8 month Eowyn


{See the rest here}

We're officially entering the fun training stages with Eowyn. Its more and more obvious she understands a decent amount of vocabulary, and thus responds to what we say. This has made talking with her, playing and training her (like not to pinch mommy with such fierce joy) a whole lot of fun. Its a paradigm shift. At first, parenting was just carrying around a needy-cute-thing and making sure it was clothed, fed and clean. Now I've got a gal that is absorbing what I say, exerting her own opinions and feelings and showing me and her dad her sassy self. I'm loving it and learning how to best communicate with her. 
She's my girl. I'm liking being her mom.

Happy 8 months, mi amorita



Its been an up and down March for us. With the still-remaining lack of uncertainty, bouts of SAD which resulted in us buying a happy light (huzzah!) and more, its had it's share of struggle. but all in all a lot of really quality conversations have come out of this month, so for that I'm grateful.  Because of all that, it has been a quiet couple of weeks here on the blog.

In light of that, I wanted to play catch up a little, so here are 10 random factoids about these past few weeks!

1. After 8 months of researching, scoring craigslist, and saving our pennies, we finally took the plunge and bought a stroller. The city mini GT was our choice and OHMAGOSH I love that thing. I've even taken to naming it. Now, its just a stroller. Truly. But I do love that thing. I'll write more on it once I use it more than the few times I have. But it will most likely be on a recommendation post soon. And I may keep it forever.

2.The several month saga of diaper rash is finally coming to a close. What started as ammonia burns from our detergent not cleaning our diapers well enough, to plain ol diaper rash, to yeast infection, we've gone through the ringer. I accumulated an ungodly amount of tubes of diaper ointments. So much so, a friend who came over was chuckling with me. "You weren't kidding." Its ridiculous. BUT. that little hiney is *knock on wood* all taken care of. Her eczema is getting under control as well. Praise Almighty (I prayed over that bum nightly.) Two thumbs DOWN for bad genetics on BOTH sides. Hey Eowyn, Little tip: Marry a man with skin made of steel.

3. God has been stretching me and challenging me a lot lately. From searching for him to struggling through seeing what God is doing, I've found that almost all the things I'm praying for God has answered with "Wait." I've been feeling the urge to examine my friendships and really look at how they influence me and be proactive about pursuing the ones that I find joy and freedom in. These things have resulted in my outlook on a lot of things is shifting. I've struggled through minor bouts of seasonal depression (I feel like near every minnesotan can relate at least to some degree) which has made things difficult at times.  To see it coming this year has given me the opportunity to really take a look at a lot of factors that influence it. The results of this long process has been a lot of grace and honesty towards Ben and myself, a lot of new found joy with Eowyn and a lot of freedom to pull back/plunge in with outside relationships. Just in time for spring!

4. I'm late with Eowyn's 8 month pictures. And every morning I wake up with the hopes the sun will be perfect and the clouds will be singing. Its supposed to be sunny ALL week, so I'm excited to capture my goofball of a girl. (and oh my goodness that girl has gotten silly this past month.)

5. Ben and I started building Lego starwars. We often quote nacho libre and watch the star war movies in tandem. It's for fun.

6. Laundry. Lack of socks for my groom. You are the pain in my side. But you are giving me freedom to purge a bunch of my clothes. And make me feel accomplished when I demolish you into nicely folded pieces. So, thanks.

7. We went on TWO dates sans bebe in two weeks. Talk about living wild.

8. We see Ben's sister this weekend, My family next weekend, & go to ARIZONA the weekend after. Giddy up!

9. Ooo. Speaking of Arizona. I got a 1950 style dress for a fancy dinner we get to go to that I'm really loving. I'm excited to see Ben dressed up. That man is lava in a tux.

10. You'll see in one of the pictures above, Ben is fake 'sleeping' in exhaustion. I don't talk too much about Eowyn's sleep or lack there of on the blog, because its a pretty controversial issue that I'm not really up for discussing.  But if you know Ben and I, you'll  guess that we're in favor of routine and in favor of moderate grace-filled sleep-training. We're not the cold turkey kind of folks, but Eowyn has slept through the night since 4 months. Off and on however, we get to work with her again (especially as she develops her will and personality more. ) I know its not for everyone, but she and we are happiest when she sleeps. These past weeks have been a bit rough as we have, with a lot of grace, coached E through this new stage. Nevertheless, we're sleepy. But she's starting to like sleep again.

11. I somehow just discovered the 'mini' size blizzard at DQ. Ben and I sort of love them and talk about how "Everything is good in moderation." 'Cuz you know, when its that small-its practically like those 400 calories don't exist. Right? I jest. You should see me sing praises to Jesus over the french silk pie mini blizzard. It even comes with whip cream. So glad God made milk to make ice cream. All to the glory of God. Oh. And Eowyn sucked on bacon for the first time this past week. I'd say that alone is enough to be excited about. She liked it.

Eric & Alisa // Covenant Marriage


Alisa and I met through LDI. We were the two 'married trek 1'ers' which instantly had me both relieved   and excited. It has been a blessing to share the friendship I've shared with Alisa over the past couple of years and her insights and passion for the gospel are both challenging and inspiring. While being a mom, and a barista she also is working towards becoming a personal trainer. She has a passion towards physical discipline through a gospel lens. One thing I admire is she doesn't just research, but is a woman of action,  working diligently at training her own self in several areas of life. Her blog has a focus on fitness, healthy eating, entrepreneurship, marriage/parenting  as well as several gospel insights that have left me understanding Jesus differently. Take a minute to check out her blog here.

Alisa has a baby just a little younger than Eowyn. It has been a fun journey to be pregnant, and new parents along side another friend and has definitely been a relief to get the occasional perfectly-timed text affirming that she too has some crazy days with her babe, Freyda (How amazing is that name!?) I appreciate her heart, as I think you will too as you catch a glimpse of it in her answers regarding the awesome marriage she has with her husband, Eric.

Meet Alisa:

My name is Alisa and I'm married to Eric. Eric is an Entrepreneur and Engineer. Currently he spends his time doing some contract work while building a business called I'm Futureproof and doing his darnedest to change the way the US does education for kids. I am a full-time Mom to our 6 month old daughter, Freyda and a part-time Starbucks barista. I also do my best to stay involved in ministry at our home church, Hope Community. I blog over at Becoming a Nelson about family culture, faith, marriage, and being a doer in life.  We have been married for just under 18 months.

What first attracted you to your spouse?

The first thing I noticed about Eric was how insanely attractive he is (shallow, I know, but they were different times). We met in a chemistry lab during our freshmen year in college and when we re-met at Hope, I fell in love with how deeply he thought about life and Jesus, how quirky he was, and his looks were the pile of cherries on top.
What has been some of the best parts of being married?

I've never had more fun in all my life than I do when it's just Eric and I. I've also never thought so much about who I really am and who Jesus really is. Eric truly is my best friend so the fact that we get to be together is often times mind blowing. It still scares me how well Eric knows me and my heart but it is also incredibly fulfilling to be known by someone so deeply. The blessing of life with Eric is unreal.

What has been one the hardest parts of being married?

There are some areas of life where Eric and I are on polar opposite sides and it isn't always clear where we are supposed to be. We work hard to find the "balance" but that is often after several hours of talking. And frankly, being the more selfish of the two of us is a difficult realization to have. I've gone through many paradigm shifts and that is a humbling experience.

What were some surprises you didn’t anticipate in marriage?
Well, first I thought it was surprising how much he eats. My entire view of food and cooking has been turned upside down. But that is a little dwarfed by the surprise of getting pregnant in our first year of marriage (when we thought we'd have 4-5 years of just us). We didn't anticipate being parents so quickly but I wouldn't trade it for anything. Freyda's entrance has greatly enriched our marriage and has changed the way I see my husband - like getting a new perspective.

Have you received any advice that has helped shape your marriage significantly?

I had two good friends (including Brittany) tell me the importance of talking everything out - especially in the first year. They told me that the security of the covenant relationship I have with Eric leaves room for difficult conversations. The grace and love I have experienced by following that advice and not letting resentment or passivity win has truly been significant for us.

What little things do you do as a couple that keep marriage your enjoyable?

Some of the little things cannot be written on a blog =) haha that probably should not be published.  

(Editors note: Amen. Publishing it!)

These days, making Freyda laugh, getting creative in the kitchen, eating dessert together, watching a movie after a long week, and generally taking time to connect face-to-face keep us enjoying one another.

What advice would you give to a just-married couple?

Make intimacy a priority. Wives - don't let the tasks of being a wife take your gaze from your husband. Your clean home and delicious meals are pointless without him. Also, be real about feeling distant from each other. Talk about it. I'd be willing to bet there is an unmet expectation (realistic or unrealistic) and some assumptions being made that will lead to bigger issues. Prioritizing intimacy makes vulnerability in other areas easier. 

What advice would you give to a couple with young kids?

Since Frey is still itty bitty, I would really echo what I said above. Don't let sleep or your new babe take away intimacy in your marriage. Jesus promises to sustain and like Brittany points out frequently, laughing and playing with the hubby is often times more relaxing and fulfilling than those couple extra hours of sleep.

What are some key ways God has worked most in your marriage?
 God shows off. Eric and I have similar struggles with pride, trust, and perseverance and the way God uses each of us to display himself to the other is beautiful. And the way we have experienced his provision is undeniably miraculous.

In the struggling times of your marriage, what were a few key things that kept you going?

Divorce is not an option. Therefore, not talking through things is not an option.

What advice would you give to other women in relationships?
 If it's serious, start studying your man now. Deeper than what's his favorite color and what games does he enjoy most. What helps him rest? How does his personality change when he has been skipping his time with Jesus? What are his fears? What motivates him? Who are his closest friends and what is it about them that your man enjoys so much? You will come up against a circumstance where you feel in the dark as to what he needs/wants but making a habit of seeking to understand your man is extremely beneficial. 

What do you enjoy most about this stage of your marriage?

I'm getting to watch my husband do what he has dreamed about while simultaneously seeing him morph into a puddle of daddy love. This stage of our marriage is extremely tough with a lot of uncertainty but have you ever watched a dad with his daughter? It makes my heart explode.


Thanks to Alisa for sharing her heart! Hop on over to her blog, say hi, and follow along!

If God is Enough


I have several (perhaps even more than 20) different posts that are still in their draft form. A lot of them are rants and most are not all that beneficial for the masses (albeit, small) of this blog. When I sit down to write anything lately, I keep finding myself making more 'draft worthy' posts than content I'd like to share.

Winter is always, at least to some degree a little blah for me. (Minnesota, much?) Each year, I notice trends. Last year, I noticed how often my self esteem, marriage and more take on a more darker hue if I'm not intentional about focusing on choosing life. I think there's been a lot of success in that area this year as Ben will attest. Thankfully the long nights of "Do you rrreeeaallllyy like me?"  have been minimized. Everyone in this house is thankful that with a baby, there's overall less time to focus on self. This winter, that is a very good thing.

But in place of the usual 'woe-is-me' pitfalls of winter, in have entered new ones. Ones challenging my competence as a mom, competence as a 'home-maker,' if any of that is enough, and the ones I especially dislike: the pitfall of always having a place-holder in my heart that gets filled with someone I'm convinced disproves my every move (it changes quarterly.) I'm constantly struggling to discover how to run away from finding worth in any of it, and am constantly amazed at my insecurities  despite serving a God that gives such an awesome identity to each of his babies.

To add to that, a lot of changes are rocking this girls boat and while they've been left ambiguous on the blog, they are left so intentionally. Mostly because they're ambiguous in real-life. I find myself struggling through anxiety and feeling kind of hoarder-ish of our things, our friends, our time...overall I've caught myself panicky over really insignificant things and have been struggling through my willingness to let go. Its been weird, and while its not coming out of left field (or is it right?) it still is a bit uncontrollable and incredibly uncomfortable.

It's at this point in a blog post that I'd like to rave about the mercies of Jesus and how in every situation where I've struggled I've found Him there, quickly and with little discomfort. I want to leave you with a success story of how God has clearly taken away all anxiety and replaced it with joy after a short, brief, tiny period of time. I want to say he's manifested himself and  is obviously here. Now.

But I can't. Not because that isn't true. It just isn't true yet. At least not fully. At least not obviously.

 There's been a lot of questions these past months. A lot of "I know you're here-but what are you doing about this?" "Why haven't you changed my heart after we've talked through this 1 bajillion trillion times?" "What am I missing?" "Why does this bug me so much?" "Why us?" " Are you sure?" "is this really from you?" "I miss you." "do you care enough to notice me?"

But God does. Even in this. As was the case a couple nights ago. A friend pushed me to be okay with not having a fix all for all the mess my heart is doing. Because of what Jesus did, she reminded me, in my sin I can still be met. She encouraged me to take heart, the Holy Spirit is working in me. After all that's the only way I've been made aware of all the gunk I'm finding in the first place. It was good to be forced to process why so many of the same themes have been major this season and to be okay with the fact that God doesn't just fix every problem. Its a good friend that encouraged you to embrace painful experiences.

I insist on refusing internal discomfort. I like to think myself a pro at external discomfort (I'm sure put to the test, We'd all laugh at that one, but never the less.). I prize myself on accomplishing difficult tasks, and a hard days work is the best kind. I grew up bailing hay, and building stuff. Running, conditioning. I got that in the bag. But when it comes to the war within my own brain, the quicker I can find a comfortable solution, the better. No sweat is preferable.

Being left to process why certain phrases people have said get the best of me, or even what others do of their own accord, why I get so frustrated in relationships and why the idea of giving up so much of our stuff causes major anxiety have left me noticing a deeper level of insecurity, a deeper level of mistrust and a deeper level of overall selfishness.

Each time I reach this conclusion. I think AHA! Finally! Made it! Done! And then 48 hours later (or a mere 3 minutes)  I find myself flying in those same circles around the same dying spot in my heart.
Luckily, just like the rotting wet leaves under the snow give way to all sorts of new life in the spring, I'm banking on the regeneration of even these dead parts of my being. I'm thankful to a husband who parades my small improvements-allowing me to see that God is at work in my heart, and thankful that I serve a God who "knows the depths of my heart and he loves me the same."

During the struggle, before the triumph. Where's God? It seems I'm getting to test those waters, getting stuck in the mud and get to struggle to find Him. I felt a little tug at my heart when Pastor Steve talked about how they'd be talking about that very thing through the next weeks. I know I'm not alone in this. I know a lot of people are genuinely struggling right now.

And despite struggle, I am ridiculously blessed. I'm thankful for a husband who parades me as a momma, wife, friend, partner, and is one relentless, tender-hearted, leader. For a man who champions this girls heart and chooses his family over his personal goals, for his loyalty and for his sometimes comical, but always resounding insistence on truth for this home. for friends who encourage and a community that leave me in tears from laughing, I'm thankful for a God who doesn't insist on a happy face in the midst of struggle, and for a King David  in the Old Testament times who tore clothes in mourning, dealt with death, destruction, hatred, and betrayal,  and still saw God as big enough. God was his friend and he was a friend of God's. For a God who desires more for me than easy. For a God who chooses 'best' and turns any glimpse of struggle and pain into glory.

If all this is headed to a place where I become convinced God is enough. I'll take it. and I think that's exactly where this is headed.

As always, thanks for reading.

Tom & Erika Jo // Covenant Marriage


Erika and I met through Ben knowing Tom. They both worked at the same company. From the first time I ever attended an event, Erika's kindness impressed me and instantly made me want to get to know her more.  At that time I was just dating Ben. It was a sweet relief to have her approach me and begin what would ultimately be the friendship we have today. She's got a fun white streak in her hair (that now her baby girl has too!) and has a fun-loving heart to go with it. There's a sort of grace in Erika  (or Jo's) parenting and when you get either she or Tom talking about marriage, the love is obvious. Its a real joy to get to feature Erika Jo here to today.

Meet Erika Jo:

Hi! We're "Hubbin" and Jo.  I spend the entire day playing (AKA homeschooling) 5 kiddos, and the rest of my time...well, there isn't much more. Hubbin just got laid off and is currently looking for a new source of income. I blog with my sisters over at Shaffer Sisters where we try to encourage other mommas that walk through this crazy journey, on their way to their Savior.  Here's a recent post, getting to know a little more about me. We've been married for 10 years, but it feels like I never was single.  We have 5 babies.  The first four are boys ranging in age from 9-4.  The youngest one is a girl.  She is 1 year old.  

What first attracted you to your spouse?

I first fell in love with Tom's love of others.  He was constantly serving, whether it was setting up chairs for a worship service, or asking the "wall flowers" to dance.   He never had a bad thing to say about anyone, and his best friends were those that I was sure Jesus would have been fond of: the downtrodden, and less popular.  He saw them the way the Savior would have, and I loved him for it!  He also has such a passion for life, and building Gods kingdom.  I am always amazed at him, at the person I am lucky enough to call my husband!

Tom: Her smile and beautiful eyes

What has been some of the best parts of being married?

Being married is like having a built in therapist.  You can go through the day like a crazy person: running errands, cleaning, teaching, learning, feeling frustrated, loving, praying, and wishing you could tele-port.  At the end of the day, your handsome husband gets home and one kiss can relieve most of that incurred stress.  After 1/2 hour of instant replay, I finally feel normal again. Tom is also a really good compass for my life.  He often gently suggests when I am over stepping my abilities. 

(I wrote all of this, before Hubbin got laid off, but now, I see an even cooler man!  He is so willing to say "Gods will be done".  To walk with faith and to move through this challenge with grace and strength.  He is my guide and my strength.  I am so proud to walk by his side!)

Tom:  You always have a friend, and you don't have to say goodbye at night.  

What has been one the hardest parts of being married?

The hardest part of being married for me was to realize that I was not my husband's boss.  I did not get to dictate to him when bedtime should happen or when he should work or what he should do for work or how he should dress.  I tried that... for about 3 years.  Those were the hardest years of our marriage.  I was micromanaging every step.   

Then one day I had a conversation with my sister.  I asked her a question about how everything was going.  For a minute she talked about the hard things that were happening, and how her husband wasn't being very healthy.  Then she said, "whenever that happens, I just pray for him.  I know that our Heavenly Father will help him through it."  That really struck a chord with me.  She did not take over or try to push her "weight around" she just chose to let God work in his life.  I started doing that, and it has made all of the difference!  Tom has stepped into the provider/protector roll just fine-without any of my input or direction.  He chose to quit gaming without my nagging.  He chose to read the kids bedtime stories every night without my prodding.  God and my husband are doing a much better job with his life, than I ever could! 

Tom: Changing poopy diapers. :)

What were some surprises you didn’t anticipate in marriage?

I never anticipated marrying a computer geek!  That is really funny, considering my husband spends most of his day on the computer.  I hated computers and swore that I would never even own one, once I was married.  I didn't like the time wasted on them, I didn't love that every time I wrote a report for school it seemed to have been eaten by an invisible computer monster, and most of all I hated that their is no such thing as quality time while someone is on the computer.  

I would have to say that Hubbin's biggest surprises were that I left the toilet seat up, and that a women could actually throw up every single day for the first 10 months of marriage every time her husband and his hot breath would get near her.  Lets go back to this toilet seat thing, because I am sure you are wondering.  So, when I was growing up, my Mom trained all of us girls to leave the toilet seat up in the middle of the night, so that my brother in his sleep induced state, would not leave a wet surprise for us.  So, I figured it was just a common courtesy.  Tom, on the other hand was trained religiously by his mother to put the seat and lid down.  So every night after I used the restroom I would put it up, and then he would use it and put it down.  He was perplexed, until we talked about it, and after that I was perfectly happy to leave it down!  

Have you received any advice that has helped shape your marriage significantly?

I love the concept of marriage being with you, your spouse, and the Lord.  A triangle with the Lord at the top.  The closer you move to the Lord, the closer you move to each other.  That has really benefited me and made a lot of sense to me, as I give more and more of myself, my family, my marriage and my life to the Lord. 

Another thing that has really blessed us, is to be a tithe paying family.  We pay 10% of all that we make, to the Lord.  It has brought us many blessings and strengthened our faith.  We have recognized the tangible blessings, for example our clunker car made it clear through college,  We felt more self control in getting out of debt,  added health so we didn't need to go to the doctor,  strength to work harder, our garden produced a lot in order that we could make up the difference, and many other unforeseen mercies. 

We also have been really blessed by having family prayers every morning and evening, reading the scripture as a family daily, weekly family nights, and weekly church attendance.  These traditions have brought, balance, faith, renewal and have really strengthened our testimony of Jesus's mission, love and grace.   

Tom: It all stems from living the gospel and loving the Lord.  That alone has significantly shaped our marriage.  

What little things do you do as a couple that keep marriage your enjoyable?

Kiss!  One long meaningful kiss at the end of a hard day, can be better than words.

Forgive!! One time I read a quote that said, "Go in to marriage with your eyes wide open, but once you get married, keep them half shut."  Jesus said it best, when he questioned how you help someone get the sliver out of their eye, when you have a beam in yours.  

If we are picking at each other for the little things, like where the socks end up or which way the toilet paper rolls, will we notice what the other person is sacrificing for us?  

I remember when we were first married, I was talking with Hubbin one night, and I was trying to figure out how to tell him how he was really bugging me.  So I decided that if I could get him to tell me how I was really bugging him, then it would be my turn.  I remember that he said,  " I am the happiest man alive and I wouldn't change one thing about you."  Well that was it. Plan failed.  His example to me has always been that of patience and love, and I am so grateful for that.
Tom: Laugh at all of the things that go wrong, when you want to cry.

What advice would you give to a just-married couple?

Keep moving forward, Just keep swimming, Never give up.-with all of the appropriate "get stuck in your head" jingles.   

I was on the phone with my sister and asked what her advice would be.  My sister and her husband have gone through panic disorder. (Read about it here)   Her advice is cry together.  Find joy in the journey.  

When my husband asked my Dad if he could marry me, my dad laughed and decided to give him some advice.  He said blending two families with two sets of traditions is really hard.  Then he quoted this quote: 
“Life is just like an old time rail journey ... delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride."

 In keeping with that quote I would say, don't get off before the ride is over or you might miss out on the beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed.  You might miss out on learning how to find joy in the journey, and you will miss out on thanking the Lord for letting you have the ride.

My final piece of advice would be You can do hard things!  

In this world, where everyone is promoting the easy diets, the miracle cure-alls, the YOLO dogma,  I want to promote a different picture.  You were made by a perfect God.  He made you to be great.  You don't need easy! Abraham wasn't asked to sacrifice Isaac for Gods sake, but for his own sake.   God loves you.  He made you able to do hard things.  We know that with God all things are possible.  With God Moses crossed the Red Sea.  With God Jacob became Israel.  With God we are forgiven and live again.  With God you can do hard things!  Sometimes marriage is hard, and if you remember what you can do, you will make it through!

Tom: Good Luck! (with a chuckle)  I really feel like you should prepare your hearts to love someone more than you love yourself.  If you can put someones needs before your own, you will get along just fine!

What advice would you give to a couple with young kids?

When I was a new mom, I forgot to enjoy my kids.  I was too busy worrying if they were clean enough, or cute enough, or well behaved enough, because that reflected on whether I was Mom Enough.  After about 3 years I realized that I had missed precious giggles, spills, twinkles, tantrums, and life because I was worried about being enough.  Now, my prerogative is to cherish every moment.  And when I am not, remind myself again.  These moments are fleeting.  My 9 year old will probably never sit on my lap again.  In 9 more years he will be gone.  I have to make sure to meet him where he is at and enjoy him.  

Tom: Stick it out, it will get better.  Enjoy it while you can.  

What are some key ways God has worked most in your marriage?

From time to time I think of the imagery of being equally yoked: 

In my heritage, my ancestors rode in covered wagons across the United States.  They would use oxen to pull the wagon.  Hopefully, they would have two oxen to pull every wagon.  A yoke is a heavy piece of wood, that is linked around each oxen's neck.  Two Oxen are matched for speed and strength.  You wouldn't want 1 ox to pull fast, because then it would pull all of the weight.  

Some times when we work toward a common goal, whether it be with church, family, or on our home, I think of us working equally or being equally yoked.  It feels so freeing to pull equal weight and get so much done.   We feel like the Lord has matched us well.  When we first met, we felt the Lords guiding hand, bringing us together.  In love of his work, we are unified.  In "peddling harder" when we come to our trials in life, we are even.  In laughing through struggles, and loving through pain, and shouldering each others burdens, we have truly become equally yoked.  

With God, all of this is possible.  With his charity, mercy, and grace we have united to bare each others burdens and try to love as he did.

Husbands, what advice would you give to other men in relationships?

Be gentle, Be honest.  Be faithful, and work to keep your love growing.  Always focus on her finer qualities.   

What do you enjoy most about this stage of your marriage?

I mostly enjoy laughing.  Laughing when I am getting tickled.  Laughing when Hubbin is wrestling with the kids.  Laughing when the pipes explode, and we can't figure out how to shut the water off.  Laughing when we are about to go on a date and we get smeared with peanut butter fingers.  Laughing when I see Tom's headset taped up, and the mic precariously dangling next to his ear.  Laughing at church when my child runs around the chapel and up into the choir pews, while my husband is preaching the sermon. Laughing when I look at my sweet husband with love in my eyes and a smile on my face, while chaos ensues all around us, and we sit blissfully aware-while playing footsie under the table.  I mostly enjoy laughing. 

Tom: This is a comforting stage of marriage, where you can tell that your love will continue to grow, and you can see that as hard as it has been, it is getting and will get better.  It is tried and tested.  We still have struggles and challenges, but we continue on with great hope for the future.  


Thank you for sharing your hearts with us Erika and Tom! Be sure to check out Erika's Blog here, where you can find fun crafting ideas, delicious recipes and sincere encouragement.

Family Photos



Some of Eowyn's first pictures ever taken were by my dear friend Katie K. While I was pregnant, during class I would whisper to Katie when E was moving around and she would get giddy with me. So much of the joy of having a baby was amplified just by getting to share it with her. So, when she offered to take pictures for us as a family, I was thrilled! She feels like a sister to me, and is an incredible photographer. Those two together?  Party.

We headed out to Fort Snelling, since neither of us had ever been and there was a promise of some good scenery. We were not disappointed.  The place is awesome. We're excited to  check it out in the summer where they have live reenactments. The fort is beautiful. And seeing Katie jump through heaps of snow just to get a good shot was a decent performance itself. She's serious about her photos. I'm in love with the results.

So thankful to you Katie for taking these pictures. I love them and your heart.

If you are in the Minneapolis area and want an incredible photographer with great rates. Look no further! Check out her site here.



1. We got our pictures taken this weekend by one of my favorite friends Katie K. The one above is one from the shoot. I'm loving them. I'll be posting a few here this week. They've made me all sorts of happy. You can see a lot of love. And I keep starring at Ben's face. #Winning

2. I always heard moms say "as soon as you think you're figuring things out, everything changes." True Story. My Life.

3. I've been catching myself doing all the things, like say such phrases above,  that other moms did when I was pregnant/in the early days. One sad example: talking about labor to pregnant ladies. It shouldn't be allowed yet, I've now had a couple of convo's about it with innocent growing-baby bystanders.  I remember telling Ben "Why do these ladies keep telling me these stories?" Unless a magical party with glitter happens when you go into labor, I didn't want to here it. No I don't want to know how long it took, how painful it was, or any other such detail. Why? Because there's no way to prepare myself and it made me tense. 'Cuz really what DOES a contraction feel like? Nevertheless, 7 months latter,  I am blabbing about  back labor, throwing up and adrenaline.  "But oh its so worth it. Its not that bad! Time flies!" I'm sorry.  I'm breaking my own rules. I'll let you tell me your story too. 

4. Ben got this awesome 2 player star-wars card game that we're really liking. I never thought I'd be a board-gamer. Let alone one that has more than 3 stages. But here we are. Its pretty obvious you become like the person you're married to. I'm liking who I get to become like. First game ever played, Brittany won. Huzzah.

5. Eowyn is on the verge of crawling. She basically does it standing still. Its cute, and terrifying. She also still has no teeth. Both her inability to move and her lack of chomping tools (since she's already fond of grinding her gums....) are things I'm thankful for. 

6. I decided to open up a way to support my blog friends! If you click on the "Advertise" link on the bottom right of the page, you'll see how it works (Its free.) If you have a blog yourself, and want to advertise here, that may be something you're interested in.

7.  We're supposed to get a snow storm coming through here in the next day or two. I'm actually kind of looking forward to it (What?!) Especially because following it is 35-40 degree weather. It officially feels like a true Minnesota spring.

Happy Monday.