raising my ebenezer . part one.

I've said for a while that once our story was near it's end, that I would share all the awesome ways that God has helped us along the way.  This is partly for those of you who read this blog, hopefully you can gain a little comfort from my stories of God's protection and provision.  But mostly, this is for me, as an effort to keep my memory long term and not be short sighted.

The stories in the Bible that frustrate me the most are almost all of the ones involving the Israelites.  Those freshly saved from slavery people...who five steps into the desert are complaining and crying out about why God never helps them and WHY did he lead them into the desert to die anyway?! They gripe and complain like spoiled children.  It's not like they saw great miracles and awesome wonders performed by the creator of the universe...oh wait. 

The worst part is that we are all often just like them.  Turning our heads from a recent blessing only to complain about never getting anything we want. 

I don't want to be that way.  I want to do as so many in the Bible did and set up a pillar of stones to remember.  

Like in 1Samuel where it states: Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Jeshanah, and named it Ebenezer; for he said, "Thus far the LORD has helped us."  

Or in Joshua 4:9 Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day.

To me this says: make a mark, write this down, make sure you don't forget.  And when people see your Ebenezer and ask about it tell them about all God has done for you.  

And yes, I am looking for an actual, physical Ebenezer to "set up and remind us that "Thus far the LORD has helped us".  I just don't know what that will be yet.  Any ideas?

So here's part one of the story.  

September of 2010-April 2011 

Homesickness hit us like a ton of bricks.  We always felt like we didn't belong here in Charlottesville but it just became very obvious and uncomfortable and painful to be away from home.  We know for a fact that God protected us from this level of homesickness for the most of the time we lived here.  For the first three years or so, it wasn't too bad.  We got through knowing that it was all for Doug's career and that his employers would keep up their end of the deal and that this place was just a stepping stone for bigger and better things.  

From September through December and on into February of 2011 Doug's bosses and bosses bosses talked to him about going to various places in Virgina.  A transfer was an exciting idea to us...a fresh change, a boost in Doug's career, new skills, etc.  Starting in September Doug's boss would say essentially "get ready to be ready to move because things will happen quickly".  Doug was pretty much promised a promotion/transfer (multiple times).  We got our house ready to sell, but we didn't put it on the market quite yet.  We barely made it through the holidays, we were so emotionally raw, holding our breath waiting for things to happen.  I don't remember the exact sequence of events but I do know that we went through a cycle like this "you will be moving here, actually we gave that position to someone else, hold on we have something better for you", repeat.  It happened at least 3-4 times where we were promised a position only to have it go to someone else.  Many times within 24-48 hours of a decision being made where Doug was promised a position it would be taken away.  It was a tough time for us.  Hopes would SOAR and then the bottom would drop out and we would soar into a free fall.  

I should say that Doug was GOOD at his job.  Excellent even.  And you don't have to take it from me.  You can look at the numbers (which have drastically fallen since he left), you can talk to his employees (many who cried and wrote heartfelt letters to him when he left) or you could just look at how well it's not being done since he left or how terribly it was done before he got there.  He was good at his job and he liked it a lot.  A large part of the problem was burnout.  His position (Logistics) was only supposed to be done for 18 months tops.  Doug was at almost 48 months in position when he left.  And no one seemed to care.  So THAT was why a transfer and new position seemed so appealing to him. 

Finally, it felt like things were going to work.  There was a position.  Doug could have it.  We just needed to take care of the house.  Good news!  One of Doug's coworkers, we'll call him McD was interested in buying a house in Charlottesville.  He came and saw our house, loved it and went to the bank to start the loan process.  A crazy miracle right?  We thought so.  Then McD draaaaaaggggggeeeedddd his feet more than anyone I have ever met in my life.  I know now that it was God slowing him down but more on that soon.  Doug needed to give his boss an answer.  Doug would ask McD how things were going, where were they in the process, etc.  More with the feet dragging.  Weeks later and much stalling on Doug's part, McD says that the bank won't lend to him until he has been in his position for six months.  Bummer but we were willing to work it out with him.  We talked about renting to him until August when he could buy.  More dragging of the feet.  Finally, Doug had to turn down the position because of the feet dragging.

Again, we were heartbroken.  Beyond heartbroken.  This was a broken heart on top of five other broken hearts in a 7-8 month period.  It was a dark, dark time for us.  All we could wonder was WHY didn't it all work out when it seemed so perfect? We knew that God had good plans for us but wasn't THIS a good plan?  I mean, the move wouldn't take us HOME but we would have taken anywhere but here.  We were settling for OK.  We were settling for the long way home.  We were devastated that God wanted to keep us in Charlottesville.  

So Doug turned down the offer.  And McD was fired from his job soon after.  

Did you catch that?  It all made sense.  The dragging feet, the never ending days, the stalling, the giving away of positions.  God was protecting us from a HUGE financial mess.  

Had Doug taken the offer and had McD agreed to rent and rented in a timely manner...we would have most likely been left high and dry.  We would be living in a new city paying rent, while trying (impossibly) to pay a mortgage as well.  We wouldn't have even been HOME.  Just elsewhere in a huge HUGE HUGE mess of our own making and alone.  God saved us from our own short sightedness.  God held out on giving us what we were begging for because it was for our own good AND He had something way better in mind.  

Standing where we are now, it takes my breath away to see all God has done and how it pales in comparison to what we wanted for ourselves.  

But more on that in part two.  

the schedule. to have or not to have. (a huggies sponsored post)

I've been asked by BlogHer and Huggies to take some walks down memory lane and explore some (what I think will be) FUN subjects about babies and having them and getting ready for them and all the fun stuff that goes with THEM! I volunteered for this series for selfish reasons. I think it will be a great way to document some thoughts and feelings that maybe I haven't before but should have. I hope you will enjoy them, too!

This week's topic is a hot one among parents: the schedule!

It seems to me that you either care about it a lot or it's no big deal to you. For me, I had two kids that required strict schedules--Moses especially so. If it was naptime or bedtime, Moses's head needed to be hitting the pillow, to the minute. Aaron was nice enough to give us a 15-minute window, but to this day he still needs us to stick to that window for naps. From the time they were tiny babies they NEEDED the structure of a schedule.

Also, because of my nature, I need a schedule to feel "not crazy." I'm so blessed that I was able to stay home with both boys, so our schedule was up to me for the most part. I could organize my entire life around my firstborn's needs for sleeping, feeding and pooping. Even when Aaron came along, we still did our best to keep to a regular schedule. As soon as we could, both boys were napping at the same time. This created a nice little bonus for my husband and me to catch up and have some alone time in the middle of the day (even with a NEWBORN!).

Having kids that need this kind of schedule DID require some sacrifice on our part. We missed a few events, were home by 6pm EVERY night of our lives and were homebodies for the most part for a few years. Honestly, though, I believe that this is the best possible formula for recovering from the traumatic event of adding another person to your life. We found that when we made OUR family the priority over everything else, life was better, calmer, less frantic and altogether much more peaceful and happy. Those first couple of months we definitely benefited from being able to determine our OWN schedule and follow it with limited disturbances from outside. We could follow the flow of our newborns and not have to "train" them to follow ours.

I realize that being homebound isn't for everyone, but for us, those years of tending to our own little nest above all other things provided a bounty of blessings we would have missed had we tried to continue on at a frantic pace. Sure, we made a few people mad because we wouldn't drop everything to be somewhere, but we had to consider who would pay the price for throwing a wrench in how we did things: we would. The small handful of times that we did break our rule, we paid for it. Doug and I could both tell you about the times we made that choice, and it ended up being just often enough to remind us why we like our scheduled, homebody lifestyle.

In reality, we are just getting to the stage where we are saying good-bye to our carefree homebound ways. Next year Moses will be in kindergarten and that will determine our new schedule. For now, though, we savor each day that we control the schedule and call the shots based on what is best for us in that moment. More than having tiny babies, that newborn smell or all those firsts, I will miss setting our own schedule most of all.
Check out the Huggies Mommy Answers Facebook app!
Find more posts from bloggers sharing their experiences of motherhood on the Huggies page on BlogHer.com.

before. during. after.

Happy Memorial day to you! 

As crazy as it sounds...this has been the best holiday ever.  Do you want to know why?  It's not because of what we did or where we went.  It was because this Memorial day was the FIRST holiday EVER for us as a couple where working retail was not part of our lives.  It feels SO great knowing that Doug has off EVERY weekend.  He get a ton of paid holidays that he HAS to take...no more begging for time off and being denied.  He gets a WEEK off for the 4th of July!  We are so thrilled to be leaving the world of retail faaaaaar behind us.  Though I will say, it should be a law somewhere that everyone has to work in retail and be a waiter/waitress at some point of their young lives.  You learn a lot about how to treat people in both worlds.

So, we didn't do much but for the first time ever we got to do all American holiday things ON the actual holiday.    
We had a cookout and I made Moses a hedgehog watermelon.
We went swimming at a local lake and the boys and I made the news!
And I knocked this project OUT!  I found this gem at Goodwill for $30.  It was ugly.  But I knew there was a good shell in there.  It is solid wood and HEAVY.   
Here she is cleaned, shined and with new handles.  We lived with her like this until spray painting season began here in Virginia.
Here she is in her undies! 3 cans of Valspar primer.
And here she is all dressed up!  3 cans of "Exotic Sea" by Valspar.  The knobs are from Lowes.
 Once the paint was dry, I gave all the edges a good sanding!
Look at all the pretty character...

I love it.  She sure will bring some nice color to our new rental...which is painted fully in builder beige. :)

I love Goodwill! :)

first and last day of school!

 Here's Moses on the first day of school this year!
And here he is on the last.  Sadly, I did not make it through the goodbyes to his teachers without crying.  They are just too good to part ways with easily and we will miss them dearly. 
And even though Hoho isn't really in school he did go to childcare for Bible study, so here he is at the beginning and end of that. :)

I can't even handle how fast time is going and how fast my boys are growing. 

Moses is in kindergarten next year.  Kindergarten.  Ugh.

I need to go stress eat.  Time is an unfair player. 

Happy Birthday Little Bit Funky!!!

Today marks the FIVE year anniversary of my sweet little business Little Bit Funky!
I am SO proud of how far it and I have come over the last five years...all that I have learned and shared and grown!
I can still remember the day that Doug came home from work and I told him "I think I'm gonna make cards and sell them in an online shop".  I had no idea that that decision would turn into a real live business where I can earn just as much as I could with my COLLEGE DEGREE!  Crazy!

In fact, I truly believe that Little Bit Funky is part of the reason that God moved us to Charlottesville.

There aren't many days that I am not completely enamored with what I get to do for a living, all will taking care of my little monkeys.  I am blessed and grateful for it all.  I am especially grateful for each and every one of you who have supported me over the last five years...so many of you have become dear friends to me and I am forever thankful for your support!

So let's celebrate!!!    

As you can see from above and if you have peeked into the shop lately, I've been inspired to start making all sorts of cute pouches and iPad sleeves (Kindle sleeves coming soon!).  I'll also be making some sunglasses cases and who knows what else. 

To celebrate my five year anniversary I'll send ONE of you a happy, happy birthday package from me!  Who knows what I will find to put in there but it will at least contain an iPad or Kindle case, a pouch and a sunglasses case! 

To enter this giveaway leave me a comment telling me how long you have been a Little Bit Funky fan and/or how you found me! :) I'll choose a winner next week!

Have a great Friday!

Breaking Breastfeeding rules! {a Huggies sponsored post}

This post may raise a few eyebrows...only because I will be going against what tons of people and books will tell you in regard to how to "properly" breastfeed your child. The rules I broke are things that I think cause a lot of women to fail or struggle with breastfeeding because they are presented as 100% truth when, in fact, they MAY be good suggestions at best for some. You can't take what ANYONE says about breastfeeding to be the gospel. That's one set of rules that YOU get to make for yourself.

The first rule I broke was "Do not give your baby a pacifier until breastfeeding is well established." Now, while neither of my boys took to a pacifier long-term, they both had one for the first couple of weeks from day one, within HOURS of birth. It was either BE the pacifier or GIVE them one. Doing this definitely helped us through the first few sleepy weeks. Giving them a pacifier allowed me a break and satisfied the babies' need to suck. They both went on to be great nursers.

The next rule that I found completely annoying was "If you are breastfeeding right, it shouldn't hurt." WRONG. Just wrong. Granted, I was still learning with my first one, but by the second one I was a pro. Guess what? It still hurt for a couple of weeks with the second one. It WILL hurt until your body adjusts to what you are doing. Both WHERE your baby directly feeds from (trying to keep this PG, folks) and your uterus will hurt like heck for a couple of weeks. Saying that breastfeeding won't hurt unless you are doing it wrong is as dumb as saying new shoes should never hurt you. I've worn flip-flops my whole life, and every year when I break them out for the first time they hurt my feet. Does that mean I'm wearing them wrong?

Another rule I threw out the window? "Keep the baby on a strict schedule of feedings." I nursed on demand for both boys. NO WAY I would have ever woken up a sleeping baby, especially at night. It wasn't until they were both over 2 1/2 that I would even wake them up from a nap to ensure they would go to sleep easily at night. It made sense to nurse them when they were hungry, as their little bodies were getting on their own natural schedules, which was OUR schedule as a family.

My point here is to take anyone's advice on how to breastfeed "properly" as just a suggestion. YOU have to decide how to make it work for you. One thing I WILL say and BEG of you: if you DO choose to breastfeed, or at least try to do so, commit to it for at least a month. I have heard so many people say that they tried for two weeks but then quit because it was too hard. Well, guess when it starts to get easier? Day 15. After two weeks it becomes more and more easy to do. Your body has had time to adjust; if it has been hurting, it will fade away after two weeks; milk production will start to regulate; and overall, it (generally) gets so much easier. Just take it one day at a time.

How about you? Did you break any breastfeeding rules?

Be sure to check out all of my previous "baby posts" by clicking HERE.
Check out the Huggies Mommy Answers Facebook app!
Find more posts from bloggers sharing their experiences of motherhood on the Huggies page on BlogHer.com.

last minute treats!

Moses has two little days of school left.  Don't even get me started on how many tears I have shed over having to say goodbye to his wonderful teachers. 

Next year he will be in Kindergarten in a public school...so this may be the last time I can get away with sending treats to school with him. 

I thought it would be fun to make these cute little treat bags for his little friends using the free printable from Anything But Perfect!  They were too cute not to share...I filled the bags with gummy bears but you could go a much healthier route! :)


spoken by Aaron.

We were just in Joanns. 
Aaron goes right on up to an elderly woman, full of impish spunk, and says "Hey, baby!".
I think he meant it.
I died in a little puddle on the floor because it was clear that she heard and understood what he said.

spoken by Moses.

Doug: Moses what did you learn about in church today? 
Moses:  We learned about Jesus healing the leopard seals.  

Get it?  :)

keep in mind...on bloggers.

This post has been swirling in my head for some time. 

I think, and hope, it will be a friendly reminder or heads up for everyone, myself included.  It is not meant to sound arrogant or self-righteous in any way...because I need to remember these things as much as the next person.   

I realize that I am not the author of THE most popular blog out there, I know there are tons out there that are way better than me in millions of different ways.  In a way, I am thankful for each day I am spared the ugly side of the web because the more people who see your blog, the more chances there are for ugliness to show up...it's just a matter of statistics. 

This is my experience, as I have had growth and changes in unexpected ways and have been basically learning as I go over the last five years with this whole blogging thing.  I am beyond THRILLED with where I am.  Amazed and humbled at what God has allowed me to accomplish with what little skill I possess.   

Even with my small window of expertise, I have learned a lot and thought I would share a little view into the inside, just a little "just so you know" kinda stuff and generally address some issues that many, many bloggers face.

Let's start with email and comments.  

I get oodles and oodles of emails and comments daily.  Just stating, not bragging.  I love them all (usually).  I do my best to reply to as many as I can because I DO want my readers to feel loved and appreciated (because you ARE!!).  My goal is to keep my inbox under 200 things that need my attention in some way.  Yes, 200.  Six months out of the year, that is not TOO hard to do, the other six months, forget about it.  If you email me (or ANY blogger) please keep in mind that we are busy people just like you.  If I don't reply to your comment or email, it means nothing other than, you may be in line behind maybe 200 people.  Blogging does not give us any more time in the day than anyone else.   

I do not hate you.  I am not ignoring you.  I don't dislike you.  None of those things are true.  Please don't send an email asking why any of the above are true.   

There are some emails or comments that I delete or weed out if you will and I know that other bloggers do the same. 

These emails include:
--Weird questions about my kids and family....um, no.
--Demanding emails.  "I need you to DO THIS RIGHT NOW!!!".  Yes, it happens.  It's usually a rude request for a how-to or where did I get such and such.  No please or thank you in sight.  Happens regularly.   
--Things I KNOW Google can answer.  Sorry.   
--Comments with NO email address attached to them.  I cannot answer them without an email. 

Another common issue is...people assuming that having ads = selling out.  Yeah, no again.  I take great care in choosing which ads have the honor of appearing next to stories about my kids and family.  Those ads to the right allow me a way to stay at home with my kids in a way that is not obtrusive to my kids or my life.  If ANY blogger has ads and they annoy you...please take into account why you visit that blog in the first place.  Is it because you love that blogger and what they have to say or share?  Then don't you think they deserve a little compensation for that if they can get it?  Do you strongly dislike that blogger?  Then you shouldn't be there in the first place, ad or no ad.  A blogger who proudly shows off their "ad free" badge is just as much a "sell out" as a blogger with an ad.  Let's all just assume that we each seek what is best for our blog and family sake.   

Another issue...people think that the 10% they see on a blog is equal to 100% real life.  I will speak for every blogger out there...the sunny happy ones, the gloomy ones, the ones that tell a mix of things and all the ones in between...you are ONLY getting a tiny fraction of our lives.  Please don't fill in the rest for us with impossible standards and heights of achievement.  Rarely blogged are the temper tantrums, the yelling at the kids, the losing of the patience, the arguments with a spouse, the rashness of a tired mom, the cereal for dinner, the disagreements with a friend, the spilling of coffee on a rug, the messed up projects, the disrobed poopy diaper or the baking flops that we all have.  No one has a perfect life.  I know that for me, I do my best to share the happy parts and the struggles because for me, it provides a nice measuring stick to see how far I've come but even then there is a lot you don't see or get to read.  If it makes me really happy, I blog it.  If it makes me really sad, I blog it.  If it's meh...well, you won't hear about that.  Bloggers ARE people JUST like everyone else.  Just like you.
If you see us in public, it's OK to say hello.  :)  It might actually help with the above issue. 

Along with the whole "we are people too thing"...please keep in mind that we have the same ability to be hurt and happy, just like everyone.  Please keep that in mind when you email or comment or mention us on your blog.  You would be AMAZED and stunned at the things people say because they figure it will never get back to the person...guess what?  It always does and even virtual "sticks and stones" hurt.  Gossip travels.  The end.  Be nice.

A lot of the time, the internet does a fabulous job of dehumanizing us to others and others to us.  It's easy to look at a pretty blog and just imagine how easy someone elses life may be because you only see photos of flowers, perfect meals and impeccable parties.  You could slice any life into frames and choose the ones that would make it look glamorous.  True statement.

I don't know.  Maybe this seems like a huge long ramble.  I just know that lately, I have seen more ugly directed at me and other "popular" bloggers that is just downright nasty and it's getting to me.  I wanted to stand a little in their defense and beckon others to stand in the gap of grace.  If you see ugly small talk, squash it.  Spread loving words.  Talk about others like you would sitting across the table having coffee with them.  The internet is capable of such lovely things...if we can only make the dark underbelly tiny and hard to find.     

Anything you care to add bloggers and readers alike?

How to turn a mason jar into a spillproof cup with straw (for ~50 cents or less!)!

The glassware of choice in this house is the mason jar.  It's simple, easy to replace, durable and goes with all the dishes.  We are still working our way out of the every cup needs a lid phase of life with little ones...because if they don't have a lid...
This inevitably happens.  On purpose and on naughty.  Yep. 
Finally, I could take it no more...with lots of nudges from the Instagram and Pinterest world, I set out to solve the dumping of the drinks problem.  
Here is what you need:
mason jar lids (I use wide mouth ones)
a drill with a 3/8in drill bit
rubber food grade grommets ( Search etsy or google for "food grade grommets").  See size photo below. 
Here is the exact size and packaging.  They were $1.05 for two of them.  You can get the on Amazon but I only wanted 10 and not 50. :) *I believe these ARE food grade but if not, it doesn't really bother me since it's just a tiny little thing...just wash with hot soap and water.  You CAN find certified food grade ones but you will have to dig around for them. :)  
With the lid on the jar...drill a hole slowly through the top.  
Your edge may or may not be jagged...
I used some small wire scissors to clean up the edges a bit. 
Then slide your grommet in.  They went in a lot easier than I thought they would.  Slide half in first, then slowly and carefully slip the rest in.  
And that is IT!  Well, you will want to wash it really well...but after that... 
Slip in a straw (reusable or otherwise) and you are free to enjoy some fresh spill free beverages.

These are SO easy!! Don't be afraid to jump in there and get some made!  Go, go, go!!

we found it.

We found his sign.  This one little photo perfectly sums up our little, crazy child.  Imp.  Indeed.

end of the year party? what?

Moses' class is having its end of the year party tomorrow...guess how I spent my morning? 
I love that a series of simple tricks can make for a good result.   At least I think the result is good.
Freeze and bake sugar cookies...pre-made fondant...cookie cutters and fresh cookie frosting (from scratch).  
Also, edible markers are fun!  Have you tried them?
Much easier than I thought...as easy as regular markers. 
And end of the school year?  How did we get here already?
Moses will be in kindergarten next year, but I'm not ready to talk about that. :)
Also on my list to make for the party were brownies...the least I could do was make them cute. 
This is just leftover cookie frosting, a star tip and piping bag.  In throw away tins. 
Being Wonder Woman just means having a good series of tricks up your sleeve.  :)

Sometimes it just takes a little time and effort to make everyday things look a little more magical.  At least that's what I tell myself.

How are you celebrating the end of the school year?  Are you ready for your kids to be home 100% of the time?  Which team are you on...the I love my kids home all the time team or the dear lord help me until September team? 


suprise visit

We're nearly home from a visit up north where we were able to surprise Doug's mom and grandparents for Mother's day.  Doug's grandparents are both 90 so each and every visit is a precious one.

During this visit, I asked Grandpa what his favorite story is, so that Doug could record him telling it (thank you iPhone!).  He proceeded to tell us a story about a time where he was heading home from a business trip.  There was some sort of snowstorm that kept most of the flights grounded.  In an instant a flight opened up and then another opened up that would be leaving five minutes later.  Grandpa convinced his boss to get on the second one.  The first flight (that he didn't take) collided head on with another commercial flight with 100% fatality.   This man is full of amazing stories and we will be taking advantage of hearing them told with each visit and do our best to preserve the ones we can so our boys can hear them first hand one day.

We are thankful and feel blessed with each opportunity to see them! 

Blake's Quilt!

I don't know what's wrong with my brain but clearly there is something.  Why else would I suddenly NEED to complete my nephews quilt precisely at the most frantic time of my life in the last few years?   But I did it.  I set a goal for three days (because I need a crazy deadline) and went to work. 
It may be my best work...and I am thankful that a nice wash and tumble in the dryer makes up for a multitude of sewing sins.  A meticulous quilter I am not...but I do alright. :) 
The front is super simple...I cut five half yards (of Fox trails by Riley Blake) into 3in strips...sewed them together and then used various Kona shades in 3in strips to make a border. 
This little fox is my first go at piecing work...I wasn't sure about him before he got washed and dried...but now I love him.  
The back may be better than the front...pieced together leftover strips from the front, and various Kona color blocks.  

I quilted it by sewing straight lines down either side of the seams on the front. 
It just so happens that this quilt is going to my nephew Blake...so a little tag from the selvedge was perfect.  
My quilting is far from perfect but I gave up on perfect quilting long ago...it's much more fun if I just go with it and accept the little quirks that I always manage to sew into a quilt. 

Oh sweet crinkle-ly goodness...

The binding is also from the Fox Trails line. 

I love it.  And now I am only two niece/nephews behind. :)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Blogging tips