Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Independence Day Highlights





Sweet Harper missed out on most of the Independence Day celebration . . . the baby girl slept through the parade and then became awfully sick the night of the fireworks. Poor thing . . . there's always next year.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Crazy awesome.

Two years ago, shortly after the birth of my son, we made the decision to sacrifice a second income so that I could be home with our boy.

Actually, it was God's decision.

Months after my son was born, I applied for a position with the school where I was a long-term sub, and naturally, I thought I had the job in the bag. As it turns out, I didn't get the job. Oh-holy-humbling. I felt so defeated. And disappointed. Especially because with two incomes, my husband and I thought that we could afford to start trying for a second child - a decision that we knew came with huge financial responsibility (my first c-section cost over $30,000).

Anyone else notice all that was wrong with our perspective? God sure noticed. My over-confidence in job security. My insistence that a certain level of financial security equated to our ability to carry out OUR plan. Even the lack of confidence in God's ability to provide for us as we tackled medical bills.

So there we were, living humbly on a single-income, still paying off medical bills from my pregnancy and delivery, and wondering if we'd ever be able to afford more children (yes, we have health insurance, but it didn't cover all of our bills). Though I very much tried to live in the moment with my then six-month-old son (he was and still is the delight of my life), I couldn't help but feel discouraged that God's plan apparently wasn't my plan. I was praying for a part-time-work-from-home-school-counseling-job (or the impossible) and, in an effort to get back to a more positive mindset, I began taking daily jogs.

One Saturday morning, I grabbed the dog and my running shoes and headed out for a quick jog. As we made our return home, we came to a ditch and my foot slipped on the early morning dew still covering the grass. My foot planted in the ditch as my body kept moving forward. I heard three awful pops and landed face-first in the grass, the dog still by my side. I knew right away that my ankle was broken.

Fast forward several days - I'm rolled into the OR for surgery on my very-broken ankle. And guess what? Ankle surgery ain't much cheaper than a c-section.

Crap.

Crap.

Crap.

Now we had medical bills out the wazoo. I was physically unable to even pick-up my crazy-busy six-month-old. And my hopes of jogging my way to sanity were shot. (We can never thank our families enough for helping us to survive those eight weeks that I lived on crutches.)

And to top it all off, eight weeks of being confined to the couch and bed resulted in something I wasn't quite expecting: a pregnancy.

Oi vey.

Of course we were thrilled, but deep-down, I was frightened. Everything that had once given me security had been taken from me - my physical abilities, financial stability, even my self-worth from a job. And throw in the challenges of a soon-to-be-toddler and pregnancy hormones - Yikes! Thank you, Jesus, for giving me a patient and level-headed husband!

Fast forward almost two years. My son is more delightful than ever. My daughter is beautiful and healthy. And I'm jogging again (I even completed a half-marathon in May).

And remember that flippant and impossible prayer I delivered in the midst of my defeat and disappointment - a prayer for a part-time-work-from-home-school-counseling-job? Well I forgot about it. But guess who didn't?

The one-and-only, always-faithful, nothing-is-impossible-for-Him, crazy-awesome God.

Two months ago I accepted the impossible: a part-time-work-from-home-school-counseling-job. I am so not kidding. It is as if God was saying, "I never forgot about you, but I needed the timing to be perfect. Your timing, Ali, was not my timing. Your securities are not my securities." I am so blown away by His faithfulness.

And in case you were wondering, we paid off all of our medical bills. Thousands and thousands of dollars worth of bills. All before I accepted the job. All on one income. Because with God, ALL things ARE possible.

Gosh, He is so stinkin' good.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Choo-choo

Throughout the day, Henry will come up to Matt or me (or Papa or MoMo or Ary Ate or whoever is at our house that day) and say, "Choo-choo."

And in case you don't speak toddler-ese, that means, "Will you please play with me upstairs with my train set, please?" Toddlers are very polite. Lots of pleases and thank-yous, dontcha know?

And when you go upstairs to play choo-choo, thankyouverymuch, this is a glimpse of what you have in store . . .









Now what are you waiting for? Get over here and play choo-choo already!

You're welcome.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sleeping Beauty


Her arms crossed across her chest absolutely kills me. She melts my heart even when she's passed out in her car seat.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Happy Birthday, Grandpa!








It's Grandpa's Birthday! Ain't that swell?

Grandpa Hooper (better known as "Papa" considering Grandpa is a mouthful for a two-year-old) is so much more than simply an extension of our family.

For one thing, have you ever seen such a resemblance between a baby girl and her granddad? There is no doubt that lil' girl is a Hooper! Even her hair takes after her Grandpa (he was a red-head, and Miss Harper is delightfully topped with strawberry blonde hair).

Further, if any of my children take up the country life one day, it will be thanks to Grandpa. At 60-somethin' years old, he is up before the sun working hard to groom and maintain the 100+ year old home that his great-grandfather (or is it 2-greats?) built and the 400+ acres surrounding it. Not to mention the dogs, cats, and birds that he feeds and cares for every single day.

Most importantly, Grandpa absolutely adores his grandbabies. On countless occasions he and Grandma have selflessly given up their weekend in order to give us a hand with H&H. I often find him down on the ground playing with the kids, in the kitchen fixing them a snack, or in the trenches changing a dirty diaper! It is nothing for him to grab Henry and take him along as he completes his daily tasks such as mowing the lawn or feeding the cats.

Grandpa, we LOVE you. You are so special to us, and we celebrate today in honor of you!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ride to end cancer.

My rock star of a dad is gearing up to join 3000+ others in an effort to END CANCER. I honestly can't think of anything more awesome.

On August 22, he will hop on his bike and pedal from Columbus, Ohio to Athens, Ohio, a 102-mile ride.

I don't know about you, but that doesn't sound easy.

I couldn't be prouder of my dad.

If you are interested in sponsoring him, please click here.

Every dollar raised goes directly to fund cancer research at The Ohio State University's James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute. My dad has already covered the expenses for the "ride" portion of this event. All the financial support that he raises goes directly to END CANCER.

Here is a bit more information about the ride:

Pelotonia is a grass roots bike tour with one goal: to end cancer. Pelotonia raises money for innovative and life saving cancer research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute. Driven by the passion of its cyclists and volunteers, and their family and friends, Pelotonia's annual cycling experience will be a place of hope, energy and determination. Pelotonia proudly directs 100% of every dollar raised to research. It is a community of people coming together to chase down cancer and defeat it.

I love you, Dad, and I can't wait to see you in Athens, Ohio on August 22!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Bathtime at the ol' farmhouse.





Doesn't it make you want to run out and salvage an old farmhouse sink?

Friday, July 2, 2010

We love the Kuntz's!

We spent last weekend in Warren, Ohio visiting Matt's best dude, Curt Kuntz, and his freakin' awesome family. Seriously, I flippin' love those people. Jackie (Curt's wife) has become my dear, dear friend. And their baby girls, Ava Rose and Halle Anne (or is it Ann?), are the brownest eyed beauties I ever did see.

The icing on the cake is that H&H LOVE their girls. Love them. It was a weekend packed full of giggling and goofiness, and I honestly think it was one of Henry's best weekend's ever. Every time I looked at him he exuded pure joy.

I put together a 4-minute video of highlights from the weekend. What I didn't include was a rockin' 3-year-old's birthday party, lots and lots of swimming, hours of playing, and tons of sugar consumption. The weekend was heavenly.


Curt & Jackie: Thank you, thank you, thank you for hosting us. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. We had such a blast, and I'm still raving about that fried chicken and strawberry cake. Oh my goodness.

Love y'all (and Happy Anniversary)!