Friday, December 18, 2009

A story about how I got to be where I am.

This is not my life story. I won't go back that far. But just far enough to say, I was unhappy. I should have been very happy. We were living in our own, gorgeous home that we had built with our own blood, sweat, and tears. (Now I know the true meaning of that expression.) I had just had our third child, Hallie, whom we had planned for. (I thought I was ready.) This story doesn't actually start at this point, I guess, but probably 6-8 months later. I found myself home with 3 young children and getting out was more of a chore. I found myself without close friends living near. I found myself lonely and overwhelmed. After several failed attempts to make connections with other moms of young children, I chose to isolate myself and sink deeper into depression. It was at this point that God knew he could get my attention. It started with a Ladies Retreat and a passage in Isaiah 58 aimed directly at me (8-14). Here is what I needed to know: my healing would come (v.8) if I look beyond myself to how I can help/encourage/love/impact others, and the Lord will guide me (v.10-11). Stop following my own desires and the Lord will be my delight (v.13-14). And so that is what I set out to do! It wasn't all peaches and cream, but I sought the Lord's will for me daily and I enjoyed a very sweet communion with Him. He directed me on how to line up my priorities as I sought to move beyond myself, and it started with my family. My first commitment was to my husband and my second was to my kids. From here is where I was seeking the next opportunity to serve Him. I have to say, I was a little impatient. But His timing is always best.

It turns out, someone else had been praying for me too. I had no idea. She is a person I had always considered my spiritual mentor and when we had a conversation about what God had been speaking to each of us, I knew I was to take a position of leadership. It was during this conversation that God impressed MOPS upon my heart. I really had no idea what MOPS even was. But it went through my head and erupted out of my mouth, straight from God. The other thing going through my head was "no, no, no! I cannot be a leader! I've never been a leader. I am scared to lead!" I went home to look MOPS up online to see what I was getting myself into!

When I learned what MOPS was, I was so excited! And almost angry, as I thought, "why don't we already have MOPS in our community?" If MOPS is needed anywhere, it is definitely here, where the long, cold, dark winters keep mothers of preschoolers imprisoned in their homes, with very few opportunities to get out in the community to meet one another! Here, where mothers of preschoolers, particularly stay at home moms, such as myself, are spending long dark days at home without the support of friends in the same trenches or adult conversation, many with 3 or more preschoolers driving them crazy! That's how it my home. The world doesn't necessarily understand. But we understand. We all understand where each other is coming from. But many, such as myself, find it difficult, for one reason or another, to reach out and make that initial connection with another mom. MOPS stands in the gap.

As I read, planned, and attended the MOPS Convention (with something like 4,000 other moms of preschoolers, I might add!), I quickly became passionate about MOPS. It wasn't just about meeting moms' need for connecting with each other, it was about meeting a mom's greatest need: her need for Jesus. Because, had I not already known the One who loved me and who was waiting for me to reach out to and rely upon, I would still be in that pit of despair. What about the mom who is alone and doesn't know the One who will befriend her for eternity and give her joy unspeakable on this earth regardless of any situation? I knew with certainty, this is what He was calling me to do. So, with almost no leadership experience and no experience with MOPS, having never attended one meeting, I took a huge leap of faith.

The MOPS group God led me to start has been successful beyond what I ever imagined. It makes me so happy to know that in this community there is a place for moms to go to encourage and support, to be encouraged and supported. Where all moms are welcomed and loved and hopefully the mom who doesn't know Jesus, the One who loves her most, will get to know Him! I am completely honored and humbled that God would use me to start something this big in our community. I love MOPS and I hope that I will be involved in MOPS in one way or another for a very long time.

for more info about MOPS go to

Pretzel Factory

Matt has a few things he will make and they are "his domain", in my book. I have never had much success with making doughs that must rise. Matt is good at it. And more patient. So, every so often, he gets a hankerin' for Auntie Anne's pretzels. Auntie Anne holds a special place in our hearts, as her pretzels were a special treat for us when we were living down South for those two months. He loves to find the replication recipes for our favorite things and make them at home. These pretzels are good! I'll tell you a secret: the trick to getting that kind of bitter taste that goes with the sweet dough, and the buttery salty flavor is a baking soda bath just before putting your pretzel on the baking sheet.

Oliver's moves.

He was an army crawler at 7 months and speed crawler at 8 months. One of my favorite things he does -- whenever I grind my coffee, I always warn him ahead of time, look straight at him with a big smile while doing it, so hopefully he's not scared, he's used to it, and he doesn't scream and wail every morning. So now, when I grind my coffee, while looking at him with a big smile, he comes racing towards me with a big grin on his face and climbs up my leg. Not sure why he does this, maybe just the reassurance of holding on to me while hearing the loud, obnoxious noise. But he doesn't cry!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I love this girl's style.

Hallie loves clothes. She loves to change her clothes. She has been known to change her clothes up to 20 times a day. I gave up fighting her for a say in what she wears long ago. She comes up with some pretty original combinations. I wish I could get a picture of her in more of her outfits, but she resists. She does not like to model what she wears. I NEVER try to help her choose what to wear for a specific place unless it is just before we are headed out the door, because as soon as I am resting happily in the knowledge that she is dressed appropriately for a particular venue, she has changed two more times before we have left. The other day she had been wearing a cute Christmas dress most of the day, surprisingly, and we were just getting ready to go to the kids' school Christmas program so I was pretty excited that she was dressed for the occasion. Guess what we left the house in? A princess nightgown. Some battles are just not worth fighting.
These are her favorite jammies. (With a blazer-type jacket over, of course.) She will change in and out of them a number of times a day and always insist that they are clean when it's time to put on jammies for bed. Of course, she will often choose to wear clothes to bed -- not clothes that she's been wearing, but clothes specifically chosen for bedtime. And often times she will wake up in different clothes/jammies than we put her to bed in.
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I guess I have to play catch up and I can't put it off forever or it will take me forever to do it! I'll just skip through most of November and head straight to Thanksgiving. I really want to upload a bunch of videos, but it takes so long! In the month of November, Oliver went from an army crawl to an all-out speed crawler. So maybe I'll get around to putting a video of that.

Here are the pilgrim's hat treats we made for the kids' classes and the placecards we made for Thanksgiving dinner all on the same night -- a school night. Talk about stressfull!

We ate Thanksgiving dinner at Matt's parents, where his mom could debut her updated kitchen. Guess who did most of the work? (The kitchen updating, not the dinner...that was Matt's mom, of course. She never lets us do much.)

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Medieval Family





I succeeded in convincing Carson to go with a theme once again! I always hate the stress of dealing with Halloween costumes, but I am always pleased with my work once they are all done. I just wish I wasn't so last minute! But apparently my creative juices only flow under extreme pressure! I think Oliver is the cutest Jester I've ever seen! I just want to leave his little hat on him all the time. And he was so cute in his carseat, kicking his feet to hear the bells jingle.
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Pumpkin Carving

Matt's favorite thing to do this year was convince the kids they should taste the goop that comes out of the pumpkin by licking. We were very impressed with Carson's witch. He cut it all out himself!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

For the Fam

I know everyone can't enjoy this, but Katy, Britt, and the grandparents will! I was bummed when I realized that the camera had adjusted when I sat down! Oh well, still worth watching in this mama's opinion! :)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Boys and Girls Club Basketball

This would be Carson's second game. If you notice him, you will see that he's got a long ways to go! In the first game he didn't even want to play, then he warmed up to it, then got locked out of the gym at half time, and was so upset that he wouldn't go back in after that. Nevermind that he was the only sub and all the kids were begging to sit out. Did I mention that Matt is the coach? Yes, I think it's a bit humbling for him. There's no score kept, of course, but we haven't played a team yet that isn't better than us. There are so many factors involved. They are first and second grade combined, so many of the teams have a majority of second graders with a year more experience than the first. There is no time to practice. The kids are too young to play basketball. Etc. Etc. Etc. Hopefully the kids are having fun, because it can be hard to watch! I know Matt wishes he had more time to work with Carson, especially when his peers' kids are playing against us and seem to have quite a bit more skill and experience!

His Own Recipe


The title is Haree Potr Spell. Carson loves to make up his own recipes. This time he asked me for a bit of help and we cooked it. They turned out like Banana Muffin Cupcakes with coconut frosting. I was quite impressed with the results! I totally guessed on the amounts of each ingredient (using my previous cooking experience, of course) and it worked! I would say the only change needed is less baking soda or poweder, not sure which. (I put a teaspoon of each.)
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Fall Photo Shoot

A little rough. The kids are so tired after school, you never know what will happen. Montana was in meltdown mode before we could get to the whole family pics. We need a better photographer!

Super DAD!



For those of you who knew Matt in another time, he has changed a bit! For the better, I think, because school spirit is important! And as Julius says in Remember the Titans, "attitude reflects leadership, Captain"! I am proud of Matt for how much of himself he invests in his school. There are many students that will be impacted by his leadership and for many he interacts with each day, he is the only positive role model they have.

This is his outfit for Super Hero day during spirit week. We came up with it at 10 pm the previous night! (That's not the best role modeling, I know!)
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A Big Undertaking


We all start out a little ambitious, don't we?
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Tea Party with Grandma


Grandma Pam does all the playing with the kids that I don't. We love Grandma Pam! I hope that someday I am as good a grandma as she is.
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Fall Beach Picnic


Matt has been working on his parents' house every Saturday. On this particular Saturday we needed something to get us out of the house. We actually didn't go to the beach once this summer because I liked the lake for days hot enough to swim. So, we took a picnic and enjoyed a sunny fall afternoon at the beach. The kids enjoyed themselves in the sand!
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learning to play together


I don't know what's going on exactly in this picture, I just found Ollie with wet wipes spread over his bottom and a bowl on top. The dynamics in this house are interesting right now. Carson and Tana are playing a lot more together right now, but excluding Hallie, so that causes some turmoil. She really wants to be a part of what they are doing and feels left out often. It's understandable to me, as an oldest, the need to keep the little siblings out of things we work hard on, such as legos. But Hallie is starting to be able to understand and participate more in the types of things they are playing. Once in awhile Montana will get playing with Hallie and, I think, is plesantly surprised at how capable and fun she is to play with. In those moments I see glimpses of the closeness of sisterhood forming and I even fear the future of them becoming a united front against us! On the other hand, I have Hallie here with Ollie for a few more years, so I hope she and he will play together well. That's why I think it's funny when I come upon a scene such as this.
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Oliver and Sable, about a month age difference.

Building a Tree Fort



Carson has talked about a tree fort since the beginning of the summer, but I told Matt don't start one, in hopes that we would be selling the house. He decided to get it started this fall. It's a good father/son project. We have a floor and ladder!
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Friday, September 11, 2009

My Ollie Boy

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More of Ollie - 6 months old


Carson loves to rope others into helping him with his schemes! Now he has it in his head to build a treefort. We missed a really good photo op prior to this when each kid (the extras are our neighbor boys) is carrying their own smaller piece of wood and Hallie is bringing up the rear with a bigger piece than Tana. She just keeps chugging along a few feet behind. She hates to be left out and was thrilled that no one told her she could not participate in this expedition.

Princess Tea Party

I devoted this day to playing with Hallie since I had felt frazzled cleaning and running around all week. It was nice to slow down and worry about nothing but having fun with my 2 1/2 year old. Well, poor Ollie had to get dressed up like a princess too.



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Tana's Birthday Luau

Montana turned 5 during the first week of school. We had a "Hawaii" themed birthday party, which turned out awesome because Mr. Sun shone bright for us and Mr. Wind stayed away! Thank you so much to my fabulous photographer, Joy Jones!

Things I love about Montana at 5:
- her love of all things school!
- her impeccable memory
- all the grown-up things she says in just everyday talk
- her beautiful sun-streaked hair
- her imagination and creativity
- the way she can be a tough tom-boy and a pretty pretty princess
- her willingness to try anything

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Oliver Eating and Playing

Ollie Fun



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Random Pics -- last days of summer :(




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Gold Panning


Hope Camping Trip!

We had a lot of fun making a special trip to Hope to camp and learn about gold mining. Neither Matt nor I could ever recall having gone there, although we've lived here most of our lives and drive past the turn off on the way to Anchorage all the time. The view from the campground is amazing -- across the Turnagain Arm. Carson got to experience gold panning with "Gold Rush Peck". His expressions totally crack me up, he is so wary of new people. A black bear gave us a warm welcome to our campsite!

MOPS Rummage Sale

We had a garage sale at our house to benefit MOPS and so there were lots of kiddos playing in the back yard. We had some sun and I really enjoyed all the action taking place here.
Hallie and Brookie were "tape monsters"! They did this to themselves and then jumped around growling at all the big kids. It was pretty cute.

This is a hole that Carson has been working on with anyone who comes to visit. His original goal was to dig a tunnel, but we had to put a stop to that when they were actually starting to make some progress in the side of the hole. No going under the dirt is our new rule.
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