Good-bye Charlottesville!

On Friday we packed a 26ft truck full to the gills and on Saturday we said goodbye to Charlottesville for good! 

I thought it would be fun to highlight some of my favorite memories from our home of five years!

Enjoy reading some posts from the archives!

Moses turned one, two, three, four and five in this house!

We acquired an Aaron...who then turned one, two and three!

We had a three foot blizzard.  And then another one.  And then an Earthquake

We went to Florida a lot!

I started a business!  Hello Little Bit Funky!

Hohos were born! :)

We had the worst weekend of our lives

But best of all...we grew...as people, as parents, as a couple.  We will always be thankful for our "time in the desert".   We're off to new adventures and starting our forever life in our forever town! :)

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On growing old{er}

Do you think about getting older?

I do but not in what I am assuming is the typical way a woman my age thinks about it. I'll be 33 this year. For some reason 33 seems MUCH older than 32 but not really OLD altogether. For me, getting older is more of a focus on what is going on INSIDE my mind and body than what is going on on the outside.

Some women in their almost mid-thirties may be researching botox and liposuction. Some start crazy diets and exercise regimes that take up huge parts of their days. Others look for ways to cover their gray(ing) hair and wrinkles.

To me, overall, much of that is a waste of my precious life.

I'm not saying exercise and a healthy diet are bad or any of the other things either. I'm just saying, as women, there tend to be segments of our lives where we focus on them more than we should, and the older we get, the more frequent the bouts of "too much" occur.

No, I don't give too much thought to these things past getting my 30 minutes of exercise a day and eating my veggies.

When I think about getting older, I think about Doug's grandparents. To sit with them and listen to stories from their combined 180 years on this Earth is an amazing testament to a life well-lived.

They are full of stories of how they have been helped by others and helped others. How they have made it through tough times and times of bounty. They are known as good, generous, God-loving people. They will be always remembered as a good example to our kids on how to live your life to the fullest and in wise and longstanding ways.

When I think about getting older, I think about how I will be thought of at 90.

Will my grandkids see the same in me as I can see in the grandparents above? Will I be a reflection of what it means to be a GOOD and deep person and not a reflection of vain battles against aging and old age? When I get to 90 how much regret will I have over things not done or done too much? What kinds of things will I miss about being 33?

Will my kids be happily settled with kids of their own? Will they love God with a deeper fierceness than I have? Will they look fondly on the years of ours that overlapped?

These are the thoughts that swirl through my head when I think about getting older. These are the things that keep me up at night, praying and hoping to be an amazing reflection of a life well-lived. Pushing through the opinions that society at large tries to convince me to embrace about aging and instead breaking through and learning to grasp what matters and pursue ways to spend my precious life that won't leave me as a 90 year old full of regret.

Pfizer's new Get Old platform is building a community to help all of us, whether we're 33 or 90 share our hopes, expectations, and practical tips and tools about how to make the most of our years as we age. Check out the stories and maybe share your own while you're there!

How do you feel about getting older? Leave a comment to win one of three $500 SpaFinder gift cards!

Entries from all participating blogs will be pooled and three winners selected.

For your convenience, here are highlights from the Official Rules for the Sweepstakes. Please note by submitting an entry you are agreeing to the full Official Rules, available here.

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Please do not mention or imply any pharmaceutical products in your posts. Posts that mention or imply a pharmaceutical product will be subject to removal.

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This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Medical professionals who are licensed (or are otherwise authorized) to prescribe medications are not eligible to enter. While BlogHer encourages you to share your thoughts and experiences about getting older, comments discussing medical conditions and/or medical products are not permitted, may be deleted, and are invalid entries. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

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Be sure to check out the BlogHer.com Get Old page to find out more about the Get Old platform and read how other bloggers feel about aging!

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Happy Fathers Day!


Happy Fathers Day Doug!  
You are the BEST dad that two crazy boys could ask for and we love you SO much!

Fathers day awesomeness made with free printables from Paper Coterie!
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40 ideas - Number 6 - Ding dong donuts!

 Welcome to my lofty dream of providing you with 40!!! fun activities you can do with your kids!  Many at the drop of a hat!  I bet for many of these you will have the materials you need on hand or can find them at the dollar store or on the cheap at the local craft store!  This list will contain simple, cheap and FUN crafts or activities that ANYONE can do!  And better yet, they will be kid tested and approved!

If you would like to be a guest blogger in this series email me at ricracandpompoms @ gmail . com!  
Today's activity comes from Julie who blogs over at Joy's Hope.

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Two of my favorite things ever, are feeding people and adventures.
Why not wake up early and do both?
 Saturday mornings are the best mornings of the week.  It is the only day that we are all together for breakfast, and the only morning where the kids sleep in. Imagine their surprise when I woke my big girls up early for a little adventure. They love adventures.
 First stop- the grocery store for a sunny balloon and some orange juice.
 Next stop our favorite little donut shop.  The only one in town that makes French Crullers.  Is there any other kind of donut worth eating? They picked a fun sprinkle filled assortment (with a few for themselves and their baby sister, of course...)
 Then back to the car to decorate the box.
Our friends surprised us with donuts months ago, and it was about time that we got them back. These girls however were not very sneaky at being sneaky.
Ding dong donuts, and a quick sprint back to the car.
(We totally got caught, but I think that is half of the fun.)
Who wouldn't love a little sunshine and sugar on their doorstep?
Yay for surprise adventures!
Happy ding dong donut-ing!

Hop on over to Julies blog to download the cute free printable she used!  


Thank you Julie, go say hi to her and get your printable at Joy's Hope.
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raising my ebenezer . part three.

You can read part one here and part two here. 

The funny thing about this series is that I didn't mean it to be a series.  I thought I could wrap up the whole long story in one post.  And then two.  And then three.  And now I will just keep writing it until God says I'm done.

This part isn't so much about the journey as it is about a lesson I learned through it.  Just today as I was in the shower running through the crazy list of things to be done before tomorrow when the moving truck comes, the utilities that still needed to be transferred, the things still to pack, the walls to still touch up, the email I need to write to our renters, etc, etc, etc.  Running through that list I nearly grossed myself out with a realization.

I am realizing a dream we have had for years now.  We are going HOME to a place where people I know and love will invest in my boys, where people know us and get us.  Where we belong.  We are getting something we have longed for and begged God for repeatedly.  All that and we have spent very little time savoring the good gift He has given us.  Its like we got what we always wanted, chucked it over our shoulders and said, now what's next on the list...pack, move, go, etc, etc.  Not that we weren't and aren't thankful and amazed by all He has done to get it all for us but we haven't spent nearly enough time being GRACIOUS. 

It's like inviting friends over for dinner and spending the whole time cleaning up after them immediately instead of being WITH them.

It's like being given a delicious cake for your birthday but not taking the time to eat it.

It's like begging my kids to put the toilet seat UP so I don't have to sit in a puddle and then grumbling when I nearly fall IN it in the middle of the night.  Hey, at least they're putting it up right?  Getting them to put it back down is step two.   

How often do we do this?  All the time I bet.  Beg for something and then not take the time to enjoy it when we get it.  Would I want my kids behaving this way?  No way.   

I don't think this makes us ungrateful, I just think we have to fight a little harder against the society standards of more, better, faster to STOP and enjoy a good gift when it's given.  Add to that my "type A" personality and the fact that I've been a single parent for the last month while Doug has lived 2 1/2 hours away and the fact that I've had zero help packing, cleaning, house prepping or with childcare.  Given all that, I still should be taking time to enjoy the dream that's coming true.  To slow down a little and breathe.

I read something some time back in a devotional that I've thought of a lot lately.  God has designed each and every moment of each of our days.  He has a plan for what He wants us to achieve and get done and He makes time for all of it.  If, at the end of the day, we find ourselves frazzled, crazed and with a huge to-do list still in hand, well guess what?  I can promise you that we are doing things that He doesn't want us to do because His plan never leaves us frazzled and crazed.    

Would we give our kids a gift and not want them to enjoy it, to play with it for hours and show it off to everyone who would listen yelling "LOOK WHAT MY PARENTS DID FOR ME?"! NO!!  We love it when our kids enjoy what we give them.  

Don't you just love it when you give the perfect gift and the person beams with Joy from the mere thought of it? 

If we, then, though we are evil, know how to give good gifts to our children (and enjoy seeing them enjoy it!!), how much more will our Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him (and how much does he love to see us enjoy them??!!)!  Matthew 7:11.

I'm off to savor a little.  To do some good for someone else as a way to spread good gifts and give others a chance to savor, too.  

I challenge you to do the same. 
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40 ideas - Number 5 - Sidewalk Paint!

  
Welcome to my lofty dream of providing you with 40!!! fun activities you can do with your kids!  Many at the drop of a hat!  I bet for many of these you will have the materials you need on hand or can find them at the dollar store or on the cheap at the local craft store!  This list will contain simple, cheap and FUN crafts or activities that ANYONE can do!  And better yet, they will be kid tested and approved!

If you would like to be a guest blogger in this series email me at ricracandpompoms @ gmail . com! 

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Today's post is from Jodi from Everyday Beautiful
She also owns and runs The Fabric Shoppe!
(one of my FAV places to add to my horde of fabrics).  


Crystal at Little Bit Funky contacted me a while back to see if I would like to play along with her 40 Things: Activities To Do With Kids series. I said sure and have wanted to try out this make it yourself sidewalk chalk paint. This project was soooo easy! My kiddos love to paint. They like to paint on paper, pretend paint on the walls, pretend paint each other so I knew they would love this simple and inexpensive summer activity! All you need is corn starch, and food coloring plus a little water and some cheap paintbrushes! I had everything around the house so this project was FREE!  
 The recipe: Cornstarch and water 2:1 but {{Shhhh}} I didn't measure. I just kept mixing in until I felt it was a good consistency. You want it a bit thick but not as thick as real paint. Just so it will stay on the brush a bit. I mixed this all in a large bowl then poured into a muffin tin. Then started adding the food coloring. Took a little learning opportunity here to teach my 4 year old about mixing colors to make different colors:)
   
Then bring outside and paint away. This will wash away with rain just like chalk. You may want to bring a little kitchen spoon to stir up the paints outside if needed. Done! Kept my little ones busy for at least an hour and I think it would have been longer if it had been a little cooler out. I even had some fun painting it up!:) Thanks for stopping by and I hope your summer is filled with lots of summery fun!
   
   
Thanks Jodi!  Be sure to stop by and tell her hello at 
Everyday Beautiful and pick up some fabric for yourself at The Fabric Shoppe!
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40 Ideas - Number 4 - Straw Monsters!

Welcome to my lofty dream of providing you with 40!!! fun activities you can do with your kids!  Many at the drop of a hat!  I bet for many of these you will have the materials you need on hand or can find them at the dollar store or on the cheap at the local craft store!  This list will contain simple, cheap and FUN crafts or activities that ANYONE can do!  And better yet, they will be kid tested and approved!

If you would like to be a guest blogger in this series email me at ricracandpompoms @ gmail . com!  

Today's activity comes from Danett who blogs over at Art Lovin!

Another fun activity that I know my boys will love...in fact, I can totally see Moses taking this a step further and cutting them out, gluing them to popsicle sticks and making them into puppets!

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This is another fun craft that both of my kids thoroughly enjoyed. 

Straw Monster Supplies:
plain paper
paint
water
old ice cube tray
spoon
straw
permanent black marker
googly eyes
glue

1. Mix the paint with water in equal parts.

2. Put a spoonful on your paper and blow with straw.  
3. Turn your paper as you blow, so it spreads out on all sides.

4. Let paper dry completely.

5. Glue googly eyes on your monsters.

6. Draw your face on your monster with a black permanent marker. 






Ben's favorite monster.

Bro's favorite monster. 

Thanks Danett!  Be sure to go over and visit her at Art Lovin!
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raising my ebenezer . part two.

You can read part one of my story by clicking HERE. 

So after the floor fell through in Spring of 2011 we collectively decided to take some time and collect ourselves.  Wait.  Listen for direction from God.  Live life without expectation for a while.  We honestly hoped for nothing for a while.  It was too scary to place stock in anything.  We buckled down and decided to enjoy ourselves, our family, wherever we were.  Painfully, I enrolled Moses in school for the coming year and we spent several months just living for the day.  Praying.  Waiting.  Walking through the tunnel in the dark, knowing there was an end, just having no idea where or when it would show up.  We still felt the pull for home and believed we would end up there, just nothing was making sense.  We put our house on the market for a bit to see how it would go.  It didn't go.  There were way too many foreclosures in our radius to do us any good.  There way no foreseeable way out anytime in the near future.

Hurts began to heal a bit.  God ministered to our hurting hearts.  Little did we know we were on our way out of the valley...but in such a slow pace that you couldn't really decipher the direction.

Looking back, God had never been closer to me.  I can remember a crystal clear moment when I learned the difference between feeling His (perceived) absence and Him being so close that I couldn't see Him.  Kind of like, if you stand an inch away from a Monet it looks like a mess but in reality it's an amazing masterpiece.

Despite my feelings about what God was doing through all of this, I never closed our lines of communication.  I've never been so diligent about reading my Bible every day.  I didn't want to miss a message or a word or a sliver of anything He wanted to tell me.  I clung to it like a lifeline.  And I learned some seriously awesome life long lessons.  I learned so much and felt His presence SO CLEARLY that in a weird way now, I miss the hard times.  We always need Him, but in our times of desperation we hold on to Him for dear life, we let down our guards and do what we have to do to be close to Him.  It's something that I find difficult to replicate on the normal days.  I still need Him, and love Him and desire what He has to teach me but it's hard to produce healthy desperation in times of calm.  It's a lot like when our kids are sick...we don't wish them sick, but we sure do love how they let us cuddle and snuggle with them when they are, right?  They need us to care for them and give them the things that they need to get well.  Then they go and get better and go on with life...running, leaping and driving us crazy.  Try to snuggle them then and you get away with it for about a second before they are wriggling free to go be healthy.  They still need us, just not with desperation.

Anyway, during one of those Bible reading/studying/desperate for a word/God feels sooooooo far away times, God explained something to me.  

He said:  Take a look in Exodus 33:22.  There it says "When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by."   A passage I had read a lot but never given much thought.  I always just pictured God saving Moses from God's own awesomeness. 

This was given to me during a particularly dark time.  I felt alone.  Like God was FARRRRR away from me.  I felt abandoned by Him, by friends, by people in general.  If you know me you noticed, or were effected.  It was ugly.  I was mad and hurting and those aren't the nicest people ever.  I felt unloved my almost everyone I knew.  It was maybe the darkest ever place I've been.

And God cracked the darkness with Exodus 33:22.  To me this spoke a speck of light into my life and was a turning point, a clearing of the final cobweb and the return to Joy.  This verse will always speak to me.  Now that I KNOW what it says, it can't not. 

It says: 
When my glory passes by = He is coming.  He is here.  A promise. 
I will put you in a cleft in the rock = He is protecting me.  He is keeping me safe.  With His physical self.  I am a priority to Him.  He cares enough to put me in a safe place.
And cover you with my hand = He will physically hold and touch you.  You will be in the dark because the creator of the Universe is covering you to keep you safe.  Do you think He would only sort of cover you?  Or would He completely cover you?  THAT kind of complete coverage would feel a lot like complete dark, no?
Until I have passed by. = You may not even fully know or understand just HOW close He was until He no longer is.  When the desperation ceases.  When we stop clinging to Him for everything. 

All of these things became clear and solid truths to me.  Like I said, in a way, I miss the hard times.  I'm fighting for desperation for Him but He has pulled us through so much and broken so many "rules" that there is no turning back...there is no such thing as coincidence.  There is no one who loves me more or truer.  He has used this time of darkness to stitch Himself into my heart forever.

I am a different person than I was two years ago.

Recently, we discovered that Moses' constant runny nose in the Fall and Spring was due to seasonal allergies.  We noticed that Moses just wasn't hearing us like he used to.  We would have to yell to get his attention.  And not in a "he's five" kind of way.  I was concerned enough to take him to the doctor.  It was maybe his 4th non-well child visit ever in his five years of life so it was a big deal.  I took him in, the doctor looked in his ears and told us that one ear was completely full of drainage from his nose, the other ear partially full.  It was like he was hearing us from underwater.  We got him some prescriptions and we know he needs them every Fall and Spring.  His hearing now is as good as new.  Except for the "he's five" part.

My life before these last two years was a lot like hearing from underwater.  Since I recognizing I had an issue, going to the healer, and doing what he prescribes, my hearing is as good as new, too. 

Stay tuned for part three.
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40 ideas! - Number 3 - Melted Crayon Art

Welcome to my lofty dream of providing you with 40!!! fun activities you can do with your kids!  Many at the drop of a hat!  I bet for many of these you will have the materials you need on hand or can find them at the dollar store or on the cheap at the local craft store!  This list will contain simple, cheap and FUN crafts or activities that ANYONE can do!  And better yet, they will be kid tested and approved!

If you would like to be a guest blogger in this series email me at ricracandpompoms @ gmail . com! 

Have you melted any crayons lately?  Seen this activity and let it be too intimidating to you? 
All you need is a canvas...you choice of size, hot glue, a blow dryer and CRAYOLA crayons!
Line up your crayons and hot glue them into place!  While we did this, the boys talked about colors and rainbow order and different shades of different colors!  We talked about how amazing God's work is...so detailed and spectacular.  I told the boys the colors I needed and they loved to hunt through the pile to find them.  
While they are all lined up take some pretty photos of them...


And when you are done with that...start up the hair dryer.  Depending on the age of your kids they may or may not be able to handle this part but with a little direction (and a nice big drop cloth!!) they can do it!  I found that a mid setting worked best!  You can talk about solids and liquids while you are at it!  Maybe watch a video on how crayons are made!
My boys LOVED to see the changes and once it was cool they thought it was awesome to touch it too!

Have fun!

Wanna cool off from all that heat?  Try this fun COLD activity next!
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40 ideas - Number 2 - Messy Fun Art

 Welcome to my lofty dream of providing you with 40!!! fun activities you can do with your kids!  Many at the drop of a hat!  I bet for many of these you will have the materials you need on hand or can find them at the dollar store or on the cheap at the local craft store!  This list will contain simple, cheap and FUN crafts or activities that ANYONE can do!  And better yet, they will be kid tested and approved!

If you would like to be a guest blogger in this series email me at ricracandpompoms @ gmail . com! 

Today's activity comes from Katie at Explanation Required!    I LOVE this and will be doing it with my boys once we find the perfect quote!

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Summer is usually filled with kids constantly whining that they're bored and have nothing to do. It can sometimes be hard to come up with ideas to keep them occupied, which is why Crystal's series is so awesome! A few years ago my then toddler daughter and I spent an afternoon making a messy masterpiece together and I thought others might want to make some with their little (or big) kids too. Etsy is full of great pieces that can either purchased if you're not feeling particularly painterly, or can used as inspiration for a piece of your own. This "If it's not messy it's not fun" print seemed like the perfect saying for a kid's room and I decided to DIY a version that fit better in my daughter's space and would allow her to take part in a creative project. This is what we came up with: I love everything about it - the phrase, the colors, the fact that Charlotte made it, everything!! If you want to make something similar yourself, you'll need very few supplies: just a canvas, stickers and some acrylic paint. I'd initially planned to lay down black stickers, figuring it'd be easier for me to get things lined up right, but I misplaced them and had to use white. I think this was a happy accident since Charlotte didn't realize the stickers were there and so didn't mess with them. Just place those stickers on the canvas in whatever phrase or design works for you! (How cute would it be to do this with the whole alphabet?!) Then, with a single color at a time, let your kid go to town. We chose to use three colors - a light and dark shade of blue and a green. If you stick with analogous colors (close on the color wheel) like we did you don't need to wait long between coats. We actually didn't wait at all (you try to keep a 2 year old from continuing to paint!). If you choose complementary colors (opposite on the color wheel) you'll need to let the canvas dry completely between coats, otherwise you'll end up with a muddy brown mess.


Give the canvas just a bit of time to dry (I found that the 5 or so minutes it took to clean up Charlotte and the space was plenty) and then carefully peel off your stickers. The paint will likely have bled underneath some, but I think that's perfectly fine given the quote we used. If you aren't a fan of the messy lines you could always go back with white paint and a brush and neaten things up. Or you could take an extra step before painting and brush a thin layer of white paint over your stickers and then add the color - that way the only color that could possibly bleed underneath would be white. Then just marvel at your little virtuoso's work.


Delightful right?!

Thanks Katie!! I can't wait to make one!!  And be sure to go visit Katie at Explanation Required!

When you're done making art...be sure to whip up some Rainbow Pudding Pops, too! :) 


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