Thursday, December 19, 2013

thanksgiving [yes, thanksgiving]

why not post thanksgiving happenings the week of Christmas?  i love the reminder to give thanks, it can also be pretty convicting when you realize you've spent eleven months being a little less than grateful for all the amazing gifts we've been blessed with [not just material, but relational, family, opportunities, provision, the promises of God, etc.].  i pray that God grows our little family to live in gratitude over the next year [and always]. when next november rolls around i hope i don't get broadsided with the same heart issue.  i pray that Jesus would be our everything. that we'd believe and live like HE IS ENOUGH. because he is.


the weekend before thanksgiving benny played in the first annual turkey bowl football game!  it was awesome; such a great turnout, guys and girls ready to rumble and then share a meal together. the only downer was that it was twenty-something degrees and windy. ouch...feel the burn. i'm not much of an athlete [surprise!] and i may actually be anti-competitive so emmie and i opted to be cheerleaders. i lost my voice so we were the silent type of cheerleaders. 

look at all those people!!! mainly Young Life leaders and friends of those folks. 
emmers did really well for how cold it was. I stuck her in this snowsuit for the first time that i originally thought was WAY TOO BIG for her.  go figure, i could barely zip it up, but it did do its job once we got it on!  we snuggled in puffy blankets until she was too restless and then we headed out to thaw & nap.
i think if it had been warmer emmie would have tried to run onto the field and play with her poppa. maybe they'll have a spring game so we can see?  i think she'd love that.
on thanksgiving day we got to go to my cousin's for 'supper'. this was the first thanksgiving since my sweet grandma passed away and we always had thanksgiving at her house in the past. maggie was an amazingly gracious host but it was a little sad to not be at Grandma's with her ridiculously infectious laugh in the place we're accustomed to. still a wonderful day with family and after about 5 minutes emmie was comfortable enough to start raiding drawers and screaming wildly. i'd say it was a success. :)

we hopped from one fam to the next and headed up to northern ky to see benny's crew. since he had a few days off school we wanted make the most of it and some extended family was in town so it was double great. i took almost no pictures [fail!] but i did get these gems!!
ecb in nonna's heels

they love each other
photo booth pics with this my ducks

last but not least, we got to celebrate our precious little babe silas' birthday!  i cannot believe he's four.  i can't communicate how shocked i am that he is that old.  i checked his birthday invite at least a dozen times to check his age.  time has just gone by so fast.  he is such a sweet-hearted little guy and is growing into a wonderful little boy.  unbelievable.    i love that he takes time to look after emmie.  he's really sweet to her and him with his little sister - i melt.  your momma and daddy are doing such a great job loving and investing in you buddy.  we're so blessed to watch you grow!  happy birthday sweet boy.
si had a great lil party complete with cupcakes, cousins and scooters. em even crashed a 'little picnic in a tent' situation that was taking place.  she didn't ask permission, just made herself at home.  hilarious.  we'll work on manners / social ques someday soon.

so thankful for all the precious time with family and friends this season.  i pray that we live in thanksgiving, now and forever more.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

...there is freedom

i meant to post this ooooh over a month ago but this is my life...

my dear friend cassie had a series rockin' through november up until last week all about freedom.  she felt like the Lord was pushing her to put this good news out into the universe and to use the good ol' blog world to do it.  she is such a faithful young woman & i'm incredibly blessed to know her.  seriously, one of the most genuine, kind people i know.  beautiful inside & out.
cassie wrote, along with some of our friends, all about what God has been teaching them when it comes to living out the freedom we've been given in Christ.  i even had the honor of contributing a lil something myself about freedom & joy.  you can find the beginning of the series here!  i hope you'll be blessed by their words!

i'll be back someday soon...maybe.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

pumpkin patchin' with our pumpkin

i missed halloween but we're squeaking in this post before thanksgiving. ay ay ay, i'm patting myself on the back.  we found ourselves on our first annual pumpkin patch trip as a family of 3.  i think we will find a 'new' patch next fall but this was just fine for the day with a 1 year old - officially, sweet memories made.
her favorite part was probably this.  wandering through the pre-picked pumpkin field as soon as you enter the farm.  she went around and touched each one and then tried to steal some mums.
it was a gorgeous day, but a surprisingly, blazing hot day.  i was wearing a sweater and jeans and immediately wished i was in shorts and a tank as soon as we exited the car.  that made me a little 'eh' ... oh and i forgot to wear deodorant.  so it was an 'eh' and a 'ew' moment for me [and maybe for others too ... yikes].  although, it was worth enduring to see our little babe on a 'fall farm' for a day.
my little doll baby ran her little heart out.  we didn't pay to do any of the extra things - she wouldn't really appreciate it and was just as content running in fields and touching grass, so that's what we did.
we had quality family time for a bit.  i think in an effort to wrangle this wild one we gave her the best seat in the house...right on poppa's shoulders and then we wheeled her around  in a pumpkin wagon, which she thoroughly enjoyed.  she wanted back in as soon as we got her out.  i bought what i thought was an 'emmie sized' pumpkin and at check out she found an even ittier one for so tiny.  i loved that, it fit in her tiny hands perfectly.
it was a sweet day and i think little ems had a good time.  i look forward to many years of patchin' in our future, hopefully we'll be more appropriately dressed, ahem, prepared & at a farm that is a little less 'commercialized'.  hay rides should be free!  i'm just saying.

we hope you're enjoying what's left of fall in your neck of the woods, i know in ky i'm clinging to what's left of the colorful leaves, days in the 50's & well, the month of november.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

day in the life

i started writing this a month or two ago so the info & some pics are a little dated but it still needs to be posted for this momma's fading memory.  i don't want to forget!  and since i'm not making a point to do them monthly [i'm hoping just to be consistent as life happens, so far...failing] i just need to fit them in when i can.  here's some of who little em is becoming...
em loves walks, like with her own two little feet, not strolling.  she started walking pretty well around 13 months, where she would take more than a few unassisted steps.  now at 14.5 months she is trying to run.  it is awesome.  she goes as fast as her little legs will carry her until she falls down or runs into something.  if we're inside she's doing laps around the house and if we're outside on the court [which is a very common occurrence] she doesn't run so much as stop every two feet to pick up leaves and rocks.  she is obsessed with leaves and rocks.
this is her around this time - 14.5 months
she is going to flip once all the trees around here lose their leaves.  i'm going to let her jump in leaf piles. -- it's now one month later...well, the leaves have fallen and oh man is she in love.  something that i find especially sweet is that she loves the ugly ones best.  there will be vibrant red or yellow leaves right in front of her in autumnal perfection and she'll specifically go after the ratty, broken brown ones.  ben says that she finds beauty in unexpected things.  i hope that it means that she'll love the unlovable someday.  either way, it's awesome.  i taught her how to stomp on crunchy leaf piles - it's a new favorite!  oh, and she found her shadow!!  on an especially clear day, she looked down and there it was.  i showed her how her shadow can wave and dance, so she giggled and chased it for a long bit.

em wore her little hunters this past week for the first time [a month ago].  she was so adorable but they are still a little too big for her and she's pretty unsteady in them.  i can't wait until they are in her normal shoe rotation. *** they officially are her go-to shoe.  when we're around the house, even in a diaper, she goes and gets her boots and wants to put them on so we can go play outside.  hint: if you want hundreds of strangers to comment on your babe's adorable feet you should invest in some baby hunters and just wait as the unsolicited raves come pouring in.  em's sweet aunts definitely nailed it!
more current 15.5 months
now that it's cooler we go on lots of target and mall runs.  it's a little dangerous for my wallet but worth it for you to get some exercise.  you've memorized where build a bear and the disney store are in the mall and they are the only stores you try and go in to.  sometimes you let me hold your hand when you walk, but only on your own terms.  you hate when i force it [for safety of course].
build a bear CEO
trying to convince me that a giant mickey mouse would look great in the living room.
she loves to run back to her room, even when the light is off [creepy] and sit down and turn the humidifier on.  hahaha when i go in and turn the light on she's just sitting there in the mist with a huge grin and giggles.
ems running like a maniac through a fabric store.  she LOVES to touch things
she plays little library and reads books, has tea parties and talks to all her 'babies'.  she has me make forts over her crib and then belly flops to the open side of her bed and just giggles and giggles.  she loves to put all over her bows in her hair at the same time.  love love loves to brush her teeth.  she can be focused on something for a pretty considerable amount of time now.  she can spend 20 minutes or so reading books or one of her favorite pastimes, moving her sharpie markers from one mason jar to another...a baby's work is never done.
em dances whenever she hears music and wants her poppa to play the guitar whenever it catches her eye.  she bobs her head in the backseat if a song comes on the radio that she likes.  makes me laugh every time.  she just recently started to try and sing herself, especially when i rock her to bed.  as i sing, she sings too.
em and si playing / screaming at 'family dinner'
she still doesn't say a lot of real words but she talks constantly and just this week started shouting "MAAAAAAM" whenever she can't see me or when she wants something. in a really loud voice.  when i tell her "shhh" she sticks her finger up her nose.  i don't know where she got that.
she eats everything, always.  like, really never refuses food.

she still takes two naps a day.  just when i thought she was becoming a one nap baby, nope.  still sticking with too.  most days its two 1.5 to 2 hour naps each and then bed for the nap from 7:30p to 7:30a.
something i'm obsessed with.  her facial expressions, namely, the brows.  she has these super expressive eyebrows.  when she's concentrating on something or thinks it's interesting she raises those little brows and her eyes get wide.  melt my heart.
she went on her first ride in a swing after a lunch date with our sweet friend bridget.  we'd tried the park a few times in the summer but with no trees covering, the black plastic seats we're basically a little inferno, ready to scorch.  fall is perhaps the best swing weather?  we shall see.
i can't believe how much she is growing up and changing.  this stage is so fun.  we laugh together pretty much all day long now - sometimes i think i need some adult conversation, a massage and lets be honest, a shower...but really i can't imagine being anywhere else, chasing this crazy little princess as she's becoming a little girl - for sure my favorite job.

and just for good measure...
an em in the wind
auntie liz airplaning em while momma takes a migraine break {THANKFUL}

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

first trick or treat

our little mems became a little mouse and had her very first trick-or-treat halloween.  i kind of don't know if i should 'like' halloween or not, you know the underlying meaning and all but to have a reason to dress up our sweet little babe and adventure around to see neighbors with friends and family, i can get behind that.
we actually had two days of halloween, the 31st our town was having a big ol' storm so they moved trick-or-treat to the 1st but my family has a tradition of all being together, aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins all go to my parents, visit and trick or treat together.  since the soup was already 'on' before halloween was rescheduled we still went over, with our mouse in tow, to the parents.
:: emmie driving her car vs. emmie driving my car ::
we all loved getting to see the family and have our little mouse run all over the house with her itty puffy body.

on trick-or-treat night we had a super duper busy day since it wasn't really our original plan but that was ok.  we went over to our sweet friends, the postons and wandered from house to house collecting leaves, and candy, but mostly leaves.  emmie didn't go to every door but she did walk up and down the street like a champ, little tail just a waggin'.  and look at her duck friend...eeeek! best friends in the making...
:: memmie the mouse :: si as super-hero flash :: liz the super-sitter :: elle the fuzzy duck ::
i know emmie doesn't look so sweet in this picture.  to that i respond...her face just looks like that.
and last but not least, the mouse eating cheese.  could it be more fitting?
ben got the sweetest video of emmie bear wandering the streets.  it was a beautiful night with sweet friends.  even though emmie may not remember it always i think i will.  i'm really glad we could do this as a family.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

growing girl: summer recap

fall is already giving way to freezing temperatures every few nights and i've yet to post some pics of em over the summer.  it kind of breaks my heart because i know i meant to post these a long while back and make myself a few notes about all the fun things that she was learning and doing as she was growing into a little girl.

during the summer emmie turned 1!  i think i still need to post that too...eeeek [i'm sorry emmers]!  it is so crazy how quickly time passes.  even looking at these pictures that are 2-4 months old seems like forever ago.  she already seems so much bigger.

in the summer she had 8 teeth total, 4 on top and 4 on the bottom.  she loved/loves to eat food, all kinds, any time.  basically turns nothing down.  she had like 2 days of being finicky and then got over it.  i feel like we totally lucked out in this department.
emmie bear learned to walk!  like for real.  mid-july she took her first steps but was so timid and not read to go for it.  by thirteen months she was on a roll, going steady and now she's running absolutely wild.  i was so anticipating hearing her little footsteps scamper up and down our hallways and now she does! basically all. the time.  she's getting more and more independent and it is just the sweetest thing for her to run back to her room and just sit quietly reading her books while i peek in to check on her. just adorable.

i spent about 3 weeks in this position, me leaning down, walking like a hunchback, while little bit holds on for dear life, getting those feet moving.
during the summer [and on pretty days now] we spend a lot of time during the day outside.  emmie LOVES the outdoors and is obsessed with nature, all kinds - wind, birds, flowers, rocks, leaves...oh geesh how she loves leaves.  during the summer the pool and parks were certainly our friends.  we either went on tons of stroller walks, pool splashing and picnicking & once she started walking a little better she started walking herself on our adventures.
i'm struggling to remember timelines and details...dang it momma-brain!  

emmie's hair really started growing in around 13 or 14 months.  these pictures are a little before it really started going.  currently, the back is an awesome baby mullet that usually is full of baby curls.
this summer, she started using sign language for "more please," "help please," & "all done."  she also has a "i want" sign that she taught herself.  she started loving to point at things and have us tell her what they are, loves to push buttons, flip light switches, unpack and pack things.  she is a baby tornado, that is certain, but around mid-summer she learned that she can also put things away.  hallelujah.

em had two or so overnight adventures with grandparents and then a few other weekends with just poppa at home while momma was gone.  all has gone super well, she seems to be pretty flexible.  she just wakes up a little earlier at other people's houses.  speaking of sleep, she has still been a great sleeper.  i think sometime during the summer she switched from 3 naps to 2.  that may have been close to her birthday which seems crazy that she was sleeping so much, while she's so big.  maybe i'm misremembering.  currently, at 15 months, we're down to two naps, one at 10 am and one at around 3:00p (each for 1 to 2 hours), down for the night around 7:30p and waking up for the morning around 7:30a. ain't too shabby.
this summer emmie had her poppa home from work!  the teacher's summer is  i had one month of craziness in the summer for my little part-time job but it was such a blessing to have ben home with emmie so i could go to the office and get things done when i was home.  i actually don't know how i would have gotten through camp season without ben being home.  we may have needed a nanny.  then for the second half of summer both of us were out of work essentially, if we're being real.  i remember thinking almost everyday how thankful i was that ben got to have such sweet time with emmie while she's changing so much.  so many parents don't get this opportunity, i hope we never take our sweet summers for granted.  i was blessed to get to spend time with him too [he he he].
well that's all for now.  goodbye summer.  you were good to us.
i'll catch up soon...right?  
it's november.  ugh.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

i'm going :: hope spoken

i hope that sometime in ... ohhh the next 5 months or so i find the time to click through some of the other lovely ladies' blogs that have linked up to introduce themselves, but until then, i'll just say hello myself!  i am going to a conference next march, hope spoken, with 3 of my favorite friends and i am so pumped!  

so. so. so pumped.  

[right now all the tickets are sold out but i hear that they be releasing about 30 more in the near future].  this conference is put on by a group of women who love Jesus, the gospel & people.  they had a dream to get a bunch of ladies together to spur them on to do the same - live our lives for something big, purposeful & eternal. i'm so excited to be a part of that.  it feels kind of selfish to want a weekend to yourself to be 'fed' but on the flipside i do believe it's healthy & good to 'hunger and thirst' for more of the Lord and i'm hoping that's my motive.  aaaaand i'm not going to lie, a weekend away with no responsibilities having slumber parties with some of my favorite people ain't too shabby either.  i'm praying that i can spend my time there deepening my love for the Lord, cultivating a heart of servanthood, build up any that i encounter & come home refreshed, ready to go hard at this life that God as blessed me with.
they're having a little link up party for anyone who's going so we can sort of cyber-ly introduce ourselves.  i think i feel pretty 'safe' since i'll be surrounded by some besties there but if i had been brave enough to go on my own i think that this little party would bring me a lot of comfort, reminding me that i'll be in the company of a lot of amazing women, so i'm glad this exists! [not that i'm amazing but you know what i mean...]

i'm jen. that's my handsome stud of a husband, ben.  we didn't get together for the rhyming names but it is totally a bonus.  that little babe making the 'nervous face' is our doll, emmie collins [she's already so much bigger than this pic, melting].  i just turned 28, which sounds infinitely older than 27 but i'm embracing it, kind of.  i'm a stay-at-home mom-ish.  i work part-time, mostly from home, as office admin / assistant for young life in our city.  i also volunteer with that same ministry as leader at a high school right down the road.  i have been incredibly blessed with the sweet gift of amazing community and a giant, caring family. 

some random facts:
-my hubs is an elementary teacher and is soooo precious with kids, they LOVE him.
-i have a lot of weird, mostly negative, life habits:  i have probably the worst diet of any adult, love naps, am crazy forgetful [post babe] and can get lost going to a location i've been 100 times before.  wait, maybe these are all connected!?
-i'm not a super great "house wife," i spend chunks my days home but i don't get much cooking and cleaning done.  i'm hoping i grow into it.  i spend most of my days chasing after our 15 month old tornado and loving on high school / college girls.  i always feel like everyone else can juggle a lot more than me but i'm trying to learn that that's ok.  like daniel tiger says "in some ways we are different..."
-once i cried at the end of 'bridesmaids' in the theater.  yes, the comedy.  all my girlfriends thought i was pregnant & it was embarrassing.
-i have dreams of making a quilt, or millions of quilts.  if anyone is looking to either teach someone to quilt or give away beautiful quilts...i will take them all.
-i love pictures and wish i knew how to use my fancy camera a little better
-i have an obsession with thrift stores and looking through someone else's weathered treasures

i look forward to meeting all you beautiful ladies at hope spoken and pray that the Lord moves there in big ways!

Monday, October 7, 2013

5 years wed :: anniversary weekend

about a month ago ben and i were so blessed to have a weekend together to celebrate our 5th anniversary!  we had tossed around the idea of going on a mini-trip but since school just started taking time off didn't sound like the best idea and we actually already got a few trips in 2013 thus far.  even still, ben made sure that our few days together were super special, relaxing and fun.  he took care of little every little detail and it was perfect.

our anniversary weekend was actually the first weekend that i spent away from emmie without other responsibilities (leader weekends and camp trips are the only nights i've been away) and while i love my little bean extravagantly it was uh-maz-ing to be footloose and fancy free, sleeping in, coming and going as we please, it was pretty sweet.

we stayed in a hotel in downtown louisville called 21c.  it's a unique little place in the museum district that also doubles as a 24-hr art museum that only features contemporary artists.  it's uber-modern and actually quite a bit outside of our 'norm' but still lovely.
we were welcomed with chocolate covered strawberries and champagne. mmmm. once we dropped off our gear we were starving and wandered down the street to the first restaurant we could find with meals under $50 a plate.  luckily it was a really yummy place with local food and we're pretty sure it was the happening spot for everyone over 55.  we are old was fitting.  we took a stroll down to by the river before heading back to the hotel for the night.

the next morning we woke up to the most delicious breakfast in bed.  i don't think i've ever had breakfast in bed [other than juice and donuts] and i savored every last bite.  like i said, everything about this place was a little more extravagant than we're used to.  i'm kind of the cheapest, plainest person in the world so having my hubs pamper us like this was basically jaw-dropping.
next on the day!  massages for us both, steam room & sauna complete with fluffy robes and fuzzy slippers. this. is. the. life.
for our celebratory dinner we went to the restaurant attached to the hotel, proof.  it was actually voted one of the top restaurants in the state, or maybe the country.  ow ow.  uh we were kind of fish out of water.  it is just a taaad hoity toity.  not in the way like you feel like you should be wearing a tux but more like in the way like your husband should be wearing skinny jeans and that we should only admit to eating juiced meals or something.   the food was indeed delicious but there were at least two elements of each meal that i had never heard of.  we had alot of fun together and shared many laughs so the night was a success.

the dessert was my favorite part, some kind of caramel wonderfulness and then they give everyone a heaping bowl of cotton candy.  the brzinski's like.
when we came back to the hotel i found this gem.  its basically an inflated morphsuit.  #winning.
i loved, loved, loved that we got to spend a few days together without distractions and responsibilities.  that isn't really our reality anymore, which is ok, but having that just for a few moments was pretty wonderful.  sometimes with busy schedules and juggling responsibilities having quality time with each other drops to low priority.  not intentionally, but every now and then too long will go by before we recognize that we haven't gone out of our way to have good time together and meaningful conversation.  we're figuring out this new stage of life and how to love & serve each other well.  this weekend was a refreshing reminder of how fun it is to take that time.

the past five years have passed so fast and slow all at the same time.  it seems like just yesterday i was walking down the aisle to my groom, blubbering embarrassingly in front of nearly everyone we love. 
i'm so confident that ben is the man that God has called me to live my life with, love and serve. i'm so blessed have him as my husband & my baby daddy.  i love that he plays music to our little girl, will be silly & dance with me, loves all things nerd, & works so hard to provide for us selflessly.  i am on lucky lady. the end of this ceremony was the beginning of the greatest adventure.
its amazing how God has grown how we understand and value of the vows we've made since that day.  in the same breath it seems like forever ago that we were just starting out, struggling a bit against our new 'one-flesh-ness'.  marriage is so incredible in its ability to refine you and mold you, over time making you look more like Jesus if you let it allow you [even if at times its uncomfortable or even painful to be molded].  being able to look back at some of those trials now, being on the other side, i see they've been redeemed & used for good.  i'm really thankful for that.
our first week as newlyweds.  it just keeps getting better.
thanks for picking me benny.  i'm so thankful for you and look forward to growing old together.  you're the best.  happy anniversary boo!

"for by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-- all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together."