Monday, August 31, 2015

Mom-ing Through Faith: On Treating Ourselves

This weekend, we visited one of my sisters and her family in Georgia. On Saturday morning, our hubs and my oldest son, Banks, headed out to the golf course to enjoy 18 holes. When they returned, my sister and I snuck out for pedicures and a little shopping. The first store we walked into was an adorable little boutique filled with clothing for both mommas and kiddos. I beelined for the sweet children's clothing and then immediately admitted to my sister that I have a really hard time buying things for myself but will not hesitate to drop a dollar or two or more on my children at a moment's notice. Their closets are filled with adorable, fashionable clothing while mine is rarely updated and contains less than half of what theirs hold. 

On the way home from our visit, I was reading through a book I adore by Lysa TerKeurst, Am I Messing Up My Kids, when I came across a chapter that I think the good Lord intended me to read at that very moment: "Is It Wrong To Treat Myself?" Ding, ding, ding. Wow! Do I struggle with this. 

Do you, too?

Lysa acknowledges that "the best kind of refreshment is found when we go to the Lord and ask Him to fill us." But, as she suggests, just as our little ones' eyes light up when we surprise them with a special treat, which in turn makes us mommas feel happy, "our Heavenly Father would like us to receive things that make us happy as a treat from Him."

Now, do I think this means go spoil ourselves rotten? Overspend? Become greedy? Do I think this will provide lasting joy and fulfillment? No. 

But, as Lysa suggests, these little things can lighten a heavy moment and put a little pep in our step. 

She offers three suggestions that I think are great ways to offer little treats to ourselves: 

(1) Make a list of little things that make you happy and create a little care package for yourself the next time you're feeling drained. Things like a special Starbucks drink, a favorite candle, homemade cookies, new stationary, etc., can all bring a little ray of sunshine to a gloomy day. 

(2) Make sure there is always something to look forward to in the near future on your calendar. Perhaps it's a date with your hubby, a girls night out, a hair appointment, or even a bubble bath once all the kids are down. Knowing something special is coming is a great treat for yourself!

(3) Get rid of "hoarder disorder." Burn the candle you have been saving for special occasions, serve yourself lunch on your special china, put on the cute new outfit you've been saving. There is no prize for hanging on to the "good" stuff for a "special occasion" and not using it. Make today a special occasion!

As Lysa says, "I want to be a mother with a smile on her face. I want to teach my kids that it doesn't mean you are a worldly person if you happen to find a little joy in the things of the world that bring your heart comfort."

So. Let's do it, mommas. Let's find a way to put a smile on our own faces this week! Who's up for the challenge of completing the three suggestions Lysa offers to treat ourselves? I know I am!

For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving. 1 Timothy 4:4.


Friday, August 28, 2015

Five On Friday: So Long, August Edition

Week 2 of elementary school is in the books! And how are we saying good-bye to August already?! The weeks definitely go faster now that school is in session. Here's a quick review of what we were up to this week before we hit the road:

Last weekend, Banks was all about some football. As in, he had his first official flag football practice and then was invited to go to the Panther's game with one of his best buddies that night. He had a blast! Meanwhile, we had a little 3-year-old slumber par-tay with Raleigh and the twins of one of my college BFFs (little Harrison was just along for the ride). ;) Across the state, my hub was having a ball with his ol' college roomies, and even got to sneak over to visit with our brand new nephew, Wilson. It was an awesome weekend for all for sure!

Earlier this week, we headed to the preschool to meet Raleigh's new teachers. We ADORE them! Raleigh tends to be really shy and reserved in new situations and around new people, but her warm and caring teachers seem like the perfect fit for our girl. We fully intend to enjoy her last week of "summer" before she starts school just after Labor Day...

It is no secret 'round these parts that I do NOT enjoy cooking: the meal planning, the grocery shopping, the prepping, etc. It is just not my thing. HOWEVER. I have consistently produced the best, homemade meals I have ever created in my entire life over the last few weeks (ask my hub--he'll confirm!). And we're talking, delicious, made-from-scratch meals. How, you ask? Magic, you ask? Nope. Enter This absolutely amazing site has changed our dinner menus. I started with a two-week trial, but now I am HOOKED. You get to specify what type of meal plan you'd like (e.g., budget family; low calorie; clean eating; 30-minute meals; kid friendly; etc.) and then every week, you are emailed a list of recipes. You can pick and choose which you would like to use (and then save those that were hits with your family to your own "recipe box"), and, here's the best part: it creates a grocery list for you, which is separated into the section of the grocery store from which each item can be found (e.g., produce; deli; etc.) as well as the expected cost. I am telling you, it has been AMAZING. Just a few of the made-from-scratch meals I've made over the last few weeks are shown below, with many others (e.g., Grilled Pineapple-Jasmine Chicken; Italian Sausage Spaghetti; BBQ Chicken Macaroni and Cheese) not pictured:

 Peachy Pork Chops With Steamed Rice and Lemon-Garlic Broccoli
 Broiled Fish With Fruit Salsa With Almond Rice Pilaf and Butter Green Beans
Roasted Pesto Chicken With Pear Feta Salad and Hot Peas

We are closing out Week 2 of kindergarten and things have been absolutely GREAT so far! I pray every day that Banks' love of school will not wane. He is just so excited to go each and every morning. I miss him like crazy but also love hearing about every detail of his day as soon as he gets home. I always look forward to 2:45 pm, when he gets off the bus and we can just chat and enjoy an afternoon snack together. I've been trying to show him how excited I am for him for this new academic adventure, by doing little things for him, like putting notes in his lunch box each day and creating a new message in the driveway that greets him as soon as he gets home. So far, kindergarten rocks!

This Fall is already proving to be a busy one (and Fall hasn't even officially started yet!) as our weekends are filling up with out-of-town trips and football games. Case in point: We are headed to Georgia in just a couple hours to spend the weekend with one of my sisters, her hubby, and my adorable niece and nephew. I.cannot.wait.!!! Although we had a little health scare with Raleigh earlier this week (herpangina--ever heard of it?), we are well enough to still make the trip. So, to Carrollton we go!

And with that, the week comes to a close. Have an awesome weekend! Be back soon! 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Isms, Part 21


The comments and observations and conversations from my two oldest littles are just priceless these days. As seen in, Isms, Part 21:

Banks: "Mom, I have a good idea, and it might be a really good idea."
Momma: "What?"
Banks: "What if we go around the world to every house and see if they have any food and if they don't, we can give them some money so they can get some food and toys."
Oh, you sweet, sweet boy. <3

(While playing the card game Uno with Nana at the beach...)
Banks: "Nana, can you struggle these? 
And then, maybe after that, you can difficult deal them?

Banks: "Momma, you know what I'm going to be a when I grow up?"
Momma: "What?"
Banks: "A Daddy."

Banks: "Mom, you have a big hiney."
Momma: "I do?"
Banks: "Yeah. A really big one!"
They always know just what to say, don't they? I guess Pure Barre has really been enlarging my ledge. 

Banks: "Does God know how many stars are in the sky?"
Momma: "Yes!"
Banks: "Holy cow! He really does know everything!"
<3 <3 <3

Daddy: "Retire to your quarters."
Banks: "I have no idea what that means."

Raleigh: "Mom, my honey said today is the worst day ever."
Momma: "Why?"
Raleigh: "Because the sun is hot and lellow, and she doesn't like that so very much. But I do!"
Yes, Raleigh calls her baby dolls her "honeys." And yes, she says "lellow" for /yellow/. And no, I don't correct her when she says either. 

(Starts singing...)
Raleigh: "Soldiers in your way"
Momma: "Wait... What song is that? It sounds familiar..."
Raleigh: "It's on TV. (Sings) Soldiers in your way."
Momma: "Ohhhh...Foldgers in your cup."
Apparently, she gets her lyric confusion from her momma, who never knows the right words. 

Raleigh: "Mom I'm picking the grass and throwing it."
Momma: "You are?"
Raleigh: "Yes. That's what God told me to do."
Cute now. Not so cute if she continues to use this excuse down the road...


(after listening to that oh-so-familiar tune from the 90's...)
Banks: "Who really let the dogs out?"
A valid question, I think.

Raleigh: "Mom, do you want to see who can do the more better-est?"
And then, a little piece of my grammar-lovin' heart died. Ha! Looks like we've got some work to do. ;)

Banks: "Mom, can you please buy me some different shampoo. I don't want to burn my sweet eyes."
On it. We've got to protect those sweet eyes. 

How I love these kiddos and their innocence!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Mom-ing Through Faith: On Worry

I used to worry all the time.

I worried about what I did. I worried about what I didn't.
I worried about what I said. I worried about what I withheld.
I worried about what I controlled. I worried about what I couldn't.
I worried about health. I worried about wealth.
I worried about family. I worried about friends.
I worried about the future. I worried about the present. I worried about the past.
I worried about the couldas. I worried about the shouldas. I worried about the wouldas.
I worried about my husband. I worried about my children. I worried about myself.

One of the things I worried about the most? Mommahood. Am I doing it right? Am I preparing them enough? Am I praying for them enough? Am I showing them my love enough? Am I setting a good example enough? Am I doing enough? Am I enough?

I worried. All the time.

But then?

Then I listed to, perhaps, the most powerful sermon I have ever heard. You know what it was about? I'll give you one guess...


It's funny how God gives us what we need, right when we need it most. 

The sermon was by the one and only Andy Stanley. If you are in a place of worry, I strongly recommend that you listen to, or watch, it
Did you know that "Fear not" is the most repeated command in the Bible? The Lord knew we were going to worry. He created us, after all. I mean, here's the thing: We are mommas. So, inherently, we will worry. And if you're like me, with genes and life experiences, and personality traits that greatly exacerbate that worry, that anxiety, well, life can become heavy. Worry can weigh you down. 

But, during the sermon, Andy poses five questions that help to highlight the futility of worry:

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to anyone's life?

Who of you by worrying has probably taken a year off your life?

Who of you by worrying is driving people in your life out of their minds?

Who of you by worrying has upgraded your wardrobe or reduced your grocery bill?

Who of you by worrying has added value to what you value most?

If worry has done none of those things for you, then it makes absolute sense for Jesus to say, DO NOT WORRY. FEAR NOT. But how? How do we not worry? Isn't this easier said than done? Yes. Aren't most things in life that are worth it easier said than done? Yes.

Worry is all about trying to control the uncontrollable. Instead of seeking first the things we have no control over, we should seek first His kingdom. Focus on today--the present--rather than worrying about tomorrow.

As Andy says in the sermon,

When you're tempted to borrow from tomorrow, look for a way to participate in what God is doing today. 

In other words,

Why smuggle tomorrow's trouble into today?

Andy then offers three practical steps to help combat the worry. He says we should:

(1) Begin your day declaring your trust. (Often, if you can get ahead of worry, you can stay ahead of worry. As soon as your eyes pop open each morning, pray: God, I trust in you.)

(2) Relabel your worry: tomorrow. And remember Jesus said I don't need to worry about tomorrow? Therefore, we need to focus on today. I think this verse from the Bible says it best:

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34.

(3) When worried about tomorrow, look for a way to participate in what God is doing today. And when you're worried about yourself, pray for someone else, someone going through the same thing, facing the same worries. And focus on the present, not giving in to the worries of tomorrow.

Two things have proven immensely helpful for me over the last few months as I have worked to combat increasing anxiety. 

First, recognizing, as Andy says, that worrying about something does not solve the problem. Worry doesn't change the outcome. It doesn't make the problem go away. Instead, worry over things of tomorrow are robbing me of my joy from today.

Second, being aware that our days are numbered. Sure, I will do my best to keep my children safe and sound, but I have also come to realize that God already has a plan for their lives. He knows how many days they will have on this earth, and me worrying over things I cannot control will not extend the length of their time here. By giving this worry up to God, I have been able to more fully enjoy the days that we have together while not getting bogged down in the worry.

So, as we adjust to new chapters in life, as we take on new challenges, as we close old doors and open new ones, let's rely on our faith. Let's rely on our Jesus. Let's show our children the power of prayer--let's show them that we are putting it all in God's hands, and resting assured in His plan, not our own. This just may trickle down to our babies, after all. They are watching. Let's give them a good, faith-filled show.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matthew 6:25-27.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Hello, Kindergarten!

Shooey! The first week of elementary school is officially in the books, and we are one tired crew! Nonetheless, this week was a smashing success for my kindergartner. I could not have asked for a better start, and I know this will be an awesome year! That being said, here's a little of what was going on with our family this week as we began this new chapter: 

The desk! My hub and I surprised Banks last week by telling him that he and his daddy were going to be building his very own "office" in his room. You see, Banks is obsessed with his daddy's office, and we thought it would be nice for him to have a little workspace all his own where he could work on his homework this year. Banks and his daddy worked on building his desk throughout the week, and I worked on finding some fun accessories for it. We didn't let Banks see the finished product until the big reveal, and needless to say, he LOVED it!!!


The first day! The big day had finally arrived. As I tucked my buddy into bed that night, I read him the very book my own momma gave me when I left for college. And then I walked downstairs and burst in tears. We're talking full on sobs. I just couldn't believe that the little boy I had cradled in my arms seemingly moments ago was headed to kindergarten. Luckily, I was able to get all my tears out so that the next morning, the big day, was a smashing success! Banks was SO excited when I went in his room to get him up that morning. He was already dressed and sitting at his new desk doing "work." He looked up at me. "Is it time, Momma?" "It's time, buddy!" And off we went! Our whole family of five drove Banks to school, and he did not show a second of hesitation, walking proudly to his classroom and immediately selecting a book to read while waiting for the rest of his classmates to arrive. A quick kiss, and I was on my way home!

Mimosas for the Mommas! To help distract some of us Class of 2028 kindergarten mommas from sending our babies off to school, I hosted a "Mimosas for the Mommas" that morning. It was so nice to not only see so many sweet momma faces I know and love, but also to provide hugs, support, and cheers! to each other as we welcomed in this new chapter. 

Post-school, Day 1! Let's just say I was so excited to see Banks' smiling face that I totally forgot to put Raleigh down for her nap that day! I was just counting down the minutes until I could pick my kindergartener up from school and hear all about his day! We drew a little surprise for him in the driveway and then treated him to snow cones to celebrate his success. "What was your most favorite part?" I asked him. "That's a hard question!" he said. "Why?" I asked. "Because we did so many fun things!!!" he explained. Y'all. He just LOVES school! Such an answered prayer!

The bus! Over the years, as I thought about elementary school, I never had intentions of my kiddos riding the bus. But Banks begged, begged, to ride the bus, and I just couldn't refuse. I felt very comfortable with it, as he knows so many older buddies who ride his bus (and his bus is only for kids from our neighborhood; so there are lots of familiar faces. Actually, there are THREE elementary buses for our neighborhood alone! We have tons of kiddos 'round these parts!). Anywho. We drove him to school the first two days but let him start riding the bus on Wednesday. And ohmygoodness, he may have been even more excited to ride the bus than he was for the first day of school. My hub walked him to the bus stop (which is directly across the street from our house), and I watched from our front stoop as he boarded the bus. The bus then drove down the street before circling back around and driving back past, and y'all. If you could have seen his precious face out the window. He was so excited, smiling as hard as he could and waving with all his might. <3

Sky Zone! And yes, there are two other sweet kiddos in our family who have been so supportive of their big brother, and all the attention he has gotten, over the last week, so I decided to do something fun for them and take them to "toddler time" at a big trampoline park called "Sky Zone." I will say that I really missed having our Banks with us, but I think Raleigh and Harrison would was SO MUCH FUN!!! They had the best time and just laughed and jumped and dove and smiled. I'd say it was a good week for all, especially since...

First dance class! ...Raleigh started dance yesterday! She is doing a combo tap/ballet class on Thursday mornings, and she has been wearing her sweet little tap shoes around our house ever since we bought them several weeks ago. I danced throughout my childhood, and was a Rally Cat at Clemson; so, it just made my heart soar to see that she loves it so much, too! I can't wait to see what this year holds for her! 

Like I said, shooey! What a week! And there's no rest of the weary, as we have a solo momma weekend ahead while daddy has a weekend away with his college best buds, Banks' first ever football practice bright and early tomorrow, and one of my college best buds and her adorable 3-year-old twins coming to stay with us for the weekend. Whew!

One last thing: I want to say thank you to my wonderful family and friends for the many prayers, phone calls, texts, hugs, updates-and-Banks-sightings-from school, check-ins, etc., over the last week. You made this big adjustment so much easier and smoother for our family, and I love you so much for it! 

Y'all have a great weekend. :) See you next week!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Night Before Kindergarten

Your bag has been packed;
Your lunch has been made;
Your clothes, been laid out;
We've fervently prayed.

And now you're tucked in,
We've counted those sheep;
I peek just once more;
You're still, fast asleep.

I am not yet ready
For this bright new start;
But here's the thing, Banks,
you certainly are

You're ready for reading;
You're ready for fun;
You're ready for lunch,
Recess in the sun.

You're ready for math
And P.E., too;
You're ready for friends,
Both old and new.

You're up for the challenge;
You're ready to soar,
To reach your potential,
To learn so much more. 

You're ready, my Bankster,
But please know this, too:
You're taking a piece
Of my heart there with you.

I'll squeeze your hand gently
As we say goodbye;
Give a wave and a smile,
And then wipe my eyes.

I'll count down the minutes
To see your sweet face,
To hear your adventures
Within this new place. 

Tomorrow we start:
Kindergarten, here we come!
Be kind to my buddy,
Take care of my son.

The day has come, Banks. I could not be prouder of you, and I will miss you like crazy each and every moment. BUT. The world awaits. Let's do this thing! FMES or bust!!!

With All My Heart,

Friday, August 14, 2015

Five On Friday: So Long, Summer Edition

Well, it's safe to say this has been the fastest summer of my life. Sheesh! How are we halfway through August and officially saying good-bye to our summer break this weekend? Pure craziness, I tell ya. Anywho. Closing out the week with the Friday Five:

Last weekend, six of my neighborhood girlfriends and I traveled to Lake Watuaga, in the mountains of Tennessee for an amazing weekend away. My dear friend's parents were so kind to let us use their lake/mountain house and were the most gracious hosts, making us breakfast and dinner outdoors over the fire, giving us boat tours of the most beautiful lake I've ever seen, driving us to the "beach" where the river met the lake so that we could lounge, drink, and chat, and then whipping our tails by pulling us around on the tube, leaving me with as many bruises and laughs and amazing memories. It was an absolutely awesome weekend with great friends, one I won't soon forget. I'm already counting down 'til next time! And while we ladies agreed that some of our pictures and videos will forever be stored in secret in "the vault," here are a few that are okay for sharing: 

 Four of us went up Friday night and had dinner in Boone at an AMAZING brewery before the rest of our crew joined us the next morning
 Yes, that is a pig. He randomly walked out of the woods. Gotta love Tennessee. :) 
 We love Mr. M! Such an awesome host (and chef!)
 Breakfast over the fire
 The most gorgeous lake I've ever seen!

It's no secret that I love take each of my babies on one-on-one Momma dates from time to time, and with kindergarten fast approaching, I knew I wanted to take Banks somewhere special before the school year began. One of our dear friends plays on the Panthers, so when his wife, also a close friend, and her sons invited Banks and I to join them for a Panthers practice, I didn't hesitate to graciously accept the invitation! And what an awesome, memorable morning it was! Banks and I headed to Spartanburg, South Carolina, where the Panthers practice and were given access to the fields. We got to stand right next to the players as they were practicing. Our friends also invited another couple, who brought their four adorable kiddos, and they all had the best time throwing around a football and getting in their own "practice" while the Panthers were just feet away. So cool! Afterwards, Banks was able to get the players to sign his football, which is now proudly displayed in his room. It was just awesome! So, thank you, Brittany and Graham, for this super cool experience. We loved every minute. Go Panthers!

Sadly, I ended up getting sick shortly after coming home from our special Momma date (a two-day-long migraine and still lingering, nasty cough, to be exact). I was especially bummed about this because my hub and I had to cancel plans with two of our best friends for our annual double date to Carowinds. I was pumped all summer to ride front row in the new rollercoaster, Fury, and was so disappointed when I got sick. :( I guess Fury will have to wait. Luckily, after 48 hours the migraine finally made it's way out and we were able to close out tons of errands that took over the week, including haircuts (Raleigh's first EVER! Yes, her baby brother got his first haircut at 15 months before she got hers, at 3.5 years), a neighborhood kindergarten social, getting little feet measured, party planning for a certain someone's upcoming 6th birthday, getting supplies for a very special father-son project :), and various odds and ends to prep for the elementary school year. Whew!

Yesterday, my hub and I accompanied Banks to meet his kindergarten teacher. I have been praying hard for the kind of teacher I hoped he would get for his first year of formal schooling, and I definitely think Mrs. M is an answered prayer. With 20 years of elementary teaching experience, including 9 in kindergarten as well as experience as a literacy facilitator, I know he will grow leaps and bounds under her care and instruction this year. Not to mention, her warm smile, love of teaching, and kind demeanor will undoubtedly help him adjust to this big change. We also met Mrs. M's teaching assistant, Ms. M, who was formerly a preschool teacher at Banks' preschool. That has to be a good sign, right? Right? Banks also got to tour his new school, and was so excited to tell his little sister all about it when we got home. :) While my momma heart aches to be sending my first baby off to kindergarten, I truly believe that this will be a magical year for my Banks.

So. Here it is: the last weekend of the summer. Our plans? Family time--just the five of us. With me being gone last weekend and my hub being gone next weekend, we wanted to spend our last summer weekend as just our little Lu crew. We'll be hitting up the back-to-school pool party tomorrow but other than that, have no set plans. Hooray!

I hope you have a great weekend, too! If you have a minute to spare, would you mind praying that Banks has an awesome week in kindergarten next? And if you have two minutes to spare, will you also pray for my momma heart? Thank you kindly. <3 Have a good one!


Ahhhhhh!!! I had to include this last minute addition: I am an aunt again! My sweet nephew, Wilson, was born last night and is so very handsome and perfectly healthy. Welcome to our family, sweet boy! We love you! And congrats to the brand new momma and daddy! <3