A heart of gratitude

Tomorrow is November 1st! Can you believe it?! I love this time of year...yummy comfort food, lots of family time, focusing on what matters and Who matters. I love it!

Sometimes I feel like November and the season of Thankfulness is overlooked by Christmas and the Christmas season. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Christmas. But I also LOVE the Thanksgiving season. What a great time to slow down and reflect on everything we have to be thankful for. And I'm pretty sure we all have a lot more to be thankful for than we may realize.

Gratitude and thankfulness is something Robert and I want to instill in Collin and Emma from the get go. It's so interesting watching our human nature and our tendency to be selfish and ungrateful even from such a young age. This is something we certainly need to learn and grow deep in our hearts.

Last year we decided to write down something everyday in November that we're thankful for. That was quite fun. Some days were pretty superficial and other days were deeper. But I believe everything, whether surface level or deep, is good to be thankful for...and we need to be thankful for it all. Plus, it will be fun later in life to pull out those pieces of paper and see what we were thankful for over the years and remember where we were in life at that particular point.

But, I want that gratitude and thankfulness to go farther than just November...for my kids and myself. So, what are some things you do to slow yourself down and be thankful for everyday, no matter what?


Only through Him

Today marks the last day myself ,and 20+ other wives, have been making our way through the devotional Wife After God. This has been a great experience this last month and I feel challenged, encouraged and thankful to have gone through the book with other women and walk away closer to God and my husband.

Several months ago I was given the opportunity to review this marriage devotional and really loved the book. After I posted about the book, I was blown away with how many people, near and far, some I hadn't talked to in years, others I didn't even know, were interested in reading through the devotional with me.

So, I set out to set up an online book club, of sorts, through Facebook, so we could doing this book together; share, encourage and grow together. I'll be honest, I had no idea what I was doing when I put this together, but thankfully God knew what He was doing and what He was going to do, so I was able to sit back and let Him work.

I have never viewed myself as a leader, but God seems to have other ideas. He has lead me to lead a Bible study with some precious ladies for the past (almost) 2 years. We don't have a big group, so I was really feeling comfortable with them (still am:) as we meet weekly to study His word. But isn't that just like God to push us out of our comfort zone?! He did that then, in pushing me to start one, and He did it again with this devotional.

What I love, though, about being pushed outside of my comfort zone for Him, is that I learn anew each and every time that without Him, I'm nothing. BUT WITH Him, BECAUSE of Him, I can do anything! So, what is He asking you to do for Him? What are you afraid of? Will you step out of your comfort zone for Him?


Five on Friday

It's time for another round of Five on Friday!

{one} This past weekend we decided to switch Emma over to a "big girl bed." Her crib converts into a full size headboard that we're going to use sooner than later, but the weather has turned cool enough overnight that I hated how she would always uncover herself. I worried that she was getting cold, so the solution...transition her to a "toddler bed" with real sheets. So far, so good. She has figured out now that she can get out of bed during nap time and play, so that's been interesting. I let her play for awhile the other day and found her like this when I checked on her. She wore herself out. :) Sweet girl!! Growing so fast!
{two} As I just mentioned, it's finally feeling like fall around here and I'm loving it! Actually, Saturday I just couldn't get warmed up, so we turned on the fire in the morning and I enjoyed some hot chocolate that afternoon. It was such a cozy day at home!

{three} I'm loving my "arm candy". Mia and I picked up some matching bracelets in Chicago, so every time I look down I'm reminded of our great trip. I love seeing my Pray for Mayberry bracelet, too. He is always close to my heart, but seeing the bracelet always reminds to me to lift up a prayer for him. And then, of course, being the Fossil junkie I am, I'm obsessed with my watch.

{four} Remember when I told you about Auntie Neighbor?! Well, she has done it again! She randomly sends my kids care packages, which they, of course, love. I love it, too, but not because she sends my kids gifts, but, rather, the reason behind sending those gifts. She loves them. She's awesome! I have the best friends and the way they love my kids blows me away! God has blessed me so!

{five} So, one of the biggest things I love about blogging is the community! And this weekly linkup has been such a great way to connect with other bloggers and I'm grateful for that! Through this linkup, last week I was able to get hooked up with a couple bloggers that I'm so very grateful to have connected with. You should totally check them out, too, if you haven't already...Elise @ cheers y'all and Slice of Life. And while you're at it, check out Cassie @ True Agape. She has a great blog all about marriage.

What's your top five for the week? Or do you have anything exciting planned for the weekend?


Chicago trip-Day 2

Sunday rolled around and we headed into the city a little later than we did on Saturday. We weren't too sure what to expect the city to be like that day, though, since the Chicago Marathon was going on.

We arrived at Union Station and hit the streets. Our first stop was to Willis tower again. We really wanted to go up in the Skydeck, but the wait on Sunday was 2 hours! We skipped it, again, and decided we'd definitely do it next time. (There will be a next time) :) Since we got into the city later, we didn't have any trouble navigating the streets due to the marathon. We saw lots of runners and their supporters which was fun. One thing is for sure, I don't ever see myself running a marathon!

Our first stop was to eat lunch. It was a beautiful day, sunny and crisp, so we decided to eat outside. We found a little Irish restaurant and sat outside for a yummy lunch. Although it started out nice and warm, the sun quickly moved behind the buildings which lead to us freezing through lunch! So, our next stop was to get some coffee to warm up...plus we're slight addicts. :)

After coffee, we made our way to Magnificent Mile to explore that shopping strip. After our full day of shopping on Saturday, we decided to make Sunday more of a sight seeing day. We didn't do much shopping on Magnificent Mile. We did, though, stop into Lush and were there for at least an hour. The ladies were super helpful but wanted us to sample everything! I'm pretty sure my hand is exfoliated for the next year after that visit. I did leave with a nice face mask, though.

After Lush, the real sightseeing began. We made our way to the lake and Navy Pier. We weren't too impressed with the Pier...lots of people, very touristy. Then we made our way to the Bean, Millennium Park and Buckingham Fountain.

By the time we were finished with that, it was time to head back to the train station to catch the train back to Naperville so we could meet my inlaws at Giordanos for some Chicago style pizza. On our way back to the train station, though, we made a quick stop at Garrett Popcorn for some popcorn.
You're welcome, Mia! I was a little excited about my popcorn. Ha!
So delish!!!
We had such a great time in Chicago!! We can't wait to go back. We're already talking about Spring 2014!
Where would you go for a quick weekend getaway with your best girlfriend?


My mother, my friend

Well, today is my mom's birthday! I'm so sad to say that she and I don't have a recent picture together. :( So, I'll do the next best thing...Nana and Emma.

I just love my mom. She is my mother and my best friend. As I have eluded in the past, we didn't always see eye to eye. We certainly went through a really rough period of butting heads during my late teenage years. Much time has passed, though, and God has restored our relationship tenfold. And I am so grateful.

Before I had kids, I always knew I wanted to be a stay at home mom...like my mom was. Thinking back on my childhood, I have such fond memories of my mom always being there. Coming home from school and getting off of the school bus, who was waiting on me...Mom. Going to the nurse's office at school because I was sick and needing to go home...who came right away to get me...Mom. Later, when we moved to Oklahoma and I hated it so...who was there to comfort me...Mom (and Dad, really :).She has always been there.

Flash forward many years to when I became a mom. Who was there with me, every single day, those first couple weeks after Robert went to work and I was trying to learn this whole motherhood thing...Mom. I honestly don't know what I would have done those first few weeks without her reassurance that I could, in fact, do this motherhood thing. I remember that just her being there with me was all I really needed....and she was there.

As the years continue to pass and I understand more and more everything she did for me, seen and unseen, and continues to do even today, my love and gratitude for her deepens more and more. I cherish our mother/daughter relationship and our friendship. I adore watching her be Nana to my children and the way they light up when Nana is around. If I can someday be half the wife and mother she is, I will have done well.

Happy birthday, Mom! I love you more than words can say!


Chicago trip-Day 1

Here's the recap I promised you. I apologize ahead of time at how long it is. I hope you enjoy it and don't fall asleep reading. ;)

Friday evening we flew off for our weekend away in Chicago. Although I was VERY excited about our trip, there was also a part of me that was sad to leave my little family. I actually texted Robert and my mom that day and told them this and asked if I was normal. Ha! They assured me that I was and, in fact, it would have been abnormal to NOT be a little sad to leave my family. (Do you ever feel that way when you leave your family?) My mom also said that once we were on the plane, Mia and I would likely talk non stop and I'd immediately feel better. Well, she was right! We talked the whole time on both flights and the trip there flew by (ha! no pun intended! I'm such a nerd)!

My inlaws live in a suburb of Chicago and graciously opened their home to us. Can I just say how thankful I am to have a good relationship with my inlaws!! They picked us up shortly after we arrived and took us to their house. Between the excitement of being in Chicago and the need to learn maps, we didn't get to bed until midnight, or so, and planned to get up early the next morning to head in to the city.

Saturday morning came and we were ready to go! We decided to take the train into the city. Neither one of us had been on a train before, so that was a fun little adventure. We drove to the next city over from my inlaws town to catch the train. We made it in time and only had to wait about 5-10 minutes. We were a little nervous trying to figure out schedules and where the train was loading, but we followed the crowds and made it on the right train. :) 

We made it into the station basically on an adrenaline rush. WE WERE IN CHICAGO!! Woohoo!! Our train took us to Union Station, almost right to Willis tower, so that was our first stop. We wanted to go up into the Skydeck, but the wait time was 1 1/2 hours; so we decided to skip it and keep going. The only thing we had planned Saturday, though, was to eat at RPM Italian, so we decided to just explore the city and go wherever we wanted to go. We also talked about not shopping until Sunday because we didn't want to be lugging a bunch of shopping bags into the restaurant that night. That decision quickly made it's way "out the door".

Praise the Lord Mia is good with maps, otherwise I'd still be wandering the city! We made our way to State St where we found lots of good shopping. Our first stop was at Target. I know what you're thinking...you have a Target at home! But two things, I LOVE Target (and this one was 2 stories!!) and two, I needed a belt. I didn't like how "boxy" my shirt made me look, so I bought a cute little belt to hold me together a bit. We didn't stay there long, but it was our first stop. ;)
Like my belt? :)
Isn't she pretty!

After Target, we made our way farther down State St just checking out the stores and stopping where we wanted to stop. We made our way to H&M, which by the way, I can't believe I had never heard of. What rock have I been living under?! They had a ton of cute clothes at such great prices!! After H&M, we headed off for some luch. We enjoyed a nice soup and salad combo at Corner Bakery Café. It was delicious!!

Feeling refueled and ready to shop again, we set out for State St again. (State St was by far our favorite shopping strip this trip.) Thanks to Shay and Sheaffer, we really wanted to hit up Nordstrom so we went there next. We were both very impressed with the store. Mia picked up some super cute Toms (I really want a pair :)). We spent some more time in Nordstrom, then made our way back out to State St and more shopping.


We decided we needed a little break for our feet and a caffeine boost, so we found a coffee/tea cafe called Argo Tea Café. After that, we spent some more time on State St at Sephora, Macy's, Old Navy, and Urban Outfitters.

After all the shopping, it was time for the main event...dinner at RPM Italian! We were so excited to eat here not only because we were just sure the food would be delish, but because we're huge Guiliana & Bill fans. Unfortunately, from some completely normal Twitter stalking, we knew we weren't going to run into them this trip. But, it was still so fun to be there and the food definitely didn't disappoint!!

While all day had been smooth sailing and we had run into no time constraints, we found ourselves in a little bind after dinner. We really wanted to catch the 8:40 train back so we didn't have to wait two hours for the next train, but dinner was so good we lost track of time. Needless to say, we had to run for approximately 35,000 blocks. We were so out of breath from running and hysterically laughing that I'm pretty sure the people on the train thought we were on something. But, we made the train!! And have such great memories getting there. :)

Our first day in the city was so much fun!! We were excited to go back the next day.


Five on Friday

Last week's Five on Friday was all about Chicago. Well, I'm back from an awesome weekend with Mia and happy to be home with my family. Here's this week's edition.

{one} I'm working on a two part recap of our weekend in Chicago, so come back next week to read about our adventures. We laughed so much! Can't wait to go back!

{two} One of the things I bought in Chicago was a face mask from Lush . I bought the love lettuce mask and really do love it! My face was so soft when I took it off. The only potential negative about it is that you have to use it up within 3 weeks since it's fresh. But, I don't have a problem doing the mask every couple days or so.

{three} Robert and the kids had a great time together while I was away, but they were certainly excited to have me home. That's always good for a momma's heart. :) Even our dog Max was so happy to have me home. He wouldn't leave me side almost all day Monday. One day this week while we were eating lunch, the kids started singing this song to me. "Mommy, I love you. Mommy, I love you, Mommy, I love you...very much" :) Melt.my.heart.
Collin got a little silly once the camera came out. And Emma, she's just a mess...that's lunchtime, folks!
{four} I mentioned yesterday that I need some hair help, so if you have anything to share, please do! :)
{five} This is the first weekend in weeks that I don't have anything planned. I'm really looking forward to a lazy Saturday with the fam...enjoying the cool, fall weather. Perfection!
What are your weekend plans?


Hair help

Ok, so I'm not a fan of selfies (of myself)...and yet, I'm about to post one...and with NO makeup. What in the world is wrong with me?!

Well, I need some recommendations from you. I have fine hair, but a lot of it. This usually means that I keep my hair short in an effort to cut down on my getting ready time. However, I'm tired of having short hair so I've been growing it out for several months. I've made good progress but need some help. Like I said, while I don't have thick hair, I have a lot of hair and it takes forever to dry it. Since it's been longer, I've been finding myself letting it air dry and putting it in a ponytail or clippy. But, I don't always want do that. I'd like to dry it and give it a little style, too. Up until this weekend, I'd been using a round brush to dry and style my hair at the same time. While it works and gives me the body I'd like, it takes forever and I'm a sweaty mess by the end of it. So much for my shower, huh! While in Chicago, I used Mia's straightener and really liked it. The only thing I missed was the body I got from round brushing it.

So, here's what I'm asking. Do you have any suggestions on a good root lifter? And a reasonably priced straightener? And maybe a style that would work for my face shape and hair type?

Please excuse the weird lighting. This is me with hair partially dried with the hair dryer and finishing up by air drying. And go with your suggestions :)


Midweek ramblings

Well, I'm back from Chicago. Mia and I had SUCH a great time in the city!! I'm working on a couple posts to share with you about our two days there. Don't want you to miss a thing, ya know. :) In a nutshell, we laughed....and laughed and laughed and laughed. Just what the soul needed.

And now I'm home and getting back in the grind of things. It's not very often that Mommy goes away for any amount of time. So, when I do, it's kind of a big deal. But, I made sure to have things all ready and prepped for the fam while I was away. Robert is a GREAT dad, but I still wanted to have things all laid out and prepared for him so he didn't have to think of a thing, other than enjoying his time with the kiddos. Things went smoothly on this end and I received several pics of the fun they were having.

After our weekend trip, I felt refreshed and ready to get back at it...like I could fully engage again and be the best mommy I can to Collin and Emma. I'm realizing more and more how important it is to get away and refresh...with my husband and my friends. Robert and I certainly need that time for our marriage, but, after this weekend, I fully understand the importance of getting away with friends, too. So, I'm hoping that we can make some kind of yearly "commitment" to getting away together and with friends.

What ways to do get away and refresh? Even if it's not a trip someplace. Do you have anything you do everyday to unwind from the day?


Five on Friday

{one} The day has arrived....Mia and I are off to Chicago for our girls weekend trip!! WOOHOO!!!! We're SO excited it's here!! I'm so grateful for my hubby who was so willing to encourage me to go and have fun while he stays home with the kiddos. Good man! :) Look out Chicago, we're on our way!!

{two} We just had to go get our nails done, last night, in prep for our trip. Gotta be looking good for the City. ;) I went with a fall-ish color. What do you think?
{three} I am obsessed with this bag. Guess where we'll be stopping in Chi town!
{four} One last Chicago thing, before I completely annoy y'all. :) We have made reservations at RPM Italian tomorrow night and are SO excited!! Bring on Mama DePandi pasta...and hopefully a visit with the Rancics :)
{five} Last Saturday, Mia and I threw a baby shower for our friend Angela. It was so much fun to love on her and prepare for baby bunny, as we so affectionately call the baby. Just a few more weeks now and then we'll get to snuggle him/her. So exciting!! Ang was SO sweet and gave us a gift card to our fav coffee shop in town. Yum, bring on the Pumpkin Pie Chai!!! Thanks Ang!!!

What are your top five things this week? Do you have any suggestions of things we need to do or places we need to go while we're in Chicago?



I'm linking up today with Courtney Defeo, Blue Eyed Bride and Kelly's Korner to share #onebigtruth God has been teaching me.
I buy into the lie, far too often, that I am not enough. I am not enough for my husband, my kids, my family, my friends...HIM. And it can be crippling and all consuming when I believe this lie. It causes me to stay focused on myself and what I may (or may not, in reality) be lacking. It causes me to strive for things I do not need to be striving for. But it is just that....a LIE!

Jesus says I am enough. Not because of what I've done...or not done. But because He loves me...and He loved me first! I am even enough that He gave His life for me on the cross, just so He could spend eternity with me!! And I am enough that He promises to never leave or forsake me!

That is one big truth that He continues to teach me every single day. To Him, I am enough. And through Him, I am enough for my husband, my kids, my family, my friends.

What is your one big truth?


Take time to see the beauty

My life has been moving so fast the past month or so that I've had some trouble processing my thoughts like I'd like to. So bear with me here as I try to get them out. :)

Something that has been hitting me hard lately is making sure I'm being present in the present. Life is moving so fast and I feel like I'm being pulled in many different directions. That often finds my mind preoccupied with what's to come, what needs to be done or just plain frazzled. And that's not how I want to live each day. I'm thankful for the reminder He laid upon my heart that each day is a gift and there is beauty in each day, whether mundane or some new adventure. But I have to slow down enough to accept that gift.

So, I'm trying to be very intentional, every day, to live fully in the moment with those I'm with, which is most often my kiddos. I've said before that I cherish these years I get to spend with them because I can already see how quickly they go by. And I don't want to miss out on the relationship and memories with them for something that really, in the end, doesn't matter.

I don't want to miss out on growing and deepening the relationship with my husband, either. Going through the devotional Wife After God with some other lovely ladies has been so good on encouraging me to be intentional with my relationship with Robert and God.

There are many wonderful friendships in my life that I don't want to take for granted, either. This day in age, it can be so easy to lose touch with our real life friends and I never want that to happen. I'm grateful for the friendships He has blessed me with and I want to be intentional with those, too.

Basically, I'm understanding that life may not slow down, but I can slow myself down throughout the day and soak in everything that's around me...the people, the places, the experiences...everything.

How do you slow down and soak in the beauty of everyday?


Random Monday Thoughts

I have a lot of random thoughts rolling around in my head that I could narrow down to tell you about. So, here's a list of things I wanted to share. :)

{one} A cold front came through this weekend and it's finally feeling like fall!! We were walking into church yesterday and I was actually chilly. But I was completely ok with that! :)

{two} Mia and I threw our friend Angela a baby shower Saturday afternoon. We had a good time planning the shower. It's so fun to love on your friends like that. I really can't wait to meet Bunny, as he/she has affectionately been named, in a few short weeks!

{three} Emma, oh Emma! That girl keeps me laughing and keeps me on my toes. I just adore her!! Friday night I was cleaning up after dinner and told Emma to put her bib away. She's going through a nice little stage of telling me no and after going back and forth with her a couple times, she finally picked up her bib and took it into the dining room. I continued on in the kitchen thinking "Yes! I won that one!" Next thing I know, the little stinker comes out wearing ALL of the bibs from the drawer! Lord have mercy! What are the teenage years going to be like?!

{four} I picked up some adorable owl salt and pepper shakers the other day. They make me smile. :)

{five} The last few weeks, we've been able to get to know our neighbors better as we meet for a weekly Bible study. I'm so thankful for God's hand in leading us to our house, both for this house and our last house. Mia and Dustin have become some of our best friends, and I really see the potential of a great friendship with our new neighbors Angela and Jeff!

So, there are my random Monday thoughts. :)


Five on Friday!

It's FRIDAY!! This has been a CRA-ZY week and I'm so happy to have the weekend upon us! I missed linking up last week, but I'm excited to be back this week.

{one} A couple weekends ago, we went to the zoo with my friend Ang and then Robert's company picnic right after. It was a fun, full morning!! But, Emma was able to ride a pony for the first time and loved it. I CANNOT believe how big she is getting!!
I managed to capture both of my cuties at once, totally not on purpose but I'm thrilled I did!
{two} Monday night, we went to the Tulsa State Fair. We look forward to this every year, but I was especially excited about it this year because my FAV Christian band was playing...Casting Crowns! We had a good time at the concert and I let go a little bit of Collin as he enjoyed the rides.
{three} We are continuing to Pray for Mayberry, and Collin prays for him every.single.day. and it warms my heart each time I hear him call out to God for healing. I just love the openness and faith of little children!
{four} Since we moved into to our house months ago, I have been on the hunt for bedding for our guest room. However, I refused to pay an arm and a leg, plus I just haven't been to sure what exactly I wanted. Enter Target. Do I really need to say anything more?! Haha. I was roaming the aisles the other day with the kiddos and came upon a Nate Berkus duvet set that is just perfect for the guest room, and best part, it was on sale for $20!! For a 5 piece duvet set!! I snatched that baby up!
{five} The time has almost come for Mia and I to head to Chicago!! We are SO excited for the getaway, probably even more excited now than when we booked the trip, due to the craziness and difficultness (is that even a word) of the last month! So, what are some things we need to do or places we need to go while we're there?! We're open to suggestions!!
I hope you have a great weekend!!


My not-so-little boy

We enjoyed a fun evening at the Tulsa State Fair Monday night! We had corn dogs, BBQ sandwiches, spiral spuds, cotton candy, fresh squeezed lemonade...the whole nine yards. Collin even rode some of the kiddie rides. Now, I am not a fan of fair/carnival rides, at all! I mean, really, I know they have inspections to ensure their safety, but seriously, these things are taken down and put together so much...what if they miss a bolt? What if a screw is stripped? Just not my idea of safe fun. But, Robert is the fun parent, apparently, and assures me it's fine. So, Collin had a ball riding a few rides.

It hit me hard last night how much Collin has grown in his short 4 1/2 years of life. He insisted on riding the rides by himself. And since he was a couple inches taller than the 'ride with parent' limitation, we let him ride by himself. One of my favorite things is watching him thoroughly enjoy himself...and make friends no matter where we go. On every ride but one, he had a different little boy riding with him and they had the best time laughing together and enjoying themselves. And I love watching him grow and have fun! I'm trying to be very intentional about enjoying every moment with him, even the bad ones, because there is good in it all and it's going by so quickly.