Friday, February 25, 2011

Flashback Friday (on Saturday)

I love traveling. I love experiencing different cultures, hearing different languages, and getting my feet dusty in unfamiliar lands. I haven't traveled too much outside of the States yet, but I hope it becomes a normal part of our life as a family. I've been to Brazil, the mountains of Mexico, Bahamas, and Mozambique (in Africa.) Each trip is a special memory, each place expanded the boundaries of my heart.

After I graduated from college, I worked in campus ministry for two years. During my stint in campus ministry I co-led a trip to Mozambique,Africa, taking a group of college students. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but thankfully, my co-leader was a seasoned veteran. We spent most of our time at a children's center where over 500 children (formerly street kids, orphaned, or abandoned) were taken in, cared for, and embraced into a huge, crazy family. Loving on these kids was both harder than I expected, and more fulfilling than I expected.

There are many stories I could tell from this trip. Each child was a book of stories. But this is the story that first surfaced out of the cobwebs of my memory:

I was joining a small group on an outreach outside of the children's center. We were going to the Dump. Yes, the Dump, the trash pit. People live there. Families. Children. Disabled. Elderly. They live in the trash. In the third world, they are at the bottom of the food chain.

We are going there to lead a children's church service, to give away food and cloths. We are crammed into the back of the truck, driving down the dirt road into the dump. Children are running after us, smiling, laughing, excited. They are expecting us.

We arrive and set up in a make-shift building. Bamboo mats cover the dirt ground, the trash. I sit down on the ground amongst the children. They smile at me shyly. Small children have their smaller brothers or sisters strapped to their backs. They are all dirty. Flies are everywhere, landing on their faces. They are so beautiful, it hurts.

Before I know it, two little girls have climbed into my lap. Other children are squeezed around me, holding my hands, touching my legs, playing with my hair. They are eager for touch. for love. We sing songs and there is a story told.
I am distracted.
The little girls in my lap. The flies keep landing on them. Their feet are bare and calloused. Their cloths are threadbare, almost like paper. I am thinking about their lives. I am thinking about how they were probably born in this dump. They will probably grow up in it. They will probably die here. The injustice of it all is overwhelming me. I am holding them close and crying out to God, "Why??"

He doesn't answer me.

But then I hear Him say, with that small, quiet voice I've come to know so well, "THESE are the least of these."

These children are the least of these. The Last shall be First. Last on Earth, but first in Heaven. This brings me a small measure of comfort. Forgotten on Earth, honored in Heaven.

I look at the children with fresh eyes. They are smiling and laughing and there is joy in their eyes. They live in a dump and they have more authentic joy than people I have seen that live in mansions.

There is a lesson here. Children teach us so much.

I tuck away this lesson, these precious faces, the Least of These tightly into my memory and into my heart. The boundaries expanded once again by the faces of a faraway land.

A few pics:
Walking to the market.

I sketched a portrait of one of the boys and they got the
biggest kick out of it. After that, they all wanted me to draw
their picture.

Love me some African dancing.

My co-leader Sarah Olds discovered a calling on our short trip to Mozambique.

She now lives in Mozambique. She works with a project for street kids called Masana. Check out her blog at Sarah-n-Africa.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Little Things

I think true joy can be found in all "the little things" piled up all together. I've found it can be so easy to take the little moments for granted, but when I stop to let them sink in, the gratitude just overflows. Here are some little things that have made my heart smile.

picking up my patoot from her crib every morning. she usually
giggles and wrinkly-nose smile when I open the door and she sees me.
I swoon a little bit inside from happiness every time.

taking a moment for coffee. extra cream please.

cuddling & story time.

a trail of toys.

baby feet.

play group tummy-time in the sunshine.

What little things have brought you joy today?

Friday, February 18, 2011

All Things Beautiful

This beautiful weather we have been having has got me thinking about baby baby's belly to be exact, in a swimsuit. I can't wait to see her playing in the sand with her baby belly and little baby thighs sticking out of a swimsuit. Be still my heart.

Here are some little suits I am just lovin':

retro sailor suit for baby, what's not to like?
Janie & Jack

eee!! I love this one. I think this might be the winner
for Adoration. I want her little baby belly to show. and it's in yellow.
and polka-dots.

These are for older kiddos and not babies, but I wish they
were for baby girls too (umm...and for adults.)

just look at that little pocket.
Crewcuts (J.crew)

Now adult swimsuits aren't nearly as fun, but I am determined to rock a bikini post-baby. So I've been checking out some online.

In theory I love all the retro-inspired, high-waisted swimsuits out there. But I have a short-waist, so I'm not sure how it would work. I would need to try it on.

I like how clean this one looks and the lil' buttons.

Any suggestions for a good bikini post-baby? No string bikini's need apply.

{Remember to send some love my way and VOTE HERE.}

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Flashback Friday

"An Ode to the Pimpala"

I would like to introduce you to my husbands first car, lovingly known as the "Pimpala." Oh yes. Here it is in all it's ghetto glory.

So, I haven't told the story on this blog yet, but me and my husband knew each other in high school. We became good friends in high school but didn't date until college. In high school, James drove a 79' impala. He bought it for like $100, fixed it up, and had it painted bright orange crush. Outfitted with furry seat covers and some dice, the transformation was complete.

If you ever wanted to know if James was anywhere in our not so very big city, you would just look for his car. It was easy to spot. Scan an entire parking lot of cars and you could pick it out of the crowd right away.

There are many things about this car that were hilarious, but the most hilarious part was this:

Pimpala = ghetto
James= NOT ghetto. Or "pimp-like" by any stretch of the imagination.

I mean, the car portrays I certain kind of image....a gangsta rap video kind of image. James never really fit the image of the car. You would look at the car and expect to see someone tough, NOT white, and perhaps sporting some kind of grill sitting in the driver's seat. Instead, you would see James, very white, lanky, a little goofy, wearing Dickies, and a tight t-shirt. Plus, instead of hearing gangsta rap out of the speakers you would most likely hear screaming hardcore/metal music. oh geez.

James, how I love him. The inconsistency of image of the car vs. my husband portrays something I love very much about my husband. One of the things I most love about my husband (and one of the reasons I fell in love with him) is his confidence and comfort in who he is. He doesn't care if he's being cool, or if you think he's cool, or if anyone thinks he's cool. In a world that is all consumed with image and what other people think, James is miraculously and refreshingly unaffected by the opinions of others. He owns his uniqueness and individuality and he wants other people to own it too. This in turn (in my eyes at least), makes him VERY cool. You are valuable because you are YOU. That's the gift he gives to other people. It's a gift he's given to me.

Oh, the "Pimpala". There are so many happy memories that go along with that huge, orange, gas guzzling car. He had that car in high school, when we were just friends and James had a not-so-hidden crush on me. He took it to college with him, where we started dating (it was perfect for cuddling during drive-in movies.) He even still had it when we got married. We hung out in that car with friends, took trips in it, went on dates with it. Sat on the hood of it, sharing secrets. One night driving back to school through the country, after a weekend of visiting our families in our hometown, the sky was clear and the stars shone bright and perfect. We pulled over that orange car laid in a field and tried to absorb the beauty and the glory of the sky above us. So many memories.

And yet another memory:
Here I am (looking like a 13 year old) during college (senior year I think?) perched atop the Pimpala, sitting by my bestie, and eating cook-out food in a parking lot with a bunch of friends.

A little while after we got married, we moved away from our beloved college town. James sold the car to someone who fit the car's image and who would surely trick it out even more. The car just wasn't practical for a newly married couple about to move, about to start new jobs, on the verge of starting a family. The Pimpala was becoming quite the hassel to drive and she just ate up SO much gas (this wasn't the 90's anymore.) By the time James got rid of that car, we were glad to be rid of her. Good riddance.
Yet in our recollections, selling that car was bittersweet. Who knew that by selling that car, an era was ending? One chapter being closed and another being opened?

Sometimes I find myself missing that silly car..... at drive-in movies, or certain humid summer nights that remind me of life before responsibility and young love, or when I see my husband drive away to work in a cookie-cutter silver Nissan that speaks nothing of his "not-care" individuality, but speaks volumes more about adult-hood.

And when we visit our college town I always find myself hoping for just a glimpse of that orange car. A glimpse of our past.

Happy Friday!

remember to send some love my way and VOTE HERE.}

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sew Sew Lovely Giveaway Winners!

Well, I said I would announce the winners tomorrow, but I decided to be a little early and do it tonight (I won't be around a computer tomorrow.) so here we go.....

*disclaimer: baby is not part of the prize. ;)

Thank you everybody for participating and thank you Sew Sew Lovely for sponsoring!

Kara, you have won the flouncy bag.

Rebecca, you have won the vintage handkerchief cuff.

I will be getting in touch with you lovelies and I will make sure you get your goodies!

If you are still craving some Sew Sew Lovely goodness, go check out her ETSY SITE.

{and remember to send some love my way and VOTE HERE.}

Monday, February 14, 2011

Give some love away.

Oh how I love Valentine's day. Even as a single gal, I loved it. I think because it always was more than just a romantic holiday for me.

paper bag mailboxes and candy in elementary school.

exchanging little pretties with my room mates in college.

and now... having an excuse to squeeze my baby and cuddle her daddy just a little extra!

When I think back on my V-day memories, it's not the things I got that I remember, it's the love I gave away! One of my fondest V-day recollections is buying a big, beautiful bouquet of flowers and giving it away to a gas station attendant. Her face just lit up, and seeing this stranger light up, made my lil' heart glow too. I really should do more such random acts of kindness. They make the world go round, I think.

Today this is how we will celebrate:

Me and the Patootie are making hand-made love notes for the man in our lives. (aka, her daddy, my hubs.) shhhh.....don't tell.

Me and the hubs are keeping it low-key tonight. I'm making a dinner of lemon rosemary chicken, rustic mashed potatoes, and strawberry spinach salad, with some earthfare treats for dessert. After the baby girl goes down for the night, we will probably eat our dinner in leisure and cuddle up to a movie. :) I prefer keeping V-day sweet and simple. Save the big guns for anniversary's and birthday's.

Hope you are having a wonderfully, love-filled, sunshine-y day!

I'll be announcing the Sew Sew Lovely giveaway winner on Wed, so you still have a chance to enter!

and if you don't mind, sending a vote my way, click here.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

All Things Beautiful

Some V-day inspiration for you lovelies!

What every girl should hear on Valentine's day.

the incomparable, Julia Childs.

a pretty dress for my pretty baby valentine.

the sweetest bunch of handmade love notes.


I heart cupcakes.

Yes, please.

Enduring Love.
Have a wonderfully restful, love-filled Sunday!


{send me some love and click here. ;) }

Saturday, February 12, 2011

It's that time again.

At the risk of being really, really annoying......

Yep, I just used my child's cute face to proposition votes from ya'll.

Topbabyblogs reset all the votes back down to zero. So we are starting fresh! I don't get a prize or anything for getting ranked high, but it does introduce me to some more amazing readers, like you! I hope you continue to enjoy this little love letter of mine. I started it to keep friends and family in the loop but it's turned into so much more. I found out I ENJOY writing little musings on here and that I could use this blog as a platform to encourage other mama's out there. I hope you are enjoying reading my little musings!

All it takes to send some love my way is two clicks below! You can vote once, everyday, by clicking on the topbabyblogs icon on the top right of my blog. :)

Click To Vote For Us @ the Top Baby Blogs Directory! The most popular baby blogs

Friday, February 11, 2011

Flashback Friday

Welcome to my new feature, "Flashback Friday!" I thought it would be a fun place to share stories from the past, whether it be from when The Patootie was a teeny lil' newborn, college days, travels, first years of marriage.....well, you get the idea.

So here goes......

"A First Bath and a Story about a Plant."

This is an account of Adoration's very first at-home bath. She was a mere days old.

She wasn't so sure about it.
"What ARE you doing to me?"
"Well, maybe it's not so bad....feels kinda good...."

"NOOO, not the hair!!!!"
"Ahhh....warm and safe and cuddled."
The following is relevant to the bath....just go along with me.

Once upon a time, while still in college, one of my roomies gave me a plant. The plant was spawn from her plant, named Beauregard. I called my plant Beauregard as well and Beauregard has been a faithful plant to me for many moons.
He had a close call when I got married. I moved in with my hubby but temporarily forgot about Beauregard, leaving him in my old apartment with no water or sunlight for three whole months. When I finally rescued him he was just a shriveled up stump of a plant.
Beauregard is a resilient little guy and came back to life. He moved with us to North Carolina and continued to grow and thrive. He produced some spawn of his own and now there are three Beauregard plants in our home.

Fast-forward to the day of Adoration's first bath:

The original Beauregard that almost died now sits atop the cabinet that holds are TV in our living room. His growth has really kinda of gotten out of hand. His vines are only about 2 feet from the ground. He thinks he is a kudzu.

Our friends Mark, Angela, and their one year old daughter Jade came to visit. Mark was taking his turn holding Adoration. He was standing right by our TV cabinet, which also happens to be right under Beauregard the plant. Jade was having a good ol' time crawling around being a one year old around Mark's feet.

Do you see what is coming?


Jade found Beauregard's tantalizing vines just within reach. She gave Beauregard a nice big tug, pulling him down right onto her dad and freshly bathed Adoration.

Beauregard survived. He's been through much worse.

Adoration.....well, she was completely unfazed, sleeping through the whole ordeal. The potting soil got all over her, in her hair, in her ears, even some in her nostrils.

Time for another bath.

{The votes are being reset today. Send me some love and click twice to vote and vote daily! Bunches of thanks! xoxo.}

Click To Vote For Us @ the Top Baby Blogs Directory! The most popular baby blogs

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Story, Well-written.

I just finished reading the book "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Own Life," by Donald Miller for the SECOND time. It is a great read and I recommend it. The book is basically about telling good stories with our lives. The book really inspires me. This time reading it though, I started to frantically panic...."oh no! what if my life isn't telling a good story? What do I need to do to change it?" My heart's desire is to lead a life that tells a good story and I started panicking that perhaps I WASN'T....

I have a confession: I am a dreamer. a future-thinker. a schemer of impossible things. I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing, actually I think it is mostly a good thing. It is good to have vision. It is good to dream of impossible things. My future daydreams often involve saving the world, with me as the heroine, running through the jungles of Africa saving babies, and releasing the broken from bondage. Seriously. I was planning on making that reality too. The problem with thinking about the future all the time in so grand a that it can make me feel like I am not telling a good story right now. I feel guilty for enjoying my family so much, having hot showers, living a typical American life. A more current dream is perhaps going back to grad school for counseling. Being so obsessed with future dreams is that it can breed discontent for the present or make you feel as if you are falling short. Living only for the future is chasing phantoms, because right now the dreams of the future do not exist.

Oh my Adoration. She has taught me so much. She has taught me to be PRESENT. She is not a phantom, she is living, breathing, and tangible. And she needs to be loved today. She needs me to be PRESENT.
I believe with all my heart that the question that will be asked at the end of our lives will be, "Did you learn to love?" Perhaps one day I will be living some grand expression of love....running through the jungles of Africa or bringing justice to modern-day slavery. And perhaps not.
All I know is that today I have a husband to love. A daughter to love. There is clerk at the grocery store checkout that could use a kind word. There are friends who are hurting. There are neighbors that are lonely. These are the ones in front of me today. To be present is to see the people around you, is to live out your dreams of who you want to
For me, it may be making time to play with my daughter, encourage my husband, give the kind word, clean the bathroom, say the hidden prayer for that hurting friend, finally get around to painting that painting. To live today the best of my ability, as quiet of a day as it may be.

Our stories are not written in our tomorrow's, they are written in our today's.

Today is Febuary 9th, 2011.
Today, I have kissed my husband.
Today, I played with my daughter, met her needs and gave her my love.
Today, I wrote a letter to a hurting friend.
Today, I scrubbed the toilet.

Today, I am learning to love. Today, I am writing a beautiful story.

Monday, February 7, 2011

No, I don't style her hair that way.

There are just no words for this :

Her hair is my constant source of amusement.

Can I just take a moment to brag on my child a bit? She is such a little smartypants. She just learned how to clap and she will clap her hands when I ask her to clap and here is the kicker....WITHOUT ME SHOWING HER. And yesterday I found out she could point to my nose when I ask her "Where is my nose?" She sticks out her little index finger and slowly brings it to my nose. When she touches it she just cracks up laughing, so proud of herself. It is pretty much the cutest thing ever. Not to mention, intelligent. I mean...she isn't even 8 months old yet! I will have to try to nab a video of this and post it.

All I have to say about that is, those My Baby Can Read dvds are apparently working. Go figure.

On a completely different note, things to look out for:
I'll be starting a new series called "Creative Crushes" to spotlight artists, that I well, have a creative crush on. Should be fun!

Also I've got some L-O-V-E blogs planned for this month in honor of Valentine's day. I thought it would be fun to give you a peek into the how-we-fell-in-love story of me and the hubs and our engagement story as well (where the name of the this blog came from!) So stay tuned and eat some candy hearts!

Oh and don't forget to check out the current giveaway!

Giveaway: Sew Sew Lovely

Eeee!!! I'm so excited to announce this Giveaway. My friend Julia from Sew Sew Lovely was gracious enough to send some goodies for two lucky people out there. She makes THE coolest tote bags and wrist cuffs. She uses lots of fun vintage fabrics to piece together her designs.

The first item we are giving away is the "flouncy bag" pictured above. It's a generously sized tote with a pocket in the inside. I think it would make an adorable diaper bag, carry-all, or purse. This bag includes scraps of a vintage quilt square, a vintage handkerchief and vintage lace.

The second item you could score is a cuff (very similar to the one below.) The cuff is made out of a vintage handkerchief and vintage embroidered trim. I just looovvee it.

What to do to enter the giveaway:
1) Visit Sew Sew Lovely here
2) and tell me your favorite Sew Sew Lovely item by
leaving me a comment!

Here is one of my faves!
Just lovin' the girl scout merit badge it has on it.
Good luck! The first winner selected (at random)will get the flouncy bag and the second person will get the cuff. I'll announce winners next week.

Check out Julia's blog here.

{and don't forget to show me some love and vote for topbabyblogs! just click the top baby blog
icon on the top right of my blog. xoxo}
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