

Goodbye 2018

I have a lot of words...I could say...but in hopes to keep this short, I will just blast you with pictures of our last year. 


We actually got quite a bit of snow. Enough that it stayed for several days and we went to a friends house and sled down their hill! 

We had some of Nora's friends over for a pancake breakfast.

My brother and SIL came over and we had a fancy surprise dinner for their anniversary. Mama was the chef, Cale was the -whatever the title is for the guy with the towel over his arm-, I was the waitress and my niece and Nora were the dinner entertainment :)

We played in mud with friends...always a good time!

Cale and I had the creepiest looking date night...soft faces afterwards though! 

I saw Hannah. Magical. 

We painted for a date and I imagined that we'd paint something together but Cale picked out the poop emoji coffee, I painted a bowl. :)

Cale, Nora & I chased the big super moon. 


Nora's preschool dance :)  I love that the dance is for the whole family so I get to be there too! 

...the race...that...didn't happen. 

My sweet niece turned 12! Also...just look how tiny E was!!! 

We went on a hunt around town for a dinosaur- found him! 

Hurricanes game! 

We had some of Nora's friends over for a Galentine's Party

Temarie and I went to an Ellie Holcomb concert

Matching V-Day shirts! 

Park date with Ella

Date with Juliet

Courtney and I took our girlies to see gymnastics at NC State


Mr. & Mrs. went on a trip to TEXAS! 

Lots of park days with beautiful weather

Nora's choice of outfit to wear to the grocery store with Mommy. 

Dino's! Lots of dino's!! 

I ran my fastest 13.1 miles. 

Easton and I went to Washington together. Such a GREAT trip! 

Friends over to color eggs :)

Ice cream date with friends!

We had a lazy silly afternoon.


Easter with bunny ears and Courtney made the BEST pie...that I think about all of the time! 

We went to the beach with family and had a blast!

We went to the Azalea Gardens, which was a fail. They hadn't quite bloomed yet so the kids were not interested. We did walk to NC State for ice cream though! 

Nora met a unicorn. 

Auntie Ber came to town and spoiled us all! Lots and lots of adventures were had! 

The kids and I had a date downtown. It gets pretty...uh...entertaining with two! 

This frog. I have a story that I will maybe post about next. Like, you really need to know this story. 

Cale helping at the food pantry! 


We finished up our visit with Auntie Ber. We were ALL sooooo sad when she left. 

We celebrated Nora's 4th birthday! Since the previous August, she had been planning her birthday and all she wanted to do was go kayaking with her friends. Well, that was the plan but when we showed up, the park said their double kayaks weren't ready. Waaaaah! Our friends were great sports and we settled for paddle boats instead. 

A dinosaur showed up which kind of made the birthday perfect for her. :)

A date with little man.

Mother's Day!

We saved a turtle from the street. Nora still talks about trying to find another one to save.

My first piano recital! I started lessons in January! 


The feel of summer had started! 

We camped! With friends in their backyard. Wild and so fun.

We went to a fairy hair party. Both of ours fell out pretty quickly.

Nora started swim lessons so we had lots of days by the pool.

Cale kissed kale!


We went to the beach with friends! 

We took a trip to Busch Gardens with family. This was such a fuuuuun trip. Loved it all! 

Went to a disney princess birthday party. As you can see, Nora was the unicorn. Haha. 

We had a YAY for SUMMER party for Nora's friends. We have an above ground pool that was having issues so my sweet friend let us borrow her pool! 

Nora enjoying karate

Easton enjoying yogurt.

We went on Leanne's boat and Nora went tubing! 

4th of July parade. I was flying solo with the kiddos but then we all went to Leanne's after to SWIM.

We went to a sunflower field. With fairy wings of course.

Nora had a special ice cream date! 

We visited a goat farm :)


"Nora, what toppings would you like for your pizza? Pick anything you want..."

Carly came to visit and we had lots of fun! 

I got to see Hannah again...magical.

We got to tour the PNC Arena where the Hurricane's play! 

We finished our visit with Carly and then Nora and I joined her on the flight to Washington!

This trip was a little different. I didn't get to see as many friends as I would have hoped BUT it was exactly the kind of trip my heart needed. I snuggled a baby every chance I could get and took time to pause, think and pray. 

Home to Easton! 

...and safari with Nora. 

We visited a museum with friends.

Nora taking a trip to Washington did some good for her and Easton. I caught this moment shortly after coming home and they really have been so much sweeter since!


We visited an apple farm

We had some of Nora's friends over for a back to school party :)

We did our FIRST family 5k! Last year I ran this 5k with the double stroller and this year I ran again with the double stroller (whoa those kids are growing!) and CALE WALKED IT!!!! This was huge. I was so nervous waiting for him. He had his phone and I knew he would do ok but I was still feeling like maybe I should run and go find him. Mama at one point called out "I see him!" He did the whole thing. I was so proud. Nora did the 200 yard dash!

We saw our first copperhead while out for a walk...yikes!

A FUN friend trip away & the faces that missed us! Ha! 

Another date to a game to celebrate Cale's birthday!

Nora gets picked to go to the front of the class as an example...she was pretty excited about this.

We had family pictures done. LOVE. Ann who did our pictures also made a video...I plan to get that on here. For now it's circling good ol' Facebook.

We had our 2nd hurricane come and lost power. My phone really needed to be charged so Nora and I went before bed and had a little dance party in the van. Sunglasses were needed. 

We went to the state fair with friends! 

Pumpkin Patch time! 

Nana & BaPa came to visit! We also celebrated Easton turning 2...crazy. 

M&Ms and friends who make your heart happy by joining in on the fun :)


My girlie <3 p="">

Cale had two of the COOLEST days. The first, he was invited to be on the ice before the Hurricanes played. Not only were the Hurricanes on the ice, the Red Wings were on the ice too!!! His dream! This was such an honor and just so so so special. The next afternoon, his sled team was invited to watch the Hurricanes practice (SO cool!) and then a few of the Hurricanes got in sleds and Cale's sled team got in their sleds and they played a game! DREAM. 

Turkey Trot with friends

community group shenanigans

Preschool fun

daddy fun. Haha. 

Date to sled hockey fundraiser


Movie night at church with friends :)


Started off with a very wet Christmas parade.

Sweet friends :)

Nora dressed herself and went to a Star Wars night at karate and now has her very own lightsaber.

We went to Disney on Ice...Nora dressed herself again...can you tell? 

It snowed! 

We made cookies

I had my second piano recital. Nora came up and sat with me this time...she loved that! 

We went on the Santa Train

We had friends over and decorated graham cracker houses

This happened.

More community group shenanigans

Celebrated with Mimi and Papa! 

Ice Skating with daddy & friends

Dates with Nora! 
First we went downtown and walked around enjoying all the decorations.
Next afternoon we went for a walk just us two around the lake...and of course Nora wore her Christmas dress. Ha! 

Christmas Eve

And Christmas day fun.

Went to see Mary Poppins Returns

They spent a morning fighting fires.

Goodbye 2018
Hello 2019

Happy NEW year! 

Love, The Darling Family

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