Wednesday, November 30, 2011

ava and the fisher price contest.

CONTEST IS NOW OVER

okay...if this annoys you just ignore this post and i plan to write something more interesting and fun later tonight.

but if you feel so inclined to vote for little ava today is the last day for the fisher price animal sound contest. it ends tonight (11/30) at midnight. the prize is $10,000 for college. if you feel like voting for her little rooster sound the link is HERE.


thank you thank you thank you. so many of you have been voting and we appreciate it so much.


we will find out on december 16 if our little ava is the winner. i will be sure to announce.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

some christmas goods

it is getting closer and closer to christmas and this month's sponsors have some great gift ideas...

some adorable jewelry from http://www.onedelightfulbutton.com/

the most fun capes for kids from pip & bean  http://www.etsy.com/shop/pipandbean#

how about a little PomLove party decor from http://www.etsy.com/shop/PomLove

check out more details and special offers just for you HERE.

if you would like to advertise with dwyc for december. it is a great shopping month.

send me an email at libbyryderblog@gmail.com

happy shopping!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

impromptu little adventure.

ava and i stayed home all day today. after a week and a half of three different hotels and one friend's house we needed a break (more on that in the next post). it was a pretty uneventful day. she had been asking to go "bye bye" all day and i kept making excuses...trying to convince her that "it's fun to stay inside" she was not feeling it.

at around 7pm when as i was mentally preparing myself for the day to end...at least for ava she stood at the door crying and crying....after a few moments of trying to figure out what she wanted she walked over to me and said

"go bye bye momma."

in that split second i thought.

"no we can't leave it's "late"

"i am exhausted. i will distract her with something"

"if we did go where would we go?"

"where do i have gift cards?"

"i have not showered and i am in my pajamas."

so in not libby ryder fashion at all (yes i just wrote that) we went on a little adventure. i put on my flip flops and my jacket. put a little sweatshirt over her skeleton pajama top and put some leggings on her since her pajamas have glow in the dark bones on them. off we went.

this really is not me. i hate it about myself. i would love to say that i am real spontaneous and adventurous and maybe i am a little but i think with ava can i be a little too practical.

however, tonight we headed to barnes and noble for a little reading/slash running around and ava's first starbucks lukewarm hot chocolate.

  a little boy was laying on the ground reading and she was enamored.
 goodnight moon. a classic.
 first starbucks ever. most certainly not her last.
 a huge milestone. seriously. no high chair but a big girl sitting in her own chair on her knees so she could see above the table and her own drink. it was special.
 i tried to buy her a christmas book...not interested. i bought her a cookie, hot chocolate, and we ran around the children's area looking at books and playing...but her favorite part of our little adventure was this bench. as we were walking out to the car she ran right to it and sat for a while. she never sits still. but for this bench she does.

it was a sweet little night minus the peculiar man who sat by us while we had our starbucks. it was a little odd. all in all it was more than worth it. a special little surprise because she needed it and i did too. it is easy to make excuses...we all do it. i am no super mom and i never will claim to be. but these moments are meant to happen. we just need to allow them.


don't waste your little adventures.

voting for ava and her rooster sound ends wednesday nov. 30th at midnight. please vote. you can vote as many times a day as email addresses you have. so if you are mom that means like ten. only an oma does that. love it. she could win $10,000 for college. you can vote HERE.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

from ava.

an early happy thanksgiving wish to you and you and you.

watch it HERE.

Monday, November 21, 2011

the winner is...

i am a little late on writing this blog post. it's been a busy weekend and such a fun day. more to come on that tomorrow.

congrats comment #42. I have one Shabby Apple dress from last holiday season and LOVE it! Perfect for any time. What a great sponsor. 

thanks for entering. more giveaways to come during the holiday season.

be back soon with more on our road trip, justin speaking, and being with good good friends.

ava is lovin' hotels.

Friday, November 18, 2011

don't waste your space friday: our first giveaway.

since we are currently driving to ohio for justin to speak this weekend and then onto michigan to spend thanksgiving with my family...

so let's do our first giveaway.

when Shabby Apple contacted me about a giveaway i was thrilled. i basically love everything they sell. so in the spirit of the holiday season it only seems appropriate to host our very first giveaway on the blog. you may have noticed that Shabby Apple is one of our sponsors the past two months.  Shabby Apple's women's dresses are some of my favorites.

i would like one of these...
 and maybe this one (it has pockets)...
or this one...
this little number for ava...
or this for my good friend, laura. who is expecting a little man in march.

anything you like? well, i am giving away the Bali Ha'i' dress (first picture above) from Shabby Apple (www.shabbyapple.com), an adorable online boutique of women's dresses and accessories. how about one lucky random commenter wins!!

anyone can enter. anyone can win. here is how you do it.

leave a little comment love on our blog & simply "like" Shabby Apple on facebook HERE.

it's really easy. contest ends 12:00am (est) on Nov 20th & you can only enter once.

the winner will be announced monday on the blog. enjoy your weekend. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

a little video.

justin is at starbucks working and getting his four talks ready for this weekend. ava and i are packing up and about to run a few last minute errands. justin and i talked briefly this morning about the whole packing situation and the nine day trip we are about to embark on. we will be staying four different places which is "fine" when it is just us. but since our "us" includes a 22 month old...that is a lot of packing up, putting the pack n play together and taking it down, unpacking, and carrying luggage. so it went like this...

"babe, work with me a little we are going to have a lot of stuff on this trip."

"lib, you always say that. just do not over pack. i am the one carrying it."

i get quiet and continue planning ava's outfits and packing her suitcase. he can tell i am annoyed.

"lib, i am with you. but remember we can do laundry and we can repeat outfits."

"justin, i know and i am planning this out but regardless we are going to have a lot of stuff. not just clothes with us. but gifts, snacks, toys, etc. just work with me. i want this to be fun. i have such great memories of traveling to see family over the holidays. i just think our attitude about the driving and moving around will make all the difference." (i love how positive i try to be when in reality i do not care who you are or how much you love to travel or love to spend time with your family. i love all those things. but i do not like loading and unloading a car or packing. i get anxious and seem to spend more time thinking and writing my packing list than it takes to pack. at least for me. does anyone even enjoy packing?

justin agrees with me and we get on the same page. good way to start the whole road trip. our longest one we have ever taken with ava. it should be fun.

***

ava found this video on my phone last night and literally watched it 30 times and just laughed and laughed and laughed. so i thought i would share it with you. enjoy. press HERE to watch.

a few last things...

***check back tomorrow for our first ever GIVEAWAY. it is the holiday season so gifts are in order.

***ava is the 9th most viewed video on the fisher price animal sounds contest. you can vote HERE once a day until Nov 30th. she is under ava r and the animal is a bird (a rooster to be exact).

***do not miss starbucks buy one get one free on all holiday drinks from 2-5pm good through nov 17-20th at certain locations. we like starbucks in this house and this will be nice on our road trip.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

my 28th year.

(most things that appear bold are a link. check it out.)

yesterday we celebrated year 27 and now we enter into year 28 of my life. go ahead and check out last year's birthday HERE and HERE to see where we have come one year. it really is incredible. i am humbled and grateful to the Lord for my life. simply my life.

justin and i went out last night to celebrate (thank you kristen and queeny for watching ava). we like to reminisce a bit and talk about the past year. each month. each major event. what stood out. what we loved and what was hard. some big points (clearly cancer and cancer free!new york trip, bulgaria trip for justin, the beach and vacations, yl camp trips/assignment, and moving. along with hundreds of little moments only we share. i pray the sting of last year...where we were and where we are going never leaves. it is sometimes a sharp painful sting and other times it is simply the humbled reminder that my life is not my own. i am guaranteed nothing. so what will i choose to do with it?

it has clearly been a year of much sorrow along with much more joy. i am thankful for the joy but also the pain. because of that pain i am becoming more of who i was designed and meant to be. i like that. i like to look back and see how far we have come. how much as changed in one simple little year. but maybe...just maybe...at least for us the most life changing and life altering year of our entire lives. i love the something like cancer can do that. for us it started with a cancer diagnosis and a road we hope to never walk again...but turned out to have everything to do with the Lord and what He did in us and through us with cancer. the Lord is good!

being in a new town i was a little nervous about what my birthday would be like...i pleasantly surprised. the mailbox was filled with cards. the door rang a few times with friends holding flowers and one time holding a peanut butter cup blizzard from dairy queen. my favorite. phone calls, texts, emails, and facebook messages came rolling in all day. what a gift it was. i am not always sure what to make of my birthday. make it a big deal? at like you don't really care when really you do? keep it on the down low? tell everyone? either way my birthday came and went and it was full of love, encouragement, friends, and family (both near and far).


i would like to share one email and a few texts that really stood out yesterday. thank you for writing, for reading our story, and being willing to share your heart. not everyone does that so thank you.

an email from a dear friend...Happy Birthday! I hope today is filled with many joys, time with Justin and Ava. One thing that has changed about you and your family is the gift of celebration. You have been freed from Lymphoma a celebration should occur everyday in your family. I am glad that you are celebrating today, for your birth! Jesus brought you into to this world so that he could use you to glorify himself. He loves you and wanted to you be here. And Jesus still wants you to be here, that is why you are cancer free. woo! As I am writing this I am thinking how little I celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus. I have been learning to have an eternal perspective on life. It's a hard thing to learn, not very easy to grasp. But when I look at your life it reminds me, it's simple. There's nothing hard about it. Praise Jesus and love others. Live as if you are living in eternity. Celebrating Jesus and His faithfulness everyday. Thanks for being such a wonderful example to me. Your cancer changed so many people's lives and perspectives. Ava has a wonderful Mother and I can't wait for her to really know that. So Happy Birthday to a wonderful and beautiful Mother!


I read your Triple R post and just about sobbed my eyes out. It's such a blessing to hear you being a Mother to Ava and loving her. Taking the pretzels that she doesn't want, hugging her and kissing her, and loving other people in front of her. But the last part of the post really got me tearing up. i pray i never leave this place. sick or healthy i will cling to you. What a beautiful statement. I'm sure that was very hard for you to pray at the time. But even that prayer glorified Jesus. Thanks for sharing some of your prayers to Jesus. I have prayed some of your prayers before.Thanks for allowing me to be apart of your life. So thank you for spending time with me. I appreciate it more than you know. 
***

this text came at 11:15pm...Lib, took a ride down memory lane with your blog and even watched avas birth video Haha:) was in tears like five different times reading it. I am so grateful for you Justin And Ava. So lucky you live around the corner. Still can't believe you had cancer. Wow. Hope you are celebrating health but especially God's grace today on your birthday!

this text came at 1am...Started reading the blog from the beginning and started sobbing in the library. (embarrassing) I can't believe you had cancer. I can't believe it's gone. Holy crap Jesus is so good.

***

what i love is that in three different cities, three different girls were entering into our story at the same time. i am humbled and thankful for community and for friendship. although our story of cancer is not that unique. in many ways it was very uncomplicated and straightforward. but what i am reminded of daily is that it was so unique. not because of me or justin or even ava. but because the Lord wrote this story. we gave it to Him and allowed Him to move. my hope is that our story of cancer is one of joy in the midst of pain. one of choosing hope while facing death. choosing to trust the Lord and not ourselves. i want to remember this everyday but i think it will be an extra reminder every november 15th.

thank you for another year and for those who were celebrating alongside us.

***

this is my thanksgiving road trip reading...one thousand gifts by ann voskamp. all i hear is that this book is excellent and life changing. so i am on board with that.
www.aholyexperience.com

Monday, November 14, 2011

triple r ranch and getting up early.

weekend recap...but first her scrunched little nose. so precious.
we spent the weekend in chesapeake and it felt good. the drive there took forever. sometimes it flies by and other times is seems to crawl. we hit traffic basically everywhere you could imagine. thankfully ava was great. she does well on road trips and that eases my anxiety. as long as she has her books. dvd player and she some snacks, preferably the small stick pretzels. i had mixed the sticks and the twists into the bag i gave her and from the back seat she said, "here you go momma.." as she handed me, one at a time each of the twists. she knows what she likes. can't argue with that.

we spent some time praying for the weekend and justin practiced two of this four talks (he is speaking this coming weekend in Ohio and we are going to video tape them this time. in case you would be interested in hearing him speak). i am bias. always will be. but they were really great. justin is a phenomenal public speaker and that was clear after he shared this weekend. the truth of who Jesus is and why He came to this earth and what that means for our life now. it means everything. i sat in the back of the room as he shared about sin and the condition of our hearts. he shared our story. the day we were diagnosed and how i was dying on the inside even though from the outside i appeared fine. so it is with our condition of sin. we may appear to be fine but in actuality we are dying. i wept. a steady stream of tears that i could not seem to stop. i went back to where we once were and how our life, our story, our cancer is being used for something so much greater. that was our hope from day one.

in addition to the scrunched nose she is loving the lip. not when she is sad just whenever she feels like it. usually if makes an appearance when she is acting shy or nervous or clingy.
ava and her favorite guys. but daddy is her most favorite.

we had great time with friends this weekend. thanks grassfield girls for taking the time to grab coffee and come to triple r. we loved being with you all this weekend. what a joy you are to my life.

thanks leslie for taken some picture for us. loved meeting your high school girls and getting the chance to spend this time together. your friendship is so dear to me.

i have been talking about this forever and not actually following through with it...but today i did it.

i got up before ava.

i had time to drink coffee. spend time with the Lord. shower. respond to emails. start laundry. all before ava woke up. i am going to try and do this every day from now on...i felt entirely different having spent time with the Lord before anything else began. it was a joy. will try again tomorrow.

this morning i was looking back on my journal and read this from when i was sick...

dear you. i love you. for many reasons but mostly because i deserve nothing and you give me everything. thank you for providing me your arms when i can not seem to stand alone. i pray i never leave this place. sick or healthy i will cling to you.
my desire remains the same although i am in a much different season of life. i know i am quick to forget the utter dependence i had on the Lord when i was sick. but i want to remain solely dependent on Him. even though i fail everyday.
what about you?
tomorrow is a special day. a little bittersweet. celebrating life but quickly recalling the fear in wondering...will i be here for another birthday? the answer is YES! YES! YES! tomorrow we will celebrate.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

a few things i seriously love.

let's begin shall we...i have bought something from each of our sponsors this month and i believe in what they are about and the products they sell.

*anything bold or larger font is a link. press it and you will be directed to a site.

1. i love tissue poms. if you are not sure what i am talking about look HERE so we are all on the same page before you keep reading. i love how they look. i love the color combination and various shapes and sizes. i love it. i think it adds SO much to the decor of a party, bedroom, wedding, nursery. any event really. a few months back i decided i wanted some tissue poms for above ava's glider in her nursery. so i ordered from the best. no joke. even before she became a sponsor on our blog i had seen her poms everywhere (websites, magazines, blogs, friend's houses). they are dainty, colorful, affordable, and really well made. she is hooking you up with 15%. enjoy.


PomLove sprouted in early 2008 by a crafty mom who was experimenting with handmade decorations for her 6 year-old's birthday party. It evolved into a business that same year - partially due to countless requests for poms from family and friends. PomLove is the original (that's right, the very first!) pom shop on Etsy, providing the biggest, fullest and most vibrant tissue paper poms, made from 100% recycled paper. With over 80 colors to choose from, and dozens of color combinations available, they are sure to brighten up any space - whether it's for your next party, or just to brighten up a room. Take a look at all of the eye-candy: www.PomLove.etsy.com - then use coupon code BLOG15 to get 15% off of your order with us. 

2. i think superheros are cool. i am not actually into comics or anything but the idea of kids pretending and using your imagination is my idea of a good time. i have such great memories of that growing up with my neighborhood friends. i saw these capes last fall when i was sick and spending a lot of time on the internet. i saw them and loved them. i proceeded to order 6 capes for my niece and nephews for Christmas and ava wears her all the time. they are fun, unique, affordable, and a customized gift for any kid. especially since most kids i know (including little ava)  love to dress up and pretend and these capes are perfect for just that.


We’ve always been struck by the importance of creative development and imaginative play for children. The quest to keep pace with our own children’s imagination led to a number of costumes and creative projects.  Whatever it took to unplug our kids from the TV and help them build a world of their own.   Eventually a birthday present for a daughter’s friend turned into a booth at a craft fair, and then an online shop.  Almost two years (and thousands of capes) later Pip & Bean sells custom superhero capes, costumes, masks…etc. all over the world.  Pip & Bean is an active supporter of “Inspiration Through Art” (www.inspirationthroughart.org) an awesome NPO that supports children with illnesses by helping them see their own inner super hero. enter LIBBY11 during checkout in the "Notes to Pip & Bean" section and receive a free pair of armbands with every cape ordered. Check out Pip & Bean at http://www.etsy.com/shop/pipandbean

3. katie is back this month as a sponsor and sweet friend just had a baby boy, jude. so precious.
since having real short hair these past months i have been wearing earrings more than ever. i love how they look and katie's designs are so cute and super affordable. they are a perfect Christmas gift or stocking stuffer and just for our readers enjoy 10% off this month.

One Delightful Button  started when I found a jar of old buttons at an antique store. I knew there had to be some fun things I could do with these vintage buttons. My shop features jewelry, accessories and other fun things all surrounding the buttons. All the items are handmade by me & come packaged ready for gift giving. All orders needed for Christmas must be placed by December 17th to make sure to arrive on time! This month receive 10% off my shop by typing 'libby' in at as the coupon code. check out One Delightful Button at http://www.onedelightfulbutton.com

enjoy checking each of them out.  we are headed back to chesapeake this weekend for justin to speak at a young life fall weekend trip for high schools students. looking forward to hearing him share the gospel and spending time with friends. 

enjoy your weekend. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

just a little thought.

read THIS first please.

not much to say i just like ashley's heart. although our blog is not that big of a deal (within the whole blog world spectrum) but it is important to me. for so many reasons. it began simply to share that i had cancer and when my next appointment was and when chemo would start. but it has proved to be so much more for me and for those that read it. it did provide information and help people to share in our journey through cancer...but based on the emails, letters, packages, facebook messages, texts, and the mere fact the people keep reading i know the Lord is doing more.

to be honest i do get caught up sometimes in it all ...how many readers, how many followers, blog comments, sponsors, writing a book, making money by writing. i do not think these are necessarily bad things. the blog is my heart. i spend a lot of time sharing our life with people. i love it. i love to see the Lord working in it and in people. it is such a gift. truly it is. i do not want to stop. but my hope is that my heart is like ashley...i care more about being a mom. wife. and friend than a blogger or author. her words stopped me for a moment to check myself. my own motives. my own heart. the honest truth is that i do want the blog to grow. i would love to write a book. i want to share our story with anyone who will listen because i know the Lord did something miraculous through cancer in us and through us. we want Him to be known and to be glorified.

if i do write a book one day and a few people read it and our blog grows and our story is shared that would be a dream come true for me. just another way of not wasting your hearty and your story. i think following your dreams is what it is all about. we have gifts that we must share. we have voices that need to be heard. i am quick to read/hear other people's stories and be encouraged and think "wow they did it. that is awesome. they are making their dreams a reality. i love that." but when it comes to my own life i am often stuck. not sure what to do or what it will look like or how i will even get there. so i do nothing.

but i feel clear on this...i will keep writing and sharing our story. our story of cancer and our story of knowing Christ more after cancer. maybe i will write a book one day. even if no one in the world reads it but justin and my family that is okay. that is enough. i want to keep my heart in check that this is not about being important or making money...even though a little money would be nice. this is because i believe our story should not be wasted. it is worth telling. i believe the Lord is in this and will open and close doors where necessary.

do not minimize the importance of checking your own heart.
or
sharing your own story
or
being a dreamer & following those dreams. 

***if you want to vote for ava and her rooster sound in the fisher price animal sound contest vote HERE. she could win $10,000 for college.

Monday, November 7, 2011

a family weekend.

this weekend was a good combination of what justin and i needed. a little alone time. some family time. and some great time with friends. some of our dearest friends in the world. weekends do not happen like this all the time. what is funny is that we got in a little argument and i was horribly sick on sunday with a migraine but still...it was so good and so needed.

we are not the best at really connecting and getting back on the same page after we are away from each other for a little bit. 9 days was a long time for us. since we arrived home in the middle of the work week it was hard to get the time in that we knew we wanted and knew we needed.

but this weekend it happened.

first here is ava after she got a hold of my mostly empty iced mocha. a nice little chocolate ring around her face. come on that's precious.

on friday night i had some jmu girls over on friday to see our house, paint nails, and a look at our wedding video. i have not watched it in a while and i could not believe how young we looked. my long hair. so innocent in so many ways. not having the faintest idea what our future would hold. what a reminder it was to me that who you choose. the one person you choose to spend your life with is essential. in countless ways. but it struck me while reliving our wedding day through that video how important it is to be with someone that you know will or you hope will rise to the occasion in how they will handle, cope, and work through the pain, struggles, and heartache. it is "easy" to be married when things are just simple and happy and fun. but what about when it is hard or when you are forced to walk down a foreign scary road...not because you chose it but because it chose you

our vows. wow they hit me hard. i got a giant lump in my throat..

in sickness and in healing we repeated to one another.


what occurred to me  is that we did not say the more traditional...in sickness and in health. but instead healing and healing we did and healing we are.


i choose you. i will always choose you. picture taken circa 2008.

 the girls stayed with ava and we headed to a late night movie. we like movies. it is a little annoying when you spend $20 and the movie is not that good. we saw Ides of March. it was good. but not great.

saturday we got up. put on leggings and sweatshirts. not justin but us girls. i seem to dress ava like i do although i do not mean to at all. it just happens. we headed to panera. drank coffee and ate pastry's.
played in the backyard and ran around. ava napped. justin read. i did a craft i found on pinterest.

found some fabric pieces from my craft bin. cut the sizes needed. rolled them. hot glued them. added some buttons. nothing fancy. but it was easy and i think it's pretty cute.

then we headed to rockbridge (a young life camp). one of our most favorite places on earth. we are now only an hour from camp which is so great. it was a beautiful drive but a little too sunny for ava.
this drive needed to happen. justin and i were able to share our hearts. really talk about what is going on and how we are doing with everything in our life. the move, new job, new relationships, new responsibilities, new work, insecurities, fears, frustrations, joys, our future. i appreciate my husband's honesty so much. it was good to get on the same page.

the few hours we spent at rockbridge were such a gift. seriously. i love it there. i love it there. i love it.

cliff you did incredible. laura you are adorable pregnant. can't wait to find out if ava is right about there being a little boy inside your tummy.

we deeply love so many of you who were there. both from our new town harrisonburg and sweet sweet chesapeake. we are thankful to be in your lives. whether near or far. even though far is sometimes hard. thank you for how much you all love ava. you know who you are. i wonder if she has any idea how loved she is?

mostly there is nothing like being in a room full of hundreds and hundreds of high school students who are given the chance. if they choose. to move from death to life.

now it's monday...let the week begin.

Friday, November 4, 2011

don't waste your life changer.

the plan was to post about the house today. for the weekly: don't waste your space.

but instead this is my heart.

i just got from a new friend's house where she and i talked and got to know each other (i seriously like her. like for real for real) while trying to make sure each of our 22 month old daughters were sharing and not pushing and using their manners. it is usually how it goes with mom's. just trying to get a word in between the regular interruption of your kids.

the funny thing i am experiencing as i meet new people is when do i drop the bomb? how do i casual say the 'ol... 

"so i had cancer this past year."

when is a good time? do i need to tell them? do i want to tell them? how can i not tell them i mean it colors so much about my life. in many ways all aspects of who i am now have a hint of it. a little bit of cancer touched this part me and this part and this part and this part and you get it.

how does one even respond to that..."i had cancer." most of the time the first response is...i am so sorry. how did you find out? what was chemo like? how was that raising ava? so are you okay now? to which i begin to tell our story.

in my head i am anticipating it because i know that it is coming. i mean i said this and that leads to that to which clearly points to...telling our story. i am quickly discovering no matter how many times i have told it and for the hundreds of times i will tell it again. it is sad and it is hard and it is sobering. i hate leaving out details but there are so many layers i can not possibly share everything in one morning play date. let alone the last ten minutes before i have to go.

i think to myself this is not doing it justice. there is so much more to say. so much to share. it runs so deep into who i am and where i have been and where i am going. i find myself saying...

"i have this blog and you can read the whole story there."

like some coward. it is easier to point people to this place than to really go there. but don't get me wrong i like deep. i like genuine. i like honest. i like real. i hope i am and desire to be those things. but i can't share it all at one time. i know that. logically i do. but my heart screams for wanting to share everything.

what i learned. how it changed me. why i am who i am today. what was scary. what sucked. what hurt. what i missed out on. what i regret. what i wish were different. why i am thankful. how it is all a gift. every last bit of it and how i myself fail to live that out each and everyday.

how for me many times there are just no words to even express what my heart feels.

my big life changer was cancer. but maybe for you it's parental problems. job loss. miscarriage. child on drugs. abuse at home. depression. anxiety. broken relationships. illness. fear. loneliness. you name it it's out there. whatever is changing you and forming you and molding you is your life changer. we all have one. not to scare you. maybe yours will not come in the form of anything i listed. maybe you will be given the gift of not walking through the valley. but if are or have or may in the future i know it is hard. i know talking about and sharing your story is not easy. but i think it changes things. i think it can take relationships to the next level when we share our stories. the bad and the good. the joy in the midst of the pain. or just the joy. or just the pain.

we are who we are for so many reasons. some traits are things we are proud of and others not so much. but either way the Lord is renewing us day by day. trust Him with your life. live as if you are not your own.

i am thankful for cancer. if you read this blog you have heard it before and you will hear it again. i love that i am thankful for something that still makes me cry when i talk about it. that brings me right back to all of it. every last bit of it. i get a lump in my throat the size of an orange and i have hard time keeping it together. that thing. that crazy...i actually had cancer? not a day goes by where i do not say that sentence in my head. the thoughts of i could have died. but i didn't. i hate so much about cancer but yet remain grateful for how it literally continues to transform everything.

don't waste your life changer. 
don't waste your valley.
don't waste your mountain top. 
the Lord is in it all.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

can't get enough of that rooster.

disclaimer: first off this is kind of a joke but if she did win it would be funny. as her momma i do think how she says...cock a doodle do is hilarious and really cute.

last week i posted THIS video of ava. we were at the park and i caught her saying her animal sounds on video. the rooster is the best part. after posting that on the blog my friend cory emailed me and said...you should enter ava's rooster sound into THIS contest. it is a fisher price animal sounds contest.

it must be said i am not exploiting ava or trying to make money off her sweet little rooster call...but it would be cool if she actually won.

so...if you like her video and want to vote for little ava you can do so HERE.

if you are so inclined you can vote once a day until 11.30.2011. so we got 27 days to vote. let's do this.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

reality hits hard.

ava and i arrived home last night after a nine day trip to ky. that is a long time. in a good way. my anxiety about flying alone with ava eased as we made it through the first leg of the trip in glorious fashion. i am not sure who that little girl was who flew with me yesterday but either way it made for an easy plane ride home. we were greeted by justin and as soon as ava saw him she went running. i love the love between them. ava has always been a bit of a momm'a girl but that is changing more and more. anytime i mentioned dadda while we are gone...she would pretend cry. she sure did miss him. i missed him too.
it was sad to leave. the little glimpse of life right near my family was nice. but it was just a glimpse. it was all about several days of halloween festivities, the horse track, running errands, meals out, shopping, starbucks, late night talking and the honest joy of simply being together.

i know that being close with your family and your in laws is such a gift. they are not really in laws to me. that is just what everyone says i guess. it is always so clear to me when i am there and then when i leave and look back...what a treasure family is. i am thankful for mine. more now than ever.

so now we are home and it is about laundry. bills. cleaning up. grocery shopping. catching up with friends, running errands. emails. phone calls and finding a little job. (yup i am going to start working again. just not sure what that will look like or what i am doing. still holding out for that perfect scenario where i can still be home with ava, have flexibility, and make money. does that exist? if so please let me know). 

i told justin this morning reality hits hard. boom back from vacation and it starts. i know it is normal because we all experience it but i wish we got just one day to chill and ease back into it. not the case.
but i would not trade little vacations for anything in the world. even when the coming home part is hard. it still is worth it. more than worth it.

a few highlights from the trip:
*a nice little road trip with roma and ava. 
*being with my dear dear friends in lexington and finally seeing all there pretty houses.
*errands with my sister. (seriously i like being the passenger)
*ava with her cousins.
*ava holding her own with her two big boy cousins.
*ella's deep love for ava or as jack now calls her...avie
*drinking lots of coffee.
*celebratory dinners out and in.
(it is funny when you start writing your highlights down and realize you could about 50. that means it was a good trip.)
*the four days worth of halloween events.
*pedicures. opi's private jet. i love it. (thanks aunt janie)
*putting my niece to bed. wait...her requesting that i put her to bed. enough said.
*being genuinely proud of ava and her behavior and the little girl she is becoming. i love her so.
*sisters.
*realizing as ava and i sat on the plane about to take off sitting in her own little seat that my baby is not a baby anymore. but a talking. running. really smart little girl.

there is something unique about life now. just the deep sense of thankfulness that i feel in my heart. i may not always act like it and i get caught up in life and everything going on. but my heart. it bursts with joy for where i am today and where i was last year. even though i hate my hair right now. more than ever in this whole growing it out process...thanks angie and allison for your styling assistance. i know that it could be much worse than worrying about my silly hair. i am thankful to be here and to meet people who have shared in our story and the encouragement they found. to hear of more women battling through where we were last year. thank you for reaching out and allowing me to enter into your story.

to never going back but only moving forward.

 that smile.

let's end with a little video of ava dancing. she is currently obsessed with the movie happy feet...
you may want to turn down the volume because my voice is obnoxiously loud. sorry about that.
video