Thursday, June 28, 2012


Four years ago today, I married my best friend.  We stood before our friends and family and made promises, BIG promises to each other and about the family we'd one day have and our life together.  Little did we know, a few months after our first anniversary, we would be blessed with our first child...and a few months after our second anniversary, we would be blessed with our second child.  Thank God we didn't keep that pattern up.  But, back to what I was saying - we made big promises, the most important promises we will ever make in this life.  And I'm starting to realize the most exciting part of those promises wasn't the day we made them (even though we had a rocking good party that day to celebrate them), it's everyday since then that we wake up and keep them.  It's every morning when we wake up next to each other, kiss each other, and continue to carry out our life together. 

Last weekend Justin's parents took the kids for an AMAZING long weekend.  I've had a few moms mention how hard it must be and how much I must miss my kids.  And I did.  But, I honestly think sending them away is giving them two of the biggest gifts I can give them.  One, a deeper relationship with their grandparents.  Two, a mom and dad that love each other deeper and fiercer than ever before.  We don't send the kids away because we JUST NEED A BREAK (which, sometimes we do).  We send them away so that for four days, we can focus on each other and the life we are building.  Justin and I promised to love each other until death does us part.  And part of that promise is the promise that goes with it to our children - that they will always have a mom and dad that live together under one roof and love each other like crazy.  Sometimes life gets busy and crazy and a little out of control.  It's so easy to forget what made you want to marry this other person in the first place.  Time together, without distractions, helps remind us of all the wonderful parts of our relationship and each other.  Don't believe me?  Send your kids away for a weekend, stay home, relax, and enjoy one another.  I promise you will feel ten times more connected to your spouse at the end of the weekend.

So, like I said, we made big promises.  Ones to keep forever.  And from time to time we pull out our vows and read them.  We both keep them on our dresser in an easy to see place.  It's important to never forget.  We wrote our own vows because we wanted them to be completely genuine. We kept them a secret from one another until the ceremony.  In honor of our anniversary today, here are our simple, beautiful vows to each other. 

To Justin:
I take you, Justin, as my husband because you are my best friend, my one true love.  I cannot promise you perfection.  However, from this day forward I can promise to love and be faithful to you as long as I live.  I promise to be your lover and confidant, to laugh and cry with you, to support your hopes and dreams, and to fall in love with you over and over.  I promise to build a warm and loving home with you, and to never go to bed with anger in my heart towards you.

To me:
Emily, I can't give you everything you want, but as your husband, I can promise these few things to you.  I promise to always love you, be open and honest with you, and forever be faithful to you.  I promise to make you and our marriage my top priority, and I know by doing these things we can accomplish more together than either of us could alone.  And finally, above all others, I take you just the way you are.  I love you with all of my heart Em.

Today, on our fourth anniversary, Justin Loda, I thank you for the amazing husband and father you have become.  Thank you for putting our family first.  Thank you for supporting us financially.  Thank you for pushing yourself and going back to school to help us reach our dreams as a family.  Thank you for fulfilling the dream I've had since I was probably three years old - you are the one that made me a wife and a mother and you sacrifice so that I can stay home and focus on those two dreams.  Thank you for constantly working hard for us around the house - fixing things, working in the yard, and keeping our old cars running.  Thank you for being so darn sexy while you do all these things.  And above all, thank you for loving me just the way I am.  I love you hot stuff.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Little Photographer

This morning I let Jackson use my camera for a little while.  He absolutely loved being on the other side of the camera (not that he lets me get many pictures of him anyways).  Sure, there were a ton of pictures "from his perspective" of the floor, walls, and corners, but here are a few of the good ones!  He was able to capture Summerlin's typical morning attempt (tirade) to dress herself - it's pretty funny. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Learning to be satisfied

It's been a very long road for me to get to this point - the point of being satisfied with what I have, exactly the way it is.  Some parts were easier that others.  But tonight I realized for the first time in my entire life I am completely satisfied with our beautiful, insane life EXACTLY the way it is.  Satisfied with two kids, not the four I originally thought I wanted (and I'm thankful the good Lord above knew there was no way in the world I could have ever handled that many children).  Satisfied with this house, just the way it is - small kitchen, funky small bathrooms, and all it's other perfect imperfections.  Satisfied with not making much money making excessive number of cakes, because making money takes time and right now my time is dedicated to my family (and what was I really spending that money on anyways?).  Satisfied with old, 100% paid for up-front cars.  Satisfied with being here, in Newport News for at least three to four more years.

And lastly, satisfied with keeping our ugly old carpet in the living and dining rooms.  Justin and I considered tearing them out this weekend.  His parents will have the kids for a very long weekend so that we can have time to ourselves to celebrate our anniversary.  Ultimately, it came down to the fact that we want time together to relax and enjoy each other FAR more than we want hardwood floors. 

I sure am married to the most wonderful man in the world, for me anyways.  He wants time with me more than anything else.  And I excitedly accept.

(Sure, we have dreams of someday living on a farm on the side of a mountain with lots of land, chickens running in the yard, and the biggest garden possible.  But we've learned that dreams are goals, and they are good to have.  But they are simply goals and they do not take away from enjoying this life, right here, right now.)

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Busy, Creative Week!

This week has been a beautiful, creative, productive week at our house!  I was determined to get a few half finished crafting projects completed and I had a few others in mind for the kids.  We had a wonderful week of playing and creating together!  The best part was, to cap it all off, Justin's school year ended yesterday and today we had a great family day together.  We went to the local "farm park" as Jackson calls it, had a picnic on the deck, and after dinner we roasted marshmallows together around the firepit.  I do believe this summer is going to be our best yet!

First up on my projects to finish list were these felt/fabric letters for the kids.  I've been tinkering with them for at least two was time to wrap it up.  I even made a bag for them to go in, per Jackson's request!

Closer view.  Each letter is about three inches tall.

This is the bag before I added the drawstring to the top.

I also finished making hay bales (small and large) and loose hay for the kids' barn.

A lot of imaginative play has been going on in this barn. 

The flowers (and herbs) in our yard are in full bloom!  I love having fresh cut flowers and herbs around the house.

This is one of my favorites.  The mint and lavender in it are divine!

The kids and I painted suns Thursday evening.  Jackson really got into it.  Summerlin was interested for about three minutes, which is to be expected at her age.

After Jackson's dried I wrote a poem/blessing on it (I did not write it, I got it from an ebook from Little Acorn Learning, a Waldorf based education website).  We've been trying to remember to say it before each meal.

The print is small in the picture, so here are the words:
"Earth who gives us this food,
sun who makes it ripe and good,
dear sun above
and earth below
our loving thanks to you we show."

Then we added, "Thank you God. Amen" to the end.

And to finish it all off, here are a few pictures from this evening's firepit!  I was hoping we might see a few lighting bugs too, but they weren't out early enough.

She's pretty cute, and squishy and sweet like a marshmallow.  

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pumpkin Patch

Jackson follows in his mama's footsteps.  We LOVE pumpkins.  So, per his request, I couldn't resist creating our own pumpkin patch. 

It took a long time (because things tend to take much longer than anticipated around here) to clear out our little patch. The grass was pretty thick, but after a few days of working at it, the grass was gone. Together, the kids and I mixed in some extra topsoil and compost. We formed out little mounds and added straw in between to hopefully help with weed control. We don't really know what we're doing, but there will be two very disappointed people in this household if our pumpkins don't grow!

 Heading out to plant the seeds!  Jackson picked out snake gourds, mini pumpkins, and "Once in a Blue Moon" pumpkins.  We planted two of each.

 Watching big brother work.

 They thought we needed a little extra hay.

Summerlin and her kitty, Rusty Pumpkin.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Too much of a good thing?

Assuming a lot of my friends read this blog, I know I might lose a friend or two over this entry.  I'm probably going to offend several friends and some family too.  And quite honestly, it makes me really sad that we can't have different views and beliefs and still get along just as well...agree to disagree, but love each other regardless.  I'm not at all going to pretend I'm ok with that.  If I knew someone stopped talking to me because of my beliefs on this, I would be heartbroken.  But that doesn't mean I want to keep my feelings to myself.  Time to get on with what I want to get off my chest.

First I read this:

Then I read this:
Most recently I read this:

And here's what I've decided on this issue and religion as a whole.

I don't like what religion does to people.  I'm all for faith, belief, and love....but what I define as "religion" is what I think tears this world apart.  I've given this a lot more thought than usual after reading the above blog posts.  Sure, all of these concern homosexuality, but that's just one issue and my thoughts and feelings are much wider than that. 

To clarify what my personal definitions of religion vs. faith - when I think of "religion", I think of laws, rules, and sadly with them come judgements.  When I think of "faith", I think of belief in a Divine being and a greater good (for me, this is the Christian God and Jesus).  I think of acceptance despite differences.  I think of love.  I think of encouraging one another to be better people, citizens, and keepers of the earth.  I don't think of putting another man down because their views are different.  Have you seen the "Coexist" bumper sticker.  I want one.  That's where I'm coming from.

I don't like how so many "religious" people are so lacking in the "faith" department.  I'm no expert on the Bible by any means, but I've always felt that the Bible preaches love and acceptance above all else.  The Bible does not ask us to judge another man's sin.  I always had the impression that somewhere in there it has told us we have no business judging others.  That's God's job, not something we lowly human should be concerned with.  We are just supposed to love each other and get along to the best of our ability, support each other in an effort to be better people.  I always felt like that's what Jesus was doing in all the parables.  He didn't care what sins the person committed.  He met them where they were, loved them, helped them, healed them, and THAT was what won their heart over.  He didn't mock them or abandon them because of their sins, no matter how awful they were.  He just loved 'em.  And his pure and simple acts of love won them over.  Pretty awesome stuff if you ask me.

This isn't just about homosexuality.  I've never read up in the Bible on that topic because frankly I don't give a damn if the Bible is perfectly clear on whether it's a sin or not.  We all sin.  I had sex before I was married (sorry Dad if you're reading this!).  I've been envious of my neighbor's stuff.  I've shown my parents disrespect.  I even lied to them on numerous occasions.  I've drank in excess on a few occasions...and a handful of times before I was 21 (literally, only like two or three times, but still it was wrong).  I cused in front of my kids today, and yesterday, and the day before than, and....   AND SO MUCH MORE.  And I don't think that just because I'm not a homosexual, I have a better place in Heaven than someone who does (assuming God does find it to be a sin).  I'm pretty sure I remember hearing/reading somewhere in the Bible that all sins are equal in God's eyes.  So on that scale, I'm full of sin.  And so are you.

So why do religious people feel like they have to pull out the "IT'S A SIN!!!" card on certain topics.  Everybody sins.  It really doesn't matter what is considered a sin because we all commit them.  Go ahead, just assume you are sinful and get on with it.  It makes accepting all the other imperfect people in the world (i.e. everyone) much easier.  Get off your high horse and just love people for who they are, where they are.

And you know what?  If you do feel differently than me, that's ok.  You don't have to agree with me.  I don't understand where you're coming from.  I think it's wrong.  But I'll still love you, because I've got the love of Jesus in my heart.  I'd love to have a conversation with you about why you feel the way you feel.  Let's talk, in love, about our differences.  Maybe we'll get somewhere with that.
So, where I'm going with all this is...I don't know....just venting.

This has a lot to do with why we haven't found a church I really like or feel at home with.  I'm struggling to find a way to raise my children in a home filled with love, faith, and belief in a God that is bigger than us, to take them to church every Sunday, but to do so in an environment that preaches love and acceptance above all else.  I know there's a church like that out there somewhere.  There has to be.  I can't be the only God loving person that feels this way.  We just have to find it.