Thursday, January 26, 2012

Where There Is Hope | A Story Of Us

I am guest posting today, over at Peace Love & Poop! and I hope you will check it out when you get a chance; it is all about my hopes for this new year, 2012, and ties into this post. You can read my guest post here.

The last several years have been hard for us. My husband has worked one part-time, dead end job after another, struggling to provide for our little family of two, while I have bounced from one job to another, unable to keep one because of my health. Our income has vacillated all over the place, and as a result, so has our housing.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

“If You Have Food in Your Fridge…” | Guest Post by Laura Page of Literary Legs

My dear friend and fellow blogger and book lover, Laura Page, is joining us today with a very insightful post about life, goals, and dealing with them in the real world. Here's a little bit about this lovely woman...

Laura Page is a woman, a wife, a sister, a friend, and your favorite nerd-- among other things. She enjoys art, culture, literature, and a good glass of red wine! Her current projects include building her blog, Literary Legs, and writing her first novel, as well as a chapbook of poetry. Laura lives in Oregon with her hubby and her cat, “Kit.” She loves company, so feel free to drop by the blog and say hi!

"If You Have Food In Your Fridge..."
Laura Page
author of Literary Legs

Before I launch into what I’m about to talk about, I should say first off that I’m not a mommy. Nor do I have a high-powered job. Neither of those thing-- yet. So I really have no right to even go there with my topic, today, by all you breadwinning mom’s out there. I admit it. Okay. Now that that’s out of the way, I want to talk a little bit about… stress

Ha. I can just hear you all, now.

I want to talk about stress, simply because I experience a lot of it. Especially lately. If you’d known me a few years ago, you’d be surprised by this, because I’ve always been pretty chill. Somehow, though, stress crept in and suddenly I realize—I’m my mother! How did this happen? It’s the usual stuff—too many hours at work (or too few), trying to make the money stretch all the way to the end of the month, trying to please other people in my life--and just generally trying too hard to see around the next bend in the road before I get there. Normal stuff, right? More so for you mommy bloggers, I’m sure! To a certain extent, I think everybody feels these pressures. But those things have been pressures for all of my adult life, and I was not always so harassed by them. I’ve had to really evaluate the source of my anxieties, of late, and what I’ve come up with is a little ridiculous. 

I’ve realized that I get stressed out not because I think we won’t be okay. We’re okay. We’ll be okay. No, I get stressed primarily because I feel that I should be moving along a certain life track. I feel like the older I get, the more people wonder why I don’t have that graduate degree yet. That mortgage. Or any of the other external indicators of success. Lame, right? I get stressed, because I’m often afraid that my wheels are moving outside the lines of what my society deems “successful.” Because I’m a late bloomer, you might say. 

And it’s ridiculous. Straight up. 

Ostensibly, I’m against making new year’s resolutions. But this year, I decided to make one. I do, however, have a somewhat “loose” interpretation of the word “resolution,” when it comes to first of the year promises to oneself. I’m not going to commit myself to, say, flossing twice a day, like I did last year. Or fitting into the size 6 pants I used to fit into. No, no. This year, I’m simply going to try to remember that I am blessed. So incredibly blessed. Right where I am. 

This little meme puts it into perspective. Says it better than I ever could. 

Well, when ya put it like that…I think all of us are pretty blessed. This year, I’m going to start trying harder to remember that. Remind myself of it more often. I suspect that doing so is going to keep my stress levels down. This late bloomer is going to get over herself and that silly 5-going-on-10-year-plan this year, and savor what life has to offer in the present.

Be sure to check out more of Laura's wonderful writing over on her blog, Literary Legs. Laura will be joining us every 3rd Tuesday of the month from now on, so check back February 20th for another beautiful post!

Monday, January 2, 2012

23 Weeks Pregnant

Not my belly - haven't lost that much weight yet!

My dearest Serenity ~
We are six months pregnant today, and Mama is a little bit nervous about the next four months before you make your debut in this world. You're only a little more than a pound in weight, and less than a foot long, yet you make your tiny presence known at every opportunity. Just now, you stretched and poked your little feet into my bladder - eek! You're going to make Mama wet herself one of these days, I just know it.
I can't wait to meet you, little one! I dream about you, you know. I don't even have to be asleep to do it ~ I dream about holding you, rocking you, singing to you... I love you, baby girl! Daddy loves you, too, and we can't wait to hold you in our arms, and bring you into our lives.
You received your first Christmas presents this year, sweetheart. Grama Cindy and Papa Brett gave you an adorable pink cotton sleeper with bunnies on it. Uncle Thomas, Aunt Kristine, and your cousins, Cinda and Nico, gave you a super soft and comfy pink and white fuzzy sleeper. I can't wait to take your picture in your new clothes from family who loves you so much!
You liked Christmas. Mama sang in a ladies group during our church's Christmas program, and you got so excited during one of the songs and bounced around like crazy! You also loved it when the congregation sang Silent Night, and when Aunt Kris and Grama Cindy sang their beautiful Christmas lullaby to Baby Jesus. I think your favorite was when Pastor Bruce gave his message, though, or maybe when Trevor and his family sang Mary Did You Know? You were so active you made Mama squirm! It was a lovely evening with our church family, made all the sweeter by your tiny presence inside of me.
Mama is going to start your baby book this month. I want to get all of these letters and the pictures and cards I've been saving for you in place before you arrive, so that I can start right in on your birth pictures once you are home with us for good. Your Aunty Laura gave you the most beautiful photo album to record the first years of your life, and I can't wait to put it together and show it to you someday!
I love you, baby Renny...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Welcome To 2012 | Thankful For Many Blessings

And so, my friends, 2011 is behind us, and 2012 stretches into our futures (for the next 365 days, at least - or rather, 366 days, since 2012 is a leap year). For many of us, I know that it is a relief to get the last year behind many I know and love have struggled with frustration after frustration. I have my own share of frustrating experiences left behind me in 2011, and it would be easy to fill up this whole post with woes and complaints, but I'm not going to do that. Part of the beauty of a new year is that it suggests an opportunity for new beginnings - and hand in hand with all that frustration go so many blessings.

  • After three years in Wyoming, Nick and I kissed his grandparents goodbye, and moved to northern Illinois to be nearer to his parents and siblings. It was a bittersweet parting - I have grown very close to his grandma over the past three years, and it was hard to say goodbye.
  • Our nephew, Nico, was born March 15th, shortly after we arrived in Illinois. Nick and I were blessed to be among the first to welcome him into the world, and into the family!

  • Nick and I celebrated four years of marriage on March 25th. Every year, I expect to find my anniversary a little more common place, and every year I am struck by how much more I somehow manage to love him, when until that moment I thought my heart could hold no more. Every year, I find that I have grown in my capacity to love and be loved, and that it is all because of him!
  • I worked for a commercial photography chain studio from April through August, and while my time there was disappointing, I learned a great many things about marketing and about human nature in relation to sales. I also gained a great deal of confidence in my photography abilities, that I know will serve me well in years to come.
  • In the spring, I began reviewing books on my blog, receiving free copies in exchange for honest reviews. What began as a hobby (and a clever way to get books I couldn't afford to buy) quickly developed into something much bigger; I began to host author interviews, and book giveaways, and discovered that I absolutely love using my blog as a platform to share information with other people.
  • In August, I was accept as a contributing reviewer to Freckleberry Finds, a popular mommy review blog written by the talented and savvy Ashley. It was a ton of fun, learning how to review a product and write a comprehensive and interesting review. I also learned how to use Rafflecopter (the popular giveaway widget), which has been invaluable on my own blog. Through Ashley's blog, I met several fascinating women, including my friend Stefany, the author of To Be Thode (another great mommy blog), and new mommy to an adorable little girl!
  • After six months of searching, Nick found work as a special needs aide on a school bus for our local school district. Even though the hours were not what we had been hoping for, we were both so thankful that God provided him with work. My job with the studio ended the same week, making the timing providential.
  • The end of August, I took my first train ride from Chicago's Union Station down to visit my sister, Tina, and her family near Wichita, Kansas. Taking the train was a fun experience, and it was so good to spend time with Tina and Tyler and their kids! While there, I found out...
  • We got pregnant!!!
  • Nick and I announced our pregnancy to our families the first week of September, and I wrote this post, this post, and this post. After four years of infertility, and giving up trying the previous fall, we were absolutely elated and shocked at this wonderful surprise!
  • Our niece, Cinda, turned two on October 19th, and we were delighted to get to spend her birthday with her when she stayed with us (with her grandparents, technically - we live with them) for almost two weeks while her parents attended a training conference with their missions organization in another state. She had a big birthday party when they came home, and it was so much fun celebrating with her!
  • We celebrated Thanksgiving with Nick's family, and we had a great time eating his mom's yummy cooking, and playing games that made us all die laughing. Nick's dad made everybody turkey hats out of balloons for our family pictures, and I shared those in this post.
  • Nick and I found out on December 6th that we are having a little girl! We made the announcement on our blog in this post, and decided to name her Serenity!
  • In an effort to grow my blog, I began reaching out to blogger-friendly companies and social media sources to help me make my blog a more interesting and engaging place for you to visit, and also a source of income for my family. I began writing sponsored posts, and was delighted when I was accepted as a regular writer for the Eden Loves Bloggers program!
  • We spent a wonderful Christmas at home this year, celebrating Christ's birth with Nick's parents, brothers, and our niece and nephew and their parents. You can see pictures here and here.
  • With only four days left in the year, Nick was hired by a local manufacturing company for full time work to start in the new year. We are so incredibly grateful for this new opportunity, and for all it means for us in 2012!
  • New Year's Eve was a fun night of games, food, and conversation at Nick's sister's house. We rang in the new year with friends and family, eagerly anticipating what 2012 will bring.

This new year promises to be one to remember, and we are eager to see what blessings God has in store for our little family. Some things coming in 2012...
  • I turn 26 on February 10th.
  • We celebrate 5 years of happy marriage on March 25th!
  • My sister, Jessica, is flying out from Oregon to see me for a week the end of March.
  • We get to move into our first apartment in Illinois (Lord willing) on April 1st.
  • Our daughter, Serenity, is due on April 29th!
  • My mother, Ellen, is coming out to see me and meet her first grandchild the end of June.
  • Nick turns 27 on July 11th.
Some exciting things are coming to the blog in the next month! Here's a sneak peak...
  • My friend, Stefany, is hosting me on her fabulous blog, To Be Thode, to do a product review of some great scrapbooking software!
  • I will be a guest blogger on the fantastic mommy review blog, Midnight Mommy, talking about some of the funny things that have happened since I have been pregnant.
  • My new friend, Shannon, is hosting me on her delightful blog (one of my favorites!), Peace, Love & Poop, where I will be guest posting about New Year's resolutions.
  • To my great delight, Shannon has also invited me to become a regular contributor on Peace, Love & Poop, and I will be appearing on her blog to talk about various things at least once every two weeks! This is a huge honor, and I am so excited to get started!
  • The fantastic cloth diaper company, Glow Bug, is sending me one of their adorable diapers for review, and will be sponsoring a giveaway on my blog!
As you can see, great things are happening! I'm so glad you are choosing to join me on this journey into the life I share with my beloved husband, and into this new world of social media and blogging I find myself delving into with increasing glee. I hope you will have as much fun as I intend to have in the next twelve months!

Here's to 2012 ~ may it be the best year, yet!