Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pinecones and Rocks and the Occaisional Dog.

Happy 100th post! Cue streamers now. Exciting, huh?

Ok, on to Wordless-ish Wednesday.

What better way to celebrate the occaision than with cute baby pictures? Yeah, I can't think of a better way, either.

Linking up with Paper Mama for Wordless Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Smile Like You Mean It

Smiling is infectious,
You can catch it like the flu.
Someone smiled at me today,
And I started smiling too.

Linking up to Paper Mama's photo challenge: Smile.
The Paper Mama

A smile costs nothing but gives much.  It enriches those who receive without making poorer those who give.  It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.  None is so rich or mighty that he cannot get along without it and none is so poor that he cannot be made rich by it.  Yet a smile cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is something that is of no value to anyone until it is given away.  Some people are too tired to give you a smile.  Give them one of yours, as none needs a smile so much as he who has no more to give. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Peaks, Pits, Praises, and Prayers.

1. We enjoyed the most wonderful Thanksgiving last week. Great family time and lots of delicious food. And Cohen loved it. For my wiggly toddler who is always on the move, we managed to keep him in his high chair for over half and hour as he devoured his dinner.

2. Travis and I, along with his mom, his brother, and his girlfriend (the brother's girlfriend, not Travis's girlfriend. Because that would be weird, don't you think?) spent Thanksgiving night participating in Black Friday madness. You can read about the experience here. So much fun. I look forward to it every year.

3. We spent Saturday morning taking family pictures. I'm not sharing them here because some loved ones may receive some as Christmas gifts. But here is one of the bloopers that I just think is hilarious.

1. This morning, the boy and I headed out to the craft store with the intention of stopping by the library on the way home for story time. It was raining, and I didn't have an umbrella. The boy was incredibly cranky and desperately needed a nap. I got incorrect directions to the library and ended up driving in circles for a good 15 minutes. We didn't make it to story time, thus standing up our friends who were expecting to meet us there.

2. Cohen's getting a molar. That thing will be the death of all of us.

1. I've mentioned Asher bracelets before. They are being sold to raise funds to pay for surgeries for babies in Uganda. The goal at the beginning was to raise enough money for one surgery. They've raised enough for three so far. God is good!

1. Baby Ward (the inspirition for Asher bracelets) is back in the hospital due to an infection. He's doing well, but he still needs all the prayers of healing he can get. And his parents would appreciate prayers as well.

2. We're getting ready to head back to downtown Atlanta to minister to the homeless. We're collecting coats, blankets, sleeping bags, and other warm items to distribute. Please pray that we collect enough to give out to everyone we talk with, especially the children. Most importanlty, please pray that God will begin to work on the hearts of people we will meet.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday Fun

Hi, my name is Erica, and I am a Black Friday shopper.

Like, a first one through the door Black Friday shopper. A make my list a week before the big event Black Friday shopper. A Black Friday turned Black Thanksgiving Black ... er, you get the point.

And you want to know the kicker? I never go for the big ticket items. I've never bought a TV or a laptop or even a camera.Nope, that's not my style. I go for, well, the pointless items. And the fun. Because, I'm telling you, that is the most fun few hours of the entire year.

So let me just paint you a scene:
Walmart, 8PM. The parking lot is a ghost town. We march through the front doors, grab our store maps, and scope out the place.
8:15PM, we decide to split up. Travis takes the $1.28 towels and $20 600 TC sheets section, and I decide to camp out about 20 yards away at the $6 bath mat and $6.98 microfiber sheet section.
8:40 PM, my mother in law joins Travis at the sheets and large crowds have already circled around the goods. My section looked pretty harmless: I had prime real estate, I had already laid claim to 2 sets of sheets and a bath mat. 20 yards away, it wasn't looking so good. I called Travis and told him to forget getting us the sheets, just protect his mom. He's angry and keeps clenching his jaw. Crowds aren't his thing.
8:45PM, a lady joins our mix. She decides to take some sheets and make a run for it. A worker who had been monitoring us chases her down and makes her put the sheets back. This has been her warning, next time she'll be escorted out by police. She cusses out the worker.
8:50PM, the worker and a manager are now hovering over us. Crowd has gotten bigger. My hands now permanently rested on my goods. 20 yards away, it's looking bad, and my husband and mother-in-law are in the middle of it.
8:55PM, I tell the people around me, "If any of y'all hit me, I'm swinging back." I'm only half-way joking. A man standing next to me tells me the story of how a man in a wheelchair got flipped over last year. I'm scared now.
8:56PM, police presence. People are getting mean. I really want to run away. Travis's face is bright red now.
9:03PM, another mob an aisle down begins ripping through the plastic that holds the $6 tupperware. Workers are freaking out, but there are just too many people, and they can't do much. I hear someone yell, "GO!" people starting grabbing whatever they can find and run. I stand there, dumbfounded, watching the store manager for permission. Always a rule follower, even in a mob. Manager turns around and walks away; I look over at my husband-- he's passing out sheets and towels. I take my loot and head out as quickly as possible. I can't stop giggling.
9:05PM, we find an empty aisle in sporting goods to camp out. Travis stays with our 2 cartfulls of stuff while we head back into the madness. Mother in law goes for the toys, I head for the movies. Same scenario happens at the $1.98 movie station at 9:53PM. I make out like a bandit.

We make our way to the front of the store, and by 11:15PM, we're headed out to the cars. We meet up with Travis's brother who had been camped out for hours outside Best Buy to get his goods. Quick fuel-up at Waffle House, and we're in Kohl's 2 minutes past the midnight opening. Travis immediately gets in the checkout line while I do my shopping. I load up on tons of baby goods, and we're out in 20 minutes. We do the same thing at Target, Belk, and Old Navy.

4:30AM, everyone has bloodshot eyes, and we're all a little slaphappy. We decide to call it a morning an head home.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

I have so much to be thankful for, it's pretty ridiculous, really. I have the best job in the world, a supportive family, a loving husband, and a beautiful, healthy, and happy son.

God has blessed us tremenduously this year. I was able to stop working so that I could stay home with Cohen. New friendships were formed, and other friendships were strengthened. We have been given wonderful opportunities for success. Our ministry has grown and is thriving. The Lord is giving me multiple outlets to use my talents.

We are healthy. My husband and I are still very much happily married. We eat well. We laugh.

Of course there have been some rough patches this year, but I am emerging and am (hopefully) a better person for it.

We've spent the day preparing for the next few days. We had a meatless meal (eggplant parm) in anticipation of all the goodness we'll stuff in our faces tomorrow (I've got my stretchy pants already laid out). We cleaned the house because that just seems to be what we do right before a holiday. I've got my Black Friday (Thursday?) shopping list prepared. We've got a babysitter for the little guy so we can shop to our heart's content.

We are ready.

I hope you enjoy a fabulous Thanksgiving surrounded by those you love and who love you.

A Wordless-ish Day At the Park

Cohen and I spent some time at the park yesterday, enjoying the nice weather. Seriously, it was 70 degrees with a nice breeze. 2 days before Thanksgiving and 6 weeks before Christmas. Perfect weather.

I always know when it's time to get the boy out of the house. You can see it in his eyes that he's restless. He literally looks around the house for things to break; for no-nos to touch.

So we went to the park, and the boy found perfect bliss. Look at that face. Love.

We spent the biggest chunk of our time in the swing. Partly because the boy loves the swing; partly because when he's allowed to walk around the playground, he typically makes a bee-line to the Chik-fil-a lunches and diaper bags of other playground goers.

A good time was had by all. It was hard to leave, but when the minivan-load of kids poured onto the playground, we knew our time was up. So we made our 45 minute trek to the car (seriously, 45 minutes to walk the couple hundred yards to the parking lot. That's what happens when you let the baby walk), said "bye bye" to all who would pay us attention, and headed home.

linking up with Paper Mama for Wordless(ish) Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Making It Throught the Storm

I just need to brag on my God today. Because, y'all, He is awesome. He knows exactly what I need and provides at just the perfect time. It's during times like this when I kick myself for doubting or wanting to taking control -- when I feel pretty foolish for going about things my own way.

My pastor frequently says that you are always in one of three places in your life: you're either going into a storm, in a storm, or coming out of a storm. When I look back on my life, I can certainly see that cycle. Those storms aren't fun, but praise God He always leads me out!

I don't want to presume that I know all about God's plan (usually when I think that I do, He throws me a curve ball), but I really feel like a storm is passing. I can see the beginnings of blue skies and rainbows and all that other cliche stuff. Wait, is that a bird chirping?

My storm began brewing around this time last year -- with the birth of my son. I have loved that boy from the beginning, but his arrival also brought some challenges I wasn't prepared for. Like my inability to leave him when it was time to return to work. Personal relationships were also strained -- to the point where they would eventually break.

The first part of this year was difficult. Financially, we were doing very well, but I was an emotional wreck. Life was crumbling all around me, and I didn't care to do anything about it. After a few months, when things weren't getting any better, my husband and I made the decision that I would take a year's leave of absence from the school where I taught so that I could stay home with Cohen.

I will always be forever grateful that my husband entertained and later accepted that idea. It has taken a lot (more than I even know) of sacrifice on his part for me to stay home with my son, but it was the first step in healing for me. Through the summer, I began to feel positive again. I was spending more time with the Lord, and He revealed truths to me that I needed to hear. He gave me new friendships that I desperately needed -- at the perfect time when I was ready to allow people in my life again. He deepened relationships I had with Godly people -- people who prayed for me and genuinely cared for me.

There's one family in particular who I have grown to love over this last year. It is not uncommon for them to pray for something in my life before I even ask them to pray. They are Godly people -- the kind of people I want to be. They listen and are obedient when God moves them. They have blessed our family many times over the last few months. I thank God every day for them and for showing me the kind of person I want to be.

And now, as we begin to close out the year, I'm feeling the rain subside. The sun is peeking through the clouds, and I welcome its warmth. There were so many times this year when I would have done anything to be where I am today, but I am so thankful it has taken this long to get here.

Because without the storm, I wouldn't be able to appreciate the sun.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

Linking up with Call Me Blessed for We Encourage Tuesday.

Friday, November 18, 2011


I recently read a quote by Beth Moore that punched me in the gut. I was left sitting alone, with the breath literally sucked out of me.
What if we started to be who we seem to be?
It struck a nerve somewhere. I guess that's what I'm dealing with right now: learning how to be completely genuine. When I started this blog, I made the decision that it would only be a place for the positive. There'd be no room for complaining or thoughts that made anyone uncomfortable or feel anything but uplifted.
But that's not real. And by sharing only the pretty, shiney things, I wouldn't be real, either. This blog sometimes gets hard now because, unlike in the beginning, I know that people who I love and who love me read (Hi Mom; hi Travis). And what I say here is heard and taken to heart.
So I guess I need you to know that I am in a good place; there's no need to worry. But I am going to be real.
What if we started to be who we seem to be?
Before I became a mom, I wouldn't leave the house without putting on makeup and making sure my hair was clean and styled. I never performed morning errands with my husband because by the time I was ready to leave the house, it was no longer morning.
When Cohen was born, slowly but steadily, the need to look presentable in public has disappeared. These days, it's not uncommon for me to spend the whole day in public with no makeup and my hair pulled back in a ponytail, under a hat. I've even found myself stopped in the middle of the cereal aisle flicking off pieces of chewed up pancake from my pants. Disgusting, I know, but there's just more important things going on now without me worrying about how strangers perceive me.
It makes me think about how we, as people, put on our best faces when we're around others. We only show our best side, sometimes at the expense of actually sharing with others who we truly are. I am pretty good at that -- at putting on a nice face. But it's not real, and at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I'm going for real here.
So here's the real:
I deal with guilt about things I can't change. I am capable of holding huge, disgusting grudges. I close myself off from people I feel I can't trust. When I don't know how to deal with a situation, my first response is to ignore it and hope it goes away. I get angry when things don't go my way. I never feel like I'm good enough. I have deliberately hurt people before. I am hurt that some people who've seen the real me no longer like me. I find worth in the approval from others.
I enjoy and appreciate humor. I like sarcasm. I gravitate towards positive people. I don't participate in gossip. I value time spent with loved ones. I cherish time to myself. I pray and believe that God hears me. I want more than anything to please the Lord. I am empathetic towards people who are hurting, and I want to help them. I am loyal.
And I am learning day by day that the only one who will ever love me fully and accept me completely is God. Even that not-so-pretty stuff? Yeah, He knows about it, and it doesn't change how He loves me. And I'm beginning to accept that the only place I'll reach perfection is Heaven. Don't get me wrong, I'm still going to attempt betterment, but that saying fake it till you make it? I'm not so sure I'm feeling that tonight.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


It's been a bit of a whirlwind week over here. Very nice, but tiring, too. We are in go go go mode, and sometimes I have to tell myself to just stop and breath and appreciate life.

As we approach Thanksgiving, I've got a lot, like alotalot to be thankful for. I try to express my gratitude every day, but somehow it all still manages to pile up on me. And humble me.

So, in no particular order, here are 10 things I'm thankful for today:

1. I'm thankful for my husband. He works so hard to provide for our family and serve God. I am so proud of him and what he's accomplished. I love that he puts others and their feelings before himself (ok, sometimes I hate that about him, too). I love that he's such an amazing leader for our family.

2. I'm thankful for such a happy baby. I love his smiles when he wakes up in the mornings. I live for his giggles. That boy just exudes joy.

3. I'm thankful that God delivers His plan even when I doubt or become discouraged or try my best to change it.

4. I'm thankful for little gifts that remind me just how much people care.

5. I'm thankful for people who tell it to me like it is instead of smiling and pretending everything's OK.

6. I'm thankful for ministry.

7. I'm thankful for my mess of a living room. I love that I have to watch  where I step so that I don't step on toys.

8. I'm thankful that my son is learning and growing and is beginning to really interact with me.

9. I'm thankful that we have hope.

10. I'm thankful that God gives my family what we need to provide for ourselves and also to give to others.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

What are you thankful for this week? You can post in the comment section below if you don't have a blog to post to!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Toys and Turkey Shirts

Today is a bit of a slow one. It's rainy, and we're feeling lazy over here. Like, let's not get out of our pajamas today kind of lazy. I'm pretty sure the boy is OK with that.

He's busy playing with all his new birthday presents. This boy is on toy overload, and I love watching him go from one thing to the next. His favorite this morning has been this toy wagon. It's supposed to just hold Legos, but Cohen is determined to take a ride, too. Hmmm. Looks like we need to get the boy a real wagon for Christmas. Poor thing.

I know I say this all the time, but Cohen is at a really fun age right now. He's thinking and learning and doing things on purpose. We're really getting a glimpse at just how smart he is. Last night, we played with shapes for the first time. He picked up on the concept quickly. I love how proud of himself he is (please excuse the poor camera handling -- I have to hide the camera these days or else all you'd see is a giant eye or a tongue).

I'm also playing around. A few days ago, I made this Pinterest-inspired turkey shirt for the boy. Cohen was uber cute wearing it yesterday. When he saw it for the first time, he broke out in giggles, so I'm thinking he likes it.

And this morning, I sat down at the sewing machine and made this turkey shirt for a friend of mine. And the more I look at it, the more I'm convinced Cohen needs one, too. You just can't have too many holiday shirts, you know?

Linking up with Paper Mama for Wordless(ish) Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

All I Have To Do Is Follow.

The summer before 10th grade, my world changed. My mom remarried, and my life was uprooted. We moved into another house in a new school district. I lost all my friends. I lost the life I had. I was angry. I'm pretty sure there was kicking and screaming involved.

And then God moved.

The day I enrolled in my new school, I met the mom of my soon-to-be new best friend. They introduced me to their church, which quickly became my second home. There, I grew in my relationship with the Lord. There, He began to form me into the person I was to be.

Because of that, I chose to go to a college I never would have picked in my old life. Because of my experiences at that school, I found myself taking a summer job at a summer camp. Because I worked at summer camp, I met my husband.

And I owe it all to the summer before 10th grade, when my world was crashing down around me.

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD (Isaiah 55:8).

Tonight, I find it appropriate to simply praise God. For His thoughts. For His ways. That He is infinitely wiser than I could ever be. That He knows the plans He has for me, and those plans are for prosperity, not harm.

Tonight, confession is also appropriate. I need to confess my refusal to trust. I need to confess my desire to take control of every situation. I need to confess that many times I think I know better than God.

Tonight, I want to shout to the world what the Lord has done for me. How He has cared for me. How He has carried me through the valleys. That He knows the way through the wilderness.

Because, just as I felt like my world was crashing around me back in 10th grade, I've felt the same way this year. And just as I whined and moaned and complained that life was so unfair back then, I've felt sorry for myself this year. I couldn't see, and I still can't, really. But I don't have to -- that's the beauty of having the Lord for your guide.

And in the same way that I can look back and see how many blessings stem from the heartache of the Summer of 1999, I know I will look back to today and say, "Look what blessings came from that."

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Birthday Party

This weekend, we celebrated my boy. And, let's be honest, we also celebrated the fact that Dada and I managed to keep a human being alive for an entire year. It's a pretty big accomplishment.

We had a great day partying it up. The weather was gorgeous, the food was good, the people were fantastic, and the presents were plentiful. Cohen loved having so many people showering him with attention. He loved sharing his toys with his buddies. He loved snacking on hot dogs and tator tots and especially cake. My child loves cake. Probably more than hot dogs. And that's saying something.

The day was all about him, and it was absolutely perfect. But, good night, it was exhausting. We are all still trying to recover from such a big weekend. Seriously, my brain is fried, which is the reason I'm going to stop typing now and just show pictures.

Because, really, that's the best part of the blog, anyway.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Reward From the Lord

Forgive me for being MIA lately. Birthday festivities have kept us very busy. But we're back now and ready to share!

Happy birthday, Little Man. You are the best gift.

Linking up with Katie Lloyd Photography for Scripture and a Snapshot.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Happy 1st Birthday, Cohen!

Dear Cohen,

Today you turn one year old.

I am trying to make this day all about you, but I'm having a little bit of trouble keeping my emotions under control. You don't seem to mind, though. You enjoy all the extra hugs and kisses. It's just that today marks the end of the best year of my life. You have truly rocked my world. You are such a gift, little boy. The best gift God could give.

Today also marks the beginning of the best year of my life because I know that as wonderful as my first year with you was, this next year is sure to be even better.

You are changing so quickly these days. Sometimes it's hard to keep up with you and all your new tricks. You are a mover, that's for sure. You like to walk, walk, walk. And sometimes you like to try to run. It doesn't usually turn out well for you, but you try. You do not like to be strapped down anymore. It makes strollers and carseats and grocery carts pretty impossible.

You have the biggest, most beautiful smile I've ever seen, and you flash it at me and Dada and anyone else you see regularly. You have such a sweet personality, and everyone comments on how happy you always seem to be. Don't get me wrong, you have your moments of screaming, crying fits, but for the most part you are a sweet, happy boy.

You are a sleeper, like me. You need your sleep. You will sleep for 12-14 hours at night, and then you take at least one 3 hour nap during the day. The recent time change has really messed you up, making you wake up earlier and need 2 naps during the day. If we are not at home, though, you will go all day long without a nap. In fact, you pretty much refuse to sleep anywhere except your carseat or crib. As long as people entertain you all day, you are happy.

You are very much a people person. You've never met a stranger, and you are quick to make yourself right at home any place we go. You will let anyone hold you and love on you.

I have noticed you "talking" more this month. Everything sounds like, "Da," but I know what it means based on context and how you say it. I know that if you say "dada" quickly, you are saying daddy. If you say "daaaaaaa da,"  and wave, you mean bye bye. "Dye dye" is night night and is usually followed with a wave. "Da" is dog. You are trying to say shoes but it sounds more like "zzzss" right now. You also say "nnnnnnah" while wave your arm around, which means no.

You have gotten really good with your hands this month. You can manipulate small objects really well. You also know how to put small objects inside of other objects.

You are understanding cause-and-effect relationships, and you like to test them. Your favorite trick these days is getting Mama and Dada to pay attention to you by attempting to knock over the floor lamp. Whenever you feel like we're not give you our full attention, you walk over to it (watching us the entire time), slooooooowly put your hands on it, smile, and rock the lamp back and forth. "No" is a funny word to you right now, but you seem to understand what it means because you'll walk by forbidden objects and say "nnnnnnnah".

Speaking of forbidden objects, you are obsessed with cell phones and tv remotes and the laptop. I let you carry around my cell phone when we're at home, and you never put it down. You are starting to put it up to your ear and "talk" to it. If I am using the laptop, you try to turn the screen towards you so you can see what's going on. You like to watch videos of yourself. You also like to change the channels on the tv -- you make sure we watch a variety of programs.

Your favorite tv show is Yo Gabba Gabba. It's the only time during the day that you sit absolutely still. You like to sit in Dada's lap and watch your show. You also like the moose on Nick, Jr. You always have. Even as a little baby, you'd turn your head when you'd hear his voice.

You are ticklish. You like to be chased. If somone has bare feet, you will tickle them. You give me hugs and big wet, open-mouth kisses all on your own. You like to dance when I sing. You take off your shoes and socks the minute you get in your carseat. You are active and curious and get into everything.

You are perfect. And so loved.

I pray for you every day. Multiple times a day, really. I pray for your safety and purity and growth in the Lord. I pray that you grow up to be a great man of God. I pray that He protects you from people who would wish you harm. Most importantly, I pray for your salvation. I know He's got great plans for you. He's already done such a great work just putting you in my life.

I am so blessed you call me Mama. I love you to the moon and back, little man. Happy birthday.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Year Ago -- a Wordless-ish Birth Story

As I type this morning, with Super Why blaring on the television, pieces of half-eaten french toast stuck to my pant leg, and toys, toys and more toys strewn across the living room, and can't help but think back 365 days and marvel at how life has changed.

365 days ago, my son and I were strangers. Now we are inseparable.

365 days ago, I was preparing to go to the hospital to be induced. Now I am preparing for a 1st birthday.

365 days ago, life seemed like a long process, with weeks and months dragging by. Now it passes in a flash.

I was not a happy pregnant chick. I was miserable most of my pregnancy and generally just felt sorry for myself. Plus, I was impatient.

So when my doctor became concerned that I was displaying signs of preeclampsia and wanted to get the baby out as soon as possible, I was thrilled. I was scheduled to be induced on 11/10, at 39 weeks.

I had a quick and pretty easy labor, even though the epidural only numbed the left side of my body. I remember laying in the bed, breathing through the contractions after the nurse announced I was ready to push thinking, "This isn't so bad at all. All those women on TV are wimps."

And then the delivery happened. Cohen came fast and furious, and no one was ready for him. The doctor was nowhere to be found, the nurse was frantic, and my body wanted him out. I became pretty hysterical around the time the nurse told me to stop pushing and wait.

How in the world do you tell a woman about to deliver her child to wait?

I don't remember much after that; I had lost my cool. My pain tolerance plummeted. My tolerance for anything, really, plummeted.

And then my baby was in my arms.

And he was beautiful. Perfect. Mine.

He was worth every nauseous day. Every back pain. Every headache. Every swollen ankle and every panic attack.

And as family flooded into the room, details of the birth were shared, and my mom was sure Cohen would be the only grandchild. She was sure I'd never go through that again.

But I'd do it every day. Because I have Cohen, and he's worth it.

Linking up with The Paper Mama for Worldess Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

12 Things I've Learned From My Son

Well, if I was knee-deep in the boy's birthday week yesterday, I guess I'm waist-deep today. This past year has been the absolute best of my life: complete with laughs, tears, challenges, and victories. But I wouldn't change a thing. I cherish it all.

It's funny, as a new mom, I've daydreamed about all the hundreds and thousands of things I'll teach Cohen before he's old enough to be on his own. It's pretty daunting, really, thinking about everything I want to teach him.

But today, I'm not going to think about all that. Today, I'm going to snuggle my boy and meditate on some of the things that he's taught me this year.

So without further ado, here are 12 things I've learned from my son (in honor of the 12 months he's blessed our lives):

1. Cohen has taught me to slow down. Sometimes, when the world is bustling by, he'll find something that catches his eye. Those are my favorite times with him: just stopping in the middle of life to appreciate the ordinary.

2. Each day ends before I'm ready. Before I know it, it's dinnertime and bathtime and bedtime, and the boy is one day older. I am learning how to cherish each moment; they pass quickly, and I'll never get them back.

3. Cohen is teaching me a lot about expectations. I set  high expectations for myself and those I allow in my life. With Cohen, though, I never really set expectations. From the first moment I saw him and held him and kissed him, I just loved him. He's never had to do anything to earn or keep my love. And you know what? Because I've just allowed him to be him and loved him for it, he has far exceeded any expectation that I could ever set for him.

4. Cohen teaches me to have a Plan B. I've never been a Plan B type person. My mentality is that Plan A had better be perfect; otherwise it's not worth executing. That doesn't work with a baby. In the past year, I've filled my life with Plan B diapers, Plan B clothes. Plan B plans, and Plan B dinner choices. Sometimes things don't go the way I want them to, but I'm learning to be flexible.

5. He's taught me that things don't have to be perfect in order to be absolutely perfect.

6. Sometimes I watch him play with other babies. My boy is very sociable (did not get that from me), and he loves to be around people. But somehow he already knows that not everybody is friendly back. He doesn't take it personally. He doesn't let it get him down. He simply turns around and finds someone else, someone who wants his company, to play with.

7. He reminds me that anytime is a good time to share a hug or a snuggle. And those times when I stop life to just love my son, those are the best parts of my day.

8. He shows me the value in being open-minded about new situations and new people.

9. He doesn't care if he has the newest toys or the cutest clothes. And if he did have the best of everything, it still wouldn't make him a better Cohen. He wouldn't love me more if I gave him more stuff. He wants my love and my attention. That's what's most important.

10. He doesn't compare himself to anyone else. He doesn't think, "Hmmm... that baby was walking by 10 months; I'm going to one-up him so everyone will know I'm better than him." No, his mind doesn't work that way. He accepts others the way they are. And he does the same for himself.

11. He's taught me to never underestimate him. Even though he's still a baby, he can (and will!) do anything he wants. The greatest lessons this year always came from me saying, "Surely he wouldn't ..."

12. I think the most important (and probably hardest to learn) lesson he's taught me this year has been that even though I may control what shoes he wears, when he goes down for a nap, or how many Goldfish he eats, the important stuff if not up to me at all. I have no control over his health or his future or even mine, for that matter. I've got to daily place it in God's hands and trust that He is big enough to take care of us.

Linking up with Call Me Blessed for We Encourage Tuesday

Monday, November 7, 2011

Cohen's Birthday Slideshow

We are knee-deep in the boy's birthday week. My baby turns a year old on Thursday.

I cannot believe it. Where did the time go? A year ago, I was lying on the couch begging him to join us in this world, and now I'm looking back over an entire year of sweet, precious memories.

Oh, what a gift this boy is. My sweet Little Man.

If you'd like to view the Birthday Boy's slideshow, press the play button below and make sure your volume is turned up.

Friday, November 4, 2011

When Things Don't Go My Way

I had a goal yesterday. I was going to take the official 1 year photos of Cohen, complete with his super-cute official 1 year t-shirt that I made.

I made sure the boy was well-fed and properly napped, and then I dressed him up all cute and took him outside. I anticipated photographic genius on both our parts.

The boy was, I'm sorry to annouce, a dud. He just stood there, displaying no charm. And, you know, I could work with that and still manage to get a good picture or two. But every time I moved in front of his face, he'd turn away.

We played this game for about 10 minutes before I started getting really frustrated. I gave up and took him inside and gave him a graham cracker.

But, see, I'm a stubborn girl. So after I gave myself a few minutes to let my blood pressure lower back down, I packed up the boy and the camera and headed to the park.

I mean, the park guarantees a lively kid, right?


Not yesterday.

I spent another 30 minutes desperately trying to milk out at least one good picture. All while the boy stood in the center of the playground and stared blankly at some kids playing on a slide.

Seriously? Where did my kid go?

So long story short, I didn't get a single good picture of my son. Nothing decent enough to document the upcoming big day. Nothing.

Sometimes I just want to shout out loud, "Can anyone just give me a break?!" I'll admit, a temper tantrum every now and then sounds pretty appealing. During the times when I don't get my way, how I'd love to stomp my feet and complain and generally just make a scene.

Like toddlers I see throwing fits in the middle of the mall. I mean, I am humiliated for the parents, but a tantrum like that looks like it just feels good.

Instead, I keep my mouth closed. I suck it up. I deal. And I don't get the gratification I want. I don't get to share my side of the story. And I do that because I know acting on my desires would do nothing to bring glory to my Lord.

And that's what I want more than anything -- to live every single day in praise. To do nothing that would turn anyone way from a relationship with Him.

But sometimes, a little foot-stomping would feel nice, too.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Squeaks and Cheaps and Christmas Trees

It's November! I love that this month on Facebook, so many people are participating in sharing one thing they're thankful for each day. I very much enjoy meditating on all the good in my life.

Here's what I'm thankful for today:

1. My mom and grandma bought the boy these shoes last weekend. They're Squeaky Shoes and they are uber precious. When the boy finally realized that it was he who was making them squeak, he got a little case of the giggles. That will melt anyone's heart. As a bonus, I now know where he is at all times. Kind of like a cat with a bell collar.

2. This time a year ago, I had just left my doctor's office in a little bit of a panic. I was 38 weeks pregnant and showing signs of preeclampsia. I was over being pregnant and scared that something was going wrong. Fast forward a year, and I now have a happy, snuggly, adorable little boy.

3. I started giving out Cohen's birthday invitations this week. I cannot believe his party is so close. Where did the year go? I am so thankful this year has been a healthy and happy one. The boy was such an easy baby.

4. I discovered Aldi today. It's a little depressing to walk in there, but the savings are worth the chocolate bar I have to eat to get myself out of the funk. The $.69 Reeses candy, to be exact. For the price I would pay for 2 gallons of milk at Kroger, I got 2 gallons of milk, a box of graham crackers, and a package of dinner rolls. the boy approves of the graham crackers.

5. I am starting to see Christmas trees. Enough said.

6. This morning in Bible study, the speaker said something that really spoke to my heart. She was speaking about a fallout she had with some people who were close to her. The result was the other party saying some pretty nasty things about her. She said she wanted to retaliate, but she felt the Lord telling her to keep her mouth shut; that He was in control of the situation. I'm still not certain she wasn't talking about me. I love it when God speaks to me through others.

7.  The hubby and I are currently munching on Halloween candy. I have rediscovered my love for Baby Ruth.

8. The boy takes a 3 hour nap each afternoon. I am especially appreciative of that lately as I've been taking naps at the same time. Something about this weather that makes a nice, warm bed oh-so appealing.

9. Speaking of the weather, I love it. It's the perfect sweatshirt and cuddles kind of weather. And plus, look how cute the boy looks in his cold-weather clothes. I'd venture to say that babies look cuter in the winter than they do in the summer.

10. Last night I made this chicken casserole. Oh my goodness, it can't get better. Well, I take that back, there was enough for leftovers tonight. So my $5 casserole lasted 2 nights. Score.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

What are you thankful for this week? You can post in the comment section below if you don't have a blog to post to!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Happy With What I've Got.

We don't have a lot, but we've got enough.

If you've ever wondered what goes through my head most days, there you go. It's not a lot, but it's enough. It's the perfect portion for us.

Since I began staying at home with the boy, I have become very aware of our resources. Maybe that's because I am no longer physically contributing to bringing those resources in, so I am conscious of what I use. Maybe because I see my husband work so hard to support our family, I don't want to waste what he supplies. Or maybe because now that I'm no longer in a place of contributing, I can see the hand of God carrying us through.

And how, when I recognize the Lord's provision, can I be unsatisfied? How can I complain about anything we lack? Because, very honestly, we lack no good thing. Our house is heated. My family is clothed. We eat 3 meals a day. We have a ministry. We are surrounded by people who love us. We are blessed, indeed.
But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. 1 Timothy 6:6-10

How easy it is to become envious! How silly to look with covetous eyes on things that I really don't want anyway, if I'm honest with myself. Paul spoke of the love of money, but I feel like, for me, the love of anything I don't have leads to evil. Money, stuff, status, position in a community or among friends. It is all just worthless stuff, but it has such power to quickly overtake me!

And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15

It's in those times, I remind myself once again, "It's enough." What right do I have to hold out my hand to receive provision from the Lord while my eye wanders?

Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. 1 Corinthians 7:17

Thank you, Lord, for the life you have assigned to me. Help me to love it daily. To focus on you and and live in such a way that You are glorified. When my eyes begin to wander, let me recogonize it quickly that I may correct my path. Thank you for both what You've given to me and, probably more importantly, what You've kept from me. Help me to live in a constant state of awareness that what I have is my perfect portion, and it is enough.

Linking up with Call Me Blessed for We Encourage.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Wild Thing, I Think I Love You.

My entry in Paper Mama's photo challenge, favorite photo from October.

I don't have much to say, other than the boy was ridiculously cute last night. His costume was absolutely perfect and looked way too adorable every time he took a step.

He loved all the attention showered on him from complete strangers. I think it made him prance a little bit more.

He surprised me because he had no fear of all the decorations and costumes. He just stared at everything, wide-eyed and amazed.

He learned very quickly to take candy from the buckets. It took a little longer to get him to drop his candy in his bag. His favorite part of the night was probably playing in the buckets of candy, taking a piece out and putting it back in.

Gah. I love that boy.

Linking up with Paper Mama and A Little King and I for Wordless Wednesday.