How I Survived Flying Solo With 2 Kids

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BWAHAHAHAHA!

Actually, before you judge, for the first hour we chewed gum, looked out the window, played with PlayDoh, colored in some fun activity books that were given to us by a sweet friend who knew we were going on a long flight (thank you, Miss Cathy!), and Happy Baby flirted a little bit with the nice flight attendant.

He even made something out of PlayDoh for her. ;-)

So they weren’t plugged in for the entire trip – don’t worry.  Although when you are flying solo and weighing the cost of rotting their brains versus losing my sanity, I’d say the scales are definitely tipped toward the brain loss. #survival

It’s a shame I couldn’t have used the technology while we were waiting for our luggage because I mentioned on Facebook that baggage claim was where the boys really delivered some of their best dramatic performances.

Since I was the only grown up in our party, I was carrying everyone else’s carry on bag – plus my own (which if you are a mom you know that this means a bag about the size and weight of a piano).  While we were waiting for our bags, Happy Baby decided it was a good time to start acting like a puppy and repeatedly lick my pant leg.  Then he leapt up behind his brother (who had been trying to board the luggage conveyor belt) and the two boys fell over.  That’s when I almost fainted because at the exact same moment our bag came along, Happy Buddy dissolved into loud wails from the injustice of being knocked down by a pretend dog and Happy Baby was happily licking the airport floor.

This is also when I had to remind myself that motherhood is sanctifying.

(Right after I rubbed a Clorox wipe on Happy Baby’s tongue.)

In a perfect world I would have updated y’all about our trip a week ago, but we have been busy enjoying summer and taking naps during normal times of productivity.  Hopefully I will have a little bit of time this week to post a few of the pics I got while we were at the Jersey Shore.

Happy Wednesday!

– Julie

Teaching Our Kids About God’s Love For Every Color

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As reports have flooded our TV screen this past week about the horrific tragedy in South Carolina, I feel absolutely broken.

But, as it is with all sin and darkness, I know that God has given me His Spirit to shed light on the matter and make a difference in my own family regarding the topic of racism.

Our pastor revealed to us last Sunday a neat truth that I had not noticed before in the book of Genesis and I thought it was an extremely helpful visual for teaching kids about God’s plan for all the different colored people in the world.

He encouraged us to remember that when God created man, he made him out of dirt.

Genesis 2:7 – “Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.”

Have you ever stopped to think about the colors of dirt?

Because I am not a gardener in any shape or form, I decided to look this one up on Wikipedia.

Here is what they say about soil color – Soil can exhibit a wide range of color; gray, black, white, reds, browns, yellows and under the right conditions green.

Think of the dirt in your own backyard, think of the white sandy beaches in the Bahamas, imagine the red clay of baseball fields… The color range is vast.

Now look around at all the men and women and children of the world.  It’s hard not to see that everyone is, indeed, a different color – staying true to the nature of the very thing God used to create us!

And you can’t even argue with the green dirt part… I have been on a boat in rocky waters and experienced this color firsthand.

The point that our pastor made was that because we were all formed from a pile of dirt, how could we ever assume that our little pile of dirt is superior to someone else’s?

God’s heart for people can be seen in Matthew chapter 22 where he gave us the 2 greatest commandments – to Love Him and Love Others (see it here).

And “God shows no partiality,” (Romans 2:11), so it doesn’t matter what color you are – the Gospel is for everyone.

I urge you, dear sisters, tonight as you rock your little ones to sleep, sing to them reminders about God’s heart…

“Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight.  Jesus loves the little children of the world…”

And I pray that in our obedience to share this good news with our children we will, by God’s grace, raise up a generation who loves all people (even the green ones).

– Julie :-)

The Quality Time Kid and the Martha Mommy

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I am a DO-er.  I am always moving, cleaning, typing, working, reading, talking, folding, laundering, imagining and any other action verb you can think of.

This makes an interesting dynamic in our home because Happy Buddy’s love language is quality time.  All day long he asks me to play with him and look at him and help him and cook with him and sit with him and read with him and snuggle with him and just be with him.

And all that Martha in me is learning to be a little bit more like Mary.

Because y’all don’t have to tell me that time flies.

I KNOW.

In 15 years I want my boy to still ask me to do all those things I listed above with him (even snuggle, because I know 25 year old boys like to do that with their mamas – at least that book Love You Forever gives me hope), so every time I squash that desire to write that email, scrub that dish, or go on that purge-every-closet-in-the-house rampage, I am planting a seed for future relationship with my boy.

I don’t get it perfect every day.  I have a really hard time not trying to do 1,000 other things while spending ‘quality time’ with Happy Buddy.  Sometimes the laundry wins.  Or my iPhone. ;-)

And I also feel the need to point out the importance of balance here.  If I said yes to Happy Buddy EVERY time he asked me to play with him I would literally be playing with him ALL DAY LONG.  I grew a whole other person in my belly for him to have as a regular playmate.  Plus, we expect Happy Buddy to daily have time to play by himself, as well as come alongside me as a helper in the work that has to get done in our house.

Not to mention that I think there are some risks in spending too much time with our quality-time-loving-kids… Sometimes I see a little bit of an attitude in Happy Buddy that feels entitled to my presence instead of having a heart of gratitude for the efforts I make to invest in his heart.  That’s when we step back and try to regain a healthy perspective on mommy’s availability.

But with all that said, the bigger picture is me learning how to love my little guy best.

When Happy Buddy was born, we picked a name for him that means ‘Peace’ and ‘Rest’.

I had thought that by naming him this great name that he would become the very definition of it.  As a newborn that would look like a very peaceful baby who didn’t cry.  As a toddler he would quietly play and color in coloring books for fun.  As a preschooler he would never get in trouble in class or have emotional outbursts.

I smile now at how the Lord had a bigger plan for this boy’s name (and I laugh at my lack of understanding about REALITY – hahaha).

Because the meaning of Happy Buddy’s name wasn’t necessarily meant to embody his character but rather transform MINE.

This boy calls me to rest when my flesh wants to work and do.

This boy calls me to peace when I want to worry about all the things a mama can worry about.

This boy reminds me that watching him shoot hoops or pulling out a game of Battleship or sitting on the couch to watch a Nascar race or playing T-Ball with him in the 100 degree summer heat is the ‘better choice’ (Luke 10:42).

Summer is giving me the gift of more quality time with this amazing boy.

And I’m hoping to make Mary proud. :-)

What is your child’s love language and how does it challenge you to grow?

– Julie

My 2015 Summer Bucket List

MY 2015 SUMMER BUCKET LISTLast Saturday was my first official day of summer vacation and let me tell you something –

I FELT LIKE A DIFFERENT PERSON.

Without the impending doom of my alarm clock going off at 5 am on Monday, I may or may not have frolicked around the house on Saturday like a My Little Pony.

I was also incredibly productive.  I washed Happy Buddy’s sheets – something I am sure hasn’t been done since the school year began, I worked on a project for our church marriage ministry that I have been putting off, I made my own bed, cooked dinner (something else that hasn’t happened since the school year began – ha!), and stayed joyful all day!  If the rest of summer is going to be like this –

I. CAN’T. WAIT.

Do you remember my Summer Bucket List from last year?  That was so fun to write and even though I didn’t get everything done on the list, it was still helpful to have goals so that I didn’t just spend the entire vacation washing sheets.

Here’s what I am hoping to do this summer…

1.  FLOORS – The hubs and I took a Financial Peace class with Dave Ramsey earlier this year and we have decided that one of the things we would like to save up for is new flooring.  We have had the same carpet throughout our house for about 12 years now, so you can imagine what it must look like.  There is that spot where Happy Buddy colored on with red Sharpie, the multiple spots that encountered a potty training accident or stomach bug incident, paint drips, dirt, mud – you name it.  You could probably conduct a science experiment based on the amount of elements found hidden in the carpet fibers.  We are really hoping to replace the carpets once our budget allows.

2.  CHORE SMACKDOWN – Lately I have been having this growing concern that my boys’ lives are way too easy.  This is a breeding ground for whiny, ungrateful attitudes.  When it comes to chores, I have kind of slacked off on them because in all honesty, it is sometimes easier to just do them myself!  Plus there aren’t as many broken dishes – ha!  But I know that my boys need good, hard work to help them appreciate their many blessings, so this summer our home will be attending Chore Bootcamp.  HERE is a good list of chores according to age that I am using as a reference.

3.  NEW JERSEY – I grew up in New Jersey and I haven’t been to see my Oma since THIS POST a few years ago, so the other day the airlines were having a good deal and I jumped on it.  I can’t wait for my boys to hang out with my grandma again and get to see all my aunts and uncles and cousins.  One of my uncles even has a giant pet pig that lives in their house named Franklin Boaris.  You can imagine how much fun it will be to see him!!

4.  TEACH HAPPY BABY TO SWIM – Last year we made it our mission to teach Happy Buddy how to swim and I am proud to say he is now a PRO.  Happy Baby on the other hand has a long way to go.  We are especially uneasy being around water with him because of his muscle weakness, so having him trained will be such a relief!

5.  NEIGHBOR LOVE – We have had several new neighbors move into the houses on our little street and I regret to say that I have not been over to welcome them yet.  I am hoping to make THIS RECIPE and drop by to say hello.  I also want to do some fun surprises for our neighbors this summer like one neighbor just painted their house and it looks really nice.  I thought we could drop a note in their mailbox telling them so.

6.  SHUT-IN VISITS – With the world falling apart the way it is these days, it’s easy to retreat into our quiet, comfortable lives and forget that one of our main purposes as Christians is to reach out and be a small part of the solution.  I know I can’t solve world hunger or the ISIS situation or environmental disasters, but I can teach my kids to love and serve the poor and needy.  One practical way I would like to do this is take the boys to visit a few of the older members of our church’s congregation who haven’t been able to leave their homes due to illness and/or age.  It’s risky bringing 2 extremely energetic little buddies into that kind of setting, but I really think it will be good for the souls of everyone involved.  The hubs even mentioned tagging along with his guitar so we can sing some worship tunes.

7.  WORSHIP NIGHTS – Speaking of worship, the hubs is the worship pastor at our church and this summer he has visioned out a few nights where we gather in a warehouse setting with a bunch of friends and guitars and just sing to the Lord.  I cannot even express how excited I am about this.  Worship on Sundays is my favorite and sometimes I feel like we just can’t linger in the Lord’s presence the way I would like because of service scheduling and time constraints.  This is a night to linger.

8.  BLOG DREAMING – I have been writing for Happy Home Fairy for almost 6 years!  It is one of my favorite things to do and I dream about it being my full-time job one day.  The hubs and I have been talking about ways we can try to monetize the blog, but that would mean moving it to a self-hosted site and investing some $$$$ into construction and design.  It is a big decision and I have some fears about it (like y’all wouldn’t follow me if I moved and then the whole thing would crumble), but we are praying and seeking God about the next step.

9.  MOVE HAPPY BABY TO BIG BOY BED – Happy Baby is 3 now, so it’s time to get him out of his crib.  Plus, he is also finally potty-trained so when he has to go tinkle in the morning if I am not there first thing to help him out, he tends to not be able to hold it any longer and thus the reason we need new carpets.  Lol.

10.  WEAR A BATHING SUIT – I mentioned HERE that I am carrying some extra weight right now, but I am determined to not let that keep me from wearing a bathing suit this summer and actually getting in the pool and ocean with my kiddos.  I have missed out on a lot of fun because of my silly insecurities and don’t want to let that happen anymore.  Plus, if you read THIS INSPIRING POST, you will probably go put a swimsuit on right now and just wear it permanently for the rest of the summer.

What’s on YOUR Summer Bucket List?  I’d love to know!

And don’t forget – my FAVORITE SUMMER THINGS GIVEAWAY ends TOMORROW night at midnight, so if you haven’t entered yet, do it NOW by clicking HERE!

– Julie :-)

Grace for When Your Pants are Snug

grace for when your pants are snug... love this encouragementA few years ago, after sharing my heart with a counselor-type friend, she turned to me, looked intently into my eyeballs and said in an authoritative therapist voice,

“What does Julie need?”

I think the answer she was looking for was perhaps along the lines of, “Freedom from this particular sin struggle…” or “To have a more intimate relationship with my husband…” or “To grow in wisdom.”

But instead I responded with, “30 minutes on the treadmill, 3 times a week.”

I’m a little embarrassed to admit the shallowness of my response, but I guess you could say that this small pocket of exercise had become something really important to me and my emotional/physical well-being.

Then about 8 weeks ago I hurt my knees pushing it too hard on said beloved treadmill and in order to preserve my ability to walk, I declared a fast from exercise so that they could heal.

And, ironically, at about the same time my knees were injured, life just seemed to get 5 steps crazier and I do not even understand how I fit 30 minutes of treadmill time, 3 times a week, into my schedule before.

This has been quite difficult for me as the healing process has been slow and unfortunately, without some exercise, my body has changed a bit over the last 2 months.  The things that were semi-flabby are now very flabby and my pants are snug and I am running out of ‘flowy’ shirt options, if you know what I mean.

It has been REALLY tempting in this state, for me to get discouraged.  To let the fact that I am uncomfortable until I can get home and put on stretchy yoga pants make me grouchy.  The voice of condemnation says I’m not working hard enough, it’s all my fault somehow, I’m ugly and not good enough and should just accept it and buy new pants.

And then that little annoying voice also reminds me about it being swimsuit season – UGH.

But here is the good news that I have felt the Lord whisper in my ear the past couple of days –

There is grace for this.

I am in a season.  I’m not giving up on making healthy choices.  I try my best to eat good food and not have too many accidents with that Costco-sized bag of chocolate chips in the pantry.  I know that summer is coming and maybe my knees will finally be ready to gradually get back into some kind of workout plan.

Somewhere along the way, though, that exercise time had become a little too important to me as I discovered how my identity – my beauty and worth was all wrapped up in the thing I thought I ‘needed’ so much.

I think the Lord gently uses situations like mine to remove the idols of my heart so that I can remain steadfast even if my knees are not treadmill ready ever.

Because perfect bodies don’t exist.

I’m holding my body and my schedule out before the Lord as it encourages me to do in Romans 12:1 and I am trusting that He is pleased with me and the ways I am choosing to spend my time in this season.

I need to teach, I need to serve my kids and hubby, and sometimes life just has a mind of its own.

Like the day I wrote this post.  I had planned to come home from work that day, change clothes, and hit the treadmill for the first time in 2 months.  But on the way home I got rear-ended at a red light, spent an hour talking with the police, came home, made a few insurance-related calls, cooked dinner, bathed the boys, rocked Happy Baby to sleep because he was in the car with me and needed some extra love and comfort, read to Happy Buddy, drove to Walgreens to pick up some antibiotics for Happy Buddy who has a double ear infection, washed the lunchpails for tomorrow, went outside to admire the hubs’ hard work of installing gutters around the outside of the house, and then made him dinner.

Then at 10 pm I sat down with the hubs to watch Gilmore Girls and blog instead of exercise because I felt that one of you needed this message.

Perhaps one of you had a baby recently and are overwhelmed with the responsibilities and you’re frustrated with the extra baby weight but you think that even if someone put a treadmill in front of you, you would fall asleep on it.  Or maybe you’re in a super busy season like me and waking up at 4 am to go for a jog is just not practical (nor is it good for your sanity).  Or maybe you have an injury too.  Or maybe your metabolism just isn’t what it once was.

Whatever the reason, dear sisters, take heart.

We do not give up on striving to maintain healthy and strong bodies, but ultimately, we don’t let guilt keep us from remembering what is most important.

You are beautiful because of Jesus.

You are beautiful because you choose to exude HIS joy no matter how you feel.

That confident smile of yours is what people will remember – not that little bulge at the pants button.

And heaven…  Heaven doesn’t have metabolism issues or bummed out knees or treadmills.

Hallelujah.

That is what Julie needs we all need. <3

– Julie

“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits for this life and the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8

(Hey there, sweet friends!  I would love it if you would stop by Happy Home Fairy again tomorrow for a GIANT Summer Giveaway that I am unbelievably excited about.  See you then!)

Don’t Waste This Day

mother's dayI received an email today from a company that sells kid shoes and it read, “Happy Mother’s Day!  Today is ALL ABOUT YOU!” and it made my heart a little sad.

Sad because we buy into the idea that we need a day to be pampered.

We think that we need roses on the nightstand, cards from our kiddos, a bag of our favorite chocolates, breakfast in bed, a tidy house, or a foot massage at a fancy spa in order to feel special and valued in our role as a mother.

But this is not so, my precious readers!

You are a good mother no matter how today went because of Jesus.

This afternoon I sat in Happy Buddy’s room folding laundry – a task that the world might tell me I shouldn’t be expected to do on Mother’s Day – and my sons played around me.  In between piles of shirts and socks, we had a few tickle fights, I had to handle an ‘issue’ that broke out between the boys, someone fell down and got stuck in that space between the bed and the wall (hysteria – lol), an entire box of Matchbox cars got dumped in the middle of the carpet, we called Mom-Mom to sing her a special song, and Happy Buddy lost his first tooth.

It certainly wasn’t breakfast in bed, but even in that crazy space of time, I felt an overwhelming thankfulness to God for the opportunity to serve in the role of mother.

While having a foot massage is wonderful, what is more wonderful is filling our hearts with His presence and joy so much that those petty expectations of pampering give way to the beautiful peace of a soul satisfied in Him.

So, sweet sisters.  I hope this day was not wasted in disappointment or bitter resentment, but rather in the glorious reflection that you are seen by the King.  That Jesus knows how hard you work and sees how much you give and His heart longs to pamper you with the fruits of His Spirit.

Because a foot massage is over in like 10 minutes, and chocolates involve calories, and flowers will fade away, and if your house was tidy today it will be dirty again tomorrow, but the effects of being a mother who walks with Him will last for all eternity.

You are beloved, dear mothers!

Happy Mother’s Day.

– Julie :-)

“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

That Time I Was In a Talent Show With My Kids

FXtalentshow-14FXtalentshow-18FXtalentshow-19FXtalentshow-16FXtalentshow-15FXtalentshow-21A few weeks ago I signed myself and my boys up for our church’s annual Talent Show.

We decided to sing our favorite bedtime tune – “The Pajama Song” by Teatime With Tayla.  You can view it on YouTube HERE.  Be forewarned – it’s not the best song to actually sing right before bed as it might get your kids so hyped up it will take 9 hours and possibly some Benadryl to get them to calm down.

(I hope y’all know I am totally kidding about the Benadryl thing.  Lol.)

As the Talent Show approached, however, I started having second thoughts.

I mean, who was I kidding?  My kids RARELY do what I want them to do.  In fact, I began having visions of full blown tantrums center stage.  Not exactly the kind of talent I want them showing off, yah know?  But they were offering a Chick-fil-a dinner before the event, so I figured that was a point in our favor.

I was also doubting that it was a good idea for me to get up there and dance around in fairy wings because I am 32 now and all the mature moms I know lead beautiful, quiet lives without mismatched knee socks and overabundance of glitter.

In the end, though, we went for it.

And I’m so glad we did because it was SO. FUN.

The only setback was that Happy Baby got stage fright the second we stepped out in front of the crowd and he needed me to hold him through our entire performance.

I may be 32, but I danced and sang my way through a 3 minute song with a 30 lb. child on my hip and I did not fall over dead from exhaustion.

If that’s not talent, I don’t know what is.

– Julie :-)