"I should not talk so much about myself if there were any body else whom I knew as well."
-Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Wednesday

It's moving week and I feel like I haven't sat down in days.  Have you ever moved?  You know when you're packing and you think you've got it just about done, but then moving day comes and there's more stuff?  Everywhere you look there is stuff that you didn't even see before?  And then your plan to neatly pack everything into carefully labelled boxes flies out the window and you just start throwing stuff in trash bags?  That's what I'm afraid of.  I hate that stage.  It's disorderly and chaotic and the opposite of everything I prefer.  So I do everything I can to avoid the disorderly and chaotic.  I mean, I really do think that I've just about got it done and I know that everything will be fine, but I dread the "just throw it in a trash bag" end stage and I'm doing everything I can to avoid that.  Seriously, though, it's going well and we are so close!
This morning I took a break from the moving duties and attended an enrichment training at church.  It was pretty great to be in a room with 15 other women who are preparing their minds and hearts to lead small groups of women through a Bible study.  I learned a lot and feel like there's a 100% chance that I'm going to learn more this semester than I could possibly ever teach.  That's super empowering, knowing that the success of me being a co-leader is not in my own strength, but in His.
Also, I wore one of my cute new dresses today and as I continue trying to be nice to myself, I took a pic to share.
 Eleanor attended Kids Time while I was in my training.  That's a much smaller group of kiddos than Adventureland days, so there are only two classes.  Age wise she fit into the younger class, but the fact that she's potty trained meant that she got bumped up to the big kid class.  Eleanor and a bunch of 3 and 4 year olds.  The teacher said she had the best time being mothered by the big girls.  She called it "mother smothered".  Ha!  I've never heard that before, so I thought it was hilarious.  She said there was no chance of Eleanor getting the slightest bump or bruise, because the big kids just loved babying her! She won't stay in that class on Wednesdays, but I think she had fun being there today. 
That being said, Miss Eleanor is worn out.  I think all the packing and house shuffle is a lot for her to handle.  Add that to starting school and the schedule changes that that involves and she's pretty well spent.  She just wants to snuggle.  Just sit and watch movies and read books and have your constant, calm attention.  Poor gal, there is an awful lot going on right now and I'm trying to be patient and understanding of how that feels for her.  She cried almost the whole way home from church today and I don't think she even knew why.  When we got inside she just kept saying, "Snuggle.  Rest.  Movie." and motioning for me to sit down with her.  She didn't just need me to sit, she needed body contact.  So we snuggled and took silly selfies while watching Frozen. 
 Other stuff from the week.  Helping Daddy mow the yard. 

 I was packing a box when I heard "I stuck!"  I turned around to find her arm stuck down in a large vase and a look of panic on her face.  FYI, she was not stuck.  She was playing me.  When she did it the second time, I took a picture before I helped her remove her arm from the vase. 
Her speech has been so funny lately.  One moment she'll blabber on about something that I can't make any sense out of, but then the next she speaks in full sentences.  She started using new parts of speech and it's such fun.  Up until now she's strung single words together in makeshift sentences.
"Dog. Sleeping.  Night night."  or "Swing.  Fun.  High.  Again."  Now she's started saying things like, "I want that!"  or "Yes, I am."  I gave her a sucker the other day and she took it from me, looked at it and said, "It's not red!  No, no, no!  It's blue!"  My jaw dropped because I couldn't believe she spoke so clearly and use a contraction.   It's always such fun to see her discover new skills.  She's pretty cool. 
Eleanor and I had to get out of the house yesterday afternoon for the inspection, so we splurged and went out for Mexican food.  I ate the chips and salsa.  I also ate the rice and a tortilla.  I couldn't stop eating all the  carbs.  Give me more carbs!  Put salt on the  carbs!
Eleanor fell asleep in the truck afterward (MIRACLE!) and I still had time to kill, so I drove through Braums and got a milkshake.  That night (and today) I feel fairly rotten.  I don't know why I eat like that when I know it makes me feel bad.  Lesson learned... until the next time I carb overload and am feel like poo. 
In the restaurant... Eleanor's opinion of why they would have televisions that aren't playing a Disney movie.  Absurdity!  Also, she told the waitress "I love you!  Bye!  Go to work!"  
 But back to the carb thing... we've been less than strict for the last week because of all the packing and the stress of moving.  It's safe to say that Drew and I are stress eaters.  That is reflected in how I'm feeling, but we're just doing the best we can for now.  Still, we've had great results in the 8 weeks since we started this and have full intention of sticking with it to the best of our abilities.  Drew is down 15 pounds from the beginning of July and I'm down 11 pounds.  Our clothes fit better, our bellies feel better, we have more energy, and until all this packing/moving stuff started happening, we were spending way more time cooking/eating at home and much less time/money eating out.  It's definitely worth continuing for the long term.  The sweet spot for us seems to be eating a moderate protein, high fat, low carb diet.  That mean lots of meat, eggs, and cheese.  Lots of veggies, including some potatoes and higher carb veggies.  No bread or pasta and close to no added sugar.  That's the sweet spot.  FYI, pizza is not in the sweet spot and I may need you all to remind me of that from time to time. 

Eleanor exhaustion: Exhibit A
But we were both rocking our Converse on Monday. 
Just because her hair is curly and fluffy after it's freshly washed.  Pretty girl. 


One journal prompt before I go...

5 Year Journal prompt: August 30

What new TV shows do I refuse to watch? Why?

These aren't new, but I no longer watch anything Bachelor related.  I used to watch them, though not openly.  I knew it was trashy television, so I called it "The show we do not speak of" and watched it as a guilty pleasure.  Now I won't watch it at all.  It is fake and often vulgar.  That's nothing new.  The difference is that I have no interest in filling my brain with that stuff at this point in my life.  I also no longer watch The Walking Dead.  Violence.  So much violence.  And not just fictional zombie stuff, but just really hateful, uncomfortable, meanness.  Not my thing. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Weekend

We got a lot done this weekend, but we also did some fun stuff.
Packing.  It always looks worse before it looks better.  
 We filled the used boxes that we were given (thanks, Nancy!) in a hurry, so we went to Home Depot for more. 
 This is how we roll. 
 We got so much done on Saturday that we treated ourselves to the PPV boxing match that night.  A couch full of family on a Saturday night is the way to go. 
 I didn't get my journal entry done yesterday, but I know that will happen often.  Today, and any other time I fall behind, I'll just pick back up and keep going. 

5 Year Journal prompt for August 27th:
What was the highest point of my day?

The highest point of my day, by far, was witnessing my nephew JR be baptized.  What a special thing, the MOST special thing, to witness! 
The introvert in me is not a big fan of new situations, especially new situations that involve lots of people in a confined space.  We had never been to Jessica & Jason's church, so it was all new and there were TONS of people!  For a church seeking to share the word of God, that's a really great problem to have.  Eleanor went to the 2 year old room during the service and did great.  She had fun and the teacher just loved her.  Drew and I were able to attend worship with the family and witness JR's baptism.  While it's overwhelming for me to be in an unfamiliar crowd, there is definitely a really big positive of stepping outside of my church comfort zone.  For me, it's a great reminder that praise and worship come in many different forms.  Church is not a one size fits all and I'm so grateful to live in a place where I get to choose the way I worship my God, as do you.  Having a home church that we love is awesome, but worshiping with friends and family in new ways and places can be refreshing and energizing.  It makes me consider and evaluate my own practices and preferences.  What helps me focus and best learn from scripture?  What makes me feel closest to God?  How do I experience God's presence during different types of worship?  What practices or traditions are most important to me?  How can God grow me and use me through this new experience?  No matter the answer to any of those questions, being in the presence of so many people who are all there to worship the one living God is pretty cool.  Doing that on the occasion of my nephew's baptism was even better. 

We all had lunch together after church and it was just a great way to spend the first half of the day. 
Siblings. 
 The whole crew. 
 And Dottie took this picture of me and Eleanor when I wasn't paying attention.  Since I'm not often in photos unless I'm taking them, I'm sharing it here.  I'm glad I was giving Eleanor a drink and not whispering empty threats in her ear (which I'm pretty sure I has just finished doing!). 
 After Sunday afternoon naps, we worked in the back yard, making sure everything is ready for moving on Friday and Saturday.  We finished with sugar free popsicles.  Of course. 


Friday, August 25, 2017

Drew

5 Year Journal for August 25th:

Who had the biggest influence on my day? 

Drew has had the biggest influence on my day.  As we are prepping for a move in ONE WEEK, there's a lot to take care of.  Setting up utilities, movers, and all the little details is a big job and he's done a great deal of it between work stuff today.  I've had to make minimal phone calls and instead done cool stuff like pack the kitchen while watching Moana with Eleanor today.  He's a pretty good guy, I think I'll keep him. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

24 minutes

You guys.  24 minutes after I hit publish on my post yesterday I got a phone call from our realtor.  The family we couldn't reach an agreement with over the weekend was back and accepted our counter offer!  We are under contract and they want a quick closing, so we are accommodating that.  We are closing on this house and the new house on September 7th.  Y'all.  That's two weeks away.  We are being granted early occupancy to the new house so that we can move over the Labor Day weekend.  Um, yeah.  This is happening FAST.  When God gets to work on the details, He doesn't waste any time. 
One tiny corner of my brain is all like, "We have to pack the ENTIRE house tonight!"  Another tiny corner of my brain is all like, "Oh, it will be fine.  We have plenty of time."  The rest of my big ol' brain is all like, "Wait, what?" 
Anyway, I just wanted to give you an update since I made this big declaration of waiting on the Lord and then He showed up with an answer to the thing I had promised to not stress over. 

Eleanor had her second day of school today.  I was in a bit of a hurry and that didn't help things.  She cried when I left and I wanted to sit in my car and cry a little, but I didn't have time.  I got my teeth cleaned this morning and, while the dentist and his staff were great, I would just like to reiterate my distaste for all things dentistry related.  I'm also not particularly looking forward to the dental work I'll have to have done next month, but I'll deal with that later.  I spent my entire day adulting at the dentist, on the phone & via email regarding house stuff, and running errands.  I'm adulting all over the place today.  Eleanor did fine at school and her teacher commented on how often she says "thank you", so that's good.  That beats the heck out of a lot of other things she could say!  She laid down, but didn't nap, so I brought her straight home and put her down for a nap.  Fingers crossed that she'll sleep a while, because Monday's nap free Eleanor was a big teary,exhausted mess.  On the way home she did tell me about playing outside in the grass and that was fun to hear about from her perspective. 

We all know that I really do have some packing to get done (about 2800 square feet worth), so I'm going to do my journal prompt for the day and then get busy. 

August 24th: What do I love about my job?

Since I am not employed, I feel like this is a trick question.  A job is, by definition, a task that one gets paid for.  I don't get a paycheck, but I have plenty of tasks associated with the roles I play and that is what I'll focus on here.  While we could make a list of the individual roles that I play, I think that many of them can be categorized as caregiver.  I care for my husband and our marriage.  I care for my child.  I have, at different times in my life, cared for my dad, grandparents, daughters, and neighbors in varying and sometimes very involved ways.  I believe that God created me to be a caregiver and it's been pretty awesome to discover all of the ways in which that purpose can be fulfilled.  At this point in my life, the part of my job I love the most is being a mom.  I love it in a super big, can't put it in a box, savor every moment, don't waste a second, I'm so blessed to get to do this kind of way.  I wish that I could find words big enough to explain to you how much my heart is fulfilled by being Eleanor's mother.  I love the pig tails and fashion choices.  I love the extra hugs and kisses when she's trying to avoid going to bed.  I love each "please" and "thank you" from her little voice.  I love that she thinks Ranch dressing makes everything yummy.  I love stopping to sit on every bench we pass.  I love how her little fingers wrap about mine when we're walking.  And you know what?  As much as it drives me crazy sometimes, I love the fire in her that pushes the limits.  I love that that fire is going to fuel lots of really awesome things in her life and grow her into the person God made her to be.  I especially love that I get to be a part of that process.  I really do have the best job. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Hurry up and wait

I must get on to her a hundred times a day about being nice to Mac.  I caught her being sweet and laying in the floor with him this morning, so I took a picture.   
 Eleanor and I took my mom out for a belated birthday lunch today.  Eleanor made three trips to the bathroom during our hour lunch.  The first was to actually potty, the second two must have been just to see if I'd really take her.  This weekend she told me she needed to go and I thought she was just trying to get out of eating, so I said no.  We nearly had a situation on our hands, so now I'm afraid to tell her no and she knows it.  She did the same thing in Walmart yesterday.  Three times in an hour.  Toddlers are fun.  
Lunch was yummy and we had fun with Mom.  Eleanor ate a few bites from her own plate, all of the strawberries off of Mom's plate, and as much birthday cheesecake as she could fit in her mouth.




I did try a new recipe yesterday.  I didn't burn anything or stink up the house (and nobody called for a house showing, either).  It was pretty good and I'd make it again.  Lazy spinach artichoke chicken.  Link HERE if you're interested.  It made a lot and so we'll be eating it again for dinner tonight.  It would definitely be enough to feed a family.  It's fairly low carb, if you're doing that, but it's good enough to make regardless of your diet.  Really, you wouldn't even need any side dishes with it, but I made a few new potatoes to go with it since I'm including certain carbs now.  My photo would be much more attractive if I'd bothered to put it on a plate first.  I should really read up on how to take photographs of food.  Nevertheless, the food was delicious. 

My 5 Year Journal writing prompt for the day is...
What did I have to wait for today?

Today I've had to wait, and am still waiting, to sell my house.  Hurry up and wait.  Hurry up and wait.  It frustrates me and I'm feeling impatient.  Our realtor messaged me during lunch and I bolted out of that restaurant like the place was on fire.  I called her back, just knowing that she would say  we have another offer.  She did not.  She had a report on repairs for the house we want to buy.  It was  great news, but instead of being happy about what I was given, I felt frustrated over what I have yet to be given.  I need an attitude adjustment, obviously.  So I'm still waiting for our house to show again and to get an offer from the right buyer.
This journal prompt made me wonder what the Bible has to say about waiting, so I just Googled "What does the Bible say about waiting?"  You know what it didn't say?  Anything about my house or the physical stuff I want.  Know what it did say?  That I should wait patiently for the Lord.  FOR THE LORD.  Sometimes the answer teaches me that my question was wrong.  Point taken.  Y'all, I fall short every single day.  His grace saves me from my own selfish attitudes and behaviors.  How awesome is that?  I'll keep waiting and I'll do my very best to wait on Him while remembering that all this other stuff is just fluff. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Journaling Prompts

Since we've got the house on the market, I've got to keep everything in tip top shape.  I thought that I did that already, until I had to do it for real and realized how much more there was to do.  The fact is, if you keep the house perfect then nobody will call for a showing.  If you leave the house in the morning with a sink full of dirty dishes, an unmade bed, a couch full of unfolded laundry, and both dogs in the house, then someone will call and want to see it in 20 minutes.  True story.  Still, the rush of getting home and getting things in order to be shown is not worth the sweat.  So I do my best to keep it near perfection.  What a boring way to live!  I feel like I can't start any projects because quilting is messy.  I feel like I can't try any new recipes, because the smell of burnt onions (oops) lingers for days.  Can I get an Amen?  But writing.  Y'all know I love to write.  On the plus side, it makes no mess and leaves no offensive odors in the air.

I saved a these journaling prompts from 5 Year Journal months ago and then never used them.  There is a list for each month, giving a different writing prompt for each day.  The idea is if you do it for 5 years then you can look back over time and see how you've grown.  Y'all, it's like taking monthly photos of your baby, except it's for grown ups and it marks spiritual, emotional, and writing growth.  That's right up my alley.  For most, I think that journaling is a pretty private affair, but I'm all out there.  Or here.  I'm all out here.  Whatever.  I blog.  Journaling, in whatever respect, can be super awesome.  For me, thinking or talking through something can be difficult.  I get clouded and distracted and my brain runs away without me.  When I write, I get to put that in order.  It often helps me to understand myself and the world a tiny bit better.  It makes me feel creative, calms me, and often helps me to clarify issues or solve problems.  Also, I like it.  So I'm going to make an effort to do this and sometimes I'll post them here for you.  Maybe it will make you think about (or write about!) yourself.  There's a chance that this won't last, but I thought the same thing about this blog and it's been nearly 10 years!!! It's worth a try. 

Since Eleanor is napping off her back to school hangover and I'm doing my best to avoid the treadmill, I'm starting now.

Prompt for August 22: What was the last healthy thing I did for myself?

The last healthy thing I did for myself was to take a few minutes to do a daily devotional.  It wasn't an hour of study, it was just 3 or 4 minutes spent reading a bit of scripture and an accompanying lesson.  For 3 or 4 minutes I wasn't scrolling through the latest political headlines or the minutiae of an acquaintance's day on Facebook.  As I read the Bible I was not fretting over the details of getting this house sold.  Instead of watching mindless television, I stepped away to spend a few minutes with God.  All of those things I do to busy myself may come later, but for a few minutes I chose to slow down and read the scripture.
It is shockingly easy for me to not make time for this.  I tell myself I'll do it and then the next day I shake my head and wonder why I didn't get to it.  One reason is that it isn't super easy for me.  Reading the Bible is hard for me.  I'm not great at quoting scripture or memorization.  I often have to flip through the books of the Bible to find the one I'm looking for.  There are times that I think I know what something means, only to find out there's a lot more to it.  Or sometimes I think that I must not understand, but then wonder if it really is that simple.  It's a lot, y'all.
At one point in my life I decided I'd just start at the beginning (by myself) and read that Bible. Whew, that was rough.  That's a big ol' book that doesn't exactly read like a Danielle Steele novel.  With time I've learned a bit about how I can best read and study the Bible, but it's still something that takes intention and effort.
One thing that helps me really dig in and learn is to do so with a group.  Studying the scriptures with others, under the guidance of an educated leader, is invaluable.  There's a lot to understand and take in and I definitely need help with it. Next month I will be co-leading a small group of women as we study 1 Peter.  Each week we'll do our own reading and homework, then on Wednesday mornings we'll meet all together (100+ women)  to listen and learn before breaking into our small groups to dig in even further.  I'm super pumped and only slightly scared of this.  Last semester I timidly waded into the pool with a group of strangers, this semester I'm jumping in the deep end. 
The other way I've found to read the Bible must be where this saying came from:
"How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time."
So, I'm eating this elephant one bite at a time.  I have a very simple 100 day devotional book and each day I take a few minutes to sit down and read.  I also have a journal that I make notes in, because that's my learning style.  I want to learn, but my brain gets away from me often.  Unfortunately, it's easy for my time with God to turn into daydreaming or worrying over the very things I'm trying to give to Him.  So, for me, the healthiest thing I can do is take a small chunk of time and focus.  Read the word, make a note of what I learned, say a prayer, and then start my day on the right foot.  It slows the ever swirling thoughts in my brain, it centers me with the one and only, and helps to put life in perspective.  That's all kinds of healthy in my book. 

Church!

Yesterday was Eleanor's first day of school.  I tried to talk it up a little in the last few days, but didn't go crazy because I didn't want her to think it was anything to stress about.  I haven't had much time to be nervous about it because we've been neck deep in house selling and buying, but this morning I got up and put on a cute outfit.  I've decided (again) that it's silly to need an excuse to dress up and feel cute.  I've gotten in a bit of a style rut as of late and I'm making an effort again.  The special occasion was Monday and I didn't want to feel frumpy.  Also, I love the LulaRoe clothes that I've recently purchased and just felt like wearing a skirt.  So I set up my phone to take an awkward selfie to show off my comfy & relaxed, but still feeling pretty cute self.  This is me being publicly nice to myself. 
Then I made Eleanor her favorite breakfast, scrambled eggs.  I packed her lunch & backpack and laid out a cute little quilt for her to use as a nap mat.  And then I took pictures of it, because I'm me. 
 She woke up in time to get dressed, have breakfast, and strut around the house with her backpack on while refusing to pose for a picture or give her daddy a first day of school hug. 

 I tried to be all excited for her first day of school in the car, but when she realized where we were going she insisted that it was church.  She's right.  It's even the same classroom that she goes to on Sunday mornings.  I finally decided it wasn't worth the distinction and agreed with her when she again told me "Church!"  She was so excited in the parking lot. 
 She plopped down on the floor while we waited in line to check in. 
 We put her stuff by her name card in the hallway and then she went right to the door of her room and said, "Open."  The teacher let her in and Eleanor went right to her and reached out her arms to be held.  I gave her a kiss and there was the faintest little whimper from her and then I was gone.  Then I remembered that I left her pacifier in the car and she would need it for any hope of a nap, so I ran it back in and left it in her backpack.  I got to peak in the window and check on her and she seemed happy and content with her 5 little classmates. 
I wasn't sad to make my next stop at the super fancy Posh Nail Bar for a mani/pedi. 
 It was a definite treat and I'll do my best to make it back there every once in a while for some pampering. 

We had a heck of a day, negotiating with potential buyers for our home.  We went from super pumped about having a deal to super discouraged because we could not come to an agreement.  So we are continuing on and praying for the perfect scenario to sell our house soon. 

Eleanor was COMPLETELY wiped out after school.  When I arrived to pick her up she was following the teacher around and signing "eat" while repeating "snack, snack, snack".  Girl was starving.  For the next few hours she laid on the couch and had snacks.  I wouldn't typically let her do that, but she insisted she needed to "rest".  No wonder she was hungry, her lunch was barely touched.  I guess the first day of school was much too exciting to sit down and eat. 

I guess I should have laid her down for a nap when we got home, but this is a learning curve for us.  She slowly fell apart and cried over nothing until she fell asleep in my arms at 5:15. 
I tried to wake her up to eat at 6, but she just had a few bites of yogurt while she cried.  By 6:30 we decided it was okay to let her go to bed and she's not out of bed yet (it's 9am!).  Her eyes have been open for a while, but she's just laying in her bed.  Toddler school must be exhausting.  I'm glad we have today and tomorrow at home together before school day number two on Thursday. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Open Houses

I took Eleanor to the mall for new back-to-school Converse sneakers the other day.  She did more pushing of the stroller than she did riding in the stroller.
 By now you should know, she has to stop and sit on every bench. 
 She wanted me to sit with her and I really do try to stop and enjoy those little moments with her.  "Hey Eleanor, want to take a picture with Mommy?"
Sass.  Pure sass.
 We took Foose to a new vet this week for his anxiety.  We're finding it harder and harder to deal with him and he doesn't handle being away from us very well.  If it's just his familiar people at home and everything is chill then he's pretty much fine, but if he has to be away from us or if there are new and extra people around, he's quite a loud, annoying mess.  He and Mac were in a pen in the backyard for a short period of time while the house was showed a few days ago and he barked the ENTIRE time.  Yelped.  Lost his mind.  We have an open house this weekend and he surely can't be left in a pen in the backyard to bark at potential buyers.  Even harder than leaving him here is taking him with us.  He freaks out and doesn't handle riding in vehicles with much grace.  So I called Dr. Lunsford.  That is where I took Grandpa's dogs in years past and I felt like she was more likely to treat us with patience (contrary to the vet we took him to last year that pretty well told Drew it was our own fault).  We gave him some over the counter calming chews just to get him there and, as luck would have it, he was pretty chill the majority of the time that we were there.  Eleanor was not.  She was a maniac. 

 Drew says I was a bit dramatic in the telling of his anxiety issues.  That's probably true.  I really wanted to get my point across and figure out how to deal with him.  Re-homing isn't on our list of possibilities, so we needed to figure out how to help him feel better.  Top of my priority list: be able to load him in the truck and board him for weekends when we want to go camping or out of town.  Currently we can't even do that.  Leaving him in the backyard and having someone check in on him wasn't working because he flips out over new people and being left alone so long.  Dr. Lunsford was great and she prescribed... wait for it... Prozac.  For Foose, not me.  Lol.  Apparently it can be quite effective in calming dogs with separation anxiety if used with training methods.  She gave me a stack of info and techniques to work on with him.  Also, he's getting neutered next week.  It could possibly help his behavior, but will definitely help with his health as he ages.  Side note:  He's a fatty.  He weighs 94 pounds and should weigh more like 80 pounds.  Add dog diet and anxious dog tranquility exercises (not joking!) to my list of things to do.  He's on day 2 of his new meds and we're watching him like a hawk to note changes as these first few weeks pass.

Thinking that I'd won the awesome shoe prize with these Rose Gold toddler sized Converse for Eleanor, I took her to Carter's to find one new outfit for back to school next week.  She sassed it up good before we even got into the store.  Pig tails and sunglasses by her specific request. 
The outfit she picked at Carter's has cats on it.  Go figure.  I let her wear it this morning to her open house.  Of course, she declared that the new shoes are "owie hurt" and refused to wear them, so she wore her new kitty cat outfit with her stinky old Keen shoes.  Also, she insisted on taking this jack-o-lantern with her to the car and refused to stand still to have her photo taken. 
 Eleanor really has it made in the Daddy department.  He took off work to attend her open house and let her stop on the way in to smell all the flowers.  He's pretty great and we sure do love him.  I know that she doesn't know any different right now, but someday she will and I hope that she looks back (hello, record of her life on this blog) and feels certain of how much she has ALWAYS been loved. 
 Because her school is at our church, the building was nothing new for her.  Her classroom is actually the room that she was promoted to last week for Sunday school.  She wasn't afraid to just walk right in and start conversations.  Surprise, surprise.  She said hi to people, pointed out & touched the sparkles on a little girl's shirt, played with toys, told me that a baby doll had "pee diaper", asked to hold some random person's actual newborn baby, commented on everything along the way, and then told me she needed to potty.  I may have some sappy feelings when I drop her off Monday morning, and I'm certain that it will be an adjustment for us both, but I'm just really excited for her.  I'd love if you would pray with us for this new adventure.  Pray for her, for her teachers and classmates, and all that they will learn and experience in the coming year.
Daddy had to go straight back to work, but Eleanor and I had some good snuggles when we got back home.  (Side note: sometimes she wants to eat peanuts and she actually eats the peanuts.  Sometimes she wants to eat peanuts and she chews and chews and chews and chews and just holds the peanut mush in her cheek like a little squirrel. Bless your heart if you ask to see how much she has in her mouth and wind up with a handful of chewed up peanut.) 
When I was a teenager I worked at a Mom's Day Out program at my church during the summer.  We had some activities, but my main job was just to keep them entertained, fed, and dry until their parents came back for them.  While that surely has value, I'm really happy that Eleanor's program is a bit more structured and focused than that.  Her teachers are educated adults with a plan and I'm hopeful for the year ahead.  This was among the handouts that we received today, so I know they have developmental goals they'll be working toward.  
She is one of, if not THE, youngest in her class.  She probably always will be because she's a July birthday.  This class is full of 2 year olds ,but most of them have been two for a while.  Even so, I felt like there was a good chance that Eleanor is going to rule the roost in the classroom!

Update on the house situation.  The new house has been inspected by a pool inspector, an HVAC inspector, and a general inspector.  We're being uber cautious and thorough and have asked for a licensed roof contractor to inspect the roof.  We've identified the repairs that we feel are necessary and are awaiting the seller's feedback on what they are willing to do.  We're praying for successful negotiations on that front.  Our house is on the market and we've had a couple of showings.  We have an open house this weekend and are hopeful that that will go well and bring in some potential buyers.  Our realtor feels like we are in the right place (location, price, and time) to sell.  That is probably the hardest thing for Drew & I to wait for right now, because we've done all we can do and now we have to trust that God works out the details of the right buyer.  But overall, the house process is going well and we're hopeful that it will all work out. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Proclamation

Our church is starting a new ministry series for the fall and this past weekend we got a bit of an introduction to what's ahead.  I'm super excited about exploring this topic and I want to share it with you.  So what is it? Your story can be a powerful tool of proclamation

I'm so pumped about this and I want you to be, also.  I took just a few notes on Sunday that I wanted to reflect on and share with you, but first I felt like I should look up the difference between a testimony and a proclamation.  I'm so glad I did. 

Testimony: a public recounting of a religious conversion or experience.

Proclamation: a public or official announcement, especially one dealing with a matter of great importance.  

I love this.  Maybe this is why the idea of giving one's testimony can feel so daunting.  It's so formal.  It is a statement that probably ends with a period.  It says, "Let me tell you what happened."  Y'all, a proclamation feels likes it should have an exclamation point after it!  A proclamation says, "I've got something really big that I just HAVE to tell you!"  

Oh, I long to have this fire and urgency in my story! 

I wrote and gave my own testimony years ago after completing Celebrate Recovery.  (It's not just for addicts, y'all, it's for normal people with all sorts of hurts, habits, and hang ups.) I gave that testimony at my own church's CR group, but also gave my testimony as a guest in another church.  I still have the physical copy and it is still my story.  It was a pretty raw and exploratory process.  I'm glad I did it, but it's only part of my story now.  I mean, a lot has happened in the last 7 years.  A lot of life, but a lot of life that has affected my relationship with Jesus Christ.  That is relevant, but it is also a bit intimidating to think about and process.  Know what's even more intimidating than that?  Sharing any of that with another human, let alone a stranger.  But you know what?  I think that may be one of the most important things that we, as believers, are called to do. 

Here's how Sam Hannon (the pastor at Fellowship that we enjoy learning from the most) put it.  Our story has four parts.  

1. My life before Christ.
2. How I came to know Christ.
3. My life with Christ.  
4. Invitation to others to know Christ.  

I can remember hearing testimonies when I was a teenager and young adult and thinking that I didn't really have much to share.  I was raised in a God believing family and I had a pretty great childhood.  Nothing terrible had every really happened to me, so I didn't have a climax at which my story reached a breaking point and I finally turned to Christ.  I just sort of always knew Him.  That doesn't exactly make for a juicy testimony that draws people in.  Does my story even have any meaning or validity if I don't have anything big and bad to share?  Just as I was thinking about that during the sermon, Sam addressed it.  He pointed out that even a "good" person's righteousness is like filthy rags before Christ.  That is, every single one of us fall short of the perfection of Christ.  Are you a teenager that sometimes cops an attitude with your parents?  Or do you have something big and terrible that you think you can't possibly ever forgive or be forgiven for?  None of us are perfect.  We don't all have a big juicy story to tell, but we do all have a story.  Now, as God would have it, I happen to have experienced a few things in the last 20 years.  The last time I gave my testimony I was in the thick of PKAN with the girls and Army deployments for Drew.  My story has a bit more to it than it did just a few years ago and I'm excited to wade through that and learn how to share my story.  I would imagine that as long as I'm living my story will evolve and hopefully my faith in & relationship with Christ will grow.  I'm so pumped about that!  

Sam suggests that we are all in one of three places.  The greenhouse, the training facility, or the launch pad.  Which of those places we are in will determine where we are in our story.  

1. Greenhouse: You have yet to know Christ.  Maybe you are an unbeliever.  Maybe you believe, but you don't know much about it.  Maybe you're just learning what it all means.  You're a seedling in a greenhouse, being tended to and sprouting in faith.  
2. Training facility: You believe.  You have accepted Christ as your savior, but you have a lot of training to do.  How do you live this life with Christ?  How do you go out into the world as a Christian, share His love, and do His work? 
3. Launch Pad: You're ready.  You've put in time with the trainers and you're ready to go out into the world for Him.  

This is something I need more information on.  Y'all, I feel like I may never be ready to stand on the launch pad.  Will I ever be like, "I'm so ready for this!  Put me in, Coach!"  I'm going to guess that most of us probably feel this way and the absolute best that I can ever be will be to always keep my gym membership.  Know what I mean?  Put me in, Coach, and I'll see you at practice again tomorrow!  

Okay, that's all I've got for now.  If you're still reading, thanks for sticking with me.  I don't write like this as often as I used to, but it's incredibly therapeutic and it's one of the best ways I know to share my story and His love.  Every day.  Here. In real time.  It's my story and I give God the glory.  As we explore and learn more about this at church in the coming months, I hope to work through and perhaps rewrite my own story.  Chances are that I'll share the process here with you and encourage you to do it along with me.  An you can be sure that my proclamation will be full of exclamation! 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Pig Tails

This kid of mine grew up all of a sudden.  I guess we can say she's potty trained.  I'm not even worrying about it anymore, she's just doing it.  She wakes up in the morning and I take off her diaper and put on her undies.  We go about our day, leaving the house, running errands, attending church, going out to eat... whatever... and she's just a big kid.  She tells me when she needs to go, or if I feel like it's been a couple of hours and that she may be distracted then I'll suggest we go try.  When we first started she needed some distraction or entertainment to sit still long enough to actually pee.  Now she sits down and we both know within about 10 seconds if she's actually going to go or not.  She'll get a look of concentration and either pee or say, "Nope!"  It's pretty awesome.  She's pretty awesome.  Praise God for a super easy potty training transition and a leftover box of diapers & pull ups for naps and night time that will likely last us until Christmas.  That's a line of the monthly budget that I'm not sad to mark off. 
I tried pig tails on her months ago and she wasn't a fan, so I've just let her go wild headed since then.  Yesterday it suddenly dawned on me that she has a ton of hair, so I sat her down and put her hair in pig tails.  She LOVES it.  I took them out for nap time because I thought she'd be more comfortable, but she cried over it.  I had to put them back in.  I did take them out for bath and bedtime last night, but the first thing she said to me this morning was, "Pig tails?  Two?" 
Also, her feet have suddenly grown.  The sandals and shoes that she's been wearing all summer are suddenly too small.  I found this out the hard way last weekend when I crammed her foot into some Sunday shoes and then she was strangely fussy and crying when we picked her up from her classroom after church.  We got home and took her shoes off and her little toes were red and there were big indentations in her feet.  I felt terrible.  Feet have grown.  Noted.  The only shoes that currently still fit her are the ladybug rain boots and her Keen shoes (the camping shoes she wears all the time).  So yesterday she wore the rain boots to church.  It was raining, by the way. 

The shoes she's outgrown are size 4 and 4 1/2, but the size 6 shoes that we've been given as hand-me-downs are much too big.  Rhea Lana consignment sale starts this weekend and I get to shop early on Saturday with Heidi, so I'm hoping that I can hit the toddler shoe jack pot and get her quite a few like-new bargains that will fit without having to buy everything new. 
 Yesterday was promotion Sunday for all kiddos at church, so she's officially bumped up to the 2 year old room.  It's in a different building, much more big kid, and less baby.  It's actually the same room she'll be in for Adventureland (mother's day out) that starts next week!  After church she walked into the house, climbed up on the couch, flopped back on this pillow and declared, "Snuggle!"  It's her new favorite thing.  She often requests "Snuggle, read?"  She'll bring me a book and pat the couch so I'll lay down and read with her.  She's mine, y'all.  100%
 Post nap.  The crookedest, cutest pig tails I've seen in a very long time.  Also, watching Moana with Daddy.  It's still a favorite. 
 Since she's got the color and shape thing down, I've noticed that she's quite interested in letters.  She loves when I put her name on things and thinks that if there is a sticker with writing on it that it must say Eleanor.  Last week she pointed to a sign on her bedroom wall and said, "What's that?"  So I told her, "It says love.  L. O. V.  E.  Love. Because I love you."  The next day, she pointed to it again, but instead of asking she said, "Love!  I love you!  O. V.  E."   She's also started asking similar questions if I'm wearing a t-shirt with writing on it, and we always stop and identify letters and what words they make.  Of course we read books all the time and she's currently most interested in the alphabet books.  I remembered a DVD that Alex and Emma used to watch, so I looked it up and ordered it for Eleanor.  Leap Frog Letter Factory. 
The girls learned a lot from this video, watching it in the car when we'd drive to visit Drew at Ft. Hood and Ft. Sill.  It doesn't just introduce the alphabet, it teaches letter names and sounds.  I'm not particularly in a hurry for her to do all this.  I mean, she's barely two, but if she's ready then I want to encourage that in all the ways I can. We've had it a few days and she's watched it for short bursts in the car a couple of times.  This morning I was on the computer and she was playing with the magnetic letters in my office.  She brought me a handful and said, "E, F, G, H, I!"  Of course, she wasn't holding those specific letters, but I still thought it was cool that she was reciting sections of the alphabet and associating them with actual letters.  She brought Drew a letter H at lunch time and told him "H!"  That could have been a complete fluke, but our jaws sort of dropped.  She brought me an X later and said, "Cross!"  She wasn't really wrong!  Before nap time I caught her slipping letters through the slats of her crib.  When I asked her what she was doing she said, "With you? Nap?" I didn't let her sleep with them and she curled her lip like I broke her heart. 
Anyway, that's the stuff we're learning at the moment and I'm excited for her to start Adventureland next week.  It's technically just a Kids Day Out program, but for her purposes we are calling it school.  We have orientation on Thursday morning where we'll get to meet her teachers and see how things will go.  I'm hoping for a great nurturing environment where she'll learn the most important things like... sharing, being kind to others, following rules, routine, manners, playing with others, etc.  Of course this is a Christian program at our church, so I love that she'll be in an environment with a focus on God's love and Bible stories.  As for me, I'll have two days a week with 6 hours to myself!  What is that even like?  As I've said for months, on the first day, I'm going for a pedicure and manicure!  (A bet less exciting, on her second day I'm going to the dentist.) 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Itchy

Silly selfie after bath time
 Farmer's Market with Nonnie
Lunch at this cute little tea place off the Fayetteville square. 

 We were trying to take a selfie to send to Daddy.  This is as good as it got. 

Potty Training update!  Eleanor is slaying this whole potty thing.  She's totally rocking it.  Yesterday I put a pull up on her because I knew we'd be at the Farmer's Market a while and that a bathroom might not be close by.  I sought out places to take her, being overly cautious.  She did pee during one of those potty breaks and kept her pull up dry the entire time.  After nap she got to wear her new panties with Frozen characters on them.  She was thrilled!  No accidents all day!  So this morning I gave her the benefit of the doubt and we went to run errands without the security of a pull up.  Before we checked out at Walmart I took her to the potty and she went like she was a pro.  She stayed dry for our entire outing and has had no accidents so far today!  Where does that put us?  Two accidents in 5 days, I think.  I'd say she's got this!  One thing that I'm having to adjust to is that she doesn't need to go as often as I think she should.  Every 2-3 hours is plenty for her and she's having no trouble staying dry for that long.  Of course she still very much needs a diaper while she sleeps, but I think that part comes later.  Also, that will likely require that she be moved to a toddler bed so that she can get up in the night to potty as needed.  And we all know how fond I am of her being safely confined to her crib! 

Since all I seem to have to talk about is potty training and low carb diets, let's cover the low carb part of this post.  I've told you all how much better I feel since we've begun this diet, but I haven't been super specific about how exactly I feel better.  The main things for me are:

1. I feel less foggy and tired. 
2. I no longer feel bloated or experience that uncomfortable "full" feeling after eating.  My appetite is satisfied, but my belly is comfortable.
3. My mood has stabilized.   I'm a woman, so I'm probably going to always have some mood swings, but I've felt (and behaved) much more balanced. 
4.  My skin has cleared up.  I've had issues with cystic acne for a long time.  Not just the normal little pimples that most people get, but large, painful, hard bumps under the skin.  I've tried tons of topical stuff, cleaners, moisturizers, face creams, etc. and nothing has ever helped.  I haven't had a single one since we cut out all the grains and sugar from our diet. 
5. More skin stuff.  Off and on for years I have experienced itching.  I get itchy for no good reason.  Sometimes it's all over my body and very uncomfortable, but it gets especially bad on my face.  Sometimes so bad that any sort of moisturizer or cosmetic just burns.  It's impossible to not scratch or rub, but that just makes it worse.  It's not always visible to others, but if you look closely it is a slightly raised and splotchy rash.  While avoiding grain and sugar, my skin has stayed clear.  The first time we ate poorly I had a small break out, but nothing terrible.  I wasn't sure if it was the grain or sugar, since I ate both, so I just went back to the my new diet and things were fine. 

Until now.  Last Sunday Drew and I splurged and ordered a thin crust pizza.  I noticed that the next day my face was a bit irritated and my chest and neck were a little itchy, but it wasn't terrible so I brushed it off.  My belly felt fine.  Yesterday at lunch I had a sandwich.   I took the top slice of bread off, but I ate the bottom slice.  I didn't want to be rude by completely picking my food apart and it really was delicious, so I ate it.  Today I woke up with my face so irritated that I  couldn't tolerate to put make-up on.  My body is so itchy that I can hardly stand it.  It doesn't look like anything (except for where I've scratched myself red) on my body, but my face is irritated and red.  I can't say with certainty that it's the bread (on top of the pizza crust from a few days ago), but it's something and I don't like it.  I could shell out the cash to be tested for allergies and try to determine what's going on, or I could just avoid the thing that seems to be causing the problem.  So that's what I'm going to do.  Also, this is probably a decent time to publicly tell Misty that she was right.  When I was having a particularly bad flare of this about  4 years ago, she told me that I should remove wheat from my diet and see if that helped.  I scoffed at the very thought of a life without bread and pasta.  Turns out that maybe I could have been avoiding this for years with a really simple change of my diet. 
It's also worth noting that I've been a bit irritable and short with Eleanor this morning.  That could just be a random thing that happens, but it could be diet related.