Saturday, August 31, 2013

girl time at the lake

A few weekends back we took Joy up to the lake house to show her a good time.  It was just us girls and it was a great break from the city.untitled-34 untitled-62
The days of summer are quickly fading but we are so glad we got to show Joy (one of our favorite peeps) one of our favorite places.

Monday, August 26, 2013

party like a rockstar

That is exactly what we did Saturday to celebrate our firstborn turning 7!! (Seriously, I am old. But I digress as the elderly tend to do). Miss Anni wanted a rock star party and we did it up goooood with the help of family and friends.  My favorite part of the party was all the thought and planning the girls did beforehand and the anticipation!  We had a team to make this shindig come to life.  Joy's present to her was hiring our friend Gabby to do rock star makeovers for all the girls. I know right? Girly girl heaven.  Joy also made a rock star mix CD for the party and each girl to take home (and there was only one OPPS curse word on it which made me make the rounds apologizing to parental folks :) but a CD with "He Reigns" and Katy Perry is pretty much how we roll). We played games, got our hair did, ate pizza and microphone cupcakes, and broke open our home-made pinata beach front on a gorgeous day in the city.  And I was reminded yet again that I have amazing kids and awesome friends and family.
the make-overs were a huge hit
untitled-8 untitled-18
I drafted Jason to be the security bouncer who checked tickets and "the list" and stamped hands and the girls loved it! He is pretty awesome to indulge me (and umm, he is hot:)untitled-7 untitled-135
and of course me and my HUGE belly were the paparazzi
our rock stars
game time
pass the swag bag
water balloon toss (even Bibi came in for the fun!)
their best poses
the 4 girls made our microphone pinata and it held up pretty well!
dance party
cupcakes & singing
amazing friends to make the day special
we had a blast filling everyone's swag bags
and don't worry the left over water balloons were put to good use
 After the party was over and the girls were taking a bath Annikah started tearing up and told me she couldn't believe her party was so fun and that she got enough money to add to the money she has been saving for months to buy the American Girl doll she has wanted for a long while. The girls also raised almost enough money to send a girl to school for a year through the organization Girl Rising!! It was so sweet that she started crying because she was so full of joy.  Overwhelmed with emotion...I feel her yo! We partied like rock stars and this Mama is grateful.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

there may never be a "good time" but now is the time

This has been a busy and exhausting week.  We are hosting 2 sisters for 3 weeks at our home through Safe Families for Children. Some days I've laughed and felt my heart burst at my girl's ability to share, love them, and be welcoming. And some days I've cried and felt defeated at our inability to get anywhere on time, the selfishness that emerges so quickly from the girls (and myself..ahem), and the death of our "normal routine."  It is hard but the best kind of hard.  The kind of hard that Jesus asks of us so that we know for sure with every ounce of our being that we are not self sufficient.  It has been almost one week and there have been days I was ready to say "this is just too much" but in those moments God has sustained.  I have visited a friend who is on the journey with us and has 2 of the siblings from this family as well.  I have remembered that when we come to the end of ourselves then God shows up and we cannot take credit.  And He does things better and more beautiful then we ever could.
at the beach
The timing may seem crazy but as I sat in the Safe Families conference last week I felt so convicted that I always can think of a reason why right now is just not the right time.  And my reasons are pretty good ones: I'm still feeling sick, I am almost 8th months preggers, we have two kids, we don't have tons of extra space.  But as I examine my heart I know that those are excuses. The truth is there is never a "great time" to serve and love and welcome in a stranger into your home because it is messy.  But yet that is exactly what Jesus calls us to do.  It is so important to Him because it costs us something, it transforms relationships, and it requires us to live in faith and not just talk about it. It changes others but mostly it changes my selfish heart.  I read that the Bible instructs us to love, welcome, and care for the stranger over 100 times.  But yet I can always think of a reason why now is just not the best time. I cannot recall a time in recent history when I have sat happily on my couch while perfectly behaved children played in a completely clean home while dinner cooks in the oven.  There will never be a "good time" to do this.  Our life is messy and real hospitality means inviting people into that mess and chaos and saying we love you.  We don't love perfectly but because we are desperately loved and have received outrageous grace from our heavenly Father we gladly can extend what we can to others.  The grace we have been shown is not just nice or great it is ridiculous and life changing. And it spills from us.
We want to support their mother in a difficult time and really show that we take seriously the command to love our neighbor as ourselves.  You see it is easy for me to think I am pretty good at that until my personal space and time is threatened.  It has been hard for us all to share our lives, our space, our stuff, and our time.  And the opportunity to do so has allowed us to loosen the grip on those things.  Anni and Evy are counting the cost with us and I am so proud of them. Not because they perfectly share but because they are struggling through and living what it means to love others.  It has afforded us so many great chances to talk as a family and work through this all. I am bursting with stories and it has only been a week but this morning as I was puking in the sink and thinking to myself "I just cannot do this one more day" I saw this....
hair did
The girls getting their hair did and then Annikah brought me this....
z's note
A note the oldest girl wrote about her time here so far (we eat a lot of still my heart).

And I remembered that God knows best and His grace is enough. And friends and family are supporting us in this and one will be here with pizza in an hour (crowns in heaven I tell you). It is these things that convince me more and more we are meant to live exhausted and spent for His glory but full of abundant love and peace because of His scandalous grace.
Boasting in my weakness because that is where He is shown to be strong,

Sunday, August 11, 2013

a week with Spring Hill

Annikah spent the week running between the buildings and the alley next to our house with about 60 other kids and counselors having the time of her life.  Evy and I would spy on them from the window (ok, and sometimes Evy would cry "cuz me want to do that" poor kid, in a few years little girl).  Anni attended Spring Hill day camp that First Free hosted this year.  The counselors said it was the tightest urban space they had set up the camp in all summer but that did not stop them from showing these city kids a great time.  It was run so well and everyday when Annikah returned to tell tales of rock wall climbing, water sliding, singing, crafts, winning stuffed monkeys, learning Bible stories, and giggling with her friends we thanked God for this opportunity.  Seriously, an amazing camp and a blessing to our family.  
It might have been the smallest space but they fit all the climbing walls, watersides, and other crazy kid paraphernalia!!
On Friday they invited the parents to attend a closing ceremony and we got to see the kids sing and then receive special character awards.
The awards were from their small group leaders for the week and focused on each child's unique personality.  It was awesome to see the counselors investing, affirming, and encouraging our kids in this special ways.  Annikah received the award for kindness because they said she is such a sweet girl and was always kind to the kids and adults around her. Sniff.  That is our Anni. They also mentioned she wanted to answer every question and had a rough time keeping her mouth shut (I have NO IDEA where she gets that trait :). Plus, she has some mad dancing skills....
  Amazing camp. Awesome opportunity. We are grateful.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

more summer livin'

I thought it was time to update on some more summer chaos & fun!! I love Chicago in the summer but honestly this past week I have been dragging and tired.  I think part of it is definitely that third trimester gig and the end of summer quickly approaching.  But even though this Mama is tired we are so grateful for these cool, sunny days and this amazing city that allows us to explore and have daily adventures! I am energized by the buzz of the city in the summer.
It wouldn't be summer in the city without traffic on Lake Shore Drive..argh!
theater hike at the Nature Center to see James & the Giant Peach
it was a hot hike!
Anni was super pumped they allowed audience participation....she was a shark :)
meeting the cast
lots of girl time with Joy
free museum passes at the library rock our world! We checked out the Peggy Notebaert Museum with friends one morning
seriously they should pay this kid for the big reactions!! Love it!
untitled-70 untitled-10
Beavers and Frogs..oh my!!
During J's two weeks in Cali the girls attended a VBS in Evanston with friends
we headed over to our old 'hood for free Shakespeare in the Park with friends
I am so grateful for the amazing rich opportunities living in the city affords our family. Seriously awesome!
And having no backyard does not hold us urban dwellers from rockin' an inflatable pool in the who is coming over?
We are gonna soak in these last weeks of summer and you are welcome to join us!