Lake Michigan Vacation

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South Haven, MI

Last year we took our first family vacation just after Labor Day to Hilton Head. It was the perfect time to go because everyone else was in school. We vacationed among snowbirds and locals and retirees. Hardly any busy families in sight. Our place was steps from the beach and swimming pool, so we had options for Wes, the little guy. It was even better because all the rates went down after Labor Day. We had thought about taking a “real” summer vacation this year, but because of our job changes, it made most sense to wait until September again.

Our first idea was to drive up to Toronto for a week. This idea still intrigues us, and we may decide to go next year or sometime in the near future, but we quickly realized it might be a little too much for a two-year-old. We needed somewhere relatively close by. Preferably a beach of sorts, because it just makes it an easy vacation for everyone. Plenty of sand entertainment for the kid, plenty of sun and reasons to be lazy for the parents. And we needed to find a place to stay close to the beach for naps and short duration beach visits.

Hilton Head was great for us last year, but we knew the drive would be too much for Wes now. Lake Michigan came to mind, and we had lots of suggestions from friends that frequent the area. Neither Steven or I had ever stayed near Lake Michigan for any length of time. We settled on South Haven, Michigan, because of the layout of the town and easy access to the beach. Our apartment rental was located within a late 1800′s Victorian home just 3 blocks from the water. The neighborhood was picturesque and reminded me of Irvington in some ways. Beautiful old homes with tiny yards and manicured lawns. People sitting on porches. Quaint and inviting.

The beach is separated by two piers, each with its own lighthouse. Our house was near South Beach, which had its own playground within the sand. As soon as Wes saw the his-size swings, he was in heaven. We spent the afternoons introducing Wes to beach bum life – although he pretty much failed at this. He was always moving.

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I don’t know why I thought I would be able to read on the beach like all my previous summer vacations. I reduced my take-along book count significantly this year (only one, with the Kindle as a back up), and I am just halfway through it. Hahaha, I have so much to learn about family vacations. The only time I had to read was nap time. However, I was so tired from poor night sleeping and wake ups with Wes that I usually took my own nap during those times.

But, we had great fun over the course of 4 days. Because the mornings were too chilly and windy for the beach, we visited an orchard and petting zoo,

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climbed sand dunes at a nearby state park (i.e. nearly passed out from cardiac arrest) and visited a neighboring beach town for a carousel ride and children’s museum.

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Our trip was short, but it was just about the right amount of time away. The drive wasn’t bad at all – just about four hours. We opted to go up along 65 in order to pass through the windmill farm, which is always an out-of-body experience for Wesley. “WHOA! STARS! STARS, MAMA!” For twenty minutes straight. And! To divide up the trip a little on the way home today, we stopped at Fair Oaks Farms for a totally fun dairy adventure and some fresh milk. Highly recommend.

If we decide to go back (which is highly possible), I’d want to go during peak summer season. Yes, it was nice that there were no lines or crowds anywhere we went, but most places were closed for the season by the time we arrived. The morning and evenings were pleasant, but too cold for swimsuits or boat rides. Apples were just beginning to be ready for picking, but we were a few weeks late for the famous Michigan blueberries.

I’d love to venture a little further north to check out some other Michigan beach towns. I enjoyed day trips to Mackinac Island and Holland as a kid, and I think Wes would, too.

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(The above photo is my attempt of self-timer family photography. It still makes me laugh.)

The best part about our vacation week? It didn’t matter where we were; Wes was busy talking, learning new words and discovering his world. Though he has been to lakes and beaches before, everything seemed new to him, and it was thrilling to watch. He sensed that we were on a special trip away from home, and he loved that we were paying so much attention to him. Staying up a little later than normal, eating not-so-healthy and exploring new places – it was all adventurous, and his excitement was contagious.

I don’t mind that my book is half-read because I got some great photos of some great memories. You can see them here.

Posted: September 6th, 2013
Categories: Leah
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Doggone It – Part 2 (Lucy)

Since my last post, Part 1, I have received a steady stream of encouragement and sympathy. I really do not want to hand my dogs over to another family, believe me. If we can figure out a way to alleviate some of the allergy symptoms, we/I will. The issue is that our pediatrician likes to have at least a 2.5 year history of issues in order to proceed with any testing or diagnosis. I’m hoping the symptoms die down a little this fall when Lucy isn’t shedding as much.

Speaking of Lucy, she deserves to have her story told as well.

In April 2010, my sister was getting ready to deliver my nephew, Jeremiah, born with spina bifida. It was considered a high-risk delivery, so our family rallied together during his arrival and first surgery procedures. I spent many hours at Riley Hospital for Children, worrying, praying and holding the newest member of my family. During the months leading up to his birth, Steven and I were looking for another dog. Nothing had panned out well for us.

38116_772374333688_5369743_nI was sitting in a waiting room at Riley when Steven texted me that a friend and neighbor found a stray puppy walking along Ellenberger Park. They didn’t have room to keep her overnight, and Steven offered to take her in while we tried to find her owners. I came home late that night, but as soon I walked through the door, she greeted me with a wagging tail and crooked ears. She was a little shy, but she craved our approval, and we invited her into our bed (with Jake, of course) that night.

Honestly, we didn’t look very hard for her owners. She was too nice to be just a stray, but later that week, we heard about a similar-looking dog also wandering in Ellenberger Park. How could anyone dump such a sweet little girl?

We started calling her Lucy. That name was reserved for our first baby girl, but we decided it fit her. And she was our first baby girl. She was probably 4 or 5 months old when she became a Shattuck.

Lucy is the kindest, dumbest dog I’ve ever known. Her reasons for living are only to please and to play. Unlike Jake, she was housebroken in less than a month. She could chew through indestructible bones and toys within minutes. And she followed her big brother Jake all around the house, learning to wait until he was finished eating to drinking to venture toward the bowls. (If she forgot, he quickly let her know her mistake.)

Because her heart is so big, her brain is quite small. Isn’t that what an American dog is supposed to be like? She continually bumps into tables, doors and walls, is afraid of the vacuum sweeper and doesn’t know a stranger. She also thinks she is a lap dog and whimpers if she doesn’t fit into small spaces like Jake does. I laugh at her antics but also appreciate her ability to sense when I need a hug. She is a wonderful comforter and snuggle companion.

Her 55-pound body is muscular and strong. Her tail alone can wipe out glasses sitting on the coffee table, or take out small children. I was hesitant to introduce her to newborn Wesley, but she has been gentle and caring toward him since Day 1. I like her call her Mama Hen. She protects her people and guards her little boy from the wild world.

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She and Jake couldn’t be more opposite. He prances; she stomps. He’s delicate; she’s clumsy. But they are great siblings to each other. She made him a better dog, really. They got onto the same feeding and potty schedule, and they learned to play together. The commonality is that they both want to be with their people at all times, and they are both lounging, lazy couch potatoes. They may fight one minute, but soon after you’ll find them cuddling together.

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And Wes? Oh goodness. There is a form of love between the three of them that I’m unable to describe. He is of their pack, and I dread the day it has to be broken – from sickness, death or whatever.

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I honestly don’t know that I could endure a night without listening to Lucy’s snores and grunts in the dark. A life without Lucy would be… I just don’t know. Foreign.

She is our Lucy Bird, our Lucyberger and Lucy-loo.

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Posted: August 30th, 2013
Categories: Leah
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Doggone It – Part 1 (Jake)

Wes rolls around on our bed, which is covered in dog hair. Then he gleefully grasps Lucy’s face in his hands and laughs as she gives him a big kiss. He pats Jake and tells him, “Hiiiiiii!!!” and then rubs his eyes. Within minutes, I have a kid with red hives popping up all over his face. <– This is a fairly common occurrence over the last few months.

I fear we may have a child on the brink of an official diagnosis of allergies. And I fear that our dogs are included in the unknown list of allergens. Of course, this is not confirmed, and we have been told that kids have to be at least 2.5 to get tested for anything, but I am starting to unravel slowly.

I try to sweep/vacuum/dust/whatever as much as possible. We have wood floors in every room. No carpet anywhere except for a couple area rugs. Our house is small, so it’s easy to clean. But days get away from me, and soon the laundry piles up, the sheets need changed and the floors need sweeping again. It’s not an ideal situation for a child with developing allergies and acute asthma (also not diagnosed, yet), which makes everything all the worse.

My dogs – Jake and Lucy – are my companions. I can’t imagine life without them.

Steven, on the other hand, could care less if we had to find new homes for our beloved animals. At least, for a little while. But even though they get on his nerves more often than not, I see glimpses of attachment and – dare I say it – love from time to time.

National Dog Day was a few days ago, and it was also the day I realized that I may eventually have to endure pain that I haven’t experienced before. You see, I ached for a dog of my own as I grew up. My sister had allergies similar to what I suspect of Wesley, and we even had to move our pet cat, Sarah, outdoors. So of course a dog was out of the question. (Plus my dad claims to “hate dogs,” but I don’t fully believe him.)

I had a stuffed animal dog that I cuddled with for ages, probably even up until high school. I clearly remember thinking that I wanted a dog similar to the size of my stuffed animal – one that would cuddle with me a night and fit within my arms as I laid on my side to sleep. I didn’t know what kind of dog would do that, but I would find out. My mom cheerfully replied every time I asked for a dog, “You are most welcome to have a dog of your own when you live on your own.”

As my college graduation date approached, I started my research. I wanted to adopt a dog from a rescue organization. Online compatibility tests always matched me with hounds, and I decided to adopt a retired racing greyhound. I connected with a few Indy rescue organizations. Once I learned that my new job and living environment might not be a good fit for a greyhound, I looked into Whippets and then Italian Greyhounds.

Funny thing is, every book I read and all the sites I visited cautioned new dog owners about Italian Greyhounds. There were many in foster and adoptive care because of high owner surrender. Difficult to train, very clever animals. But I wanted one badly. I passed the tests and home visits and thought I would be giving a home to a gray or blue 5 or 6-year-old girl Iggy. Most dogs in rescue programs are adult, but I didn’t care.

A few weeks later, I received a phone call that a 6-month-old puppy was surrendered as a “failed show pup.” His ears turned up in a funny way, so he couldn’t be bred or shown. The owners had let him roam free on a horse farm, so I was told that he was muscular, a unique color and “cute as a button.” His name was Jake, and could I meet him this week?

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I took Steven with me to meet Jake, the puppy. I fell in love, instantly. He wasn’t the blue colored older girl I hoped for, but he was mine. I knew it.

jake2He had a pink nose and a wild, energetic spirit. I left work during my lunch break to let him out of his crate and play with him every day. Since he was crated most of the day (if not he would have trashed the apartment), I felt bad for keeping him crated at night, too. One night I brought him into bed with me, and he climbed right into my arms and fell asleep. He was the dog I day dreamed about as a kid.

Sleeping with my dog has been a nightly occurrence for 7 years now. Sure, he’s too clever for his own good, and I admit he’s a bit of a jerk, but I love him. He was my original companion before Steven and I got married. We spent evenings together, played together and enjoyed the single life together. I love how he buries under blankets and grooms himself for 20 minutes every time he sits down. I love how he jumps into anyone’s lap and makes a new friend. He has tolerated Wesley’s toddlerhood well, and everyone loves him. Seriously, everyone. We can’t go anywhere in public without people pointing and asking questions and wanting to pet Jake. (Poor Lucy is too average.)

I really can’t picture a Shattuck house without Jake. If we have to find a new home for him, I will be heartbroken. He is my dog.

Jake, Jakey, Jake-a-roo

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Posted: August 28th, 2013
Categories: Leah
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Lucky Number Seven

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August 17, 2007. I typically don’t like odd numbers; they make me uncomfortable. I usually see things in pairs and group like items together when I browse a room. When it’s an odd number, though, it drives me nuts. Where is the missing “partner?”

When it was time to book our wedding date, we had a few snags in the plan. Gen Con, a gaming convention, coincided with our wedding weekend, and many hotels were booked way in advance. I also had a previously planned trip to London scheduled before we were engaged, so we wanted to make it work out as our honeymoon. Because of this, we ended up having to hold the wedding on a Friday night. I didn’t mind this so much, except that the date was the seventeenth. Of the 2000-seventh year. If we had gotten married in July, though, the seventh month, I wouldn’t have minded because that looks more pleasing to the eye. 7/17/2007 – OR even – 7/7/07! But, we were “stuck” with August 17.

I wasn’t going to be a bridezilla about it, and figured I would eventually glaze over the issue in my head. And I have.

In fact, seven is a pretty special number. For starters, it’s one of God’s favorite numbers, and it appears seventy-seven times seventy-seven times throughout the Bible. (I’m exaggerating, maybe.) All throughout grade school, I was “Leah 7,” meaning I was usually the seventh person down in alpha order in our class. We had to code all of our papers that way. Not to mention the number seven’s reputation for luckiness.

Now that we’re entering our seventh year of marriage, I’m excited to see what success and prosperity it might hold for us. Thankfully, it’s starting out on the right foot. I began my new position at Alzheimer’s Association this past week, and while it was plenty busy and all-encompassing, I feel very welcomed and supported by my new coworkers. Granted, I have felt a little homesick for my Joy’s House family, but I have allowed myself to feel this on purpose – I think it will help me in the long run. It will force me to stay connected to my friends and fellow volunteers and keep my mission focus in sight.

Wesley also began a new change this past week. He moved up to a 2′s class and has transitioned really well. I am proud of my little boy and how much he has broken out of his shell. He seems nearly ready for potty training, so expect some high/low posts on this subject in the near future…

Steven is my rock star entrepreneurial, risk-taking husband. He is on a fast track for success, and I love his overflowing confidence. It’s rubbing off of me, and he encourages me now more than ever. He’s proud of my accomplishments, and I know he has my back. We’ve both come a long way over these six years of marriage.

Anniversary

August 17, 2013

We celebrated with a quick dinner outing sans kid last night, then ventured to a used book store for gobbles of new-to-us-ness. Today, our actual anniversary, we spent our Saturday morning with a cranky child, and we made the most of it. A trip to the Children’s Museum for a couple hours (Wes now requests to see the “neighs,” meaning the horses on the carousel.), followed by a PotBelly sandwich lunch and a long nap at home was just what we needed. We’re getting much better at being flexible and just going with the flow of a 2-year-old’s mood swings.

Wes woke up slightly more cranky, if that’s possible, but Steven and I tag-teamed back and forth to get him in a better mood (outside is key) so that we could venture downtown for some Gen Con costume sightings and some frozen yogurt. Success.

I love Steven’s ability to be a wonderful husband, father and companion. He brings my stress levels down several notches with his silly and ridiculous ways. We continue to learn and grow together, especially as new(er) parents-in-crime. I feel pretty lucky, so I guess this is my year!

Posted: August 17th, 2013
Categories: Leah
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RIP Lord Jabu Jabu

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INDIANAPOLIS

Lord Jabu Jabu, “Fishy,” aged 2 weeks, departed this earthly life on August 5, 2013. He was an active, beautiful betta fish with a tail of red and purple. He was fond of dried pieces of shrimp and crawfish, but did not care for those little red flakes of fish food.

He leaves to cherish his memory, brothers Wesley and Jake Shattuck and sister Lucy.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Extreme Jumping Sports Association and the Foundation for Escape Artistry.

Posted: August 5th, 2013
Categories: Leah
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The Truffula Tree

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to participate in an art therapy class designed for the employees of Joy’s House. We recently started an art therapy program with a licensed therapist, inviting caregivers and their loved ones to explore communication through art projects. In an effort to better understand the process and be able to answer questions about the program, our therapist offered a session for small groups of Joy’s House staff members.

The first task was to use whatever medium we wanted to create a representation of ourselves. I grabbed a few pipecleaners because, gosh, I hadn’t played with those in forever. Also grabbing some sheets of torn green and yellow paper, I started creating what ended up looking like a tree. It was wobbley and unstable, so I added a few more pipecleaners to the base of the tree, though I couldn’t find exactly the right matching color. In the end, my finished product resembled a Truffula Tree. You know, the kind found in The Lorax by Dr. Seuss.

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My leaves ended up having two different colors – and after I sat back and looked at it, it seemed fitting. My tree was going through a seasonal change.

That morning, I had had a second interview with the Alzheimer’s Association and was pretty confident I would be offered a position the following week. Sounds great and wonderful, right? Sure, it was – it IS, but with all “seasons,” you do need to shed a layer in order to grow. In my case, shedding my skin – my comfort zone within my job at Joy’s House – would be tough.

It’s so much easier to leave a job that you’re not happy with. A job that you dread, or a boss that drives you crazy. Or maybe it’s just a blah environment. At Joy’s House, I don’t have any of those things. It’s a fitting name, really, because the definition of “joy” isn’t necessarily happiness-all-the-time-oh-life-is-grand. Joy is associated with contentedness and gladness. The people are joyful people. The families served, the volunteered involved and the dedicated staff – these people are my “peeps.” My family.

You know what, though? The reason these people are so great is because of the mission. Everyone is a team player and wants the best for the future and the community. When I reflect back to my Truffula Tree, I consider my own mission-driven personality to be my career “foundation,” with my roots running deep. Perhaps the branches of my tree are the ways in which I can serve, wherever life takes me.

On August 12, I will be “branching out” and will be the new Communications Director at the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Indiana. I am excited about the possibilities before me and thrilled to share my talents with such a strong and mission-driven organization. Their foundation is the same foundation I have rooted in – to equip caregivers with the best tools available in order to care for their loved ones. And, to educate the public on dementia and other diagnoses. The unfortunate truth is that my generation is not aware or prepared to take care of our future populations as they continue to age.

The people I’ve met – my new coworkers – are embracing, dedicated and all-around great. I really feel like I’ll fit in well. It’s taken me a minute to adjust and think of myself outside of Joy’s House, but I know my relationships there won’t ever change. Everyone in the know of my career shift has been nothing but supportive and exited for me. So naturally, I’m getting excited, too!

I’m learning to embrace change. It’s not my favorite part of life, but it can be exciting. Suddenly I’m reminded of one of Wesley’s favorite songs from a potty training DVD:

It’s different, and it’s wonderful
Change is good
Look at you grow!

(Look At You Grow, Potty Time, Two Little Hands Productions)

Posted: August 1st, 2013
Categories: Leah
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Hi, I’m the mother of a 2-year-old

553411_10101310920726358_640745322_nI have been a blogging slacker. I blame it all on the fact that Wes is now two. Not that he’s super busy or a maniac or keeps us up all night, but – I am enjoying him as a little person. Watching him learn new words and begin to understand his world is fascinating.

“Ready? Go!”

“Hi Mama, Daddy.”

“Lucy, potty!”

“ABCDEFG. H. Poo, ick, J.”

We had his two-year-old check up last week. At nearly 30 lbs and 60th percentile for height, he has/had just about 30 words and 60 unidentified phrases/indecipherable mumbling in his vocabulary. Actually, this current week he has been mimicking almost everything we say to him. I think he’s mastered 30-60 words overnight. His ridiculous hair is probably also 30-60″ long, on that note.

So, during my blogging absence, I was featured in the Indianapolis Star regarding my milestone celebration. It was also on usatoday.com, if you can believe it. (Click here for article.)

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Steven became VP of Marketing at Bloomerang, and has been a killer asset to the team there.

Mom and Dad’s new-to-them pontoon boat was finally launched into the water. After the dam broke during the Flood of 2008, their lake has been waterless every summer until now. We have enjoyed being on the water in the “but” (Wes’ word for boat).

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And July has been a month of celebrating. We hosted a birthday party for family and neighbor friends in the park (by the way, great idea. You don’t have to clean your own house!) and went swimming.

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A week later, we spent the morning at the Indianapolis Zoo. The Indianapolis Symphonic Orchestra played a concert in the park one evening. Wes loved listening to the live music and picked up on when each movement ended (he cheered and clapped loudly).

And on his actual birthday, we met his bestie Beatrice and mom Julia at Saxony Lake in Fishers. It was great fun.

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Birthday dinner was breakfast with lots of fruit and sausage, his favorites. Uncle Tyson joined us.

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I just love the above photos. He really seemed to understand that the day was to celebrate him, and he had this amazing look of sincere delight. Precious.

And the next night we ventured over to the Indianapolis Speedrome for the first time. Cars. Loud noises. Vrrrrroooom. It was pretty much a little boy’s heaven.

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He looks so serious in these photos. Soon after, he was cheering and waving his arms like the flag holders.

There’s actually way too many good photos to post from the last few months. Wes is always mumbling something funny or getting off balance or attempting something new. He’s like a walking photo opportunity.

I just love our little guy. He has provided so much happiness in our household, and it’s made me love Steven in a completely new way. He’s a fantastic dad. He makes a great trampoline and rough-and-tumble partner for little limbs. He’ll read a million books to Wes in one sitting and produce a thousand toddler giggles with his silly antics. I’m smitten with our family.

Forgive me while I enjoy a few more summer weeks of possible blogging hiatus with this crazy toddler kid.

Posted: July 28th, 2013
Categories: Leah
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Things I learned from kids at VBS

Disclaimer: This is a gushy, faith-based post. I don’t want this blog site to ever sound too “preachy,” but I had to share this experience.

Over the last few summers, I have led the singing during the opening and closing assemblies at our small little church’s VBS (Vacation Bible School). It’s no secret that I agree to it grudgingly. I am not very confident in my teaching skills, and for some reason, I am just plain awkward around grade school aged kids. I never know how to talk appropriately to kids 5-12. My voice pitch is usually too sing-songy and childish, and I usually don’t know what topics or subjects to discuss. Before and after these ages, though, I seem to do fine. (Maybe this will change once Wes is in this age group!)

So preparing for VBS is always a worry for me. Every year. Even the week of VBS, including last week, I was pretty timid and unsure the first day. The theme was “Kingdom Rock,” where kids stand strong for the Lord! complete with exciting castle displays, costumes and Celtic music. I was Lady Leah, the gal who welcomed the kids to the evening’s program, taught songs and scripture and each day’s Bible point, and then closed up the evening with another round of songs and dramas.

Because I was a Lady, Mom, who is also the VBS director every year, thought it would be fun to bring out all of my former dance and bridesmaid dresses. So hey, if I was in your wedding, know that I probably got another full use out of my dress! The girls especially loved my changing outfits every day. And wouldn’t you know that the theme of “strength” (i.e. pumping arm motions for all songs) looks really bizarre in a fancy dress…

I surprised myself this year. I actually had fun! Yes, the worry carried on somewhat, but our whole theme was about trusting God no matter what. And I did try to do that myself. Funny thing is, God took over and gave me the strength to overcome my awkwardness and gave me the ability to enjoy myself.

Pretty certain that the Holy Spirit did this through the kids themselves. Here’s what I learned from them:

  1. Kids love to be goofs and love it even more when adults are goofy.
  2. Kids have the sweetest voices in the world. They amazed me with their quick learning and ability to hit every note spot on.
  3. Adults connect and grow closer because of kids.
  4. Kids remember verses through song. It’s pretty much the best thing ever to hear a perfect recitation of Proverbs 3:5,6 in unison.
  5. Above all, kids just want to be loved. They need affirmation just as much as I do.

Photo 1(1)Wally, a knight-in-training, interacted with Lady Leah each day on how to trust God in order to accomplish anything – in his case, becoming Sir Wally. Poor Wally was afraid of horses, attacked by a bully and just had a downright awful week. But by Friday, he had indeed been knighted, and as a surprise, the adults coordinated together to have a REAL LIVE (!) horse be Sir Wally’s steed at the closing ceremonies and after party. (It’s a big deal for us city folk.)

The excitement on those kids’ faces just about did me in. They were thrilled at the sight of that horse and the face that Wally had enough courage (you know, God-provided) to get on that thing and ride it around. Call me sentimental and emotional, but that moment made VBS completely worth it for me. Those kids will remember that night. They may not remember all the Bible points 20 years from now, but if they’re anything like me, they will remember, through song,

Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and He will direct your paths.

And heck, these kids are Wes’ peers and those he will follow. Let’s lead these kids onward.

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PS – And yes, those of you know who Steven know that he is afraid/allergic/terrified of horses. He commanded me to “go directly to the shower” once I got home.

Posted: June 21st, 2013
Categories: Leah
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Turning Pages

I’m not the first parent to say, “my kid is getting too old, too fast,” or, “he grew overnight!” But I feel like I can officially be grouped into the nostalgic parent club.

945552_10101220866131488_1068542644_nTonight is the second night of introducing the bed rail. I took off one side of his crib yesterday, and thankfully we have had no issues thus far. It’s weird to think about how high the crib setting was just two short years ago. And at school, Wes has transitioned into the early twos class. The new kids in his former class look reeeeeally young. He was a champ today and “talked” about his day all the way home.

Even though most people have recommended we wait to potty train until he is closer to age 3, Wes is showing more and more interest in the whole process of going to the bathroom. He understands where the urine comes from, that Mom and Dad also “go potty,” and that he is still to young to use the toilet, so he potties in his diaper. He gets it. I don’t know how, but one day something clicked with him. With all these new changes happening at once, I find myself living with a little boy – not a baby.

I really enjoy watching Wes grow up. I don’t wish him younger, and I certainly don’t miss the early days of confusion and sleepless nights of anxiety. That’s not to say that I didn’t like baby Wes – I just have made an effort to enjoy each stage of his life as best I can. However, tonight I’ve reminisced about little gurgles, spit up and tiny hands that used to be part of our daily routine.

We have a neighborhood-wide yard sale day this weekend, and I’m planning to get rid of some things sitting in our basement and closets. I am detaching myself from lots of baby gear and doing much better at lending things to families with new babies, but there’s still many things not being used. Big tubs of  baby and little boy clothes are filled to the brim, and they keep getting put in the sale pile and then taken out. I’ve even gone through half of the clothes and separated the pieces I just have to save, thinking that will help me justify selling the rest. But there’s still this weird feeling of saying goodbye.

I don’t want to be attached to stuff. Truly, I have everything I need to survive and then some. So why do I hesitate so much about the baby stuff? I mean, even if we do have another kid, all this stuff is replaceable, right? We’re not planning on kid 2 at all. At this point, we’re happy as a family of 3 and will leave the future plans to the guy upstairs. I do think (often) about another child, but it’s time I continued to live as normal and give my existing kid the love and parenting he needs and deserves.

I’m kinda excited to share my summer months with a little boy. And Steven has been waiting for these days since, well, forever. So, I guess now’s the time when I say something cliche, like, “can’t we just freeze time?”

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Posted: June 3rd, 2013
Categories: Leah
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30 for 30

220px-30_for_30_Volume_I_logoOver the last few months, Steven’s been watching multiple ESPN documentaries from the 30 for 30 series on Netflix. I figured it was as good of title as any for chronicling 30 stories – or in my case, observations and thoughts going forward – after my 30th birthday last week.

People have asked me if I feel any different, and besides the fact that I have been sick with a flu-like virus all week long, I really don’t. However, it got me to thinking about this milestone birthday year, where I am, where I’ve been and what the future looks like. I guess I better backtrack and say, yes, I might feel a little different, but it’s a feeling of anticipation and not of “age.”

I’ve never really thought of 30 as old, but I have been mindful of the history of Jesus. He was 30 when he started his three-year ministry, and I’ve looked up to this age as a landmark year to start a new decade off on the right foot. Good timing, too, because we just finished a sermon series on modeling Jesus and making every effort to live like him. To further prove a point, I received my annual birthday letter from Mr. Dan Stroup last week, and wouldn’t you know that’s exactly what he wrote about? Mr. Stroup was my middle school teacher. He is an amazing man for many reasons, but thankfully CBS Evening News picked up on one reason and aired this little segment a few weeks ago. I’m pleased to be among his 2,800 former students that receive a birthday letter every year.

So, where’s the list? The full list is written in my personal journal, but I’ll share three (which is a dividend of 30!). I don’t want people to get the impression that my life is all bells and whistles and everything is perfect. If you’ve read my blog much at all, you’ve seen my struggles with certain issues, and they affect many of my decisions and thoughts. Turning 30 is a pretty good reason to adjust some of those thoughts toward a straighter path.

Contentedness - I’ve touched a little on this before, but it’s something I’m daily striving for. This falls in basically every area of my life right now: family planning, our house, cars, vacation, jobs… I do love my life, but there’s always something more that would just “make it better,” you know? A house with a second floor would be great for those rough nights with Wes, but we’ve learned to avoid the squeaky wood planks in the floor. A nicer car would be great and would last us for years (I’d really like a Subaru Outback), but we’ve appreciated that we currently don’t have a car payment. And while I’m ready to talk Kid #2, Steven isn’t interested to venture into a family of four. I’m learning that our family unit is pretty great as it is. One of my aunts said once, “when you’re aching for a new baby, hold the ones you have tighter.” I think about these words often, and I’ll tell you, it helps.

Generosity - Sure, we tithe and give to those who ask, but I can do more. One example: I’ve kept all of Wes’ baby things with the thought that we might use them again. I guess it’s still possible, but my attitude of clingyness has been pretty horrible. I failed to lend out my maternity clothes to a coworker, and I felt terrible about it her whole pregnancy. I mean, I borrowed tons of maternity clothes and have accepted hand-me-down toys and clothes for Wes from others, so why not do the same? I’m slowly giving away Wesley’s outgrown things, and I’m doing a much better job of not attaching memories to everything. What’s the point in giving if you don’t do it lovingly?

Hospitality - Before we became parents, we had people over all the time. YouTube parties were a hit, and we’d have nearly 50 people in our little house. I was much better at keeping house at that time, and I’ve gotten busy and lazy. I am embarrassed to have people over, as I have little confidence in the cleanliness of all surfaces and of my cooking and baking skills. I think Pinterest has derailed me. There’s no way I can keep up, but you know what? People probably don’t care all that much. I feel like we’ve lost connections with some of our friends over the years, and I want to repair what I can, develop deeper relationships and form new ones. My parents have a solid group of friends that have been close for over 30 years. I want that. And I want that for Wes, too.

Lots to think about in the next ten years, but I’m ready.

Posted: May 18th, 2013
Categories: Leah
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