May 17, 2012

The first swim

No it's not her first time in the pool. But it was the the first time she swam on her own. I can't put into words the joy I felt. I thought my heart would explode with pride. Her little teeth were chattering, but she was so excited I had to pry her out of the pool. And out of those water wings too, for that matter.

Polka dot ruffled bikinis and Sonic drinks, does it get better?

May 16, 2012

A Rant.

I had planned to right a cute little post tonight about Olivia's first swim of the year and share some adorable pictures. And then I got a text message that changed my frame of mind completely.

A very dear friend was faced with a life altering decision. Without going into too many details; my friend was asked by a very close relative to adopt said relatives unborn child. My sweet friend has been trying to conceive for some time and is feeling very torn right now. Adopting the child would prevent the child growing up in what would likely be a difficult childhood. Much like hers. She has dedicated her life to improving the lives of children. Making this all the more troublesome. On the flip side. Odds are, if she agreed to adopt- the relative would decide to back out, either before or after birth. Then I got the text that broke my heart. "...Sarah... whats wrong with me? Why hasn't God blessed me yet?..." To say I lost it is an understatement. 

I can't help being a little frustrated by this. OK, I'm more than a little frustrated. I'm heart broken for my friend. For all mother's suffering with infertility.  I have a difficult time coping with the truth that some are given the blessing of raising a child, when others are not. Other's that want so badly to be mothers, others that would make incredible mothers. I know so many. I'm sure you do too.

I pray this verse over those women tonight; "For the vision is yet for an appointed time…though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.”  Habakkuk 2:3

If I could sit these women down across the breakfast table over two cups of coffee, I would hold their hand and remind them that they were created by a God that has a plan for us all. Plans to prosper. And that His "Not now" is not necessarily "No."
And for those of us who have been so incredibly blessed to have been entrusted with these babies- never forget how blessed you are. Hug them a little tighter. Our time with them is but a moment in forever.

Wordy Wednesday

May 14, 2012

Happiness is...

..talking about our favorite colors. And the favorite colors of everyone we know.
..planning for our Florida trip later this summer.
..early morning send offs with Daddy. Love watching our little girl give her Daddy his bye-bye's.
..Remembering to set the coffee maker last night so I was able to greet Chance with coffee this morning. Always makes me look like a rock star- even if my hair is sticking straight up and I have eyeliner smeared clear to my cheek bones.
..spontaneous prayers with Olivia. And her saying 'Good Job' after every prayer.
..getting the same amount of kisses this morning from Olivia as I did yesterday. Reminds me that her love is unconditional and doesn't care what day it is.
..Liv's hair is growing so fast- it's almost to her shoulder blades now. With just the right amount of curl. Seriously, so cute.
..planning a day trip to a splash park with our best friends.
..Charlotte's Web.
..our pool being almost ready. Getting excited!
..Livi's little voice singing along with her music. Be still my heart.
..being able to see past the day to day stresses of adult life to see joy. So grateful for the blessings in our lives. So grateful.

What are you grateful for today?

May 13, 2012

Mother's Day 2012

We had a low-key kind of day here at the Bendel household. We took our time this morning and went to the 11 o'clock service. It was lovely. The sermon was, of course, about moms. That was nice- but the sweetest part was at the end. The children's ministry director had arranged for all the children to sing "This Little Light of Mine." It was the sweetest thing. Olivia did not go up front- but she did sing in our seats. Then before we were dismissed, the children lead us in prayer and they all prayed for their moms. Y'all, I almost died from sweetness.

This was after church. I'm so glad Chance snapped this picture of us. It captures so much. That little girl, she has been an angel to our families. She's brought so much peace and joy. She has helped build bridges to repair strained relationships. I've said before, she saved our marriage.
We are blessed beyond measure.

This afternoon we went to Sunday dinner at our 'bonus parents' home. They love us well. She served my favorite, Italian beef sandwiches and strawberry shortcake. Amazing.  I ate so much that I could barely stay awake through our visit. They bought Olivia a DVD of Charlotte's Web and when we put it in this afternoon, I was so excited to see that it was the same version I watched as a little girl. I love sharing things from my childhood with Olivia.
After Sunday dinner we had a short visit at my Grandmother's. My mom and both my sisters were able to make it as well. Lindsay brought my new nephew and I got to love on him while Olivia spent some quality time with her Aunt Boo and Aunt Kelsey.

When we got home tonight we had some fun in the yard. Liv ran and kicked her ball and played with her Tyler and then ran some more.

That girl loves her puppy. Our evening was uneventful as well. We came in and ate more strawberries and 'swam' in the bath tub. Then we settled in for a little "mee-mo" {Finding Nemo.}
Liv wanted me to make a picture of our 'pretty pants.' Goodness.



Happy Mother's Day, friends.

May 12, 2012

Relay for Life 2012

Tonight we celebrated 'Dee Dee' {my amazing mother-in-law,} we remembered those that we've lost and we fought for a cure. Such a bittersweet night for me. A night that brings back so many memories of those that have gone before, specifically my Paw Paw.
But we choose to live in joy and gratitude for the blessings that He has given us.

Olivia cheered and said "Yay Dee Dee" when Debbi went to receive her survivor medal. When Debbi started making her way back to our seats, Olivia took off after her. She was so proud of her Dee Dee- her little body just couldn't contain it! Sweet, sweet child.

Debbi {wearing her 'Team Dee Dee' shirt} starting her survivor's lap.

Debbi and her boys walking the care taker's lap.

Olivia 'walking' the caretaker's lap.

After we made our way around the track, we began our way from tent to tent. We had BBQ sandwiches from one, and Olivia got her face painted at another. She was so excited about her pink dragon fly. FYI- this lady had an awesome idea. For little ones, who tend to squirm a lot, she used foam stamps. One easy step- super cute result.  I'm not sure why I never thought of this, but it worked perfectly!

Olivia enjoyed popcorn, lots of 'prizes' that people just kept handing her left and right, and a balloon twisted into a flower. Oh that flower, I thought the world might stop when it popped. Luckily we had about 27 other goodies to distract her with.

Around 9:30 we finally called it a night and went home. Liv was so tired she barely made it through her bedtime prayers. She asked me to rock her to sleep, I don't even think it took 3 minutes. Sweet, sweet moments. Moments like this are what get me through the day to day of raising a head strong toddler.
It was a beautiful night and we are so thankful that we were able to celebrate life as a family.

May 11, 2012



I pray many things over your little body in those sweet bedtime moments. I pray that the kids you'll go to school with will be nice to you, I pray that the fevers continue their absence, I pray that you'll do great things in the name of Christ- but my most constant prayer is that you will find your true identity in Him. The person He created you to be. Never compromise your beliefs for anyone. And surround yourself with only those who support you, your faith, and your dreams. Because, my sweet girl, you were 'fearfully and wonderfully made;' the Lord instilled in you many wonderful gifts. I can't wait to watch Him work in you.

Love you always,


May 10, 2012

The Fever.

Olivia was always a very healthy baby girl. Not so much as a runny nose of a diaper rash; until November. That's when the fevers started. Every 2-3 weeks, like clockwork she would spike a high fever, ranging anywhere from 101.7 to as high as 106. Terrifying. We went through 6 or more rounds of antibiotics, with no results. The fever kept coming back. She's had 5 chest x-rays, nasal and throat cultures, urine analysis {via a rather torturous catheter experience,} and more blood work than I can count; with no answers.

{at an appointment back in December.}

We kept getting the "it's a virus" run around. But I just didn't buy into that theory. A momma knows her baby, and I wasn't about to let it go at that. We reached the end of our rope in March of this year, and at her 24 month well visit Olivia's pediatrician decided that it might be time to seek another opinion. She referred us to the infectious disease clinic at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville. We discussed what they would do and say at our appointment. My stomach did a somersault when the words "spinal tap" escaped her lips. 

Big, scary words like cancer and immunodeficiency swam around in my head. It was a scary time for all of us. We tried to prepare ourselves and Olivia as much as possible. In true fashion, I researched the facility to the ends of the internet. Read tons of information on preparing your child for these kinds of procedures. My mother-in-law got Olivia a play doctor set and we began talking about what they would do when we got to the hospital- as best we could in terms a 2 yr. old could understand. We prepared for an over night stay in Nashville if that became necessary. And then we waited for April 19th, and prayed a lot.

Two days before her appointment we had a conference call with our pediatrician and his P.A. It was April 17th, and Olivia had not had a fever since March 26th. We started to think that maybe it was just a virus all along. We all agreed that it was not wise to put Olivia through the traumatizing invasive tests at Vanderbilt, unless we knew it was absolutely necessary. So, we canceled her appointment. The next day, on the 18th, she spiked a fever. Of course. This fever, however, did not go a high as the ones before and only lasted one day. 

So now we wait. We wait to see if she has another fever- or if the fever on 4-18-12 was an isolated incident. And we pray. We pray for peace and understanding, we pray for healing for Livi's little body, we pray that if she is sick- that the doctors are able to find out what's wrong, we pray for wisdom for her doctors. And then we pray some more.

May 9, 2012

slow down - wordy wednesday

I'm struggling with this truth right now. I try so hard to be intentional in my time with Olivia. But, it seems I fall short almost daily. The image above is now the background on my phone. What a beautiful reminder. It's from my kindle version of Mother Letters. If you are a mommy and you haven't read this- you really should. It is like sweet tea for the soul. I think we can all use a reminder sometimes that we are not alone.

Praying that we mommy's are able to slow down and truly receive all the blessings The One Who Gives has poured out over us.

May 8, 2012

Update: 25 before 25

Last August I shared a list of things that I wanted to do before I turned 25, a bucket list of sorts.
My 25 before 25. And then I updated it here in January.

I've got 2.5 months left until I turn 25. 104 days.
So I thought I'd do a little update. Things in blue probably won't happen. Things in yellow, they may. Things in green- I'm determined.

Sell something that I made.
Shop the 400 mile yard sale with my Gran. - but I will shop at other yard sales with her. Love them!
Take Olivia to the Memphis Zoo {where Chance and I got engaged.}
Visit Maria again in Springfield, TN. {By myself} - well kind of, she went with me to (in)RL.
Visit Nikki in Lexington, VA. {With Olivia}
Visit Ashley in Newport News, VA {By myself}

Visit my family in Texas. - My Uncle Barry came to town and Olivia got to meet him, so that was a happy compromise for me.
Visit my family in South Carolina. - I did get to visit with them when they came here!
Finish our house.
Get a new car.
Finish Olivia's quilt.
Re-finish a piece of furniture.
Take Olivia to the St. Louis zoo again.
Take Olivia to Mommy and Me gymnastics classes. - she's going in the fall. {Right Dana?!}
See Beth Moore speak in person. - I didn't do this, but I did get to meet Angie Smith in person, which is a pretty big deal to me.
Finish "1,000 Gifts" by Ann Voskamp
Run a 5K.
Actually celebrate our 5 year anniversary with Chance.
Have a yard sale.
Host a sew day to benefit ConKerr Cancer.
Get a massage. - I'm ashamed to say that I've already allowed one spa gift certificate to expire. It won't happen again!
Make a quilt for Lindsay's baby. - as you can read here, Wyatt was born on January 11th. Thus, putting me way behind on this one.
Finish Olivia's baby book.
Take and edit Kelsey's senior pictures. - she graduates on May 25th. Ugh. So sorry Kels.
Complete the "Night Light" devotional with Chance.

I've accepted that some of these things simply aren't going to happen. With a busy, busy 2 year old and me going back to work full-time it is a constant battle to keep from drowning in all the laundry, scheduling and day to day doing. I've had to say no to a few things. Some of them I really didn't want to say no to, but I'm a better Mommy and wife for having done it.

May 6, 2012

a few things.

{I should note that most of the pictures, if not all of them are repeats from my instagram feed. So if you follow that too- these will be repeats. But let's be real here, what are the odds that the someone follows both my blog and my instagram feed?!}

Liv and I are trying something new, I think they call it exercise. I stole scored this jogging stroller at a yard sale for $15. We've laced up our walkin' shoes a few times. I'm hoping to get more routine with it. Momma's got some work to do.

I more than love my new coffee up that was given away at the (in)RL meet up I attended in Nashville. It can be found here. Seriously, this would make a wonderful mom day gift.

Summer has arrived here in western KY and this little lady is loving it. We have been soaking up as much sun as possible, and making some exciting plans with friends for the next few weeks. {She also loves strawberries.}

I almost don't want to post this, for fear of jinxing it. But I know that it could give hope to someone else struggling in this area. Olivia, who used to co-sleep with us, has slept in her big girl bed every night for a month. As with everything else in her life. She transitioned when she was ready to. So thankful that she has such a strong spirit.

Liv is loving her new swing. It's quite the up-grade from the "baby swing" that we bought her for her half birthday. We attached it under the arbor in the back yard. I see hours of pushing and many "wee's" in our future.

This girl is becoming more and more independent by the day. On this particular day she insisted on wearing this bow. The regular pink bow? It simply would not do.

In true form, it's taking me far to long to finish this book. I promise it's not for lack of interest. Because, let me tell you sister,  it is awesome. It has truly been a blessing to me, and Olivia apparently.

This picture reminds me how thankful I am that our Heavenly Father provided Olivia with an Earthly Daddy that loves her, and loves her well. They have the sweetest bond.

We sang "How Marvelous" during our worship at church this morning. What a beautiful song. It reminds me of my great-grandmother, Granny B. That woman is singing in the angel choir, I know it.
Praising the One who makes all things possible; that he has blessed us beyond measure. My cup runneth over.

May 1, 2012

10 things I'm loving today:

Pinterest Edition. 

Do you love Pinterest? You should. It's awesome, but a complete time-suck. I love it still. (As if the 3149 pins weren't proof enough)

Today- 10 things I'm loving from my most recent 'pins':

Gorgeous portrait of a momma and her little.

Can't wait to make this for our summer grill outs!

STOP it! I die of cuteness. Definitely making these!

{ugh. can't find the link for this one.}
This is what I will be wearing to the Cardinal's game this summer on our St. Louis vacation!

Someone please have a baby so I can make this heart garland.


Not a huge fan of the name, but I think I could probably eat my weight in them.

Appropriate for today.

I like the colors.

I love everything about this room.

I think that's ten.. off to pin more...