Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Do you find it hard to find the blessings in life sometimes?  I know I do.  It's so easy to get caught up in the busyness of day to day life.  Dishes have to be cleaned, clothes have to be washed, babies have to fed and bathed, floor swept and on and on.  It never ends.  There's always something else to do. 

It can be so easy to wake up in the morning and go throughout your entire day without even thinking about God.  Without giving him thanks.  Without seeing all of the blessings he has poured down on you just today.  I am determined not to let this happen.  I want to enjoy this time I have.  I want to see God around me, to be aware of his presence in everything.  I want to count my blessings every day and be so overcome by how good God is because the fact is I can't count all of my blessings.  They are too numerous to count.  Even on the hard days.  The toddler puking and baby screaming days.  Still, they are there. 

Little hands to wash.

Cheerios left on the floor.

Leftovers to pack for lunch.

What about you?  What blessings can you find in the unexpected?

70. Finding God's faithfulness in my BSF lesson
71. Unexpected time spent one on one with my oldest
72. New markers
73. A homemade hat
74.Time alone with a book
75. Laughter shared between friends

Monday, January 7, 2013

New Year's Goals

I already mentioned how I have decided to name this year.  This year my focus is simplicity.  In thinking about it, sometimes simplicity is actually quite complicated.  Ironic, huh?

I want to simplify my life, to not worry about the little things, but to be focused on a few important things.  But what are those things?  And what do I do to focus on them?  I love setting goals.  I always feel so accomplished when I've achieved them.  That's one reason why I love New Year's.  I don't really like setting New Year's resolutions because they're so vague and unclear.  Instead, I like to set goals.  I look at all different areas of my life (my kids, my role as wife, finances, spiritual life, housekeeping, etc.) and think about what I would like them to look like at the start of 2014.  I know perfections isn't possible so I pick a few small goals in each area and make those my goals for 2013.  Sometimes the goals are real simple and can be achieved quickly (i.e. save $1000 for vacation) and other times they are more difficult and might not even be achieved by the end of the year.  But I think it's good to always be thinking about how we can better ourselves.  One of my favorite quotes comes from my high school youth group: If better is possible, good is not enough.  I try to live by that.  If I can be doing better, I want to be working toward that.  Not towards perfection, just towards better.  So, without further ado, here are a few of my 2013 goals:

  *Pay for (all) vacation(s) with cash.
       We currently have a vacation to the Outer Banks planned, and I'm hoping to go on a few mini
        vacations.  I would like to use all cash, only cash for all of them.  Not even put it on the credit
        card this month and pay off next month.
   *Pay off one student loan.
        Brad and I each have a couple student loans.  It can get discouraging sometimes to see so many
        little loans so I'd like to knock out at least one of them.
   *Start doing home repairs so that we can sell our house when we want to.
        We're not really sure when we're going to sell our house yet, but there are definitely a few things
         that will need to be fixed before we can do that so better to be prepared.

    *Go on monthly dates with my husband.
         Brad and I both know how important it is that we have time to get away just the two of us.  We
         both need that time together, but aren't always great about making it a priority.  So, this year we
         will make it a priority!
    *Be more present with my kids.
         I love staying home with my kids.  I tell Brad often how thankful I am that he goes to work so
         that I don't have to.  But sometimes I forget what a blessing it is.  I get distracted by other
         things.  But I will never get this time back, and I really want to enjoy every minute of it.  I want
         to get down on the ground and play with them more.  I want to go to the children's museum
         without anyone else.  I want to play at the park for hours.  I want to sit and read books all
         morning or snuggle together and watch a movie.  I want to do craft projects and play games.  I
         want to get messy and follow their lead.
      *Complete the cookbook challenge.
          More and more I'm discovering how much I love to cook.  It's just so much easier to eat out.
          But in 2013 I want to cook more meals.  A great way to do this is by participating in this
          challenge.  Both Brad and I are really excited about it.  We have decided to use the Biggest
          Loser Family Edition cookbook, which goes great with Brad's word for 2013, which is

      *Faithfully finish BSF.
           I have truly enjoyed participating in BSF this year.  I am learning so much and being
           challenged beyond what I could have imagined.  I want to finish strong and I look forward to
           starting the new study in the fall.
      *Model and practice spiritual habits with the boys.
            I want Micah and Judah to see me praying and reading my Bible every day.  I want them to
            see the joy that I find in worshipping through music.  But I want them to participate in these
            activities themselves.  I want to pray daily with Micah and regularly read Bible stories so that
            he, too, can find what a joy it is to be in the present of God.
       *Pray and read the Bible daily with my husband.
            Brad and I do pray and read the Bible together daily.  But we do it before bed which is not
            always the most quality time.  My goal is for us to move that time from night to morning.  I
            know how important it is for us to start our day off on the right foot together so it is my goal
            that we would consistently start our mornings together in the Word and praying for each other.

Those are just a few of my goals for 2013, what are some of yours?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

8 Months

I can hardly believe my baby boy is 8 months old already!  I know moms say this all the time, but there's a reason they say it!  He is growing up so fast.  I feel like with Micah I was always so excited to reach the next milestone and it feels like he just grew up so fast.  But I'm trying to enjoy it all more with Judah.  Don't get me wrong, I knew to slow down and enjoy it with Micah because I had been warned about how fast it goes, but until you experience it for yourself you can't really know.  I often find myself looking back at baby books because I have no idea when Judah should be doing certain things!  But he reminds me all the time that he doesn't need a baby book to tell him what to do next! 

This month he has become so much more active.  He babbles to us all the time and he is really getting around!  It's like he has really just come alive and I love it!  He's a much more active participant in our family now and needs to be included in whatever we are doing.  He and Micah get along great.  Judah always wants to be where big brother is and playing with what big brother is playing with.  Micah has learned that if he gives Judah something to play with then he'll be satisfied and not bug him.  Fortunately, Micah usually gives him something that he is playing with (i.e. a piece of train track or one of his cars) so Judah feels included.  Micah cracks Judah up, too.  I love it when the two of them just keep laughing at each other.  Judah's favorite is whenever Micah "throws" something (this usually means he's actually just dropping it behind his back.  He thinks it's the funniest thing in the world! 

In general, Judah is a pretty cuddly baby.  He loves being held and will just sit there for a decent amount of time, enjoying your company.  I'm pretty sure this will change soon, though, as more and more he is on the move.  Here are some more highlights of Judah's eighth month:

*He started the month getting up on all fours and rocking back and forth and now he is pulling himself forward.  It's not quite crawling, (it's more like the worm!), but he is definitely moving forward!

*We went to Chicago and Frankfort Children's Museums this month and he actually got to play at some of the exhibits.  It was so fun watching him play with his own age-appropriate toys.  But it definitely makes going to the children's museum by myself a lot harder!

*Judah came with us to cut down our Christmas tree.  He did great despite the cold weather, and he really enjoyed watching us decorate it.

*Judah is babbling more and more.  He is seriously a little chatterbox, always with something to say (that does not remind me of anyone else I know!).  His sounds are sounding more like real words, too.  He has starting saying "dadadadada."

*We went to Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo.  He didn't complain once and was so content being all bundled up and snuggled close to Daddy.

*We celebrated Judah's first Christmas.  We did our family Christmas Christmas Eve morning, then went to Uncle Phil and Aunt Karen't house for dinner.  Christmas morning we went to Mimi's house, then to Boompa and Oma's house for dinner.  We could not have asked Judah to do any better than he did.  He slept relatively well and was very content no matter where we were.  He really enjoyed playing with the ribbons on all of the presents, and he always has so much fun playing with his cousins.  I am really looking forward to next Christmas when he can really play with them and enjoy it even more.

*Judah celebrated his first New Year's Eve at home.  We had a family sleep over at our house.  The kids played so nicely together.  Judah gave Brad quite a bit of trouble going to sleep, but he finally did it and slept very well, despite the fireworks.

Enjoying the Enchanted Railroad.
*We're giving Judah more and more regular food.  We're trying to move him to only table food.  He's been eating pureed pears once a day, but we're trying to stop that and he is really loving eating the food that we eat.  He's even learned how to drink out of a sippy cup this month.

*We went to the Morton Arboretum to see the Enchanted Railroad.  It was so cool!  Judah was all bundled up in his new winter coat and he had a blast just watching everyone else watch the train.  Then, we walked around the children's garden a little bit and he did so great.  He loves being outside, just like his big brother!

Smiling while walking at the Arboretum.
Rosie loves Judah.  She always looks out for him when they're together.

Enjoying a special New Year's Eve bath.

Some quiet time with Daddy.

Picking out our Christmas tree.

Helping Daddy put on Judah's first ornament.

All smiley on Christmas Eve.

The bows are the best part of the present!

All the cousins on Christmas Eve.

Fun at Mimi's house.

Playing with some new Christmas toys.

Kissing that adorable baby.
Playing at the Chicago Children's Museum.

All bundled up and ready to look at the Macy's windows.

He loves being outside!
Holiday Magic with the fam.

Despite being cold, Judah did great at the zoo!

Enjoying some mashed potatoes and broccoli.

Brother picture in front of the tree at church.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Accepting the Joy Dare

I mentioned before that there were some challenges I was going to do this year.  One challenge is the Joy Dare.  Last year I read the book 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  In the book, Voskamp talks about how she decided to challenge herself to keep track of 1000 blessings from God.  Not your typical blessings,but little ones that often go unnoticed.  She was challenged to really look for God's blessing in her life.  It was a great book and really challenged me to look for God in my own life.  It reminded me of when I was in college and one of my professors would always begin class asking "How did you see God today?"  Voskamp has a great blog.  It's so challenging and inspirational.  So, I decided to join the community this year and keep track of my own 1000 gifts.

So, I'm going to start right now.  Yesterday and today's blessings:

Three Things Heard:
  1. Judah laughing at his big brother.
  2. Fireworks as we rang in the new year.  The sound of a fresh start!
  3. The sound of receiving a text message and knowing that I have friends who care about me and   
      know my child so well.

A Gift Outside, Inside, on a Plate:
  1. Cards in my mailbox, personal cards that require no money from me!
  2. A washing machine that I use daily so that I don't have to wash clothes by hand.
  3. Yummy leftover orange dip.  We're eating better in the Kolar house, but can't waste leftovers!

What about you?  Will you take the dare with me?  What are you thankful for today?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year

I love New Year's.  It is definitely in my top three holidays.  New Year's is perfect for type-A people like me.  It's a wonderful opportunity to start fresh.  I'm a huge fan of New Year's resolutions.  It's not that there's so much that I want to change.  It's more just an opportunity to make new goals.  Of course, I don't consider New Year's Eve the only time to do that.  I'm always making new goals.  It's just that New Year's Eve is so easy to start over.  It's a great time to reflect and think about how you want to do things differently.  I definitely have several goals that I want to work on in 2013.  And a couple challenges, but I'll write more about those later.

I'm sure you've heard of people assigning one word to a new year (like one of my favorite bloggers, Ann Voskamp).  I like the focus that naming the year gives.  It drives every goal I make.  So, I'm joining in. 

I know it's cliche, but 2012 had a lot of unexpected surprises.  I had no idea what God had in store, how he was going to work in our lives.  How he was going to rattle us and bring us to a place we didn't expect or even want to go.  I had no idea what one book was going to do for my entire family. 

But that's how God works, isn't it?  His grace is so much more than we can imagine.  He knows what we need even before we need it and he is already working to provide for us.  He is faithful when we are not.  And so our lives were turned upside down.

We learned what it meant to focus on God.  Really focus.  And not be concerned about getting more stuff.  Or worried about if others think we're "radicals."  We learned what joy comes from living simply. 

Not that we've mastered it.  No, we are still working on it daily.  Every day we discover another way that we are depending on ourselves and not God.  Or how we've started accumulating things of no real value again.  It's a regular struggle, something we are learning every day.

So I've decided to name this year simple

Simple.  Because I want to be reminded of how we should live simply.  Because I want to remember to keep things simple.  How much more joy my boys get from the simple things in life.  I want to remember how much more we enjoy time spent on the couch just the two of us to time spent at the movie theater.  Because regular old banana cupcakes with vanilla frosting will always beat out any kind of specialty cupcake. 

Simple.  A reminder to simply stay focused on God and his plans.  He will be faithful to us.  We don't need to worry or try to work for his grace.  We just need to give back.  And the way we give back is simple.  We love.  So, this year my focus is to live simply.

Happy 2013!