May 31, 2010

Checking In....

I feel so out of the loop! We don't have internet at our house yet, so I feel like I'm absolutely in the Stone Age. Hopefully we'll get it working in a couple of days. I'm at my parents' so I can at least let the world know that we're all still alive over here. ;)

We've been getting settled in and unpacking boxes. My WONDERFUL in-loves (Kurt's parents) have been here for the last few days and just left today. They were such a huge help as well as my parents. We're so incredibly blessed, and we don't take it for granted. Everything is moved into the house and actually we have most of the boxes unpacked--it's just getting everything where it needs to go. I feel really unsettled because I have to wait for our new carpet to be installed and our walls to be painted. Once those major things are done, I can do more to "decorate." We're also getting new blinds for the whole house, then my MIL can start my window treatments.

The BIG thing we're needing right now is living room furniture, but I'm waiting until I can go to Tupelo (the furniture capital) and really have a good look. I'm making myself wait and do just a bit at a time, otherwise I'll get overwhelmed. Things will come together, there's just a lot to do. Our home was built in 1989, and it's had a lot of updates, but some of the updates were either DIY projects (that turned out sloppy) or I just don't prefer the colors, etc. I bought a lot of antiques that I need to paint/refinish, so I'm going to pace out those projects.

The way I describe life right now: You know how you never feel as cute or pulled together when you're getting ready in a hotel room? That's how I feel. It's not comfortable yet, in the sense that I haven't really put things where I want them and it's still a bit chaotic. But we are SO thankful to be together as a family of three. Kurt has to go back to Jackson at the end of this week (he doesn't finish until June 30th), so that will be difficult. But we're in the home stretch!

It's still very surreal that we're here. I think I'm in shock, actually. This definitely feels like home, though. It's wonderful to not be here for a "visit." We're staying here permanently! I do have moments of missing my little house in Mississippi, because it was in order and just the way we wanted it. But it will all come together here, and it's fun to kind of start over and put down roots.

We LOVE our neighborhood--especially our street. Our first day, we met at least 6 neighbors. They just walked up and said hello! Our next door neighbors are a family that have a son I went to elementary school with. I remember thinking that all the "cool kids" lived in this neighborhood when I was in elementary--haha! I've had so many full-circle moments since we've been back.

I have pictures that I want to post of the house, moving in, and Memorial Day. As I type, my little sister is cuddled up to a lady in our church who kept her when she was a baby. She came over for Memorial Day dinner. It's just a reminder that I'm exactly where I need to be and we have so much history here. We're blessed to once again call it "home."

I'm glad to check in, and I hope all of you are doing well. I'll be back in full swing hopefuly pretty soon!


May 27, 2010

Home Sweet Home

We made it here to Missouri and are really tired but doing well. :) I got to go inside our house tonight which was a great feeling! Tomorrow is the big day to move in all of our things, so it will be another long day, but I am really ready to get things put into place. It's an exciting time!

That's about it for now--thank you for the prayers and encouragement, and I'll keep you posted. :)

May 26, 2010

Our Little Future Runner

I was going to entitle this "Wordless Wednesday," but I've never done that before and it would be random. Plus, I want to express in words how empty I feel without my little girl here. We're packing everything up, so I know she's having a better time with Kurt's parents. But I just ache to have her with me! This little girl is our whole world, and we can't wait to be together as a family of three again. Thankfully we'll get her back on Friday, and I am counting the hours already!

We love and miss our little "Future Qualifier!"

I Get By With a Little Help from My Friends

Note: In the pictures we took last night, my hair was absolutely huge due to the muggy, gross weather. I look like a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader, circa 1989. Please forgive the volume. Also, it looks like we were throwing down drinks in the pictures, because I have a love for old fashioned Root Beer. Wish the bottle wasn't in the picture because it bugs me, but it was great Root Beer! :)

Last night I had the joy of spending a girls night with my two dear, dear friends, Carrie and Sarah Denley. If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know them because I reference them often. They have become so, so special to me.

We had a nice, long dinner at Bonefish Grill and then went to a nice outdoor shopping center to have dessert at Barnes and Noble and continue talking. It was SUCH a blast! We covered just about every topic known to man, which is why I love these girls so much. No topic is off limits!

These two girls were my family a lot of the time through these two years once my real family moved away. They got me through so many weeks and long days. We had a standing weekly lunch date (which we NEVER missed unless there was severe sickness or travel). We helped each other talk through issues, make decisions, vent, and most importantly, we LAUGHED! And I'm positive we will continue to do so!

I met Carrie through the Interior Design department in college. She was a year behind me in classes, but I kept seeing her in the studio. We started chatting one day and I asked her if we would have the same classes the next semester. She told me she actually wasn't going to come back. She and her husband (she had recently gotten married, just like me) had decided that it just wasn't that best thing for them at that point. Little did she know that Kurt and I were about to make the same decision!

We kept in touch through Facebook, and soon she announced her pregnancy with Aubrey. We had lunch to catch up, and soon I told her that I was pregnant with Evy (she was 5 or so months along with Aubrey)! We instantly bonded over everything baby, and we realized we had so much in common when it came to beliefs, marriage, parenting styles (in theory, at that point), etc. We really clicked and it was so wonderful to have found a kindred spirit!

Sarah Denley entered my life once we had all become mothers. She read Carrie's blog (as well as mine), and initially asked Carrie to lunch since they live in the same part of town. Soon, I joined in and the rest is history! SD and I also have so much in common. We're both really sentimental, can be very introspective, and have to have majorly long talking sessions with our families/husbands/friends to sort things out sometimes. Actually, all three of us girls are very alike in almost every way, yet we are all different. It's such a good dynamic.

Our little girls have come to recognize each other and have spent many hours at Beagle Bagel! Carrie has been a great example with little Aubrey, and SD and I can't wait to learn from her as she will soon be a Mommy to two! We can't wait to meet little Jude when he arrives. SD loves Ann Peyton so much and it's neat how AP is a part of her testimony. These little friends have been such a joy.

(Aubrey, Ann Peyton, and Evy Kate)

This post could go on and on, but in a nutshell, these girls (all of them) have brought me so much joy and laughter during a time when I missed my family so much. They helped me develop as an adult and as a mom, which is invaluable. I know we will be lifelong kindred-spirit friends, and we can't wait to plan a girls trip! :)

Carrie, Aubrey, Sarah Denley, and Ann Peyton---I love you so very much!

Words aren't big enough!

May 21, 2010

Spiritual Discipline

I was asked by Nikki to write about my "spiritual routine," so to speak. Katie wrote about this topic first, and somehow I missed that post, but I was able to read it when Nikki asked me to contribute.

Basically, these girls are discussing the topic of spiritual study and how you have your "Quiet Time" with the Lord. I'm going to be honest right off the bat and say that this is a big area of struggle for me. It boils down to lack of discipline. I simply have a hard time making myself sit still, get in the "zone," and really spend the quality time with the Lord that I need to. It's only fair that I share this with you, because maybe it will make someone out there feel like they're not the only one struggling to make it happen.

However, in a weird twist on everything, I feel closer to the Lord than I ever have. Please don't misunderstand me--having a dedicated time to the Lord is of UTMOST importance, and I am fully aware that it's an area I need to work on. But in my adult life, as Christian, I've always been able to sense deeper meanings in things, and I'll sense God really speaking to me through any number of ways. It's more in little moments and experiences that I have the deepest connections with God throughout the day. I've used this phrase before, but the word I think I'm looking for is "organic." As in, my time with God is a very fluid, organic thing, and I learn so much from Him in random moment in the day.

This has especially been true since having Evy. I am awestruck at God's love for me now that I know the depth of my love for Evy. It astounds me that God would: Love me enough to engage me in the miracle of pregnancy and birth, Allow me to be Evy's mother, and then Teach me about how much God loves ME through the process. Really, it's incomprehensible.

Even though I struggle with being consistent, here are some things that I do to stay connected to the Lord. Because without Him, I am truly nothing.

Workbook Bible Studies
Once I discovered Beth Moore, it really reminded me of how well I learn when I'm answering questions, giving my thoughts, and taking Scripture piece by piece. I've always loved that format of learning (when it comes to spiritual things), and so I fell in love with doing Bible study this way. Once we're more settled, I'm going to be doing Bible studies with other ladies, but I've also really loved just getting a workbook and going through it on my own. It's nice to just be alone with the study. I highly recommend it.

Devotional Books
The only devotional book that has ever kept my focus and spoken so strongly to me is Streams in the Desert. My mom and grandfather introduced me to this book (they've used it for years) and as I've said this before, this little book is God-breathed and anointed. It is SO powerful, and I guarantee you that it will minister to you. I usually don't make promises like that, but I am this time. I've also never done a giveaway on my blog before, but maybe once I get my life in order after the move I'll give away a copy of this book. That's how strongly I feel about it!

My prayers to the Lord are really conversational. I realize sometimes that I'm praying without even meaning to--haha! I do think it's good at times to follow a prompt if it helps you (ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication), but a prompt definitely isn't necessary to have a healthy prayer life (in my personal opinion). I'm learning that God is more concerned with how transparent and open we are with Him, and if we give Him full control of our lives, than if we tick off the prayer boxes everyday.

Studying Scripture

Lately, I wrote an email for a friend. There are several of us who have been going through a challenging time, and I really believe that it was (and is) a spiritual battle. I looked up the topic in my concordance (in the back of my Bible), and studied every verse. It's really interesting: if you pray for God to illuminate His Word and show things to you that you haven't seen before, He will. It was amazing what I found and how I just felt the Lord speak understanding to me. I encourage you to look up a topic and really study what God's word says about it.

Bible Reading
Kurt has read through the entire Bible multiple times. In fact, he has thought about teaching a class where everyone reads through the Bible together and discusses it. The Bible is the story of God and His people. However, Kurt has found so much more knowledge in reading the Chronological Bible. For whatever reason, the Bible we usually study is not in the order of the events as they occurred (meaning the different books are out of order at times). A lot of understanding can come if you read it as the story it was meant to be. You can buy a Chronological reading Bible, which is what we use. I have started this project of reading through in a year and I'm a little behind. It's a goal of mine to complete this task!

Obviously, these things all combine in different ways and at different times to help me in my spiritual walk. Please read this statement: I am so far from where I need to be spiritually! We all are! Everyone has areas in which they struggle. Being asked to write this post was another reminder that I need to place more emphasis on the deliberate time of studying God's Word and seeking Him.

If you'd like to write a post about this topic, Katie has a link list going on, I believe. I think it would be a very encouraging thing to see how everyone else seeks the Lord.

Have a great evening!

May 20, 2010

Moving on Up

I feel like my posting has been kind of sporadic lately, and I'm sorry about that! There are just a ton of things going on right now so it's hard to keep my head on straight. :)

The main thing is that we will be moving ourselves. After getting the estimate from the moving company, we just think it's best that we do it ourselves. This all was decided kind of last-minute (at least in my terms of thinking), so I've had to get my ducks in a row to try and get organized in my head. Today it just got to all be too much (and Evy hasn't had a good nap in about a week), and I burst into tears. As in, sobbing. Haha!

Sidenote: I've been really emotional lately, which is strange. For instance, the other night I was browsing blogs. I've said it before, and I'll say it again--I don't read "sad" blogs. My heart can't take it. But somehow I stumbled upon Katie's blog, which you're probably familiar with. It's about the Rowe family who lost their little angel baby, Reese, after two days of life. For some reason I had never read their story. I was convulsing in sobs. It was the most heart-wrenching thing I have ever read. However, I walked away so uplifted. Katie is one of the most unwavering, peace-filled, God-centered women I have ever encountered. The way that she still praises the Lord even when her world is shattered; you talk about convicting! It really stuck out to me after all of the other "child-loss" stories I've heard. There was a difference in her grief, if that makes sense. Powerful. So after I read that I went to Evy's room to open her door (we open it at night to hear her), and she kind of stirred. I couldn't help myself--I went and picked her up and rocked her for as long as I could get away with. I sobbed and sobbed, because I was so thankful to God for her. And I prayed that if I'm ever faced with a crisis of that magnitude, I'll face it with the grace and godliness of Katie Rowe.

So, yes, I've been emotional lately. And today I just didn't handle the changes and stress well. I usually do better, but today I just didn't do it well. So I called my Dad, who was at a Cardinals game, and he basically had to give me therapy over the phone. Has anyone else been there!? He immediately got a game plan together and calmed me down. Game plans are my comfort food. So I think I know what direction I'm going. Now I just need to steer my brain in the "DIY" direction and start getting things done.

All that to say, you might not hear from me for a little bit. It will be sporadic, as it has been the last few days. But I'm still here, doing well, and we're excited about our move! These are emotions that come with moving, but I've had some good "closure" moments recently. We're ready to go and can't wait for this new chapter!

I'll check in soon! :)

May 18, 2010

A Letter to House #1032

Dear Little House,

It's so hard to believe that I'm writing this to you. I truly can't believe this day is here! I truly believe that houses are much, much more than structural elements. Without sounding new age and very strange, I do think that houses have souls. Not the kind that humans have, but houses have a feeling to them. They have an aura.

I remember when Kurt, the man you know as your owner, and I found you. We had just had our engagement pictures taken that day, and were doing some house hunting. We looked in different areas, we combed through listings, and we just couldn't find the right one. Then, our realtor opened the door and we walked inside and saw you.

Now, to be honest, there were some things to look past. You were dressed in a blue color that really wasn't flattering, and you were sparse and lonely. But I loved you instantly.

When I look at houses, I always stand in the middle of the house, look around, and picture it at Christmastime. I can't explain why I do this, but it's the quickest way I know of to test if it's the home for me. You passed.

We spent the next few weeks making lots of changes to you, and even though we were on a very limited budget, we gave you all we had. We did this because you were going to be the dwelling that was most sacred and special to us. You were going to be our home.

Now, little house, the time has come for us to say goodbye. I didn't want to cry as I wrote this, but I knew I would. That's why I put it off. But it is now time to say goodbye.

Thank you for welcoming us and people who visited into your foyer. I always felt myself give a sigh of relief when I got home from a trip.

Although modest, your kitchen helped us make many, many meals. This is where I cooked on a regular basis for the first time, and you watched patiently. Kurt also developed many talents here, and we appreciate your cooperating spirit as we learned.

Alas, we didn't use our dining area very often. We mostly liked to sit in the living room in our comfy chairs and talk, and usually watch a show on television. Please forgive our lack of use, but it certainly did look nice with our little table and artwork. You saw a few guests sit here, so it wasn't decorated all in vain.

You gave us a place to rest and talk in confidence and take deep breaths to recharge when the world was too much. We felt such peace here. You did such a good job of letting in light.

When we had them, you welcomed our guests with grace. You kept them sheltered, which is much appreciated.

Oh, little house. . .our greatest room of all. You watched as we transformed this room from our office to something much more important and altering: our baby's nursery. You watched as we waited for 9 months for this little bundle. Your walls kept me company through the days and some long nights. You are the first home our little girl ever knew.

You are the only house in the world that can say that you saw Evy Kate Lancaster come home from the hospital. You even wore a pretty pink feather wreath on the door. It was so lovely.

You've seen her grow right before your eyes, like we have. Isn't she something, little house? Aren't you pleased with how happy and healthy and wonderful she is?

We're going to tell her all about you, little house. Don't be worried or sad. We are going to show her pictures and share the stories of her first smiles, steps, and sounds. She'll know what a special place you are.

We've enjoyed our small but perfectly sized living room.

You've probably been annoyed as I've decorated and re-decorated your mantle 1000 times. I can't help it! It will happen everywhere I live.

You have nice little nooks and spaces where I've put things that are meaningful to us. I've loved making you very personal and expressive of who we are.

I've even been able to buy a few new things for you over the years. You deserve it, and I wish I could've done more. But we have been so content in you, just the way you are!

My favorite thing to do is to sit in my rocking chair, turn on my soft music, stare into this room, and just think. I've thought so many thoughts looking at your walls. I've experienced so many emotions here. I've been happy, sad, nervous, excited, filled with grief and inexplicable joy. . . this room has seen it all.

In a matter of days, we will leave you, little house. We'll walk out and it won't be for just a trip. I wanted to warn you so you won't feel abandoned when we don't come back. It's not because we don't love you! It's just time for us to start another chapter. You need to know how terribly sad I am to say goodbye. You mean so much to me.

We will move into a new house soon. It's actually older than you. It's a little bigger, which is a good thing for where we're headed eventually. You know, adding more babies someday and such. It has a nice yard, and has plenty of walls and rooms for me to decorate, like I did with you. But that house won't be home for a little while. It will take me some time not to miss coming home to you.

Be good to your next owners, and protect them like you have us. Try not to cause too many problems for them.

I love you so very much, little house! More than I can express. Even though you're my dear House, I'm taking my Home with me when we leave:

I know you'd want it that way. The three of us will miss you so much. It's been said that "A Home is a Man's Castle, a Woman's World, and a Child's Paradise." You've been that and so much more!

A house is built by wisdom, and it is established by understanding; by knowledge the rooms are filled with every precious and beautiful treasure.
Proverbs 24:3-5

Thank you for all of the treasures and memories! You're in our hearts forever.


May 16, 2010

Bitty and the Hospital

A few weeks ago, Kurt was on call and Evy hadn't napped all day. She was tired and I was tired! Kurt had a rare lull in his evening and told me to pick up dinner and come visit at the hospital. I used to do this when we were dating, but obviously a baby adds a little extra challenge!

When we arrived, Bitty was quite enthralled with the whole scene. She wasn't used to seeing Daddy in a different setting. But she did dress in one of her cutest outfits for the occasion.

Soon, she warmed up to the whole idea. It was probably because Daddy was offering food.

It was so much fun! There were so many new things to explore in the lounge.

Even surgical tape provided a lot of entertainment (who knew?).

This is where it got interesting. We picked up on the fact that Bitty had decided to make a dirty diaper during all the excitement. By the smell of things, we knew it couldn't wait until we got home. Being mother of the year that I am, I realized that somehow there were no diapers OR wipes in her bag! Are you kidding me?

Well, not to fear--we're in a hospital! So we took a field trip to the Children's Wing, which is bright and cheerful. The nurses were quite smitten with Evy (although she didn't like one nurse's surgery cap AT ALL), and provided us with a diaper and wipes. How handy!

By this point, Evs had reached her limit. Even Mr. Clock couldn't cheer her up.

However, walking was just the remedy we needed! We got many smiles as she walked down the breezeway. She loved the windows and people. I'm glad we wore non-squeaky shoes. Otherwise I think the noise would've been a little too much for everyone involved!

It's exciting, because we'll be able to do this more often at Kurt's new job. It's also SO close to our house. We are so thankful for Daddy and how hard he works!

May 15, 2010

Sneak Peek

I'm trying not to reveal too much of our new house until we close on it (at the end of this month), but I'm anxious to show you!

Here's a picture that will give you a few ideas about the kitchen:

I honestly didn't know how I felt at first about having dark cabinets. I love the look of them, but in my heart I'm a lighter neutrals person. However, I think I'll really enjoy them.

I tried to find some of the fabrics and paints I'm using, but it proved to be difficult for some reason. The only one I could find was this pewter taffeta, which will be used in two different rooms as really billowy, full drapes. I'm excited to show you everything as I pull everything together!

That's actually been something I'm nervous about. I have no idea how all of the things I've accumulated will work together. I've been going off of pictures we took of the house ages ago, and there's so much that I won't do until we're in the house. But if it all works, I think it will look just how I want it to.

We're still figuring out our time line. We had planned on moving ourselves because we don't have a TON of things (and some of it is at Kurt's parents' house). Plus, we have enough family coming to help that it wouldn't be this gigantic task. However, the hospital in Missouri insisted that they send someone to give us a quote for a moving company. All I've ever known are professional movers, because that's what my family always used growing up. I think we're leaning toward using the professionals at this point, simply because it would eliminate so much hassle.

So a lot of things are happening right now. It's been so crazy, but exciting. I can't believe it's here. Have a great weekend!

May 13, 2010

One of Those Days...Or Years...Thank You.

Yesterday was one of those days. I'll just jump right into it.

Kurt was working a normal workday. On the way to lunch, Evy and I stopped at Sam's to pick up some large moving boxes, tape, and Sharpies. It went smoothly, except I couldn't lift the boxes, so a million different people had to help me at different times. It was fine, but I was sweating by the end of it.

Evy and I had lunch with our girls. Evs has been doing this thing where she wants a late morning nap, and then that's it. No more naps until bedtime around 8:15. Well, I hate making my friends do a late lunch at 1:00 just so Evy can have a nap (because most babies her age prefer an early afternoon nap, so we're the odd ones). Plus, we usually do lunch only one day a week, and usually we can push naptime later.

So we finished lunch and I sang and talked at the TOP of my lungs to keep Evy awake on the ride home. She only fell asleep in the last 2 minutes of the car ride, so I figured I could still sneak her into her crib with no problem (I can usually do this). Well, when I picked her up, I knew her diaper was really wet, and I just didn't want to put her down with a soggy diaper. So I laid her down to change her. Big mistake. She woke up, and that was it. Nap window MISSED.

I tried no less than 4 times over the course of the day to put her down for a nap. She just wasn't having it. It was also the kind of day where nothing was pleasing her. She snacked and snacked, watched Psalty a couple of times, and played with every toy to no avail. Plus, it was SO HOT outside, and---call me a wimp---I just can't take her outside in the heat. I hate the heat, and it would've made us both more miserable.

The worst part of the cycle was that I'd put her down, and she'd be really quiet just long enough for me to think she was asleep. Then, it's like she KNEW I had that thought, she would instantly start fussing again.

Around 5:00, I was relieved because I figured Kurt would be coming home soon. Well, it got to be 5:30, then 5:50. Soon I got a call from Kurt who told me that he was stuck in a pediatric heart surgery (meaning he was the anesthesiologist on that case), and it might be 7:00 before he got home. My heart literally fell to my stomach because it had been the longest day, but I told him that it was totally okay and I'd make something for dinner. I threw together our favorite casserole. I put Evy in her crib to attempt nap #57, and I straightened the whole house (which was a wreck, because I had even tried to start packing a few boxes in between nap attempts). I lit some candles so the house would smell good for Kurt after a long, hard day.

6:30 comes and goes. 7:30 comes and goes. I got another call. Kurt told me that the surgery wasn't going well. The little boy (5 MONTHS OLD), was having trouble after the surgery, so the doctors were going to open him back up again and try something else. He said that at this point, he would just stay and finish the surgery and then take the day off the next day (because they have to legally allow that after a certain number of work hours---thank the LORD). He basically claimed seniority to do it. [Sidenote: the little boy is just fine, as far as we know!]

So, by this point in the day, I had a child that hadn't napped. I was literally exhausted, and I ended up putting her in her Baby Bjorn carrier. I haven't done that in ages! She liked the novelty of it, which was funny. It got to be 8:00 and I put her down. I don't think she fully fell asleep until 9:15, because I kept hearing little noises here and there.

I finished cleaning the kitchen and straightened a bit more, and then finally sat down. Then, guess what? I heard crying. I couldn't believe it. I went in and noticed that Evy's allergies were bothering her, and she just couldn't get into a good sleep. I took her in the kitchen to give her some medicine, and Kurt walked in the door around that time. It was about 10:30 pm.

I rocked Bitty a little but I could tell she just needed to lie back down and go to sleep, which thankfully she did. Kurt and I just sat and stared at each other. He knew I had a hard day, and I knew he had a hard day. He took his shower, and then I took mine. At 11:00 pm. Afterward, he told me that he had been on his feet for the entire day, and in the second round of the surgery, instead of putting the little boy on bypass (his blood going through a machine), they just packed him in ice and basically put him in a forced hypothermic state to complete the surgery. Totally like something on Grey's, right?

We ended the day just talking and trying to form coherent sentences.

Now, I don't share all of this to gain sympathy or pity. These days WILL happen! That's part of being a mom, and part of having a husband in the medical field. That's life. However, we've been doing these days for a long, long time. I just never blog about them. I don't think it's beneficial or particularly interesting. Plus, I don't want to seem like I have a complaining spirit.

However, I think it's important to show occasionally that I do not have it all together all the time. These days in residency have been brutal in a lot of ways. Thankfully, Kurt and I have a healthy marriage and have each other to lean on. Also, Evy negates all of the stress and creates such a happy home.

The biggest issue has been doing it by myself. My family moved when I was pregnant with Evy, and it has been so incredibly lonely without them. I'd be lying to you if I didn't say that. I was never the type that was co-dependent on my family, and I have always been self sufficient in handling my house, life, etc. But I miss them. And throughout these two years that they've been gone, I've had so many moments of giving anything to have them in town. Yesterday, I needed my family.

I hold back a lot on this blog. There's so much I don't share. Not to be deceitful, but just to be wise in how open I am. And also for the reasons I listed above: it's not beneficial in a lot of ways. But after yesterday, it was like the icing on the cake. It's time to leave Jackson. It's been lonely.

Please don't misunderstand me; God has blessed me with close friends here. But those people have their own lives to worry about. They have their own families to take care of. In lots of areas, Kurt and I are just not connected anymore, because our hearts are starting to turn toward our move. I've served in my church even after my family left, which was such a blessing. And God is doing great things through the new pastor and his wife. But I miss my family.

We've done some fun things and made some memories here. But I miss my family. And frankly, I miss my hometown. As we're nearing the end of our time here, I don't want it to seem like I'm being pessimistic and flippant about this town or our experiences here. Some really important things happened here, and I met some really important people here. God has been good to us here, as He always has been. I think my heart is just reconciling a lot of emotions as we leave. It's so strange to have lived in a place 10 years and all of a sudden, it's over. It's an odd feeling. It's almost like you are evaluating your value or the mark you might leave on a place.

I do apologize for all of the rambling and the weird transparency of this post. It has probably made me sound like an out-of-sorts snob who's crabby and ungrateful. That's so untrue. My heart is full. For instance, I've been trying to write a post about our little house here, and I can't make myself do it yet. I still have a lot of reconciling to do.

But after yesterday, it made a lot of my closure concrete. It made me confirm to myself that I will never, for a second in my life, take for granted having my family near me. Not to take advantage of their help or rely on them for every single thing, but just the companionship. The love. And the comfortableness. The blessing of it will not be lost on me.

You, the blog world (and some "real life" friends who read) have been such a source of community for me through these days when Kurt has worked long days and even longer nights. I've read your blogs while Kurt has been on call, or in the early days of Evy's life when I was doing the night shift alone and nursing her. I've laughed and learned from you, which has been good therapy. I've discovered people I never would have dreamed of.

In a nutshell, thank you for the help in getting through these long days, and long years of residency. As trite as it sounds, thank you for standing in for the people I love so much.

We're finally here, at the end of the residency road, and it's time for us to go back to family. It just hasn't been home without them. :)

Go Look! A Giveaway!

I hardly ever try to enter Giveaways, but for some reason I thought, "Why not?" Jenna over at The Jackson Five is giving away 8 products from Softlips worth $40! I have fond memories from Softlips--I remember really liking their lip balm back when I was in late elementary school. It was minty. :)

Go check out Jenna's blog---she does a LOT of giveaways!


Evy Grows Up: 15 Months

I like to write down these little monthly milestones so that I can remember them later. In fact, I just scrolled down through the "Growing Up" posts and felt tears sting my eyes. How much we've gone through and experienced in 15 months. It's almost too much to take in.

Evy, sweet baby, you are now 15 months! Here's what you're up to:

-You are still a size 4 diaper and 18-24 months clothes. You still have your little chunky legs and arms and I LOVE it!

-You are a full-time walker! I don't even remember the last time you crawled. You're just so cute. You're like a little robot, and it's adorable!

-One of your very favorite things to do is go to the park and push your little train toy around the walking trail. It's so adorable to see you walking like a big girl for "exercise."

-You LOVE LOVE LOVE your Psalty Camping DVD. I watched it when I was little, so this thrills me to no end. I'm working with you on also loving Disney Sing-Alongs. :) We pop Psalty in and it's instant smiles. You don't care for the dialogue parts as much, but the songs are a hit. Your very favorite is "On A Starry Night We Sing His Praises."
For memory's sake, here's one of the songs from the video:

-You still LOVE Bun Bun. He's everywhere!

-You eat well and eat everything that we eat. Restaurants are getting a bit more challenging because you want to get out of your seat and go walking! Gone are the days of leisurely meals! :)

-You have spent time with your Mia and Randad and Papa and Gigi recently while Mommy and Daddy had to be other places. You did wonderfully, and we are so thankful for loving grandparents for you! You always seem so happy once you've been with them, and it gives us such peace of mind. Thank you God, for grandparents!

-You are expressing yourself a lot. We aren't teaching you to traditionally "sign" per se, but you have hand symbols that you're kind of naturally using, so we're going with it. You make a sign for "I want," or "Hand that to me," and we're working on a sign for "all done." You talk to us all the time, we just haven't reached a language understanding yet! You actually mimicked Mommy for the first time the other night: I was stirring a pot and I said, "Mommy is cooking." You looked at me and clear as day said, "Cooking!" (It sounded like "Cookie.") Daddy and I were stunned! The consonant sounds are easy for you to make I think. That's probably why you were able to do it! It was so exciting :)

-We have had to work a little on discipline when it comes to the television. You know just which buttons to push and it's not good for the TV to be turned off and on over and over. When you walk over to the TV, you look at Mommy like you know you're not supposed to. I give you a look and clap my hands once, and you shake your head "no" at me! You've learned it's a no-no! It's impossible not to smile after that. But you are really catching on when we've worked on not doing something. When you start to get loud and whiny, Mommy says, "Use your pretty voice," and you are starting to stop when I say that. Although that sweet little voice is always pretty, no matter what. :)

-You dislike hairbows. I have to sneak tiny ones in when I can.....

-You are OBSESSED with shoes! You want to be wearing a pair at all times. You will also go and get Daddy and I the correct matching pair of shoes and bring them to the right person. You are not satisfied until we put them on! You especially love your squeaky shoes (thank you, Gigi). They ARE adorable, though!

-You love your Daddy and light up when he comes home from work! You do give Mommy love-loves when I have been away.

-I've tried to say this a million different ways, but you have brought us 15 months of PURE JOY! We love you, will do anything for you, and will always be humbled to be called your parents. Thank you, Lord!

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