Tuesday, March 27, 2012


I'm so glad my parents come and visit us twice a year! Here's a few pics from their last visit - I'm glad for all the memories they are creating with the girls (and us!)!
Inside the capsule to head to the top of the Arch. 
A Day at the St. Louis Zoo
Watching the Elephants
Fantastic Caverns Cave Tour

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Undefeated Flames

Sarah had her last Volleyball Game of the season tonight!! They ended the season undefeated!! Sarah has had a wonderful experience - she has had an amazing coach - she is not only an expert at the game itself, but she is wonderful with kids! I have a high respect for all volunteer coaches - they are amazing!! I'm thankful there are wonderful people out there who make the world sweeter by investing in kids!!

Last Fall Sarah could NOT get the ball over the net. Well tonight, when she was up to serve, she got it over the net 4 times in a row!! And of course Daddy promised her Andy's if she could get it over 3 times in a row - so it looks like there is an Andy's trip in our very near future! (Unfortunately the game ended at 9pm on a school nite - so we couldn't go tonight!) And of course, I was so excited and in the moment for her accomplishment, that I totally forgot to get a picture of her mile wide smile!
Sarah's certificate tonight read:
"Most-Improved Server" Presented to Sarah Baker #2
...because of your dedication in learning to serve. Your perseverance paid off and you have achieved excellence in serving.
Flames Volleyball 2011-2012
coaches Katrina Doza and Angela Walker

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Early Spring

I'm still in shock that we have completely skipped winter this past year! Two tiny snowfalls of about 1" each that only lasted 24 hours hardly feels like you can call it winter. Moving here from Michigan, the thing I've always appreciated about Missouri is that Spring seems to arrive a month or so earlier here (and Fall usually lasts a month or so longer)! Well this year, Spring has come even earlier! And I'm lovin' every sweet minute of it! I swear my giant oak trees did not start leafing until at least mid-April last year. So yesterday while eating lunch on my deck and relaxing in my hammock at the end of the day, I just kept staring at my oak leaves - at awe that they are already popping out all over my trees! Soon each of those tiny leaves will work together to create an oasis of shade for my backyard. This makes me smile.

So other than my oak leaves, here were some of the things I paused to notice this past week -

  • The almost translucent bright green leaves illuminated by setting sun
  • The vibrant bright colors transforming the dull landscape right now - deep purples, bright pinks, fresh whites, and the hundred shades of green!
  • Fresh soil under my fingernails (don't worry, I washed it all out in the shower)
  • A whiff of honeysuckle floating by in the breeze
  • The warmth of the sun kissing my skin (also got my first sunburn of the season from doing yardwork)
  • Even the sky has seemed a bit bluer these days - and the white puffy clouds have made laying there looking up oh, so picturesque! 
Yesterday included lots of yardwork, today after church might include a long hike - maybe explore some new trails? or perhaps a bike ride - I don't know - all I know is that when these perfect days roll around - the only place I want to be is outside! Nature definitely replenishes my soul! 

Oh, and a quick update on the girls. Morgan went to a sleepover Friday night - she slept Saturday from 1-3, then I had to wake her up to leave - she came home and slept from 5-9, woke up and ate dinner - then went back to bed by 9:15 and is still sleeping this morning (8:00)!! I think it was a successful sleepover with 2 of her good friends!! 

With Morgan gone and sleeping - we've had lots of one on one time with Sarah (and Sarah was home sick 2 days this past week - so even more time!) I've enjoyed this time very much - Sarah has been her happy, pleasant self (especially so without her sister to fight with!) - she's been so helpful and has wanted to spend her time working along side of us - She's made me lunch twice this past week (mac n cheese - all by herself! and a turkey sandwich) - both were delicious!  I love that bubbly, sweet child! 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

City Museum

Here are my favorite pictures from our visit to the City Museum in St. Louis. I totally LOVED this place!! We will definitely return again and again!
Even Grandma and Grandpa got in on the climbing fun!

Crawling around near the ceiling with the world's best daddy!

Sarah, my daredevil daughter 5 stories up with her grandpa!

As long as Morgan had a solid floor under her, she loved crawling around!

Umm, this way isn't working, I'm getting stuck - what in the world am I doing  in here?  Oh yay, having the time of my life! 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

(in)courage (in)spired deals: Cute Coffee Mugs and Plaque

Oh, look at what arrived in the mail last week!! This, oh, so cute plaque, that says "Loved by God, Just as I am, Made in His image, Part of His plan." 
Holley Gerth - Loved - Canvas Wrapped 6" Ploque image 
So my big dilemma was where or where to put this cute thing?! Well I decided it was a truth I'd like the girls to see often, so I decided to put in in their bathroom. Of course it made me smile when I heard them in there reading it! :) Oh, and I must say, I was quite impressed with the solid quality of this. It's a solid block of wood underneath all that stretched canvas cuteness - it has the option to hang on the wall, or you can just set it down on a shelf somewhere. What a cute little gift this would be for a friend!

And the fun didn't stop there, look at these adorable mugs I also got!
Holley Gerth - Perfectly Loved - Christian Mug image

And they even have this cute little heart in the bottom of the mug!

 I must say, this hot cocoa lovin' girl is looking forward to filling 'em up on these rainy days coming up! Again, I love the subtle reminders of truth these mugs provide - and trust me, as a 'recovering' perfectionist - it is a truth I need to be reminded of every day.  The mugs say, "She didn't have to be perfect, because she was already perfectly loved. I John 4:8"  You might remember my recent blog post, Imperfectly Me, when I first came across this saying. I haven't stopped thinking of this saying every day since.

You see it's a truth I learned several years back and it's changed my life in amazing ways. But I still need the reminder of it often when my old ways of thinking return. Here's the truth - there is nothing I can do that will make God love me any more than he does at this moment - I can't go to church more often, or give more money, or volunteer more, or read my bible more - to earn more of His love. He loves me completely as I am (with all my imperfectness), at this moment - and that will not change. It also goes the other way - He can never love  me any less - even if I question His 'plan', or I never set foot inside of a church again, or never attended another bible study. I don't have to do anything for God's love to complete me! And in all those ways I see myself as a 'failure' - Jesus' grace covers it all and sees me beautiful! I don't have to be perfect (as if I ever could be), I just have to live in relationship with Him who already loves me perfectly! If you need any more encouragement, check out (in)spired deals page where you will be encouraged and (in)spired by others on the journey!

I really do love this line of products from Day Spring. They are well made, super cute, and speak truth! What's not to love!?!? The are all inspired by Holley Gerth's newest book, You’re Already Amazing: Embracing Who You Are, Becoming All God Created You to Be.

Special note: I received these products for free, in agreement to give my own fair and honest opinion of them on my blog! 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Sisterly Love?! NOT!!

Oh what has happened to my sweet children?! THESE ONES...
Summer 2010
They have apparently been kidnapped and replaced with duplicate children I do not know. Seriously, things have become quite ugly around here. I can hardly stand how they are treating each other these days. They are terrible to each other. Horrible! And honestly, while Spring Break begins today and I'm looking forward to my parents arrival and the time my girls will get to spend with them - I am not really looking forward to having the next 9 days with my children.  Which if you know me, is not normal! Even Darian commented (from her weekend spent with them last month) how mean they have become to each other. I'm telling you, it's bad!

So while I try to remind myself that THIS is NORMAL. They are NORMAL. Siblings fight and argue and say mean things. It's part of childhood. I still DON'T have to like it. And while I can know this normal, I still feel like I have a responsibility as a parent to guide them, remind them, that they have the power within themselves to treat each other differently. I can't make them be kind - but I can encourage it. My personal challenge is to parent through this calmly. (I know, wish me luck!) 

So, I woke up at 5am this morning and my brain has just been spinning, but now, I've come up with a plan! And while it may or may not work - at least it's a plan! :) I'd rather be making some effort, rather than no effort, to encourage this sisterly love to return!

Here's the plan for spring break... It's a jar that I will label, "The Gift of Sisters".  The jar has about 30 slips of activities (note: I do realize that this may not be enough slips to last even the first day, but I'll put them back in and they can do them again and again!). Every time Mike or I hear the girls being mean to each other they will have to choose one of these activities for their consequence. Here are just 10 of the activities I came up with for consequences -
  • THANK YOU SIS!: Think of two specific  things nice your sister has done for you. Write her a letter telling her thank you.
  • CARD MAKING: Using my scrapbook stuff and/or cricut machine, go make your sister a special card.
  • A LITTLE WALK: Look up this verse: Ephesians 4:32 and write it on an index card. Walk around the outside of the house 3 times, reading the words on the card the whole time.
  • THANKFUL HEART: Go find your thankful journal and write down 10 specific things you are thankful for about your sister.
  • MAKE THE BED: Go and make your sister’s bed really nice for her. NOW, Sit on her bed and say a prayer of thanks to God for giving you a sister.
  • I’M NOT JOKING AROUND: Find 3 jokes and then tell them to your sister.
  • COMPUTER BIBLE: Go to www.youversion.com and look up this bible verse: Proverbs 12:18. Type it in a word document in the NIV version, the NIrV version, the MSG version and the ASV version. Ask mom to help. Print it up. Highlight your favorite one.
  • I HEART YOU: Make 10 hearts out of paper. On each heart write something you love about your sister. Start with “I love you because…”Hide the hearts around her room for her to find. 
  • DICTIONARY: Find the definition for KINDNESS on the dictionary on my phone. Write down the definition of kindness. Below that write down 3 ways you can be kind to your sister today.
  • 10 WAYS: Write down the top 10 ways you can make sure your sister does NOT like you today. (or, 10 things you can do to make sure she goes to bed mad at you tonight.) - trying reverse psychology with this one! ;)
Oh and when I told Mike this morning that I was working on a plan - he let out this half-sigh, 'wooo' kinda noise and informed me that I might be attempting the impossible with this one! So here's to attempting the impossible! :) I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

His Real 39th Birthday

Tonight at dinner, Morgan asked Mike if he knew what he did for his 12th birthday - he had no idea. And I had no idea how I celebrated mine. Maybe it's not important - we celebrated and I'm sure it was a good time. But I guess that's what I love about blogging - I can to create a snapshot of moments - and one day, if the girls want, or I want to, we can look back and 'see' that moment in time.

So, how did we celebrate Mike's 39th Birthday today? Well most of the day involved work and school.  But tonight, the girls got 'dressed up' and we took Mike out to HuHot for dinner. We'd never been there before, and enjoyed the dining experience. I think it's Morgan's new favorite restaurant. And while there Mike has this amazing interesting idea - let's draw names and whoever's name we draw, we make them their own bowl for dinner. The girls were all over it. Let's just say, I could hardly eat what Sarah tossed together for me - but nonetheless, it was fun.  We then stopped by Bass Pro and of course had to go to the shooting arcade, as well as tour (and dream about) the new boats. The girls had made an ice cream sandwich cake last night for Mike's birthday today, so we enjoyed that when we got home. I should post a picture, but I don't feel like finding the camera and the chord to download pics  at the moment. Maybe later.

I do love celebrating birthdays! Especially Mikes!!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

March 4th

I read an article several years ago, and I've always remembered the article, although don't ask me where I read it, or who to the give the credit to, 'cuz I don't remember that!
It talked about how March 4th is the only day of the year that is a command.  To March Forth - Walk Forward - Move.  I kinda like it. A day to renew/recommit to new year resolutions that have been slipping. A day to begin something new. A day to move forward in any area of life you may be stuck.  
At this stage of my life - I'm currently looking at my life purpose - asking, "Why has God placed me on earth?!" One amazing online resource I've discovered to help me  'march forth' in this area is www.chazown.com - It has free short video clips, and free tools to help you towards this goal. I'm also reading the book, and we're working through it in our small group bible study, which makes it even better - but if you don't have either of those - it's still a great resource to work on - on your own! Check it out!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

My Leap Year Biopsy

Well apparently I wanted to remember leap year in a BIG way! Yesterday, I ended up having my first, and hopefully last ever, biopsy!!

At my routine annual checkup at the end of January, my doctor discovered a nodule on my thyroid. An  ultrasound revealed a fairly large nodule and several smaller ones. So they scheduled me for a biopsy. I've been waiting and waiting for the biopsy, it wasn't suppose to be for another few weeks - but they called yesterday morning and were able to get me in early! Yay, God!

They called this afternoon with the results - and everything came back fine!!! So I cried from relief and now all I want to do is sleep long and hard...I've been a bit short on sleep this past month with all this on my heart and mind. (As you can imagine!)

Yesterday as I was laying as still as possible on the biopsy table and telling myself  over and over again 'do not swallow' I kept hearing the lyrics to this really old song I haven't heard in years, "No matter what tomorrow brings, or what it has in store, I know I will praise the Lord!"

You see with a good report from the doctor today, it's easy to say things like "Praise the Lord!" and "God answered our Prayers!" And while I completely agree...I wonder, could others, would I, be able to say those same things if the report was different? Could I trust in His plans for my life, even if they involved thyroid cancer and the removal of my thyroid? Faith. Trust. They are easy to have when the news is good. But I want a life that truly trusts and has faith in God even when the news is 'bad'.

This morning, these were the words I read, "When something in your life or thoughts makes you anxious, come to Me and talk about it. Bring me your prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, saying  "Thank you Jesus for this opportunity to trust you more." Though the lessons of trust come wrapped in difficulties, the benefits far outweigh the costs. (Jesus Calling Devotional, Phil 4:6).  So if anything, I say, "Jesus, thank you that these past few weeks have given me the opportunity to trust you more!!"