Easter 2016

Easter seemed so early this year! It really snuck up on us right after Mason’s birthday. I took the kids down the road by our house a few days before Easter to get pictures of them in their Easter clothes since rain was forecasted. It is amazing how much easier they are to photograph now as opposed to just a year ago. They listen so much better! I think they’re probably a bit used to the drill since I take so many photos of them! I’m really happy with how they turned out.

The boys were wearing outfits grabbed last minute from Target. They didn’t have a lot to choose from, and I like their Easter outfits to be casual enough to wear to church on other days as well. Sienna got her dress at the Spring consignment sale that I go to every year. I love getting her dresses there since they’re always very cheap, and she typically only wears the dress once.  This is the one time a year that I try to do a photo shoot of my kids and practice my photography skills. I’m happy with the results!

The kids also enjoyed fun egg hunts and parties at school as well. They had a great Easter party. I was especially impressed with Mason who had memorized the entire Easter story with the resurrection eggs!

The kids had a lot of fun this year at Easter. We didn’t let the light rain ruin our egg hunt and spending time with the family.  We had a great time at Aunt Vicki’s house in Decatur. We visited with Angie, Robby, Hannah, Jake and his wife Sarah, Patrick, Drew, Anna, and their two kids Jackson and Davis, and Mark and Jessica with their three kids Carson, Cooper and Presley.  Of course, the gathering was hosted by Vicki and her husband Phil.

Parker, Mason and Sienna really enjoyed the egg hunt, and visiting with all the cousins! This year Davis and Copper got the golden eggs! Parker got a yellow egg, and he was convinced that it was THE golden egg, so he stopped looking for the two hidden eggs.

 


Easter Sunday 2015

We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful Easter Sunday to celebrate our risen Savior! We had a great time with the family, enjoying a fun time at Stonecreek Church, a delicious brunch at The original Pancake house, and a visit to Aunt Vicki’s house for a yummy dinner complete with an Easter Egg hunt and Lego building with cousins! We were happy to have Drew and Anna and their boys with us this year. They rotate between families and we’re always delighted when it’s “our” year!

 

 

Overall, a wonderful Easter and great memories were made with Aunts, Uncles and Cousins!

Losing a sister

It’s been hard to be a weekly or even monthly blogger lately. These last few months have been especially busy. Along with the craziness that December typically is, with planning and attending parties, cooking, visiting family, Christmas shopping, etc. the last thing that I was prepared for was the death of my step-sister, Lisa.
2014 year has been the year of deaths for our family. I had never in my life been to a funeral, and then I went to my first funeral in the spring in Va for my Grandfather, and then Dan’s grandmother Ming died, and we traveled to Colorado in the summer, and then I got some very sad news about my step-sister Lisa on December 10th, that she had passed away.

Lisa and I weren’t as close as we had been as kids, but it was a huge shock to hear of her passing. The toxicology results are still pending, and they have yet to determine the cause of death. What we do know is that she wasn’t feeling well, and that she had been on pain medicine from her back surgery in the past, and had continued to use it for pain relief. Her medication usage, along with some preexisting health conditions (infection in her foot, diabetes, asthma, sleep apnea) and her general well being (her friend mentioned that she had recently had the flu) is the best guess we have for her cause of death. She was found unresponsive at a friends house in the morning.

It’s really heartbreaking. She was only 36 years old and had so much life to live. So much she wanted to do, dreams that went unfulfilled. That week between her death and the funeral was tough for me and I can only imagine how tough it was for her mother. It was a time of reflecting on the good times we had together as kids, the time we spent together as adults, and wondering if I made it clear enough how much I loved her and how much of a good person she was. I wanted to do something in her memory, so I decided to make Memory Boards in her honor to have at the funeral, and for her mother Rennie to keep.

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I struggled with whether or not I was going to talk at the funeral. Those that know me well know that I am not very comfortable with public speaking. You know, some people have their gifts, and I just know public speaking isn’t one of mine. It’s just not my favorite thing to do. I much rather be where I am right now, typing my thoughts down on screen, so I can hit the backspace at will, and delete and restate the thought more clearly and concisely if I need to.

However, the craziest thing happened the morning of her funeral. I woke up, and I felt like God was giving me clarity on what to say. I told Dan and I quickly walked over to my writing desk, and wrote down exactly what I felt like the holy spirit was telling me to say. Nothing super-inspiring, just a few sentiments from the heart. More importantly, he gave me a peace about speaking in front of a group, and I was no longer nervous. The holy spirit gave me a calm reassurance and that peace carried me through to the podium.
This is what I wrote down and said:

When Rennie and my Dad married, Lisa and I became sisters.  I was a young girl at the time, and we were both excited to have this new found sisterhood.

She was so accepting of me, loving and caring. Coming from a single Dad and a brother (and somewhat of a Tomboy) she helped to turn me into a girl and showed me the world of hairspray and teased bangs- only things a good big sister would do.

She later moved on to live with her Dad but we never lost touch. We later reunited when I moved back to Atlanta and I eventually got married.  She was always very supportive. I recall on my wedding day,  her pointing to me and proudly saying with a smile ‘That’s my sister!’.

The busyness of life got to me several years later and after three kids the visits became less frequent. However, she loved being an Aunt, she loved our kids very much, and we loved seeing her, even though it wasn’t as frequent as we would’ve liked.

Lisa had quite a few challenges in her life between her health and her relationships, but she never lost hope.  It comforts me to know that she is now resting in the arms of Jesus. Free from pain, and feeling the most wonderful love of all, the everlasting love  of our heavenly father.

We all know how much Lisa loved Winne the pooh, so after looking through her pinterest boards, I found this quote that she pinned and I see it quite fitting.

‘If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart and I’ll stay there forever’7c280f6408ad3956851106431b302c30

 

What happened to Lisa is tragic. Death has a funny way of forcing you to think about life, how precious it really is, and it also forces you to stare at your faith right in it’s face. Do you believe in me? Do you trust in me? Do you have faith in life after death? It brings this questions that I would venture to say EVERY human asks, and it makes you face them. Ponder them. Mourn those facing the afterlife and wonder what it’s all about. Grasping at what it teaches us to be human and have the human experience.  It’s hard.

Those of you that reached out and called, and messaged, sent flowers, and gift cards for dinner. THANK YOU. It is a hard time in our household with lots and lots of sadness and reflection.  It is comforting when you are reminded of the goodness in life when you’re feeling loads of sadness.

Lisa Seymour Shrader, you will be missed. XO

Working on my Fitness

It’s past due.  I’ve had a few hiccups in getting back to my pre-baby weight.  The busyness of life mixed with many obstacles such as overcoming poor health from Lyme Disease, moving and getting settling into our new home, raising three kids… the usual.  I decided a few weeks ago that I’d had it.  I’m tired of the excuses.  I needed to do something consistent every day if I wanted to see results.  My problem was, that some days I would do great.  Sienna would go down for a morning nap, I would zip off to the elliptical trainer, get some cardio in, and maybe again in the evening I would go for a walk before or after dinner, but then some days, I had laundry or something else that needed my attention and my exercise routine always suffered.  I knew that if I wanted to  see results, then I had to come up with a strict plan and stick with it!

yoga-tree-poseAbout a month ago I convinced a friend to come to a yoga class with me at a nearby studio Breathe Yoga that I had been eye-ing up since we moved here.  After my first class, I knew it was something that I wanted to make apart of a weekly routine.  It centered me- for lack of a better word.  I have three kids, I’m a busy Mom and our house is loud.  This place was quiet.  My house has demanding expectations. This place leaves expectations at the door.  It is a place that helps rejuvenate me and when I leave there, I leave with a boost!  It also helps me be intentional about having “me” time.  I can do something for myself without the title of “Mom” or “Wife” or “Friend” or whatever.  Of course, I am all of those things, and will always be those things, but for the hour and ten minutes that I am intentional about the practice of yoga, I get to be in the moment with just me.  Just my breath.  I can choose to invite God into my heart and mind, and meditate.  Or I can choose to have some quiet time alone focusing on my breathing.  I love that!

So, after a handful of visits to the studio, I found which instructors I like the best, and I am regularly going twice a week now.  Saturday mornings they have an intense Hot yoga class, which is my favorite class and on Tuesday nights they have a “Yoga for Everybody” class which is less intense, but a great addition to my week.  On the days I’m not practicing yoga, I’ve made a commitment to wake up every morning at 6:20am and hit the elliptical trainer for 30-35 minutes and then rotate doing some muscle strengthening exercises following that.  The kiddos start stirring around 7:15, so it gives me lots of time to get my cardio on why they’re still asleep.  Dan takes off for the gym early, so I bring the video monitor downstairs to listen out for any early risers.  The boys have a clock that turns green in their room at 7:20 and they know to play in their rooms until it’s green if they’re awake.  Most of the time, they abide by that rule.iworkout

There you have it.  I’m SERIOUS about working on my fitness.  Going on almost a month of this fitness routine and I’ve lost six pounds.  Still working on being more conscientious about my food intake.  Quality is ok, quantity is not good.  The good news is though since I’ve been working out, I’ve felt less hungry and have had more energy throughout the day.  I am ready to receive the kids in the morning with joy instead of feeling irritated that they’ve woken me up to start a new day.  I’ve been more intentional about my quiet time with God and I feel that I’m growing spiritually too, which is huge.  I know in order to be in the best overall health, it requires me to transform my mind, body and spirit to focus on HIM.  That is my mantra!

Updates!

So much has happened since my last blog post that it’s hard to know where to start with catching up! Here’s a little run through of some happenings.

1. I tested positive for Lymes disease from that tick bite back in February.  Crazy, right?  I took a month long course of antibiotics, but a few days ago I started getting symptoms again (stiff neck and back, extreme exhaustion, nausea, stomach cramps, etc.) So, I went back to get some blood work taken to see if the bacteria is still in my system.  Since I’m breastfeeding, they had to give me a different type of antibiotic than they normally give for Lymes since the medicine will transfer in the milk supply.  I got the results back from the bloodwork and I tested positive again for the Lymes.  Apparently, this monster wants to stick around for quite a bit.  I had to make a very difficult decision to stop nursing Sienna and get on IV antibiotics after having horrible neurological symptoms from stopping the oral antibiotic and the new oral antibiotic not working.  I now have to go to the doctor every day for IV rocephin antibiotic.  I will see another doctor for a second opinion this week to determine if it is advantageous to stay on the antibiotic for longer, or if I should chance it and stick with the 30 day dose.  We also got Sienna and Mason tested for Lymes as a precautionary measure.  Mason has had a rash on his bottom for quite a while (that appears to be some sort of insect bite mark), and even the steroid cream from the dermatologist will clear it for only a short time and it comes back.  Sienna was breastfed, it is somewhat unclear as to whether or not Lymes can be transferred by breastmilk.  She too, has had a diaper rash for some time that has been difficult to clear up (keeps coming back) so it is precautionary. We will find out by week’s end the test results. Praying they’re both clear.  The Lymes symptoms have been super scary for me.  Nothing like I’ve ever experienced before.  Stiff neck, sore lower back, brain fog, confusion, severe nausea, and exhaustion are a few of the symptoms that I’ve had.  I had to call my Mom to  and a friend to help with the kids since Dan was out of town.  It was super scary for me. I hope I never have to experience that again.  It has certainly given me a new perspective on life and I now am conscience to thank God each and every day for my health.  Something that is so easy for all of us to take for granted.

2. We’ve been so busy with getting ready for our big move! We’re are so excited that the new house is coming along nicely.  The house is fully bricked, the facade is about 95% complete, and they’ve been working on the inside for the past month or so.  Only about two and a half weeks left! I can’t believe we’re so close to moving into our dream home!

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3. Last month we celebrated our sweet boy turning two! It’s been so busy that I haven’t been able to blog about it until now, but we are so thankful for this sweet boy, and so glad that God decided to bless us by letting us be his parents. He has his own little personality that can sometimes be challenging, but he is smart, enthusiastic, compassionate and lovable.  We had a fun little morning celebrating his birthday at Ihop.  We decided to do a “Pancakes and PJ’s” birthday party where we had fun with his little friends listening to a story “Curious George makes Pancakes”, stringing cherrios, and used cookie cutters to cut shapes out in pancakes.  It was a fun little party and I think Mason, as well as his little friends had a nice time!  IMG_7805

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4.  Sienna had her first Easter this year.  The weather wasn’t ideal, but we still had a nice day going to church and learning about our risen savior, and visiting family.  The boys loved all the little toys they got in their basket and they had fun leaving a carrot out for the bunny.  Plus, they looked just as cute as could be.  So happy their our kids.  Love them to pieces.

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Parker Memorizes a Bible Verse

I found ABC’s printable scripture cards on pinterest from this site and had been wanting to make them for Parker for some time now.  This past weekend I decided to do it, and sent Dan the info and he had them printed for me.  I got some self laminating sheets and laminated myself and punched holes and added a binder ring.

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We had the ring of scriptures on the dinner table so I could practice with Parker during our meals.  Parker doesn’t really “memorize” things (he barely remembers familiar songs) so I was planning on doing a verse a month.  I’m working on the alphabet with a friend of mine each week, so I thought this would be a great addition.  I was so surprised when he completely had it memorized in just a few days! Wow, what a smart little guy!  I’m so proud of him!  I’m looking forward to doing the rest of the alphabet with him, and memorizing some great scriptures for myself along the way.



 

 

Happy Easter Sunday!

We had a great Easter this year! It was fun getting the baskets ready for the kiddos and telling Parker that the Easter bunny was coming.  He was full of excitement, and he and Mason had a great time seeing what surprises were left by the Easter bunny! 

We went to the 8:30 service at church so that we could get the boys down for a nap in between church and visiting the family.  It ended up working out well, and we came home, made brunch, and went for a nice little walk.  We wanted to see if we could feed the geese, but only ended up feeding the fish since the geese were on Easter break apparently. Then we all had a nice early nap!

After we woke, we packed up the kiddos and headed over to our Aunt Vickie’s house in Decatur an enjoyed a yummy lunch, a great time visiting with family, and an Easter Egg Hunt!  The boys had a great time, and since I didn’t stuff their basket with any candy, they were overjoyed to score some yummy treats!  It was perfect weather, and a wonderful Easter!

Mason’s Dedication

We dedicated Mason to God on Sunday.  We were joined with my Grandparents Eugene and Carolyn, my Mom, and my brother Spencer and his wife Lisa, to celebrate this important milestone in Mason’s life.  He didn’t wear a fancy Christening gown, but he was able to wear the same shirt that Parker wore for his dedication, which I thought was quite fitting.  It could be our little family tradition.  We learned something new during the dedication, we learned what the biblical meaning is for Mason, which is OVERCOMER.  Here is the corresponding verse with the meaning:

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.  To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it. Revelations 2:17 ESV

This dedication was a little different from when we dedicated Parker.  With Parker, we did it during the service, and simply made a declaration in front of the church to train him in the ways of God, and to be a Godly example for him.  With Mason’s ceremony, we had a bit of homework to do, and we discussed it among our family that we invited to the ceremony.  We were asked to write the kind of person that we hoped to see our child become by the time he/she turned 18.  This is what Dan and I came up with after discussing it.

Our prayer for Mason when he is older is that he is happy, healthy, and someone who has a heart after God.  We pray that he goes through life seeking God’s approval, rather than that of man, and that he strives to surround himself with Godly people and influences.  We pray that Mason learns the value in family, learns to stay strong in the challenging times, and is able to enjoy life and laugh through the good times.

We didn’t have a lot of space on the worksheet, but of course there are many other attributes that we hope that he has, such as a servant’s heart, and someone who strives to always be kind, giving, loving, and a great friend to others.  I don’t know a lot about Mason’s personality right now, but I do know that he loves to smile, he enjoys being loved on, and he seems to enjoy observing before trying something new.  He has always been great at everything that he’s been given.  I was nervous about weaning from swaddling,  nursing, and then recently, the paci, and he took very well to all of them, which goes to show that OVERCOMER is actually quite fitting.  I can already tell that he can overcome any potential challenge, or obstacle that is thrown his way, and allow God to guide him through it.

In addition to having Mason dedicated, we asked my brother Spencer and his wife Lisa if they would become Godparents to Mason.  They were asked if they would help be a spiritual guide as well as moral support to him throughout his life.  In other words, his little cheer leader and mentor in life.  We couldn’t think of a more fitting couple.  They recently moved closer, and we are so thankful that we are able to visit with them on a more frequent basis.

A Dedication to God

My husband Dan was brought up Catholic.  He attended the CCD classes as a youthster and learned a few hail mary’s or two, but in his words, it was a very structured and ritualistic.  It wasn’t until later in life that he discovered that it wasn’t about the hail mary’s and the confessions, but it was about having a personal relationship with God through Jesus.  Without sounding too much like a TBN special, it was with this kind of faith that we agreed that we should raise our son.  We don’t want to predetermine his faith for him, but we would rather him choose Jesus on his own.  This is why we believe so strongly in a dedication to God as opposed to a baptism at birth.  I’m not here to debate religion, as I believe everyone has their own reasons why they do what they do.  Each is personal, and I respect the choice parents make.  Just like any great structure, it is crucial to have the right foundation.  We think a Godly foundation is not only a major part of what will shape Parker’s life, but an essential part of him becoming the man God intended  him to be.  This starts with us as parents.  It states in Proverbs 22:6 “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” On Sunday, February 14th, 2010 at Stonecreek Church we dedicated our son to God.  We prayed that we would train him in the way he should go, and continue to pray for him and ask for guidance along the way.  We prayed that he would seek first the kingdom of God and that we would look to God for strength in difficult times.  I pray that he would not be so concerned with memorizing bible verses or lyrics to christian songs, but that he would learn to have a personal relationship with Jesus and a heart after God instead.

It was so nice to have family there to join with us in his dedication.  It’s a blessing  to know that they’re with us in this journey to be a good influence and to pray for him.  I am so grateful for that, because we certainly can’t do it alone.