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Relationship Advice #9

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“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord  not for men.”  Colossians 3:23

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Rachel and Jake,

For the past few years I have written to you here, here, and here with a variety of relationship advice for you to use in your everyday life.  Your Mama’s “pearls of wisdom,” as I like to call them, are not meant for mastery but more for your own reflection.  These little pieces of advice that I give are things that I am working on myself in my relationships and are in no way anything that I have mastered or do day in and day out.  Simply put, each year when your father’s and my anniversary rolls around, I reflect on what I have learned over the last year or what stuck out as the most pressing piece of advice I want to share with you.

When the time comes for you to get married, my hope is that you’ll be able to see what it takes to make a marriage last for a lifetime.  Your father and I have committed to the vows we made before God to love, honor and cherish each other as long as we live. It’s a large scale promise that can only be fulfilled by purposely choosing how we make up those day-to-day moments that create a lifetime of loving each other. What do those moments look like? Well, sweet little ones, that’s what I hope these posts will help you understand.

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{Relationships are a lot like sledding.  You have to mentally prepare yourself beforehand, get all of the tools you need in place and then you get to enjoy the ride! When you think you’re done, you just get back up, climb the hill again and head back down for some more adventure! Important note–It’s more fun if you enjoy the people you are sledding with.}

So, here it is, relationship advice number nine. It might sound a bit odd, but just bear with me here: get a hobby.  Yes, that’s right, a hobby.  The key to happiness does not rely on  relationships alone.  You need to be able to find things that make you feel happy and content and confident in yourself because as you will find in your life, and I’m sorry to say this, but people and relationships will sometimes disappoint you.  You need to be able to find satisfaction and fulfillment outside of relationships so that when the chips are down you can still have something that brings happiness into your life. On the flip side of that, your hobby will allow you to share your joy with others and many times will bring new and varied relationships in to your life.   God has given you specific interests and skill sets for a reason–it is up to you to develop and explore the natural talents He has given you!IMG_3135

Relationship Advice #9: Get a hobby. It could even be something that doesn’t have to involve the other person at first, if you want.  “How does that work?,” you might wonder. Or “What does that have to do with anything?” Well, that’s the beauty of this blog, just let me tell you…

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According to the researchers at the School of Medicine at Temple University, engaging in a hobby awakens the area of the brain that produces positive feelings and reduces stress.  Doing a particular task that you enjoy can enhance your ability to concentrate and encourages self-motivation and increases self-confidence.  All of these can have a profound impact on your relationship with those around you.

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Over the past few years your father and I have developed several hobbies.  Some we share with each other, and some we do completely on our own. Having a hobby that we can share together is a fun way to connect with each other, especially during these years when most of our conversation centers around you.  For example, in the past year or so your Dad and I have started exploring craft beers together.  We enjoy trying new beers together and finding beers for each other that we think we might like.  Sometimes we are surprised at how well we know the other person’s taste!

After you are in bed for the night, sometimes we will try a new beer together while we talk about the day or anything else that might be on our mind.  It’s a way for us to purposefully make an effort to connect with each other. Recently your Dad has even started learning how to brew his own beer with a friend.  I fully support that endeavor and enjoy reaping the benefits of it as well! IMG_3656.JPG

Photography has been a bit of an outlet for me lately.  I enjoy taking pictures and have been blessed to be able to share some of the joy that you, my children, bring me through sharing my photos with others.  I have been humbled that other people have chosen me to take their family photos and am loving some of the experiences and doors that photography has opened up for me.  It was completely unexpected, but it was an outlet your father (and some really great friends) encouraged me to explore!

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It’s no secret that your Dad has always been in to cars and Corvettes especially.  When we first started dating I thought “Go to a car show? Really??” Sometimes your friend or spouse might have a hobby that you are “just not that into.” And that’s ok! But, please try to like it for that other person.  There is always something that can be gained from new experiences.  Something that brings joy to your friend or partner can in some way bring joy to you too.  Even if it’s just spending time together or having something that you do together to support each other–it’s important!

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Who knows, some day you may like it and end up taking your kids there and posing them beside sweet Corvettes that you never really appreciated before your relationship began.  You might realize that it’s really not that bad, after all.  And when you find yourself saying “Hey, want to take the Corvette out and take pictures of it on some crazy back road I found?” you’ll realize that your two worlds have collided in the best way possible and then you’ll realize that the things that you thought were weird in your younger years really aren’t that bad after all.  Because in the end, my little ones, it’s all about supporting each other and bringing parts of yourself into a relationship.

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Trying something new can be a good thing when you look at it as an adventure or as a way to learn about new things.  In fact, we should welcome change and new opportunity into our lives because it helps evolve who we are as a person. Our lives weren’t meant to be stagnant.  You will grow and change throughout your lifetime and you want to be sure that you surround yourself with people who are going to encourage you and support your interests too.

If you want someone who is going to support you, then you need to be willing to do that for them, as well.  Being a good friend requires having a willingness to grow and bond over new experiences.  After all, no two  people are ever exactly the same.  Everyone comes in to a relationship with their own set of experiences and beliefs that can impact the way they view certain situations. Celebrate those differences, encourage others to pursue what makes them happy and enjoy the ride as they find their place in this world.

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I’ll leave you with one final thought, which happens to be an excerpt from an exceptional author.  Read these words and try to let them really sink in.  It took me a long time before I finally got the gist of what he meant.

Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.  Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.  Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.  Give one another of your bread, but eat not from the same loaf.  Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are along though they quiver with the same music.  Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.  For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.  And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow. ~ Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

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I love you more than you will ever know.  To the moon and back.

Love always,

Mommy

ps. Happy 9th Anniversary, Tim! Thank you for always supporting me and encouraging me and for helping me find my hobby!

 

Relationship Advice #7

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Rachel and Jake,

Last year I wrote to you about what I felt to be some pretty important relationship advice.  I plan to continue to do that each year on your father’s and my anniversary as a way to share with you some things that I have learned about what it takes and what it means to grow in love.  I am not an expert, just a Mama trying to share my thoughts on what can make a marriage work in today’s “what have you done for me, lately” world.  Maybe by the time you are older the world won’t be so “me focused.” …I hope that is the case!

So, without further adieu, here is your #7 relationship tip from your dear old Mom.

#7.) Remember Who you were made for.  

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

rachelandjakeIt’s hard to really articulate this piece of advice, because it’s something that needs to be more of a “belief” or a way of thinking rather than something I could just tell you so that you’d remember to apply it to your life.  Society today (and I’d imagine it would be even more so in the next coming years) tends to objectify both women and men.  Some people can look at women and men as an object or as something that should please them (ex. “She shouldn’t wear that type of bathing suit when she looks like that.”  or “Wow, I want to date him–he makes a lot of money!” ).

My advice to you–You are not an object or something to be used in order to please another person.  You are not disposable and should never be treated as such in a relationship.  You belong to God, and He loves you unconditionally just the way you are.  He knows your struggles and your strengths and will always be there for you when you need Him.

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This is similar to the way your relationship should be with your spouse.  When you get married, the vows you take bind you to your spouse for an eternity.  It is not just an earthly commitment that is a convenient tax break or until something better comes along.  When you say “I do” you are saying that you promise to love that person for an eternity.  Yes, you might have some cool looking “bling” on your finger because of it, but your rings are simply an outward symbol for the seal on your heart binding you to your spouse.  Although you are married, it is important that you both recognize that even though you love each other more than any other person on this earth, your greatest love is waiting for you in heaven.  Your spouse should be someone who recognizes that this life is not all there is in store for you.  You and your spouse should be  a team that works together so that you can both reach your highest potential while you are here on earth.  That sounds like a big job–and when looking at it as a whole picture, it can sound pretty overwhelming– so here are a few questions you can ask yourself to help see if your spouse is helping you reach your full potential.

1.) What is the big picture of our relationship? Where are we headed? Do we work together towards a common goal that we both feel called towards?  If not, what can we do to change that?

2.) Do we encourage each others thoughts, dreams and desires? Do we value the life path that our spouse has chosen?

3.) Are we communicating effectively to get our thoughts and feelings across in a respectful yet direct way?

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If you answer no to one or all of these questions, then one or both of you may end up feeling defeated or not valued in your relationship.  When one person is unhappy, it can change the dynamics of your relationship and your life.  Work hard to make each other happy in a way that lifts your partner up to be the best they can be.  Be careful that you do not objectify each other in a “what have you done for me lately” kind of way or think that the other person is there specifically to please you, you are worth more than that.  Remember–life is not just about you, it’s about Him!

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When your dad and I were married (7 years ago today!) we both had common goals for where we wanted to be in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, etc. We knew we wanted to be married for a few years before we had children and we hoped and prayed that we would be blessed as parents one day.  We knew we wanted to retire early and live out our golden years on the beautiful beaches of North Carolina.  Our beliefs are similar, our goals are similar and our overall outlook on life is similar.  I’m not saying it can’t be done without these things, I’m just saying that life will be smoother for you if these things align.

I love you both very much.  More than you could ever know.

Love always,

Mommy

xoxo

7 Month Old Jake

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Can you believe it, buddy? How can it be that 7 months have gone by since I first held you in my arms? I’ll never understand how months seem like minutes when it comes to life with you and your sister. Although time is moving entirely too fast, in many ways it seems like life has always been this way. It feels like you have always been a part of my life–always there, always smiling, always willing to grab my hair and pull me in close for a slobbery gummy kiss.  It feels like we have known each other forever.  In some ways, I guess we have.  That is the beauty and blessing of creating life…we will always be apart of each other no matter what happens.  I love you, Jake.

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Ok, enough sap (sorry, sometimes when I get started it’s hard to stop!), let’s get to the fun and exciting things that happened this month!

You have TWO teeth now! They popped up shortly after you turned six months old and man, you had a rough time with each of them.  Sleepless nights (more than usual), runny nose, irritability and incessant chewing on anything and everything were all indicators that we knew meant you must be working on some teeth.  And we were right! They popped up within days of each other.  Now I giggle a little when you give a big gummy grin because your first tooth is much taller than your second tooth.  I’m sure they will even out soon, but until then I will enjoy your perfectly mismatched teeth and the smiles that they bring to others.

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Sitting up is your thing! It’s awesome and you love it.  You are SO proud that you can sit anywhere and every where your big sister can.  That is, until you don’t want to sit up any more and then you just quietly decide to face plant yourself into the floor like it’s no big deal.  Sitting’s fun…until it’s not 🙂 And even then I love your spunk and your ability to know what you want when you want it! Life is good with you around, my little friend.

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You prefer certain toys now.  You love your Mickey and your Sophie Giraffe and your car keys.  Pulling your sisters hair is always a favorite past time of yours as well.  I think the pulling is just an unfortunate consequence of you just wanting to touch her all the time.  If she is near, you reach for her and squeal for her.  You try to pull her close to you and gave your first semi-wave to her this month.  There’s no doubt in my mind that she is your hero.  She should be.  She loves you so much too, Jake Man.

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I love watching you sleep with your hands tucked behind your head.  I love how your face lights up when Daddy comes home from work.  I love how you snuggle in close when it’s time for bed and how your breathing slows as you relax and drift off to sleep… You smile when you’re happy, cry when you’re sad, and laugh when you are amused. All these things–these little tiny things that make up who you are in this moment I hope I will remember as the years go by.  I hope I will remember how the rolls on your legs looked or how your delicate little hand would rest itself on your leg.  I hope I remember your pouty face and your happy face and every face in between.  I hope I can remember all of you all of the time.  Maybe some day this blog will take me back 🙂 Back to the “good old days” because I’m pretty confident that these are it….

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You are a gift, little Jake.  I am so thankful and blessed that I was chosen to be your mommy.  Thank you for being the person I didn’t even know I needed.  You have taught me so much already and I love you more than words could ever say.

 

Love always,

Mommy

 

In the Blink of an Eye…

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Sweet Rachel,

Happy 2nd Birthday! It’s hard to believe that two years ago you were born into this world, and our lives haven’t been the same since.  You have taught us (and continue to teach us) what it means to love someone more than we could possibly love ourselves.  You remind us every day of God’s promise of goodness and everlasting love.  After all, if we love you as much as we do–He must love us even more.  Hard to imagine, but it is true.

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This year was a big year for you! You learned to walk, and soon after you learned to run! And since then, you haven’t stopped! You were nicknamed “Go, Go, Rachel” and it has seemed to fit you well ever since.  We have gone to Art Classes, StoryTime at the Library, and Gymnastics.  You found a new love for the sand and the ocean and all things “beach.” You started going to school once a week and have made lots of new friends already! You love going to the pool and playing with your cousins.  But most importantly, this year you became a sister! You, my little love, are an amazing sister! The way you love on little Jake and try to help me take care of him is just beautiful.

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Already you have shown that your heart is full of love.  You greet others with a smile and are quick to give hugs to anyone who needs one.  You make friends every where we go–from the cheese man at the grocery store deli or the lady beside us at a restaurant–you make people feel loved and happy.

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You love to read and are just starting to make up your own stories to the pictures of your familiar books.  You love to dance and have the  cutest little waddle move when your favorite songs come on.  You insist on sleeping with just about every stuffed animal you own in your crib.  Do you prefer chicken or beef? The answer is most definitely neither.  Strawberries, grapes, applesauce and noodles would make the perfect lunch in your eyes.  Your butterfly wings are a staple in your daily wardrobe.  If your rain boots were the only pair of shoes you owned, I’m quite certain you would not mind at all.

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You are the embodiment of the person I would like to be–vibrant, exciting, loving, forgiving, compassionate and kind.  You are a thinker and a problem solver.  You are determined to figure out puzzles, games, and the world around you.  You admire the little things.  Looking for the moon each night before bed, listening to the sound of a train go by or watching a bird fly in the sky or a squirrel climb up a tree…these are all ways that you enjoy the the world around you, and at the same time you are reminding me to do the same.   You give “kissies” without hesitation and say “I weave you” just as quickly (I love you too, sweet girl!).  If something makes you happy, you let us know it.  If something makes you sad, you let us know that too.  You love everyone, and judge no one.  Maybe we should all be like that….

Moments after Rachel was born. And so the journey begins...

Moments after Rachel was born. And so the journey begins…

Rachel, I love you and I am amazed by you every day.  Thank you for all that you are and for making me a better person.  The world is a better place because you are in it.

I love you to the moon and back,

Mommy

“Jake Man”

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Happy 3 month Birthday, baby Jake! It’s hard to believe that you have been in our family just a mere three months–it seems as though we have known you forever!

This month you celebrated your first Thanksgiving (even though you couldn’t eat any of it), and you had a great time.  Your big cousins wanted to hold you and kiss you all the day long.  Can I blame them?! Not at all, of course…I love to do the same.

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You earned your first nickname from your sister one afternoon when you awoke from your, ahem, nap (if we could call it that!).  Your sister burst into your room and said loudly and excitedly “JAKE MAN!” She just loves to rescue you  any time you are crying! This month we also found out that you have quite a little arm on you.  You love to toss your toys across the room and Rachel loves to retrieve them and bring them back to you.  When she hands you your toys back and you flash her the sweetest little smile, I can’t help but think that you look at her like she is some kind of hero to you.  I love to watch you two interact together.  The way you search the room for her is just priceless.  Your love for each other is such a beautiful thing.  

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Your sleeping habits are still a little scattered, but you are happy and content when you are awake.  You coo and “talk” all day long.  When you let out your sweet little laugh my heart can’t help but melt with love for you.  According to you, your hands belong in your mouth at all times. And tummy time? That’s for the birds! You would rather be on your back looking at the world around you.  

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You love to go out to lunch with Mommy’s friends and are always so patient, even when it is feeding time.  You let others hold you and love on you and you don’t mind waiting until we get home to eat.  You have your Daddy’s “Go with the flow” attitude already.  Your facial expressions change from happy to excited to curious to sad in a moment’s notice.  

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You are figuring out this big old world little by little.  Infact, just this morning while I was taking your pictures you decided to really roll over for the first time! I missed the actual roll but I got a cute before and after shot. You were so proud!

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Just seconds before rolling over

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Wahoo! You did it!

How did we ever manage to be so blessed? With you in our family life will never be the same–and we are not looking back for a second!

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I love you baby Jake! You are a blessing to us all!

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Happy Jakie Day!

Love You Forever, Baby Jake!

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Welcome to the world, baby Jakob Timothy Donald!

It’s hard to believe baby Jake was born exactly one month ago today.  Wow! What a great month it has been!

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I can not believe how beautifully this little guy has just fallen right into place in our family.  Even though we’ve only spent a month loving on this little guy, it’s already hard to imagine what life was like before him.  Our family feels more whole now, like he was always meant to be apart of our daily happenings.  He is just the sweetest little guy we’ve ever met.  It’s amazing how much your heart grows with love with each child that is born.  I am totally smitten and majorly in love with this little babe.  How could I not be!?

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Every once in a while, I find myself looking around and feeling like I should knock on wood or something because everything just seems so….perfect.  And wonderful.  And amazing.  It’s really unbelievable. We are truly blessed!

Here’s a look back on our first month together as a family of four!

Happy Jakie Day!

Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You!

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Watch out! Rachel is on the move! Anything she can crawl to, pull herself up on, or stand and observe with is fair game in our house! With that excitement comes a lot more challenges in the “baby proofing” department.  Rachel has been keeping my husband and me on our toes recently! Each stage is proving itself to be fun and exciting and we are blessed to be able to watch her grow!

Sometimes I wonder what the world must seem like to a person her size.  I’m sure from her perspective (you know, 6 inches off the ground), things seem very different to her than what they seem like to you or me.

Miss Rachel is a quiet observer but is also quick with a smile or a laugh.  She watches everything and notices everything.  Every time the dog barks, a siren goes by, or she bonks her head, her first reaction is to stop and look.  She’s looking for the reaction of the people around her.  I notice that if I say “oopsies!” after she falls she will usually laugh it off, but if I yell at the dog when he barks she will get a panicked look on her face because she thinks something is wrong.

Since realizing my ability to influence her reaction to things,  I have become more aware of how I react to things.  It’s hard not to be reactive when things don’t go “my way.” I’m sure we all feel that way sometimes.  But knowing that she is watching me and learning from everything I do keeps me focused on the greater picture.  Raising a child who is kind, loving, intelligent and happy is what I am aiming for.  Not that I haven’t ever slipped up or that I never will again, but I am trying my best to be the best I can be for her.  And because of that, she has  made me a better person.

 

Have a great week, friends!