2018 – My Year of Treasures

Every new year I ask God to speak a word to me – a prophecy of sorts – a word to focus on for the year ahead, that He will use for my growth, my good, and His glory. Jeremiah 33:3 comes to mind, “Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.” (NLT) 

2015 – Thanksgiving

2016 – Rhythms

2017 – Rejoice

2018 – Treasure (verb) – to hold or keep as precious – to cherish, prize

As I was praying about what word God would have for me in 2018, I asked Josh what he thought. He thought on it quietly and said, “grace and worship”. He reminded me that I’m often hard on myself and need to rest in God’s grace, and that lifting my eyes and heart in worship is the fastest way to run to His throne of grace.

Ultimately, I feel like God is asking me to be intentional about what and who I treasure in 2018. I don’t think He wants me to have the carefully curated life that I often long for.  I can sense Him asking me to cherish the messy, broken moments that I often wish I could fast-forward through. And to often take inventory of my heart and see that He is my ultimate treasure because He is the only One who is worthy of sitting on the throne of my life.

Here is a small but embarrassing list of ridiculously dumb things I am tempted to treasure: a clean house, a pretty house, new boots, buying new things to replace things that don’t need replaced (aka couch pillows), picture perfect time with my kids that isn’t full of redirecting and discipline, ugh the list could just keep going….

2018 will be the last year that I groggily nurse a baby long into the night. It will be the year of firsts and all the Abigail sweetness I can soak up.

It will be the year that Josh and I celebrate 10 years of marriage. I’m so darn in love with him! This year, I want to hold our marriage as precious even when life feels chaotic and time together alone is sparse.

It will be the year that Micah needs me to hold his hand as we navigate through the stubborn two’s and the three-nage year, all the while delighting in him and shepherding him towards the way of Jesus.

It will be the year that my spunky, style maven Lydia needs me to be attentive to her sweet spirit and remind her to trust Jesus for a heart that loves to obey Him and honor others.

It will be the year that my 7-going-on-20-year-old, Ruth, needs me to listen to all of her school day stories and speak into the pockets of her life where she needs perspective, love, and care.

So my prayer for 2018 is that I can declare the sassy kiddo, dirty-house, piles of laundry, cranky mommy moments as precious and treasure up all of them because God is working in every single one of them. I’m praying for a heart that is quick to say “Thank you Jesus!” even when a moment is far from picture-perfect. I tell the kids daily, “Things don’t matter, people matter” – so I’m praying that will take root in my own heart as I live in the clutter of our four young kiddos life. And ultimately I’m praying that God will remind me daily that He alone is the all-satisfying treasure my heart so longs for!

Here are some of the moments I’m treasuring up so far this year: IMG_1585As the girls and I binge watched Full House one night, Micah and Daddy served us ice cream in bed. I love watching my son turn into a Servant-hearted man like his Daddy. He then joined us in bed and licked his bowl clean.IMG_1767IMG_1760The kids are still fighting over Abigail. Like all the time. Not going to lie, sometimes I want to swat all of them with a fly-swatter but I am SO THANKFUL that they love their sissy. IMG_1771Joshua got me a van! Ours got totaled by a college dude last year and it was manageable until Abi arrived, and then our need for a van became quite urgent. I’m so grateful for God’s provision and Josh’s van hunting skills on Car-Gurus. IMG_1777Today while Abigail and I snuggle in bed, Josh took the other 3 kids to see a movie as one last hurrah before school starts. Lydia spent an hour getting ready and completed her outfit by borrowing my jean jacket and leather clutch. Not pictured, Ruth kept things classy with chandelier earrings and yoga pants.
(I should note that our parenting goals are to major on the majors and minor on the minors. So yes, my kids often go out in public resembling drag queens and I’ve decided that its a total minor. Majors for us are things like character, integrity, self-control, love for God and others)IMG_1800 And I will spend the rest of my days in 2018 nursing this chunk because she is constantly hungry and always up for a milk-induced nap on Mommy.

Thanks for stopping by and reading about my word of the year. Do any of you have one too? I would love to hear about them!

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Abigail Grace

Abigail has been here 8 days now and to say we are smitten would be the understatement of our lives. She is pure sweetness. Remember a year ago when God gave me a word for the year – Rejoice – well He knew something I didn’t! It wasn’t until after we decided our baby girl would be named Abigail Grace that we realized her name meant: Father Rejoices or Father’s Joy. Our unexpected blessing has been the exclamation mark on my year of choosing to rejoice in everything.

She was set to arrive via scheduled C-section on December 12. Of all my concerns and anxieties during pregnancy, the fact that Abigail would come on her own early wasn’t even one of them. No wonder God tells me not to worry about anything! None of my worries came to fruition and God was totally with me in the actual hurdle we were facing.

Josh has been telling people that for as dramatic as I usually am in daily life, when serious situations hit, the Spirit takes over and I am as cool as a cucumber. Long story short, I went into labor Sunday night the 10th, insisted on driving myself to the hospital so that the kids didn’t have to wake up. They sent me home and told me to call my doc in the morning since I wasn’t dilated yet. By 5 am though, my contractions were 5 minutes apart. My doctor said to come into the hospital and they would get me into surgery as soon as an OR in labor and delivery opened up. Remember how cool, calm, and collected the normally crazy Maddi is during intense moments? None of the nurses thought I was actually progressing in labor because of how at peace I was. As Josh and Stephanie told me later, the most serious thing I said during my super painful back contractions was a calm, “Oh golly.”

When my water broke at 10:30 am everyone started taking things really seriously. I was dilated to a six and super UNINTERESTED in a VBAC with a 10 pound baby. They got me to the OR quickly and I was dilated to a 9 and feeling the urge to push. God had spoken Psalm 27 to my heart a few weeks earlier and I was reminded of it as I lay on the table. Peace ushered in with the sweet words of His faithful promises.

 The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
    so why should I tremble?

At 11:11 AM Abigail was born. One of our dear friends was in the OR as a nurse to help get her cleaned up. Josh held her and we wept the happiest tears in the world. Later the kids got to come meet her with Grandmas and Grandpa. My best friend Stephanie was there to capture the whole day on film and just thinking about how thankful I am for her makes me weep hormonal hot tears.

Now we are home and I am slowly recovering, the kids are slowly adjusting, Josh is literally holding us all up with his servant heart, and all the Grandmas and Grandpas are surrounding us in love and support. My mom just left after a week of taking care of all of us and she was such an amazing blessing! Josh’s parents have been in and out visiting and bringing meals and loving on us so well. Now my Dad and Stepmom are here for the week to visit and I’m guessing between loving on us and playing endlessly with the big kids, they will go home really tired! Friends have loved us like Jesus, filling our fridge and bellies. We are worn out but our hearts feel like they are overflowing.

Abigail is the sweetest. She nurses like a champ around the clock. She has the perfect chubby cheeks. And her demeanor is so sweet. She doesn’t just want snuggled, she wants snuggled tight and close. I’m obsessed with smelling her breath and kissing her fat cheeks. Her fingers wrapped around mine slay me. And she has all of her Daddy’s heart. Brother and Sisters are enamored and fight over her most of the afternoon and well past bedtime.

Thanks you from the bottom of our hearts for the calls, prayers, texts, visits, groceries, gifts and love. We are so grateful. And thanks for reading about our newest love, Abigail!

5 Things Adoptive Families want you to know on World Adoption Day

Have you seen all the smiley faces on people’s hands plastered up and down your social media accounts today? I sure hope so! That means that you, like me, have lots of friends and family whose lives have been touched by the beautiful gift of adoption. November 9 is World Adoption Day – a day to bring awareness to adoption and celebrate one of the wonderful ways that God builds families – through adoption!

God chose to make our family grow through the miracle of adoption 2 and a half years ago and we are forever changed and grateful. There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t celebrate each of our children’s unique stories and our son’s story just so happens to include joining our family through adoption! Today Josh and I got a Target date and coffee date with our little Bub – we are soaking up every last minute he gets to be the baby of the family!IMG_0947

I have talked with countless friends and family members about adoption and I know that people have SO MANY questions. So today in honor of World Adoption Day I thought I would share 5 fun things that this adoptive family would love for you to know about adoption:

We are the lucky ones!

When someone you know has the privilege of adopting a child, whether that child is 1 day old, 1 year old, or 11 years old, those parents feel like all other new parents! “How can we be so blessed? So lucky? That we get to be this precious child’s parents?” So. instead of commenting on how lucky that boy or girl is to be welcomed into a loving family, just congratulate the parents the same way you would any other parents who had the honor of adding to their family. We don’t want our adopted children to ever hear that they are the lucky ones or that they should feel somehow indebted to be part of a loving family. We believe it is their God-given right the same way it is your biological child’s right to be a part of a family who treasures them!

We love our child’s birth family!

In our home, we call our son’s biological family his first family. That is something we would never want to take away from him or them. (We also celebrate that we are his forever family which is a privilege that no one can ever take away from us!) Every adopted child’s first family has their own story – some are very hard and some are beautiful and many are both. As adoptive parents, we want you to know that you should never, ever make jokes or say negative things about a child’s biological family.  And we want to honor our adopted child’s biological family by not giving away stories that aren’t ours to share.

When you are interacting with a adoptive family use language that honors the stories of all involved! Recently, I was getting pedicures with my son’s first mom and we had the honor of sharing how our stories intersected through adoption with the women painting our nails – there wasn’t a dry eye in the house – but the important thing was that the women painting our nails honored both of our stories! If you have questions, try wording them in a way that they would still be honoring if you asked them in front of both the biological and adoptive parents.

We love to answer your questions – at appropriate times in appropriate settings.

Many questions that you have are awesome and most adoptive families I know would love to help you understand the process of adoption! But always be aware of what ears are listening and the wording of the questions you are asking. There have been countless times that people have asked about my adopted child’s ‘real parents’ in front of all three of my children. And while I am happy to help you understand that we are indeed his real parents but that he also has a first family whom we love dearly, this conversation is very hard for little ears to digest. Look around, if there are children around that are impacted by adoption, it is usually best to keep questions to yourself until a more appropriate time. (Unless you are a stranger in Target, then just keep your questions to yourself forever and keep your nose out of other people’s business!)

If you do have questions to ask friends and family who have adopted, you could try asking the adults in private, “I would love to hear about your adoption journey but I don’t want to ask anything that you don’t feel comfortable answering. Would there be a time you could tell me a bit more about your family’s journey?”

Find ways to bless adoptive families the same way that you would a family adding a biological baby to their family!

Did you know many adoptive parents don’t get maternity or paternity leave at work? Or that many adoptive parents don’t get new meals brought to them like many families who have biological babies? Some of my good friends are foster parents and when they are blessed with a new addition to their family,  people rarely go out of their way to help ease their load. I really believe that this isn’t because people are trying to be mean, its just because its not as obvious to some about the giant changes this family is going through. When a family adopts, there are ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS growing pains for all involved. There is always time needed to grow together as a family unit and learn each other. So keep your eyes open and always be looking for ways to bless adoptive families. In acknowledging their family’s addition, you will bless them and help them feel loved and seen!

Adoption is amazing!

Yes, adoption is a long journey. Costly for many. Painful for some. But adoptive families want you to know that adoption is absolutely amazing!!! While some of us will shout about our adoption from the rooftops, others would prefer to be more private. But all of us feel honored and privileged to be a part of something as beautiful as adoption. And for Christians, we believe that adoption paints the most beautiful picture of the gospel that we love so dearly – that through Jesus, we have been adopted into God’s forever family!

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Thanks for stopping by and reading about something so near and dear to my heart!  Love, Maddi

Just a side note, I understand that I claim to speak for adoptive families in this post but I acknowledge that every family is different and some may disagree with bits and pieces of this post. That is completely valid! I am just speaking from a place where many of my adoptive friends and I tend to agree on various topics.

Fall Family Updates

We spent last weekend at Grand Lake with college friends and it was the deep calm breath we all needed this fall. And of course, amazing Stephanie Ferris was there to catch all the magical moments on camera when the sun started to set.

I thought it might be fun to share the pictures with some fall family updates along with them.

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As we get closer to Abigail’s arrival, Josh has assumed most dish duty, laundry switching duty, and Sonic runs for his cranky wife at 10 pm because I can’t survive without Sonic ice water. He’s the best hubs, dad, boss, and friend in the world and I am just so glad he’s all mine.

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I dont know that a better, more all-encompassing picture of Bitty has ever been taken. Those freckles, that strawberry hair, she takes our breath away. Lydia is in full-swing with half-day Kindergarten. Her favorite parts are seeing Ruth at recess, laughing with new friends, and learning her letter sounds. Her least favorite part is the dress code/uniforms. For a girl who is highly sensory-sensitive, wearing socks, tennis shoes, and polos everyday is torture! But we are so proud of her leaning in to her weaknesses and trusting God for strength. She is impatiently awaiting Abbi’s arrival and can’t wait to get to snuggle her a few hours each day before Ruth gets home. Ha! And her thoughtfulness continues to be one of the sweetest things about her. You can always count on Lydia to give you a shoulder rub and an honest compliment.

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Our Ruth Mae. She is advancing in gymnastics quickly and prefers to cartwheel instead of walk everywhere she goes. She loves second grade and she’s enjoying that her teacher plays the guitar and sings. She always comes home with a song in her heart. She takes her spelling tests super seriously each week and loves to practice her words, which is funny because I don’t think she’s spelled a word wrong yet this year! We love her when her silly side comes out these days. And she still loves being big sister. She walks Lydia into her classroom every single day and she comes home from school and immediately has Micah on her hip the rest of the evening.

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This was one of the only shots we got of our ornery, always on the go little boy and its the perfect display of the feisty face he gives people. Micah is soooooo darn fun right now. His vocabulary has EXPLODED. He loves to say “Thank you mama.” “Love you mama.” and of course “NO mama!” He talks about Abbi and prays for her all the time. He’s so excited to be big brother. The highlights of his day are when he convinces his sisters to jump on the trampoline with him and when he sneaks out of bed at night to climb into Mom and Dad’s bed. He always has a weapon on hand to fight monsters and his favorite show is Duck Tales.

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Sweet Abigail Grace. 11 weeks until we are planning on meeting her. She kicks all day every day and I really enjoy feeling her move around, except when she launches a foot into my ribs for hours on end. The kids laugh that she hates chicken because even the smell of chicken this pregnancy makes me gag endlessly. The kids also have fun laughing with me at my slower pace and cranky/emotional moments. Its really fun having them join in on the silly side effects of pregnancy and helping me laugh at myself. Every single time I open social media, an ad for OPAL ICE MACHINES pop up because I just want one sooooo badly that I search them often. (PS. Its not happening. They are like five hundred bucks.) We can’t imagine what life will be like soon with four kids but we are so excited to find out.

 

Let’s not be surprised when…

I get to speak at a Olathe MOPS group this month and I had so much fun reviewing my talk for it. As always, working through a topic is always one hundred times more helpful for me than it is for anyone else that might hear it. Sitting down and hashing out some things, pen to paper, always helps me hide away with God while He reminds me gently of some areas I need to keep growing.

One of Josh and I’s goals when we started our parenting journey was to parent our kids without using shame as a tactic to shift their behavior. We wanted to use love, prayer, God’s Word, safety, and security to woo them with the love of Jesus. Sure there is conviction from the Holy Spirit, but it turns out, all I can do is point my kids to the better way, the more narrow way, I can’t force their hearts into wanting it. Heck, Jesus is still working on my heart to want to take the narrow way most days because the wider path of self-centeredness is always so much easier. As we entered the crazy journey of parenting we wanted to leave the Holy Spirit’s job all up to Him.

Then we had kids and realized most of our best laid plans were laughable when a naked kid was karate kicking us because they didn’t want the clothes we chose for them, or a kiddo was barfing on the kitchen table at the mere thought of trying a dreaded green bean. Our standards and plans were still there but this time we were in the game, trying to learn the ropes while we were getting tackled and pummeled by real Mom and Dad life.

So in the tough moments, instead of steering clear from shaming my kids, I find myself yelling, “Ruth Mae/Lydia Joy/ Micah Joshland, what are you thinking!?!?!” Or, in a wild moment I shout at them about their behavior and how its ruining the day. Am I super embarrassed by my own actions and word choices? YES MA’AM! So hold off on the comments with the parenting books I should read, I get it, I’m a mess of a mom.

But, I am so grateful for the way the Holy Spirit has worked on me in the hard seasons of parenting. His ways are gentle, loving, and tender. Does he still discipline and convict me? Sure thing. But there’s no surprise there when I fail him. He isn’t shocked by my sin and yelling “Madison Mae, what were you thinking?!?!”. He’s holding me, saying, “I know, that’s why I came. You can’t do it alone. I never meant for you to. I would love to revive that cold part of your heart.”

In response to God’s insane outpouring of grace on me, my favorite thing to get to say to my kids in their rough moments is this: “Me too.”

I know you lied just now because you didn’t want to have to try that green bean, and it was wrong of you to tell a lie. But do you know what? Me too. I struggle with lying too. Just this week, I lied to Daddy to make myself sound better. Do you know who we can trust for forgiveness and ask to rescue us from our lies?

I saw the way you spoke so harshly to your sister just now. You sounded like you didn’t even love her. Me too. I hear myself speak so harshly to you kids. I struggle with self centeredness and wanting y’all to do things my way. I lose my patience too. Do you know who came and lived the perfect life that we can’t live? Jesus. And he did it so we could know his perfect love and he could save us from our harsh ways. Let’s ask Him for help.

Hey, I love when you help me cook but when you crack and egg too early and dump the flour everywhere you are choosing not to trust God for patience. I get that. Me too. I chose that earlier when I yelled at you kids for moving too slowly. I wasn’t trusting Him for patience. Do you know what the Holy Spirit loves to fill us with when we ask? Patience!

Here’s to all the Moms and Dads struggling today. Let’s not be surprised by our kids when they mess up or when they act like….kids! Let’s give them the gift of saying, “Me too!” and going together to the throne of grace to ask for help whenever we need it!

And here’s a few pictures from our grace-needy home lately. Because when I’m lying awake in the middle of the night feeling Abigail kick, my favorite thing in the world is going through old blog posts and watching these little treasures grow up right before my eyes.

IMG_0263We had a “no” weekend last weekend. Our answer to every activity that wasn’t restful was ‘no’. We needed it so badly. And we walked away so refreshed. IMG_0293Micah is my constant cooking helper and my constant reminder to grow in patience. The boy is HANDS ON! IMG_0290The girls helped me decorate for fall last week. Their new picture is hanging in the bathroom and they are so proud.IMG_0334How is he so grown??!?! This boy loves his bike. IMG_0314We are soaking up every minute of nice weather this month and enjoying all of Dad’s hard work on the yard. He’s transformed it from a weedy dandelion filled mess, to a retreat for us and all our students to hang out in!

Thanks for stopping by and reading about the messy lessons we are learning lately! I sure am thankful for everyone who takes time to link arms with our family as we journey together.

Sweet September means 1 thing… It’s time for Send Joy!

This morning I made a very special announcement in our house. As my kids groggily got dressed for school, I was singing through the house announcing that it is officially sweet September! Wooooo! August is like the dreaded Sunday of Summer, everyone is anxiously preparing for their upcoming school year. For us August is packed with fun but it’s also super overwhelming. Y’all, the crazy is over and sweet September is finally here. This means a few things for us:
IMG_0132The big girls in the Fieleke house are officially back in school and Mama says AMEN. fullsizeoutput_31eaMy house is full of college students again and I am real happy about that. IMG_0218My yard is occasionally full of college students too and its not smoldering hot so thats a big bonus!
IMG_0249Josh and I are back in the groove of work and we get to spend our days talking to students about Jesus. We love our job. IMG_0253Micah is taking me on all the breakfast dates because sometimes Mom (and Abigail) just really need a cinnamon roll to survive the day.

But there is one last fabulous thing about Sweet September – It is time for Send Joy!!! 2 years ago I started a gift box swap during September for all my girlfriends. It was birthed from the idea that some friends and I had because we wanted to slow down and savor September after the crazy of August had passed. That sweet feeling you get when you go out to check the mail and there is a package with your name on it, is the ABSOLUTE BEST! So every September, I open Send Joy for the first 100 people who sign up to participate!

Here’s the big idea: This swap is open to the first 100 people to sign up now through September 4. On September 5, I will email you the name & address of someone in the swap and I will email someone else your name and address. You have about 2 weeks to put together a gift box to Send Joy to someone else in the swap. When your box is complete, you will toss it in the mail to whomever you get assigned to send one. I will send a reminder email to everyone on September 15 that it is the last day to send your box.

That means this month you will have the opportunity to Send Joy to another woman, who like you & I, is fighting to find sweet moments to savor, in the midst of some of our real-life messiness! How fun is this!?!?! And if all goes according to plan, you will walk out to your mailbox one day this month to find a box full of joy waiting for you!

So what do people put in their Send Joy boxes? Here are some fun ideas I grabbed off Instagram of boxes that people sent out last year (we use the hashtag #sendjoy to track the fun!):

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Screen Shot 2017-09-01 at 9.44.37 AMI love when people include personal notes full of encouragement, even though they are usually being sent to a stranger!

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Your Send Joy box can have anything in it! Its the thought that counts. It is just so fun! we get to be women who Send Joy to a complete stranger and declare that MIGHTY WOMEN LOVE TO LOVE EACH OTHER!

So if you are still with me and thinking, YES I AM IN!!!… let me answer some questions you might have, and then I will tell you how to get your name on the list…

How much do I spend on my Send Joy box? I suggest between around 15-20 dollars before shipping, but feel free to use your creative skills to hand make items to save money! Just remember that you are trying to make someone’s day with the box you send.

How do I guarantee that I will get one in return? Ugh, I hate to say it but there is no guarantee. But I believe with all my heart that there is tons of joy in the giving! And as long as everyone actually follows through on their commitment, you will get one in the mail this month! (over the last few years, I have had very few people not follow through)

What if I get really excited but I’m not the most reliable person at follow through? Please don’t sign up. Girl, you do you and bring a neighbor some flowers. For real though, if you haven’t actually been to a post office in 10 years, save yourself the struggle and someone else the disappointment by not participating.

How will I know what the person I am assigned to Send Joy to will like? You won’t, but thats kind of the fun of it. Just put together a box that screams joy to you and I’m sure we will all love whatever we get in return. And for sure include a sweet note with warm wishes to your recipient! And post fun pics on social media using #sendjoy so we can all share the love.

You still with me??? Here’s how to sign up for the Send Joy September gift box swap:

  1. Send me an email right now with #SENDJOY in the subject line. And put your first name, last name, AND MAILING ADDRESS in the message. My email address is madison.fieleke@cru.org 
  2. I will email you by September 5 with a name & address that you are assigned to make a box and Send Joy to. Check your spam if you don’t get one from me by then.
  3. Assemble your Send Joy box and send it as soon as you want to or as late as September 15. I will send out one reminder email. Don’t procrastinate. They all need to be sent by September 15.
  4. Try to wait patiently as you check the mail every day! Eeeek!
  5. When you get your package, send a thank you note, or post a picture on social media with #sendjoy so we can share the joy!

 

(I will post an update in this post at the bottom when the swap is full and closed – So assume that its not and email me now!)

 

Friends, I am so excited! If you are joining me, make sure to share the link to this with friends on Facebook or Insta so your friends can jump in too. Oh, this is going to be so much fun! 

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Ok, I’m off to TJ Maxx to shop for my Send Joy box! YAY!

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SEND JOY sign up is closed for 2017. If you signed up, check your email from me on Sept. 5th and you should get your assignment! Email me if you don’t get assigned anyone but first check your spam or trash folder! Love, Maddi 

Together is my favorite place to be

IMG_1259Now that my kids are school aged, every May I get so excited about summer. I told my friends this year, “Our lives won’t feel so fragmented now! My kids are home and we get to do life as a family unit again. Even things like grocery shopping or making cookies are more fun when we do them as a family.” And I truly do soak in every mundane, glorious minute of summer with them.

But its now nearing the end of August. School starts this week for my oldest two. And you know what? It is time for them to GO. The bickering, the boredom, the insane activities they come up with to terrorize the house and their pregnant sleepy mother. Be gone children! The other day, I took only two of the kids grocery shopping and I was living my best life. I am only half serious, of course, and the other half of me will still shed a tear or twenty when they go off to kindergarten and second grade on Wednesday because it all goes by so quickly.

I’ve been thinking about summer and how sweet it is to regroup together and find a slower rhythm, and then how great it is to launch our kiddos back into the world each Fall to become more of who they are made to be as individuals. Our summer family time is like a respite from the chaos of the crazy, hard, messy world. We spend time laughing and dancing and resting. We go on family walks most night with popsicles and talk about the silly parts of our day and the serious things like building our character.

Earlier this month, my best friend, Stephanie Ferris (of the amazing, Ferris Wheel Photography) did a lifestyle shoot for us. We didn’t even talk about it before hand but I was hoping that she would capture the essence of our summer. And she did just that!  Summer to me is family time. I was hoping for pictures that etched into memories the substance of our family of 6 (with sweet Abigail still growing in me) living out our normal routine that just happen to include tons of time soaking each other in.

Before I share any pictures, I need to give some disclaimers: 1. I cleaned my house for 3 hours before the shoot. In all fairness, I don’t mind not looking back in ten years at the dust bunnies around the floorboards. 2. Even though she totally caught pictures of us living our normal lives, I am usually wearing Josh’s boxer briefs while these things are taking place. The kids think I am nuts, but they are the only thing that is comfortable around my big baby belly,  but they didn’t seem entirely appropriate for a photo shoot. 3. If you wonder where I got any of our furnishings or decorations, you can assume garage sales, thrift stores, or hand me downs. I really love turning other people’s trash into treasures.

Ok, I’m glad I got those things off my chest! Now, here are some of my favorite pictures from the shoot:IMG_1217IMG_1211IMG_1253IMG_1255IMG_1275IMG_1207IMG_1204IMG_1243IMG_1250IMG_1284IMG_1286IMG_1291IMG_1296IMG_1300IMG_1315IMG_1303IMG_1078IMG_1144IMG_1105IMG_1119IMG_1121IMG_1137IMG_1102IMG_1035IMG_1041IMG_1046IMG_0981IMG_0992IMG_0995IMG_1006IMG_1011IMG_1016IMG_1020IMG_1030IMG_1022IMG_0912IMG_0918IMG_0924IMG_0941IMG_1075IMG_0975IMG_0976

Thanks for taking time to look through our pictures! If you are interested in booking Steph for a shoot, you can find her here. When I asked her about what she loves about lifestyle shoots, she said,

” I love this type of photography the most because I feel like I am capturing the small moments. They don’t feel special at the time but they are the memories that we want in the future. I always want to remember how my daughter’s legs were so pudgy before she started to walk, how my son looked so peaceful when he was reading or even what my husband and I looked like snuggled up on the couch together while all craziness broke lose around us in the form of toys and legos and children running around. Those are the  moments I love to photograph. Real life moments. The moments my heart will ache for decades down the road. There is a time and place for cute matching outfits for family portraits but I will always treasure the fun pictures of day to day life of my kids wearing super hero capes and masks jumping off furniture.”

I couldn’t love Ste’s photography style more!!! I just know that I will look back on these pictures longingly in September, ok maybe not until October, and remember the sweet family time we get during the summer.

For this afternoon, I am thinking of all the Momma’s and Daddy’s sending their babes off to school with mixed feelings! Half of us wanting to kick them in the rear on the way out the door for all the days they refused to sleep in or all the times they ate chocolate everywhere but the kitchen tables, and the other half wanting to lock them in the house forever and soak up their sweetness!