Friday, January 27, 2012

New Friends

Lily is finally reaching the age where play dates are really fun.  I have been working on lining up some special play dates in order for her to meet some new friends.  This play date was a special one because this little friend's mama is near and dear to our hearts.  Her name is Meg and she has been a tremendous support to us through our loss of Luke as well as in our healing.  It was extra fun to get together and play with them last week!

This is Lily's new pal, Naomi.  She is about a month younger than Lily and super sweet.

 The girls had fun playing and doing their thing.

 It was a lot of fun to finally get the girls together.  We were so grateful to my mom for letting us get together in her basement where the girls were free to roam.  Both little gals are such gifts and it was a lot of fun to see their personalities shining.  We are hopeful that seeds were planted for more future friendship and fun.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Well, today was one of those days.  You know the ones...where you wake up and you are in a cranky mood for absolutely no reason at all and the day just rolls on from there.  I woke up tired, Lily did not want to eat her bottle(s), naps were kind of a wrestle (which until recently has been rare), I had zero motivation for my to-do list, I had to haggle with KCPL (our local power company) over a charge on my bill that has been in dispute for over a month now, the car had to go into the shop necessitating carpooling Joe to and from work, the sink had dirty dishes in it (and the sink needed to be scrubbed), it was bath night (not necessarily a negative thing, but today felt like just, the afternoon "nap" lasted 25 minutes, my lips were chapped, I could not find a pen that worked, we were almost out of diapers and formula (ie requiring an emergency trip to SAMS..ugh), I was not exited about my lunch, things fell out of the closet and the cabinet when I opened them today, the desk in our office was crowded and cluttered preventing anything productive from happening there, my pants are too short, I seemed to hit every stop light no matter when or where I was driving, I was scratched three different times by Lily's fingernails which I had neglected to file yesterday, my sense of purpose seemed nonexistent,  our mail arrived early which meant my outgoing mail did not make it out, I felt like I had zero energy and my head was just drowning in negative thoughts all day both about myself and others and the world in general.  Yes, it was one of those days. Ugly. Ugly. Ugly.

I know I'm not alone when days like these rear their ugly head.  We all go under water from time to time thanks to those days that push us to our limits.  When days like today appear, I personally just want to crawl back into my bed and wait for tomorrow to start so I can begin anew....if only it were that easy.  In my recent learnings about gratitude, it is when days like this come along that we are supposed to say 'thank you' the loudest. I hate to admit it, but I stunk at this today.

I say that I really want to anchor my life in gratitude, but what I realized today was that gratitude is an easy practice when things are running smoothly or feel normal- even good.  But the reality of finding things to be thankful for when tears of frustration are brimming over something benign and you have already reached your maximum capacity for the day and it is only 10:30am...that is when my rose colored glasses of gratitude living tend to break.

However, today I really wanted to be different.  I could cognitively recognize where I was in my day and I wanted the practice of gratitude in the midst of my ugliness to change my heart and perspective. Much easier said than done.  I think that is why we have to practice gratitude.  (Because on days like today it is not easy!)  In the end, I was able to find some gifts from the day amidst all of my challenges...but it was tough and honestly it wasn't until I looked back over my hard-fought-for list that I realized that today might not have been as bad as I thought.  Hmmm....  So anyway, here's to a brighter tomorrow!  I hope yours is a great one!

discovering that a particular cry from the crib in the wee hours did not mean pain
joyful early morning jabbering from Lily's room
smiles from Lily
a long morning nap
little snuggles here and there throughout the day
fresh baked muffins for breakfast
ice cold water in my cup
learning that the problem with the car was minor and fixed at no charge
getting to see Joe in the middle of the day
resolution to an ongoing problem
healthy food in our fridge
a healthy, happy baby
little fingernails that grow because she is healthy
a keen little mind that observes every little detail around her
fluffy pink coats to keep her warm
gas in our vehicles
the love and affection between a little girl and her lovie (baa baa)
pushing through and making a yummy dinner at home when really wanted take out
birthday flowers all around the house
cirrus clouds at sunset
a mess all over the front room because she can crawl and loves to play and move around
dishes in the sink from meals fed
a birthday gift delivered
a surprise scrubbed sink
an empty bottle at bedtime
quiet time to blog

Friday, January 20, 2012

New Things

Today is my birthday.  I'm not mentioning that in hopes of eliciting well wishes, but because it marks the beginning of a brand new year of my life.  I woke up this morning at 5:15am to the sound of some quiet whimpers from Lily as she entered the day a bit on the early side.  As I lay there in the dark with the fog of sleep falling away, I began counting my gifts.  A warm bed, a loving husband, a peaceful home, a healthy baby full of smiles and energy, food in our cabinets, clothes to wear, a body that moves, a mind that can think, friends all over the country, on and on my list went.  As I took my shower, the tears of thankfulness fell warm.  I have a beautiful life.

I feel as if this past year was completely and understandably consumed with the preparation for, the anticipation of, and the dedication to caring for and loving my sweet, beautiful daughter.  There was not a lot of extra time, space or room for anything else in my heart or mind.  So as I prepare my heart for this new year in my life, I have made a little list of things I want to challenge myself to accomplish.  They are not going to change the world, but they will keep me pushing forward and challenging myself to grow, be and become.  Some things on the list are 'tasky' while others are creative (a side of myself I have long been desiring to grow).  Some are things I have never done before and others are things I simply want to do more of.  Some list items are solo pursuits while others are more social.  But what they all have in common is that they require from me intentionality, energy, courage and effort which challenges me to not just sit back and let things happen, but to actually make things happen!

I'm excited to try new activities, taste new foods, share new experiences and go to new places!  The new adventure begins today! Hooray for fresh starts, personal challenges and new beginnings!

Here is my list for this next year: (not in any particular order)

1. Make my own pasta.  Awhile back I bought a rather fancy pasta maker on sale and have never used it.  I want to use it to make several different types of pasta and then serve it up with friends.

2. Process things.  For Christmas, I received a killer food processor that I had been eyeing for a long time.  Right now, I use it to puree any and everything (so it seems).  So this year, I want to (at least once or twice) figure out how to and then use every feature it has (which is a lot!)!  It will be so fun! (I know, its rather nerdy but who cares!)

3. Take a complete day for myself.  Sounds selfish, but I think it would be deeply restorative for my soul.  I want to have a day where I get up, work out, go to a coffee shop and write for awhile, get a pedicure and read my book, perhaps a facial or massage too (why not, right? I mean, since this is the dream day!) Eat lunch out in a yummy restaurant and read my book, go see a movie in the theater by myself... you get the idea.  Just a day free of responsibility and all to myself.

4. Take a weekend trip with my family to somewhere we've never been before.

5. Tackle my fear of photoshop.  I have never used it, am afraid of it, well intimidated is a better word and would love to learn how to tweak and improve some of my photos with ease.

6. Take more photos.  I do not just mean with my phone!  I long to really "see" my life and long to capture the beautiful moments that steal my breath.  It takes effort, practice, coordination and intentionality and now is the time!  I will be clicking away this year!

7. Redesign Lassoing.  This has long been on my mind and my to-do list.  I love blogging and our little blog is long overdue for a fun face lift.  I have been researching blog designers (because that is not my skill set, nor is it something I have the time to learn right now) and have got things narrowed down.  I've got my money saved up and I'm truly excited for Lassoing to reflect the light, happiness and joy we have in our lives.

8.  Finding my "Likes"- There is the saying that "like attracts like"- meaning if you are kind, you will attract kindness, or if you spend time doing things you love, you will meet others who love the same things.  That is what I want to challenge myself with this year.  To reach out and connect with others in my "Likes."  I'm referring to blogging, photography, creativity in home decor/design, motherhood, personal growth/inspiration, cooking etc.

9.  Learn to paint and refinish furniture.  It sounds crazy and to many- so simple.  Yet for me, it feels big, and challenging and scary. (I mean, what if I ruin it forever?) I read countless blogs where these amazing and talented women do this and make it look easy.  In the back of my mind while reading and seeing their work, I always have the thought, "Oh, I can do that!" but then when it comes down to actually doing it, I chicken out.  So mark my words, this is the year!

10.  Be more crafty.  Pretty vague, huh?  Well what this means is to actually DO some of the projects that I have printed off, saved, pinned and dreamed of doing.  I'm not a crafty gal by nature, but I always enjoy it when I am doing them.  So... brace yourselves!

11. Read more.  This one is on every new years list I make.  I love to read, always want to challenge myself to read more and I have a couple of shelves full of books I have not yet read.  Life is too short not to read good books!

12. Cook new meals!  I try to do this pretty regularly, cook something I have never cooked before just to keep myself challenged in the kitchen.  Ever since we got married, Joe and I have loved to do this together.  It has been a great way to experiment with different kitchen gadgets, foods and cookbooks.  I have several cookbooks I have been wanting to cook from and this is the year!  My desire is to cook healthy foods that are also delicious, so if I come across any that are cannot miss, I will be sure to share them!

13.  Blog more.  I seriously love blogging.  You probably cannot tell it by my infrequent posts, but I really do love it.  This topic is one that I have been thinking about for a long while now.  When this blog started, it quickly became a vehicle to share our story with Luke and all that was going on in our lives during that difficult season and has gone on from there.  It was a wonderful outlet for my heart at the time and reminded me of how much I love to write.  I (we) will be forever grateful for the love, friendships, comments, emails, feedback, encouragement and prayers that we have received through this blog over the past two and a half years.  I have truly been blown away by all of the goodness that has flowed into our lives from Lassoing.

A challenge in blogging (of my own making) have been my own expectations for myself around blogging.  Everywhere online I see people who post these amazing, inspiring and beautiful blogs - DAILY.  They have powerful words and beautiful photos. I have felt the pressure to do that myself and have fallen into the trap of comparison and have at times felt like a failure as a result.  So, I'm pushing into the freedom from unrealistic expectations and am committing to posting here at least twice a week.  My posts won't be perfect and my photography as I stated above is constantly a work in progress, but they will be genuine. 

Another one of my big blogging struggles has been how to move forward here on Lassoing as we move forward out of our difficult season in life.  I have worried that people will no longer want to read if I am not writing long, sad, emotion-filled entries about our struggles.  It sounds crazy, but I have worried that people won't like me unless I'm sad.  I have worried that I write about Lily too much.  I have worried that I no longer know how to write and that God just gave me words when I needed them back in our season of Luke.  I have worried that I have nothing left to say that anyone will want to read.  I have worried that my posts are too random.  I have worried that our blog does not really have a specific niche, I have worried that people wont want to read now that we are happy.  On and on and on my worries and insecurities go. *****  So many fears and worries- and all based on the wrong thing:  external gratification, fear, and the opinions of others.  Scary to admit, but true nonetheless.  I want to change that about myself.  I admit, it is so wonderful to hear from readers and see comments posted after spending some time working on a post.   I have been so hung up on trying to figure out who I "should be" in the blogging community or who you all "expect" me to be in order for you all to keep reading, instead of simply being genuine and realistic about where I am in my life and all of my random interests.

So this new year marks the beginning of me facing those fears, insecurities and worries and kicking them to the curb.  I want to be real about where I am and about the healing that continues to take place in my heart.  I want to push into and become the woman God is calling me to become.  I want to live with my whole heart.  Sure there will still be posts about Luke and Lily and our family.  Posts about my grief and sadness, but also posts about joy, inspiration, encouragement, adventures, experiments in the kitchen, our home, "crafts," beauty, photography, my journey in motherhood, things I'm learning and hopefully a lot more too.  I am making a commitment to be genuine and to keep on writing and posting even if no one reads another thing I write!  I'm going to write and post for an audience of One  (Whew! This could have been an entire blog post in and of itself. Sorry!)

14.  Be mentored.  I want to open my heart to the inspiration, wisdom and friendship that is out there for the asking and taking.  There are incredible women in my realm both online and in real life.  I desire to be more intentional with my pursuit of their friendship and mentorship.

15.  Wholeheartedly love my friends.  I have amazing friends in my life.  I desire to show them and tell them and remind them and cherish them.  Life is hard and it would be impossible without my friends.  I love them!  So this will be a year filled with special birthdays, gifts, meals, words, time together, phone calls, cards, and I hope, loads of fun times.

16.  Practice gratitude.  I have said it so many times here, the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp (have you read it yet?) has changed my life and my heart's perspective.  I have started my list of my own one thousand gifts and desire to continue my counting....I will share some of my list from time to tome here.

17. Move - Our little beloved house is not currently on the market as we took it off for the winter, but this spring we intend to put it back on with our fingers crossed and hopes high.  We do not know where in town we will be moving, but it is our goal to be in a different home by this time next year.  That thought both excites and overwhelms me at the same time...but mostly excites me!

18.  To live inspired.  So often I fall into the rut of seeing the glass as half empty, as a day filled with 'have-tos' and 'shoulds' - not through the eyes of possibility, potential and continued growth.  My little Lily is a HUGE source of inspiration to me.  Watching her grow, change, learn, develop, try and try and try new things over and over until she masters them- that is just amazing to me how God gave her to me and how she shows me every day how to 'just do it."  She doesn't talk herself out of trying something because it would be too hard.  Nope, she just goes for it and gives it her all.  I love that about her and I desire to develop that quality in my own life.    So this year, I am going to surround myself with inspiring quotes, passages, people, blogs, ideas and with a little gal who embodies the mindset of "I think I can and I will!"  I'm inspired already!

So there you have it.  My pursuits for the upcoming year.  Needless to say, it should be a great one!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

My Weekly Reader

One of my most favorite things to do in my free time is read blogs and over the past couple of years, I have found countless bloggers that I truly love and feel like I "know" them.  I appreciate their talents, their humor, and their authenticity.  I get asked on a pretty regular basis what blogs I enjoy reading and I never know how to answer that question because my Reader is packed with of a wide variety of blogs some are funny, some are foodies, some are writers, some are photographers, some are bakers, some are DIY pros, some are mothers, some are crafters, some are designers or decorators and some just love houses and home decorating like I do...but all are inspiring to me and I love checking in with them any chance I get.

One of my personal goals for 2012 is to make time in my days to read these blogs more since it is something that always brings me life.  So from time to time here on Lassoing, I will pass along some of my favorite posts I read throughout the week in hopes that if something catches your fancy, you will click over to these blogs and perhaps find a new blog you might love too.  I hope you enjoy these links to some of my favorite posts I discovered this week. 

Happy reading!

25 Rules for Mothers of Sons 
     This one made my heart break with my missing of Luke, but the advice was awesome and can be universally applied.

50 Rules for Dads of Daughters
    I thought this was beautiful and made my heart ache with joy for all of the beauty and life that God willing is ahead of us. I really want someone to write one of these lists pertaining to Mothers of daughters.  If you find one please let me know!

Believing in Tim Tebow
   I have never cheered for the Broncos until this season.  Something so compelling about a godly man playing his heart out and giving his life away.  I cannot help but cheer for Tim and his team.  There is no question that God is doing something special through Tim. 

On Remembering
  This post was sent to me by a dear friend. It captures EXACTLY what I have been doing these past few weeks in my reflecting over where we have been with our journey with Luke and all that has happened this past year with loving Lily.  Remembering is so powerful.  Katie is a beautiful writer and inspired me to keep going into this new year with a brave heart filled with thankfulness. I loved this one. 

On Body Image in our daughters
  This one stopped my heart as I had no idea how I would respond.  I am filled with worry about all of the attacks the Enemy has in store for all of these beautiful little girls in this world- even my own.  How to I guard her heart?  Build up her confidence? Teach her self acceptance? By modeling it.  So, so scary and so much work to be done on myself and my own heart so I can be there for Lily.  This was a great inspiration for me as a mother of a daughter.

Word of the Year
   I remember this was a big thing last year in the blog world and I did not do it, but I thought about it a lot over the year and vowed to pick one for myself this year.  I'm going to blog about my choice soon as I've had a little bit of trouble narrowing it down to just one word.  :)  I love Layla's blog. Hers is a cannot miss one for me.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Celebrating Luke

Celebrating Luke this year felt both familiar and foreign to me.  My heart was brimming with emotion as I crashed into his birthday.  My days are fuller this year with caring for a very busy little gal and I did not have as much time as I had hoped to just sit, be still, prepare my heart for his birthday and all that comes with remembering and celebrating his little life.  I was not prepared and was overwhelmed with my raw heartache over just simply missing my little guy.  All day long, my heart crashed into my grief in unexpected ways and in little moments...  making breakfast, playing with toys, over laundry, in the shower, while changing diapers, reading storybooks...all day long my tears rolled down my cheeks.  I think Lily could sense that I was not myself because she in turn was not quite herself either.  We were surrounded by loving text messages, emails, phone calls, cards, flowers and genuinely felt the love of so many people holding us close.  It was just a day of beautiful struggle and sadness that Luke was not here to eat his birthday cake, or play with the balloons or open presents or make a mess or make us laugh with his energy and smile.  So much missing, but also so much healing.

Even though I was sad all day long, I was able to recognize deep within my heart that there has also been healing that God has woven into my heart where this scar still feels rather scab-ish.  I did not disappear into my sadness as I have so many other times before.  I was able to speak about my sadness rather than just let my tears communicate the grief.  I was able to smile as I remembered Luke's birthday and I enjoyed our little family celebration we had for him. Most importantly I was able to still be present for Lily and not simply "disappear" on her as I feared I could or would.

We carried on the traditions we began last year...

with some special balloons we let off toward heaven for him...

including a special pink one especially from his little sister...

after we let the balloons go, we had a little family lunch together back at the house before Joe had to return to work...

and while I forgot to take a photo of it, we also made Luke's special birthday cake- Chunky Monkey and had some of that in the evening.  It was a lovely day overall- not just weather wise or celebration wise, but also just the fullness of seeing where we are in our story as compared to where we were two years ago.  God has faithfully brought us through some difficult terrain over the past two years and so much is different in our lives now.  I know that for all of our years to come, Luke's birthday will be a special day for our family, no matter where we are or who is sitting at the table with us.  

This year we were so happy to have a sweet, new little girl dressed in pink helping us love and celebrate her big brother.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Happy Birthday Luke

Dearest Luke,

   It is so hard to believe that you would be two years old today.  Even though the days without you seem to creep by, I cannot believe that two years have passed since we held you in our arms and whispered so much love into your tiny ears and heart.  I have been thinking about your birthday for a long time and yet, still today I have been caught by surprise by the rawness of my sadness and grief in missing you.  It feels just as real as if you were here yesterday.  

taking some flowers to her big brother...
You are missed every single day, sweet boy.  I wonder what you would be busy doing and learning if you were here with us today.  Your baby sister is growing big and strong and we continue to tell her about her big brother as the days go by.  This fall we took her to your special spot and were all together as a family for the first time.   We visited you again at Christmastime and want you to know that no matter how many days go by and how far the distance between here and heaven, there will always be a Luke-shaped hole in our lives until we are reunited again.  

My missing you continues to take on new surprising Lily grows, I am slowly realizing all of the simple joys and firsts I missed getting to have with you.  I know you are in heaven, but I just wish I could hold you for a few more minutes and just whisper again how happy I am that you were here, how much I will always love you and how thankful I will always be that you are my son.  I love you and I miss you.  Always.

All my heart,

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Lily is 8 Months Old!

Hello Everyone!

I love putting everything in my mouth these days...
I'm eight months old today! 

It has been a really busy month around here and I have tried to best to keep my parents hopping.  You may have noticed that this month's photo shoot takes place in a different locale and that is because I am crawling all over the place now and enjoy pulling myself up on everything I can get my hands on!

It is so much fun!  I am easily sitting by myself now and am having a ball playing while sitting up.  It seems like a whole new world has opened up and I'm loving all of the exploring.  

I am discovering that my mom likes to put things "out of my reach" on the couch, but she is learning that this is no longer out of my reach! It's great!

I started crawling about half way through the month and then about ten days after that began pulling up on everything.  Mom keeps saying she wasn't prepared for me to be doing all of these things so soon!  I love to surprise her.

I'm very excited to try cruising and walking, but I'm still kind of wobbly so I stand against things and only "walk" when I have people helping me.

While standing, I sometimes enjoy holding onto things with just one hand- it makes my mom a little bit nervous when I do this.

I am sleeping great with my two big naps a day and then I sleep twelve to thirteen hours at night.  All of the work I did with mom to get into a sleep routine has really helped me develop a schedule we all enjoy.

I am eating more and more foods.  So far pears are my very favorite followed by avocados.  Mom and dad tell me that I am a very good eater.  I am still working on drinking from my sippy cup.  I mainly like to bang it around on my high chair and chew on it a little bit too.  Someday I will get it.  I also enjoy pretending that I can drink from mom's straw in her cup.  I don't really have the hang of it yet, but I like to pretend I do.

This month was also special because I celebrated my first Christmas!  I loved it.  

We traveled as a family to the mountains where there was over a foot of snow on the ground.  I enjoyed seeing it, but did not really know what to do or like it very much when the snow got on my hand.  

Luckily I had my pink snowsuit on, so I did not get too cold.  I loved all of the wrapping paper, new toys and lights.  It was so much fun.

This month I also celebrated my first New Years Eve! It was a lot of fun, we went to a party at a friend's house, where I slept in the basement in my pack and play until it was almost midnight, and then I could not take the excitement so I woke up to ring in the new year with everyone at the party.  It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed being awake to celebrate with my family and friends.

Some other firsts I had this month were:  riding in the shopping cart (the official way), 

riding in my new stroller sitting up and not in my car seat, 

and discovering my love for the bucket swing at the local park.  I loooovvvveeee to swing!

I can't imagine all of the adventures that are ahead, but I sure know I'm excited for them!  I hope everyone had a great holiday- see you next month!