Friday, September 30, 2011

My Little Dancing Diva

I never thought Jayci would be a dancer. I mean, I hated dance class the ONE DAY that I was enrolled. I blame my lack of, ahem, grace. Oh and rhythm, I also lack in rhythm. However, Jayci's friend Ava was signed up for a dance class in our neighborhood. And Jayci pretty much loves all things Ava-related, so I knew she'd enjoy it.

They told me I had to buy her a leotard, and then I couldn't figure out if the tights went over or under the leotard. Or what shoes she should wear with said leotard. Oh man, I'm so clueless about this stuff. Luckily, Jayci's cuteness and enthusiasm more than makes up for my clue-less-ness.

Anyways, parents were only allowed to sit in on the first two classes. So obviously, I had to take lots of pictures those two classes to hold me over for her "recital." Besides taking lots of pictures, I also laughed a lot because the three year old dance class? It is hilarious and cute all rolled into one. I love it.

 This is her embarrassed face. Also, I apparently opted for under the leotard, but it doesn't look very comfortable right here . . . Hmmm.


 At the end of the class, they go around the circle and give each other "sunshine" which means they say nice things to each other. Here is Ava and Jayci giving each other sunshine. So cute.
 I think the popsicle tattoos go well with the dance ensemble.
On the way to her first class, Jayci informed me that she was going to "show them her moves." I think this is one of them. And it's a pretty sweet move if I do say so myself.

 Jayci and Ave held hands every moment that they weren't actively dancing.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"Da Crib" - Kitchen Tour

I realize it has been a long time coming, but I finally cleared out my kitchen enough to snap some pictures for you guys. Granted, I merely dumped most of it on the dining room table and put it back after I shot these, but still . . . at least my kitchen looks clean for once!
Those of you who have been hanging out here for a long (LONG!) time might remember the "before" shots. 
I would have to say that the "after" is a big improvement. Some might even say "huge gigantic improvement." I love our kitchen so much, it's definitely my favorite room in the house (it's also the most "finished"). It's perfect for kiddos congregating, making big meals, sitting at the bar and chatting . . . I was a little nervous about the "Tame Teal" wall color (that, as it turns out, is not actually very tame) but i love how it turned out once we got cabinets and trim and accent colors up. We added the beadboard ceiling and crown molding, but the rest of the trim is original to the home. The cabinets are painted a light gray color (Sherwin Williams - Passive Gray).
 
Our countertops are made from these huge butcher block tables that we got for free from an industrial warehouse. They were badly scratched and beat up, and we just had out cabinet guy sand them down and voila! Beautiful butcher block counters for FREE dollars. Oh and Adam's dad made the corbels for the bar top and the open shelving from the same butcher block. No biggie, he just whittled them or whatever. He's a whiz with making things. We treated them with mineral oil and beeswax, and so far they are holding up great.
 
The pendant lights are DIY, made using a pendant light kit from Home Depot and and some old egg baskets we found at an antique store. I was just about to tell y'all they were surprisingly easy to make, but then I realized that I didn't actually do any of the work so you will have to ask Adam how hard it was . . .
The bar top is made of concrete. We made it (remember, I use the term "we" loosely, and primarily to refer to "Adam did it completely on his own without any of my help") using the DIY instructions found on Kelly Moore's blog. I will say that the counter weighs approximately 600 lbs. Not that I lifted it. Cause I didn't. I love the patina from stains and water rings and bubbles . . .it adds so much character! True story: The FIRST time we ever ate at the bar, Zack spilled his hot wing sauce all over, leaving a lovely stain that taught me much about NOT FREAKING OUT over our new house and keeping it perfect (a crucial lesson considering how many kids tend to hang out in our kitchen these days).
We were able to save most of the original hardwoods throughout the kitchen (we did have to replace some boards that were rotted), and we just had them sanded down and covered with a satin-poly (without any stain, we wanted to keep the color variation). The adorable hand towel was a gift, I think it's from Anthropologie.

Adam and I have continual debates over the open shelving. He keeps trying to make them more "functional" by stacking large quantities of plates and bowls etc. On the other hand, I insist they are meant to be decorative. Which is really a reflection of our relationship: I'm decorative and he's functional. Meaning he does all the work. My analogy breaks down a little with  me being "decorative" and yet never wearing makeup or doing my hair these days . . . oh well.
 
We used subway tiles with gray grout for the backsplash. I love how it turned out, and feel like the darker grout adds some interest and ties it in with the cabinets. The farmhouse sink (hello lover) is from Ikea. It's large and deep and perfect for stacking up many many dirty dishes. Not that I'd ever NOT do my dishes immediately. The plates on the wall are from Anthropologie, there was also a pretty pink one that didn't survive the move. Oops.
So that's our kitchen . . . thanks for visiting "da crib" (as it's named on Four Square - which Adam signed me up for and I never remember to use) Sadly, I am not the "mayor" of "da crib." Whatever that means.

Stay tuned for more room tours. Someday. When I have a chance to move the clutter around again.

*I'm linking up here -- be sure to visit!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

In his smile

In your smile, I see hope.
I am reminded of God's goodness.
Of His love

I remember days spent in the hospital
Not sure of the future,
scared of what lay ahead.

But I also remember moments held close
and flashes of hope

Knowing Him as the Great Physician
And as comforter,
And healer,
And mender of broken hearts.

When you smile at me
My heart aches anew at the realization
Of God's goodness

You are a miracle
Beautiful, healthy
Whole.
And because of you
Our hearts are all healed
and our family is whole.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Chaos would be the best way to describe it

Our new home now borders on chaotic pretty much constantly. On top of Adam and I, our two roomies (have I told you about them yet?), our sweet dog, a busy three year old, and a time-demanding one month old, we also tend to have at least three or four neighborhood kids visiting and playing spoons, working on homework, eating up all our food, and so on and so forth . . . Currently there are six kids here. Correction, now there's eight. Make that 12. Ok I lost count, and I should go help because one of our dining room chairs just broke.

Ok I'm back, and ready to tell y'all about our weekend. It was a good one, albeit with a strong theme of "slighty chaotic" running through it.

First of all, we got Jayci a sweet new Barbie bike from the Beltline Bike Shop for her birthday. She loves it, and who wouldn't?
Friday night we had one of our favorite families over for dinner with the goal of eating, chatting, hanging out, and catching up on the funny television that premiered this week (Modern Family and Parks and Rec? Yes please). A wrench got thrown in our plans when the mom of the15 year old I told y'all about showed up with her 6 other kids and told us that her daughter had her baby and she needed us to take her to the hospital to see her. Her water broke at school and they rushed her to the hospital to have an emergency c-section because the cord was prolapsed. Slight panic ensued as we scrambled to get ready to leave the house, figure out where the kiddos were going to go etc while we went to the hospital. We got to see sweet baby and his momma. They are both doing well, but honestly my heart is a little stressed and worried and not sure what the next step looks like in this journey. I dont know what God would have us do to help and how He's going to make beauty from this. I trust completely that He will redeem it, but it's hard for me to see right now how this fifteen year old can possibly care for her baby well . . . Not to mention that the baby is in the NICU and it brought back so many hard memories and emotions when I walked through there. I had tears from the first moment when we had to scrub our hands. I remembered how raw my hands were from the constant scrubbing when we were visiting Caden in the CICU.

And yet, I was reminded yet again of how we serve the "God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." And I am amazed yet again at the ways God is using our story with Caden to further our ministry and to love those around us well. Please keep praying for this sweet girl and her baby. And for wisdom and discernment for us, and how we can help.

Unfortunately after I came home from the hospital I thought a delicious iced coffee would be a great plan, and subsequently I ended up staying awake (OH SO WIDE WIDE AWAKE) until 4am. Meaning I got about 2 total hours of sleep, which was just delightful.
 
Saturday I went to some garage sales and scored a double jogging stroller. Now let me clarify that I certainly don't jog, or run, or really even walk beyond leisurely strolls through the neighborhood. Adam, however, can run for hours at a time. And I've realized that the time he's gone can be turned into some fabulous alone time if he can take both  the kids with him. Booyah.

Then Adam's parents came over and babysat Caden and Jayci so Adam and I could have a chance to spend some time together. They took a CPR class at the hospital, and now that he's off his feeding tube, we felt like we were finally comfortable leaving him for a few hours so we could recharge and reconnect. We ate some delicious Mexican food (hello cheese dip, how I've missed you . . . ) and then went and saw Contagion.

Saturday night was game night with the neighborhood kids, and Adam played at the park with them while Danielle made buffalo chicken macaroni and cheese (hands down best meal ever). Our friends stopped by again (they clearly can't stay away from the joyful chaos that is our house) and we played spoons and hung out for a little while until the kids left and we fell into a dead sleep (for a few hours at least until we had to wake up and feed Caden again).
Sunday we took Caden to church for the first time. We were clearly feeling ambitious this weekend with the outings.
 After church, a sweet friend brought us dinner. And let me just tell y'all, that casserole was like the loaves and fish because we ended up with the aforementioned 15 kids at our house for dinner time. And now we need to have a family meeting to evaluate our house rules and boundaries and "how the heck can we fit such large quantities of children in our house without anyone getting seriously injured?" . . . 

Friday, September 23, 2011

A thousand sleepless nights

Right next to the Cardiac ICU at CHOA, there's a little room where moms can go to use the hospital breast pump, to gather and store milk that their baby may never drink. Late one evening during Caden's hospital stay, I sat in the tiny room staring at the clock, willing the fifteen minutes to pass quickly so I could go sit with Caden. My eyes closed as I listened to the quiet whoosh of the breastpump and prayed for my son. Every time I sat in that room, I pulled out Bible verses I had written down the night before and I prayed them over Caden. I thought. I prayed. I dreamed. I dreaded. I feared.

On this particular night, I sat quietly sipping an apple juice box from the tiny fridge, and thought about the song "Blessings" by Laura Story. I remembered the time I had first heard the song. Driving in my car, it came on 104.7 The Fish. And I loved it, because I told Adam the words were just so true. Christians are so ready to follow Jesus, just as long as he answers their prayers for peace and blessings and prosperity. But not us, Adam and I agreed, WE were willing to follow Him regardless of what He gave and where he led. Even if our house deal didn't proceed as quickly or smoothly as we wanted. Even if we had to move somewhere no one else wanted to move.

I sat there that night and realized how weak my faith actually was. How much I was really just like those "other Christians" I judged so harshly. I was willing to follow Jesus, to trust His plan and His ways, as long as they lined up with my own plans. As long as He didn't require too much. Oh sure, I'd given Him my life, I just handed it over with specific stipulations for how He could (and should) use it. And that didn't include, in my estimation, Caden being born with heart defects.

Thankfully, that's not how God operates. Because sometimes we pray for sunshine, and He knows that what we really need in order to grow is rain.

As the song echoed in my ears, "what if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near," it was truly as if I could feel the Lord pulling me up into his lap and holding me close. I sobbed into His arms, and knew that He cried with me. I pulled His grace on like a sweater, guarding against the hospital's chill. On that sleepless night, and on every night that Caden was in the hospital, as I tossed and turned, I felt the Lord's nearness like I had never experienced it before.

And in that nearness, I finally knew. Knew that God's blessings really did come in unexpected ways. That the aching I felt at the brokenness of Caden's heart, truly was "the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy.

Our time when Caden was in the hospital, when I sat in the small quiet room and pumped, were truly "the hardest nights." But they were also nights (and days) when we experienced the Lord's mercy in tangible ways. When we met Him in unexpected places and unexpected ways. And when we sank into His arms, exhausted and sorrowful, but also hopeful.

My prayer for us (and for all of you), is that we will continue to let Him hold us. To remember His nearness and to hold onto it tightly. That for every disappointment, every fear, every single moment, we will recognize His mercy and fall into His grace.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Jayci's Third Birthday Party

It was Saturday evening and Jayci's birthday party was scheduled for the next day when I realized that I hadn't done a thing to prepare. I had zero desire or energy to throw a birthday party at all, but I really felt like Jayci deserved to be celebrated and loved on, particularly with everything that she's been through with Caden over the past month and a half. Despite my lack of enthusiasm, we went ahead and planned a small pool party for family and close friends to celebrate our little girl turning three. Unfortunately, a cold front blew through Atlanta, making a pool party NOT the best idea we've ever had. Regardless, there were going to be twenty people or so showing up at my parents' house the next day and I hadn't done a single thing.

The funny thing was that I was ok with it. The last two years, I've completely stressed myself out enjoyed making large amounts of perfect decor, cleaning my house, making food, and picking out an adorable outfit for Jayci . . . But this year I learned something important from everything with Caden: it's just not that important. Sure it's fun, but party planning for a three year old isn't a "make or break" thing as a parent. In other words, I am NOT a bad mom because I didn't spend weeks preparing ideas I had pinned on pinterest . . . And I'm thankful to Caden for teaching me to let go a little. Ok a lot.

All that said, we still had a great party for our little pumpkin (no thanks to me, however, all the credit goes to our parents and my sisters). And I think Jayci felt special and hopefully she was able to tell how loved she is by so so many people.
 My sweet friend Allie gave us the fabulous decorations she made for her daughter's third birthday party (a few weeks before Jayci's) . . . so I only looked like I had it all together. I actually totally cheated. And I'm totally ok with it.



 My super-talented sister (who happens to be a pastry chef) made the delicious cake. Seriously, yum.

 Jayci and Ave hiding in the corner eating hot dogs. Ha.
 Samaya holding Caden, I think he likes her - and I can't blame him!
 Lots of sweet friends came to help celebrate Jay's big day - we were so grateful to everyone who made the drive!
 Love this family. A lot.
 When it was time to blow out the candles, Jayci got a little bashful. Poor thing, she hates being the center of attention (rest assured, she does NOT take after her father in that regard).
 She also had a little trouble blowing out the candles - her candle-blowing technique was cute, if not very effective.
 More party guests, being harassed by Adam as usual.
 I'm not sure if I've mentioned it before, but these two are a hot mess together. It's hilarious really.
Caden enjoyed the party as well. He got plenty of snuggles from all the grandparents and aunts and great-grandparents. I'm sure he hated it.
 I see a glimpse of Jayci as a teenager in this one.Which, at this rate, will be here before we know it. Yikes.

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