Project Life Tuesday... Or Friday: July 18-24

One of my biggest struggles with blogging is finding the time/discipline to do it on a regular basis.  I hate to use the word "discipline" because it has such a negative connotation - like someone is making me do it.  I actually am really excited about keeping up with the blog, I'm just going to have to be a better time manager in order to do so.  So, with that said, better late than never, here is Project Life Tuesday Friday.

Oh, and just let me say, I am so glad I decided to start participating in this project.  When you feel like you have the same routine day in and day out, wanting to find something to take a picture of really reminds you to appreciate every moment.  For example, one day a couple of weeks ago I made cheese quesadillas for lunch and decided to let my 2 year-old have sour cream on the side.  Next thing I know, his hands are covered in sour cream - he was pretending the sour cream was soap.  This is the type of incident that would usually make me have to turn away, hold my breath, and count to 10, but when I looked at it as a funny moment to snap a picture, my whole perspective changed.  Unfortunately, I didn't think to snap a picture until I had cleaned up the mess, but hey, I'm at new at this! :)

So, here we go!

Project Life: July 18-24

Sunday, July 18:  Tonight we went out to a family dinner at a new mexican restaurant in town.  I'll be honest, this doesn't happen a lot.  Usually, if we go out to dinner it's with a group.  We make it a priority to sit together and eat our meals at home, but there was something nice about going out to sit and have a meal.  Jackson was so cute sitting in his high chair - he is growing up way. too. quick.  As is Jayden, who while we were eating said "Is that a trumpet?" to the music in the background.  And, although I'm not educated in instruments, I'm pretty sure it was.  Then he proceeded to pretend his fork was a trumpet.  I love his love for all things music and how natural it is to him.

Monday, July 19:  Today we went with our neighbor, Kyler, to swim at his grandparents' pool.  The boys had a lot of fun.  Jackson wanted to be a big boy, which was a bit of a problem since I forgot to bring his float, but I tried to find other ways to help him feel big, like pushing him around on the adult floats.  Jayden saw how much fun this looked and decided to pretend the floats were boats.  This is the only picture I was able to snap since I had to have my eyes and hands on Jackson at all times.

Tuesday, July 20:  If you were to ask me if I like the little town we've been living in for the past 9 months, I would try to smile and give you positive answers, but you would probably be able to tell I was just trying to be positive.  However, one of the things I really, truly like is our home and the field next to it.  The first picture is a deer I saw on the other side of the field.  So cute.  The last 2 pictures are what happens when you have a 14 month old who likes to get in the trash (Why Lord, why?) - That morning's coffee filter and coffee grinds all over the floor.

Wednesday, July 21:  The first picture is Jayden playing with his helicopter/car thing and a little person from a zoo train set.  His imagination has really taken off in the last couple of months.  He really likes to pretend his little play people are doing things, like riding tractors or airplanes or swimming - the possibilities are endless, and I love listening and watching.  We also decided to make biscuits and I let Jayden help roll out the dough.  He loved helping and our finished product was delicious!

Thursday, July 22:  Daddy wasn't able to be with us for dinner due to work, so I decided I would try to do something fun for just me and the boys.  There's a little local place I heard about where they have trains circle the restaurant while you eat and train decor all over.  I knew the boys would l.o.v.e. it (as they did) and here is Jackson basking in his locomotive delight.

Friday, July 23:  My husband came up with the idea of getting the boys Go-Gurt.  They are so not ready to be able to squeeze yogurt out of a flimsy tube.  This is what happens when you give a 2 year-old an *unopened* Go-Gurt - He ends up licking it off the table, and it ends up on the table and inches behind your laptop on the counter.  Oh my.

Saturday, July 24:  We went to Chicago to celebrate our niece's first birthday.  She is absolutely beautiful  and the boys love her!  Jayden was very excited to sing "Happy Birthday" and give her the present we picked out.

I'll be linking this up over at The Mom Creative, and I highly recommend you participate too!  It's a great way to look back over your week and smile.  :)

There Once Was a Girl... (Part II)

If you haven't read Part 1 yet, I encourage you to click here.  It'll just make more sense that way. :)


The next day was an already scheduled doctor’s appointment where the news was confirmed.  It was true, the girl was 4 weeks along.  She decided she would wait until after her college graduation to tell her family because she didn’t want them to be distracted with the news.  Her mom, with God-given instinct, immediately drove to see her daughter within hours of that doctor’s appointment when the girl wouldn’t answer her phone.  As soon as the girl saw her mom, she knew she couldn’t keep this from her, so she broke down and told her mom the news.  Her mom, who loved her so much, assured her everything was going to be ok, and the girl trusted her, and it helped her keep hope.

Her mom told the girl she needed to immediately tell her dad the news.  So, her mom drove the girl to her dad’s house and they sat down as she told them.  They listened to her, and they hugged her, and they told her everything was going to be ok.  She believed them, and it helped her keep hope.

She went on to graduate from her university, seeing the days of her sorority and as president of the public relations student society seemingly so far in the past, with much uncertainty and fear in her future.  How were people going to treat her?  What would they say behind her back?  How many people would turn their backs on her because of the disorder of events taking place?  Then she remembered, there was one who would never turn His back on her, and it helped her keep hope.

The girl and the boy went through the motions of telling all the close people in their lives what was going on.  They made plans to get married, sought out premarital counseling, but more importantly, they prayed.  They wanted to do what was right, not what others thought was right, but what was truly right.  There were ups and downs along the way, but they got by the best they knew how, and within 4 months planned a beautiful wedding day (with much help from their loved ones).  Despite the uncertainty that occasionally continued to pop up, the boy and the girl knew God could would do great things in their life, and it helped them keep hope. 

The boy landed a great job which required the newlyweds to move about 8 hours away from their family.  They started building their lives together in a new place, just the two of them.  It was hard being away from family, but they knew this was where they needed to be to learn how to completely rely on each other instead of their families.  They prepared themselves and their one bedroom apartment for the baby on the way and continued to trust God, and it helped them keep hope.

Then, one morning the girl woke up early and knew something was happening.  This was it - the baby was here.  The couple jumped in the car and flew to the hospital.  Ten hours later they were holding their beautiful baby boy.  When they looked in his eyes, there was no doubt, they knew they had hope.

Months went by, the baby boy grew, and so it seemed everything else did too - their faith, their marriage, and their joy.  Before long, they were celebrating their first wedding anniversary and soon after were expecting their second baby.  They soon bought their first home where they brought home their second baby.  Life seemed to be as bright as their sweet newborn's eyes, which made it easy for the family to keep hope.

Soon after the birth of the second baby, the couple experienced the unexpected loss of a loved one.  It was hard for them as they saw the full circle of life flash before them in a matter of days.  There was sadness, frustration, confusion, and even doubts.  The pain was hard, but they tried to persevere and cling to their faith, and it helped them keep hope.

A few months later, the boy, now a husband, father, and leader of the family, got a promotion in his job which meant the family would be moving once again to a new place where they knew no one.  Although, it wasn't home, they were closer to family, which was comforting and helped them keep hope.

And, as you have probably guessed, here I am now, trying to keep hope, but not only keeping it for myself, but sharing it with others.

My life has been so blessed, that even when I strayed and made poor decisions, God took it and gave me the most wonderful blessings I could ever desire, but that doesn't mean the road was easy.  In fact, it has been a very rocky road (Don't you wish I was talking about ice cream?) with many speed bumps along the way, and, I'm pretty sure I'm not alone on this one.  Maybe your potholes and speed bumps (hurts, pains, and bad decisions) weren't the same as mine, or maybe they were, but either way, I hope you know you're not alone.

We each have our own daily grind, but let's try and make the best of it, learn from it, and glorify God through it.

How about we do it together?

Dear God, Thank You for Sports (Specifically, the Vols and Cardinals)

Life is so good.

That is the thought that soared through my mind more times than I could count last night.

As I sat holding my sleeping "Jacksey" and watching the pure joy in Jayden's eyes, I sometimes caught myself with a big, cheesy grin on my face.  But that wasn't all that got caught...

We went to Chicago for our beautiful niece's very first birthday this weekend.  It was great to see how much she's grown (I'm telling you - this girl is a doll!), as well as be with Dipal's side of the family.  I'll try to write a post fully devoted to the rest of our trip asap, but I wanted to make sure I wrote about the events of last night while the excitement was still fresh.

In addition to our niece's birthday, this weekend happened to also be the weekend the St. Louis Cardinals were in Chicago playing the Cubs at Wrigley, so when the opportunity arose for us to go to the game we decided to give it a go, and boy, am I so glad we did!!

The famous marquis

Dipal was so excited about going to a game at Wrigley. Honestly, I didn't completely get it until after we were there.  It was so neat to be driving through a neighborhood and then - Oh, hey historic major league baseball stadium!  Didn't see you there!

We had amazing seats right at first base, but as I looked around I thought it would probably be hard to find a bad seat in the house.  Although I love going to Busch to watch the Cardinals, there was a much more intimate, gather-in-everybody kinda feel to Wrigley and I loved it.

Here are some pics from the evening...

Hi there, Albert! :) Camera on zoom, but here's an idea of how great our seats were.

Nachos for dinner.

The scoreboard. (Is there a famous name for this that I don't know about? That just seems like it would be appropriate.)

Sitting with Paresh Bapa.

Mr. Pujols about to swing to hit his homer.

Pujols about to tap home plate.

Jackson with Manish Bapa and Anita Auntie (Have you noticed we were the only Cards fans in our group?) :)

So, there we were, having a great time at the game with the Cards & Cubs tied 3-3.  The Cardinals decided to put in pinch hitter Aaron Miles with 2 outs on the board.  We (as in Dipal and I) were getting a little nervous as his strike count went up to 2.  Then, all of the sudden, just like slow motion in a movie, I see this white ball rocketing towards us.  No, this wasn't one of those soar up in the air and drop balls, this was a rocket.  It flew directly to the seat of Dipal's cousin, Paresh, who dove down to avoid getting hit.  Luckily, Anita's brother Jag was with us and he immediately grabbed the ball from in between the seats and handed it to Jayden.  Oh, the look in Jayden's eyes... Priceless.  Amazing. Precious.  We were all in total shock of what had just happened, but it was fantastic.  We (of course) gave Paresh a hard time about diving to get away from the ball for the remainder of the evening, while he continued to analyze every foul ball from that point on to determine whether it was one he would be willing to try to catch or not (That is, if he had a face mask).  Every time I replayed the event in my mind I literally laughed out loud - It was priceless.  I guess what made it even funnier is that we had talked about the possibility of foul balls heading in our direction and what we would do (I obviously said I would push everyone else out of the way to get a ball for my boys... OK, maybe not).  Even the guys (Cub fans) sitting behind us said to me at the beginning of the game that if they caught a ball they would give it to the boys, but then jokingly changed their minds when they noticed we were Cardinals fans.  I guess it was meant to be, you know, in the "Cards."  (Pun intended.)

So, here are some pics after the big event...

Jayden and his Jag Uncle holding the ball.

The diver, the happy boy, and the hero of the night.

Jayden checking out his ball.  So precious.

To complete our perfect evening, the Cardinals went on to win the game in the 11th inning with Felipe Lopez's homerun.  As Lopez was at bat I told Dipal I thought something good was about to happen and had our camera ready...

Yep, he just hit a homer with that swing.

Woo hoo!!

As you can see, we had an amazing evening!!  A ton of laughs and good times with great people, and the foul ball and win of a close game were just the extra yummy icing on the cake.

This morning, Dipal and I were talking about how we always have some of our most memorable times as a family at sporting events.  Dipal and I got engaged at a Cards game, we attended a work picnic where we got to take Jayden on the Cardinals field and he began his love of Fredbirdone of my favorite memories with Jayden was when we took him to his first hockey game, last year we took Jayden to his first UT football game and he got to go on the field, we witnessed the baller Vols move on to their first elite-eight game ever, we celebrated Jackson's first birthday at the Cards game, and now this.  Sports just seems to be our family's thing and we love it.

Our family with our new special ball from a new great memory.

Project Life Tuesday: July 15-17

Occasionally, I stumble across blogs that I really like and really connect with.  One of the most recent of these is Jessica Turner's The Mom Creative.  Jessica really inspired me with her recent birthday party for her son and a weekly post she writes called Project Life Tuesday.  I always think about how I would love to have creative ways to remember this time in our lives and I am a sucker for pictures, so I decided to start participating in Project Life Tuesday despite the fact that it's July... Oh, well. :)

So here is a taste of our life from last week (or the three days of what was left of last week after I decided to start this).

Thursday, July 15: After being in the house all day, I decided to take the boys out for some water time.  They love the froggy pool!  This is a pic of the two cuties goofing off in the water.  The only downside was that we had to put the pool in the driveway instead of our yard because the hubby didn't want us to get the grass wet right before he mowed... This caused our time outside to be a little shorter, but we had fun anyway! 

Friday, July 16:  We went to our very first demolition derby at one of the local fairs!  We knew someone who was actually driving one of the cars, which made it even more exciting!!  Here is Luke driving his car after he lost one of his front wheels, which totally could have been the reason he won the Mad Dawg trophy!! (I don't know that "dawg" is the correct spelling in this situation, but it just seems appropriate!)

Saturday, July 17:  Ahhhh, Saturdays.  I love Saturdays when we are just home.  One of our favorite Saturday activities is a big family breakfast, usually pancakes and eggs made just the way everyone likes.  For Christmas, my mom Santa put an elephant shaped pancake pan in my stocking and I love using this to make pancakes for the boys.  Hopefully, it will be one of those memories they'll look back on - elephant pancakes on Saturday mornings.  This is a picture of my little man's plate complete with eggs and ketchup - the same as his daddy. :)

There Once Was a Girl... (Part I)

There once was a girl I knew, full of innocence and curiosity.  She had many questions and filled her time with imagination and creativity.   Days were spent in the warm Georgia sun with the smell of Grandma’s flowers and fresh peaches on the tree that grew right beside the array of veggies that sprouted in Grandpa's garden.  Hours were spent playing with dolls and barbies who needed to go to the hair salon or local diner to be taken care of.  Minutes upon minutes were spent singing and dancing and dreaming up visions of how she would entertain crowds one day – and this little girl did it to the fullest of her imagination.

She was blessed to have an amazingly loving family, and in her big, brown eyes, they were perfect.  Sure, there were things this little girl would have changed at the time, like having her daddy live in the same house instead of 5 hours away, or having Mommy able to make it to every single cheerleading occasion or basketball game instead of having to work, but as many times as those prayers might have been prayed, the little girl knew she was loved 100 times more than that by her people, and it helped her keep hope.

Each time Daddy made the long drive for a birthday or to take her trick-or-treating on Halloween she felt the deep love and pride he had in her.  Each time Mommy took her to a special breakfast or on a girl's day out to the mall and movies, she knew Mommy's love was unending.  This made the little girl feel safe and happy, and it helped her keep hope.

As this little girl grew there were a lot of changes.  Mommy remarried and they moved to Tennessee.  Soon, the little girl had the brother and sister she had always prayed for, but she wasn’t happy that she had to live that life in Tennessee.  She craved the peace and warmness she felt under that Georgia sun and prayed for a way to return there, but that wasn’t what God had planned for her.  Despite being somewhere she didn’t want to be, she knew the people around her loved her, and it helped her keep hope.

Soon, she began to love Tennessee and actually became thankful she was there.  Although she cherished her old friends and memories with family, she became thankful for the new ones she was making.  Her church youth group felt like another home, where she could be herself and seek a relationship with her heavenly creator.  She knew He loved her, and it helped her keep hope.

Daddy got a new job and moved closer – also in Tennessee, only an hour away.   He introduced her to the love of college football and lazy days on the lake.  He cared about her opinion when he chose a bride.  She could always feel the love he had for her, and it helped her keep hope.

Soon, she graduated from high school, and although this little girl was short in stature, she was no longer “little.”   She was ready to take on the world, learn new things, and show everyone at this big, new school what she was made of – that is, until she felt all alone.  But there was a boy, a boy she had known since high school (even though he had known her since middle school), and he told her if she stuck with him he would help the loneliness go away.  She felt like he cared, and it helped her keep hope.

Through the years she stuck with him, despite his bouts of acting like a true-and-true college boy, and she began to have the confidence to do all the things she wanted – making new friends, joining new groups, and showing them all what she was made of.  But something was missing.  She put her heavenly father to the side to seek acknowledgement from those here on earth, and when they made her feel content, she thought she had hope.

Until the times they didn’t, not because they didn’t care for her, but because no one is perfect and people always, always will disappoint when you expect them to be perfect.  She still tried to find security in the boy, and when he made her feel loved, she thought she had hope.

Until he didn’t, because this girl wanted to be completed, while the boy just wanted to enjoy his time in college.  It wasn’t that he didn’t love her, he just wasn’t ready to make the commitment she was.  And even though she tried to walk away, he would ask her for another chance and tell her how much he needed her and loved her, and it helped her keep hope.

Things between the girl and the boy went too far too soon, and the day before final exams their senior year the girl found out she was expecting a baby.  Although she hadn’t talked to the boy in two days due to an argument, she called him to tell him they needed to talk.  The boy, excitedly thinking this was the girl wanting to patch things up, drove to pick up the girl so they could talk.  When she told him the news, his first reaction was shock, but he immediately grabbed her hand, looked in her eyes, and told her everything would be ok.  She believed him, and it helped her keep hope.

(To be continued...)

Let's Do This Thing!

This time I'm ready.  This time we're doing this thing - like for real... no turning back.

I started my hobby of blog writing back in 2008.  It started as a way to keep out of town family and friends updated with stories and pictures of our little one, and then I realized how much I enjoyed it and felt like there was a higher purpose for what I was doing.  That "I think I'm being called to do this" feeling was confirmed when my husband and I sat with friends at dinner who told me I really needed to share our story with others, and even more confirmed when we randomly would run into a complete stranger who had a similar story as me and I felt I was able to offer encouragement to her situation. So, I started a blog called Unwritten Young Mom as a way to share with other young moms about the emotions of motherhood or just growing up in general.

The busyness of being a stay-at-home mom and adding a new little one to our family made it hard to stay consistent with my writing and I eventually just kinda gave up without ever getting to the heart of why I wanted to do the blog in the first place.  It was hard enough to keep up with our family blog, much less try to stay consistent with a second blog.  But the desire of pursuing that blog has never left, and here we are today - almost a full 2 years later.  In hindsight, I had a feeling it would take time for this blog to really evolve, so I'm not surprised it's just now taking off.

While it probably seems so clear now, one of the biggest reasons I kept putting off blog writing was because I felt like I didn't know exactly what I was suppose to say.  I felt like my story wasn't perfect enough that people would want to read anything I had to say, or that maybe some might think I'm too young to be trying to help others - like I still had a lot to learn. (And I do, but don't we all?)

I feel like this blog is something I need to be doing - for myself as well as others who might have had experiences like mine.  Even if the experiences were very different, I'm starting to understand we all have times where life is scary and we don't know what's going to happen.  All we know is we have to keep going.  I have a very strong desire to make this blog a priority, but I just keep doubting myself on exactly what I should be writing.  So, I'm just going to write my heart.  It might not always be perfect, but it will always be genuine.  My hope is that my writing not only helps me think through my everyday feelings, but that it also helps those of you who might stumble across this blog... as a laugh, as encouragement, as comfort.  I'm going to be painfully honest, so that others out there who have a story like mine can find encouragement and know they're not alone. 

My life has been nothing like I ever would have expected. (Is anyone's?)  Like many others, I've had plenty of occasions where giving up hope seemed like an option, but fortunately, it's never seemed like a valid option.  Through every day there always seemed to be a glimmer of hope shining, sometimes in the distance, but always there.

But, Hope is my middle name.  No, really, Hope is my real middle name, and I'm not sure that my parents planned it this way, but I've always felt like it's a constant reminder that I have hope in my life and not to give it up.

Like me, you too have your own daily grind you're going through, so here at Hope in the Daily Grind I'll be sharing stories, laughter and thoughts to help you keep going through your day.  I'm going to start by making it a priority to get my own personal story posted very soon, but until then...

"I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him.  Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit." ~ Romans 15:13

"... but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." ~ Romans 5:3-4


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