Tuesday, February 21, 2012

January-February photo and home video roundup

Out to eat at our favorite Mexican restaurant. Lovin' those leopard print pajama onesies (but I had to let them grow on me)

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I love the sweet little sigh in this one. 
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Face plant. 
He sure loves baths. The thing is...I was running a bath for Faith. I turned around for probably 20 seconds to take off Faith's diaper and onesie and grab her baby tub....sigh. Notice that the yellow bath towel was added to the fun. Claaaasic. 
My friend Julie and I at the gun range where we took our boys for Valentine's Day. Sorry, folks, not sure if posting a photo or video of me shooting the HUGE black semi-automatic rifle we had would be a good idea. :) 
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Shake it high...shake it low...She sure has been paying attention when we've gone to Toddler Time at the library!



Why I'm here.

I don't know that I've ever written about my thoughts on the purpose and heart of Humble Handmaid. 

When it comes down to it, I want Humble Handmaid to do four things: 
1. Give glory to God
2. Bless and encourage my readers by speaking truth in honesty and humility
3. Chronicle my family's life and adventures (because God knows things haven't been boring since I said "I do"!!!)
3. Give my family the gift of seeing what my "yes" to God's plan for my life has looked like; and seeing how God has used them to bless me, inspire me, challenge me, delight me, and ultimately make me into a better person. 

Also, for those of you who don't know the little story behind Gabriel's name (and Humble Handmaid's name!), here's an old blog post that explains why God's fingerprints are all over both
"And Mary said, 'Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be to me according to your word'..."                                                                                  -Luke 1:38



Sunday, February 19, 2012

First bite of food

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Faith is 5 1/2 months (ish). I think she still much prefers milk at this point. Thoughts? 

Friday, February 17, 2012

A Dance Party Day

Today has been one of those days that started out on the wrong foot, then put on a blindfold and started jumping through fiery hula hoops. All the while trying to vacuum up Goldfish my toddler threw across the table. Something like that.

Not a terrible day in the Grand Scope of Eternity. Just a day to remind me to stay in perspective, put on my Big Girl pajama pants, and have a dance party. 

Dance parties are one of my Last Ditch Effort tools when I find myself screaming into a spitup-soaked pillow by 9 a.m. Here's what I do: 
1. Plug iPod into the stereo (or turn on the radio)
2. Turn on every light in the living room
3. Put on pajama pants (if jeans are covered in yogurt or spitup at that point)
4. Clear the "dance floor" of Legos (this step is important so you don't step on one camouflaged in the rug and roll your ankle...again)
5. Put on a smile. 
6. Dance with your kids. 

That about sums it up. I highly recommend Aerosmith, Adele, Matt Maher, Shania Twain, and Veggie Tales for guaranteed mood-enhancing music. :)

Praise God for the gift of music--and for allowing us to need dance parties every once in a while.

I grew up listening to Shania Twain. My sisters and I would choreograph little dances to her songs and perform them for our family at home and on vacations. On a vacation to the beach with my parents and siblings last year, we watched some old home videos of those dances and they were hilarious. My two little sisters were hysterical...so sassy. My tall, gangly wallflower self was always jealous of how outgoing and cute and fun my sisters were. 

And now they're both serious students in college and medical school and I'm the one having the dance party these days...go figure:) 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Thoughts on my Valentine

I have been married for four years to my own valentine, my husband Michael. As I reflect on my marriage this Valentine's Day, I am in awe at the depth and number of ways I have grown--and at how much more I have to learn about love and marriage.

Marriage has been the making of me. Through four years-worth (so far) of the ever-promised "good times and bad," my heart and soul have changed and turned to God in ways I cannot measure or fully explain. I can't begin to imagine what the next four years--or thirty--will bring. It scares me and thrills me and fills my heart with peace all at the same time.

I read somewhere once that, "the closer to God we grow, the more fully ourselves we become." In  all my challenges and mountaintops as a wife and mother, I've tried my best to go to God. And I know I'm better for it. Michael makes me a better person without even trying to--it's the just the way God set things up.

God knows the woman, wife and mother He created me to be, and I hope and pray (and am even affirmed ever so often!) that I am slowly getting there.

Happy Valentine's Day to my wonderful husband! Thank you for being you. For choosing me. For making me a better person. For saying 'I do' to our busy, joy-filled, never-boring, sometimes-exhausting life together. I love you. 
One of our engagement photos taken by our friend Conrad, Spring 2008

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

More baby love


Faith is almost 5 1/2 months old now. I can't remember if I did this much silly baby talk with Gabriel when he was this age.

I feel like I can't talk to Faith in a normal voice. I think that's because when I am around her or am holding her, I am constantly kissing and hugging her, so I can't get much intelligent speech out. I suspect that, subconsciously, the kissing and hugging are the closest I can get to taking a bite out of her soft, chubby, rosy little cheeks...

I wonder if Faith will look back on this post one day and be embarrassed by how silly her mommy was. If she does ever read this, I hope all she sees is how crazy her mommy is about her. :)
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This week

For Valentine's Day, I took the reins and surprised Michael with a fun night out. My mom came to visit last weekend, so I asked her to babysit on Saturday night while we went out. We double-dated with our friends Steve and Julie. Julie and I took the guys to the gun range to shoot Steve's new semi-automatic rifle. Then, we planned to take them to Taste of Texas (a famous steak house here in Houston). The guys LOVED shooting the gun (even Julie and I shot a round or two each!). Michael said over and over that this was the "best Valentine's Day ever!). We all had a blast. Pun intended. :) Taste of Texas didn't work out, unfortunately. By the time we arrived, there was a two-hour minimum wait. So, we decided to take a rain check and walk over to Fuddruckers, where we all ordered big, heavenly burgers, onion rings and milkshakes. The night ended back at our house with several hours of great conversation, drinks and red wine. It was a fantastic night!
Michael shooting. He was probably the most accurate shooter of the four of us. We shot at 50 yards. I would look through the telescope at the target and signal him when he looked back at me if he need to adjust the gun slightly to get closer to the center of the target. 

I just registered this afternoon for the 10K race I'm training for, the Crescent City Classic in April. Training for the CCC has been going well, although I've long-since abandoned the Couch to 10K app on my iPhone.  I have been "training" since last October, but I've rarely been able to run more than twice a week (the app is set up for a three-times-per-week regimen). So, I've been training slowly--but surely. I'm up to four miles--but that's on a Good Day right now, truth be told. Winter weather, winter colds, and timing naps and snack time and Good Moods all make going for a run a tricky business. I consider my twice-ish a week schedule to be quite an impressive feat. I'm so thankful God has helped me stick with it this long. Also, I love our Phil and Ted's jogging buggy, but pushing both kids is still much more of a workout than running solo. I knew when I started running, though, that I was going to have to do it with the kids if I was actually going to do it at all!

As I said, my mom came to visit last weekend, and all of us miss her a lot already! She is such a quiet, helpful, peaceful presence in our home. Gabriel quickly became convinced that "Nu Nu," as he calls her, was here for his own personal entertainment last weekend. My mom's name is Lucy, and somehow we thought up the name "Lu Lu" for the kids to call her. This was the first visit with my mom that Gabriel really attached himself to her name. He called constantly for "Nu Nu"--to show her his Lego creations, to ask her for a cup of water, to have her read him a book. So precious. :)

I have been enjoying a mom's workout and bible study group I joined at a parish near my house. I've been meeting lots of new friends and have also been getting a little more in shape from working out every Wednesday morning with the group. We drop off our little ones in the nursery, then go to the gym for an hour-long workout, then head upstairs for a snack and hour-long bible study.

Since winning a Kindle Fire at Michael's company party, I've been reading during the night when I get up to feed Faith. I had forgotten how much I love to read. :)
Books I'm reading or have read lately:
The Help
Letters of a Woman Homesteader
Kisses from Katie
Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence
52 Things Kids Need from a Mom 

Any book suggestions?






Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Thank God for Those Who Make Us Want to Pull Our Hair Out


I had the pleasure of attending another Opus Dei Evening of Reflection downtown last night, and one of the priests said something that really struck me: "When somebody irritates you or hurts you, don't think, 'I'm so irritated and hurt by this person!' Instead, think 'This person sanctifies me.'" In their refreshing way, the Opus Dei priests brought this idea down to the practical level of the everyday person's everyday experiences. Maybe it's a coworker who irritates you. Maybe it's your crazy in-laws. Maybe it's your husband. 

Or my two-year-old who makes me want to pull my hair out on a daily basis. 

In any case, God has allowed certain people and personalities into my sphere of life for a reason. To learn patience, maybe. Or humility. Or self-control. Or gentleness. 

And I love Him for this. 

Because He gives my daily frustrations and sufferings purpose and meaning. With just my "yes" to whatever life brings, in His wisdom and mercy He uses everything to help me grow closer to Him in holiness. He promises that everything He allows or doesn't allow into my life is according to His will. And that His will--His special plan for me--works for my good. 

I am working on thanking God continuously for all of the challenging people in my life. I will thank him more often for my two-year-old. Not just when I'm getting slobbered with precious kisses at breakfast, or when I see that huge grin from across the room, or when his adorable little voice says, "I love YOU Mommy!!!!" I'll also work to say "Thank you" when I'm racing out the door to mass and Faith is crying and Gabe wants some attention too so he takes off his shoes and socks again (I put them on twice already) and throws them and one accidentally hits Faith in the head and she starts protesting loudly and then Gabe escapes out of time-out to get his milk cup whose lid is leaking and gets milk all over the carpet and tracks dried oatmeal and mushy peas from last night's dinner from the kitchen floor into the living room and I have to clean that up before we can leave but first I have to calm down the baby who has just had a volcanic eruption of a blow-out in the car seat. 

Yes, I'm working on thanking God continuously for sweet Gabriel during those moments, too. :) 


Refreshments

Some of you may have noticed a joyful little status on my Facebook page this week about God's generous and creative provision for my family. As promised, here's the story. It's not anything wild and crazy. But it's definitely God-ly. :)

An old friend of mine from high school who reads Humble Handmaid now recently moved to Houston, and she came to visit and brought me four huge bags of nice clothes for me and for Gabe.

We don't spend a lot of money on clothes. It's just not something that has ever been a priority in our budget. But we have been incredibly blessed to have much of what I wear and nearly all of what our children wear just comes to us. We get them as birthday or Christmas gifts, or people drop off bags of clothes they don't want anymore. It was such an unexpected treat to receive some replacements for old staples, and to add some "refreshments" to my wardrobe--and Gabriel's. 

I am thankful for God's generosity in providing for us in this way, but I am also thankful that He has taught me how to live more in perspective over the last few years. I always love a nice shopping trip, a beautiful outfit, and buying new things, but God has helped me to slowly think more on things of God than on what I wear. I've come a long way (I think). Just ask my poor mother. :)
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?                                                                -Matthew 6:25
             

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Is it True? Is it Kind? Is it Necessary?

I came across this on a blog a while back. A fellow mom was sharing how she asks her children to "test" their speech--especially with one another--with this:

Is it True? Is it Kind? Is it Necessary? 

I definitely need to work on all three of these in my own speech...especially the necessary part.

I was shy and fairly quiet for much of my early years and into college. When I said something in a group, I generally tried to at least have something substantial to say most of the time.

Not that I'm a huge talker these days, but my speech is definitely much more "loose" and chatty than it used to be. Too often I find myself saying unecessary things: over-explaining myself, going off on unhelpful tangents, giving my opinions un-prompted...simply saying things that are not necessary or helpful or illuminating or edifying.

I do this in my marriage (And oh how the unnecessary can be just as harmful to good marital communication as something untrue or unkind!).

I do this with my friends, family and acquaintances.

I do this with the butcher at Kroger and the barista at Starbucks.

I do this in prayer.

This week, I came across one of those stick-it-to-you-when-God-wants-you-to-hear-it verses in Proverbs.
"He who restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit has understanding. Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is considered prudent."
                                                                                           -Proverbs 17:27-28

Some of the most mature, wise people I know are also the last ones to speak or offer their opinions. I want to work toward that, to be a person whose presence is thoughtful, calm, and even wise. For my children's sake. For my marriage's sake. For God's sake. Because I think God asks that of all of us, in some way.


Just something I'm working on these days. :)