Thursday, November 17, 2011

Quotes from my child...

Currently, I laugh a lot about the things that pop out of Ava's mouth...I don't want to forget them, so I blog them...

After her best friend Zachary moved to a new class, we were driving to school and Ava says "Mom, I don't think I want to go to school today...I am not in the mood to make new friends today."  This was said just like a 13 year old girl would say it. 

"Oh my gosh mom, seriously!  Do you really think that shirt matches those pants." 

"Mom, I have NOTHING cute in my dresser to wear."

"Mom, you are talking loud to daddy...ok, you say "daddy, I am sorry for talking loud" and daddy you say "It's problem." 

Ava heard me giving my dad a hard time for getting old.  She said "On no mommy...pops is old?!  Does that mean he is going to heaven?!  Who would Nana live with?  That would not be good." 

Currently she also loves to tell me on a daily basis "Mommy, I have a really good idea..." Which usually ends with a visit to a friends house or a trip to Target.

I need to write them down when they happen...I already forget ones from last week!

Parenting moments...

The day each of my children came into my life is permanently etched in my mind.  I can remember each detail and the moment I held both of them for the first time.  I remember thinking about the things I was excited about for each of dreams and hopes and expectations.  Ava was a very peaceful infant.  She didn't cry much...she ate, she slept, she cuddled.  She was pretty easy...until age 2.  The year from age 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 was my hardest year as a parent so far.  We struggled with attitudes, fits, complete melt downs, and tears (on both our parts).  I constantly questioned (and continue to question) what we are doing as parents and how to raise this strong-willed, confident, and opinionated child well.  This past week we had another complete child-parent melt down moment.  Ava was being incredibly selfish and I was about at the end of my rope...did I mention she had been screaming for about 20 minutes at this point?  One of those dreams I talked about is that my kids would be willing to hold their "stuff" loosely and willing to give freely...super easy, right?:)  I have noticed lately that Ava is very concerned about getting "stuff."  I know we have perpetuated this and I wanted to figure out how to end it.  I told her that she had to go home and pick something out and give it away to someone...I don't care what it is, but you have to give it away.  She said to me "Maybe I can pick out something I don't like and never use."  Wow.  Our sin nature is rough even as kids!  She was pretty mad at me and told me for the first time that I was a bad mommy.  Yikes.  After about 20 minutes she apologized and said that maybe we could start over (this is what she says when she knows she is in trouble for a bad attitude).  She went into time out and I went and prayed that I would survive until Caleb got home.  After a few minutes I went to check on her and asked what she was doing.  She told me "I am asking Jesus to come into my heart."  I asked her what she meant and then we got to talk about Jesus being the Savior of her life.  We prayed together for Jesus to forgive her of sin and for Him to be with her each day.  This will just be one moment in Ava's spiritual journey but it was a huge moment in mine.  To be able to pray with my almost 4 year old and have her aware that God loved her so much that he sent Jesus to die to take away her sin was a priceless moment.  We will keep talking.  We will keep praying...she will keep asking questions but I am grateful to get to be a part of the amazing journey she is on.  The next day she asked if she was being a good listener.  I told her yes and she said "It's because Jesus lives in my heart and I am trying to be a good listener."  My prayer for you dearest you read this many years from that you are still making decisions and looking at life through the lense of your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Girls Night...

I was super girly as a kid.  I hated to get dirty.  I would make other people put my bike chain on my bike because it was gross.  I did my hair for fun.  I wanted to shave my legs when I was 9.  I begged to get my ears pierced for a year!  I wore fake finger nails that I would bite off and then put in my desk at school (so gross and weird).  I planned out my outfits a month at a time and read incredibly girly books.  I liked boys and always had a "camp boyfriend" each summer.  One day...I guess sometime in Junior High when all things go a little cooky, I stopped.  I never wanted to shower.  I wore my hair in a wet pony tail to school every day.  I organized sporting events in the mud.  I broke up with my junior high boyfriend because I didn't want to "settle down."  I was allowed to shave my legs but decided it was all of a sudden "unnecessary."  Early high school was a great time of building confidence in who I was in Jesus and how God has made me.  Then, late high school hit and I got a boyfriend.  I let this become a huge part of my identity.  I lost so much of who I was and lost site of the things that I valued about myself.  Through a lot of prayer, this relationship ended by early college.  By mid college I was back to normal Ashlee but with a new passion to talk to girls about being free to be who they are!  When I was pregnant with Ava and we found out she was going to be a girl, I started to pray that she would know God and also have confidence in who she is as a beautiful creation of Him.  If any of you know Ava, at this point, my prayer was answered.  As a parent though, I pray that we can shape her confidence into a humble knowledge that she is made by God and that He has a great plan for her life.  This then leads me into girls night.  Like I said in the beginning...I do love girly things.  I was talking to several of the girls from our neighborhood about having a girls night.  We decided we would watch High School Musical, eat snacks, paint nails, talk about girl stuff, and play games.  I want to celebrate with them the things that make them unique as women.  The beautiful things about being a little girl that obviously go far beyond watching girl movies and doing hair/nails.  About 17 girls showed up.  We had a question box where they could write down questions.  I was not expecting the heaviness of the questions being asked.  Many we didn't read out loud because it wasn't the setting.  It was a reminder to me about how much women need each other.  How much we want to know that other people are thinking and feeling something similar to what we are thinking.  We want to know that we aren't alone.  I love girls nights.  I love the talking and sharing that comes from them.  I pray for the girls in my neighborhood.  I pray for their innocence.  I pray that we get to keep having these beautiful times together to know each other more. 

House Gatherings...

I think I have already mentioned our Wednesday night house gatherings.  I love them.  Each Wednesday night we have anywhere for 5-25 people show up at our house from our neighborhood.  It's a time for neighbors to get to know each other and come together to share a meal.  This past week we had a full house.  Our house is not so big.  The three rooms of living space that we have max out pretty quickly.  We also aren't very clean people so Ava and Jay's room/playroom was a disaster!  There was an extra mattress on the floor, toys everywhere, and about 8 kids.  But, the beautiful part is that they didn't one cared about the lack of space or mess of dishes or that we ran out of dishes and started using kids plates.  We were all just there...present...a part of the conversation.  I loved watching our older neighbors interact and encourage the teenagers.  I laughed listening to Shaqwanda (who I met during my first month in Atlanta during Mission Year) "jones" with Angleo, our friend that often stops by to chat, grab a snack, and keep an eye on things for us.  I loved hearing Ms. Betty passionately share from her heart of her experiences with faith and church and how God is so personal and real to her.  I REALLY loved that Karim made us all buffalo chicken tenders!  They were incredible.  I love that Annia and I get to cook together every Wednesday night.  I share these things to remember them.  Many times I have been discouraged that we bought our house right before the housing market crashed.  I have wanted more space to be able to host gatherings of people.  I have wanted more space for people to be able to have a place to stay if they needed it.  This week has been a good reminder to me that this space that we do have, can still be used.  We prayed the first night that we moved into this house that we would see it not as "our" house, but as an open place where people could gather.  I guess that's still my prayer. 

Solitude and My Life...

Last weekend I was able to attend the Mission Year solitude retreat with our team.  I was looking forward to this time because I rarely have moments alone.  In my head I know that solitude is important for all people and that includes me and my somewhat extroverted self (hehe).  The problem is that I don't make time for it.  We have some really great things going on in life right now and I am excited about all those things so I just keep going.  I don't stop, I don't reflect.  Don't get me wrong...I am thinking ALL THE TIME!  Caleb and I have a joke that I am always thinking and processing and analyzing and dreaming about something.   He on the other hand can be still...both in body and in mind.  We also read The Way of the Heart this past month by Henry Nouwen.  He says the following:
"In order to understand the meaning of solitude, we must first unmask the way in which the idea of solitude has been distorted by our world.  We say to each other that we need some solitude in our lives.  What we are really thinking of, however, is a time and place for ourselves in which we are not bothered by other people, can think our own thoughts, express our own complaints, and do our own thing, whatever it may be.  For us, solitude most often means privacy."
I realized that this was very much my idea of what I wanted out of solitude...just moments alone.  He goes on to talk about solitude being vulnerability...a nakedness before God.  He says,
"In solitude I get rid of my scaffolding: No friends to talk with, no telephone calls to make, no meetings to attend, no music to entertain, no books to distract, just me-naked,vulnerable, weak, sinful, deprived, broken-nothing."
It hit me so clearly my need for this.  I desire quiet time with the Lord but most often this is done around something else...squeezed in among the business of life.  My heart longs to love the people around me.  I feel a burden to love and be loved.  I am filling my schedule not with things but with people.  Nouwen then draws us back to what he calls "The compassionate ministry."  Thomas Merton describes a group of monks who spent much time in isolation in the following way as he describes there quest not to drown in the sinking ship of their society:
"They knew they were helpless to do any good for otherse as long as they floundered about in the wreckage.  But once they got a foothold on solid ground, things were different.  Then they had not only the power but even the obligation to pull the whole world to safety after them." 
My mind was drawn to line...On Christ the solid rock I stand!  As much as I love to be engaged with friends, neighbors, family, co-workers, etc, I will drown without Jesus.  The people I love with drown without Jesus.  I want to know more of Him, I want to share more about Him, and I want to see Him more through those in my life.  Since I so easily forget the lessons God is teaching me and so easily start to flounder, I wanted to get these things written down...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fall in Atlanta!

It's finally fall in Atlanta.  It's my favorite time of year.  Pretty much October 1 through January 2 is full of more exciting things than I could even picking, pumpkin patches, my kids birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and our 7 year anniversary (and much more!).  The fall is a time that it's so clear in nature how much life is changing and evolving.  The leaves and their beautiful colors remind me of God's hand in the natural order of how things are supposed to change!  Watching my kids this year has been amazing.  Ava has always amazed me with her crazy personality and funny sayings.  At almost 4, she doesn't change as much physically but she comes up with something new everyday that she is learning.  Today she said "Mommy, aren't you so glad to have me around to help with Jay?  What would you do without me?"  She also said yesterday with as much attitude as a teenager "Mommy, this is hte only cute shirt I could find in my drawer to put on!"  Jay on the other hand is constantly changing physically.  He has outgrown most of his clothes and now he crawls, pulls up on things, and walks around holding on to anything he can find.  He may be the happiest little guy ever and always greets us with lots of smiles.  For Caleb and I, we feel like we are on the cusp of change.  We are ready for God to move us in one direction or another.  We have been looking for a new church home for several weeks.  We continue to pray for wisdom but often feel lost in finding answers.  We attended Trinity this past weekend and heard a GREAT sermon from Kris.  It made me miss having a church that we call "home."  He talked about the Gospel of Sin Management.  If we correct our behaviors and sins then we will find favor with God and He will pat us on the head and say "good job."  This is pretty much the opposite of the true gospel...a gospel that says "you can't earn my love, because I love you inspite of your sin!"  I think sometimes I spend so much time figuring out what is the next step for us, where we need to serve, how to correct my often pitiful attitude, etc.  These things are important at times, but they are not what God is desiring for me and they aren't why Jesus died.  He died to forgive sins and give us life abundently.  I want to live in light of this promise.  I want to seak to serve my heavenly Father and from that have a life that pours out service to others.  So, as much as I am still struggling with the unknowns and the inevitable changes ahead, the pressure is off to find the perfect solution.  I serve a God who freely gives Grace...even (and especially) when we have no idea what we are doing! 
In other news...One of our first neighbors we met during Mission Year moved in across the street from us a few weeks ago.  Anne and her family were like family to us and even though it's been several years since we were all involved in each others lives, it feels so familiar to have her living close again and I am so grateful.  We head to Indianapolis this weekend to the Christian Community Development Association Conference.  I am super excited to spend time with the other Mission Year staff, hear some great teaching, spend time with Caleb, and dream a little bit about what we want this next year to look like.  I leave you with pics from the last month or so!

 Anniiyah, Makayla and Ava have all gotten HUGE!
 Karim Graduated from High School!
 We got to go on a double date with the Henley's.
 Ava has been LOVING dance class!
 Andra took a family picture for us that included Jay
 All 11.5 of us went to the Pig restaurant!
 Ava and Christopher had an AWESOME time at sweetwater!

 This is the classic Jay face!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

I can't help but be excited...

This week we welcomed two new couples to Atlanta for a year of Mission Year married.  We also celebrated 6 years of being in Atlanta with Steve, Becca, Drew and Diane this week.  Last night at the opening dinner I shared what I was excited about for this year.  I said something off the top of my head but I started thinking about it more once I left the opening dinner.  What AM I excited about for this team?  I am excited for a year to watch them become a community.  As I set with my Mission Year team this week sharing stories and laughing about our year, I can't help but think about how much work it took for us to become a community!  But now...6 years later, we sit with our 5 (almost 6) kids sleeping soundly and we are as comfortable with each other as we could be.  I am excited for them to get to know their neighborhood and neighbors.  I drove through my Mission Year neighborhood this week and had to stop three times to get out of my car and hug people that I have known since I lived in Atlanta (I LOVE Atlanta).  I am excited for them to use public transit!  I learned a lot while sitting on a bus.  I am excited for them to stay up late playing games and laughing together.  I am excited for them to read books that will challenge them and cause them to ask questions about the world around them.  I am excited for them learn how to live with less (which includes grocery shopping on a very small budget).  I know that I am an easily excited person, but seriously, this is good stuff!  More than anything though, I am excited to see Jesus come alive in them as they live out this call to love and be serve and be listen and learn.  I am excited to see them cling to a Saviour who cares more about their neighborhood and injustice than they ever could.  We leave tomorrow morning for Orientation in Chicago.  This is the beginning of what will be a really exciting year!  I feel blessed to be part of it all!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dear Friends...

One thing you don't want to hear at 1:30 am is "Mommy-Daddy...I had an accident."  So I am still awake after cleaning up a pretty sweet mess.  I am struggling to sleep tonight.  I lay awake thinking, processing, and praying.  I am asking questions that have no answers...
Over a year ago our great friends Drew and Diane introduced us to Adam and Becca.  They had been working in Atlanta through a ministry and wanted to move into downtown and live incarnationally in a neighborhood close ours.  They didn't know exactly where yet, but we were totally praying it would be close to us.  You see...they are awesome.  They have an incredible heart for God and for people.  They also have a spunky-sweet-full-of-personality 2 year old that hit it off with Ava immediately.  This past winter, they started working on their new house which amazingly enough is about 2 minutes from our house (and if it's less than 90 degrees I could totally walk).  We have loved having them so close and have been so encouraged by their heart for the neighborhood, Jesus, and how they love and are loved by those around them.  After a LONG journey they were able to close on their house last week in time to have their new baby son Caden.  When Caden was born, they found something wrong with his heart.  You can read their blog for more details Stanley Blog.  Our hearts ache for our friends as they go through this unthinkable--scary--time.  I find myself praying constantly and bring distracted all the time thinking of them and their sweet boy.  This week in my girls bible study we were studying Daniel and the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  I was so challenged by my own faith as I read this story.  They were told to worship other Gods and their response was “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.  If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”  Do I trust that God can deliver us from the fire?  I am praying with faith that God can heal Caden.  He is the same God that rescued these men from the fiery furnace and performed miracle after miracle.  Please join me in praying for my friends.   I pray to the one and only God-the Healer, Redeemer, Savior, Restorer.  I pray for faith as I wrestle with questions that can't be answered.  I am so grateful that I serve a personal God who loves people 100x more than I ever could.         

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Hot time, summer in the city...

We have had an incredible summer so far!  We have made many trips, had lots of visitors, enjoyed fun summer things in the ATL.  We have celebrated with friends who have gotten engaged, started new life adventures, gotten pregnant, and had babies.  

This past weekend we were able to drive up to Caleb's parents house in East Liverpool, OH for a long weekend.  It was a 14 hour drive there and 14 hour drive back.  I think the kids handled it better than I did.  Every time we make a trip to the midwest and back there is a little part of me that thinks "why do we live so far away?"  I think that part of me thought that 1) this would all just get easier after a few years or 2) we would end up moving back to the midwest to be close to family.  Well, neither of those things have happened and honestly, I don't forsee either of them happening.  We are at peace with our decision to be in Atlanta.  God has given both Caleb and I jobs that we love and a depth with our community that we could have never imagined.  Some days are harder than others but most of the time, I can't imagine being anywhere else.  

Ava continues to make me laugh everyday.  Her most recent hilarious thing is playing bop-it.  Her record now is 26 in a row, which I think is impressive for a 3 year old.  She has also memorized what the bop-it man says and will repeat things like "Is this your first time playing bop-it, you're out."   She also watched Mary Poppins over the weekend and sings the chimney sweep song and A Spoon Full of Sugar repeatedly.  We plan to put her in dance class this fall and I am sure she will love every minute.  Today she asked me "mom, wouldn't it be silly if Cinderella met Mary Poppins?"  Yes, it would. 

We are also looking with much anticipation toward friends moving into Pittsburgh!  Yes, that's right...more people in Pittsburgh!  Our street is incredible and our neighbors are awesome and I look forward to my Coleman St. neighbors being able to all welcome our new friends to the neighborhood.  We have longed for more community in Pittsburgh and the thought of other believers being so close is more exciting than I can express!  Pittsburgh has become even more empty in the 4 years we have been there and it's so neat to see God move in others hearts to want to move in!

Here are some pics of our trip to East Liverpool.  Enjoy.

Jay and Ava shared a little bath time.

The Starr family at the wharf.

Boys hanging out...Jay is so big now!

 Who doesn't love some chili cheese fries from the hot dog shop!

Such a happy guys!  and he loves his sister!

Paddle boat ride.

How funny is it to put a baby in a life vest?!

Hanging out with grandpa!

Time with grandma before we boarded our paddle boats.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Hilton Head 2011


Since I discovered that I can turn my blog into a book at the end of the year, I am going to blog a whole lot more! This years annual beach trip included the Henleys and the Niederfringers. It was a great time. 11 people, 2 bedroom condo, too many trips to the beach where kids were covered in sand, yummy food, great fellowship, limited melt-downs, SOOO much sunscreen, wonderful bike rides, sand castles, naps, and Sequence. We love Hilton head.


6 months...give or take a couple weeks.

 We finally had Jay's 6 month doctor appointment.  Our "little guy" is 19 lbs and 28 inches long!  In case you are wondering...that's a pretty big kid.  He is so happy and has been eating a lot of different food already.  Here is a good picture of him and his happy self. 


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Jay's Dedication

Here is a picture from Jay's dedication. We also wrote a letter to him that I am going to share here because then it's somewhere that I can't lose it when one day, I want him to read it:)! Also, it will help all the family from back home feel a little like they got to be a part of the dedication.

We want to celebrate today the miracle and gift God has given us in you. We want to dedicate you to Lord knowing that He is the giver of life and it is He that has entrusted you to us for a short time. You come into this world helpless, in need of care and love and protection. But we, as your parents, commit to so much more than that. We commit you to the Lord and we commit ourselves to bringing you up with a love and reverence for Him and also to have a deep love for people.
We named you Jay after your mommy’s grandpa. He was a man of God who loved life and loved those around him. He was joyful and always had a song to sing and a joke to tell. He was generous and kind, giving to anyone that needed anything. He was wonderful husband and father and though you will never meet him, we want you to know the meaning behind the name we have given you.
Your mother and I are very different but one common characteristic is our heart for people. We want our children to also have a heart that longs to love people. God has a heart that never gives up but always works to make beautiful and make whole that which is broken and lost….a redeeming heart. This is why we chose Redeem as your middle name. We have been redeemed by the blood of Christ and want our children to also know that our Redeemer lives and He can redeem that which is broken and lost.
We are so thankful for you dearest Jay. Your life so far has been filled with smiles and cuddles and happiness around your big sister. You are loved by your heavenly father and you are loved by us. You are also loved by a wonderful community of friends and believers who are here today to hold us accountable teaching you about our God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Our prayer is that you will know Him and desire to serve him as you grow into a man. We are glad you are our son! Love, Mom and Dad

The Call...Our Mission Year Story.

It was 6 years ago this week (give or take few days) that I got a call from the Mission Year recruiting department. "Hey Ashlee, just wanted to let you and Caleb know that you are accepted for Mission Year in the fall and we are excited to have you guys in Atlanta." Excitement, panic, joy-emotions filled my head and heart. We were really going to do it. We had decided that if they accepted us, we were headed to Atlanta. I called Caleb and we immediately began preparations (such great planners we are!).

p.s. (R)This was the picture I sent with my MY application. I guess I was REALLY enthusiastic (and liked hot pink?) Somehow, they still accepted us:) The other picture is our last night in our K-town apartment eating cereal out of anything we could find.

It all started during a spring break trip to Atlanta. We connected with the Mission Year married team who was living on Atlanta's Westside. They shared their hearts with us and told us about their year of serving. We got to meet Leroy Barber who came to their apartment, bought us pizza, and got me hooked on this idea of taking a year of my life (and my husband's life) to live intentionally, love Jesus, and love the people around me. Sounded simple, right?:). After MANY conversations, Caleb and I were sure that this was what we had been looking for. We knew we loved the City, we felt called to serve the poor, and we loved Jesus a lot. When else were we going to have the chance to give away all our stuff (for some reason I guess we weren't thinking we might actually NEED "stuff" when we got done with Mission Year), quit our jobs, and move to a new place to serve alongside people with similar hearts for ministry?

Our next call...this time it was Jeff Delp (one of our City Directors) telling us that he had found the house we were going to live in. "Excuse me, 1 house...for all three couples?" I guess they had decided to "try out" putting the married teams in one house. I am now more grateful for that call than I could describe. Our time of intentional community produced 4 of the most amazing friendships we have ever known.

And then there was the call to my parents..."Mom and Dad, as it would turn out, we love it here and really feel like God is calling us to stay in Atlanta." It only took one year for us to realize that this was home.

We now get to serve with Mission Year in the role of Mission Year married City Directors. We could not be more excited to see teams arrive this fall and watch them begin a journey that so deeply impacted the direction of our lives. Not everyone stays in the city and that is totally fine but no matter where you go after, life will be different. We are different because of a decision we made to take a year away from everything we knew and trust that God had a plan for us.

Monday, April 11, 2011


It's 2 am. Our house is very still and quiet as Caleb and the kids are soundly asleep in their beds. I am so grateful for all three of them. Caleb has a quiet strength that I could not begin to express. He encourages me every day with his patience and his desire to love me in the ways that I best understand love. I knew 8 years ago that I loved this man. I knew that I wanted to spend my life with him but I don't think I had a clue of how incredible God's design of marriage really could be. Easy all the time? Not even close, but so rich and full of beauty and Grace and forgiveness. I am grateful for Caleb. And then there is Ava...Oh my little spunky, full of personality little girl. Each day, she amazes me at her words and her thoughts and how she is starting to see the world. She makes me laugh more than any 1 person ever has. She is more social than I would have thought possible at age three. Each day as we get out of the car she will say to ANY child walking down the street (even if we don't know them) "want to come over to my house?" She wants hugs and kisses al the time and will say to me anytime I leave the house "I love you so much!" I am grateful for Ava. And now we have Jay. He has been a bundle of cuddles and smiles. He also LOVES people (specifically me right now). If you look at him, talk to him, pick him up, or waive a toy in his face...he immediately starts to move his whole body in one huge movement. He started laughing at Ava, who gets up in his face and says "Hi's your big sister" in the squeakiest-highest pitched voice you could imagine. I am grateful for Jay. I am grateful for our community in Atlanta and the friends that God has placed around us here. As we continue to pray for direction about where God is leading us, I don't want to ever stop being grateful for these things. It doesn't mean that I achieve an attitude of being grateful all the time, but it's my prayer that as I read back through these thoughts, they can be a reminder to me.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Life with 2...

Jay is three months old. I can hardly believe it. The transition to two kids has been pretty easy. We did 1 and then 3 and now 2. A little out of order, but we did feel pretty prepared for some additional craziness. Tonight we have the girls and I was even more reminded of how different life is with lots of kids. To be honest, I kind of love the crazy. All three girls are sleeping on the floor in Ava's room and they all look so sweet. Hard to believe that only an hour ago we were reeking havoc on a Zaxby's. Ava has been super funny lately. She has fits that drive me but then she says hilarious things. Yesterday she said "Mommy, maybe when I throw a fit or cry, you could just pray for me." Oh darling, if you only knew how much mommy prays for your fits! I am back to work a few days a week and really loving my time back. I know the kids are well cared for and I get to do something I love.

Jay has been an incredibly happy baby. I feel like his whole body smiles when he smiles. We are still working on the whole "sleeping at night thing" but it's so easy the rest of the time, that I don't really care.

We got to take a trip to Disney World with mom and dad which was awesome. Our friend, Mike Fitz from HC, showed us around Magic Kingdom for the day and we had a blast. My favorite Ava moment was right after she got off the roller coaster and said "That was crazy...that roller coaster made my tummy feel better."
Right now we are in the midst of participating in lent. We each have chosen things to give up in order to focus more on Christ during this season. I am praying that during this season, we will continue to have more clarity about what God is doing in our family and that he would direct us toward what he would have for the future.
Here are some pictures from the last few weeks...

Things that make us "us" (or Things That Make Us Not Real Adults)

Today I was realizing that I struggle keeping up with "the little things." I have determined that most of these things are the daily responsibilites that come with being an adult and a parent. I started coming up with a list of such things that I thought I would share. I feel like in college, most of these things are acceptable but somehow, we have just not been able to quite "get it together." If anyone would like to offer us help, we would take it:)
1. We have been missing some clean laundry lately. We are pretty sure it's in a bag from a trip to Florida almost 2 months ago that we never unpacked...this bag is currently missing.
2. I have only washed my hair 1 time in the last 7 days.
3. Our van has fast food cups dating back at least 1 month.
4. Our deserves it's own number but I have no idea how to begin describing it.
5. I had to ask a friend to make Ava a lunch for school because I was out of bread to make it myself becuase we hadn't grocery shopped in 3 weeks.
6. I found a pair of pants of Ava's under the couch today...they were size 12 month. She is 3. Guess they have been there a while.
7. I found a bag of poppy clothes from Jay from Christmas....last week.
8. Ava hasn't worn matching socks in months...nor have I.

I can't blame any of this on multiple kids or a crazy's just who we are. I am going to keep this list so that in a few years when we are way more responsible, I can look back and say "oh what kids we were back then."