Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Changes...

Change can be challenging. 

I think with every year I'm alive, I realize more and more how much changes in life and keeps changing. 

Simple things like:
what foods I like...what foods Cale adds to his list of foods he doesn't like...or which foods my kids will choose to eat for the day...
what clothes are in style
which parenting method is best

some change is good like:
when baby is out of the newborn stage (I actually love this stage BUT I know I may be the only one...ha!)
who is president of our country-we wouldn't want the same guy forever...
getting married & starting a family

some change can be more difficult like:
a death in the family
jeans no longer fitting
a big move

some change just happens and is so needed like:
growing up- I've loved every stage with my kiddos so far but I wouldn't want any of the stages to be forever.
weather seasons- I love that we get 4 different ones! Well...depending where you live. 
Friendships- some friendships really stick for years & years but some are for just a season


Change allows for growing and being stretched. 
As I typed that sentence, I totally thought of being pregnant- growing...and stretching for sure! 
haha.

I've typically been one who has struggled and not always been super fond of change. I like things to be more stable...to a degree. When it's change I'm choosing or being a part of, I can jump on board. When it's things changing around me, I have a harder time with it. 

This brings a memory to mind that cracks me up! Years ago when my best friend Rachel started dating Mike, I didn't know him, I wasn't a part of their relationship and she was going to school in OK and I was living in NY with Cale. Now, please note, I was married! Hearing her tell me she was dating him was sooooo hard for me. I instantly didn't like him. And then, I remember playing cribbage on my living room floor with Cale when I got the call they were engaged. Uh...no. 

I ended up making effort to "like" Mike but oh I struggled. Her life was changing and so it felt like everything was changing with it. 

I ugly cried at her wedding guys. 

And I was a bridesmaid...so people saw. 

Thankfully, I've grown a little since then and she's still my bestie. I also actually like Mike ;)

I mentioned earlier about kiddos growing and changing- this is fun but even this great kind of change is hard on my mommy heart. They get SO big SO quickly. 

I have two little kids...not babies!



Brain injury changes as well. Like...always. Year to year, month to month and day to day. Let's be real, minute to minute. 

This is a good thing and a blessing it's also really challenging and makes me want to bash my head. Not really. Well...maybe. 

The tools in my TBI box have had to change and switch out and I'm always learning! It's worth it though...all the learning and trying and working hard and changing with the change? Hmm...not sure how to say that a different way. Haha. 


The scars on Cale's head remind me of that day when huge change entered our life. I was telling him a story the other day about when he was in the hospital and of course he doesn't remember but even as I shared it with him and listened to his reaction, the memory felt so distant and almost impossible compared to him now. 

Change is change is change. 

I didn't post last week because I've been thinking so much about all the changes in life and how thankful I am to serve and love a God who doesn't change. He will never change his mind about how much He loves me. He won't ever change His promises. His truth never ever changes, not through all of the ages. His character has never and will never change.

Everything else in life changes.

God is unchanging. 

I am so thankful.

-----


Also, this picture cracks me up...It's similar to this one...


which led to this...


babies!!!!










Sunday, February 10, 2019

9 Years...

Today marks nine years since our accident. Nine years of living with brain injury and all the ways that it has changed our life. 

We've learned a few things, I thought I would share :)

1. Don't hit trees with cars. It's just not a good idea. 
2. Brain Injury is a world all of it's own. It's madness. 
3. Like every person, every brain injury is SO different. 
4. Humor is the best. Laugh often.
5. Before the accident, I didn't like coffee. I now enjoy it every morning.
6. Do life with people who allow for brain injury to show up- in whatever form. 
7. It's ok if some people don't want to stay in your life. 
8. Asking for help is a blessing to the one getting to serve. Ask.
9. There's a song (I know...another song...) we sing in church, which we sang this morning and I thought it was so perfect as the words left my lips:

In all my sorrows, Jesus is better
make my heart believe
In all my victories, Jesus is better
make my heart believe
Than any comfort, Jesus is better
make my heart believe
More than all riches, Jesus is better
make my heart believe
Our souls declaring, Jesus is better
make my heart believe
Our song eternal, Jesus is better
make my heart believe

The biggest thing as we've walked these last 9 years that I know I can say my heart does believe- is that Jesus really is better than it all...


Wednesday, February 6, 2019

A New Banner...

Many times in my life, I have wished somehow that people would just "know" my situation and be willing to extend extra grace. When I was younger, I actually didn't want people to know. I mean, not really. My dad had some issues, and for years, he was in my life and out of my life and back in my life...and back out. As I grew older though, there seemed to be this need in me for people to know. 

I remember when we had moved to NY and the place was so new. I was thankful for our Washington license plates to give a hint to the other drivers that I was unfamiliar with the roads and where I was going. We didn't have smart phones back then to speak out every step of directions. Haha. 

When Cale was deployed the first time, I was alone in a new town, a new kind of life as an Army wife. We hadn't been there for more than a few months and although I had already started to meet people who ended up becoming like family, there were many days that I was just alone. 

One time I had driven into the town that was nearby, like 25 minutes to the Walmart? I was walking through the aisles aimlessly. I didn't want to just go back to an empty home. I didn't have extra money to buy randomly...although ice cream definitely made it into the cart. Tears came. I prayed as I walked, Lord, you know this isn't me. I hate being alone...

It was a moment for me that I wished I had a sign on me reading that I needed people to be gentle with me because my husband was deployed and my heart was hurting. 

This scene has played out in other ways as time progressed. 

After the accident, I needed it tattooed on my head. 

Be gentle with me, my husband is in a coma. 
Grace please, I don't really know what I'm doing with all of this paperwork.
Be kind to me, I'm trying to figure this "new" life out. 

I have made mistakes for sure. 

I've probably hurt more people than I'd like to ever know after not returning calls or emails like I had meant to do or had to cancel more get togethers than I would have wanted to. 

I need forgiveness flowing freely from those in my life. 

It's been a long time into this journey and I am still often failing at keeping in touch like I wish.

My emotions are a little more rocky and unstable than I would like them to be.  

I wish I had a sign for Cale. 

In fact, something just happened today and I could feel myself getting fired up wondering how I could possibly protect him from negativity when people just don't understand. 

My first time realizing that people may look at him differently happened when I was pregnant with Nora. We had gone to a Barnes and Noble as part of our date. We were going to try to find a book that Cale could read to her. I went to the bathroom, probably my 100th time peeing that night and when I was walking out, I overheard two girls who were walking into the bathroom talking about him. The comments they said stung deep. I teared up instantly and had this overwhelming urge to chase after them and explain that he is one of the best men they'll ever meet and his eyes are messed up because he was in a car accident and that he has a brain injury and it's not his fault.

Thankfully, I let my hormones and emotions calm and I walked with him, my hand in his as we found a book for our sweet girl. I've never forgotten that moment though. 

Be gentle with me, I have a brain injury. 
Grace please, I don't understand what's going on in the news.
Be kind to me, I'm trying to figure this "new" life out. 

He messes up all of the time and has absolutely no filter. Social cues do not exist.

He needs forgiveness flowing freely from those in his life. 

Sometimes, I have this desperation, wishing I could just wear this sign and that way everyone around us would know we are walking this life of brain injury out and we haven't quite figured out completely...and we get a lot of things wrong. 

Want to know something?

I think many of you reading this get it. I think many of you have moments that you wish people gave you extra grace. That they would be more gentle with your heart. That kindness is what they would extend. I think we all need this. 

Over the last  couple weeks, as a few different situations played out, I had that feeling of wishing I had the sign to wear...

I'm reading through Exodus and in chapter 17, not too long after the Israelites left Egypt, they had already crossed the Red Sea, been thirsty and given water from a log, been hungry and had manna fall from the sky and then there came a battle. 

During this battle it says in verse 11 that when Moses had his hands lifted, the Israelites prevailed. Aaron his brother, and Hur brought a stone and put it under him for him to sit and then they each took a side and as the battle went on, they held up his hand. 

You guys, is this not the perfect picture first of all of what the body of Christ is suppose to look like?! I could go on and on and on about this example that God has given us. We all face different battles...and we all need someone on each side holding our hands up when we just can't do it any longer. 

So they when the battle. Hooray! Team work. 

Then, Moses says, in verse 15, the Lord is my banner.

This spoke to my heart. 

This banner that I've been wanting to have hanging is saying "Hey guys, my husband has a brain injury and we struggle sometimes. Be kind!" 

After reading this again and really processing this, I thought about how differently my reactions to situations in my life could be if instead my banner that I wanted the world to see read, The Lord is my Banner.

That with it, I brought him honor and let it be a constant reminder of all that He has brought us through and Who He is in our lives. 

I do desire these things. I always have and I don't completely think both can't exist. But am I wanting everyone to know we deal with brain injury or we belong to the Lord? 

I had a heart check.

Our prayer and our hope is to allow our scars, our mess ups, our struggles and Cale's brain injury to point to Jesus and His kindness that He continually shows us. 

We're thankful for the victories He gives us over and over and over in the days we live out. 


When you go through your days, try to think about what the person's sign would say that you're talking with. Maybe they need you to be gentle with their heart because they just had a miscarriage. Maybe a death in the family. Maybe a memory haunts them day after day. Maybe they have cancer. Maybe they have postpartum depression. Maybe...maybe...maybe...

Maybe you can be an Aaron or a Hur and help hold up their hands during their battle. 









Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Would You Rather...

First, thank you all so much for your response to the last post. There is always always a need for us to be reminded that lives matter and we need to be more kind. :)

We have a book of questions that we've been asking each other and I thought it would be fun to share some of our answers...


Q. Would you rather eat snot on your steak or a worm in your pasta?
A. Steak because I like it better.

Q. Would you rather have four noses on your face or a tongue as long as your body?
A. A tongue. The noses would be terrible if they were bleeding!

Q. Would you rather have to wear a diaper for the rest of your life or drink and eat out of a baby bottle forever?
A. A diaper. I could go to the bathroom any time I want.

Q. Would you rather have to chop onions for a week straight or have to put onions on everything you ate for a whole month?
A. Chop them. You get use to it. Never eat them.


Q. Would you rather burn your mouth really bad every time you ate pizza or never eat pizza again?
A. Burn my mouth. Pizza is a need in life. 

Q. Would you rather have a baby that cries twice as loud and twice as often as other babies or one whose diaper needs to be changed twice as often but is very quiet and well behaved?
A. I will change the diapers. 

Q. Would you rather that it rained caterpillars for one day or that it rained feathers every day for a month?
A. Hmm...I'm going to go with feathers. Lots of caterpillars probably isn't my kind of thing. Nora would love it though!

Q. Would you rather have to sew all of your own clothes or have to grow and hunt all your own food?
A. Sew clothes. I don't actually know how to work the sewing machine well...but I could definitely live longer not having to kill & grow my food. Ha. 


Q. Would you rather have the power of superman for one day per year or the power of the president of the United States every day for a year?
A. Superman because he is a super hero and the president can't really do a lot of super stuff. 

Q. Would you rather be Cinderella or the fairy godmother? 
A. The fairy godmother! Lots of bad things happen to Cinderella and the fairy godmother gets to have anything she wants! Except for lots of candy because she'll get cavities!

Q. Would you rather have 14 fingers or 16 toes?
A. 14 fingers because they'll help me grab stuff.

Q. Would you rather be born with an elephant trunk or a giraffe neck?
A. A giraffe neck because I can see more stuff and discover more animals and I don't want to be an elephant because I don't want to make really loud noises. 


Q. Would you rather walk 10 miles in squishy swamp up to your knees or walk 10 miles in snow up to your waist?
A. Huh...walk in dog and Grammy and Easton and snow!

Q. Would you rather be attacked by a bunch of angry lobsters or by a pack of angry raccoons?
A. Angry raccoons they're hungry.

Q. Would you rather sleep as much as a cat does or never need any sleep?
A. Cat in bed (snoring sound)

Q. Would you rather have 12 kids or no kids at all?
A. Have 12 kids me.

What are some of your answers??

Nora's answer to the Cinderella question surprised me! I had to hold back laughter as she explained. 










Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Value of Life

Rejoice-

Come and stand before your Maker
Full of wonder, full of fear
Come behold His power and glory

Yet with confidence draw near
For the one who holds the heavens
And commands the stars above
Is the God who bends to bless us
With an unrelenting love

Rejoice
Come and lift your hands and raise your voice
He is worthy of all praise
Rejoice
Sing of mercies of your King
And with trembling 
Rejoice

We are children of the promise
The beloved of the Lord
Won with everlasting kindness
Bought with sacrificial blood
Bringing reconciliation
To a world that longs to know
The affections of a Father
Who will never let them go

Rejoice
Come and lift your hands and raise your voice
He is worthy of our praise
Rejoice
Sing of mercies of your King 
Rejoice

All our sickness, all our sorrows
Jesus carried up the hill
He has walked this path before us
He is walking with us still
Turning tragedy to triumph
Turning agony to praise
There is blessing in the battle 
So take heart and stand amazed

Rejoice
When you cry to Him He hears your voice
He will wipe away your tears
Rejoice
In the midst of suffering 
He will help you sing
Rejoice
Come and lift your hands and raise your voice
He is worthy of all praise
Rejoice
Sing of mercies of your King
And with trembling
Rejoice

-----------

We sing this song in church. I'm sure you can imagine as you read the lyrics the way my heart explodes as I sing these words. Some as a declaration over my life and some as a promise to claim. Some of it comes out as a comfort or a challenge to grow and strengthen me. 

I had planned to actually write this post breaking down some of the lyrics and explain more of how this seems to be my anthem song lately. In fact, every Sunday when we do sing it, Cale leans over and says, "Girl, this is your song. The one you love."

It's true. These words point me to Jesus and His truth...but as I sat here and prayed before typing, as I always do, the direction of this post shifted. 

Life. 

The news is shocking to my soul today.

There are headlines and posts all about New York and the law that was passed. 

I can't skip over this. 

"Lord, what?" 

I guess I haven't kept up with what's going on. This came as new news to me and I just couldn't process it. My brain didn't want to process it. 

At what point do we start valuing life?

I think about Cale...

He has a brain injury that has significantly altered the way he can live life. He no longer can do some of the very basic life skills.

Is his life valued?

I think about holding Nora for the first few minutes of her life. She was late on her arrival...during the waiting, I felt her moving. I waited expectantly to touch her-hold her-kiss her-snuggle her.

When she was coming out, she was fully human. Fully person. 

Was her life valued?

Easton's birth took a little work. My body was ready for him to come but he was stuck. With the help of my birth team keeping me moving and trying different positions, he was ready to come.

As he quickly found his way through the birth canal, was his life valued?

I have several friends pregnant and due all around the same time. They're all at the point of learning if they have a boy or a girl...or are waiting and will be surprised. 

The flutters of movement from baby are being recognized and the images of ultrasounds are being treasured.

Is that little life valued?

It's tempting to sit in the weight and loss of hopelessness as our country sits in a government shutdown with arguments and fire on each side. As laws to end life become acceptable. Defeat can take over my heart easily, I can feel it. It's a long war inside my heart. The heaviness is real and raw. 

And then I sing...

All our sickness, all our sorrows
Jesus carried up the hill
He has walked this path before us
He is walking with us still
Turning tragedy to triumph
Turning agony to praise
There is blessing in the battle 
So take heart and stand amazed

Rejoice.

Rejoice?

Rejoice.

We read in Gods word that He is the God who puts the mountains in their places. 
He tells the oceans where to stop.
He put the stars in the sky.

He is God and He is holding every single baby that doesn't get to live life on this earth, whether from miscarriage or murder. 

Deep within my heart cries and the tears for the brokenness in this world come but I know my Savior holds every tear and He created life and He values life. 

This blog, my posting, it does nothing. It changes nothing. 

My prayers and my reactions to the pain in this world, they can change everything. 

When we stand on His truth,
when we speak His truth,
when we act out His truth...

It can change everything for even one person. 

We are children of the promise
The beloved of the Lord
Won with everlasting kindness
Bought with sacrificial blood
Bringing reconciliation
To a world that longs to know
The affections of a Father
Who will never let them go

We live in a world where things are happening that bring confusion and heartache. 

I know one thing we can be confident in, God values all life.


Nora at birth


Easton at birth.

All life is valued. 









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. 

Frogs. 

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. 

So...

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.

Hahahahaha. 

-----------------------------

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. 

January-



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 cup...so...yeah, I painted a bowl. :)


Cale, Nora & I chased the big super moon. 

February-



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

March-



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.

April-





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! 

May-






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!

June-





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 :)


Cutie.


"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!

September-





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 :)

November-


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


Thanksgiving!



Movie night at church with friends :)

December-




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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