Freedom

(Disclaimer: Firstly, I am grateful to live in a country where I have the freedom of speech, expression, and creativity – to share my thoughts and opinions in a public(ish) forum without fear.  Secondly, this post may read unpatriotic, but that is not my intention, just happens to be where my heart is.)

In the words of my friends Shane and Shane:

For freedom you’ve set me free,

And yes, I am free indeed.

You rewrote my name,

unshackled my shame,

You opened my eyes to see

that I am free.

So this song has nothing to do with Benjamin Franklin or George Washington or any of those other fellas who wore weird hair. It’s not about the promise of forefathers or any current or historic politicians for world peace or a better economy or an increase in national employment or security. The writing (or rewriting) isn’t referencing any bills, amendments, laws, etc. that outline the do’s and don’ts of society.

No, this freedom is much… freer. And, it is for everyone.

Because the price, the biggest sacrifice the world has ever seen, has already happened. And it can’t be renegotiated or voted on or changed to include or leave out any group or individual.

What a relief.

I’ve been in an intense season of spiritual pruning over the past several months (I guess almost two years now – wow!) and have come to realize that our only true freedom is love. That big, abundant, all-encompassing love that sets you so free that no matter the state of this country, our society, your very own heart – you shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free. Free.

A free that lets you breathe. A free that lets you love.  A free that lets you extend grace. A free that lets you receive grace. A free that lets you forgive. A free that lets you find things new every morning. A free that lets you restore and reconcile yourself to him. A free that lets you take leaps of faith.

Leaps that take you places you never knew you would go, could go. Leaps that cross state lines…

When we ventured back to North Carolina in February we came with big, vulnerable hearts – opening ourselves wide for whatever God laid out for us. When not but a year before we felt so broken and dejected that some days I wasn’t even sure which way was up, I never could have imagined how bountiful the promises would pour out.

First, there’s this place:

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And these people who feel like family:942253_10103067246959353_1913024684_nAnd these folks who have stolen my heart:

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And these loves who have prayed and loved us through every leap, big and small:

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And people who encourage me to create and pursue small business dreams:

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And the miles and miles of possibilities of new-found freedom:

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For freedom has set me free.  And yes, I am free indeed. He rewrote my name, unshackled my shame. He opened my eyes to see, that I am free.

Free.

Sunday Best

I am a little tardy on the Easter family photos – but better late than never.

The first two of Noah are in no way, shape, or form posed, I promise.

Taking it old school – Olan Mills, anyone:

It’s sear- suckah!
Stud Mini-Muffin

If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it must be a...

Stud Muffin
The littlest Fords.
Can’t take them anywhere…
A little post-nap Easter basket exploration.
Jelly bean treasures.
Jelly beans and jelly rolls.

Spring.Sprang.Sprung.

Sprung – the way one feels after several weeks of staff training, environmental ed teaching, toddler chasing, garden planting, chicken coop constructing (more “supervising” than building on my part), table revitalizing (again, more consulting), chick raising, homesteading craziness.

Don’t get me wrong, I love every minute of it – but I have to say greeting the sunshine from my pillow this morning around 10:03am was quite refreshing.

As you may have noticed, blogging was left off the list above, but I plan to remedy that here in the next few days. Here’s what you can look forward to:

  • Winner of the 2nd round of Arthur Alligood‘s new album I Have Not Seen the Wind giveaway!
  • Deconstruction, construction, & completion of the greatest chicken house ever. Ever.
  • Introductions with our newest family members – six brand new Rhode Island Reds
  • Noah & the Bo’s
  • Trash to Pleasure: Herb Garden

And to hold you over until the big reveals:

All hands on deck – even little ones in cute pants his mama made him.
These boots are made for walking – or chicken tending.
The master and her pieces.
Tickle monster is on the loose…
Oh no! It got me – hahahahahaha!
They work hard for their money…

Stay tuned…

Freedom

I don’t typically delve into finances and our family budget too often – mainly because numbers, especially ones with dollar signs, make my head spin – but this week has been one to go down in the record books. Ladies and gentleman, we are officially the proud owners of this sweet piece of machinery:

Well, the boat, too – but I am referring to the car. Almost three-and-a-half years ago we took over the not-so-frugal monthly payments (thanks, dad, for the first eighteen months) and thanks to a sweet tax return we paid our last check to Nissan on Valentine’s Day (three months early), giving us a reason to celebrate a holiday we typically glaze over due mostly to an intensely uncomfortable stalker situation a few years back (more on that at a later date).

And so celebrate we did. We took the amount that we would normally send to Nissan and reserved it for a daylong extravaganza, splurging on an amazing couples massage (February special – buy one, get one half off), throwing caution to the wind and not worrying about how much that $8 glass of wine cost at dinner, adventured to a precious toy store and got the baby boy a couple of fun things, with grateful hearts gifted our nanny with a couple of practical items, loaded up on a few good books (buy one, get one fifty percent off) and a new Amy Butler sewing book (forty percent off) – and we still had about $200 to spare at the end of the date.

It’s hard to spend money frivolously when tight wad is all you know – we even went to the $2 movie where the show, popcorn, candy, and coke grand totaled at sixteen bucks for both of us.

So we even bargain shopped on our lavish date, so what? Frugal roots will not be shaken.

By our calculations, and by our I mean Chris’, we will be debt free in eighteen to twenty months. This time next year we will be sending our last payment to USBank, and then a half a year later (or a little more) we will be rid of student loans, thus being debt free. Now, that’s as long as everything stays as is and nothing crazy happens.

So this time next year I hope to be posting about our modest family getaway funded by the former credit card payment – and then the next year another post about our big family adventure to somewhere amazing funded by all payments combined.

We are taking suggestions for destinations – remember, we are trying to get out of debt.

Sidenote: I think the most exciting part about relieving financial stress is the world of opportunity to give to others who can use the money in more fruitful ways than we would if left to our own vices. We give modestly now to a few folks we love and believe in their ministries and I look eagerly to the day when we can give of our money and our hearts and our time with reckless abandon. There’s a sense of peace that comes with knowing that you are a part of someone somewhere having a better today than yesterday…

 

Twelve: Round Two

Alright. It’s kind of fun having a “toddler”, I’ll admit – even if he doesn’t toddle (that’s a real word – no red squiggly line) real well and is starting to practice for the Troublesome/Terrific/Terrible/Transformative Atti-Twos. I love him to pieces – sometimes so much my heart aches. I love to watch him play and discover, figure things out, test his limits (he is quite fond of this one), and wonder what is going on in that little brain of his. His imagination already runs wild, I can see it in his eyes. Most days are filled with laughs and games and looks of mutual adoration, often started off with a good morning smooch from the little guy – but I will confess we are entering the phase where the discipline part is kicking into gear, and I am not sure yet how good we are going to be at this part. More to come on that at a later date…

I love being a mama, especially to this little guy:


Noah’s Birthday Invite that never got printed or sent…whatever.

…and even if he does call me “Beb”, here are a few (or twelve) reasons why, in no particular order:

1. He loves Florida State football – not so much the arena in which it is played, just the team itself. He loves them so much that he had an anal volcano ALL over his seat, shorts, hands, and Grammy Nan just as we were pulling into our parking spot for the game. Perfect. I recently heard that the “adventure only begins when everything else has gone to s#*t” – wise, wise sensei.


Exhausted much? It’s hard work being a Nole.
Sidenote: He’s worn this jersey every game day except Oklahoma.
We aren’t superstitious.

2. Clap on – (clap-clap). Clap off – (clap-clap). Noah has the clap down to a patty cake. I even fed him pancakes the other morning and when I was telling him what it was he started clapping. And the part where you “throw it in the pan” he starts to duck for cover from tickling fingers.

3. Wagging. Taking a walk with a wagon – wagging. This kid loves all things wagon – riding, snacking, pushing, throwing – if he can do it in/to a wagon, count him in.

Wagging is whoa-some for the wandering wagger.

Look closely – it was chicken pox season.

He is riding in his Quarantine Wagon.

4. White boy can dance – well, as rhythmically as his genes allow. The best is that once he starts flailing his arms to the beat he expects everyone else to do the same. And we do. The other day Chris said, “Why does he think that just moving his arms is dancing?” – to which I responded by showing him, in close proximity to his face, the flailing about that we’ve been inherently teaching for the past 12 months when anything resembling a tune is played. And to that all he could say was, “Oh…”.

Go Pack – only when in the presence of Uncle D…
5. Noah plays peek-a-boo now – where he is the “peeker”. He will play with most anyone anytime he has something to hide behind – sometimes even himself in the mirror (obviously my favorite to watch). Fair warning: if the object is mobile, watch your face. You’ve been warned.

Peek--a-boo!

6. We have had enough parties to get us through until he’s three. Yep, three celebrations of Noah’s first year of life: Fairhope, Clyde, and Ten Mile. Each one full of love, laughs, friends, family, food, and fun. The Fairhope party is where we gave him his very own chocolate cake – I have been told since the day he was born that his first cake MUST be chocolate so it shows up in the pictures. And show up it did:

‘Scuse me, sir. It is not your birthday.
Please step away from the cake.
I think he liked it.
Finger-lickin’ good.Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere.
Clean up, clean up, get the chocolate out of your hair.
(Pay no mind to the green gob-lin doing the spraying.)
“diss?”Party numero dos at the Giusti casa. He’s not very excited about it.Noah and GiuGiu – she knows how to get down.Mason’s face says it all – ha! Love it.

We are thankful for everyone who helped us welcome Noah Matthew into the world a year ago and for everyone who has grown to love him since. We are beyond blessed with the family-by-blood and the family-by-love that surround us.

7. Noah took his second trip to Boone, NC to hang out with Aunt KD & Uncle Dan – and he let us come along, too. Sleeping in the closet went better than before, the little doggies were slightly more tolerant of the other four-legged creature in their midst, wedding things were accomplished, autumn weather was enjoyed, Florida State football was watched, and Green Bay shirts were worn.

Football & snacks with daddy –
sounds like a good Saturday afternoon combo to me.
I love the mountains…I love the rolling hills…I love the Noah and all his simple thrills…

8. Noah has always been a great sleeper – I mean, phenomenal. During his twelfth month he decided that not only is he going to be a great sleeper, but he think he likes being a night owl as well. Down between eight and nine (usually), wakes between eight and nine. Yes, please. Sign me up. AND he still takes a beast of a nap or two during the day – two plus hours per nap. So for those of you (Aunt Meg) who said that “all babies wake between 6:30am and 7am because they are babies and that is what they do and I should just go on and forget about not being a morning person” – you are welcome to sleep in at my house any day. Knock on a big ole piece of wood…

Sleepy McGeeface

9. For the first time in his life Noah got to have all four grandparents all to himself for a whole weekend! We went down to Pensacola/Tallahassee/Fairhope over Labor Day weekend to go to a football game, John Mayer concert, and to celebrate Noah’s first year with all of our FL/AL family. While ‘beb’ and daddy were with Aunt Kelly and Uncle Paul, Noah was hamming it up with his four grand parental units. Scary thought, I know. The amount of sugary love in that room must have been stifling.

A whole lot of this was happening…
while chaos ensued.We look pretty wild, eh?Prom Pose
Watch out – that’s how babies happen.

(On prom night? What exactly does that mean?
This post must be running way too long.
Almost over, I promise.)
10. Sippy cups are old news, we have moved on to the straw in this house. Blessing and a curse: 1) He wants to get his grubby little hands on everything with a straw – my drink, your drink, the people at the next table’s drink. 2) He has “forgotten” how to tip his sippy cup and drink on his own. Convenient. 3) Meltdown will occur when straw-drinker does not immediately surrender said-drink to the boy. Public spectacle = Slightly embarrassing.

11. I mentioned this before, though I feel it is worth listing here as well. We are ween-ers here in the Fab Ford Fam. No more boob for the little one. He decided it was for babies and very easily and naturally moo-ved on. Amen? Amen.

Any suggestions of how to get him to drink this instead-
without putting chocolate in it?


12. And last, but certainly not least, as this one is probably the biggest milestone of all – for all parties involved: Noah spent his first night away from us and his bed. BIG step – more for us than him. It was very strange not having him with us and felt like we were being irresponsible at times – like we had left him somewhere on accident. Mama Bo and Papa Bo took him with them over to the Giusti house for a few days so that Chris and I could get the house together for Noah’s party and spend a little bit of time just the two of us. We went to the climbing gym, to a movie, dinner, and just relaxed. It was wonderful to have the together time, but it felt even better to have Noah home.

That’s a whole lot of little boy lovin’ right there.


Wow. Big month for our not-so-little guy. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year (plus) since he changed our lives and hearts forever. Our love for him is worldly and imperfect, yet mighty and unconditional. I would easily give my life for his, my tears for his pain, my joy for his sadness. If knowing that I could protect him from hard lessons and uphill battles would provide for him the best possible outcome, I would – but I know better than to think I know what’s best. We love him more than there are stars in the sky, but only his Maker knows that count…

The next update is just around the corner… but here are a few blogs to be looking for: 180 South, 3 Cords, Etsy (gulp)…

Twelve

Dear Readers (all 4.5 of you),

I am sorry to announce that you will have to check back at a later date for the monthly update of the boy. You see, his mama is dealing with the heartbreaking realization that Noah is no longer a “month” age – as today is his birthday – he can now use that four-letter Y word. As soon as she is done wiping her tears and keeping them out of the pumpkin muffins and s’mores cupcakes (and cleaning, mopping, vacuuming, tidying, cooking, crafting, etc. for his party) she will gladly (well, maybe gladly) provide you with the latest and greatest of Noah.

Until then, let’s reminisce:

Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Plenty of cuteness and birthday goodness to come.

Sincerely,
The Ford Fam

Spread the K-Love

I am not sure who started this little dance, between the two of them, but I think it is fair to say that they are both equally entertained. Monkey see, monkey do – at it’s best. Noah will have him jumping through hoops by the end of the second visit.

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I love this fella. The little one and the big one.
Thank God for strong, amazing friends who weather the storms, bring the sunshine, and make you laugh regardless of the forecast.