Sunday, September 25, 2016

Mama Musings: How do I stay present and joyful when I am longing for change?

I'm so ready for fall. Crisp, cold, cozy sweater, boot wearing fall. Unfortunately, around here at least, the weather refuses to cooperate. The extended forecast continues to tease, promising lower temps, but so far we are still averaging in the high eighties. My long-sleeve tops hang in my closet unworn, and I've yet to even take my brand new riding boots out of their box. I'm tired of my jean shorts and tank tops, but when I try wearing jeans I sweat right through them. Ugh. I suppose this wish for change isn't uncommon. I feel the same tug every March too, when winter has completely worn out its welcome but spring drags its feet. Is it God-given, this desire for change, for something new? Or is it my spirit of discontentment showing its ugly head here in the waiting?
This tension extends beyond the changing seasons. There are several changes looming on the horizon for our little family. Charlotte has one more year before school begins. Tessa is gaining more words and is right on the cusp of talking in sentences. We are seriously considering buying a bigger house. But although all of these anticipated changes are still in the future, for some reason knowing they are getting closer makes it harder for me to hang on to my contentment in the here and now. I'm constantly running a pro and con list through my mind of which schooling option would be best for Charlotte. I get frustrated when Tessa can't tell me what she wants and I have to guess (it doesn't help that her inability to communicate causes many a tantrum). I find myself scrolling through the new house listings on Zillow, even though I know we aren't planning on starting our house hunt until next spring.
So how do I fight this creeping discontentment? How do I live in this moment fully and joyfully, waiting patiently for the change that is coming without wishing away my current circumstances? It's not possible, not within my limited ability. But I have the Holy Spirit living inside of me. According to God's Word this kind of contentment is not only possible, but is God's will for my life. But how? I don't have any fool-proof, three-step method for conquering discontentment. But I know the fight is intertwined with my struggle to daily die to my own will so that I can live for Christ instead. I have found a couple things that help. They aren't earth-shattering, in fact they are so well-worn bits of advice they are almost cliches. But that doesn't make them less true.
First, I must practice gratitude. When I find my heart longing for something new and different, be it a new shirt or a new house, it's helpful to instead think about what I love about my wardrobe or the house we live in right now. When I wish Tessa could use her words to tell me what she wants, I can be so thankful for the cuddles and kisses she uses to show her love for me. When I'm agonizing over which choice would be best for kindergarten (public school, private, homeschool??) I can be thankful for the wonderful options and freedom to choose, and that we don't have to make the decision yet!
It sounds so simple, but it's not always easy. I don't always have a good attitude when I list my blessings. In fact I'm usually down-right huffy about it. But God commands me to be grateful, (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and when I obey this command I can feel my attitude shift. Not right away, but slowly I feel my fists unclench and my heart soften as I seek to follow God's plans rather than try to forge my own path.
Second, I turn on some Jesus music. Listening to Psalms being sung and old hymns put to new rhythms redirects my thoughts and lifts my eyes from my own dissatisfaction back to the Source of full, abundant life. Music affects our home in profound ways. Charlotte prefers fast songs with a clear beat that she can dance to, and Tessa perks up and claps her hands as soon as she hears a beautiful melody. I can feel my shoulders relax and my spirits lift as I sing along with my favorite soulful ballads. I've found I can lighten the mood in our home just by turning on my favorite worship playlist on Spotify.
Such small, simple practices, but they can work a big change in the position of my heart. How about you? Are you struggling with contentment? Do you have any tried and true ways you foster peace and joy in the waiting time? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Kid Lit: Longer Read Alouds for Preschoolers

I have a confession to make. I don't always like playing with my kids. Whew, I said it. I'm not very good at pretending to be princesses, or playing dollies, or hide and seek. The thought of sitting through a game of Candy Land makes me cringe. But you know what I do love? Reading aloud. So I decided that I am going to give myself grace, play to my strengths, and give my girls my time and attention by reading to them. Fortunately both girls absolutely love books (nature or nurture? I don't know, but I'm going with it). My one year old is happy hearing the same dozen board books over and over (and over), but while my four year old still loves picture books she is ready for something a bit longer, with a little more character development and plot. In my former life as a literacy/reading teacher I learned how important reading aloud is to developing comprehension skills and a love for reading. Most children's listening comprehension is much higher than we think, and I know my daughter is very capable of listening to a chapter book and remembering what happened. We started reading chapter books together a few months ago, and we both absolutely love it.  This is how we spend our Mama/Charlotte time in the afternoons while Tessa is napping. It's a tradition that I'm hoping to stick with for as long as my girls are still living at home.
Anyway, if you are looking for some good stories to help transition your read-alouds from picture books to chapter books, here's a list of some of our favorites so far. I asked Charlotte for her input, and these are the ones she mentioned.

Mr. Pudgins by Ruth Carlsen
This story is a zanier, male version of Mary Poppins. Johnny, Peter, and Jane love it when Mr. Pudgins comes to babysit for them, because just about anything can happen. From soda pop gushing out of the faucets, to a circus put on by the local pets, to a trip around the neighborhood in a floating bathtub, their magical, ridiculous adventures are a delight. Each chapter is its own mini-adventure, which makes it ideal for young children because you don't have to remember a long complicated plot to understand the story. We've already read this book several times.

Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary
I gave Charlotte the first two Ramona books for her fourth birthday. She loves all the silly trouble Ramona gets herself into, and I love how wonderfully Beverly Cleary writes. She somehow knows what is going on inside kids' heads and what makes them behave the way they do which is usually totally incomprehensible to adults. Ramona the Pest is the story of Ramona starting kindergarten, which was a fun way to prepare C for starting school next year. It's also interesting to note the differences between now and the 1960's when these books were written. Ramona and her friend Howie walk to school by themselves, rain or shine, and cross the street with the help of their neighbor Henry Huggins, a middle-schooler who is also the crossing guard.

Catwings by Ursula K. Le Guin
Thelma, James, Roger, and Harriet are stray kittens living behind a dumpster in an alley, struggling to find enough food and stay out of the jaws of the local gang of mutts. They are ordinary except for one thing. They have wings. Their mother decides that it's not safe for them to stay in the city, and she sends them off to make their way in the world. There are several books in this series and they are all short (less than fifty pages) and illustrated, which makes them the perfect transition from picture books to chapter books. Charlotte's imagination gets fired up by these stories, and now she loves to pretend her stuffed animals have wings.

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindren
These stories of red-haired, freckle-faced, incredibly strong Pippi Longstocking who lives alone with her horse and her monkey are ridiculous, and Charlotte loves them. Pippi foils robberies, rescues children from a burning building, treats all the kids in the village to pounds and pounds of candy, and has all sorts of adventures with her neighbors, Tommy and Annika. These stories are also told in episodes, and are so crazy we both spend the whole time laughing out loud.

Martin's Mice by Dick King-Smith
Martin is a farm cat with a problem. He doesn't like the taste of mice. Instead of hunting them, he decided to keep them as pets. Of course he has to keep this unusual hobby a secret from his mother and siblings, which gets rather complicated for this tenderhearted feline. This story is set on a farm with talking barnyard animals as the characters, and reads as easily as a picture book. It's silly and sweet, and has some very interesting lessons about how we should treat one another.

 If you would like more info on the topic of reading aloud with your preschooler, the Read Aloud Revival blog and podcast is a fantastic resource. I'm always on the lookout for more easy chapter books that both Charlotte and I would enjoy, so if you have any recommendations please share!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Preschool at Home: Farmyard Fun

In my (surprisingly controversial) fall schedule post I announced my intention to spend time daily on educational activities with my four year old. My plan was to put baby birdy down for her nap around one, let big sis watch a couple shows while I had some "me" time, and then spend the second half of little's nap working on kindergarten readiness skills. So yeah. That was the plan. But surprise, real life doesn't always go according to plan, and the number of days where I've sat down with C to do "schoolwork" is zero. What I didn't count on was that T is entering that delightful phase where she wants mommy's complete and total attention.
If I attempt to do dishes, cook dinner, clean the bathrooms, or (gasp!) shower, she often throws a full-on toddler tantrum. If she is quiet for a long stretch I'm really in trouble, like the time I found her in the bathroom with her sleep sack in a puddle on the floor. She had apparently dunked it in the potty. I caught her in the middle of doing the same thing with a roll of toilet paper. Anyway, this means I need to spend nap time taking care of the chores and tasks that I can't do when she's awake. By the time I'm ready to sit down with Charlotte we have just enough time for a chapter or two of our read-aloud story before little bit wakes up and it's go time again.
I know this is just a phase and eventually I will be able to pay bills without Tessa trying to type on my keyboard at the same time, but for now I'm going to trust that Charlotte is getting plenty ready for kindergarten at Adventureland and focus on reading aloud as our one-on-one activity (it's what we both enjoy the most anyway).
But those hours between the end of nap and dinnertime are still long and tedious, and I felt like I needed some more activities to help fill the space. Thankfully the weather is starting to cool off, so many late afternoons we simply spend outside. Unfortunately with cooler weather comes rain too, and sometimes it's too wet. So for an easy, self-directed indoor activity I turned back to the trusty sensory bin. I've made a few variations of this activity but it had been a while (read several months) since I'd put one together. I did a quick Pintrest search and this farm sensory bin caught my eye.
It was so simple to make. I just grabbed a bag of popcorn kernels at Walmart along with a huge tub of little plastic farm animals (it came with fences and trees too). I stuck some pots leftover from the garden sensory bin in there to serve as feed troughs and water basins, and that's it.
I might add a barn later if I figure out an easy way to make one, or not. :) I was so pleased with my idea that I decided to run with it, and put together a (very simple) farm unit study. While C was in school I visited the library and raided the picture book shelves for any farm/barn/farm animal books that caught my eye. I found these five, which I brought home and left in a stack in the living room for big sis to find.

C was absolutely thrilled when she came home from school to find it all set up for her. We read through the books first, then she dug into the sensory bin (ha!) and played with it for like an hour. She's had it for several days now and she still pulls it out to play with every day. On Tuesday the stars aligned and baby sister took an extra long nap, so I decided to try an art project. I pulled up Pinterest (noticing a theme yet?) and searched for farm preschool crafts. I found several variations of the barnyard animal paper plate that we had all the supplies for, and we actually had time to make three before T work up and demanded to be in the middle of things.
Please note that I was very hands-off on these projects. I let C do a lot of the cutting, gluing, and arranging herself.

It was very hard for this recovering perfectionist not to make suggestions (why don't we move one of the cow's spots so it doesn't look so much like a raccoon?) but I refrained as much as possible. C is getting better with her cutting skills (who knew scissors were such a hard tool to master?) but she did ask for help cutting some of the nose and ear shapes. She was super proud of the results and kept saying "Oh I love making crafts with you Mama!" Pardon me while I melt into a puddle of warm-fuzzies.
My big girl has been developing quite the sassy mouth lately, and I've been less than patient with her (read snippy and annoyed) so this little bonding moment was just when we needed. I'm always reluctant to jump into arts and crafts because of the mess and all the prep work it seems like I have to do, but for this I did absolutely nothing ahead of time.
So there you have it. A super simple little preschool unit that I threw together in the most slap-dashed manner, that provided hours of fun, learning, and even some bonding. Such a good reminder to me that something doesn't have to be perfect, planned out, or time-consuming to be worthwhile. What about you? Has your fall schedule left you busier than expected? Have you figured out any awesome ways to keep your kids occupied until dinner? Please share!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Farmhouse Fresh Fall Decor

As soon as the calendar turns over to September I get a hankering for all things pumpkin, flannel, and plaid. My fall wardrobe is hanging in my closet, begging to be worn, but with temperatures mostly in the high eighties during the day I've had to content myself with dressing my house for fall instead. I realize it's been a while since I posted pictures of our living room, which has been through a few changes. We repainted the walls a lovely pale gray color last Christmas, and moved the furniture around a bit to make better use of our space. Right now there are books/toys/blankets all over the room and I'm too lazy to pick it up and style it and all of that, so I'm just going to give a few peeks and I'll do a proper "room tour" another time.
Every year I try to use mostly seasonal decor I already have, and every year after a trip to Hobby Lobby and Home Goods I end up with several more new pieces than I meant to get. (Can anyone relate? Please tell me yes.)
This rustic farm harvest sign I found at HL became the focal point for my cozy farmhouse theme.
So what if we live in a cookie-cutter builder grade starter home? If I want to pretend to live in a centuries-old homestead that's been in the family for generations, why shouldn't I? ;)
I also tried to simplify so it doesn't look like autumn just exploded in my living room, but it's always hard to reign myself in. I tried to limit myself to the entry table, but somehow it spilled over to the top of my glass-fronted bookcase.


I just couldn't resist the charm of this little wheelbarrow, which fit this felt pumpkin perfectly.
Then after finding this cozy plaid throw for the couch I needed new throw pillows too.
I went the cheap route and re-covered the existing pillows with floral and orange hounds-tooth material that I dug out of my fabric bin (it was a quick and easy project, well worth the sacrifice of a nap time).
 Of course the mantle needed a few touches of fall. Some vibrant (faux) foliage, a jar of "collected" pine cones and acorns, and some velvet pumpkins did the trick. I layered a fuzzy wool pom pom chain over a burlap bunting I've had for years for some extra texture (that's what all the professionals do).
An old toolbox (Hobby Lobby) full of gourds (fake) makes a simple centerpiece on the dining table. (Please note the duplos and Charlotte hiding in the background. She did not appreciate me interrupting her play time to take this photo.)
For the final touch I remade this old wreath by adding some flannel fabric, berries, and a huge burlap bow I made last Christmas.
I adore the inviting, old-fashioned feel of our living space. It begs me to mix up a caramel latte and curl up with a good book while a gentle rain falls and the crisp autumn wind blows the leaves around our yard. Now if only the weather would cooperate. And if only we had some trees. Ah well, you can't have everything, and I'm holding out hope that the temperatures will catch up with the calendar soon.
I almost didn't write this post. I'm nowhere close to being a professional designer, and my photography skills leave much to be desired. When I compare my attempts at seasonal decorating to the professionals, (check out this beautiful home tour) they seem sadly lacking. But you know what, I love decorating for fall. And I'm proud of the cozy autumnal feel I've created for our home. Who cares if I found most of these decorations at Hobby Lobby, along with the rest of the country. One of the purposes of this blog is to share the things that are adding beauty to my life, and this certainly fits the bill. I hope you are encouraged to make your space happy and inviting. How do you celebrate the changing of the seasons? Do you love fall as much as I do, or are you still soaking up all the late summer warmth you can get?

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Healthy Mama Habits: Meal Planning (Trim Healthy Mama part 3)


It will come as no surprise to my regular readers that I plan all my meals every single week. In my former life as a teacher I used to make weekly lesson plans, so meal planning has always been a logical and natural habit for me. Since starting Trim Healthy Mama it's become even more important, and I truly believe it is a huge factor in my success with THM. However, a few months back I realized that planning our meals for the week was an extremely stressful experience. It seemed like it took me hours every time I did it, which was usually on a Saturday. I hated wasting our family time trying to come up with meals and a grocery list. Half the time I would realize midway through the week that I had planned three chicken dishes in a row. Our family loves chicken, but that's a bit much. We were also throwing away food and leftovers that just weren't getting eaten fast enough, and I cringed every time I emptied a Tupperware container into the trash at the thought of the wasted money. I needed a better system. Finally one Saturday during nap time my husband and I sat down and made a master meal plan with four weeks worth of different dinners. What a game changer. Now at the beginning of the week I just pull up the next week's master plan, make any changes necessary based on our schedule for the week, and click through the recipes on my list app to make our grocery list. Boom. Done. Let me break it down a little bit more for you with the steps we took to make our master plan.
1. Make a list of all your favorite recipes

Chris helped me get started, then I just used my Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook to round out the meals. With little effort we brainstormed a list of twenty recipes. I decided to only plan on cooking five dinners each week, so that was enough for four weeks.
2. Categorize your recipes (optional)

Ok, this is where I got a little crazy. I went through and color-coded every meal based on different categories like protein (beef, chicken, pork, etc.), meal type (Italian or Mexican), and crockpot. I also noted whether the meal was E or S (for Trim Healthy Mama). I know, I'm a freak. This is a totally optional step, but one of the things that stressed me out so much was trying to make sure we had variety throughout the week, so we weren't eating only Mexican chicken dishes.
3. Group your recipes into weeks

Next I simply grouped the recipes into four weeks, trying to alternate protein types and flavors as much as possible. I did organize by day of the week, but you could also just group five meals together if you don't want to worry about a specific meal for a specific day.
4. Type up your meals into a spreadsheet
Chris helped me format an Excel page with the days of the week down the side and meals across the top. When following the Trim Healthy Mama plan it's very helpful to plan out each of your meals, but you could certainly simplify and just write down your dinner plans. I made four different master spreadsheets, one for each week of meals. I included leftovers in my planning so that less food would be wasted. Yay!
5. Enter recipes into a phone app (optional but highly recommended)
This last step has made creating a grocery list super easy. My tech-savvy hubby found an app called AnyList that will allow you to created recipes and then add the ingredients to your grocery list. You can create different lists for different stores, and even order the categories (dairy, produce, meat, etc.) by aisle in your favorite store. No more backtracking through Walmart! Woohoo! You can share the account with multiple phones, so if I add an item it will show up on in my husband's app too. We created "recipes" for snack and lunch food too, so I can scan those for anything we need for the week (don't you hate getting home and realizing you forgot fruit snacks? Ugh, that's the worst).

This is my sanity saving system. Is it a little time-consuming in the beginning? Yes. Is it a bit over-thought? Maybe. Am I a little OCD? Perhaps. But hey, if meal planning drives you crazy too, or if you don't meal plan and want to start, hopefully this will give you some ideas. Do you have the perfect meal planning system in place or a fantastic list app you love? Please share!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Healthy Mama Habits: Bullet Journal Update

I meant to post an update after I had been using my bullet journal for about a month, but I blinked and six months flew by. ;) Oh well, now I have a better handle on how I use it and what works best for me. It's taken some tinkering, but I can definitely say that I absolutely love this system to organize my days, thoughts, and to do list! I thought I'd break it down by section and tell you what works and what I've tweaked to fit my needs.

Index
I'm on the second page of my index now, and while I do use it occasionally, most of the time I find myself just flipping through until I find the right page. Maybe if I was better about keeping it up to date I'd use it more.

Future Log
This is a central part of the original bullet journal system, but I actually don't use this at all. It's easier for me just to keep using my Cozi calendar on my phone for holidays, birthdays, vacations, etc.

Month Spread

This is where I've made the most changes over the months.


You can kind of see the progression from April to August, where I implemented my current spread that I will probably stick with. I like having a place to write down all my appointments and activities for the month. I keep them on my phone too, but it helps everything stick in my memory better if I write it down on paper (lately my long-term memory is shot. I blame the kids).
As you can see from my August spread I'm sticking pretty close to the original monthly log, but I divide my time into day and evening which helps me visualize my plans and keeps me from feeling too overwhelmed. On the second page of the spread I have my daily habits tracker which I flipped from horizontal to vertical so it would fit on one page.
This tracker has been a game changer for me, and really deserves its own post. I also have space for four Bible verses which I'm working on memorizing (one a week).

Thankfulness List

Ever since I read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voscamp I've tried to be more mindful of the hand of God working in my daily life by recognizing the simple gifts He gives each day. I kept a separate thankfulness journal for a while, but slacked off the habit. Thanks to my bullet journal I've picked it back up again. Each evening I try to spend just a minute reflecting back over the day and remembering a couple moments that I am thankful for. This practice really has helped me slow down and remember, rather than letting each day whiz by in a blur and wondering what on earth I did with my time. It's especially helpful on those tough days full of whining, fighting, and crying to remember those bright spots too.

Daily Pages
I've streamlined my daily logs to just record my scheduled events and to-do list, and it really doesn't take more than ten minutes each night to look over my list, cross off what I did, and set up the next day's log. I design a cute little date header, write down the weather forecast, and jot down my dinner menu plan. Then I check my calendar and list any appointments and things I know I need to get done. This is definitely the most valuable part of my journal, and where it has made the most difference in my life. Getting in the habit of reflecting over the day and planning for the next has really changed me. Instead of just reacting to what comes up or feeling like I'm wasting my time or not accomplishing anything I can see it all right there in black and white. I feel productive when I mark things off the to do list, and I'm so much freer to spend time reading, blogging, or just surfing social media because I know I'm still able to accomplish everything I need to.

Collections

This was a fun list we brainstormed together as a family at the beginning of summer. As you can see we did about half of it.
I don't have as many collections as I thought I would, but I do have a few that I update regularly like my prayer list and my Books Read list. I also have my blog schedule in here (which is one of the reasons I've been posting more regularly) and I've started my Fall Capsule Wardrobe list (I can't wait to share it with you!)

So yeah, I love my bullet journal, and really can't imagine life without it. If you are looking for a system to help you organize your schedule and all the random ideas bouncing around in your head I highly recommend you try it out. Start with this video, and then read this blog to get started. If you use a bullet journal or are planning to start one I'd love to hear about it!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

I'm Loving...Installment #1: A few of my favorite things from August 2016

It's no secret that the best way to cultivate joy is to think about the simple gifts that make our lives happy. Once a month I'm going to take a few minutes to think about the things I'm loving, write them down, and share them with you. I'd love for you to do the same!

1. Fast drying nail polish
Charlotte is in a very feminine, girly phase right now. It's all twirly dresses all the time around here. She also insists on having pretty fingers and toes. Her sitting-still stamina has come a long way, but she's only four and waiting fifteen minutes for nail polish to dry is still an eternity. Thank goodness Sally Hansen has come to the rescue with their line of insta-dri nail polish! It comes in every color of the rainbow (including purple glitter) and dries in one minute! We have weekly mani/pedis now during T's naptime (we'd need a ten second dry time for that little busy bee) and it's such a fun little ritual for both of us. I usually paint my toenails to match whatever color she's picked, and she loves being "toe twinkies" with me! Note: The polish does wear off fairly quickly. Clearly it's time to repaint those nails.

2. My hubby's new work from home job
Chris started a new job at the beginning of August, and now a month in I can honestly say this has been such a positive change for our family. His old job had him working very long hours, where he wouldn't make it home until 6:45 or 7 every night. So many nights we ate dinner without him. His stress level was so high it was hard for him not to think about work even when he was home with us. We began praying for a new job that wouldn't require us to relocate, (most of the jobs in his profession are out of Southern California, San Francisco, or New York City) that would have more reasonable hours, and be more in line with the direction he wants for his career. We were amazed and overwhelmed when God brought him a new opportunity the first week he started applying for new jobs! It was a scary step of faith for him to give up his great position at a company he'd been with for ten years and accept a job with a much smaller company, but we are both so glad he did. We are able to eat dinner together earlier every evening, and he has so much more time with the girls now. I'm trying not to take advantage of him being home, but I'd be lying if I said I haven't made a few Walmart runs while Tessa naps in the afternoon. :) 

3. Peaches
I've had a love affair with this juicy, sweetly tart fruit ever since my dad planted a peach tree in our backyard when we lived in Southern California. Last year wasn't a great year for peaches, but this year they are absolutely delicious! We buy them in flats of eight at Sam's Club and they are gone before the week is over. I mix them into my overnight oatmeal with a hearty sprinkle of cinnamon, make peach muffins, add them to greek yogurt, blend them into smoothies, and eat them just plain. I've found if I let them ripen on our windowsill and then refrigerate them as soon as they are ripe they last a bit longer too.

You've probably heard of this on-line consignment service, and I had too several months ago. I put the app on my phone and occasionally scrolled through their categories but I never really found anything I liked. Until now.  The secret is to use the filters to narrow down category, size, condition, etc. which helps it not feels so overwhelming. I also had some mental filters that helped me scan quickly (certain colors, cotton fabrics, stripes, floral, no collar, no "wrinkly" material). I ended up ordering three sets of leggings and eight tops for my fall capsule wardrobe (I know I haven't blogged about my capsule wardrobe attempt yet, but I promise I will just as soon as I finish it). I kept all three leggings. Only three of the tops worked (the rest were either too tight or not flattering) but I absolutely love them and never would have bought them new. One of them, a super soft basic white tee from J. Crew, retails for $89 (!!! I paid $22). Today I just hopped back on my account and followed their simple return procedure, printed out a free shipping label (you can return for free if you take store credit, if you want a cash refund you have to pay shipping). I'll have to run by the post office to drop the package off, but that's it! I've already "saved" a few more things in my cart, but I should really wait to order more until I get my refund credit (which unfortunately could take several weeks, boo.)

5. Tessa's stumbling toddler walk
Little Birdy has been trying out her walking skills for months, but only in the past few weeks has she gotten to the point where she chooses to always walk instead of crawl. She's still new at it, and she's constantly waving her arms, sticking out her booty to check her balance, and tipping over and almost falling with every step. It's hilarious to watch, and also quite impressive the way she just picks herself right back up again after a tumble, no muss no fuss. I wish I was so resilient! My favorite place to watch her is in our backyard, where she has the extra challenge of a slope, uneven ground, and shoes (she loves her shoes, but she's not very good at walking in them yet since all of her practice has been on bare summertime feet). Doesn't it make you glad to know that God feels the same way about our stumbles and falls? He loves that we are trying, that we are moving forward even if we're not very good at it yet, and He's so proud of us when we shake it off and get back up and try again. And when the fall is extra-hard and we bump our noses or bruise our shins, He's right there, gathering us up in His arms for a kiss and a cuddle. Oh if I could always remember that God feels this way about me, I would have so much less shame and guilt when I fall!

What about you? What apps, circumstances, clothing, or stories are you loving right now? I'd love to hear them!