Gazing Upward
  • May23rd

    I love that three of my four kids can read. It’s like revisiting my childhood when I share with them books that left such strong impressions on me as a kid.  It’s also nice when I can encourage (enforce) reading time which oh so quietly occupies them.  Then I can escape to my room to decompress and bury my nose in my own book.  For this introvert, that’s my happy place!

    With long summer days ahead, and all the free time that I (naively) envision having, I’m excited to delve into an ARMFUL of books I’ve had sitting on my nightstand for months.  Here are some of the ones I’ve pulled to read….

    The Whole-Brain Child
    12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind
    by Siegel and Bryson

    I started this book a year ago but got caught up in end-of-the-year festivities before I finished it. So I’m picking it back up.  The authors are a neuropsychiatrist and a parenting expert who put their heads together to create a guide for helping children develop emotional intelligence.  It’s an informative yet entertaining read. They give a clear explanation of how the brain is wired, and then they provide practical ideas to help kids balance their emotions with logic.  For a mom of a child who can spiral downward in rage or anxiety, this book is an incredible tool!  My favorite tip – if your child is nervous before a big game, performance, audition, or interview, tell them to add simple equations in their head. 1+1=2     2+2=4      4+4=8.   By employing the logical left side of the brain, you balance out the emotional flood of anxiety from the right side and become calmer.  Caroline swears this helped her with dance tryouts!  The authors give an example of swimming….you can’t swim well with just one arm; it’s imperative to use both!

    How to Really Love Your Child 
    by D. Ross Campbell

    Now I did borrow this one, so I’ll just have to take notes.  Campbell co-authored The Five Love Languages of Children with Gary Chapman. This book similarly helps parents understand the emotional needs of children and how they perceive and receive love.  Having made some recent observations, I’m suspecting that my 8-year-old, Grace, is not feeling fully loved and accepted, despite my all the words of affirmation, hugs, kisses, etc.  A friend found this book to be very insightful for her family, so I’m looking forward to implementing some of the ideas and skills to ensure that my daughter feels unconditionally loved.  There’s definitely a parenting trend among our generation to avoid strict discipline or else harm your child’s psyche. But that’s not what this book is advocating.  This is more about how you connect with and engage your child in everyday life, not just when they act out.

    Are My Kids on Track?
    by Goff, Thomas, and Trevathan

    Can you tell I’m on a parenting-revamp kick?  Ironically, these books just happened to appear on my radar this past week. I certainly wasn’t searching for books on the emotional health of kids. In fact, it all sounds very hokey. But I had already been thinking about how to better teach empathy. And when I heard the authors on an episode of “The God-Centered Mom” podcast, I knew this book would point me in the right direction. There are various milestones for emotional, social, and spiritual development. And it’s our job as parents to help our kids grow in these areas at the appropriate pace so they can flourish.  For Caroline, who was adopted at age 12, these milestones have come much later because she didn’t have a typical or loving upbringing.  While I was initially more attracted to this book for the sake of my littles, I’m predicting that it will be very applicable to my oldest.

    Giddy Up, Eunice
    Because Women Need Each Other
    by Sophie Hudson

    Sophie Hudson is well-known as the author of the Boo Mama blog. She ‘s also located right here in  Birmingham, Alabama!  I fully expect this book to have me in side stitches from tearful laughing fits. And I also expect to be inspired to step outside my circle of friends and pursue relationships with women across generations.  There are several older women who live on my street who have countless stories I’m eager to hear.  Time to put the kettle on for tea!

    Uninvited
    Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely
    by Lysa TerKeurst

    I’ve actually already finished this book, but it so deeply resonated with me that I have to share.  This book is for anyone who has ever felt rejected, insecure, inadequate, or overlooked.  I would venture to say that every single person falls into this category.  With wit, vulnerability, and Scriptural references, Lysa teaches how to process hurt in a healthy way so you can handle future rejection with more confidence, and most importantly, recognize the unwavering love of Christ that steadies the soul and heals the heart.

    Nothing to Prove
    Why We Can Stop Trying So Hard
    by Jennie Allen

    I am a huge fan of Jennie Allen. She appears to be one of the most grounded, theologically-sound, humble, and genuine women doing ministry today. In her latest book, she speaks to those who feel like they’ll never be enough or measure up.   I can’t help but feel that way some days as I scroll through Instagram pics.  Pointing the reader to Jesus, Jennie illustrates the freedom and power that come when you admit your weaknesses and needs, and then allow God to meet them.

    Steadfast Love
    by Lauren Chandler

    Lauren is the wife of Matt Chandler, the lead teaching pastor at The Village Church in Dallas. If you’re looking for some great sermons, check him out!  Seven years ago, Matt was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.  Lauren writes of the journey of faith God took them on during such a terrifying and uncertain time.   It’s hard to worship when you’re stuck in the hard places, but Lauren reminds us that we can experience the steadfast love of God during those seasons.  And we will come out of those valleys stronger and victorious when we allow Him, and nothing else, to be the anchor of our souls.

    The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House
    by Kate Andersen Brower

    I find a lot of great ideas and encouragement from parenting and Christian living books. But I also love a good page-turner, from suspenseful mysteries to coming-of-age novels to biographies and memoirs!  I’m particularly fascinated by true life accounts and personal stories.  Recommended by a fellow bookworm, The Residence is like the Downton Abbey of the White House.  Amazon describes the book as “an intimate account of the service staff of the White House, from the Kennedys to the Obamas.”  And it’s a fun companion to my current TV binge-watching show, Designated Survivor.

     I’m always looking for more recommendations! Especially in fiction.
    What’s on your summer reading list?

  • May16th

    Every year, I seem to engage in three periods of reflection and evaluation:  the launch of a new school year, the celebration of a new calendar year, and the transition into summer.  There are always fresh ideas, new goals, renewed resolutions, and unbridled determination (which may or may not last but a few days.)  The allure is that I love fresh starts and second chances.  These times remind me that I can make a choice to break out of unhealthy or unproductive patterns. I can give a worthwhile goal another GO. I can reprioritize to include a project I’ve long kept on the back-burner. And I have an excuse to go splurge on new office supplies. Because who doesn’t feel better after buying a pretty new notebook and fancy colored pens and nifty paperclips?? Nothing makes me want to get organized like gorgeous, patterned filing folders.  Surely I have some soul sisters out there who feel the same way.

    So the 2016-17 school year is wrapping up, and I’m making my summer wish lists, bucket lists, and project lists.  As I look back at my 2017 New Year’s goals, I see one resolution in particular that I did not make good on…. updating my blog.   I kept putting it off because I wasn’t sure where to start, or if anyone actually reads blogs anymore, or if I even remembered how to sign in to the dashboard! Alas, five months into 2017, I’m adding it to my summer goals and giving it a try.

    I’ve always loved to write, and this blog was such a great forum to sift through my thoughts. It’s a space where jumbled emotions transformed into words and coherent ideas. It’s a space where I often had big revelations in the midst of typing about mundane happenings. And most importantly, this blog became a “stone of remembrance” for me where I could look back at posts and recall the many times God demonstrated His faithfulness. Because I certainly can’t rely on my memory anymore!  In the limitless world wide web, I found a small sacred space where I learned more about God, myself and others.  I made connections with incredible people whom I never would have met otherwise, and I was left the better for it.

    Let me clarify, I’m not calling this blog itself “sacred.” What I mean, is that I have found that when I take a few moments to quiet myself before Jesus, He can bring some sort of order to the haphazard impressions and feelings that emanate from this crazy life. In fact, when I set apart these moments to reflect and look for His hand at work in my daily life, I find myself humbled, encouraged, inspired, and changed.  And I was much more likely to reflect on daily life when I was blogging and writing.  Sometimes these moments were just a few seconds and sometimes they were much more. No matter their length, the key is that they were moments I set apart – and when I do so God makes them sacred. He does that for us all whenever we come before Him.  I look forward to sharing the silly, the serious, and yes, the sacred, as I continue this journey as wife, mother, and friend.

  • December4th

    I apologize for being long overdue in giving an update.  I don’t have any excuses except that having four kids is kicking my tail!

    I went back to the breast specialist yesterday, and the abscess seems to have cleared up!! She could still feel a small mass but thinks it’s the tissue healing underneath the biopsy scar.  I won’t go back now until February 4th (unless of course the abscess is still there and starts growing again). They’ll repeat the mammogram to ensure that all is normal.  I just have to say HOORAY!!!! for no surgery. Thank you for all the prayers and sweet words of encouragement. I can’t even imagine how I’d cope with the healing process when I can’t even manage my own family and home when I’m healthy! 🙂

    Another good report came a few weeks ago…actually the same day we got the good news from the biopsy report. I took Maryn to our allergist so they could confirm what her allergies really are. I was scared that there was something I wasn’t cutting out that she was allergic to because we couldn’t get her BMs back to normal.  At first, it looked like eggs might be added to the list. But at the end of the testing, it was just milk and soy allergies which we had assumed based on our pediatrician’s visit. The REALLY good news though is that the results showed up as intolerances rather than full-blown allergies, so she should outgrow them before she’s 15 months!!! (Carter was SO excited when he heard Maryn had allergies and said, “Thank you Mom! Thank you for giving Maryn what you gave me! She’s just like me!!”  So needless to say, I haven’t broken the news to him yet that she doesn’t really have bad food allergies like him after all.

    Maryn did incredibly well. She didn’t even cry when they pricked her back. She is the most chill, laid-back baby. She even fell asleep while waiting for the test to be over.

    (Check out my baby’s arm rolls. See how many you can count. Hee hee. 🙂 )

    The other fantastic news is that the allergist thinks we should be able to use Nutramigen if I decide to stop breastfeeding, as opposed to the ridiculously expensive prescription formula. I may not make it another 6 months (I’m craving some chocolate BIG time!), but I’m sticking with it for now.  I actually feel really great after dropping dairy from my diet. The soy….it’s coming close to being a deal-breaker for nursing but I’m slowly finding good and even delicious recipes and foods that are gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free. My favorites are chicken fettucini salad, kale sausage meatballs, and cranberry apple stuffing (my Thanksgiving treat). I can also eat gummy bears so I’ve been gobbling them down like they’re becoming extinct. If you are or have been in the same boat, let’s please swap some recipes and ideas.

    We’re so thankful for the positive news! Thanksgiving pictures are soon coming your way. The kids put on their annual show, and guess who the plump turkey was????

  • November25th

     

    bday girl

    cake

    blowing out the candle

    daddy and bday girl

    doll checkup

    dollhouse

    getting nails painted

    face painting

    Grace and doll stroller

    Grace singing

    Grace

    Grace's nails

    IMG_2287 - Version 2

    lemonade fountain

    Maryn

    table setting

    the cake

    the girls

     

    Grace,

    My little China doll is growing up! You are full of energy and enjoy dancing and singing…constantly. You often improvise on songs and incorporate lyrics from actual songs.  Most people would describe you as animated, expressive, and perhaps a little dramatic. We joke about you taking up acting because you can show the most mature expressions!

    In addition to prancing and singing around the house, your other favorite activities include playing games like CandyLand Winnie the Pooh Matching, kitchen (always the hostess offering us hot coffee), coloring and all sorts of crafts, doodling letters, and reading about princesses. Belle is your very favorite!

    Favorite shows include Caillou, Max & Ruby, SuperWhy, and Dora. We’ve also recently discovered The Care Bears on Amazon Prime. It brings me back to my own childhood.

    This year, you played soccer for the first time in the fall.  You are also taking a ballet/tap class with Ms. Gina. You are learning how to be a big sister, and you’re such a big help with Maryn. This year has also been one of power struggles. You will do almost anything to win a battle and not surrender.

    At school, on the other hand, I am told you are very well-behaved. You enjoy order and structure. And you have also taken it upon yourself to tell a classmate’s mom if their child has been in timeout during that day. They love getting the scoop from you! But we’re definitely working on cutting the tattle-taling.

    Over the last few months, you’ve had many questions about your China mommy and why we chose to adopt you.  While we have always talked about your background, I think you’re beginning to understand and grasp the details. And that’s difficult for a 4-year-old to do. I predict that we’ll have many more conversations before you turn five. What we want you to understand most is that you are loved, loved, loved, my child. Not only by your mommy and daddy, but also by your siblings, relatives, and friends. And most of all by God. What a story He has written for you!

    Happy 4th Birthday Princess!

    Love,

    Mommy

  • November22nd

    A quick photo recap of Halloween 2012… (all taken on my iphone, so sorry for the quality)

    The cutest ladybug in the house

    I searched the house for black tights, and of course found them two days after Halloween.

    Maryn nestled in for a nap with MaMa.

    Cousins and Best Buds

    Aunt Coco styled Grace’s hair in a true princess up-do.

    Grace never wavered in her decision to be Cinderella. Nor did Carter ever have doubts about being Luke Skywalker. When those two find an interest, they are passionate to the core.

    My brave Jedi knight

    One of my favorite things is when I catch Carter in full swing, practicing his Jedi skills with his light saber. One of these days, I’ll catch it on video.

    He engaged in a friendly battle at his school party. He was absolutely thrilled to have a “fighting” partner.

    Grace got to dress up again for her dance class’ Halloween party. I thought she’d never give up the role of Cinderella, but she recently had me step into the part and dance with Prince Charming (aka Daddy/Scott) at the ball! 🙂

    I’m sure both of these costumes will make a reappearance at Disney World in March.