A Snapshot of this Season

Life marches on so quickly, sometimes I wish I could stop the hands of time and just freeze-frame it for a moment, so that I could soak it in before it's gone.  The older I get, or more specifically the older Ava gets, the more I long for that.  Not because I want to cling to the past or because I'm terrified of the future, but because I just don't want to let the beauty of today slip by in the hustle and bustle of life.  So, because I write this blog, primarily for my own reflection, I want to take a snapshot today of this particular season.  I want to just sit and reflect a little bit on where we are and what God is doing for each one of us...You know, all 4 of us!  

So, in the spirit of the most dramatic sound effect you can imgaine...."CLICK"....

In this last weekend of May, Travis and I find ourselves in a great place.  We are enjoying the last little bit of relative calm before the summer schedule is officially in full swing.  For a youth Pastor, this means camps, retreats, day trips and late nights.  Kids are available more now and so are we.  It's full, it's busy, but we love it.  Travis especially.  He can't wait for summer to start.  I can see it in his demeanor and I hear it in his conversation.  He is such a relational guy and He thrives on quality time, so I know he sees this summer season as a critical time in his ministry.  He's got his annual boys wilderness trip in a few weeks, then VBS at our Church, then he's leading a mission's trip to a Native American tribe in South Dakota, then we'll be in full swing for junior high summer camp.  Add the regular grind of Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights in there, plus some extra trips and events here and there and that pretty much sums up our summer...BUSY!!  
Fortunately, because his schedule is so non-traditional and especially during the summer, I know that means we'll get lots of fun time together too.  Time when we get to serve together, but also time when we get to just do our own family stuff.  I can't bank on a normal 9-5 work week with him, but I do love that on a random Tuesday or something, he's home with us and we can head to the pool or the park.  We will be busy with lots of home projects too, trying to get our place ready for another addition.  In August,  we will celebrate 7 years together and we can't believe how quickly time has gone!   In 7 years the Lord has grown us and stretched us and blessed us beyond what we could have imagined.  I have been given a wonderful husband who is as full of life and energy as the day I married him!  I have watched him grow into the leader he is today and I get to watch him be used by the Lord on a regular basis, doing exactly what God created him to do.  I'm unbelievably proud of him and I respect him deeply.  He is the man I always wanted to marry and then some!  

My heart still skips a beat when he walks in the door at night and nothing has been sweeter to watch than to see him step right into the role of Daddy.  Although we will be thrilled no matter what sex this next baby is, I can say with certainty that Travis is a great Daddy to our daughter.  He delights in her and she is over the moon about him.  Ava's favorite word is "daddy" right now and she follows him around everywhere.  He can get giggles out of her that are crazy, funny and he's always on the floor inventing some new game for the two of them to do together.  He's so good about taking her places with him and letting me catch my breath.  With every new stage of her development, he is more taken with her and we find ourselves just laughing at night about how cute and fun she is!  We can't imagine life without our Ava.  


And speaking of her, she is a mess!!  Literally!!  Full of energy, constantly on the go and always looking for something to do or get into.  She keeps us on our toes from the minute she's awake until the minute she goes to bed, but we couldn't imagine it any other way!  
I mean seriously, have you ever seen a better spaghetti beard???  
I couldn't have painted that on any better!!  

It is so fun to see her little personality really begin to come out.  She's a lot like me in that she's determined and stubborn, but she's also a lot like her Daddy in that she's wild and adventurous!!  We're in the thick of her first bout with separation anxiety when we're at Church, which makes the nursery on Sunday mornings a struggle every week.  She does great with a few people she doesn't know, but big crowds and lots of people in her face are not her favorite things.  She wants to be held a lot, which I'm usually happy to do :) I know it's a stage and I know she'll outgrow it quickly enough and then she'll be back to her normal wiggly self!  She does seem to love the junior highers however.  Wednesday nights are fun for her and we try to go as often as possible.  

She's walking everywhere and often running!  She is testing us like crazy with boundaries and trying to understand what's ok and what's not.  We are having to think about the beginning stages of discipline, mostly involving repetitive reminders or removing her from a situation and distracting her with something else.  She can pick up on our different faces and the tone of our voices now.  When she knows she's got something she's not supposed to, she usually looks at me to see if I notice and then if I do indeed notice, she turns and runs from me, all the while squealing and laughing!!  Most of our attempts to keep a straight face go out the window, but occasionally something warrants a serious "No" and we're trying to be as consistent as we can about that!  Dobson's "Dare to Discipline" has a permanent place on my night stand right now, it's only going to get more important from here on out!  
Ava's still pretty little, but she's an unbelievable eater!  A total chow hound!  We've transitioned to the sippy cup now, except when it comes to milk.  She's not a fan of milk in a cup yet.  She definitely still wants it in a bottle, so we're slowly working on that.  She's talking constantly, mostly saying "uh oh" "daddy" "dadda" "yeah" and occasionally "momma."  She babbles all day long and often very loudly!  She like to walk in big circles around the house, practically yelling about something!  Her babbling means something, but we haven't quite figured it out yet.  She still loves her baby doll and carries her everywhere.  She loves to play with her toys and it thrills her when we play with her, but her favorite thing in all the world right now, is to go outside.  She just goes crazy!  Daddy takes her out every time he takes Ryley out and of course we take walks and trips to the park too.  She loves our screened-in balcony and so do we, it's been nice to be able to let her play out there without having to worry.  Although the other day I caught her with her leg in a pot of dirt up to her shin!  I've got to get some plants in there soon :) She's at such a fun age, we truly love all that we can do with her and she has a personality that's always up for an adventure or a trip somewhere.  We're exhausted at the end of the night, but our hearts are full!   


Baby #2, is also in rapid stages of development.  I will be 20 weeks on Friday, so he/she is currently the size of a cantaloupe...which explains a lot!!  The back aches, the slower pace, the bigger stomach :) 
He/she's gender is already determined and those important parts are now fully formed!  We get to have our ultrasound next Friday, on June 4th, so we will hopefully be able to know if Ava is having a sister or brother to play with soon!  I feel the baby move a lot more now, lots of fluttering but no kicks yet.  It's fun to be in this stage though, when they are changing and growing like crazy.  This baby is still such a gift of God's grace to us, it's amazing to think how quickly this pregnancy is going!  We are in discussion about names and have a few that we both love, boy and girl.  It's so fun to start thinking about another baby around here.  We are both getting very excited.  I had a friend who's first baby was born just last week, and as I read all the tweets and facebook updates, I could not stop thinking about how excited I was to do this whole baby thing again!  I love the hospital and the whole process of giving birth.  It was so amazing to me and such a good experience, so I'm hoping for more of the same with this one.  I catch myself saying things like "the kids" or "our babies" and I can hardly believe we're about to be a family of 4!!  Being a Mom the first time is such an adjustment and so exciting, but having 2 kids seems totally outrageous to me!  Like, am I old enough to have them???  Don't answer that :) 


And speaking of old, it's now been an entire month since I turned the big 3-0!  And actually, it's been just fine :) This particular season really feels like I'm in the prime of my life.  I've got an incredible husband, a darling 1 year old and another little blessing on the way.  How did that all happen??  It feels like yesterday that I was in college, wondering what God had planned for me...I'm currently overwhelmed at God's goodness to me and many times each day I find myself thinking...I love my life!  It's not perfect, I don't have everything the way I "want" it, but He has poured His blessings out for me to see and He keeps reminding me that "His ways are not my ways and His plans are not my plans."  His are so much better!!  

I love being at home and I'm so excited about this summer.  I have 3 weddings to keep me busy and each one will be a unique and different challenge.  Of course the baby prep and projects at home will keep me on my toes, in addition to the little redhead who tries to dictate my day!  I'm going to do a little nannying again with my 3 little guys, who are no longer little!  Nothing overwhelming, just one day a week for a couple of hours.  Ava will be so happy!  She loves them and it's fun for her to be on the go with their busy schedule.  We'll be doing lots of shuttling little boys to camps and lessons, plus getting some good time outside playing.  It's a fun way to get out of the house for both of us.  I'm meeting with a couple of sweet gals this summer for some good Bible study times and trying to pray about what to do this fall.  Not sure what I'll be able to handle with 2 kiddos or what I'll need the most in that season, but I'm sure the Lord will help me figure that out.  I've committed to memorizing Proverbs 2 this summer, and to setting my focus on one goal, being in the Word and prayer often and well.  I have been so challenged through a series we are doing on the book of Nehemiah at Church right now and I just know the Lord is calling me to go deeper with Him as I stay faithful to that goal.  

Life is good in this particular season.  It's challenging, constant and full, but rewarding and promising too.  Before I know it, I'm going to blink and find ourselves in a whole new season, with a whole new set of challenges, but today I'm grateful for exactly where we're at.  All of us.  Works in progress.  Lives under construction.  Hopefully bringing glory to the Lord along the way.  One thing I've learned is that life never stays the same for very long, just when it gets comfortable and predictable, you can usually count on some kind of change just around the corner.  In earlier years that would have thrown me and caused me to worry about the future, but today I can say that I find great peace in knowing WHO holds my future, no matter what it looks like.  


Take it all in today...none of us are promised tomorrow, nor do we know what lies ahead.  
But today, today is the day to cherish...

"I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; 
I will tell of all your wonders..
I will be glad and rejoice in you; 
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High."
Psalm 9:1-2


Godliness With Contentment...

"But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.  People who want to get rich, fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.  Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.  But you, man of God, flee from all of this and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness..."
1 Timothy 6:6-11

If I could sum up in one word, what the Lord has been teaching me for the last few months, it would be contentment.  Or perhaps, my lack of contentment.  In more ways than one, He has laid that principle on my heart and my mind daily now, month after month.  It's a word that's frequently on my tongue as I remind my own self to "be content" with what He is doing in my life and with what He has given us.  I don't know if it's the season we are in or just the sin that has been manifesting in my heart for some time, but a little while ago, I found myself in an old-fashioned pity party over what we didn't have.  I was dis-satisfied with things I had no business being dis-satisfied with.  Blessings that had been given to us, were suddenly hardships and inconveniences to me.  As I wallowed further and further into that pit, I quickly realized that I was going no where good and I was getting there fast.  The comparison game was eating me alive and I was starting to believe every lie that Satan threw my way.  It wasn't pretty.  My heart was  full of sin and ugliness, that had a way of spewing out towards the people I love the most.  

Fortunately, the Lord also saw what was happening and He was mighty to save me from it.  In the most peculiar of circumstances, I found myself unable to control my universe and pregnant with this second "surprise" baby.  The "I must control everything" trap I was caught in, had led me to a place of discontent and was feeding a very foolish tendency to evaluate our situation and plot and scheme about how I could change it or make it better.  It's a little depressing to me to look back at how much time I wasted, plotting, scheming and worrying.  Obsessively.  Lots of time thinking, "If only this would happen, then it would be better/easier/happier..."  Do you know that trap too??   As I walked through the thick of it, I discovered that my own plans were actually not as great as I thought they were and in fact, my own plans were rather flawed.  And as if to give me a 9 month lesson in realizing that, I found myself now pregnant again, with a busy 10 month old and a new reality that was totally and completely out of my control.  

In the strangest way, it was the most freeing thing to me.  In the blessing of this little life, the control I so desperately was seeking, suddenly was taken from me and I realized, I never really had it in the first place!  The error of my ways and the ugliness of my sin, quickly surfaced and the Lord helped me see just how I got there and how He mercifully cut the chains, forgiving me of it.  Since that day, He has given me a peace that I can only attribute to Him.  While our circumstances haven't miraculously changed and now we face greater need and responsibility, He has made it abundantly clear that He does and will continue to provide for us and the way I can obey Him in that, is to be content and grateful.  

One of the biggest ways I've had to surrender my contentment, is with our home.  For lots of reasons, I never imagined us living in this condo with 2 children.  I hoped and prayed that we would be in a bigger house, with a yard and a garage and all the bells and whistles I dreamed of.   I knew when we moved in here, that we would trust the Lord with how long we were to stay.  He provided this home for us and I remember asking Him on our closing day, to also provide the way out when it was time.  However, somewhere in the last few years, I must have amended that request to include "my time" instead of "His time."  In the last year, as we watched the market tank and our property value sink, we both knew in our heart of hearts that He was calling us to stay here longer than we hoped for, with thankful and content hearts.  We called a realtor we know and trust and asked him to come out and give us a good picture of what we were facing.  He did and we took a deep breath when the "reality" of it all sank in.  It was pretty clear that short of a miracle, we needed to stick it out a little while longer.  Which we were ok with, because we had enough room for Travis, Ava and I and we had no plans to add another baby for at least a year or more.  It was do-able.  

Well, as with most things, the Lord had a different plan for us.  As we discovered in March, He was not asking us to stay with one baby, but actually two.  And a dog.  Not ideal in our minds, but reality none the less.  So, for the last few months, my mind has gone into overdrive, adjusting my attitude and letting my design wheels spin.  It's so amazing to me, that the Sovereign God of the universe, would look at our very common and small "problem" and take the time to intimately work on our hearts and minds to see us through it.  He gave me the gift of mind that knows and loves design and He's helping me use it in the most creative of ways!  He also knew that in my pregnant, hormonal (and thus sometimes irrational) state, I would need a little time and inspiration to adjust to this.  So, as only He can, He ministered to me in a really sweet and personal way.  

About one month before I discovered I was pregnant (although I actually was and didn't know it), I had a very vivid dream.  I'm not one who places lots of value in dreams, because usually mine are so bizarre and weird that they would scare me if they actually meant something!  But this time, I woke up the next morning, totally inspired and excited to tell Travis all about it.  I told him that I dreamed I was pregnant and that we decided to stay in our condo with both babies.  In my dream, I was not at all sad about it, because we were not living in our condo, in the same way we are now.  Instead of being in our own Master bedroom, Travis and I were in Ava's room and she and the baby were in the Master bedroom and the Master walk-in closet.  HOWEVER, in my dream, I very vividly remember and recalled in great detail, they way that we had designed the new "baby suite" (think the baby suite from Father of the Bride 2)!!  I could see the new color scheme with all of our baby furniture and I LOVED it!  I saw all the additional space that the bigger rooms gave the kids, and the fun design details that pulled it all together.  My favorite part was the nursery that we had converted from the walk-in closet.  It was darling.  And dreamy.  And perfect.  I woke up that morning, thinking "I could do that!"  In fact, it would be fun to do that.  I described the whole thing to Travis and then told him, "You know what babe, I seriously think I could be ok with 2 kids here, because I know that would actually work and I would actually like it."  He laughed at me and shook his head saying, "You have the craziest dreams!  Glad you liked it, but at least we don't have to worry about that yet."  I laughed too, but I did tuck that dream away in my heart and for the next month, I can't tell you how many times I thought of it.  I imagined lots of different design scenarios and I found myself excited about the challenge of it.  Although, I wasn't pregnant (to my knowledge) and I was sure that was at least a year or more away.  

I tell you that funny dream because the day I realized that oh yes, I actually was pregnant, I distinctly remember washing the dishes while pondering this new "life" and all that meant for our future and realizing exactly why I had that dream.  God did that for me.  He knew our situation ahead and He knew how He made me.   He knew I would struggle at the thought of a home that already felt "small" but He knew I was going to need to accept that, and somehow joyfully be able to live here.  So He planted a seed in my mind that met my need.  He took the scales off my eyes and gave me fresh vision for our home.  In the months that followed, I have been renewed with a challenge to make the most of every inch we have!  It has helped me from wallowing in what we don't have, to enjoying what we do!  

Believe me, it's a daily surrender I find myself making and some days, it comes easier than others.  We have watched some dear friends and family walk away with amazing real estate deals in this crazy market and it's been hard for us to not dwell on their situations, but to instead find contentment in ours.  But God is so faithful to walk this road with us.  I trust Him to see us through 2 kids and a dog in a 2 bedroom/2 bathroom condo!  I also trust Him to still provide a way out for us, in HIS perfect timing and not ours.  We serve a big God who can do big things.  But we also serve a God is faithful and tender in all things.  I love that He has ministered to me in so many small ways, so that I can truly say today, I am grateful and content with what we have.  It doesn't come naturally and I can't always say that I don't find myself struggling.  BUT, I have set my heart on that passage from 1st Timothy 6 and I am constantly reminding myself that "Godliness with contentment is GREAT GAIN..." and I know that God will bless my obedience to Him in this season, down the road.  

So, I am in a flurry of nesting, re-decorating, buying, and selling over here!  Craig's list is the best thing to ever happen to me and I am finding deals galore right now!!  We find out the sex of this baby in 2 weeks and I'll finally be ready to start moving on the "baby suite" plan :) It's a huge challenge for me but I am having a blast in the midst of it!  I love my home.  I love my family.  And I love the Lord.  

We live in a world that is anything but content, however as followers of Christ, we aren't called to live like this world.  The counter-cultural call to doing things God's way is never easy.  But it's always worth it.  I know we are exactly where He wants us right now and that is worth more to me than the best yard money could buy!  Although believe me, when I'm finally in a yard of my own, I've got big plans for that too!  But not now.  Not yet.  In no way do I claim to have this lesson down or think that I'm the example here...I could possibly be the furthest thing from an example if you knew how I've reacted in the last few months!  But the Lord is working on me and is faithfully weeding those seeds of discontent out of my heart....

"...For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do EVERYTHING through Him who gives me strength."
Philippians 4:12-13

Including 2 kids under 2, in a 2 bedroom/2 bathroom condo, with a big, hairy dog-and I don't mean Travis!!
Yep, I can do EVERYTHING through Him who gives me strength...
I'm asking today for Him to pour it on!


I Love...

-When the sunlight streams through the blinds in the morning.
-A little chatterbox who wakes us up, talking or singing while tapping her foot on the back of the crib.  It's the best way to usher in a new day!
-Watching my husband's summer tan develop.  Makes me feel all tingly inside when I see him :)
-Feeling another precious little life moving inside me.
-Watching Ava carry her baby under her arm, every where she goes.
-Pickles.  Sweet and Dill.  I can't get enough of them.  I blame it on the pregnancy!!  Ha Ha!
-Having freshly cleaned carpets.
-Seeing Ava's dance moves.
-The anticipation of summer coming.
-My life.


A Poignant Reminder

GREAT video that is worth watching and considering.  Glad to personally know our staff and their hearts and to know this is NOT what a Sunday morning at Grace is like...But sadly, at many Churches, this is exactly what a Sunday morning is like.  All about man, nothing about the Lord.  

Just because you can, doesn't mean you should...


Picnic in the Park

We are having such wonderful weather here!  It's just been beautiful for the last couple of days and the forecast for the rest of the week, seems to indicate more of the same.  THESE are the days that Minnesotans live for!  THIS is what we endure winter for!!  Spring and Summer here are just amazing and we are more than ready to enjoy every single day we get!  On Saturday, we decided it was time for our first picnic of the season.  Can I tell you how long I've wanted to do this with Ava?  She's at that perfect age where we can start making it a regular activity I think.  
As soon as we pulled the food out, she seemed to catch right on!  Oh I just want to kiss her when she sits like that on her knees and shoves her tiny pieces of food in her mouth!  She looks like such a big girl to me...Some days I catch a glimpse of her and it just stops me in my tracks.  She's growing like a weed!
We also brought Ryley along, knowing he would love the chance to be out with us and eat all the food Ava dropped!  He played his part well and did a nice job of completely the "all american family" look we had going!
Then Ava spotted his leash, which is her new favorite toy.
No, seriously.  She loves it. 
She likes to drag it around with her and pretend she's attaching it to something. 
 I believe she's thinking here, "Now where is a dog I can handle??"  She knows we hook it to Ryley's harness somehow, and she often stands by him with the metal hook in her hand, holding it up to his back.  But from that point on, she's not quite sure what to do, so she just acts like she knows what she's doing.  
And I'm convinced.  
Aren't you?
Pretty soon she tired of the leash and set her sights on bigger fun.  
With Daddy of course :) 
Is there any sight sweeter than watching the man you love with his daughter??  With OUR daughter??
Well, maybe...And that is watching him win the battle over the sun hat, with the daughter you both love!  
It didn't need to be a battle, but she wanted to wage war and we were more than happy to play along.  
We will not be fooled by your cuteness Ava!  We can see right through your strong will :) 
But we will win the battles we want to.
Because we're the parents! Ha!
Ok, enough battling...There was also plenty of playing!
Not sure she's too excited about the slide yet...
But we were!
And this is what happens when the photographer wants to be in the picture too.
The best behavior is always saved for the Mother, right??
At least Ryley smiled for me.
We had a wonderful Saturday afternoon and better yet, we wore this little one out!  She had it pretty good, if I do say so myself!  I would have done anything for a ride back home like this one :) 
Too bad she didn't want to nap when we finally made it home!  
Too bad because her Mom and Dad REALLY wanted to nap....
Somehow I think she knew that.  

Good thing we love her!!


My Little Troublemaker

Well, if that gives you any kind of glimpse into my day, you know that I am already drinking my first coke and unless things approve, I'll be on my second one in no time!! We got home from Church this morning and I spent the whole drive home trying to decide if Ava and I should join Trav for an all day ministry thing. I went back and forth about a million times and then finally decided that we should go. I quickly made her lunch, got her changed and in a new outfit and then ran to my bedroom to change myself. I was gone no more than 2 minutes and I could hear her walking around the living room, talking and playing. When I came back to the living room, it was suddenly silent and then I heard it...a splash. I knew what was happening before I even saw it!!

I suppose we had it coming. We've gone this long without her playing in Ryley's bowls, but to say she more than made up for it, is an understatement! She was DRENCHED in water, all the way down to her diaper, squealing and laughing the whole time :) Help me Lord! We've got a little troublemaker on our hands!

Yep, that's the clean outfit, worn for about 5 minutes before it was soon soaked in dog bowl water.  Perfect.

And those are her jammies that she had been carrying around, also soaked.  
She emptied 90% of the water all over the floor...
While dipping pieces of dog food into it and eating them.  
At this point, I really thought I might freak out, but I quickly found myself laughing instead.  
Because apparently when I don't know what else to do, I just laugh.  
Oh well, at least it's better than crying!  

Needless to say, we didn't go with Trav and this sealed the deal for us to stay home, which is fine.  It was the just the confirmation I needed!  
After all, she just might be the cutest little troublemaker I've ever seen.  
Even in her soaking wet diaper :) 


Santa Fe Sights

On Monday, we had the chance to do a little sightseeing in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Travis had been there once before, but I never had been, so Aunt Shaye kept Ava for us while we headed north with Trav's Mom.
Let me just say up front, although I can appreciate the southwest style and architecture that is all over New Mexico, it is definitely NOT my thing.  I could not live there and I could not imagine decorating a home there!  I see the beauty of it, but it just reconfirmed my love for the midwest!  Or Florida!  I am just not a southwest girl :) 
We did spend some time seeing some interesting things however.  There is a lot more history in Santa Fe than I realized.  This is the oldest active church in America.  That surprised me, I would have assumed it would be somewhere on the East Coast, but apparently I was wrong.
This is the interior, adobe style.  I also took a picture of this old confessional.  Not exactly as private as I would have imagined!
And this is the oldest house in America...Although I can't tell you why.  It was closed when we were there.  I did peak in and would have loved to tour it, but no luck.  I did love the turquoise front door however!

A little further down the street, we stumbled upon this gorgeous hotel and spa.   So uniquely designed, I really did love it.  I have no desire to see Santa Fe again, but if I did go back, this is where I would want to stay!  
It was called the Loretto Inn and Spa.  We had to go in and warm up by the fire because it was so cold out that morning!  And windy too.  Who would have thought???  I always assumed New Mexico was hot, but it's really not in the mountains!
This was probably the most interesting thing we saw.  It was the Loretto Chapel and it's been featured on Unsolved Mysteries.
It has "miraculous stairway" that was built hundreds of years ago, by an unknown carpenter the nuns had prayed for.  Apparently they needed a staircase and this man showed up and just built them one.  The miracle is in how he did it.  The picture below is how it looks today.  The railings and support attached to the beam were added years later.  Originally, it was just a curved, floating staircase with no support.  Architects, engineers and contractors are baffled by it.  It makes no sense as far as gravity is concerned!  It's not only beautiful, but no one knows how it could have possibly been built, let alone stand unsupported.  Some people think that Jesus came and built it.  I can't say I'm one of them.  But, it is fascinating!
And beautiful too.
The front of the Chapel
And the back.  Amazing stained glass windows, huh?
This is a picture of the original staircase.
Later we found this great restaurant and enjoyed a wonderful lunch there.
And after wandering in and out of a few more shops, we went into yet another Church, this one a cathedral.  I don't remember the name, but it's a famous one apparently.
The front
The back.  
Love the arches and barrel vault ceiling. Obviously New Mexico is very hispanic, thus the Catholic Churches on every corner!
Outside of the cathedral, looking down a street.  In the distance, you can faintly see the mountains.
I did not realize how much shopping there was in Santa Fe, or how much jewelry was for sale.  I saw many, many beautiful things, but I could not get over how expensive everything was!  These are tons of street vendors who sit out all day selling their hand made stuff.  It was so gorgeous, but even they were ridiculously expensive.  We had lots of fun looking, but apparently my taste is a little too rich for my wallet!  
We decided that this was the one store we could safely afford!  Ha Ha!

Santa Fe was fun, definitely an experience, but I don't know that I'll be back!  If I had to choose a vacation spot, I would choose a beach or a historic place on the east coast hands down before I chose the desert.  I was not cut out for the Southwest!  It is beautiful and rich with history, and I can appreciate that, but not my cup of tea.  We did love the chance to have a day of walking around together, minus a stroller, a diaper bag and a wiggly little girl!  She would not have lasted very long in Santa Fe I'm afraid. Quiet tours in cathedrals are not her thing either! 

What about you?  Have you ever been to Santa Fe?  What did you think??


Mother's Day in Albuquerque

My favorite picture of us :) 
What a blessing to be celebrating my second official Mother's Day this year!  
This little sweetie and her Daddy made me cry with their sweet cards they gave me, but being with them all day was really the best gift!  
We made plans for this trip, a few months ago, so that we could all be together to celebrate Mother's Day with Trav's Mom and her kids.  We all flew in to his Sister and Brother in Law's house and had a really fun, long weekend together.
Texie and her grandkids
Travis, his Mom and two sisters
The "Mom" shot 
Katy and Shaye
Troy, Shaye, Dominic and Addie
Troy and I decided we needed a picture together, as the "in-laws" in the family
We attempted several pictures, but never quite got a good one of the three of us.  
These days, as long as Ava's not screaming, I'm ok with it!  
She was in her own little mood during our photo shoot!  
This was the best cousin shot we could come up too!  Oh well, they're all cute and at least we had them all together!
After a wonderful brunch, we headed to Old Town to do some shopping and walk around.
It was hot out, but such a nice day to be outside.
We found this adorable little courtyard with lots of plants and chili peppers everywhere.
Ava had a good time walking all over and drinking her juice!  
I love this little girl :) 
We love aunt Katy!
We also celebrated Ava's birthday, one more time, with everybody!
There were no shortage of arms for Ava to go to at any point on our trip!
But her very favorite thing, was being outside in the backyard and playing in this water table!
Hard at work...Don't you just love the stringy wind-blown hair she's sporting here??  I swear we do bathe her!
Trav played lots of football with Dom, Addie and Troy and we also brought our new favorite wii game, Just Dance, which was hilarious for all of us!  Everyone played and we had a ball doing it!  It was a great couple of days in New Mexico and we are so thankful we had the chance to spend some time together!