out of all the world

After one of our relaxing days of vacation, Shawn was very insistent that we have a date night while his Mom kept an eye on the kids after we put them to sleep. I heartily agreed and set about getting ready. I was surprised to find Shawn hurrying me along, practically pushing me out the door. Instead of driving to the restaurant we’d talked about trying, Shawn started driving to the beach. I’m not particularly good with directions, so I didn’t notice until we were parking the car and Shawn said, “I thought we’d see if we could catch the sunset before we head to dinner.”

As we walked along the boardwalk towards the ocean, I noticed Shawn’s Dad sitting on one of the porch swings. Thinking he had decided to take a walk himself, I headed over to say hello and chat a minute.

“We were just heading down to the ocean,” Shawn said. “Want to join us?”

As his Dad stood up to walk with us, I noticed he was holding a single sunflower. “Look at you!” I exclaimed, “Gettin’ your wife a flower!” We got down to the beach, took off our shoes, and stood in the wet sand. Shawn handed me the flower his Dad had been carrying and then stood across from me – holding both of my hands.

 

[These photos were actually taken the next day, but I wanted some kind of photo of that beautiful sunflower]

This year hasn’t been an easy one for us. Don’t get me wrong – we’re good and happily married – but God has done a lot of refining in our marriage and in us individually. And dang it if that Refiner’s fire doesn’t sometimes hurt like heck.

So we stood before one another on the beach as Shawn’s Dad (who officiated our wedding six years ago) read our original vows. My mind flashed to six years ago when I heard those same words. I was a bright eyed twenty-three year old who had no idea what marriage really entails. I was head over heels in love and felt certain that would carry us through the tough times. I had no idea the journey we’d take. I didn’t know that six years would bring us a move to Texas and two adorable boys. I didn’t have a clue how much Shawn and I would be capable of hurting one another – both in our actions, our inactions, and our words. I didn’t know the depths to which I’d come to respect and even admire him. I couldn’t fathom the moments in our marriage when I’ve been weak, vulnerable, scared, and Shawn has wrapped his strong arms around me and let me soak his shoulder with my tears. I didn’t realize that allowing yourself to be completely vulnerable to someone also meant risking being hurt more than I could have imagined. I had no idea how much we would have to forgive the other for, and I had no idea how much joy, strength, and growth I would derive from the institution of marriage.

People do a lot of changing in six years. People do a lot of talking. A lot of laughing. A lot of crying. A lot of hurting. A lot of kissing. A lot of experiencing. 

I stood before Shawn – a bright eyed twenty-nine year old – and looked into his eyes. Those eyes have always made my heart skip a beat in the eight years we’ve been together, but I realized that I could see something in those eyes. I saw our experiences together, our tears, his vulnerabilities, his fears, his mistakes, his triumphs, his sense of humor. I saw his soul. And I saw something else. I saw myself.

When I wore that white dress and walked down that aisle to Shawn, we were two very separate people. As I felt the waves gently washing over my feet and saw the skyline darkening, I realized that when I looked at Shawn’s soul, I saw myself. And when I looked into the deepest recesses of my heart, I saw Shawn’s face everywhere.

So with a wiser understanding of the work and joy that is marriage, we renewed our vows. We promised to love one another – knowing that we will not always be lovely. We promised to cherish one another – knowing that life’s daily tasks will distract us into taking the other for granted. We promised to honor one another – knowing that humbling ourselves doesn’t come easily or naturally. We promised to forgive the other – knowing the depth of pains to be forgiven, and we promised to protect one another – knowing our marriage would be a stake if we didn’t.

In our vows, I remember Shawn’s Dad reading, “May you always live in wonder and amazement, feeling that out of all the world…you’ve chosen me.”

I don’t for the life of me know why Shawn chose me. But that day – on that beach – we renewed that commitment to choose each other. Every year, every month, every week, every day, every moment. To love the other more than we love ourselves, to serve and submit like Christ and His church, to forsake anything that threatens or competes for our affections, and to choose the other over and over again.

For better. For worse. For richer or for poorer. In sickness and in health. To love. And to cherish.

summ-ah goal accountability

Can you believe it’s almost the end of August already? I have to be honest, I see my northern friends posting about feeling the fall weather and I kind of want to punch them in the face. Because there is no crisp morning air here. It’s slightly less hot, but still pretty hot morning air. There’s no cool evenings. It’s you can finally go outside for ten minutes without sweating evenings. But not fifteen minutes, cause you’d definitely sweat then.

It took me until August 25th, but dude – I’m full on complaining about the heat.

Whining aside, it’s actually been one of the best summers I’ve ever had. I’ve even mourning the fact that Bug will be heading to preschool soon and our summer fun is winding down for the year. To be honest, I think one of the reasons it’s been such a great summer is that I’ve been working on this goal list. It’s taken the pressure off of me feeling like I had to be abstractly productive, and let me enjoy my time with the boys while knowing I was accomplishing something in our summer months. Since I promised I’d report back to you throughout the summer, here’s my accountability post. The final post will come at the end of September, which is when I’ll officially consider our Texas summer to be over:

1. Finish Beth Moore study

Done! I finished this a few weeks ago and have been doing a Bible reading plan and a devo book in my quiet time now.

2. Wake up early 2-3 days/week to study and pray.

I’m still using the boys’ nap time to do this, but have been able to spend time with God 4 days a week. It’s been awesome.

3. Teach Bug all of his letter sounds and begin teaching phonics.

We’re almost finished with this one. He knows all of letter sounds except the vowels. The fact that they make two different sounds kind of trips him up.

4. Teach Bear to walk.

Oh my, that boy is SO close! He’s taking about five steps pretty regularly, but still prefers to hold onto something for stability. I think he’d get much further if he didn’t get so excited at himself that he flailed his arms and tumbled right onto his cloth diapered butt. Of course, it’s adorable when he does that – so I’m not complaining.

5. Lose 30 lbs.

Done! I wasn’t sure if I’d honestly be able to reach this goal, so I’m excited! I just got there about a week ago (for a total of 60 lbs lost), so I’m working on just maintaining that now.

6. Save X-amount towards a house down payment.

I think by the end of September we’ll have about half what I had hoped we’d have. That means we probably won’t be ready to house shop in the early fall, but we’re working hard and doing what we can.

7. Get Serwa Chic products stocked in a local store.

I’m actually communicating with two or three different shops about this possibility, and am working on setting up a meeting with one of them soon!

8. Sew 20-40 more Perfect Fit AIOs to stock.

Yeah, this one is just not gonna happen. And I’m cool with that.

Overall, I’m pretty proud of how our summer has shaped up and what I was able to accomplish. I love the idea of setting new goals for new seasons of life and am even kicking around the idea of making a list of goals for the fall/winter. Would that make me a nerd?

pretending

Before we left for Hilton Head, I added the location to my weather app so I could know how to pack for the trip and for each day. Occasionally for kicks and giggles I like to check to see what the weather in ‘ole SC is like. I should probably stop, it’s getting downright depressing. As I’m typing this, the local weather says that our Texas high today is 108. Nope, that’s not the heat index and that’s not an exaggeration. 108. The high for Hilton Head today? 86 degrees.

86 degrees sounds downright chilly right now.

So in light of Texas’ August heat, I’ll be looking at these photos today and pretending that we’re once again in Hilton Head. I’m looking forward to the day when I don’t sweat as I walk from my house to the car. 37 more days until October. Not that I’m keeping track or anything.

Silly Bear on the beach, ready to do some sand digging. And the blurriness isn’t a camera or editing effect, my lens just fogged up in the humidity:

While this is a super cute photo of Bug, I especially love this photo because I happen to think Shawn looks fantastically handsome: 

My boys in their cute ‘lil rash guards and light hair, lookin’ like they belong on the west coast:

Bug didn’t quite understand the concept of burying someone, so he gave up after he buried my feet. 

Like most women, I can look at this photo and find at least eight flaws about my body (stomach pooch), face (chubs), or hair (weird postpartum flyaways still haven’t gone away), but I’m working to focus on the positive of things like that. Like, hello – I’ve lost 60 lbs and given birth to two cutie patooties. Let’s cut ourselves some slack, shall we?

This next progression of photos just cracks me up. Getting a photo of five young cousins is no easy task. There were all sorts of silly antics going on behind the camera (by both relatives and complete strangers) in order to get every child looking and smiling. While we failed to get the perfect photo for which we were trying, I think we did pretty well in capturing personalities. 

Bug was moody this day – surprise, surprise. Also, that pile behind the kids in Bug’s and Cousin K.’s first sand castle…or sand blob as I like to call it. 

This photo is probably my favorite – hilarious on so many levels:


Believe it or not, I only have a handful of vacation photos left to post. I know you’re getting tired of seeing them, but try to contain your excitement please. It’s just embarrassing. 

mama m. & bear

You didn’t think I was finished showing off our vacation pics, did you?! No, no my friends – you still haven’t seen my sunflower or Bug’s sand blob! You also still haven’t seen these sweet photos of Bear giving some sweet giggles to his Mama. These were the only photos I took of the day we spent outlet shopping, but I happen to think they’re pretty dang precious:

 


a texas birthday (pt. 2)

After donning our cowboy attire, dubbing Bug the Birthday Sheriff, and enjoying a good petting zoo, we headed to the Fort Worth Stock Yards maze. Our adventure started off with fun and curiosity:

We set about the goal of finding four letters: M, A, Z, and E:

We found the first couple of letters in just about fifteen minutes:

…and we punched the little card at each station to prove that we ‘d found the spot:

But then it started getting hot in that dang maze. Despite the shade provided by the walls and the misters, the heat started getting to us a little. Bug and I made an early exit to get some water and find some shade, while birthday boy and Daddy finished finding the rest of the letters. My heroes.

We heard that the daily cattle drive went through the main street at 4:00, so we settled the boys in the shade and took a breather while we waited. Not without doing some birthday kissin’:

Bug was so excited by seeing the cows (bulls? steer?), and I was pretty pumped to see a cowgirl. Anything you can do, I can do better and all that:

Then I felt badly that it was Bear’s birthday, and I didn’t have any photos of him enjoying the cattle drive. Sweaty boy was much less impressed:

We did some shopping through an old converted barn. The shops used to be stalls for pigs, sheep, and cattle:

We stumbled across a spice shop, and discovered this gem:

My mind was reeling with the incredible baked concoctions we could enjoy with this very special ingredient. In fact, we’ve already had some espresso chocolate chip cookies that were awesome. I’m thinking espresso peanut butter chocolate chip cookies should be next. Too much, you say? Well…more for me!

I made friends with the locals:


The boys got to see a train up close and personal-like, which was one of their highlights:

We did a little more lookin’ around and seein’ of the sights:

Then we headed home – tired, but so happy. On our way home, we stopped and got Riscky’s Barbecue for dinner. Seemed fitting.

We sang  happy birthday and gave Bear a cupcake. Turns out that boy loves him some icing. He also happens to love his new toys from friends and family who wanted to participate in our celebration:

 

 

 

…………..

Thanks Grammy, Grampy, Katie, and Aunt Rachael for all the perfect birthday presents!

 

Shawn decided the world needed to see an up-close and personal of me and my face. I’m not including the full size version of this photo because I feel that would be punishment for computer monitors everywhere. 

Adorable nakey boys and I reading the sweet book from Katie. The book that Bug already has memorized, by the way. He loves to “read” it to Bear:



There you have it. The rootinest tootinest birthday celebration for the cutest ‘lil cowboy the world may ever know!

happy birfday a for yoooou!

On August 12th, Bug woke up around 7:30. I heard Bear waking up as I was grabbing milk and breakfast for the boys, and excitedly told Bug that today was Bear’s 1st birthday! Bug gasped and ran into Bear’s room, where he was standing in his crib and grinning. And then beginning what was probably my favorite memory of the day, Bug started singing, “A happy birfday a for yooooou! A happy birfday a for yoooou! A happy birfday (the word “birthday” was sung with quite a bit of gusto) for Co-Co Bear!

I kept waiting for Bug to finish the song, but he apparently decided that was where it ended. It didn’t seem to matter to Bear, who squealed with delight.

Shawn and I talked a lot about what to do for Bear’s 1st birthday. We debated whether to risk an outside party in the middle of August, or if we should have a party at the church, at the Little Gym, or any number of other venues. In the end, we voted for quality family time. We decided that rather than spend time cleaning the house, making a cake, preparing for a party…and then spending most of the party entertaining guests rather than enjoying Bear…we’d rather dedicate a day to focus on our precious one year old.


After morning naps, lunch, and quality snuggle time, we hit the road for the Fort Worth Stock Yards. Not before doing our part to “Cowboy Up” in preparation for the day ahead, though. Hey, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em:

I love that they’re making each other laugh:

Even the cutest of ‘lil cowboys gets hat hair every now and again:

My personal favorite gift to Bear was the gift of turning his car seat around. I know, I know. Many people are adamant about keeping kiddos rear facing until they hit the car seat weight limit, and I can certainly understand their reasons. Let me tell you something, though. It’s hot in Texas. Sometimes even dangerously hot. Our vehicle’s backseat air conditioning comes from the front console. With Bear’s seat rear facing, he got no air conditioning. A fifteen minute car ride would leave his hair soaked with sweat and his face beet red – even if I kept his window down and dressed him as lightly as possible. Longer car rides worried me, and I was counting down the days until we could turn his seat around. It’s so nice that he’s not all hot and sweaty when we get to our destination now!

After everyone was sufficiently cowboy-ified and forward facing, we began our special birthday Stock Yards trip:

 

It was an insanely hot, but beautiful day:

After we parked, we loaded up the boys in the stroller – but we still had one very important order of business to address…


…the official presentation to Bug of his Birthday Sheriff pin. We made a very big deal out of Bug’s responsibility as the Birthday Sheriff – to have a happy heart, to share, to enjoy, and to make sure Bear has the best first birthday ever.

 

Listen here, folks. We got ourselves a birthday boy, and I expect you’ll treat him real good. As the Birthday Sheriff, I gotta keep the law. It could get real ugly in here if that there Bear don’t have himself a good time…got it? 

Once Bug laid down the law, we headed for the petting zoo. I love that Shawn and Bug are walking in the same stride here:

You’d be surprised how much difference the shade of a tent makes in the Texas heat! 

Well, partner. You can rest assured that I have more birthday pictures to show ya, but they’ll have to wait for another post. ‘Till then, folks – y’all take care and we’ll see you real soon. 

an after dinner walk

There’s nothing better than following a fun day at the beach with a leisurely family walk! The kids (minus Baby E.) had a special kids’ table complete with super cool plates and chicken nuggets! Those plates are so fun and the little ears are perfect for holding all manner of grapes, goldfish crackers, or – in this case – ketchup:

After the kids were fed, we took a walk! The umbrella stroller was a very popular commodity during this particular walk, so the kids took turns riding and Cousin N. so thoughtfully pushed Bug for a little while. Why yes, that is indeed a travel Mee-Hee. One can never be too prepared when it comes to Mee-Hee. 

Our boys are so blessed to have such incredible grandparents. Even as I’m typing this, Bug is looking at this photo and telling me that he misses Mama and Papa. Me too, buddy: 

Our little family: 

Shawn, Mama, Papa, Cousin N., and Cousin K. Cutie Patooties  – the whole lot of ’em!