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."

Sunday, October 6, 2013

throwback: part 2 of spring break

well, here's another oldie but goodie.  i forgot to finish our spring break posts!  you can find part 1 here for a little refresher ha!  this was back in april and i can't believe how tiny she was.  i'm trying to remember exactly what it was like since she's actually had her second beach trip now that i'm writing this in october. goo!
we were in gulf shores, al for our first time ever on our first ever family vacation with baby in tow.  everything was new, it was a learning experience and so super super sweet.

our chauffeur around town & tour guide, emmie collins.
certainly, a highlight was getting to see emmie experience the beach & ocean for the first time.  being that it was april it was gorgeous weather outside, definitely warm enough to be in a bathing suit on the beach but the water was pretty chilly so we spent most of our time on the actual beach.  she really liked to look at the ocean and at the sand but didn't really want to touch either.  at the time em was only crawling and wasn't crazy about the sand being all over her.  she would squish it around in her hands but then would want them wiped off.  she had a little baby tent that we borrowed from friends to keep her in the shade and i laid out towels with bath toys for her to entertain herself with.  tip:  for our next beach trip we learned that an old flat sheet is a great idea for the beach instead of a million towels.  it's lightweight, compact and gives babes lots of room to move around without getting in the sand [if they don't want to].  thanks for the idea, supermom cory!
when we had her stand in the sand by the water and let the waves wash over her little feet she just screamed and wanted to be picked up. haha not thrilled.  i think it was just too cold for her teeny toes at the time.

i bought this little sun top at a consignment sale months before our trip.  it was for a 12 month old, she was just 8 months old but her little arms were being squeezed like a blood pressure cuff and the belly could not be contained.  swimwear sizing is a joke and also my baby was the roll-polly-ist!  i kind of don't even remember how rolly she was without seeing these pics.  so adorable!!  gimme those thighs!
like i said, we learned a lot on our trip.  we learned that lugging a bunch of baby crap back and forth to the beach is not our favorite thing but once you get there, we really loved it.  multiple factors lead to a lot of back and forth to the beach that made it kind of wearing.  at this time em was still taking 3 naps a day.  ugh.  we couldn't really get her to sleep on the beach but looking back i should have just tried harder to let her get wiped out and eventually nod off.  sadly, i'm such a sucker when she's whiny and i'm kind of crazy over her getting good sleep.  maybe i'll be more laid back if we have a second babe?  secondly, i was translucently pale and was a little scared to spend the whole day in the sun myself.  burning is the worst & i'm scared of that burning ball of fire.  and finally, i was still nursing her and i wasn't much of a public feeder so we'd take care of that when we were in the house for naps too.  for second babe i think i would probably give beach feeding under a wrap a try too if needed.  all that combined equals a lot of to and fro.  a little tip [that everyone had probably thought of besides me]:  as far as food went on the beach, those squeezy pouches were amazing.  no utensils required, no prep, no sand in her food.  i'm so glad we brought these with us, both for the car rides and for the beach!
emmie & i went on lots of walking adventures (in a stroller) around our neighborhood and looked at many adorable little beach homes.  em loved the breeze and looking around for the most part and it was a nice departure from hauling to the beach. portrait attempt 1...
on a cloudy, windy day we took a walk on the pier and saw lots of birds and fish that people were catching.  emmie didn't love being in the baby backpack but tolerated it for about 20 minutes before getting really upset.  she's just getting on the higher end of the weight limit so i think she may have been a little uncomfortable and at the time was just kind of getting into her independent stage.  she couldn't walk then [even assisted] and crawling on fish & bait goo while hooks are soaring through the air is a little out of the question for this momma.
family portrait attempt 2 hahah
we ate breakfast and lunch in most days and did dinners out.  gulf shores is an hour behind us in kentucky and we kind of wanted to keep our normal schedule so most nights we were at dinner around 5 with all the early birds so that we wouldn't be rushed to get emmie home for bed.  after din din we'd basically tuck emmie in and be in for the night.  we'd read or watch a movie.  in hindsight, i would have loved to pack some games for us too, for some more entertainment / interaction for ben and i.
it's easier if momma takes the pic :)
due to a water heater fluke we didn't have hot water for like 2.5-3 days.  something was wrong with the heater and it was easter weekend so basically no one was working and all the hardware shops were closed.  it was a little rough.  they had another unit a few miles away that we went to go to get cleaned up.  there's not really a point to mentioning that other than the fact that it made ben and i a little less sweet to each other.

we're really different and sometimes have different expectations of how we'd like to spend our time.  i think this always becomes most evident for us on family vacations because it is just us.  normally at home if one of us doesn't want to do what the other is looking to do we can find another person to come along or another way to compromise.  when you're 10 hours from home, just the two of you and a baby - expectations and different 'wants' seem to come up more often.  i remember kind of grumbling in my head about several of my wants not being met and then i was smacked in the face when reading 'one thousand gifts'.  i realized, i'm frustrated that my husband doesn't operate the way i do when in reality, i am beyond blessed to have a wonderful man as a husband and partner. i'm grumbling that it's hard to lug a baby to the beach when lots of families never get to take a vacation or go somewhere so beautiful.  i'm irritated that my kid needs lots of naps and constant attention when there are so many families that would love to have the amazing blessing of a healthy, sweet baby.  so long story short(ish), i'm selfish and don't deserve so many of the ridiculous blessings God pours out on me.  this week will always be a great reminder of that for me.  thank God for grace, thank God for this beautiful life.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

mommas & graduates

i just uploaded a bunch of pictures onto blogger so i'm thinking i'm set to go on posting, at least for a minute!  sadly i realized that there were things i wanted to document from APRIL of this year still in waiting...WHAT!?  here it goes...

so about 5 months ago i got to celebrate my sweet little sister's graduation from college and my first ever mother's day with a babe out in the world.  here are some pics from that weekend.  it was really special for us.

**i just noticed that nearly every picture in this post is blurry.  sorry about that.  i'll work on my phone photography skills soon.  maybe.  i'm just lucky i took a picture - let's be real.**

my little girl used to be so ... little!  i remember thinking that weekend how amazing it is that God has allowed me to become a mom.  it's strange to me that i knew i wanted to be a mom without the slightest clue how much i'd really love it.  i don't think i'm an extraordinary mom or anything but i know that i enjoy it more than any profession you could think up and it brings me more joy than i ever could have fathomed.  i'm pretty sure God designed me to be a mom.  maybe even for my own sanctification, but regardless such a gift.  with that said, i'm praying with all i've got that He'll equip me to raise & disciple this little bean.  there's nothing else i'd rather do!
on mother's day ben went and got emmie out of bed.  weekends are the best because the three of us just get to plop into bed together and cuddle and play until we really get up to start our day.  i wish all days could start like that but since poppa gets up at 6:30 i'd rather us not all be up together daily ;)

he carried her in and she was carrying a mother's day card for me in both her tiny hands. she literally had the. biggest. smile.  she was so so adorable.  her and her poppa had organized for me to have a whole spa day full of fun & pampering the following weekend.  it was AMAZING!  i have the sweetest little family.
we wanted to document our first mother's day together.  emmie was obviously thrilled & cooperative.  just like always.  i have no idea where she gets her dramatic temperament. 
emmie bear, you'll always be the baby that made me a momma.  there is such a heavy but precious weight to caring for you & loving you with my whole heart.  in watching you grow and learn and thrive i've experienced such delight.  me and your dad have been able to watch God move, protect & prove himself faithful through you.   we've tried our best to trust Him with your little life.  you're special because God made you.  you're lovely because God calls you loved.  i'm so thankful for how fun you are and what a loving little mini you're becoming.
.  .  .  .  .

as i mentioned, my little sister graduated college!!  ow ow!  which means i'm officially old.  in my mind i think chelsea should be eternally 12 years old.  graduating college and getting married are things not fit for a 12 year old so as you'd imagine, i'm stunned hahaha.

.grandma paula. momma. nana.
a selfie on skinny bleachers is hard.
tickets were limited to the graduation ceremony because the first lady, michelle obama, was the guest speaker.  i'm not really political at all and whether or not you love the president, it still felt like a really unique opportunity.  it's not everyday you get to hear someone like that speak in person. 

this is on the jumbotron but she was there in real life [promise]...she just kind of looked like a dot on my iphone cam so this made more sense.
congrats my sister!  you did it.
me and my little siblings!  did i mention that i'm ancient?  my little brother is in high school now!?  earlier this fall, through a series of miscommunications one of his friends thought that emmie was nick's sister and that i was his mom.  this is the end.
more baby snuggles and family fun as the weekend continues!  look at that baby bear!!!  she loves to take early morning chin pics - something you won't find me doing.
on actual mother's day we had a graduation party for chels where we got to celebrate her and i got to see one of my moms and several of my grandmas [and lots of other fam too!]  it was a really sweet weekend full of special people and sweet fun!