Saturday, January 14, 2012

Maggie May

Mandee, me, and Maggie in January 2005

My dear friend Maggie went to be with Jesus last weekend. Today was her memorial service in San Jose, CA. I wanted to be there so badly. It really broke my heart to be sitting here when all I wanted to do was join with those who were celebrating her amazing life. I wanted to make my contribution, to share my memories of Maggie and bring glory to the God who gave her to us. Here are some of the joys from my friendship with Maggie May.

In 2004, Maggie moved to Waverly, IA, to intern at Open Bible Church. I was the children's pastor, she was a licensed minister as well and looking to get some experience and possibly find a ministry position in the Central Region. I remember meeting her in Jim and Sharon's backyard. I don't remember much else about her coming. It just seems like we were friends from the start. Maggie loved to put puzzles together, and so did I, so my puzzle collection grew exponentially while Maggie was here. We could do a 1,000 piece puzzle in one evening! She was awesome; I have issues concentrating, but she just kicked it.

We went to the Fall Minister's Retreat together and shared a room that year. I just remember that the theme was something about marriage, and I'm pretty sure Maggie and I were the only single ministers there. :) We bonded a lot that week! I remember some serious hip-hop action on the road trip. I'm pretty sure it was in Branson that year, so we had to have met up with my sisters. I wish I could remember more about that. 

The picture below was at the 2004 Harvest Party. People still remember her costume. I'm so glad I have pictures of it!!

This is a silly thing, but I remember Bath and Body Works released a new fragrance that year, Black Raspberry Vanilla. We both loved it. Every time I smell it, I think of her.

Maggie helped me with a Kid's Night Out pajama party. This is a picture of us that night. She was so much fun!

I remember sitting in my living room eating Rolos and assembling a puzzle while we watched the 2004 presidential election results.

I got Maggie on the Weight Watchers train with me, so we counted points together. It have always enjoyed introducing people to Weight Watchers because it's so easy to follow, and it was great to see her excitement at losing a few pants sizes that year. I remember once we rode bikes from the Long's house to East Bremer Diner and back. I figured if we rode the whole way, we could eat yummy broasted chicken and burn it back off. :)

Maggie sang "Breath of Heaven" at Christmas time, and I did a human video with it. That was a great experience. Everyone who heard her sing said she had the voice of an angel, and she really, really did. She and Bill sang together a couple of times, and I wish I had a copy of one of them. I would love to hear it again and again.

It was really hard on Maggie that she couldn't afford to go home for Christmas that year. She stayed here with the Long family, and they bought her a djembe for Christmas. It was a great gift for her, and she loved it. She loved them so much. She couldn't have asked for a better family to treat her as their own during her time in Waverly.

I remember playing Donkey Konga with Maggie over at the Long's. Man, she was so stinking good at that game! She had serious skills...she killed everyone. I loved watching her play it (not necessarily playing against her, though!!).

My birthday was in January, and we went out with friends that evening. Here's a picture of Natalie, Mandee, me, Maggie, and Jen. It was such a fun night. Maggie had the most beautiful smile and the best laugh. I can still hear it.

A couple in our church own a bed and breakfast, and they gave me a free night to stay there for Pastor's Appreciation. I took Maggie with me, and I remember doing puzzles (of course) and watching movies all night long. We had a great time, and Maggie is the only person beside Matt with whom I have stayed at a B&B! :-)

They also have a working farm, so we got a tour the next day. Here is a picture of us with the brand new baby calves in the background.

Maggie struggled with loneliness and missing her family for much of her time in Waverly. She had never been this far away from home, certainly not for such a long period of time, and it was really hard on her for a lot of reasons. She eventually left in February to move back home. She had also started talking to Morgan on the phone, and they ended up getting engaged in May (I believe) and married in August, so I think it all worked out the way it should have. Before she left, Maggie and I went out with Bill and Natalie one night. Here's a picture of me, Maggie, and Bill at Jag's Java.

I was pretty sad when Maggie left. I had very few (if any) single friends in Waverly, and it was really great to have someone to spend time with. It was only a few months after she left that Matt and I started hanging out, but I was glad he had known her (he took over her guitar class when she left in February).

Maggie and I kept up on the phone pretty often, especially at first. She asked me to be in her wedding in August, but I wasn't able to do it. We always commented on the fact that she lived here for only about 6 months, but God knit our hearts together in that time. We shared a closeness that defied the short span of our time together. We could catch up on the phone as if no time had passed.

I remember when she called to tell me she had breast cancer. I remember that Matt and I went to San Jose for vacation in 2007, and it was only months later that she and Morgan moved to San Jose to take a youth pastor position. I was SO bummed that we had not been able to see her when we were so close.

I never did see Maggie after she moved from Waverly. I can't even remember for sure our last phone conversation. I had left her messages for a few months, but we never caught up on the phone in recent months. I had been telling Matt for a few months that I really wanted to go visit her. I looked up tickets, thought about bringing Bella, and tried to decide if waiting until January would be okay since our fall was so busy. I had a feeling it would not work out for some reason. I knew if I didn't go in the fall, I would probably not get to see her.

I wanted to see her again. I wanted to tell Maggie how important she was to me, how glad I am that God allowed our paths to cross here in Waverly, Iowa. Maggie was a bright shining light in my life. Even though this was a hard season for her, I just remember her with a huge smile on her face. I remember her laugh and the joy she exuded. I will never forget how, every time I talked to her on the phone, she always wanted to know about me and didn't want to complain about her cancer or the treatment or the pain she was in.

Maggie inspired me with her life, with her joy and her complete devotion to God. I always figured God would heal Maggie and use her to be an amazing testimony of His grace and goodness. She is that testimony, but not in the way I imagined. I could hardly look at my baby girl this week without wanting to cry, thinking about how much God has blessed me to be a mom and get to raise her when Maggie wanted that so badly for so many years. God's grace has given me this gift and so many others. I know the challenge is to keep from taking them all for granted, especially as time passes and Maggie isn't the first thing on my mind when I wake up in the morning.

I am determined to use the years I have left on this earth to be the shining light that Maggie was to me and countless others. I am determined that light will not fade just because Maggie is not here with us. I know it still shines in me, and I think it shines brighter because I am carrying on the light she left here. She doesn't need it anymore, after all. She has all the Light she will ever need.

I love you, Maggie. I will never forget you or your joy or your laugh. I will always be grateful for our friendship. I will cherish the memories I have. I will look forward to the day when I see you again. Save some puzzles for me!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

What Is God Doing?

This is an interesting stage of life. Life is so much different and faster with a baby. The schedule has picked up as I really, really want to spend lots of time outside this summer. 

I think being stuck in the house in the middle of the country with a baby all winter got to me. By the end of winter, I was at the end of my wits. This summer is such a godsend. I know it has only just arrived, but I have been waiting for it longingly. I want to be gone on weekends, to use the RV (finally after 5 years of paying on it every month and never doing anything with it), to play with Isabella in the water, to water my garden and watch it grow (the weeding I can do without). Then there are the regular things of summer, like mowing the lawn, house projects which multiply like little the gnats around here, lots of dirty laundry, and so on and so on.

With all that...stuff, it takes a lot more effort to remember to slow down and see what God is doing. Things are happening at our church, and I am trying to figure out where I fit in all of it. I have struggled for two years with wanting to jump in, to do a bunch of stuff, and with knowing that my new life as a work-at-home mom needs to be figured out first. It can be hard work to slow down enough to hear God. What is He doing? Where does He want me to be? Is there something else He has for me, or is He asking me to jump in and go for it?

I don't know. I do know that I love the sense of anticipation in my heart. Wherever He leads, I know He will prepare me for it. His plans are amazing. I love looking forward to what He will do. 

And this picture is just because I like a blog post that has a picture. And because cute summer babies playing outside are irresistible. Especially mine. :-)

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Yep, it's really me.

Holy cow...where have I been?!?

I've been here, living life, watching my baby turn into a toddler and turn ONE year old last month. I assumed everyone I know has a Facebook, so I post updates and pictures there. But yesterday Kathy told me that she missed my blog, and I thought I would post a few of my favorite Isabella pictures from the last few months just for her! :-) Maybe someday she'll get a Facebook. Maybe someday I'll get back to blogging regularly. I hope so. I just can't commit to it right now. I have been doing a lot of fun stuff, though - I started Weight Watchers again and have lost almost 10 pounds (yeah!); I've been crafting when I can squeeze it in (not very often, but it's still lots of fun); we took our first overnight trip away from Isabella (it was great!); I have volunteered for a few things at church that are only once a month, but I love it so far!

The list could go on, but I'm going to get these pictures posted. Enjoy, Kathy! :-)

 Isabella was a big helper when Mommy went into fill in at work!
 Showing off her teeth (which have since multiplied)!
 Getting ready for summer!
 Playing with Grampy!
Isabella likes watching train DVDs with Daddy (I am not sure why).
 Isabella and Daddy!
 From her one year photo shoot. I love this "cuddle shot" as my mom called it.
 My big-eyed beauty.
 A semi-ornery smile.
 I LOVE this one!
 Power to the Legos! (credit goes to Zack for that one)
 Me and my girl.
Happy one year, Isabella!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

On Loan from God

Isabella was dedicated on Saturday! It was such a great day. She even had her first crib nap in months! (I've really been hoping to start her naps in the crib soon, but I had no choice on Saturday, and it worked great!)
We had so many special people here with us; both sets of grandparents, both my sisters and one brother-in-law, both of Isabella's cousins, Matt's sister, brother, and sister-in-law, and Matt's grandma, aunt, and uncle.

The dedication is on Saturday afternoon in the church chapel. It opened with a beautiful song (I just looked it up - Find Your Wings by Mark Harris). Pastor John then shared an explanation of the promises the parents had agreed to make in this dedication of our child. The promises were included in the program as well.

He emphasized that our children are on loan from God. I have thought about this a lot in Isabella's 6 months of life. My personality lends itself to being obsessive, and I am obsessive about things that seem to be wrong. I always want to fix it - if she's not sleeping well, I want to fix it. If she didn't gain much weight, I want to fix it. If she doesn't want anyone else to hold her, I want to fix it. When I come to the end of my rope and realize that everything can't be "fixed," I am so comforted in knowing that she belongs to God. She always has; she is on loan to us for a time, but she will always be His child. I am getting better at remembering this fact before I do my crazy thing.

After the message, each family was called up to be introduced and prayed over. We chose a verse for Isabella, and I spoke it over her. It was Psalm 73:23-24:

Yet I am always with you. You hold me by my right hand, you guide me with your counsel, and afterward, you will take me into glory."

Matt was asked how Isabella has changed our lives, and he talked about how having a baby helps up realize how selfish we are. It has also shown us a love unlike anything we have ever known. Then Pastor John prayed for our family. They presented us with a few gifts; a Bible, a teddy bear, a bib, and a tag blanket (looks like this). There was a red ribbon on the table, and everyone who came to the dedication wrote a special note to Isabella on the ribbon. The blanket has a Velcro section that can be opened, and the ribbons goes inside. Isabella will be able to carry this reminder of the love that surrounds her wherever she goes.

Following the dedication, they provided pizza for the family in the church cafe. We were introduced at the 5:30 p.m. service that day as well.

I have seen and been a part of many baby and child dedications, but what they do at Prairie Lakes Church is amazing and so special. I am thrilled that we had Isabella dedicated here. I will never forget this special day.

Friday, September 24, 2010

You Are So Beautiful to Me

I promised to post the article that I wrote about here. I'm finally getting around to it! This article was originally printed in The Message of the Open Bible September/October 2010 issue.

My daughter is beautiful. She is only 4 months old, but she is already so beautiful to me. I don’t know what others see when they look at her because I can only see her through my eyes. My view of her may be biased, but it is the only view I have.

The same is true for my view of myself; I can only see through my own eyes. Many women struggle to see themselves as beautiful because of the world’s increasing focus on physical beauty and sexuality. Beauty is subjective, but this culture has determined that beauty has a very narrow definition. Our television shows include makeovers that turn a woman from an “ugly duckling” to a “beautiful swan.” I believe it is a warped mentality that places a woman’s physical beauty far above her mental capabilities, social skills, and character qualities in determining her worth. Our culture’s obsession with a woman’s body has greatly impacted her ability to see the beauty God created in every facet of who she is. Our culture’s focus on women’s bodies has also affected a man’s ability to see a woman as God created her and not as the sum total of her body parts.

I believe that the lack of self-worth many women experience is compounded by the increased sexuality in media and our culture today. I can’t buy a gallon of milk without seeing a magazine cover with a provocatively dressed woman or a woman (or young girl) in the store dressed in the least amount of clothing possible. Many girls and women dress as provocatively as possible for the attention they receive from men. However, that attention is often fleeting and leaves them dealing with the pain of rejection until they can attract the next man to make them feel beautiful again.

What is a woman to do when faced with so much “propaganda” telling her what she should look like and what it means to be beautiful? Philippians 4:8 has a suggestion for us: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (ESV) I cannot change the fact that my eyes will come into contact with many images in a day. Some of the things I see threaten to remind me that I am not “good enough” to make a magazine cover. If I choose to let my thoughts stay there, it doesn’t take long for hopelessness and depression to find their way in as well. So I remind myself of Philippians 4:8 many times in a day. I can choose to focus on many things, and the time I spend focusing on what I am not is time that I can’t spend thinking about my family, my future, and the amazing blessings God has given me.

I can recount many statistics that illustrate how depraved our society has become. However, I would rather not place my focus on that today. These verses get to the root of the issue for me: “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:5-6, ESV) When women (and men) set their minds on the things of the flesh, the end result is death. Many spiritually and emotionally dead people have lost sight of the importance of where they set their minds.

My daughter is growing up in this over-sexualized, over-stimulated world. This is the world into which she was born. I will do my best to tell her every day that she is beautiful. She is beautiful to me. She is beautiful to God. I don’t want her to ever forget it.

Side note: I highly recommend Matt Chandler’s podcast “The Greatest Commandment Part 13: Canvas” for an excellent perspective on the life of the mind. It can be found in a PDF version at or the audio version at

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Six Month Surprise

We took Isabella to her six month appointment on Friday. She is such a little peanut, so I was pretty curious to find out what she would weigh for this check up. She weighed in at 10 pounds, 15 ounces. For some reason, I had it in my head that she was 9 pounds, 4 ounces at the last appointment, but apparently that was the appointment prior to the last one. She weighed 11 pounds and a few ounces at the 4 month appointment, so she lost a few ounces. I was very surprised, but the doctor was not worried about it. She grew an inch in length and gained an inch in head circumference and is meeting all her milestones. By all those standards and by all appearances, she's a healthy little girl. She is as strong as can be; I can't believe how hard she can grab the toys on her Exersaucer, and she pulls my hair very well.

We scheduled a weight check in a month. She has yet to hit her 6-month growth spurt, so I imagine that will come sometime in the next few weeks. She has also been very distracted during nursing over the past few weeks (or more). Especially if I'm trying to do anything else at the same time; she is much more interested in what I'm doing than in eating. So I started taking her into her room and keeping distractions to a minimum.

So that's it.

Yeah, right.

As I thought about it after leaving the doctor's office and running some errands with her, it really upset me. I felt like a bad mother. 

How could I not know that she didn't gain any weight?
Is it my fault? Is it because I started Weight Watchers? 
Is there something wrong with my breastmilk?
And the eternal question...why would God put me through this? She's been doing fine, she seems just fine, and now all of a sudden I'm insanely worried about her and feeling like a terrible, horrible, unfit mother.

I really, really didn't want to tell anyone. I figured I could ignore it, but I knew that those who know me and know we went to the doctor would ask. So I decided to be tough and act like it's all fine.
Then I saw Melanie. And I knew she would understand. She would not judge me or think less of me.

So I cried. 

Then I felt better.

What I now realize is this: God loves Isabella. He loves her more than I do, and He gave her to me and Matt to raise and nurture. I have done my best with her, and she has done great for her first six months. She has always been small, and she will grow at her own pace. All I can do is to take care of her the best I know how and trust God to do the rest.

She belongs to Him, after all.

I knew this all along. I just let the worries and disappointment push it out of my mind this weekend. But I'm better today. And as long as I keep that in mind, we will all be just fine.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Joyful in Hope

Isabella is being dedicated at our church in just a couple of weeks. I am excited at the thought and effort they put into child dedication. They sent us a packet of information when we signed up, and one of the pages included verse ideas for Parent/Child Dedication. (It's actually a Child Dedication/Parent Commitment Service.) They ask parents to choose a "promise verse" that will be prayed over the child at the service.

Last night, I was reading through the verse ideas to see if anything struck a chord with me. They list a passage from Romans 12, which is to me one of the most practical chapters in the Bible. I have always been drawn to it. The passage listed includes verse 12, "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." (NIV)

Joyful in hope. Joyful in hope. I listen to a lot of Matt Chandler sermons, so I can't remember exactly where I heard this one. I think it was somewhere in the Luke series. He said that hope can only be present where something is lacking. If there is hope, that also means there is hurt, pain, something missing. That is obviously an overriding theme for the follower of Jesus - we are always longing for the day we will see Him. The pain of this world is a reminder that we are not home yet.

In many smaller ways, I hold onto hope every single day. I hope that God will bring healing where I have wounded. I hope for freedom and perseverance for those I love who are stuck in difficult situations. I hope to see God do amazing things in me, in my family, in my friends. Unfortunately, I can't always use the word joyful to describe my hope. How about...


That is not an impressive list of adjectives. I really need God to bring joy to my hope. I may have to wait a long time to see these hopes and many others be realized. 

God isn't as concerned with the "resolution" to my trials as He is with who I am becoming in the midst of them.

Monday, September 13, 2010

It's here!

I haven't mentioned anything about this because I wanted to wait to see it in person. And now I can post about it! Isabella and I are on the cover of a magazine! You won't find it on any newsstands, but it's pretty cool to me.

I was not planning on writing an article for this issue, but I had offered some information and expressed an interest in the topic. The editor emailed me a few weeks later and said that she was short on articles and could use another one if I would be willing to write. The timing was poor and I was not sure how to approach the topic, but I really wanted to do it. Because of the timing, I only ended up with one evening in which to write it. I sat down with no clear direction and started writing. By the end, I really felt that God had worked through me to write His message.

When I emailed the article, I also sent a couple of pictures of me and Isabella for the bio. I was really happy with the article and excited about the opportunity to write. The following week, the editor emailed me back. She asked if they could use one of the pictures of us for the cover! I was very surprised, and I made sure to ask Heth first since she took the picture. Everything fell into place, and I have been pretty excited for the day it would finally come in the mail.

And today was the day!

The article hasn't been posted online yet, but I retained the rights to it, so I will probably repost it here pretty soon.

P.S. Some days that have something really awesome in them also have something really crappy. I'm not sure why that is. It's putting a damper on my evening, and I'm not doing a very good job of focusing on the positive.

Monday, August 30, 2010


Our first "real" date was a trip to the House on the Rock in Wisconsin and dinner in Galena. We both love to travel, and we started out spending a LOT of time in the car for a new couple. I am so glad that we share this passion. We have enjoyed some incredible trips in our 5 years together. One of our favorites was a trip to California in 2007. All I have to say is, "Remember when we went to California?" And we both instantly sigh with great joy as we remember all the fun we shared on that trip.

I know my husands love of trains is pretty unique (especially for someone his age), but even I admit that we found some awesome spots for train watching ( called "railfanninng" if you're serious about it).
We also spent time in San Francisco and visited the Ghirardelli Factory. Yeah. Enough said.

The "railfanning" portion of our trip...oh, who am I kidding - it was all about trains in California. My husband plans to model the Donner Mountains in his model railroad someday, and it was really exciting to be with him the first time he visited Donner Pass.

The scenery was incredible. I did not realize that I have a pretty strong fear of heights, and I vividly remember crying on the way up the mountain. I wanted to be with him for this experience, but I was quite certain we would not live to see another day as we climbed higher and higher (in the car; we didn't really climb it, thank God). But I survived, he survived, and we have some very cool memories as a result of it.

I could go on about our California trip for hours. I could also reminisce about our trip to Chicago just days before I found out I was wonder I was so tired!

We have been to Boston, Minneapolis, Springfield, St. Louis, Kansas City, and of course, Cancun! I love vacation with my husband. We have always talked about vacationing with our children as Matt has great memories of traveling with his family growing up. We have already taken a few short trips with Isabella. At her age, it is a combination of fun and stress with new surroundings and our uncertainty at how she will respond. But no matter what, it's an adventure. And we are in it together, my husband and me.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Happy 5 months!

I've done this for the past few months, and it's a good opportunity for me to chronicle the milestones Isabella has reached and who she is at 5 months. Because, let's face it, the baby book hasn't been touched since I started back to work, and I don't see it happening any time soon. But this works! is the story of Isabella's life these days:

1. She rolls over so quickly! And she pushes up on her arms and lifts herself so high; it's so cute. She never liked tummy time, so I love seeing her have a little time on her tummy. And it is true; even without tummy time, she rolled over and has a very strong neck and head. So there! :-)

2. She is getting so much better at holding on to her toys and munching on them. This is her favorite toy right now:

She loves this little guy! I think she can grab and hang on to him easily, and he's soft to chew on. Last week on the way to church, we handed her this toy in the car seat. It was time for her nap, but she ended up playing with him the whole time and didn't go to sleep. Now if it's nap time during the car ride, I make sure he's not around.

3. She is still in her 0-3 month clothes for the most part. I've begun to work in the 3-6 month stuff. She has a lot of summer stuff that won't get worn if I don't! Actually, the onesie in the picture above is a newborn. The Target brand Circo seems to run huge! I can't believe a 5 month old can still wear a newborn size. I was so excited for some of the 6 month stuff to fit this week; she wore some outfits for the first time, including one of my absolute favorites:
I just love her in red. (I love red period, but my baby girl in red...I am all about it.) Honestly, it's nice that she fits in her clothes longer, but I'm getting sick of the 3 month stuff. I'm ready for something new! :-) Shocking, I know.

4. This week she started giggling more. I got laughs out of her 4 days in a row! I've been waiting for the laughing to really start. It is so incredible. I'll do anything to get that baby giggle! It's just priceless.

5. She is such a good sleeper. She's been sleeping through the night for quite a while with minimal night wakings (once or twice a week). She also goes to bed pretty early. Well, early for an adult, but little baby girl needs her rest! She's in bed between 5 and 6 p.m., depending on the ending time of her last nap. It's so awesome because I can wait and make dinner after she's in bed. I can also make evening plans without worrying that she will wake up or need to eat. I always have milk in the fridge just in case, but it hasn't happened yet. The only downside is that Matt and I can't  go out together unless we ask someone to come here and "watch" her, which would be a very easy job, but we haven't done it yet. I'm sure we will, though. It does make it hard on the nights when Matt doesn't get home until after she's in bed, but he sees her most days at lunch as well. The funny thing is that I'm always relieved when she goes to bed and I can get a few things done, but after a few hours, I can't wait for her to wake up so I can hold her again. I peek in on her just to see her cuteness and the funny positions she works herself into, but I refuse to take pictures. It's not worth waking her up. :-)

6. We will take our biggest vacation so far in just a couple of weeks. It's been over a month since we went out of town or stayed anywhere else overnight. We will see how she does! Especially since we have been sleep training since that time. I haven't decided if I'll keep her out later than usual or if I will try to get her in bed early if possible. Either way, we'll get her back on her schedule when we get home.

7. We bought an Exersaucer this month. She loves it! She is so adorable in it. I stuff a blanket around her as she's still a little wobbly, but she yanks on those toys so hard - it amazes me!

8. I wanted to mention solid foods. I really (really, really) want to wait until (at least) 6 months before starting solids. I'm just not sure if I'll be able to put her off for another month. She is showing so much interest in our food and drink. I know she's interested in pretty much everything we have, so I can't tell if she is really ready for solids or not. Even if we do start a little solid food here and there, breast milk is still supposed to provide the bulk of her nutrition until a year of age, so I will definitely stick to that recommendation. But I am looking forward to seeing her try new foods (sort of) and to making some baby food for her. Either way, I will most likely skip the cereal and go straight to vegetables and fruits. I've done a lot of reading, and I like that plan best. Fun stuff!

This is certainly going by quickly. I enjoy being her mom so much. It is really challenging at times, but she is so wonderful. And there is so much still to come!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pinching Pennies and Such

I've always been obsessed with shopping sales and clearance, but I have recently discovered a few websites that have helped me in my quest to get the best possible price. I have been regularly frequenting a few new sites - Penny Pinchin Mom and Mrs. Moneysaver are two of my favorites. They often have the same deals listed, but occasionally I find something different. I don't get the Sunday newspaper, so I haven't been a practicing coupon clipper for a while. I did collect coupons whenever possible, but these sites have recently encouraged me to start printing coupons. I have been to the grocery store several times in the last month or two where my coupons have totaled $10+ (including store coupons).

I never realized that you can often combine a store coupon (like a coupon from the Hy-Vee ad) with a manufacturer's coupon. Last week, I found an amazing deal. I don't want to bore you with the details, but I ended up with a box of 96 diapers, 2 small baby food jars, 320 baby wipes, 4 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 2 boxes of Wheat Thins, a bottle of barbecue sauce, 2 air fresheners, and a 3-pack of Kleenex boxes for $25 total. I was SO excited! I would have gone back and done the whole thing twice, but the truth is that I have found so many incredible diaper deals lately that I have over 400 size 2 diapers and over 500 size 3 diapers. I also have...well, a LOT of baby wipes. So I decided not to totally freak my husband out and just got the deal once.

It's been lots of fun trying to see how many coupons I can get. Some of the other deals I love are photo gifts and prints. Shutterfly has this deal for 3 personalized photo 5x7 greeting cards for $1 shipped. Okay, it was $1.01. You can choose from a bunch of different designs - the wedding designs are gorgeous! I've opened two new accounts just so I could do this a few extra times. I may do another one or two before it ends on September 1. I know plenty of grandmas and grandpas who would love a thank you card with a picture of the grandbaby on the front! :-)

Tuesday, August 03, 2010


I am amazed at how many milestone there are in a baby's life! In 4 and a half months, we've had the first smile, recognizing Mom and Dad, the first laugh, rolling over, head control, grabbing, holding a toy...they just keep coming. I have anticipated each milestone with great excitement. 

The early days of newborn-ness were hard. I looked forward to getting some response, some feedback from the baby I was working so hard to care for every day. As each milestone has arrived, I have enjoyed seeing her change and grow. I have also found myself sadly realizing that she will  never again be a brand new baby who can do nothing for herself. She's not changing her own diaper or anything. But with every milestone, she is a different baby and will never be the same again. I'm torn with each new stage between being excited to see her growth and being sad that the previous stage has ended so suddenly.

Now that you know I am ridiculously sentimental...I still do look forward to what's coming next. I plan to wait until she is 6 months old to start her on solids, but I am definitely excited about (parts of) it. I can't wait to see her face when she tastes food for the first time. I look forward to her reactions to the different flavors. I definitely don't look forward to cleaning up after her, but that's all a part of it, I guess.

Almost every day I try to take a few moments and just enjoy who she is right now. She gives me the best smiles right after she has finished eating. I love those big smiles. She is very active; she has completed some barrel rolls that surprise me. On the days when I wish she could just TELL me what to do to make her happy, I remind myself that, one of these days, I will wish she could just STOP TELLING ME what to do to make her happy. 

One of these days.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Matt and I saw "Inception" last week. We don't watch TV, so I had only heard of the movie through Facebook posts. I looked it up at Plugged In and we both thought it would be worth seeing.

I don't like giving away the plot of a movie, but I have to explain a little of it in order to expand on my thoughts. In the movie, dreams can be manipulated and people can enter into the dreams of others. It's quite fascinating, and it held my interest very well. (I get bored with movies pretty easily.)

I am ever the realist, so during the movie I reflected on my own belief that one person cannot enter the dreams of another. It makes for an interesting movie plot, but I cannot reconcile it with reality. I don't put much thought into what happens in my dreams. Unless it is an incredibly vivid dream, I leave it behind once the voice an infant rouses me from that dream world. I rarely have time to revisit it in the course of my day.

I have other dreams; dreams that are not simply confined to my sleeping hours. Dreams that are held deep within my heart. I have shared some dreams with those closest to me. Sometimes we share the same dreams, the same hopes for a shared future. I am not sure if those dreams will ever become reality. Sometimes I wonder if God gives us dreams so that we keep hoping for the future. I believe, however, that some dreams are planted deep within us so we will hang on tightly and not let them go no matter how much life tries to wrangle them from our grasp.

I hang on to my dreams. I will keep hoping that one day God will bring them to pass in amazing, mind-blowing ways.

You've heard it all before...

So I'm obsessed with Target. It's old news. Today's deals were again all 75% off.

Again...I cannot resist posting a picture of them. The plastic cups/bowls were all 50 cents for 4. I bought a bunch so we can have some extras for the RV (whenever it is completed). The pool was $3. The toys were all 75 cents. The super cute round tray with handles was $3.74.

And the big red tub. Ah, I'm in love with the big red tub.

I have wanted this tub to come home with me since the first time I laid eyes on it. It's so...big. I can picture it full of ice and icy cold beverages. I couldn't really justify the $20 price tag, so I wandered past it on occasion and hoped it might still be around when the price was, well, lower.

And today was that magical day. At a price of $4.99, I am the happy new owner of a huge red metal tub.

I'm also excited about the toys and the pool that will be stashed away for use next summer by what will then be my...toddler! (Yikes.)

P.S. Everything in the picture (tub included) totaled right around $25. For a little more than the original cost of the tub, I brought home the tub full of fun stuff!