Life on the Other Side of Atlanta

It’s been just about one year since my family and I moved from one side of our lovely city, Atlanta, to the other.

It doesn’t particularly seem like a big move, or a big change, or a big sacrifice.

But I look at my life before and I look at my life now and it seems that almost everything has changed. Almost everything has been sacrificed. Almost everything has been moved.

From the outside I know we look crazy. I know our life looks beyond busy and stressed. But the truth of the matter is, I traded things when I said yes to Jesus. I gave things up and he gave me different things.

It is true I gave up my beautiful large home that I loved and poured time, effort, and lots of money into. I still miss it. I miss it all the time. But in exchange for my old home, Jesus has given me a promise of a new one. I’m not talking about in heaven – I’m talking about Jesus has promised me he will fulfill my dreams of a home. There’s not a time frame on it, but I do have a list. It goes something like this: cul-de-sac, kitchen I love, nice yard, place for a garden, brick, basement, enough room for my family-centered life to be on mission though adoption or fostering or whatever. In the depths of my heart I believe Jesus will show up when Chris and I are ready to buy our home. I just know it.

As a family, we gave up me being a stay at home mom. Yup. That’s hard to admit. I never wanted to go back to work when I still had babies. We gave up a stable household income and a community we adored. How did Jesus respond? A brand new school opened and hired Chris as the music teacher in a whirlwind short period of time – a school where our kids can attend and receive an education I had only dreamed of for them. My brother asked me to come back to work part-time. We are paying off bills and saving for our future in a way that wasn’t possible a year ago and I still have precious time with my children.

The church we loved. The people we loved. I hardly ever see them anymore. It takes time and effort and work to let them all know I still think of them and love them and pray for them and MISS them. It’s enough time, effort and work that those people probably don’t actually know the extend to which they are loved by me. That’s something I gave up. In response to the sacrifice of that community, though, Jesus has given me a place in a tiny little church that we started in a living room. I don’t feel worthy enough to step into the place of honor Jesus has offered me. I’m still working on believing he thinks I’m good enough. But this place – this place is one where girls I love, adore and admire share their hearts with me! Share their passions with me, their dreams, their heartaches, their struggles. If you are one of those beloved girls, know your place in my life brings me so much joy I can hardly express it.

Above all, I gave up my best plans for my future. And they were good plans! I liked those plans! I was going to raise my kids, get them into a good school, start my own business when they were a little older, save enough money for them to get married and go to college, save enough money to live happily ever after with my sweetheart. The truth was, I didn’t know how that was going to all happen, but I was sure I could make it work. And satan took that control I desired and turned it into anxiety, fear, doubt, stress, sleepless night and aches. When I let go of my plans, Jesus handed me peace.

I can’t explain it. I have more going on now than ever before. But I’m at peace. I find rest. My identity is based in Jesus – not what I can accomplish and definitely not what other people think of me. The Holy Spirit has shown up big time in my battle against fear. He gives me reminders and visions of my safety, protection, and providence.

And with all that in mind, I’m happy. So happy. Not every single minute of every single day. But mostly life is so good.

So when you ask me – and I say it’s good – I mean it. Atlanta is looking good from this angle. :)

love,

Jennie

 

Black Friday!!!!

Hey everybody and Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all had as wonderful a time as I did with my family in town.

I haven’t posted anything since my sweet sweet Asher arrived. He is wonderful. The birth was healthy and I’m still working on healing. More on all that at a later date.

You might imagine that I love Black Friday shopping and you would be correct. Two of my favorite company have Black Friday deals that I wanted to share with you.

I’m not sponsored by either and they don’t give me free things but I believe in what they do and their products have helped my family.

Here are the links to my reviews and then their sales. Enjoy!!

My blog featuring Little Green Pouch products - And their Black Friday promo:

Starting NOW, enjoy 35% off all orders with promo code LGPTHANKS35 through Monday, December 2nd at http://www.littlegreenpouch.com/

My review on meal planning from The Fresh 20 - And their Black Friday promo:

50% off ALL annual subscriptions,
SALE ENDS DECEMBER 2nd – The Fresh 20 50% off Sale

Here’s a bonus for scrolling all the way down :)

Asher Charles – 2 days old

Nursery Reveal

Jennie:

I thought you would all enjoy this lovely blog from my sister about Asher’s nursery.
(He’s amazing)

Originally posted on Making Houses Beautiful:

It’s a boy! My sweet nephew, Asher Charles, was born last Sunday.

Jennie and Asher came home a few days later to a beautiful new nursery. Although I have been planning it for months, most of the real work happened last week as I put it all together. There was a little bit of tweaking, but overall it came out just as I imagined. Here is the design board I gave her at the baby shower.

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The colors were based off the San Pellegrino Blood Orange soda can, but she had also asked for a book theme. I wanted the room to feel relaxing and boyish, but classic. To get the book theme, I found some antique children’s books (from Chris’s own garage) and made/found art prints of some of my favorite children’s stories. Here’s how it turned out.

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I love it. I love him. And Jennie cried when she saw…

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The Art of Remembering

I love pictures. Don’t you?

My brother is an absolutely incredible photographer. The pictures he takes of my children I could stare at for hours on end.

And everybody has a camera. So, I find myself thinking how relieved I am that the “pressure” is off for mom to remember the events of her children’s lives.

But what does a camera actually capture? It’s just a split second we were all standing still (or not), that someone very talented can adjust to make it look like a perfect moment.

Pictures are great for us to remember events, great to share events with friends and family, great for our kids to know what they looked like at different ages. But pictures don’t tell our kids’ memories. They just really don’t.

We’re in an age where writing things down has gone by the wayside. I’ll post on fb how grateful I am for a gift or send a picture of my kids using a new toy instead of writing a thank you note. I’ll check a friend’s fb page for updates instead of writing a note letting them know I was thinking of them.

I’m definitely not trashing social media. It keeps us all more connected than ever was possible before. But the truth of the matter is, our kids won’t scroll through our facebook pages or twitter feeds when they are grown to see what their life was like. And nothing replaces a note in your mom or dad’s handwriting.

On the other hand, a scrapbook can be overwhelming with all the questions and dates and milestones. I often feel like I could never remember to write down every little thing the baby book asks me and the blank spots stare out at me, judging me. I don’t remember the date he got each tooth!!!!

Dear child, today, 2/7/2013, you are 6 months old.

Dear Oliver, today, 8/25/2013, you are 20 months old. I love the way you tell me “yeah sure” and it’s so hard that you now know how to hit your cousin when you’re angry. Love, MAMA!! XOXO

I’m hoping that I made this the right size so you can print it our on an 8.5″ x 11″ paper. Or you could resize it and fit two per page, or just use the idea and design your own, cuter version. In any case, keep it near your bed or at your desk so whenever you have a free moment, you can jot a note to your sweet ones. Give blanks to the Daddies, Grandpas, Grandmas, Aunt and Uncles in your kids’ lives (especially when they go to visit).

Keep filled ones in their baby book, medical record file, or even at the bottom of the pile of blank sheets.

You will be amazed at how much you forget and your child will have a gift of many memories that can’t be replaced by pictures; memories that will definitely fade as the years come along.

When it comes to a child growing into a person, I don’t think a picture actually does say a thousand words.

Have fun!!

No Boundaries

Life at 7+ months pregnant with a 3.5 year old and a 1.5 year old is tiring, to say the least. This is a great activity for toddler nap time when your preschooler is home with you.

Ladybug Fun

Ladybug Fun

As soon as my daughter realized she could color in the lines at the age of 3, it became an obsession, point of pride, and reason to scream when friends tried to help on her picture.

Shortly after checking my own pride (she is quite amazing, yes?), I began to get a little concerned. I know she’s little and has a whole life to learn, but I just didn’t like how controlling she was about this activity. I thought that maybe it would be good to teach her that sometimes coloring outside the lines, or with no lines at all was actually beautiful.

I showed her how to use a cotton ball to color larges spaces at the same time, filling in a background or just making pretty stripes.

Painting with no boundaries

Painting with no boundaries

Here’s her creation. You can see her love of control as she still made a pattern with purple and brown and then  colored around it. She also informed me that it was a fish swimming in the sea.

Abstract enough for me.

Fishy Fishy in the Sea

Fishy Fishy in the sea. Fishy Fishy, do you love me?

We used a paper that’s heavier than printer paper but not as heavy as cardstock. It’s one sheet, cut in half and then folded to make two cards per sheet. Cardstock would work fine as well, but printer paper would be too thin. The paint is Crayola watercolors, but Ikea also has a lovely set of watercolors.

I plan to send them to friends and family just to let them know we love them and give them a piece of Haven’s art at this age. She painted happily for about an hour, though some of that time was coloring in princesses or pictures I drew for her.

Of course, I will happily color with her, most days making sure Belle’s dress is yellow and Aurora’s pink, but sometimes we will venture into imagination and the limitless space that is a blank piece of paper.

I love you all dearly. Thank you for your encouragement to enjoy this time before I’m a mama of 3!!

Love Affair with Yogurt

I’m always searching for the cheapest, easiest way to do things – as long as it doesn’t mean compromise on the things I think are important!

I don’t have much time on my hands these days and I have to admit a recent purchase of those yummy expensive yogurt/fruit squeeze tubes. Do you know what I’m talking about? 9 grams of sugar in a 2oz squeeze and they were about 50 cents each.

Can’t we just have easy, cheap, healthy stuff?

Convenience is the best way to make money.

I love yogurt. I love it plain and organic. It’s cheaper and easy to buy in bulk, and it has no added sugar and no added hormones.

Some of my favorite uses of PLAIN (organic) yogurt are:

  • Granola, honey, yogurt
  • Peanut butter, cinnamon, honey, yogurt (for apple dipping)
  • Yogurt as an addition to a blended smoothie with fruit or greens or both (and honey)
  • Fresh (organic) fruit pieces, yogurt, just a tiny bit of honey
If you have any issue at all using honey (vegan, allergy concerns, or a baby under the age of 1 year), use agave syrup instead! I like honey because it mixes in seamlessly and local honey helps us adjust to our environmental allergens.

Up until this point, though, I just couldn’t get around how easy it was to throw the kids a pouch and go on our way. It’s a fast, popular way to get some protein and healthy fats into their tummies.

Then. I found. THIS. On sale. At Whole Foods.

Yogurt and Mixed Berry Conserve

Most stores now sell tubs of organic plain yogurt, but this conserve was the huge find!

Stir 1 tablespoon conserve into 1/2 cup yogurt.

That’s the recipe.

The conserve is smooth, with no seeds or gelatin. It mixes so well with the yogurt, creating a snack that is very similar to the store bought variety.

It’s A LOT cheaper (3ish bucks for the entire tub of yogurt and $2.50 on sale for the conserve at Whole Foods) and has less sugar too! My 1/2 cup (4oz) was 13 grams of sugar as compared to the 2oz pouch at 9 grams of sugar.

Plus it’s so easy!!! Remember, I said just stir!?

Add all the above to the fact that these beauties now exist:

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I loved these for my homemade baby foods and am thrilled to find an easy recipe for my big kids.

It’s good. It’s really good.

Yogurt and Fruit Conserve

(it’s also now gone)

Easy. Cheap. Good for your family.

That’s what I call a win-win-win.

Enjoy!!!

#livingwithmom

Currently, I am 7 months pregnant, with a 3 year old, a 1 year old, a husband who just started a new job, and I’m living with my parents.

True Statements All.

Hmmm. I am completely thankful and humbled that my parents are letting us crash with them for a few months this summer and simultaneously  finding the nesting hormones to be driving me nuts without my own space.

I am tired almost all the time. The baby is measuring big and I already wake up 2-3 times each night between potty breaks, upset kids and one or more of the 4 animals also residing here (2 ours, 2 theirs) moving or shifting around. Plus I chase after the two big kids constantly and Haven is trying to give up her naps all together.

This is an idea of which I am not super fond.

Living here has been a big blessing to us, though. We have renters in our house and we know where we’re moving in a month. Because we were able to move out before we moved into another place, we didn’t ever have to pay double mortgage/rent. That was an answer to prayer.

My parents are great and it’s amazing to see how much they love my kids.

They also have an awesome garden, so I got to cook with tons of fresh produce and not do the gardening!

Here are a few of my instagram series.

Enjoy. And I will try to enjoy this final month of #livingwithmom and one of two final months as a #momoftwo.

"And the rest is for me? Yep, you're jealous."

“And the rest is for me? Yep, you’re jealous.”

"You can have fresh berries on your cereal but you have to pick them yourself."

“You can have fresh berries on your cereal but you have to pick them yourself.”

"Plenty of #tbt around here. 1990"

“Plenty of #tbt around here. 1990″

"@thefresh20 is especially fun when the seasonal veggies are picked that day, steps away from the kitchen."

“@thefresh20 is especially fun when the seasonal veggies are picked that day, steps away from the kitchen.”

"Happy Birthday Dear Mimi!"

“Happy Birthday Dear Mimi!”

"At least I got to finish eating."

“At least I got to finish eating.”

"Tonight we had arugula salad with figs, feta, toasted pine nuts, and homemade balsamic/honey dressing." (Home-grown figs)

“Tonight we had arugula salad with figs, feta, toasted pine nuts, and homemade balsamic/honey dressing.” (Home-grown figs)

Oh, and by the way, Chris LOVES his new job at the SAE School, Haven is completely in love with “her” new baby — talking and singing to it any chance she gets, and Oliver doesn’t know what’s coming.