Carolina Beach Vacation, why did I love thee? Let me count the ways…

1.  Ocean water as far as the eye can see

2.  Long Days at the Beach

3.  The boardwalk

4.  Funnel Cake(s)

5.  Seeing my kids smile…like this…

6.  Running from waves

7.  Jumping over waves

8.  Britts donuts

9.  The beach house

10.  This view (hubba, hubba!)

11.  Breakfast on the deck

12.  Sunshine on my shoulders

13.  Beach treasure hunts (and finds)

14.  Game Night

15.  The chance to spend quality time with my amazing family

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White to Gold

This boy couldn’t stand on one foot a few months ago.  He struggled with coordination and flexibility, as well as balance.  And now, look at him.

We were very proud to watch Grant graduate from white to gold belt today.  I wanted to share a few pictures for family since they weren’t able to be here to celebrate with us.

We’re very proud of Grant!  We also can’t say enough about the benefit of martial arts for kids.  It has made such a difference for Grant in both coordination and confidence.  Can’t wait to see where he goes from here!

 

 

 

 

summa, summa, summatime

We’ve had a beautiful start to our summer break…the pool, mini golf, trips to the library, grilling,  sleeping until 8 and enjoying our family time.   I have never enjoyed summer so much!  I’ve never appreciated it like I do this year.  I went back to work last fall after being home for the past 8 years.  Teaching part time + trying to grow my photography business = one tired momma.  So our summer break has been reserved for each other.  We didn’t put the kids in a bunch of camps or extra curriculars and I limited my photo sessions to a minimum.    I feel like every day I breathe a huge sigh of relief.  Life is so sweet right now.  🙂

I’ve been on a journey this year to find joy.  It has really been a challenging subject for me and I’ve wrestled with so many other issues along the way–contentment, insecurity, negativity, unresolved conflict….  I had no idea all the things I’d have to work through to get to where God wanted me to be.  Am I there yet?  No way.  But I’m on the journey.  And it’s good.  It’s really good.  (Working on a blog post that will give much more details on this subject!)

Speaking of joy, this girl’s got it.  Avary oozes joy.  Life is good and she knows it.

Our church is in the midst of a “Word Up” challenge, to read the entire New Testament over the summer.  We are doing it as a family.  I love huddling up with Stan and the kids each night before bed, to listen to God’s Word.  And I’m humbled and challenged by the kids’ thoughts and questions.  It’s exciting to me to watch them learning to love Jesus and to begin to desire to follow him, not because we told them to, but because they are really accepting Him and His message.

Speaking of love, this guy knows how to give it.  Ashton fills our love tanks daily with his sweet words, amazing cuddles and selfless giving.

(I love these eyelashes.  But, please don’t mention their length to Ashton.  He has actually asked us to trim them, so people will stop commenting on how long they are!)

I’ve started running.  Why did I wait so long to do it?  I’d like to say it was the itchy legs or the lack of time and energy, but really it was just fear.  That old enemy of mine that has always kept me chained up when I wanted to experience something new.  Fear is a good friend of perfectionism and the two of them, hand in hand, stopped me from doing a good many things in life.  But last year, when I set out to start my own photography business, I decided there was no room for fear or perfectionism in my life.  Do I want to be cautious and wise?  Yes.  Fearful?  No.  Do I need to strive for my best, yes?  Do I need to be perfect?  No.  I don’t have to be the best at everything I do–I just have to do MY best.  And so I’m running.  I’m slow and I don’t run far, but I run.  And I challenge myself to go farther and faster and it feels great!  I may never win races.  I surely won’t be perfect.  But I’m not afraid to try and to even fail sometimes.  I’ve even been brave enough to post my runs to facebook, mostly so I am accountable to my 690 friends.

Speaking of friends…I’m so thankful to see Grant choosing good friends these days.  For his birthday this year, he chose to invite 3 friends over for legos and cake.  One of the friends was a girl from down the street who shares Grant’s love of books, science and legos.  The conversations between the two of them are so advanced for rising 3rd graders.  It’s so fun to hear them discuss the Native American culture or the life cycle of a butterfly!  I’m glad he’s finding other kids who love to learn and can carry on adult conversations!

Another summer activity–taking some photos of my own kids!  It was just what I needed to get my creativity flowing again.    So glad they don’t mind being in front of the camera!

I hope blogging will also be a regular part of the next two months of summer break.  I’ve missed writing and sharing pieces of our story.  We’re preparing for a beach trip next week, which I’m sure will give me plenty of writing (and photographing) material!

Until next time…Seize the Day!

giving them everything

My house is a mess and I’m in the mood to blog.  36 hours ago the house was ready for company and I had no desire to write.  Go figure.  (Yes, I am a Fly Lady subscriber so my house should always be ready for company, but sometimes real life comes before shining my sink.  I built a tent with my kids this morning and had coffee with a friend. :))

I really want my kids to be grateful. But this desire is sometimes counteracted by my desire to give them everything.  I’m not sure there’s a parent out there who doesn’t want to give their child an even better life than they had.  Even those of us who were blessed enough to have great childhoods, strive to give our children even more.  I met a Mom once who bragged about how she was only going to have one child so she could provide well for him.  I almost felt hurt, wondering what she thought about me, a stay at home Mom and pastor’s wife, with 3 kids.  I’m sure she was thinking I’d never be able to provide the way she could.  (Well, that’s what my insecurity told me anyway.)  Living in a very wealthy area has challenged me even more in this matter.  I see and hear of kids who are able to play any sport they want, get any gift they want and play any instrument they want.  They want it and their parents make it happen.  I was shocked to hear what kind of electronics some of my boys’ friends have (in kindergarten and 2nd grade).  I get insecure when they have friends over, wondering what they’re thinking about our small house and our boys’ tiny room which they share.  I wonder if they go home and tell their parents how few toys my kids have.  I worry as I prepare for Avary’s birthday party because of the lavish parties people in this area throw for their children.  Will it be fancy enough?  Will it seem hokey in comparison?  I am revealing a lot about my insecurity, aren’t I?  And maybe that’s what all this is really about.

What I’m praying about now is that I will realize that I don’t want to give my kids everything.  What I really want are children who understand the value of hard work and feel blessed and grateful for each thing they have.  And it isn’t even so much about the stuff, but about the instant gratification and the importance being placed on kids having so many material things at such a young age, that unsettles me.  If my kids have the latest technology now, when they are so little, what is there to look forward to?  If I gave Grant a phone at age 8, what in the world is going to “satisfy” him at age 13?  They will always whine for new things and once they have them, they will quickly get bored and be on to the next big thing.  I think about what that teaches them, character wise, and it’s not worth feeding my insecurity.  It isn’t worth making me feel better as a Mom, to give them all their little hearts desire.  I don’t want to give them everything!  (I am fairly sure my husband is cheering right now, as he is reading this!  Hi Stan.  :))

Are my kids always grateful?  No.  Are they a bit spoiled?  Yes.  Do I give them more than they need?  Absolutely. Thankfully I have a husband who is more grounded in this subject, and reminds me of what our values are and what we want to pass on to them.  He’s right more than I tell him.  What have these values guided us to do?  Well, our kids can each choose 1 extra curricular activity once they are school age–ONE.  At Christmastime, each of our kids get 3 gifts from us.  (That’s the same number Jesus got.  If it’s good enough for him, well….)  They do each get a gift from Santa as well, and that doesn’t take into account all the gifts from other family members.  Trust me, they still got WAAAAY more than they needed. My kids do not get a toy or candy each time we go to Target.  This one is hard for me.  I would love to let them choose a small thing each time we go to the store but thankfully, our budget doesn’t allow for that.  We give the kids an allowance every two weeks which they divide into giving, saving and spending envelopes.  If they want something at the store, they have to use their own money.  (Since they don’t get much, they usually have to save and wait.)  I’ve been so proud of how well the kids have done with this system.  Ashton always puts the most in savings, telling us that he wants lots of money when he goes to college.  🙂

I’ll be the first to say this isn’t easy.  I want to make my kids happy ALL the time.  But that’s not realistic and it’s definitely not healthy.  Praying that God will remind me each day to give my kids the things that truly matter–love and time.

2010 :: Our Story

“If I have a hope it’s that God sat over the dark nothing and wrote you and me, specifically, into the story, and put us in the sunset and rainstorm as though to say, Enjoy your place in my story. The beauty of it means you matter, and you can create within it even as I have created you.” –Donald Miller, “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years”

2010 was marked with change, which is always something I’ve feared.  But the older I get, the more I embrace change as an opportunity to see just what we are capable of.  Moving so far away from family and friends was incredibly scary, but staying put for the sake of comfort does nothing to change us, mold us, make us into better, stronger versions of ourselves.  Following God’s lead is incredibly exciting and it has been tough and rewarding and has both stretched and changed us.  It has truly been a year full of rich challenges and meaningful experiences and we are grateful to be living the story God has written for us.

Our children continue to astound us.  They are unique and creative little people and we are so proud of them.  Grant is in 2nd grade now.  He continues to love both science and art, accelling at both.  He is a Cub Scout and has also been recommended for the gifted program!  Grant is a dreamer and has big plans for life.  His goals include designing a roller coaster, having his artwork hung in a museum and most recently, becoming either a Secret Service agent or a spy.  Ashton is now in kindergarten and has become quite the leader in his class.  He is an advanced reader and loves to help the other students.  We’re proud of his compassionate heart .  He is a rule keeper and is always keeping tabs on everyone, making sure they are doing the right thing!  Ashton is very persistent and will work hard at something until he gets it right.  We know this will take him far in life!  Avary is 3 and a bundle of energy.  She is very much a princess, but also holds her own with the boys.  She’s about as feisty as they come and loves to be in charge.  We often have to remind her to “be gentle” but also love that she is so generous with her hugs and kisses.  She is such a beautiful little girl!

Stan spent 2010 settling into his new role as pastor of the Haymarket campus of New Life Christian church.  We’ve felt so welcome here, since the very beginning and we’re so grateful that this is what God had planned for us.  Stan continues to be excited about the ministry here and for what the future holds.  He also had the chance to play on a flag football team this fall and had a blast!  Their team made it to the playoffs but lost in the semi finals.  It was a great season though and he is looking forward to playing again soon!

Misty Rodda Photography was born this year, after a lot of encouragement from my husband.  I have wanted to do this for so long but fear has held me back.  I’m so thankful that I finally stepped out of my comfort zone and did it!  It is truly a passion for me, and although I have so much to learn, I am grateful that so many have entrusted me with their memories!  I also began working at a preschool this year with one of my good friends.  Loving Learning preschool is in it’s first year and I’m so thankful that Avary and I are a part of it!  All of this has changed life a lot for all of us.  Going from being a stay at home mom to a mom with two jobs has been a big transition!  Thankfully I have a wonderful husband who is patient and helpful.

I am longing for simplicity these days…and am truly taking in what life is really all about. This seems to be more prominent on my mind this time of year.   I keep arriving at these themes of love and simplicity and family and using all the experiences and adventures, both good and bad, to grow and learn and give.  God has been so good to us and I know He has big plans for the year ahead.  We are characters in His grand story and we know he will be shaping us into who He wants us to be!

Looking forward to the goodness the dawn of this new year will bring.  From our family to yours–Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!

checking it off

I’m only blogging so I can check it off my to do list.  I just haven’t felt like writing.  I’ve either been grouchy or tired, or having way too much fun to sit down to write.  But mostly, I just haven’t felt like writing.  I still don’t feel like writing.  But it’s on the to do list…and I want to check it off.

The lovely beach vacation we had in July still hasn’t been chronicled here.  I want that blog post to be perfect and so I’ve put it off.  It’s September now.  That’s what perfectionism does to me.  It paralyzes me and rather than giving it my best shot, I do nothing.  I wait until I can do it perfectly and it doesn’t get done.  Someday I’ll write that darn blog post.  Probably when it’s cold outside and I’m wishing for the beach.

My baby boy started kindergarten this week.  And my oldest started 2nd grade.  Today, my baby girl went to preschool, where I am now working.  So much change in one itty bitty week.  I am exhausted and emotionally drained.  I am also feeling accomplished and enjoying a more scheduled life.

I’m anxious for fall for so many reasons…cooler weather, pumpkin scents and tastes, drinking coffee all day long, all my favorite colors on display in the trees and on the ground… And I’m happy because my photography business is going to pick up again.  It’s been a little slow for the past month.  Who wants to have their picture taken in 100 degree weather?  I’m loving the idea of photographing people, using autumn as the backdrop!

And because I wouldn’t dare post two blogs in a row with no picture…

me with my sister in law (and very best friend)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the blog is finished.  I’m checking it off the list now.

the laundry monster

I love laundry.  Except replace the word love with totally hate and despise.  I know hate is a strong word.  I still hate it.

The steps I will take to avoid doing laundry are quite ridiculous.  I will busy myself with all sorts of things just to put off my least favorite household chore.  For example, today I decided it was incredibly important that I wipe down all the kitchen cabinets.  I told myself that I would start a load after that was done.  Well, then I felt tired and decided I needed a break.  And after the break I really needed to spend some time with the kids.  I mean, the laundry isn’t as important as my children, right?  After that…well, by that time I had forgotten completely about my plan to get laundry done today.

We are always telling our kids that you can make any job fun…or at least tolerable…it’s just about attitude.  So I said this same thing to myself today as I was dreading the Mt. Everest size laundry pile that was waiting for me.  (I swear it looked like it had a face and was staring at me with nasty raised eyebrows…taunting me….reminding me that I would never conquer it completely.  Even if I vanquished it today, it would rise again…oh yes, it would have it’s revenge!)  I thought to myself, “self, how in the world are you going to get this laundry done with your stinky attitude,”  and then I stopped and realized that talking to myself was strange (another lesson I am always teaching my children) .  But, in all seriousness, I knew I needed to figure out a new way of looking at this job.  I needed more motivation than the basket being empty at the end of the day.

What I had to remind myself of is that this job of laundry really isn’t just about taking care of clothes…or our home even.  It’s really about taking care of my family–those people I love the very most in this world.  I’m meeting my family’s needs in a practical way.  It’s the same with other household chores too.

Making meals that taste good and give my family the nutrition they need.

Scrubbing the bathrooms so my family stays healthy.

Vacuuming and washing floors so we can walk barefoot in our home and the boys can wrestle on the floor and so I don’t freak when Avary eats the goldfish she dropped.

And in all honesty, I’m taking care of myself too, because life is better and my mind is clearer when the dishes are clean and the folded laundry is put away.  So ultimately, my motivation for doing laundry today was a simple reminder: this is about taking care of my family.  It’s about more than just the stuff.  It’s about my favorite people in the whole wide world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Do you see the eyes? I told you so!)