raising a mommy

raising a mommy

Sunday, August 23, 2015

#fmfpartysnailmail: a giveaway!

Oh my goodness, friends! Not only do we get thoughtful, hand written cards each week (or close to it, as there is grace when we fall behind!), but we also have the opportunity to win free stuff? How wonderful is that?! I am honored to host this week's giveaway, which is extra special because there will be two winners, and it includes some really great stuff:

  • a small journal from Sarah Jo
  • notecards from Myra or Julie
  • a book/gift card from Diana or a book from Nanette
  • a Starbucks gift card from Shana or Marie
  • handmade beeswax lip balm and soap from Jen
  • scripture art calendar from Asheritah
That's right, all of the above. Donors, your generosity is overwhelming as you offer up to those you don't even know.

I wish I had pretty clip art with thought-provoking Bible verses in scrolly fonts to help me highlight the generosity of the women who have made this giveaway possible, but that is not one of my gifts. Sarah Jo, Myra, Julie, Diana, Nanette, Shana, Marie, Jen, and Asheritah, I hope you understand!

So don't forget to enter below!
This giveaway is only for members of #fmfpartysnailmail round seven. Jealous that doesn't include you? Consider joining us for round eight! Details will be right here!

#fmfpartysnailmail giveaway - week 5

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

a photo update

Today's blessing
Air conditioning

I don't think I've shared a single picture of the kids since my April update, so here are just a few highlights from the last three months:

Don't they look like they're plotting something?

It's hard to be upset about 3am feedings when you have this little guy snuggling with you!

M has discovered that he loves to swing.

Yes, she ate the whole thing.

P made a new friend at Great Grandpa and Great Grandma's.

Dad of the year!

Playing at the park with Grammy

Oh hi, thigh rolls!

On the way home from Daddy's baccalaureate service. P dressed herself.

Baby M, loving the swings!

Just this.

Daddy's a Master of Divinity!

Happy graduation, Daddy!
More toys, please!

Putt putt P!

There's nothing like a family workout to start the day.

Baby Mozart

We went to visit our new church for their VBS, and P actually participated! She's usually so timid, especially in large groups of people she doesn't know well, that I was shocked when she volunteered to play!
Her latest game: she gets up on her "stage" and proclaims "More stickers for everybody!"

P's fourth address in under three and a half years, but hopefully this one will stick!

First haircut

Exercising with baby

All snuggly in his brand new hooded bath towel

Baby M was not happy to find himself in this position. So, like a good mom, I snapped a quick picture before I straightened him out.

Oh dear...

The very serious ordeal of the avocado hair treatment

Who has time for sleeves and snaps? Not this kid!

Monday, July 6, 2015

an update on the kiddos {july edition}

So...it's been awhile. We've been pretty busy in the last two months, but more about that later. How about a quick update on the kids!

Baby M is ten months old now. Wow. Here is an update on his continually growing level of awesomeness:

Mastered Skills (most babies can do)
Waves goodbye: Usually. Sometimes it takes a little prompting. Can you imagine how much the little old church ladies love it when he raises his chubby little arm in the air and gives them a lopsided toothy grin? Suffice it to say that he is quickly becoming the most popular little man at our new church!
Picks things up with pincer grasp: Sometimes, but it depends on the object. Those over-priced puffs that you can buy are easier than peas or carrot chunks.
Crawls well: Like a pro. Try to stop him, I dare you.
Cruises: Sometimes he even thinks about going one handed. He'll take a few, tentative one handed steps before he decides it's not a great idea!

Emerging Skills (half of babies can do)
Says "dada" and "mam" to the right parent: Not without prompting, but he has said both!
Responds to name and understands "no": He usually turns when you say his name, but if he understands "no" he chooses not to show it!
Indicates wants with gestures: We've been working on some signing with him, "more" and "all done", mostly, but he doesn't usually get them. He bangs his hand on his tray when he's ready for more!

Advanced Skills (a few babies can do)
Drinks from a cup: I got him a few new sippy cups, but they're the kind you have to bite on to get the water out, and I don't want to encourage that, so I'll be going back to the store for a different set!
Stands alone for a couple of seconds: He's not quite this adventurous, but it won't be long, I'm sure!
Puts objects into a container: If by "container" you mean "his mouth" then yes, he does. Otherwise, not yet.

M loves trying new foods, especially if he can feed them to himself. I think we may be getting out of the puree stage and into the independent eater stage! Good thing I have a washing machine readily available now!

Our little chunker is working on his fifth tooth. This is crazy to me, since Big Sister P hit her first birthday with only the bottom two!

He also continues to work on his vocalization. He loves to talk (sound like Daddy, or what?). His newest thing: He puckers his lips and sucks in his cheeks, like a fish, then pops them out. It's about the cutest thing ever to see his little cheeks jiggle when he does that!

Big Sister P is ridiculously cool. Her biggest accomplishment recently: She can recognize letters, tell us what sound they make, and name a number of words that start with that sound. And the "reading." She loves to "read" books to you. She has a frighteningly good memory, so she can recite a fair amount of a number of her books, but what she doesn't remember, she's pretty good at improvising.

She also loves to draw. She reminds me a little bit of her Big Uncle E, because she gets frustrated with me when I can't draw things the way she wants. Daddy is much better than I am. (Note: Big Uncle E actually means "Older Uncle E," not to be confused with "Younger Uncle E" who is actually taller than his older brother. We're all vowel names in my family.)

We were house sitting for a week few months ago, and P had access to a piano. Sitting on the piano was the old green Lutheran Book of Worship. One day P opened it up and declared "This is the musical of God. It's about the light of God." I'm not making this up. Coolest kid ever? Possibly.

Sometimes I just have to stop and take a step back so reflect on how amazing our little girl is. The things she comes up with, the things she remembers, the things she can do...it's just incredible. We talked one day about people who don't have houses to live in, and she asked if she could get her tools to build them a house. She's starting to do chores to earn money, and she has three banks: save, spend, and share. I have been prompting her and telling her how much to put in each (about 10% in each the save and share), but last night Daddy let her decide, as long as she put some in each bank. I think she ended up splitting her earnings pretty evenly between her "New Anna doll jar," her "Augsburg jar," and her "money for church jar," What a cool and humbling kid!

There are just too many pictures to share, that I cannot choose a few highlights. I'll come up with a post later in the week to share the cuteness in pictures.

Friday, May 1, 2015

fmf: door

Here are the rules:
1. Write for five minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word.
2. Link back to Kate Motaung's blog with the rest of the Five Minute Friday-ers.
3. Comment on the person who linked up before you.

Please join us!

Today's prompt: door


This is my first five minute friday post since August of 2014. That's nine months. Not okay.

Friends, I've missed this. I've missed the #fmfparty on twitter and I've missed the link ups. I've missed reading the words that someone else babbled together during their five minutes of pure, unedited writing. Most that I read are far more coherent than mine feel, but all serve a purpose. I write, as the others do, because somewhere, someone might need to hear my message.

That's one of the beautiful things about five minute friday. The door is always open. Whether you walk through every week, once a month, or once every 18 months. There is always going to be someone who is excited that you are there.


Monday, April 20, 2015

a #fmfpartysnailmail giveaway!

Today's blessing:
Free stuff!

Ladies, you're in for a treat. Not only do you get to enjoy community in your mailbox every week, but you also get the opportunity to win some fantastic giveaways! I am honored to be hosting the first of our giveaways, and it is a good one. I present to you:

Just in time for spring (unless you're lucky enough to live in one of those places that is consistently warm before mid-May), a Scentsy plug-in with three scent bars of your choice and a copy of Susan Shipe's "How to Have a 100% Organic Raised Bed Garden". How great is that?

Please note: This giveaway is only open to the lovely ladies who are participating in round six of #fmfpartysnailmail. If it makes you sad that you can't win free stuff, and if you enjoy getting real mail, I hope you'll consider joining us for round seven, should there be one!

This giveaway will run through noon eastern time on Friday, April 24th. I think. I didn't actually set it up, and it's the first time that the beautiful Jen, who did set it up, has used this provider (is "provider" the right word?), so she's not 100% sure she did it right, either. We appreciate your grace and understanding as we share our imperfections with the world!

So, without further ado, I present to you:

#FMFPartySnailMail Giveaway #1

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

an update on the kiddos {april edition}

Baby M is seven months. Wow. Here is an update on his continually growing level of awesomeness:

Mastered Skills (most babies can do)
Sit without support: He can. Not for too long, but as long has he tips forward, he can rely on his fat rolls to prop him up.
Reaches for things with a sweeping motion: And then he gets so mad when he sweeps it right onto the floor or out of reach. Poor kid.
Imitates speech sounds (babbles): Oh yes; he's very vocal, just like Big Sister.

Emerging Skills (half of babies can do)
Combines syllables into word-like sounds: We mostly just get "ah" and "ee" sounds right now.
Begins to crawl or lunges forward: He is getting so close. He can get up on all fours and move his hands forward, but he hasn't quite gotten the back end to catch up, so he just face plants. Cute, but probably a little frustrating!
Picks up objects with one hand and passes to the other hand: He's got the picking up part down.
Bangs objects together: He mostly just picks up one object and bangs it against tray or table or floor.

Advanced Skills (a few babies can do)
Stands while holding onto something: Not so much. If we hold his hands he can bear pretty much all of his own weight on his legs, but he doesn't hold himself up on a table or anything.
Waves goodbye: No, we still have to do this for him. We're starting to work on some signing, too, like "more" and "all done."

M is continuing enjoy exploring new foods. We're taking it pretty slowly, but everything has been amazingly successful so far. He loves avocado, sweet potatoes, carrots, and mango. Next up are probably peas, and bananas. He's getting a lot of orange in his diet. I gave him the "all done" sign this morning after a bowl of mango, and he actually tried to pull his high chair tray back toward him when I went to get him out. I might attempt to make my own oatmeal this weekend. It doesn't look hard, and it's way cheaper than buying actual baby cereal!

Big Sister P is ridiculously cool. Her biggest accomplishment for this month: She can recognize letters, tell us what sound they make, and name a number of words that start with that sound. And the "reading." She loves to "read" books to you. She has a frighteningly good memory, so she can recite a fair amount of a number of her books, but what she doesn't remember, she's pretty good at improvising.

She loves to draw. She reminds me a little bit of her Big Uncle E, because she gets frustrated with me when I can't draw things the way she wants. Daddy is much better than I am. (Note: Big Uncle E actually means "Older Uncle E," not to be confused with "Younger Uncle E" who is actually taller than his older brother. We're all vowel names in my family.)

We were house sitting for a week last month, and P had access to a piano. Sitting on the piano was the old green Lutheran Book of Worship. One day P opened it up and declared "This is the musical of God. It's about the light of God." I'm not making this up. Coolest kid ever? Possibly.

She's making some pretty cool strides with counting, too. She can count to twenty all by herself, then if you prompt her with 21, she can keep going up to 29. Same thing with 30 and so on.

Sometimes I just have to stop and take a step back so reflect on how amazing our little girl is. The things she comes up with, the things she remembers, the things she can do...it's just incredible. We talked one day about people who don't have houses to live in, and she asked if she could get her tools to build them a house.

"Look, now there's more room for my movie!" Apparently Little Einsteins needed its own shelf.

We were playing at the mall, and she really wanted M to ride in the airplane with her. So cute!

Happy boy after his first taste of mango. Yum!

He's like a mini Roy Rodgers...
We went on a really long walk one day with a stop at the park, and M got his first swing experience. I think he had mixed feelings.

But P really liked the merry go round...I didn't know these things were still allowed on playgrounds!

The highlight of the walk: P got to visit Daddy's favorite snowman.

She insisted on pushing the cart while grocery shopping. She actually did a pretty good job!

Reading to Pig the Pig.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

#fmfpartysnailmail: again

Today's blessing:

Friends, I am so excited about this opportunity to build community. What seems like just yesterday (but was actually much longer ago...over a year? Is it possible?), I found myself saying "yes." I said "yes" to committing to brightening someone else's day, "yes" to spending 46 cents (then) plus the price of a card to remind someone that, even though I would probably never meet them, I cared, "yes" to bringing my online community into my real life.

It was a small commitment. And then it grew. It went on for one round. And then we loved it so much that it went on for another. And a third, and a fourth, and a fifth. Now, here we are, facing round six (six!) of #fmfpartysnailmail, and I found myself saying "yes" to something bigger.

No one, including Kaitlyn, could have imagined what this would turn into: five rounds, hundreds of women, and over 1000 cards. But you know how the cliche goes: all good things must come to an end...or maybe just change a little bit. Kaitlyn is stepping back from leading #fmfpartysnailmail, and I am so honored that she has asked me to be on a team of women who are taking over. Seriously, I am flattered and humbled to be joining Rebekah, Jen, Jessica, and Sarah Jo as we take this on and see where Christ leads it.

I really hope you'll consider being a part of this. The sign up form is open now, so please click here to sign up and join other wonderful women from around the world (that's right, it's not limited to just the US!) as we make a short term commitment to uplifting each other. It's one card each week for seven weeks. Five minutes a week to write a quick note...a total of 35 minutes out of your life to make seven lovely women smile as they open a hand-written card.

Think about it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

the call process: 101a

Today's blessing:

I'm sure you all read my previous post about the call process, because it's such a fascinating subject. Well, now I'm back to share my thoughts on the human side of it. You know what happens, but here's the emotional side of it. Because it can get very emotional.

So here's how it started.

I had my heart set on a certain region, and especially one certain synod within that region. It had everything we hoped for: a Tanzanian partnership, a good balance of rural/small town/big city opportunities, proximity to family...

Because of this, I had built up a bit of resentment for some of the other synods. I haven't lived "close" (read: within a 5 hour drive) to my family since I graduated high school, and I was ready for a change. However, it's not up to us.

The minute we got the e-mail that my "favorite" region and synod were off the table, the resentment completely disappeared. No joke. I'm not even saying that to convince myself; it's actually true.

That said, there will always be a little bit of sadness for what might have been. However, that sadness would be there regardless of our assignment.

Now, for the big question people seem to be asking:

"Is this what you were hoping for?"
- or -
"Was that your first choice?"

We were hoping for a full time call somewhere, and the numbers assigned to our top "preferences" aren't as defining as one might think. So to say that anywhere was actually our first choice is misleading. There were things that we were excited about in a number of different synods, and, no matter how we stacked the pro-con lists, there was never a really clear winner. I know this sounds really cheesy, but it is such a spirit-led process. It's one of those situations that you just have to let go of and really trust that the spirit is leading you exactly where you are supposed to be.

We have been called to a great synod that we are extremely excited to serve. That (in a full time position) is exactly where we want to be.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

the call process: 101

Today's blessing
Knowing something. When your whole future is up in the air for so long, it's nice, for a change, to see glimpses of what the puzzle of your future might look like.

Anyone who has been through it can tell you that the whole first call/assignment process is pretty crazy. We're in the midst of it right now, and I wanted to share a few thoughts from the perspective of the spouse. Let me start with a few disclaimers:

  1. These are my opinions and mine alone. I cannot speak for any other clergy spouse. Only myself.
  2. I'm referring to the ELCA here.
  3. This is going to be at least two parts. This post is only about the nuts and bolts of the process. I'll share some insider thoughts later.
I'm going to start with the very basics, because I'm guessing many of my readers aren't familiar with the education and call process for an ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) pastor. After you complete a four year bachelor's degree, you can enter Seminary. There is a whole crazy application process including a several hour psychological exam and extensive interviews you must complete before you will even be allowed to say you want to become a pastor. Anyone can start taking the classes, but until you're "entranced," you're just taking classes for fun. You're not actually working towards anything.

Once you're in, you're looking at a four year program, though there is some restructuring going on that could change this sometime in the near future. For us, it was two years of school, a year of internship, and now the last year of school. I won't go into too much detail about any of this, because it's fairly straightforward.

On to assignment.

Once you complete internship and return for your last year of school, you begin the assignment process. Some candidates may begin this early if they only have one semester of school left or if the did a terminal internship, which is an internship in their last year, and not as scary as the word "terminal" can make it sound. For us, it meant all paperwork turned in at the beginning of December.

The ELCA has divided the country into nine regions.

Each region is then further divided into synods. We have been called to region three:
This isn't a great map, but I didn't feel like spending the time to find a better one. You get the idea.

One of the most common questions we've gotten is "Do you get to choose where you go?" To a certain extent, yes. To a greater extent, no. You can choose to restrict to a certain synod of number of synods, but you have to get special permission to do this, and it does not guarantee you a call in that synod. Some candidates who restrict have to wait two or three years for a call. Yikes. You can choose to be completely open and go wherever the bishops decide to send you. As much as I would love to say we were completely open, that would be a lie. We know ourselves well enough to know that there are certain places we just would not want to live long term. So we went with option #3: preferences.

Even the term "Preferences" should be considered very loosely. Yes, we ranked them. We had our "preferred" synods, one through nine, and we assigned a number to each. However, because of the way things are set up, number four or five could actually be preferred over number two or three, but isn't able to be ranked as such. If it sounds confusing, that's because it is. Thankfully, the bishops understand this and work hard to get to know each potential candidate and what their preferences really mean.

Finally, in mid-February, a full two and a half months after the paperwork has been submitted, a group of bishops convened in Chicago to begin the process of deciding the fate of the candidates and their families. Though there isn't really anything else to compare it to, in my understanding, this process is kind of a cross between the NFL draft and the papal conclave. For anyone interested in learning more about it, read this article. By the time this two-day process has come to its end, a candidate is assigned to a region. They are then notified of their region assignment via e-mail.

Next comes synod assignment. Things were tense before region assignments, and they just kept getting worse. The anticipation just keeps building. The more you know, the more you want to know, right? It was great for about two days to know that our future home had been narrowed down to within three states. Once that novelty wore off, I wanted more. I wanted a synod. Unfortunately for us, we had to wait another two weeks for this information. After the candidates are assigned to regions, the bishops from that region then get together to divide them up. There are so many factors that go into this process that I wouldn't possibly be able to list them all even if I knew them. For the sake of keeping things simple-ish, let's just say that the bishops work to match the needs of their congregations with the gifts of their candidates.

Once that's done and you receive the fateful phone call, you start to look at churches. Typically, the bishop or a member of his or her staff will provide you with the paperwork from several congregations, and you can decide to interview at some or all or none of them. This is where we are now. We have looked at a number of churches in our assigned synod, have shared our thoughts with the synod staff. They have sent N's paperwork along to the call committees at those churches we "liked" (for lack of a better term), and now those call committees are choosing to call or not call him to set up an interview. After the preliminary interview, a call committee will typically call back their top three or so choices for a second interview. After the second interview, they will choose a preferred candidate. This candidate is presented to the congregation, there is discussion and the opportunity for the congregation to ask questions, and then they vote. It is rare for the church to vote against the call committee, but it can happen. Meaning the call committee can have a preferred candidate in mind, and the congregation as a whole can vote against the candidate and tell the committee to keep looking.

After that is ordination and installation and getting on with life!

What questions do you have on the call and assignment process? I know I can't possibly have been that thorough, so I'd love to know what other questions are out there!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

an update on the kiddos {march edition}

Oh where oh where have my little babes gone, oh where oh where can they be?

Somebody has taken them and replaced them with kids. Madness.

Baby M is now six months old. Here's how awesome he is:
Mastered Skills (most babies can do)
Turns towards sounds and voices: He even turned when someone called his name the other day, though it may just have been a fluke.
Imitates sounds, blows bubbles: This kid is a bubble-blowing maniac. It's one of his favorite pastimes. And Daddy was clicking his tongue at him the other day, and it was so cute! M would stare intently, studying Daddy's face and mouth, and then try to do it himself.
Rolls in both directions: His other favorite pastime.

Emerging Skills (half of babies can do)
Reaches for objects and mouths them: Anything he can get his hands on, including paper plates, sleeves, and big sister's toys. She loves that.
Sits without support: Only for a few seconds. The he slumps forward and his fat rolls prop him up!

Advanced Skills (a few babies can do)
May lunge forward or start crawling: Not yet, thank goodness! Our apartment is too small for him to be crawling - we have enough trouble keeping track of him when he rolls or scoots places!
May jabber or combine syllables: He's getting more "jabbery." I don't know if I would say he combines syllables (are we talking "baba" or "mama" or "maba" or something else?) but he sure likes to communicate. He seems to be trying to be more conversational.
May drag objects towards himself: Anything he can get his little hands on.

We officially have two teeth. The first popped through the day before he turned six months, and he was a much happier boy after that...until earlier this week when number two started coming through. Now he's happy again. Hopefully for awhile.

Baby M got his first taste of "real" food earlier this week, and he was a big fan of the avocado! He did really well, too, and almost all of it actually made it into his mouth. We don't have our high chair yet, so he hangs out in his bouncy chair and I sit on the floor next to him. Not ideal, but it works.

Big Sister P continues to amaze and astound. She started dance classes last month, and she LOVES them. I think they were the best present Grammy and Ong Noi ever gave her. Plus, she's super cute in her leotard and tutu!

Our prissy little "nothing on my hands!" child has started to warm up to sensory play. I came across some fun ideas on Pinterest from the blog Fun at Home with Kids, and thought I might as well try. I'm not sure who had more fun with the gak, P or Daddy. And seriously...cornstarch plus water is so much fun! I had a hard time relinquishing the bowl!

That's right - messy hands!

Birthday present from Grandma!

Seriously, this stuff was so cool!

P reading M a story. And she's ready to go running with Mommy.

Do you see the look they're giving each other? They're plotting stuff already...

Teaching Baby M how to play piano

This kid LOVES her dance classes!

I set him down in front of the toys (the little green and yellow cubey thing and the blue and yellow car), I went to the bathroom, and this is where he was when I came back. Heaven help us, he's getting more mobile...

P wanted to wrap M up like a baby and hold him. She quickly changed her mind.

Seriously, that smile!

Now that the weather is starting to get a little nicer, P loves "helping" take the puppy outside.

M's first taste of avocado!