Be You, Bravely

I decided to register for another year of MOPS. I debated because I am trying not to over-schedule myself or become overwhelmed by feeling I HAVE to do so many things. But since I quit MOMS Club, I took the plunge and joined.

I am so glad that I did. I have a wonderful table at MOPS this year and I know the women are going to be great friends and assets to me as a mom.

The theme this year is Be You, Bravely. Below is a little about the theme.

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Theme Verse: 

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.  Isaiah 43:18-19   (NIV)

At any given moment in our lives each of us has…

  • Conversations we’ve been putting off.
  • Reasonable risks we’ve been avoiding.
  • Goals we want to achieve.

Yet often times the more significant an action feels the easier it is to put it off.  We get distracted from the big decisions by the immediate needs of the day. What all of us seem to have in common is that we need a nudge, a nudge to help us get out of our ruts and routines so that we can begin risking bravely.

At MOPS we believe that you were meant to live deeply and so we have created this year’s theme to inspire you to choose the extraordinary.

Be you, Bravely is designed to help us focus on making the choices that could create the most good in our lives, help us to step into healthy risk and to do it in the context of community where we can cheer one another on.

Sometimes, good people wait patiently for God to intervene when what he is wanting is for us to act bravely and do something. Being a follower of Jesus calls for courage. The journey feels unexpected and unconventional. It requires bravely playing hide and seek in the dark, confronting the fears that scare us and holding the hand of a redeemer-guide who calls us to courageous acts of risk and trust. It means coloring outside of the lines. Dreaming bigger than we ever have before and getting swept up into the plans of a God who leaves us breathless with wonder.

It takes courage to ask brave questions and even more courage to search for the answers. We are so excited to journey alongside you this year as we ask one another what it means to  “Be you, Bravely”.

So far (after two meetings and a mom’s night out), I am so happy I joined. I like that it’s every other week because I feel like it means I am not over-scheduled, make the most of the meetings we do have and appreciate the time there much more than if we had it all the time. The meetings have been so much fun and it is so nice to have a couple hours to eat brunch, and have the kids taken care of. This morning in particular, the message really hit me and having the wonderful ladies ask me how we are doing with Chuck’s recent layoff, just proved I was in the right place and made the right choice. It was exactly what I needed today and I look forward to other upcoming meetings!

If you haven’t checked out MOPS before, it may or may not be the right fit for you, but for those that I have spoken with that have done it, they love it. If you’re looking for something new, maybe there’s one in your area that would work for you.

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Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

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This was our September book for book club. (We haven’t met to discuss the book yet. We meet on Monday.) First, I’ll give you the synopsis, then I’ll tell you my thoughts.

Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?”

Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night), or what makes a great guy (one who is aware of all elderly people in any room at any time and acts accordingly), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you’ve come to the right book, mostly!

In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.

Ok, now on to my thoughts. First, I loved “The Office,” but Mindy’s character was my least favorite. I always found her annoying. I know that she is not the same person in real life, but my perception of her was tainted. I have even tried watching her new show “The Mindy Project”, but found that to be equally as awful as her Office character. So I went into this book not liking her all that much.

On top of that, I have read a couple of choppy books lately. I don’t like that there isn’t much of a story or purpose to the book other than a big fat brain dump. It seems like there are way too many people out there who want to write a book about their lives/thoughts. Just not really what I am into right now.

I don’t seem care for books in the humor/comedy genre either. I must have a strange sense of humor or something, but I just don’t usually find them all that funny. I must be weird or something. Other people love them or laugh hysterically at them. I tend to roll my eyes. Weird, I know.

Also, I’ve been having a hard time being really excited about a book. I think I need to read a few mindless books (or Game of Thrones because Chuck keeps telling me I should read those).

Overall, I didn’t care for the book. That being said, I may not have given it a fair chance considering I went into it not wanting to read it and not being a huge fan of hers. Other people I have talked to have liked the book and thought it was funny. So, if you like her, her shows or comedy/humor books, you may enjoy this one. It just really wasn’t for me.

Happy reading!

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Chuck’s New Site

Last week, Chuck’s local Microsoft office closed and they laid off about 35 people there. While Chuck is job hunting and deciding what his next adventure will be, he started a new website. I added a link to the right side of my page, but you can check it out by going to MadeByChuck.com. Check it out! (And pass it along if you think someone/some company might be interested in hiring someone as amazing as Chuck!)

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Sports Of All Sorts

Earlier in the summer, I signed Maddie up for a sports class. She went twice a week for a few weeks and got to play a variety of games/sports with a few of her friends. At the end of the session, they played a big round of soccer with the other teams and got a trophy.

The first class she was a little unhappy to be there, but she did great by the time it was done. A couple weeks in, they got a group photo and an individual one taken.  They were pretty cute. Smile I was really proud of her for trying something new and I was very happy with the way the class was run. I would definitely sign my kids up for it again.

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Bluefin Bay 2014

Over Labor Day weekend, we took our annual trip to Bluefin Bay with the Fishers. Our kids are the same age and are such good little friends. We love going up there with them and we have already booked the same places for next year! Trisha did a really long post with a bunch of pictures and you can find that HERE.

Also, normally I would take a ton of pictures with my phone. But I have been really trying to experience things more and put down my phone. I know there may have been a lot of other photo-worthy moments, but I don’t feel like I missed anything by being more present. And I would just tell Chuck to take a picture with the good camera. Smile I did post quite a few pictures below, but you can look at all the pictures we took if you’d like.

So let’s see…

FRIDAY

We arrived Friday afternoon. We got settled and played at the park and hung out with the Fishers while Chuck made dinner.  We took a stroll down by the lake and threw a bunch of rocks and Chuck took Maddie to have s’mores by the camp fire while I put Dannie to bed. Then we sat and played cribbage, listened to the water crashing on the lake, did some reading, and went to bed.

(The pictures below were actually from our park visit the next morning, but there were lots of pictures for Saturday. Smile)

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SATURDAY

We played at the park in the morning and then we took a “hike” to Temperance River and let the kids run around. The falls there are so pretty and there’s a nice place to hang out by the lake and throw more rocks (a theme for the weekend). Maddie and Chelsea have such a fun time hanging out together and play really well with each other.

We went to the pool at some point, I just can’t remember when. Smile The girls really liked the pool, but much preferred the hot tub….I prefer it, too, I just can’t be in it like I would like with this little baby in my belly and all.

Since Maddie hasn’t been napping much, we let her stay up and have a rest time for a while and we snuggled and read some books together.

That evening we went to Grand Marais and walked around/looked in stores, had dinner and got ice cream. We usually go there on Sunday night and the stores are all closing and it’s a lifeless little town. But it’s a little more exciting on a Saturday night and I’m glad we decided to give that a try this year.

At night, we went to the campfire for s’mores again (a nightly ritual when they give you free s’more stuff at the front desk). After the girls were in bed, we played some more cribbage and this time we made a fire. Between the fire and the sounds of the lake…I was in heaven!

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SUNDAY

Chuck got us up and moving bright and early and we were out the door by about 7:30 to go hiking/exploring. We went the Temperance River again, but went a different way this time to see different things. Last year the girls were a bit to young for this, but Maddie was at a great age and Chuck rented a backpack from the resort to carry Dannie around (which she wasn’t very happy about at first). It was a bit of an uphill climb, but the views were gorgeous!

When we got back, we headed to a craft for the kids…painting rocks. Maddie cried for the first part of it and then decided she wanted to paint. Dannie loved it. At some point we had lunch and then went swimming. And I don’t remember how we fit it all in, but we went to get ice cream after lunch, too.

That afternoon, Maddie and I took a nap together on the couch. It was the first time in her life (since she was a newborn) that she napped with me and not by herself. It was completely uncomfortable, but cute to snuggle with her.

After nap time, the girls had some kind of dance party…sounds like a good 3-year-old activity to me! They are impossible to take pictures of because they move so quickly. I’m also not certain there was even any music on at the time.

Then we went to the Fisher’s place for dinner. I think I forgot to mention that their room was right next door to ours. After dinner we got some supplies from the rental office (tennis rackets, balls, bocce ball, croquet) and headed to the tennis courts and field. This occupied the kiddos until it was time for a little tetherball and more s’mores.

After the kids were in bed, we played, you guess it, some more cribbage by the fire and read our books for a while before heading to bed ourselves.

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MONDAY

We woke up and took one more trip down to the lake after we got everything packed up and threw some more rocks. Then we were off. We made a stop in Duluth on the way home to visit Chuck’s dad and stayed there a couple hours, ate lunch and headed toward home at nap time.

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It was a wonderful trip and one that we look forward to every year. We are so fortunate to have such great friends to take this trip with each year.

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Dancing Queens

On the way home from dinner one night while we were on the North Shore last weekend, we put on some music and the girls started dancing in their car seats. These are two of Maddie’s favorite songs to dance to. They were making me laugh! In the first video, they are dancing to “Sexy And I Know It” and the second video is “Gangnam Style”.

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Bread & Wine

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For our August Book Club book, we chose Bread and Wine. We decided to try a new genre with food and I think it was a good choice…something a little different. Here’s a bit about the book:

As a follow up to her two bestselling books, Bittersweet and Cold Tangerines, author and blogger Shauna Niequist returns with the perfect read for those who love food and value the community and connection of family and friends around the table.

Bread & Wine is a collection of essays about family relationships, friendships, and the meals that bring us together. This mix of Anne Lamott and Barefoot Contessa is a funny, honest, and vulnerable spiritual memoir. Bread & Wine is a celebration of food shared, reminding readers of the joy found in a life around the table. It’s about the ways God teaches and nourishes people as they nourish the people around them. It’s about hunger, both physical and otherwise, and the connections between the two.

With wonderful recipes included, from Bacon-Wrapped Dates to Mango Chicken Curry to Blueberry Crisp, readers will be able to recreate the comforting and satisfying meals that come to life in Bread & Wine.

I had actually heard about this book from a woman in MOPS. She raved about it and gave a copy away as a prize. I actually enjoyed the book. I thought I might not like it because I feel like I’ve been reading choppy books lately…books with a bunch of random information thrown into a book, not always with any sort of point, order, etc.

I think part of what I liked is that she made it important to eat with friends and family. It’s something we do with the girls, all sit and have dinner together. It was important in my family growing up, too. And I liked that most chapters ended with a yummy recipe. She’s not a fancy chef, but learned some new meals and techniques and likes to play and experiment with food.

I wasn’t sure what to expect since I knew there were some religious references, especially at the beginning, but that didn’t end up being a major trend in the book. Some of the revelations she had from meals or events really struck a chord with me. I recall thinking a couple times “I really needed to read that right now.” So although I couldn’t relate to all of the content, I came away really liking the book and enjoyed it a lot.

If you are looking for a good book with a wide variety of topics with a focus on family, food, entertaining and gatherings, give this book a try. I think this is a book I would like to reread one day because I feel like I could get even more out of it.

Happy reading!

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September MOPS Calendar

Here is the September activities calendar from MOPS. I think some of the ideas this month look like a lot of fun!

September 2014

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Our Little Singer

Yesterday I was laughing so hard listening to Maddie singing in her room during nap time. I don’t know where she was in her room, but I took a video of the baby monitor. She was cracking me up. She started by singing “Somebody That I Used to Know” by Gotye. Then she transitioned into her own little mix of who-knows-what. Enjoy!

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Train Ride

Back in July (yes, I’m VERY behind in blog posts), Maddie had been asking a lot about trains. So we decided to take her on a light rail ride downtown. Maddie loved every minute of it!

Here are the girls waiting for the train to come.

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Here is Maddie watching for the train.

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Dannie and I sitting on the train.

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And Maddie…happy as can be sitting with dad, looking at everything from her window!

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When we got downtown, we walked around a little bit and then had dinner at Panera. Then wandered back to the train to go back home. It was a fun adventure and Maddie talked about it for days. It was a cheap little trip to make a 3 year old happy for days!

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