Monday, December 23, 2013

'Tis the season

After running errands for nearly 3 hours on Christmas Eve Eve, Wesley and I decided to stop at Starbucks and go through the drive-thru. We had already been to Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Kohl's, and Hobby Lobby. He was (mostly) behaved and only tried to jump out of the cart with the buckle still in place 3 times. He only screamed twice and he only ran away from me 19 times. I considered it a success to be rewarded with a chai latte and blueberry coffee cake.

I decided on a Starbucks about halfway between where we were (across the street from a Starbucks) and our home (across the street from a Starbucks). It had a drive-thru and was on the convenient side of the street. There wasn't a line because it was nearly 11am, but there was one person in front of me. I used the time to tell Wesley all about the magic of Starbucks.

When I got to the counter, debit card in hand, the cheerful employee told me that the car in front of me had paid for my order. I immediately got tears in my eyes. I took me tea and coffee cake and handed her a $10 telling her to do whatever she wanted with it. She was so joyful and was probably having a great time giving people free coffee.

When I took my tea and coffee cake I felt validated. As a mom of a toddler, I don't often feel heard or understood. Even though the car in front of me has no idea who I am or what my day was like, paying for my order made me feel valued. I hope that however that $10 was used, more love was shared.

Each year Jarrod and I choose to donate the equivalent of our Christmas budget to organizations or individuals in need. If we spend $500 on friends and family for Christmas, we donate $500 to a cause or someone we don't know. This year we decided to have a little bit of fun with our giving. We gave to a few causes especially close to our hearts, but we also gave to a single mom waitress who served us at a restaurant. It has been an absolute blast!!

One struggle I had with giving is deciding who should get the gifts. I want it to be someone who really needs it. Someone who would benefit from it and would use the money wisely. I considered how we could give in a more personal way, but was struggling with it. Should we just leave a large tip on Christmas eve? Should we pay for someone's meal next time we're out to eat? Should we find a family in need and buy Christmas presents?

I've been thinking, contemplating, and praying over the last few days about this. My experience at Starbucks taught me something. Of course I was able to pay for my $6 order at Starbucks. Also, it was frivolous and definitely not a need. But it spread joy and made me feel valued. Isn't that what Christmas is all about? Tomorrow we'll spend our morning doing some awesome giving and I cannot wait. I hope it spreads joy, love, and grace.
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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Mom Imperfect: Kid and Dad version

I've been a really perfect mom recently and cannot think of any stories to share with you about my imperfections. However, my kid and my husband have had imperfect moments and I want to share them with you. Call it exploitation. 

Kid Imperfect
Our Sunday School class has a Christmas party. We met at someone's house and hired two babysitters to watch the kiddos upstairs. Wesley was the youngest and had a BALL playing with the older kids. He loved all the fun big-kid toys also. By 8:15pm, we knew we were hitting his window and should probably get outta there. I went upstairs to get him and he protested. I explained that it was time to go and carried him down the stairs. When he realized we were actually going home and not just getting cookies for his friends, he got irate. 

I'm not proud of this but when he gets angry occasionally he will flail about and hit me. He did this, swinging his hands and slapping me HARD across the face. In front of all of our friends. I immediately grabbed his hand, said "NO!" in my firm-mama voice, and forgot we were standing in the middle of our friends at someone else's house. Awesome.

I finally looked up to see our friends, looking much less shocked than I anticipated. It was humiliating. 

Dad Imperfect
Jarrod and Wesley stopped at the grocery store on the way home from work a few days ago. They just needed to grab a few things. Wesley had a great day at school, but evidently used up his patience and started to lose it at the store. Jarrod grabbed everything and tried to get out as quickly as he could. 

Because Jarrod makes friends with everyone, he was chatting with the store clerk and other people in line while he checked out at the self-check line. Wesley was, I'm sure, flirting with any girls in a 1 mile radius. Jarrod completed check-out and began loading things in the car. 

He had already loaded Wesley into his carseat, but unloaded him, put the groceries back in the cart, and went into the store. 

"Did I pay?"

Nope.

He had to re-ring the groceries and pay. Thankfully no one seemed concerned - no bouncers followed him to the car and we're not on the Tom Thumb blacklist for life. But I'm sure Jarrod was embarrassed! 


We've all been there, right? Our children are a reflection of us and when they misbehave it makes us feel inadequate. But no one is perfect - especially over-tired children! And sometimes we're just busy doing other things, like talking to people and making friends, to remember to pay for groceries. 

Being a parent is so hard. I hope that by sharing these stories from our life can help us stop judging and start finding solidarity with each other. 

When was the last time you had an imperfect moment? 
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Friday, December 13, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Our Christmas cards went out this week, so I thought it was time to share them on the blog. The quality isn't awesome, but here you go. We got the photos taken in a field near our house with my camera and tripod. I got some excellent shots of Wesley that I will share next week. I'm so thankful for Better Mom Shots!

I got 40 Christmas cards for just $19.99 by using a groupon for Zazzle.com. A few months ago I saw a groupon for $19.99 for 40 Christmas cards. I checked out the options at Zazzle, read some reviews, and bought the groupon. The past few years I've used Shutterfly for our Christmas cards, but this year I decided to shake things up a little bit.

The cards are nice - not super thick or incredibly high quality, but the colors are great and they look good. I even customized the back to include a link to the blog. I added our Christmas letter to bring our friends and family up to speed on our year!

I was also looking at Minted for Christmas cards, but had already purchased the groupon, which was only good for Christmas cards. So... I used my Minted for Wesley's birthday invitations! More on that later, but I will say I ADORE them! They are incredibly high quality and look absolutely fabulous!

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Why I'm friends with Rachel Held Evans and Dave Ramsey

A few days after I wrote about meeting Dave Ramsey, there was a crazy internet storm against him. Blog posts in response to a list posted on his website went viral. I don't agree with Dave Ramsey on everything and seeing things written in opposition of him doesn't hurt my feelings. But it did make me pause. I read a lot of things - some I agreed with and some I didn't. Some that were well-written and some that weren't.

The best part? One fabulous article was written by Rachel Held Evans, whom I also adore.

Irony? I met RHE on Saturday afternoon and Dave Ramsey on Monday. 
While I watched friends post, comment, and report articles on facebook, I began thinking, praying, and dreaming. Can I be friends with Dave Ramsey and Rachel Held Evans? I sure hope so!

I've been friends with Dave Ramsey for six years or so. I started listening to his radio show via the podcasts when I was a 25-year-old youth minister. I made very little money, had a whole bunch of debt and had no idea what to do about it. I went to bed scared that I wasn't going to be able to make ends meet. I ran out of money and lived on the financial edge. I was never without food nor did I ever lose my housing but I was always afraid and worried. I was one emergency away from homelessness.

Now, six years later, I'm debt-free, have an emergency fund, have my Masters degree, make a good salary and have a wonderful financial life. Most importantly, I go to bed with peace about our finances. I'm financially healthy because of the principles talk to me by Dave Ramsey. I know how to budget, I know how to live well beneath my means, and I know the importance of saving money. There are certainly other ways that I could've learned this - most of it is common sense, but I learned it through Financial Peace University. My parents never taught me how to be great with money and didn't set the best example. I'm embarrassed that I was an adult before I knew how to handle money.

I admire Dave Ramsey because of his financial expertise. I'm thankful that he taught me how to take control of my money. I am thankful that because of his principles I have freedom and peace in my life especially in the area of finances. I'm thankful that he taught my husband and I to be on the same page in terms of finances. I don't share his theology or politics. But that's okay! I don't require my financial adviser to share my theology. I'm thankful that he reads and interprets scripture, even if we don't agree.

I've been friends with Rachel Held Evans for about a year. I discovered her through her book A Year of Biblical Womanhood and in just a few pages I knew that her and I would be BFFs. When I heard that she would be speaking at a conference I knew I had to attend. I went to her keynote session and sat as close to the front as I could. There was some murmuring around me because she was making some people uncomfortable. I stayed the whole time and loved absolutely everything that she said. When it was time for her small room session I got there early and got a seat as close to the front possible. I'm so thankful that there is a woman with great theology who is encouraging denominations and Christians everywhere to live according to Scripture. I agree with her theological interpretation and admire her work very much. She's rocking the boat for Christians everywhere because she's raising the expectation that we're actually supposed to live like Christ. That means caring for the poor. That means loving the outcast. That means making room at the table for people that are not like us.

I think Rachel Held Evans has fabulous theology. Her interpretation of Scripture challenges me and resonates in me. The way that she read scripture is very similar to the way I read scripture. I love to read her books because I agree with her. She makes me feel really smart. I also wish that I had come up with some of her ideas before she did. I'm sure that we don't agree on everything. We may not agree on how to handle our finances. We definitely don't agree on what to call our husbands. I've never called Jarrod master!

I am thankful that I live in a world where Rachel held Evans and Dave Ramsey both have platforms to share their ideas. I'm thankful that they both read scripture and share their interpretations. I bet that they have challenged and encouraged a whole bunch of people. I hope they are encouraging people to read scripture and interpret it for themselves! As much as people want to think Scripture is clear - it is not. There is language, translation, historical context, authorship, and style to consider. Both Rachel Held Evans and Dave Ramsey are Christians who read scripture. They study. They live their lives according to it. But their lives look very different. Isn't that awesome? I'm so thankful that they're both trying their very hardest to live like Christ. Even though that looks different than the way I interpret my life to look like Christ.

We're all just doing our best.
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Monday, December 9, 2013

Ice Day Extravaganza!

We are currently on our 4th full day iced in the house. On Thursday afternoon I got word that my office was closing immediately. I was in a meeting on the other side of town, but left quickly, grabbed a few necessities at the store, and went home! Jarrod, Wesley, and I met there around 4pm - ready to hunker down! It was very cold and there was already rain coming down.

Friday morning we woke up to thick ice covering the ground. We were officially iced in! The driveway was a sheet of ice, the streets were not drivable, and it was not scheduled to be out of the 20s for several days. Unusual for this part of the country - especially this early in the season. We don't have salt trucks, snow plows, or the ability to make roads drivable.

That first day was awesome. We stayed in our jammies, played a lot, and got a million things done.

Over the course of the break I:

  • Sewed a pair of christmas pants for my nephew
  • Sewed two tie shirts for my nephews
  • Cut out fabric for 1.5 stoles to make for the clergy friends in my life
  • Two loaves of bread
  • 2 batches of cornbread muffins
  • A big batch of crock pot black and kidney beans for the freezer
  • A huge pot of chili - some for now and some for the freezer
  • Peanut butter chocolate no bake cookies
  • Christmas chocolate chip cookie dough to be made into cookies next weekend
  • A huge batch of hummus - two containers for the freezer and one for the fridge
And then I ran out of supplies. We were down to 2 tablespoons of butter, no flour, no oats, no more Christmas fabric, no stole pattern, and no produce in our kitchen. But we were thrilled to have one full day together without anything else to do! I was also able to get out and go for a walk. It was very cold, but awesome. 
On Saturday we tried to leave. We defrosted the car and tried to get out of the driveway. It was frustrating and challenging. I was nervous about getting the car onto the roads because I knew they wouldn't be clear. Back inside we went. Another trip out on a walk for me, but I turned right around and came home almost immediately. The roads were terrible.

On Saturday afternoon churches started closing. Our church closed and we decided to have a service at our house on Sunday morning. Jarrod had a sermon already prepared, so we just added some music and prayer. It was chaotic, but awesome. We had lots of family, friends, and church folks join us on Sunday morning live or watch the video later.



After church, lunch, and naptime, we went out. We figured for sure work would be back on for Monday and we had some things we needed. A short trip out proved relatively uneventful. The roads weren't great, but the temperature was above freezing, causing much of the ice to melt...if only for a few hours.

Another walk through the neighborhood showed the roads much more clear. But still rough patches. Surely we'd go back to school and work!

Nope.

After eating a delicious pizza dinner, while Wesley was in the bath, we received word that my office, Jarrod's office, and Wesley's school were all closed for Monday. Day 4.

I'm really enjoying the quiet time. I'm enjoying spending time with my kid - uninterrupted time. I'm enjoying the opportunity to catch up on a few things...although my craft store list is getting out of control because I have so many projects in process right now! I know that I will look back on this time fondly. But right now I feel like I might be losing my mind. It's hard to keep a toddler entertained for 3 full days without leaving the house. Add on finals for Jarrod that he has to study for and I'm losing it. Wesley hardly watched any TV at all on Friday, but by today I was turning the TV on just to clear my head. We did watch some great shows together - Elf, Veggie Tales, and Snoopy's Christmas Special. Wesley's starting to appreciate the classics. :-)

If you are from a colder climate than Texas, I know you're making fun of us right now. I would be too! Growing up in the Northeast, I know that this weather is nothing to keep me home. If only the roads were clear! While I might be losing my mind, I am giving thanks for heat, safety, shelter, food, and two beautiful boys in my life.

Amen.
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Friday, December 6, 2013

A Trip to the Fort Worth Zoo

We are home today with a snow day! I love that it's Friday and we have nothing to do but keep warm! We've already made cookies and bread and have chili, cornbread, and more cookies on the agenda. We're very thankful for heat, a safe place to sleep, and plenty of food to eat. And are praying for those who do not. 
We had friends invite us to the Fort Worth Zoo for a members only pancake breakfast. We skipped the breakfast, but got to the zoo early and had a blast! We have been to the zoo before, but Wesley's finally old enough to really enjoy it!

Our day started with a train ride. We arrived right as the zoo opened at 8am and hit straight to the train. Wesley LOVED it! He loved it so much, he didn't want to get his picture taken...

Don't worry, the train wasn't moving at the time! The train was about to go and was making awesome train sounds. Wesley was a little concerned, but loved it! While we were on the train, we got to see a few animals, but mostly just enjoyed the excitement. We had Wesley's stroller but there was a perfect spot for strollers on the train. We just had to fold it up. 
The train dropped us right in front of the carousel! Wesley first experienced the carousel about 6 months ago and loved it. We were pretty sure he'd love it again. Because of the pancake breakfast, the carousel was free all day. Most of the people at the zoo were eating pancakes so we had the carousel to ourselves!
 After the carousel, we walked quickly back towards the front of the zoo because we were meeting friends. We ate some breakfast tacos and were back out to see more animals - this time with friends! We saw lions and tigers playing with pumpkins, baby elephants, and fish.



But Wesley's favorite part was the bird area. It's like a petting zoo for birds. Lots of parakeets flying all over the place. For $1 you can buy a stick with bird seed on it. Normally we wouldn't spend money on something like that, but we thought Wesley would like it. We were wrong.

He LOVED it!

 He was beyond excited about these birds. Mama was a little scared. These birds aren't scared at all and were flying at my head! But Wesley thought it was absolutely the best.

After the birds, we saw more animals. Wesley quickly became frustrated with the stroller and insisted on walking.

That lasted for a very short period of time. He was tired, hungry, and needed a nap. We had a great 3.5 hours before he started melting, though, and I consider that a win! 
We hit the carousel one last time! We were thankful for the first time because this time we had to wait in line! Daddy sat this time out and captured this fabulous shot of Wesley and mama! 

Before leaving, we decided that we needed season passes! Children are free until they turn 3, so we decided it was the perfect year to test out a membership. Nothing has ever made me feel more like a grown-up like buying a zoo membership! 

We can't been back since, but are looking forward to using the membership as soon as the weather is a little nicer. 
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Monday, December 2, 2013

October and November 2013 Goals Update

October got the best of me and I forgot to update you on our goals. But that doesn't mean we forgot about them! Here's the update from October and November. I cannot believe next month I'll update you on how we did for the year! We're already planning our 2014 goals and are excited about what the new year will bring us!

Here were our goals for October and November:
  1. Jarrod reads one non-fiction & Leanne reads one book 
  2. Try a new recipe 
  3. Go on one date 
  4. Have one family activity 
  5.  Leanne walk 75% of days 
  6. Walk 60 miles to end breast cancer 
  7. Jarrod reads one non-fiction & Leanne reads one book 
  8. Try a new recipe 
  9. Go on one date 
  10. Have one family activity 
  11. Leanne walk 75% of days 

1 & 7. Let me say how unfair it is that Jarrod automatically gets this one because all the books he reads for school are non-fiction. I wasn't as good about books. I am in the middle of a couple of books and had a few good ones from the library, but never got around to finishing them.
2 & 8. Jarrod made some delicious napa cabbage spring rolls. We got gorgeous napa cabbage in our CSA basket this month and knew that would be a great recipe. I also made a delicious butternut squash puree. It is easy and delicious. I'll be sharing the recipe soon!
3 & 9. We went on one lunch date and it was awesome. Wesley was at school and we had a meeting together so we decided to go to lunch. It was a working lunch, but we were working on a project and had a lot of fun. We don't do that enough.
4 & 10. We went to the Fort Worth Zoo and it was so awesome that we bought a family pass! Wesley really enjoyed it and seems to be at a great age to go see the animals. The photo above is from the bird house and he LOVED that. We also went to Nashville together. We played, read stories, ate at awesome restaurants, and danced. It was deliciously awesome.
5, 6, & 11. Done and done. I did a good job walking. I took a couple of days off after walking 60 miles in 3 days, but just a few. It's colder now so I either bundle up a lot and walk in the mornings or I walk in the evenings after work before it's getting too dark. Works great!

One goal that we didn't include in our annual goals was to decide what avenue we wanted to explore in expanding our family. We are working hard on that and should have an update soon. We hope to get started on something in January.

How are you doing with your goals now that the year is wrapping up?

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