Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

To Santa Or Not To Santa

I am being bombarded with Santa.

He is everywhere. I think I've seen Santa at least 8 times recently....and we don't go see Santa. He just pops up wherever we are!

I don't mind Santa being around. I understand that's the only reason some people celebrate Christmas, and I'm tolerant of other people's religions. And if you try to tell me that Santa is not a religion, then I would like to tell you that you are a crazy person.

Don't even get me started on Elf on the Shelf. EVERYONE is doing it! Since when do we think it's ok to straight up lie to our kids and tell them that some creepy Elf is watching them to make sure they behave?? Apparently works and behavior are all that matter anymore to parents, and bribing their children to "be good" can only be done through mystical creatures, who, let's face it, look more like molesters than helpers.

I'm not the Grinch I promise. I grew up doing the whole Santa bit. And we haven't told our kids there isn't a Santa. They sing the Santa songs and they know who he is when they see a picture of see him on one of our outings. But in OUR family, Santa is not how we celebrate Christmas. We still give our kids presents and there are even unopened gifts sitting out Christmas morning and stockings are full. But we don't say that Santa brought them. We don't really say anything. I guess we are kind of passive aggressive about it.....I don't want Lucy to be the kid at school telling everyone that Santa isn't real, but I also don't want her to think that he actually DID come to our house.

Honestly, it's never bothered me before that we don't do Santa. But this year, Lucy has been asking a lot of questions, and I started to feel a little guilty that our kids don't have the whole Santa experience. I'm all for imagination and believing in fairy tales....that's what childhood is about. The girls love Disney Princesses and mermaids, and we don't tell them that they don't exist. We let them believe and pretend because those things are important to them.

I think the difference between those and Santa, at least to me, is that the princesses and mermaids and fairy tales aren't overshadowing the truth. It's something they play. It doesn't distract them from what's real.

Santa does. We have become so obsessed with Santa and presents and freaking Elf on the freaking Shelf that we are missing the greatest gift we could ever give our children, and the greatest gift that the world was given....the gift of Jesus.

God. Himself. Came down to this nasty, fallen, sin-filled earth as a BABY, so that He could live among us, love on us, die for us, and save us. That is the greatest miracle. How Santa can fit down the chimney doesn't seem like such a big accomplishment anymore.

Mark and I listened to this the other night and it was very convicting....

Obviously John Piper is on the "Not To Santa" side.

I'm not saying you should take a side. But this was such a reminder for me to teach my children what Christmas truly is. Not just Jesus's Birthday. But what His birthday means for us. It's everything. Without Christmas, there is no Easter. Without Easter, we are all condemned forever.

Do Santa if you want. But Do Jesus more.

But please, whatever you do, don't Do Elf on the Shelf.

Friday, November 8, 2013

He Makes Beautiful Things

I want this tattoo in a bad way. Unfortunately my husband is not on board with me permanently inking my body. He's so old school sometimes.

I've been in a rut. A spiritual rut. A parenting rut. A wife rut. A friendship rut. A blogging rut. Nothing life shattering or major. I haven't abandoned my purpose in life or given up on anything. I just find myself taking the easy way out too many times. I can't get motivated, and nothing is bringing me joy.

There are still boxes that need to be unpacked and pictures that need to be hung. I have countless home/crafting projects in my back pocket that I just can't seem to start because I don't have the capacity or the energy to finish them. I find myself sending the girls to their rooms because I can't take the whining/fighting one more minute and I don't know what else to do. Instead of investing in my husband and giving him the time and attention he deserves, we just veg out on the couch after the girls are in bed and watch tv or play on our ipads mindlessly.

There are lots of reasons and excuses for the rut. But none of them really matter.

What does matter, is that I know this rut will change me. I've had ruts in the past. BIG ones. Small ones. And after every single one of them I came out greater, stronger, and more full of joy and peace. I don't want to say that the Lord causes ruts or obstacles in our lives, because that would create a huge theological debate on whether He "allows" suffering or intentionally "gives" it or just stands back with his hands up because He isn't in control. I don't really believe any of those things....what I believe is kind of a mix of all of those....but what I think we can all agree on, is that He works all things together for our good.

He makes beautiful things out of the dust.

And I am so full of dust right now. Like the nasty, old dust that's been lying around too long and is now collecting new dust and things even grosser than dust.

Some of you know this about me, and some of you don't. But....I used to not be a very nice person. I'm still not that nice of a person. But compared to what I was, I'm all roses and sunshine now.

But my Heavenly Father has done a great work. He is changing me, refining me. Very slowly, He is making me into the person He wants me to be. Still with some grit, and some spunk, because He made that part of me too. But I'm definitely softer around the edges than I used to be. He began the refining process when I chose to follow Him and declared Him as my Savior and God. Then as a young teenager He nurtured me and pruned me through some difficult life changes. Then slowly He sifted me even further through my husband. Mark has softened me and loved me so well, that I couldn't help but change.

Then the Lord did to me what He does to those who are arrogant and think they have it all figured out and if everyone would just do what they told them to do then everything would be ok.....He blessed me with children. Not just any children. Three girls. Who are just as stubborn as their mama. He humbles me daily through parenting. I am much more compassionate and tolerant than I used to be. So when you see me snapping at one of my children or responding sharply, remember that I am a work in progress.....

I want to be beautiful for Him. And I know that I can't do it on my own. I used to think that I could. That I didn't need anyone or anything but myself. And that's why He has had to humble me so much. And I am SO grateful He loves me enough to work on me. Because I do need A LOT. I need people in my life (I never thought I would say that!!), I need friends who will lift me up and encourage me. I need my mom and dad. I need my family. I need my husband. I need my girls. Most of all, I need Jesus and I need His grace that He freely gives me every day.

This post began as a pity party. I was going to list all the reasons why I've been in a rut and whine about everything that hasn't been going as planned in my life. But even as I write He is cleansing me. Stripping me of myself and adding more of Him. Because He loves me.

All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

You make me new, You are making me new
You make me new, You are making me new

Monday, October 14, 2013

Stella is one!

We are all in denial about this. It just can't be true. It seems like only yesterday we were seeing this face for the first time.

But it wasn't yesterday. It was ONE whole year ago!! Stella's first year has truly been a joy. Maybe that's why it went by so fast. 

This girl keeps us smiling and giggling with her sweet ways. She is such a love muffin.

For such a laid back little lady, she has a load of personality. Her faces are to die for.

Stella is still SUCH a mama's girl. She is fully weaned now and I expected her to not want me so much after she finished breastfeeding....but that hasn't changed...and I'm loving that she loves me so much.

She is crawling and pulling up and somewhat cruising now too. I still don't expect her to walk anytime soon and am certainly not anxious for her to because she is mobile enough to keep me busy.

She is a very good eater and loves her food. She gets excited when she sees food coming. Bread is her weakness (join the club). I have to save her bread for last otherwise she won't eat anything else! She has a lot of teeth now, 8 I think with two more coming in, so there isn't much she can't eat.

She is waving bye bye now and signing "all done". That's about all the signing I've done with her. She still says da-da every time I try to get her to say mama.

Stella is only one size behind Annie in clothes. She is definitely chubbier than Annie but much shorter. I have loved watching their relationship blossom now that Lucy is in school. I think they are gonna be best buds. When Lucy is around Stella gets left out a lot and plays by herself very well. She also spends a lot of time on my hip.

She still doesn't have any hair...just some brown fuzz. Her complexion and features remind me so much of Lucy. But everyone says something different about who she looks like....some say me, some say Lucy, some say Annie. Poor Mark. No one says she looks like him.

She loves her sleep. She loves sucking her fingers. She loves her sisters. Lucy makes her laugh the hardest and we all crack up laughing when we hear her sweet giggle.

Apparently she also loves cupcakes.

Every time I look at Stella, I can't help but think...

What if we stopped after Annie and only had two kids?
What if we didn't trust the Lord to provide and bless us with another child?

We would have missed this face. This joy. This love. I am so thankful for God's blessing and provision. For Him pressing on our hearts. For His plan for our family and for this baby girl.

Stella Jean you are such a blessing and an answer to prayer. We adore you. Happy Birthday sweet girl!

Friday, October 11, 2013


Which one of these babies just turned ONE??

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Change in Seasons

We hit a big milestone this month. Our oldest started kindergarten.

It's kind of a big deal. Not only was this her first day of kindergarten, but also her first day of school EVER. Lucy did preschool at home with me so this was her first classroom/school experience. She really wasn't all that excited to start school. She wanted to stay home and continue to do school with me. While I have LOVED homeschooling her and watching her learn and grow at home, Mark and I both decided to try out kindergarten this year to see how it goes. There is a chance we will bring her back home again next year for 1st grade but for this year we have committed to sending her to school. It's at a church nearby and it's only a half day program for 4 days a week, which I think is a great transition for her (and me!) since she isn't used to being away from home all day every day.

 Showing me her book bag she is so proud of

She has done exceedingly well. Especially since she didn't want to go. There were NO tears on the first day. She found her spot at her table, started working on what the teacher had out for her and told me bye. Like, no biggie, I got this mom. The second day she asked me if I would just drop her off in carpool line and not walk her in. Every morning she pops right of bed and says she's excited to go to school. I'm so glad she loves going!

Someone else was not very happy when we started pulling out of the parking lot and she realized Lucy wasn't coming with us.

While I definitely miss Lucy in the mornings, it has been nice to get some one on one time with the little ones. Annie was really whiny and clingy the first week Lucy was gone, I could tell she was bored and was missing Lucy. But since then she has really gotten into a little routine of her own and is enjoying all the extra time with me.

Meanwhile, this little stinker somehow turned 11 months old without me noticing!

Stella's little personality has exploded this month. She is crawling all over the place, getting into everything, dancing, grunting/growling instead of signing or talking, trashing entire playrooms by herself, and still manages to have all of us wrapped around her chubby little finger.

At 11 months, she still takes two LONG naps a day. Makes me wonder if she will ever go down to one nap. She is breastfeeding 3 times a day (I just cut down one feeding in preparation for weaning her completely), is wearing 12 month clothes, and loves to eat.

She is very laid back in the sense that if you sit her with a box of toys she is very content for a long time. On the other hand, she can certainly get into trouble if no one is watching. She isn't as active and mischievous as Annie, but definitely more so than Lucy was at this age. She's a good blend of the two of them, leaning more towards Lucy's personality and behavior. I frequently find her in the dog bowl or with strange things in her mouth, but so far she's much more mild than the Crazy Middle One.

Getting into trouble in the pantry 

She has 6 teeth right now, but eats as if she has a mouthful. She LOVES LOVES her sisters and I seriously love watching her play with them.

 11 month picture

Since Lucy is the family referee, Annie and Stella have had to learn to play with each other while Lucy is at school. The first few days they just sort of looked at each other like, "so who's gonna be the boss here??"

While Annie is older and can be bossy, I have no doubt that Stella can hold her own. She is a little toughie and may even be the class bully. We'll see. 

I can't wait to see these two blossom and grow, both separately and in their relationship together.

This has definitely been a season of change for us. New house, new small group, Mark's schedule changing/increasing, Lucy starting school, and now having another little one who is mobile and active.

I don't love change. Ok.....I really really dislike change. I like consistency, predictability, and......pretty much all things boring. But the recent changes in our little family have really brought about a lot of growth and blessing, and I am so thankful for being stretched and changed.

Now that we are settling in....I'm certain more change is just around the corner.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Our Authentic Community

Our family has been so blessed to spend the past 2 years living, sharing, and dreaming with this crew:

Our small group (which doesn't look very small when all the kids are around too!!) is made up of these families. We meet every Monday night, rain or shine, babies or no babies, long work day or rough kid day....to talk, pray, encourage, laugh and cry with each other.

Our church passionately believes that life is done best in circles not in rows. That if you attend church, you will likely get fed from the sermon and worship experience, but in order to truly experience God's church (which is made up of YOU the people!) you must live life in community with other believers.

Mark and I both led small groups of middle schoolers separately when we were in college. It was something we were both passionate about and we loved pouring into the lives of young believers. After we got married, we continued to be very involved in our churches but never joined a small group for married couples. About 4 1/2 years ago we committed to join a small group of other married couples. It was an amazing experience and we both agreed we always want small group to be a part of our life.

What's so great about living in community anyway? Well I'm so glad you asked.

The Encouragement. It's so nice to know that every Monday I'm going to be poured into, or be pouring into someone else. No matter what my day or week looked like, I'm reminded that there is purpose beyond the four walls of my home, there is a God who loves His people, and there are other families just like ours striving to be the best they can be for His glory.

The Accountability. This group has challenged me to be a better daughter of Christ, a better mom, a better wife, and a better friend. While I can easily let my guard down and be myself (as messy and ugly as that self is sometimes) I also know that these people are going to hold me to a higher standard. That if I say I'm going to do something, they will ask me if I actually did it.

This group reminds me that life is about more than just me. We serve each other and our community. Service is an area I want to continue to grow in and this group has definitely helped me do that.

The Authenticity. I know there are groups that aren't real, aren't vulnerable, and aren't authentic. Our group is none of those. We are surrounded by a fake world that is more concerned with appearance than the heart. Our small group is a safe place we can be open, honest, fully vulnerable, and fully receive grace and encouragement instead of condemnation. We are all first soaked in sin and then soaked in His grace.

I wish all of my friendships were this genuine and open. It seems like more and more the people I encounter are putting on a front. Yes, their children may be well behaved but their hearts are rotting inside. Yes, that mom is wearing cute clothes and a big smile but she secretly longs for a life away from her husband and kids.

Our small group loves us for who we are. Just as Christ loves us for who we are.

The kids. There are 13 kids in our small group of 5 families. The kids way outnumber the adults and I'm glad they do. Most of the people our children will encounter at school, at ballet, and soccer practice, or wherever, probably aren't believers. And even if they are, they may not be the type of believer you are striving to be and praying for your children to be. It's so nice to know that when my kids are around the families in our small group, I can trust that they want the same things for their kids that we want for ours. To know Jesus and love Him fully. That striving to be the best student or athlete isn't as important as understanding their need for grace and a Savior.

I know that these parents love my kids, and I love theirs in return. We parent together and learn together while our kids play together.

Sadly.....the 2 years have ended with our small group. It's time to split and multiply and create new groups. I am sad to not see these beautiful people every Monday night. But I am so thankful that we have made life long friendships, and have been impacted forever.

I'm excited to start our next group, albeit a little anxious and nervous....but the Lord knit this group together and I know He has a purpose and a reason for our next group as well.

If you aren't in a small group of believers, I encourage you to GET IN ONE.

Thanks to all my groupies.....love you guys with all my heart.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

An Update and a Warning

HI! Remember us? We're the Campbell Family and I'm so glad you're tuning into our blog despite the fact that it has been severely neglected.

All I can say is.....we've had a lot going on.

First off, some catch up posts:

Lucy is FIVE now

Stella is 10 months

Read those and catch up on my sweet kiddos. So....what have we been doing? Well, Mark went out of town for two weeks for work. We moved out of our house and in with my mom. Bless her soul for letting us crash her life, her house, and her sanity. She was an amazing hostess and I miss her every day. I'm trying to convince her to come move in with us in our new house. If you see her out and about, please let her know that her life would be complete if she was sharing a roof with us.

Before we moved out of our house, I decided on a whim to potty train Annie. Yeah....that crazy, out of control, part monkey part we-don't-know-what Annie. And ya know what?

It took three days ya'll. THREE DAYS. What in the world. If that child is anything its unpredictable.

After potty training Annie, moving in with my mom, saying goodbye to my life/partner/better half for two weeks, we celebrated Lucy's birthday. Then we welcomed aforementioned husband BACK home and moved into our new house.

Moving sucks. Moving with kids sucks more. Curtain rods were used as weapons. Take out and fast food took over our life. Bodies were not washed. Teeth were not brushed. But we survived, and we are sloooooowly getting settled in.

(simultaneous avocado mash and crotch grab)

We are loving how much space we have in the new place and the girls have been helping me in the kitchen a lot more since there is more room. The girls each have their own rooms (for now) which is nice. We have nothing on the walls and there are boxes everywhere. I unpacked like crazy the first few days and got everything to where it was livable and got our essentials out. Then I quit.

In other news, my friend Kalan had her first baby boy so I went to visit her and hold/squeeze him. And I realized why I keep having babies. Newborns are just the sweetest and I can't get enough...

Mark has been working a lot so I've been on my own...which is good and bad. But we are thankful and dealing with it well I think.

The girls also got a mini trampoline for Lucy's birthday from Big Daddy and Grandma and have been using it as a trampoline, picnic table, hide out, and anything else they can think of.

So.....I miss blogging. I feel like lately I have just been updating the blog with pictures of the kids and special events. And while that's fine and I'm sure it's really all you readers care about, believe it or not, I actually enjoy writing. Blogging is a good outlet for me. I'm going to attempt to broaden this ol' family blog's horizons. More recipes, more opinions, more about being a mom and family in general. I'll still update about the kids and our family, but this blog used to be more than that and I want it to be that again.

So consider yourselves warned. Because it's about to get a whole lot more wordy up in here.

Friday, August 16, 2013


I now have three mobile children....

Stella Crawling

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Mobile at 10 months

Miss Stella is 10 months old!

As you can see, she is trying to crawl off the chair.

That's right. My lazy, fat, sedentary baby is crawling. 

It happened out of nowhere really. I just thought, well, she's just going to be one of those babies who never crawls and doesn't walk until she's 18 months....and that's just peachy with me because I have two very active, mobile children already and it will be nice to have one that will just sit still.

HA! That was a lovely thought I had there in my head.

Stella must have telepathy and decided to prove me wrong. Apparently I don't have enough work cut out for me so she decided to start scooting while Mark was out of town for work. Scooting pretty fast too, I might add. Then we move into the new house and BAM she's crawling. 

Despite her horrible timing on deciding to become mobile, Stella continues to be such a joy in our family. Life with three certainly has it's challenges, but how empty our family would be without Stella. She fills my heart to the brim with joy. She is a mama's girl to the CORE. She wants only me if I am within her sight/sound/smell range. And I am more than happy to oblige and pick her up whenever she wants. 

At 10 months, Stella still has some rolls but is certainly thinning out from her new found mobility. She wears size 12 month clothes and size 4 diapers. She nurses 4 times a day and is pretty much done with baby food. She eats whatever we are eating now with some modifications. She LOVES avocado, sweet potatoes, and any meat (weird). She is also a fan of my applesauce oatmeal muffins.

Laid back, happy, and go with the flow is how Stella rolls. She does like to get in on the action now that she can move, but she also likes to sit back and watch her sisters (and mama) act crazy. She makes the funniest "worried" looks sometimes while she watches us. I'm worried too Stella....

She has her two bottom teeth and four top teeth breaking through at the same time. She has Lucy's dark brown eyes and that little vein in between them. Her hair (well....let's be honest it's not hair) is dark and I think may even be darker than Lucy's. She got pretty tan while we were at the beach despite slathering her in SPF 50 so I think she will have my skin.

She is a LOVE and you just can't help but squeeze her or kiss her 57 times a day. She is soft and squishy and everything a baby should be. I just love her to pieces.

When she turns one I'm going to have a mental break down.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


I cannot believe my baby is five. I feel like a legit parent now. I mean sure....babies are hard and have their own challenges and after you have a baby you can be all "I'm a parent now"...but a five year old? I mean, that's a KID. I'm a parent of an actual KID.

Is anyone else blown away by this? Just me? Ok.

Mark was out of town for work on Lucy's actual birthday, and we hadn't moved into our new house yet so her birthday was spent at my mom's house. I feel bad because it was such a transitional time for us and her birthday just happened to fall right in the middle. Being the happy, energetic five year old she is though, she didn't notice anything was amiss and enjoyed the day like any five year old girl would.

I started off the day with our tradition of balloons upon wakening, and a special birthday breakfast.

She opened her presents from Mark and I, and just spent the day playing with her new things and the balloons. It's amazing to me that parents spend so much time and money on crazy birthday parties that end up stressing out the kid and the parent anyway, when really, the kids just want a day devoted to them. I made sure Lucy knew the day was ALL about her, and though it was simple, she loved it and so did I.

She chose Partner's Pizza for her birthday dinner, complete with grandparents, great grandparents, aunts and uncles, a tiara, and of course a cookie cake. Where would my life be without cookie cakes?

This year has been a big one for Lucy. She became a big sister again. I have watched her blossom into a beautiful, bright little girl. We've moved houses, we've made new friends, and in a few weeks she will be starting kindergarten.

I know all parents say this about their oldest girl, but Lucy really is an amazing big sister.

While she does tend to play the little mother at times, she has a very nurturing spirit and is a natural with babies. I can already see what a wonderful mother she will become one day. She is calm and patient with her sisters, much more patient than she is with me :)

After we moved into the new house, I invited some of Lucy's friends over for some cupcakes. Nothing big, just a playdate with bonus cupcakes. It was nice to have her spend some "birthday"time with her friends. (notice Noelle curled up in Lucy's lap)

Lucy is very smart, and very literal. All her friends kept telling her "happy birthday Lucy!" and she would say, "well, it's not my birthday anymore. But thank you". 

At five years old, she loves princesses, horses and playing dress up. She loves arts and crafts and as soon as the babies go down for their nap she asks me if she can paint. (I make her wait until they nap because as you can imagine, Annie and paint DO NOT MIX)

She goes through about 6 outfits a day. She loves dance and drama. She sings all. the. time.

She challenges me and humbles me daily. She is a little me....and yet so different and very much her own person. I've said before that she cannot be explained in words. Atleast not in my words.

Lucy is spunky, feminine, opinionated, energetic, dramatic, compassionate, and a natural leader. She is our referee. And she has my heart.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Love in black and white