Monday, December 28, 2015

Traveling with a Toddler

Well hello there! Long time, no chat. Sorry it's been so long since you've heard from James & June. Turns out December is just as crazy in Europe as it is in the U.S.!

I was thinking last night about all the do's and don't's I wish someone would've told me before we started our excursions across Europe. And with a toddler in tow, you can imagine how tricky it can be. So here is some advice for anyone wishing to travel with their toddler:

- The biggest regret we've had so far was bringing a stroller to Venice. We knew the passages would be narrow so we thought we were being smart by bringing our umbrella stroller instead of the big jogging one. WRONG! There are so many bridges and stairs throughout Venice that a carrier or even a backpack carrier would've been sooooo much better. Unless you feel like carrying a stroller (with toddler inside) up and down too many stairs to count.

- Snacks on snacks. Restaurant service in Europe tends to be a little slower than the States so now we know to prepare by having plenty of snack options for June to munch on while we wait on our food. And we're learning to bring more wholesome foods just in case the menu options aren't to her liking.

- I never thought we'd be the parents who let their kids watch videos at the dinner table. Well that quickly went out the window (a long time ago). But now instead of YouTube, we have to look for video options that don't require internet. I recommend downloading kid-friendly apps/videos before traveling. A lot of places have wifi, but it's not always a guaranteed connection (or a free one) so June gets to scroll through the pictures on our phone, make a selfie video, or play one of her games.

- There's only so many old buildings that toddlers (or even adults) can look at before they throw a tantrum and make it look like you're kidnapping your own child. So we started throwing in more hands-on activities throughout the day. If you're traveling to a larger city, chances are there's a children's museum around. Or maybe even just a large grassy area to run around in. Usually we can tire June out with a few of these activities and then let her nap in the stroller while we enjoy some sightseeing that she couldn't care less about.

We're constantly learning from our experiences so hopefully I'll be able to share some more good tips soon!

We hope you all have a great New Year! God Bless from Hungary!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Dear Jillianne: Slowing It Down

Sorry it's been so long! It's been super busy around here! 

So poop overload, huh? I'm pretty sure someone could make a fortune going door to door selling their services as a poop-picker-upper. They'd make a fortune.

And it's so cute that Little Brother is moving all over the place! I'm sure James will appreciate him being ready to play immediately upon delivery! :)

We recently got back from Italy & Slovenia! It was absolutely gorgeous to drive through the Alps this time of year. The weather was perfect to walk through Venice and the leaves in Bled, Slovenia were amazing. Every Fall lover's dream! 

It's so weird to plan a trip to a completely different country this often. Traveling out of your home country is something that people might get to do once a year. But everything is so close here that we are amazingly blessed to be able to travel as often as we do. 

The weather here has actually been pretty nice the past few days. It's really cold in the morning when I take June to school but by the time she wakes up from her afternoon nap it's sunny! Definitely not like Fall in the PNW. 

Speaking of school, she's learning so much there. And I don't mean colors and the alphabet (although I'm sure they cover that). She's picked up a few new phrases. "MINE MINE MINE!!!" seems to be her new favorite. 

Well there's not much new to report here. I think things are going to slow down for a bit before Thanksgiving & Christmas, which I'm excited about! Hope you're doing well! We miss you like crazy here!

God Bless, 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Dear Kacie: Rain, Dog Poop, and the Animal in my Belly

Dear Kacie,

Pacific Northwest better is in full force right now. Here's the forecast this past week:
Monday: Rain
Tuesday: Pouring Down Rain
Wednesday: Cloudy, but surprise it's going to down pour on you when you least expect it.
Thursday: Rain.
Friday: Rain and hair tangling wind.
Saturday: Rivers falling down from heaven, literally.
Sunday: Sunny! Just kidding it rained.
But today was actually nice, it was nice and cold but James and I went to the park and a walk with some awesome friends. Gotta get some vitamin D when we can!

Today, I also decided to pick up dog poop! I got paranoid that Bailee wouldn't have a place to poop anymore and that she would start stepping in it so I decided to venture out and pick it up. EW. Big mistake. I am pregnant. It stinks. It is huge. It It is mushy. I stepped in it. I love our pup. She is so sweet. But seriously how does all that crap (literally) come out of my dog. Does she poop 5 times a day?  Anyways, I could do without the poop. No more poop.

In other news, Little Brother is such a mover! It is like a have a Mexican jumping bean dancing around in my belly. Big Brother aka James was not like this. I could predict where he was going to kick and when. Little Brother decided anytime, anywhere is a good time to kick. For example, on my bladder when I am trying to sleep. My ribs when I am trying to cook dinner. Silly boy. Keeps me on my toes!

How is fall in Hungary? I hope it is nicer than here. Also, daylight savings is soon and mix that with my toddler. Pray for me.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Dear June: Fall is here!

Hi June!

Krowaysha sounds amazing. Maybe you could take me there one day. Dad and Mom aren't sure when we'll be able to visit you yet so maybe I'll visit by myself? I think I have enough saved up but I guess that is supposed to go towards my college. What is that?

It is officially FALL. Which means my birthday is soon. It is breezy, rainy, and getting gloomy. Luckily my bum stays nice and warm with my fuzzy cloth diaper. We went to the pumpkin patch the other weekend. No one told me that pumpkins were big round balls that are too heavy to pick up.  I saw these huge birds that followed me around wherever I walked. They sure were scary looking. I stuck my finger in the cage but Dad was right there to tell me "no". Not one of our favorite words. But I guess he saved my finger. I've been needing it lately to ease the pain of my molars coming in.
Crazy birds eye-balling me.
With fall comes change. Did you here the news? I am going to have a Baby Brother! Mom and Dad even let me name him. I decided on Cars but Mom and Dad will call him TJ. It's my favorite movie, word, and toy so I thought it would be appropriate to name him that. Also, my title has changed from "the baby" to "big brother". Dad said something about being helpful and sharing. No thanks.
My brother, Cars.
Well that's all that's going on for now! Babble soon?

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Dear James: Long Time, No Toddler Babble

Hey boyfriend (read "Hay boyfran")! It's been awhile so I just wanted to say hello! Hello! Ok bye!

Just kidding! I really miss you! I think know you would love my school. We get to play and eat all morning. It's great! The outside part has a bunch of toys and sand to throw in your hair.

We just got back from Krowaysha. I think that's how you spell it. Here were my favorite and least favorite parts:

This beach was so cool. There was almost no one there so I had all the sand to myself. Mommy said the water was freezing but I think 60 degrees is just warm enough! Daddy caught a crab to show me. Not sure about that one. But I definitely want to come back here again. 

And now my least favorite part. We were in this awesome cemetery and there was a pretty candle. Daddy said not to touch it, but you know I'm addicted to doing things I know I shouldn't! I mean, come on Mom & Dad! You should know this by now! I'm fine now, but I definitely blame the parents for this one.

Not much else is going on here. I think we're going to Italy soon. That should be fun. I know Mom is really looking forward to stocking up on some American food at the commissary there. Maybe I'll be really good so they'll buy me some cookies. Or I'll have a meltdown so they'll buy me some cookies. We'll see how I'm feeling that day.

I really miss you friend! We should have a Skype date soon! I want to hear all about Fall in the PNW!

God Bless, 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Dear Jillianne: Third Time's the Charm

Dear Jillianne,

James is growing up! I knew when this time came it was going to be filled with mixed emotions for you. Just remember, I'm hear to listen to your confusing feelings about weaning! I remember crying and stroking June's hair the day she had her last drop of breastmilk. No matter the circumstances (voluntary or involuntary) weaning can be very sad. But I am so excited to see how your relationship with your son is going to evolve and become stronger than you ever thought possible! I'm so glad to hear that James' affection has not diminished! He's such a loving little boy and I know that is going to continue as he ages because of the examples his parents set for him.

And about the whole bra thing. They should make a holiday for the day women finally get to shove the nursing bra to the back of the drawer and pull out the more supportive, and definitely sexier, bras. Parties should be thrown, gifts should be given, and cake should be eaten. It's a great day!

We got to go to Budapest yesterday and finally do some fun things! Our first two trips there were quick and not filled with the touristy things. But yesterday we got to do so much!

We walked around Heroes Square. It's full of beautiful statues of the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, not to mention a bunch of tourists!

I had fun posing with all of the statues. 

Jillianne. We found Tex-Mex. And I know what you're thinking, Mexican food in Hungary!? You're crazy. This place was amazing. The food was better than most of the places we ate at in Texas. And maybe it's because I've been without Mexican food for over a month, but I loved this. We're definitely going back the next time we're in Budapest. 

And just for kicks, this is June at the pool this week. We got her a lifejacket and new hat (she dropped her old one on a walk somewhere). You know that scene in A Christmas Story where the mom puts so many layers on her son that he can barely walk and move his arms? Yeah, I totally felt like that mom when I dressed Aleah. Reusable Swim diaper, UV shirt, lifejacket, sun hat with neck protection,  sunglasses, and water shoes. She was definitely the most dressed at the pool. But isn't she so cute!?

As I write this I'm sitting in a super cute cafe drinking the largest vanilla latte the sell while June is at nursery learning and playing with her new friends. A girl could get used to this! I can't wait for you to come visit and experience all of this with me! 

Is it cooling off there at all? The weather is so perfect today. Overcast with a small breeze. Now if our small town could just get some Pumpkin Spice Lattes it might actually feel like Fall! 

Oh and Mingo said Bailey is welcome to come over with you guys. Our yard is plenty big! 

Miss you! Szia! 
God Bless, 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Dear Kacie: Weaned, 22 months

Dear Kacie,

After 22 months, James is weaned. Whoa. I never thought I would say that since I  thought he would never self wean off the boob. I've always believed to each their own when it comes to nursing and I am glad I chose to let him lead the way. I know I had my heart set on weaning him at a year old but miserable momma + miserable baby = not worth it. In the end I am blessed that I have been able to nurse this far.

I know that from your experience with June that weaning comes with bittersweet emotions. I thought that the second he weaned himself I would be doing a happy dance. You know that one you do when the kiddo has finally went to bed? But instead I bawled like a baby. It's times like this I wish you were still here so we could commemorate this moment with some Netflix with a pint of Ben and Jerry's or a Target trip.

 I will always cherish the bond that nursing brought for Little Man and me since we got off to a rough start. I thought James would love me less since we didn't have the bond through nursing but of course I was wrong. He cuddles more and comes up and gives me kisses without me asking. Such a sweet boy.

I also discovered how much I missed a normal bra! Last night Dear Husband saw me put my nursing bra in the laundry basket and he said, "You know you don't have to wear those anymore..." So I put one of my pre-pregnancy bras on this morning before heading to the dentist and I felt like a brand new woman. No snaps on my bra and not having to think about "Will this shirt be easy to nurse in?". It was weird!

So, how was your day? Can't wait to hear about another Hungarian adventure!

Love and Blessings,

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Dear James: Feels Like Home

Dear James,

So sorry for the long delay in responding! We moved into our new house almost 2 weeks ago and we just not got internet! And not a moment too soon. I was really missing my Netflix, I'll tell you what!

Hungary is great! We're starting to feel more comfortable in our small town. There's not much to do, but getting out is always an adventure in a foreign country. My Mommy misses your Mommy, too! It's pretty much all she talks about. And I definitely miss stealing your snacks. Although I think that's mostly because I just miss American snacks. The food here is a little different.

This was me after a walk from the grocery store. Mom gave me a little ice cream treat because it was so hot. Turns out it wasn't ice cream. It was chocolate covered frozen cottage cheese...but I still ate every last bit!

We made an impromptu trip to Budapest the day we moved into the new house. We didn't get to do much, but we did get to see the beautiful Parliament building from across the Danube River. We can't wait to go back and see so much more! 

There aren't really any churches here that we'll get to call home. But there are a lot of opportunities for fellowship with other believers. We can stream church services and watch with friends and a chaplain comes once a month and holds a service for us. There's also a Ladies' Bible Study that Mommy is excited to try. 

This is Mommy, Mingo, and me at the castle ruins in Dobronte. It was so cool! And it's only 15 minutes down the road from us in a super cute town. We'll definitely be taking all of our visitors there. 

You asked about our plane ride over here. Well from what I can remember (I think we've all repressed most of that experience), it wasn't too bad. I actually managed to sleep for a little bit during our 9.5 hour flight. And the nice ladies in the pretty uniforms were always bringing by food and drinks for me to spill and throw everywhere. It was very thoughtful of them. I know Mommy brought the Benadryl, but I never needed any. I guess I would suggest having your Mommy pack you lots of new toys to play with. I highly recommend the dollar spot at I miss Target. And don't forget Ralphie! I really liked having my Gemma with me to make me more comfortable. 

Well that's life right now. I can't wait to get all of our furniture in a couple of weeks. There are some toys that I've really missed. And I haven't slept in my own crib since the beginning of July! I hope you are having fun and meeting lots of new friends. Just remember, you're spoken for! 

Is the weather getting nicer? I sure do miss walking being carried through the the farmer's market and eating donuts shoving donuts in my face with you! I can't wait to introduce you to the amazingness that is a Nutella palacsinta. And there's gelato stands everywhere! I think I'm going to like it here. 

Miss you friend! See yooouuuuuu...

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Dear June: It's HOT

Dear June,

How is Hungary? My Mommy already said she is excited to visit you and misses you. I miss you too. Mostly miss stealing my toys from you. Do you miss stealing my snacks from me?

Things here are same old, same old. Except for it's HOT, which means the only thing I'm wearing these days is my diaper and playing in the water. Don't get mad but you forgot Yoda here. I am taking good care of him and will send him to you as soon as I can. He makes for a good car buddy.

So I played with the Play-Doh you gave me. It is a lot of fun! I tried to eat it a few times but Mommy kept saying it isn't food. It's pretty salty anyway. I also mixed a few colors and realized I did not like it.Mommy had to come to my rescue and pull apart the colors. I learned my lesson and kept each color in their own space from then on.

I wanted to ask, how was the plane ride? Any tips for when I travel next? Talk to you later!

See ya,

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Dear Jillianne: Feeling Human Again

Hey girl hey!

I think I can officially say we have all recovered from jet lag. Finally! Last week was probably one of the longest of my life. It was like combining the first few weeks of having a newborn with the first trimester. I wouldn't wish it on anybody! We'll definitely do more to prepare for such a drastic time change in the future.

I think I'm already having Target walk-through withdrawals. I learned a new word the other day: "shelf-check". It basically sums up every Target trip we ever made. It means to just walk through a store and see what they have. And since we already knew everything Target had (because we went roughly once a week), we definitely were just there for shelf-checks.

I hear ya on the heat. I can't imagine it without an A/C. I'm already so spoiled by our one A/C unit in the apartment. Maybe put the water table in the bathroom and let James have some fun in there? I know clean up would be a little tough but at least you don't have to worry about heat exhaustion and sunburn!

How do you make an Italian Soda? That sounds so good! I'll have to make one then go to Italy and try one and see how well I did. (P.S. How freaking cool was that sentence? Ladeedah I'm just gonna pop on over to Italy for a soda. Gah I love Europe!)

I've made a few new friends here but I definitely miss being around you. I feel like our friendship just flowed from day one (maybe day two). Like you said though, being a military spouse trains you to make fast friends. I mean, we probably tell new friends more about ourselves in the first week of knowing each other than civilian spouses would ever reveal to their friends.

I actually just got back from having coffee with quite a few spouses. It was so great to get to meet everyone. There are some really great women here and I just can't wait to get to know everyone better.

I'm so glad you and James are making new friends. I have no doubt that you'll become great friends with someone and James might find a playmate he likes even better than June. Maybe this new friend won't steal his food quite so often. ;)

We're finally starting to get adjusted here and I think we'll be even better once we're in our house in just over a week. I can't wait to show you pictures! Speaking of pictures, here's one from this morning:

This is right outside the coffee shop we were in. There's a couple of awesome little splash pads and a little playground. And it's all right next to this beautiful church! I definitely see us spending a lot of time here! 

Have you been to the splash pad lately? That might be a nice place to cool off. 

Well I hope you have a great day, friend! I love and miss you so much! Say hello to America for me!

Isten aldjon (God bless), 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Dear Kacie: Adjusting

Dear Kacie,

I miss you. How is the jet lag today?

Can you believe you've been gone a week? Seems like it's been longer. We never really saw each other everyday so not seeing you hasn't been so strange but not talking to you everyday has been an adjustment. The spontaneous trips to Target, texting each other everyday, and Farmer's Market trips are what I'll miss the most I think. And who is going to binge watch the second season of "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" with me!?

And I know you (jokingly) told me that I couldn't have a life after you left. Well, no worries. I haven't had much to do because it has been blazing HOT! You know Little James loves being outside all the time but you know it's too hot when even he decides to run back into the house. Although we have ventured out to Ross and Target. Two precious words: Air Conditioning. Don't judge but I went to Target two days in a row. And Dear Husband came with me both times. In all fairness we needed to return something the second time we went but walked out with supplies to make Italian sodas.

You know when you move to a new place and everything seems new, scary, yet fresh? Of course you know, you moved to a whole different country! Well that's how I feel right now.  L is on vacation and you're across the world so I feel like I am adjusting to a new life. I mean constanty adjusting is something our military life comes with so it's normal but at the same time I miss the tight knit friendship we had and our little quirks.

Speaking of fresh, little James and I are making new friends! We have had a few playdates with a new friend and it has been fun. But no worries, we miss you and little June so much and we can't wait to visit!

Talk to you soon,

Monday, August 3, 2015

Szia from Hungary!

Hello (Szia)! Well we finally made it to Europe. It was a crazy week of plane rides and the worst jet lag you can possibly imagine, but we survived! I just wanted to give you all a little look into what our life has been like since we left the U.S.

June's first time flying in her own seat!
We had 2 plane rides, a 9.5 hour and a 1 hour. I'd relive the 9.5 hour flight in a heartbeat. June took a really good nap and besides wanting to climb down and run up and down the aisles a few times, she did great. That 1 hour flight wasn't as fun. We got bumped up to business class which was great. Baby Girl was just so over the whole traveling thing. But all-in-all, the trip went really well. 

Jet lag takes another victim.
We were all really thrown off by the 9 hour time difference. June woke up every night around midnight and didn't go back to sleep for at least 3 hours. So she and I would take a long nap in the morning and feel like we had been drugged when we woke up. Thankfully she has slept through the past 2 nights (*knocks on wood*). I'm sure she'll be happy to be in her own crib in her own room soon. 
Right now we're staying in an apartment but we hope to be in a house in just a couple of weeks!

Exploring downtown and the square.
Thank goodness for such a tight-knit community of people here! We've become friends with some great people who took us all over town. We had lunch in the square, played in a park by a beautiful church, and got ice cream (which was about 70 cents each!). That day was the first time I felt human again. I think I'm going to love it here! 

Lots of cute parks to explore!
Since everything is so close in this small town, we've been able to get out and see something new almost every day. We found this cute little park in a really nice wooded area with walking trails all around. June really liked watching all of the other kids. And I think they enjoyed staring at us while we spoke English. 

The food will take some getting used to.
So this was my dinner last night. Any guesses as to what it's supposed to be? The menu said roast beef. It was pretty much like chicken fried steak, but without the breading. With onion strings on top and a bed of french fries on bottom. Not exactly what I had in mind, but it wasn't bad. I really can't wait to get out and eat my way through Europe. Because let's be honest, 70% of the reason I do anything is food. 

Well I hope you enjoyed a little peek into our new life! Hopefully soon we'll have tales of our trips to Budapest and beyond!

God Bless, 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Best Friends/Roommates

I am about to live out every best friends' dream. Today, I get to move in with my best friend! It's only temporary until we head off to Hungary, but I am so excited! Ten days of eating things we probably shouldn't, being in the Word together, and spending every waking moment together before the big move. It's a dream come true!

Oh but wait. We're not 14 anymore and this isn't just another sleepover. There's going to be 4 adults, 2 toddlers, and 2 pups in a 3 bedroom home. It's a good thing we all like each other! So I guess it's more like ten days of cooking meals for 2 picky toddlers and 2 hungry men, hopefully squeezing in some Mommy only time, and probably getting so sick of each other that they'll be ready for us to leave!

We are so blessed to call Jillianne and her family our friends. I don't know what we'd do without them or any of our friends in the PNW.

So with all of this moving and packing going on I might be a little off the grid. I'm hoping to keep you all updated on our move as we go but I'm not sure what that's going to look like. So check our Facebook page and Instagram (@jamesandjuneblog) for any news!

God Bless,

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Life Lately...

Hi Sweet lately has been a bit crazy but here is what I've been up too.

Making: Nothing. Crafts are non-existent at the moment. 
Eating: Doughnut peaches. Sweet and cool on these hot summer days.
Drinking: Ice water when what I really want is an Icee.
Reading: The B-I-B-L-E. Yes, that the book for me!
Wanting: To go to the Farmer's Market this week. Local fruits and veggies, YUM!
Looking: To add variety to my son's diet. His diet now is the cheddar bunnies and yogurt diet.
Playing: With my little boy. He is learning so much right now.
Wasting: Time on Instagram. 
Enjoying: The time I get with my best friend before she moves.
Liking: That my husband has been doing all the cooking lately. I love that my man cooks!
Watching: Lots of YouTube! Specifically Ellie and Jared such a cute and inspiring family!
Loving: My sweet little family. God is good.
Needing: A pedicure. Hobbit feet aren't that attractive.
Smelling: Like I need to take a shower after I write this post.
Wearing: Lots of shorts, skirts, and dresses. It's HOT people.
Noticing: My son has his Daddy's huge feet and needs new shoes.
Knowing: God is beyond my anxiety and insecurities is important right now.
Thinking: About new ideas for the blog and maybe vlog? oo-la-la!
Giggling: At my silly little boy. He's becoming such a jokester!
Feeling: Busy. With short WA summers, so much to do and so little time!

What have you been up to lately?


Post Idea from: Thanks Courtney!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Acknowledging Christ in Your Relationship

If 2 are better than 1, than 3 (God, husband, & wife) are best

Recently my husband and I decided to start reading the Bible together before we go to bed. Studying God's Word together is something we've been neglecting for quite awhile and that needed to change.

I just wanted to share some of the ups and downs of our newest endeavor. I know what you're thinking. What are the "downs" of reading the Bible together? Let's find out.

Our first mistake was thinking this was going to come easy. After all, we're setting out to better our relationship with God and with one another. Piece of cake, right? Wrong. We argued through our first night of our new Bible study. We didn't think to communicate before we got started. We each had preconceived notions as to how this whole thing was going to play out and what we'd like to get from it. And we just assumed the other was thinking the same things.

It took us awhile, but we figured out we weren't united in this. He wanted to read a chapter then go back verse by verse closely examining the meaning. I wanted to read a chapter then talk about the overall lesson. After reading James 1, I started jumping all over the place with my thoughts. I would talk about some notes that I had previously written in my Bible about the verses at the end of the chapter then run back to the beginning to talk about a verse that really resonated with me. This understandably frustrated my husband. But I didn't really want to closely analyze each individual verse in order like he did.

Once we figured out why we were at each other's throats over reading the Bible (which I never thought would happen), we started talking. We told each other what we wanted to accomplish in our time with God each night. We came to the agreement that I can talk about the verses in whatever order I want, as long as I tell him what verse I'm talking about. And we discovered that digging deeper into a few verses is actually really fun. We read the notes at the bottom of our pages and look up corresponding verses.

I guess the moral of our mistake is communication is key. If you want to start a new routine or activity together, talk about it first. Figure out what your goals are and how you can help each other achieve them. Don't think that because it's a "simple" task that it will come easily.

Let's end this post on an "up"! My absolute favorite part of reading the Bible together is I get to listen to the Word of God through my husband. Hearing him read out loud has changed my feelings for him in such an amazing way. We've started to acknowledge Christ's presence in our relationship (He was always there, but we're starting to celebrate that) and it's bringing all three of us closer together.

Here's some ideas to help you acknowledge Christ in your life and relationships:
- Spend time reading the Bible alone and together every day.
- Pick a new worship song to share with one another once a week & listen to it together
- Send a text/write a note with an encouraging verse

God Bless,

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

What My Toddler Taught Me About Jesus

I want to teach my toddler about Jesus. So I try. Try is the key word.

We read a children's Bible every night. It goes a little something like this...
"Ok Little Man, let's read our Bible story for the night!"
I grab Little Man and sit him in my lap and start to read.
He gets up. Grabs his truck book and shoves it in my face instead of Bible.
"Let's read a quick Bible story first, okay bud?"
Back into my lap he goes.
Repeat this 20 times until the story is over.

We also pray during meal times, which go a little better...
"Alright! Who is ready to pray?"
Little James puts his hands together and bows his head.
I start our little prayer which is literally a 5 second prayer.
2 seconds into prayer, little James is already saying AMEN!
Sometimes I say let's pray and they .00000001 seconds later he starts the AMEN!

Kinda cute right? And you're probably thinking, "ummm Jillianne, toddlers don't sit still and are always on the move...duh!" And I realize that and I am happy with our effort to teach our son about Jesus and how wonderful He is! But there are times in our effort to show Little Man Jesus that I get frustrated because I just want him to listen to this cool Bible story! But through it all I came to realize something. Jesus doesn't force me to sit down and read a story or force me to pray a certain way. He died on the cross for me and the simple act of me accepting His love into my life was enough for Him.

So the next time my toddler's prayer is .00005 seconds and a simple AMEN I will rejoice and be glad! Or if I get one sentence of our Bible story out and I have to read it while little James runs around the room, it'll be okay. Just loving on my child and helping him grow into an awesome man of God is enough. He is a year and half old for crying out loud! I'll just stop and tell myself. "Breathe Jillianne. Just love on him and show him Jesus."


Thursday, June 25, 2015

My Quirky Marriage

My marriage has many fun quirks, as I hope yours does. There are just little things that probably wouldn't make sense to anyone but my husband and me. These things are what make our marriage unique & exciting. Without them we'd just be doing the same thing day in and day out.

Here are some examples:

Ever since we started dating we have loved watching movies together. Our cinematic tastes can be quite different, but there's usually something we can agree to watch together. One of our favorite parts of any movie is the trivia. My hubby is really good at spotting the composer before the movie's even really started. And I can't remember the last time we watched an entire movie all the way through without pausing it. And not just because of our 15 month old. It's because we're both on IMDB trying to figure out what else that actor/actress is in.

We were recently introduced to a card game called Nertz. If you've never played it, it's basically multiplayer speed solitaire. It can get really competitive and downright violent if you play with the wrong right people. We've been playing a few hands each night after we put our Little One to bed, but it was getting old just playing hand after hand. So we put our own twist on it. The loser of each round has to complete a task. This is usually some sort of exercise like 1 minute of plank, 30 sit ups, or row 400m. This comes in handy, especially when I wasn't able to work out that day.

From the outside it might look like we argue a lot. But really we just like to debate semantics. You know, the super trivial stuff that usually gets glossed over. *Side note: Last night we had a discussion about coloring books. Specifically Many Mini Minnie Mouse Coloring Books. See what I mean?* When we were dating we got into a lot of these "debates" around our families. They'd usually get worried and tell us to stop fighting. But we were having a really great time! (That's probably because I usually won). I wouldn't consider this fighting because it never escalates past a friendly debate. If it ever got more heated then we'd probably have to stop this little game, but for now I think it's a lot of fun.

So if you're feeling like you're in a day-to-day rut, try adding a twist to parts of your routine. Get quirky!

God Bless,

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Letting Him Lead

When you played follow the leader on the playground, what was the best position to be in? At the very end, obviously.

Just kidding.

But really it was being the one leading the group and being the leader right? Everyone liked to be the leader, to be the one in charge. Sometimes when it comes to my husband's and I spiritual relationship I like to lead. I'll be the one to say we're going to this church, we need to read our Bibles more, or we're lacking in this area with God. Deep in my heart I know that my husband is the spiritual leader of our family but that little bit if Jillianne that says, "I need to be in control" seems to get in the way.

We experienced a miscarriage. This was something I had dealt with quietly and to myself for a while since my husband was away. When he came back home, I had been so used to being in control and dealing with things my way that I had forgotten what it was like to have someone lead me to the feet of Christ. But when I relinquished that control and allowed my husband to lead me to God's peace I began to get back to the place where I don't have to have a hold on everything because I have a husband who brings me to the One who does. Letting my husband lead allowed me to notice things that he does for me and our family and the things God's does through him.

He prays with me. Not only do my husband and I pray for each other but he prays with me. Sometimes all I need is for him to reach for my hands, bring me close and we come together as one before the Lord. Eloquently spoken and poetic words are not my husband's strong suit but when we pray together the Lord's heart just flows out of him.
He wasn't my hero. God is going to be my ultimate hero. I realize  that for men, coming to your wife's rescue is the macho and honorable thing to do. Honestly, I just needed my husband to sit, listen, and let me cry.
He keeps me in check. Sometimes my flesh burns (not literally of course) when my husband shows me something in my life that isn't glorify God. I actually get mad at him. I hate that I am not being a godly mother or wife at the time but the fact that dear hubby catches me is something that I need.
He keeps God the center. Not only does my husband keep my accountable for my actions but he backs it up with scripture. It is a good reminder for me to remember God in all I do and it shows me that my husband is keeping God #1 and keeping His word in his heart.

I love that I let my man lead. I get to see the strong leader that God has called Him to become and I get to humble the controlling spirit within me.

How does your husband lead you and your family?


Monday, June 1, 2015

A Beautiful Mess

Sometimes we start off our days looking like this. Clean white shirts and blow-dried hair. 


Then life happens. But one of the absolute pleasures of motherhood is getting down and dirty with our kids. It's so freeing to set the dishes aside, put the vacuum down, and play!


We may go from squeaky clean to having mud in places we really wish we didn't, but hearing your Little One's laugh makes it all worth it.  


 The glory of motherhood comes camouflaged in so much chaos. - Lisa Jo Baker

God Bless,

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Drum roll please....

Well it looks like half of the James & June team is moving to Hungary! June and her family will be taking a European vacation for the next few years! Well, Papa Bear might work a little while we're over there. :)

We found out the great news a little over a week ago and have been crazy busy ever since! Turns out moving overseas is a lot of work! But even with all of the stress of handling everything, I can't help but be excited for this new adventure! God has great plans for our family and we can't wait to live them out.

We're definitely going to miss our friends and family here in the States, but we absolutely could not pass up an opportunity like this. We've always wanted to live abroad, we just didn't know it would happen this quickly. It's truly a once-in-a-career chance.

Fear not, readers! James & June will continue blogging away. James will get to talk about his family and life in the U.S. & June will tell her tales of travel!

So if you've ever been blessed to see this part of the world, we want to hear all about it! What were your favorite places to see? Any sage advice for June & her crew?

We can't wait to tell you all about it! And look forward to many posts about preparing to move over the next few months. I want you to learn through our successes & (hopefully very few) mistakes!

God Bless, 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Dear Little One

Dear Little One,

Pregnant. The test confirmed you were in my belly as the word  popped on the screen. I couldn't believe it. Tears of joy and shock flowed down my face. Praise the Lord!

Mommy and Daddy fell in love with you the second we found out. I told Big Brother that he was expecting a little sibling but I think he was more excited to be taken out of his crib after a long night's sleep. We praised God for you and prayed for you. No matter what you'd be a perfect gift from God.

From the time I found out you were growing in me, I dreamed what you would look like. I imagined the things you and Big Brother would do together. I loved the idea of a family of four. So tiny and precious and you already captured my thoughts. I would look at my belly and be in awe at the work God was doing in me. What a miracle. 

Thank you Laura Ryan Photography for capturing
me and my angel baby.
One day, my belly started to hurt and I started to bleed. I thought it was normal because it happened with Big Brother. But it grew and my belly pains didn't go away. I called the nurse who told me to go the hospital. I prayed and prayed. Daddy prayed. We didn't want to lose you, our precious baby. 

It was a long time at the hospital. With lots of tests and waiting.  I waited a long time to find out that you were leaving me. The first thing I thought was, you get to dance with Jesus now. Your safe. But my heart hurt. I wanted you to be with me, to come meet Daddy and Big Brother.

I had to go to the doctor again to make sure there were no complications and that in fact you went to be with Jesus. Another long wait but only one test to take. This would give me an answer. Waiting gave me a sense of hope. Women get their periods during pregnancy, maybe I am one of them. There could be a miracle baby in me. After what seemed like forever the doctor came in and apologized for the long wait. The doctor was nice and pleasant but he said, "I'm sorry but you are miscarrying...". My heart sunk but a sense of relief came that there were no complications with losing you.

I felt peace knowing that you were with Jesus now. If not me to take care of you, who better than Jesus? You are in the best hands ever. Although, I still miss you. I still long to have you in my belly. I still cry for you. I questioned why. Why couldn't I have you? Why couldn't I deliver you? Why are you gone? Why? In the end, I don't need an answer.  God knows. He knows my heart, He knows His plan for my life and yours. He wanted you to be with Him.

But my precious Little One, thank you. Just like your Big Brother, you've brought me closer to Jesus. In my weakness you brought me to my source of strength, the Lord. Children are a blessing from the Lord and you and Big Brother have blessed me so much. No matter how short of time you were with me, you're in my heart and I look forward to meeting you. I imagine Jesus introducing you to me and I feel such joy. I love you Little One.

See you someday, love you always
Your Mommy

Friday, March 27, 2015

Small Business Feature: BeliRaq

Photo Courtesy of Andrea de Gruchy

Our last small business feature for the month is something exciting and fun. We have the pleasure of sharing BeliRaq Dance Fitness created by Andrea de Gruchy. If you are looking for a good work out, a fun time, and a place you can be yourself, keep reading! Andrea will inspire you to get up and get moving!

Where did the idea for BeliRaq come from?
Photo Courtesy of Andrea de Gruchy
         The idea of BeliRaq came to me when I was developing my first business, which was performing belly dancing for restaurants, hookah lounges, birthday parties, BBQ’s, stage performances, etc. After performances, many women would approach me and ask how I could do all these isolations and look so graceful. Through all of these performances and teaching “technique” belly dance classes, I realized even more how much I wanted to teach dance and perform! But I wanted to do more than just teach “technique” belly dancing. I really wanted to show women that they can get a really great workout with belly dancing, so I created a program that has more spunk and attitude then just “performance” belly dancing. At that time, dance and fitness became one!
Photo Courtesy of Andrea de Gruchy

What do you enjoy most about what you do?
         Honestly, it is really hard to narrow it down because I love everything that comes with owning, managing, teaching and meeting new ladies. But if I had to choose, is seeing the ladies realize that they can dance and get a workout at the same time with belly dance/Bollywood at their own level! To have that “wided eyed” moment that they don’t have to be stick skinny shape with dance experience, they can embrace their own body shape and curves and put their own personality into the movements.

What are some of the benefits of attending a BeliRaq class?
         Some of the benefits of attending a BeliRaq class are the low and high intensity cardio-packed routines while staying in a low/ moderate impact. Switching from low to high intensity in workouts helps you burn calories faster and longer because our metabolism starts to increase which helps to burn calories even when we aren’t working out!
During the lower intensity parts of the workout, we integrate isolations, which are great for body sculpting and toning. I hear all the time that women want a flatter stomach, who doesn’t? So we work on a lot of core that incorporates the upper and lower body movements as well as undulations. Undulations are a great benefit in BeliRaq because it targets spinal flexion and extension while working on engaging the core and stretching out the muscles to become more flexible.
Also, the sensual movements of belly dance help lubricate the hip and shoulder girdle, spine, knees, lower back and every joint in the body. It is proven to help with arthritis, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, etc. (on a side note, I hear many women tell me they tried BeliRaq or are continuously taking BeliRaq because their doctor mentioned that they need to take belly dancing because of the benefits.)
Photo Courtesy of Andrea de Gruchy
As women get older, the many common areas of tightness are the hamstrings, hip flexors, the spine and rounded shoulders making a “hunch-back” look. We make sure to workout these different areas as well as stretching them. In BeliRaq, we target all of these areas by doing squats (which is a multi joint multi muscle workout, it works the quads, hamstrings and gluts all at the same time, which is why men and women do them so often) lunges (which target the quads, hip flexors and hamstrings), forward flexion by hinging at the hips (this targets core, flexibility in the hamstrings, and mid/lower back muscles), saidi (which is a style of belly dancing it targets cardio, hip flexors and gluts) and using chest lifts (which target the upper abs and the upper back muscles) and shoulder circles(targets the joints in the shoulder, upper back muscles, and depending on how much you incorporate the movement you can get a little of a rotation which targets the oblique’s and upper abs) to help posture.
You’re probably wondering, wow, this is a lot, but what about lower abs? We target lower abs by isolating the lower body with hip circles (you can really target lower abs by pulling them in when coming around to the front with the hips), hip lifts, shimmies, hip slides, hip tucks and releases. Overall, BeliRaq is a full body workout! ;)

What new things will we see from BeliRaq in 2015?
         New things that are and will be happening is the brand new logo and website! We have incorporated our new logo on shirts and soon to be coin belts, water bottles, bags, jackets, bummer stickers and window decals. The website is up and running well. Eventually we will be selling products online too! We are also working on certifications so many ladies can teach all over the U.S. We are having more boot camps and workshops outside of a weekly class! 

What advice to you have for others trying to start a business?

Photo Courtesy of Andrea de Gruchy
         My advice to starting a business is to make sure you know in your heart that this is what you truly want to do and if you are willing to be responsible to making it grow. Know what service or product you want to sell. Know that you are the BOSS. No one will set your schedule for you; it’s all up to you to take charge. Money will come eventually, but not right away. It takes time to grow and nurture it, like a baby! The business is like a small child. Most importantly you have to be mentally, emotionally and verbally strong. You will grow, as a business owner so don’t worry if you lack in some areas, just stay positive and focused. One last thing, see yourself as a business owner. For example, in my case, I’m not only an instructor, performer and a dancer, I’m first and foremost a “Business Owner.”