Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Road Less Traveled

On our first New Year's Eve together, John and I were cruising the streets of the French quarter dressed to the nines, watching our friends duck in and out of clubs, and waiting for the Riverboat fireworks display and the fleur-de-lis to drop. Fast forward two years and one baby later; I am writing a blogpost at 10 pm on New Year's Eve while the sweet sound of gunfire and online gamers serenade me in the background (thank you Modern Warfare 3). The funny thing is, aside from hating stupid video games that suck the life from my very soul, I don't really mind this Rowan-ized New Year's Eve. Something in me feels a little rebellious at the thought of going to bed before midnight. Will the new year still come if I'm not awake to ring it in? This departure from the majority makes me feel just cool enough not to feel like a total doop (I think I just made this word up, but it seems to fit). Plus, John and I figured out our own way to celebrate the end of another very eventful year.

Two words -- Sherlock Holmes. Eight more words -- most expensive movie theater experience of my life. We knew we were in trouble when we were greeted at theater #4 with a cheerful, "Are you ready to be seated?" and "Would you like a menu?" I was very confused as those two phrases fit nowhere into my movie-going paradigm. Clearly we had stumbled onto one of those fabled dinner-and-a-movie theaters. You know, the ones with the fancy shmancy leather seats and waiters who are at your beck and call the entirety of the film. Needless to say, this threw us off a bit, but what the heck -- it's New Year's Eve and we were planning on having lunch after the movie anyway (yes, going to a movie before noon greatly enhances babysitter availability -- we just get cooler and cooler). One grilled chicken salad, a flatbread pizza, soft drink, and small popcorn later we had racked up a $50 dollar tab. What?! Add this to our $20 matinee tickets and $15 parking fee and I was leaving with a stomach ache. The best part was when we realized we had just paid $85 to do what we always do -- sit on our comfy couch, eat dinner and watch a movie. Not cool, New Orleans, not cool. We did however manage to find a deliciously free dessert option when I discovered some left over Christmas candies in our car. We felt a little better after that.

Yes, this year I believe we are taking the road less traveled. Matinee movie, blogging and Modern Warfare 3. (Side note: John would like it to be known that he is NOT playing the afore mentioned video game alone. And I quote, "Can you at least say that I'm playing with someone." It's better if you can imagine it being said with a slight whine.) :)

I may not be conscious when you arrive, 2012, but I'm excited to hang out with you for the next year. Happy New Year!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Mama, I'm comin home!

For the past 6 weeks, my hard-working hubby has had his nose to the grindstone 7 days a week, 12-13 hours a day. Needless to say, we briefly forgot what each other looked like, and I think Rowan forgot that John actually lived with us.

Now, that is all coming to an end. In exactly one and one half more days, the aforementioned breadwinner will return from his life of drudgery and rotating equipment (which somehow he actually enjoys) and will join the world of the living. Friday we're leaving for a much-needed stint in the good, ole midwest -- the Land of Lincoln to be precise. That's right, for the first time in three years, I will actually be seeing the Cookson family on Thanksgiving (eeee!).

Personally, I'm looking forward to some real-live cold weather, trees that have actually changed color (even though the leaves will be well past gone by now), watching the Macy's parade with my mom - we do this every year while we're making Thanksgiving lunch/dinner (you know those two meals are one giant food coma blur), and sharing some new fall recipes I've been trying; more to come on that later.

Equally exciting is the prospect of a potential baby-less date night...maybe even a....dare I speak it....a movie IN THE THEATER?! And of course, there is nothing more exciting than getting to spend some quality time with our very-missed family. We love you guys and we'll see you SOON! (eeee!)

I'd love to hear about our friends' Thanksgiving plans! Anybody else traveling this year??

Monday, November 7, 2011

Ahhh yes....

What I have learned today (again):
1. This world is temporary. God and the souls of men are not.
2. Remaining faithful during trials is a way to love God.
3. God does not tempt.
4. Temptation comes from the innate desires of our flesh.
5. This means that our flesh will naturally lead us to death (kind of depressing if you think about it - but exhilarating when you pair it with the hope promised in Jesus).
6. Every good thing comes from God.
7. God never changes.

Where I learned these things (again):
James 1:9-18

What I'm wondering:
1. How do you stop an innate desire from morphing into sin? Through submitting it to the Spirit? Daily dying to the flesh? Spiritual breathing?
2. What is it in us that is so prone to (ultimate) self-destruction?

What I want to know more about:
"Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of His creatures." (1:18)

God's Word has found me again today :) Thank you Lord. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Lion Cub's First Halloween

So, I know this is a little late, but since none of our Halloween pictures turned out, I've spent what few snippets of free time I've had over the past couple of days putting together a short video of Rowan's first Halloween. Yes, he was the cutest lion ever; yes, we kept him up just the teensiest bit past his bed time; and yes, John and I have already eaten the majority of his candy (Rowan doesn't mind, trust me - no teeth). All in all, the stroll around our neighborhood was quite a success! On a non-baby-related note, my highlight was definitely getting to meet our neighbors who currently possess the much-coveted tangerine tree in our neighborhood - it's orange and beautiful, and it grows in their front yard. Rowan and I stop and stare at it like tourists every time we pass by. One day.....

I'm sure you won't enjoy these little clips of our lion cub QUITE as much as we do (since we are the chiefs of the pride and all) but I hope they make you smile today! Happy Belated Halloween!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

This is what I love :)

So, I think like the last five posts have been about decorating our home and being crafty (or rather, not being crafty in my case). However, the most satisfying and worthwhile aspect of my life has nothing to do with working on our home at all; although I'm finding I enjoy that much more than I thought I would! So, I thought I would share the MOST rewarding and, at times, the most frustrating area of my life (aside from Rowan and John) -- college ministry.

John and I started volunteering with Cru here in New Orleans about two years ago and we love it. Cru is an interdenominational Christian org. that focuses on reaching college students - or at least the branch WE work with focuses on reaching college students. God used this organization in such a huge way in our lives when we were in college, and there's no way we wanted to miss the opportunity to be used in the same way in the lives of others. It's hard work, and it feels like we're bumbling our way through a lot of it, but God is faithful, and He is good (that means He's been working in spite of us). :)

Here's a snippet from our latest prayer letter:

Our fall retreat this year was probably my favorite to date. Here’s why. It wasn’t because of the inspiring words of our speaker -- Stuart Dodds, the regional director for Athletes in Action; it wasn’t because of the original worship music played by our very own staff members and volunteers; it wasn’t even because of the peaceful get away that naturally accompanies a fall retreat. This was my favorite retreat by far because of the way that I saw God move.

With John unable to attend because of work, I was on my own with Rowan for the weekend. Now, I love my son, but an entire weekend of having him to myself, in a strange place, keeping strange hours, and desiring in the midst of that to be spending time building into students - well it was a challenge to say the least. However, what I did find was that in the midst of a sleepless night, or while having to escort a noisy 7-month-old out of a night-time meeting, the Lord burdened my heart to pray. And pray I did - for the retreat, for our students, for Stuart, for relationships to be made, and so on.  And not surprisingly, the Lord met me in such a real way during those times. He settled my frustrated heart and gave me joy in what I WAS able to do. The BEST part, though, is that he still provided some of the most uplifting and encouraging conversations that I’ve ever had with our staff and students. 
I had the opportunity to pick Stuart’s wife’s brain about how to balance being a full-time mother and wanting to do full-time ministry. I took a long walk with a sophomore from Tulane who openly shared her life with me and is now coming to our house for discipleship on a weekly basis (John is discipling her boyfriend too!). The Lord even used Rowan to start conversations with students who I normally wouldn’t have had the opportunity to talk to (who doesn’t love a baby?). 
All of this to say that while I felt frustrated with what I seemed unable to do, the Lord reminded me that He is able to accomplish infinitely more than I could ever hope. As my role on the team seems to be in constant baby-induced flux, the Lord has been gracious in providing awesome opportunities to feel purposeful and encouraged in how He is using us. Thank you so much for your prayers and support! I’m so blessed to be able to share this season of our lives with you!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

In the Mood!

I wish I had one of the those really cool blogs that gave away free stuff. If I did, I would give everyone a copy of this magazine

It has seriously been just about the best thing ever when it comes to schooling me in color...which I desperately need. I know I want the rooms in our house to be more interesting than they are and (more importantly) more homey and inviting, but since I tend to walk into a blank-canvas room and freeze like a deer in headlights, the actual "transforming" part of the room transformation seems to allude me.

Enter Color Made Easy. Not only has it been full of great visual ideas, but it's given me a check list of to-do's on how to go about decorating our spaces! And boy do I love check lists AND to-dos. :)

So we decided to start with our bedroom and the master bath. "Start how?" you ask. Well, last week I would have asked the same question....and probably never would have bothered to find the answer; I would have been too busy with my deer-in-headlights pose. But not anymore!

According to my new best friend, I apparently can get over my "don't know where to start" issues by simply creating a mood board. Which, to everyone's surprise (including my own) I did!

The mood board, as you know if you've ever watched anything on HGTV, is a collection of photos, prints, fabrics, colors, or really anything that inspires you. This all gets put together in a scrapbook, binder, or in my case, Rowan's bulletin board.  Here's the one that I'm making right now

I'm not the most artistic person in the world, but you get the gist. These are the colors and some ideas that I want to use to create this "mood" in our room.

This is my favorite section of the board, mainly because of the flower and the colors in that picture. Most of the pictures I got out of the Color Made Easy magazine, and then I pulled some things out of my craft bag that I thought would go too. Oh, and I added a sweater that I can't wear anymore (apparently you're not supposed to put some materials in the dryer?). Eventually I'd like to make something out of it for our room, but that's another story for another day.

Anywho, that's where we're at so far. My favorite part about this has been John's response. He got up at 4 am for work the morning after I made this and, although usually I'm incoherent at that hour, I popped my head off my pillow, rolled over and said, "Did you see what I made?" And do you know what he said at 4 in the morning??

"Yeah, I really like it. I think I have some ideas of how we can make it happen."

What?! No joke. And then he started talking about shopping at TJ Maxx. I love him. :)

Also, I snapped some pictures of Rowan while I had my camera out. Enjoy Mom!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Phase I Complete

Ok, so I've taken my declaration one step farther. I have bought things, I have done things, I have taken quizzes, and I'm still interested. This is a big deal for a non-planner, slightly flaky, over-committer (ahem, me). Following a sleepless night full of Rowan's tears, and a morning at the doctor's that had me in tears (you know you're sleep-deprived when a long line at the reception desk makes you cry), I decided to treat myself to an hour of things I like. Namely, Barnes & Noble and Starbucks. Convenient since they're all in one location. Here's what I ended up with.

An edition of Better Homes and Gardens solely dedicated to Holiday Crafts (I figured this was a must-have Suzy item).

Now, I'm not looking to have the ULTIMATE Halloween open house or for 232 ways to wow a crowd (I don't even know where I would get a crowd, let alone one patient enough to wait around to be wowed 232 times), but it did have some pretty deliciously simple looking recipes. Anything with beef in the name is considered a five-star meal in my home (John).

See my previous confession concerning my eye for color and design. :)

And finally, a frilly magazine full of pretty things to make my house frilly and pretty as well. We'll see. I'm actually excited about this one. Although, the fact that I'm reading something with the phrase "high tea" and "teacup lamp" on the cover makes me slightly uneasy....

Also, I scoured the shelves and finally found this book

which I'm in love with. I was equally in love with Book One, which is all about your baby from birth to four months. This one follows that up with info and advice for 5-12 monthers. Love, love, love.

As to my magazines, I haven't had a chance to dig into them yet but I have a plan - paper portfolio and pinterest (thank you to every single person who recommended this - literally every single person who I've talked to in the last 24 hrs. recommended this). So we'll see how it goes. I'm cheerfully optimistic.

And no worries Mom, Rowan slept like an angel last night. :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Declaration

I'm having serious DIY cravings. Let me be clear about this. If you read the post about why I'm excited to be having a girl you will recall that, while enthusiastic about others' craftiness, I'm somewhat lacking in that area myself. Well, I spent a significant amount of time today pouring over this site (it's really cool if you get a chance) and, call it the nesting instinct, I find myself want to make something....or at least clean something. Now, there's plenty of opportunity for cleaning around here (at least one person in our house has been sick almost every day for the past month...we have a lot of catching up to do). BUT I'm at a loss as to where to start MAKING. From what I can glean from the afore mentioned site and others, this is what it seems to take to be crafty or DIY savvy...

  • Get in touch with the thrift shopper in you. Apparently I need to be significantly more familiar with our local Goodwill and TJ Maxx.
  • Have an eye for design and color (not my thing...I have a hard time matching my clothes in the morning).
  • Own and know how to use the following: a staple gun, a glue gun, a sewing machine, primer, and the right side of your brain.
These are just a few thing that I have learned so far. Unfortunately, this has all lead me to realize, once again, that I was not blessed with Suzy Home Maker gene. I enjoy eating, but I don't LOVE to cook. I appreciate a beautifully decorated house, but my heart doesn't skip a beat when I enter a fabric store. Apple pies and DIY projects have just never been my thing. 

So am I destined for a life of colorless walls and store-bought Halloween costumes? I think not! Hear this John DeLuca and all of cyberworld. I WILL channel my inner Suzy if it's the last thing I do! It may take months or even years, it may take blood sweat and tears, and it may just take me running to Goodwill or Target every once in awhile (did I mention that I'm not much of a shopper -- how am I having a girl?!), but I WILL make something! And I will like it!

ps...if anyone has craft or DIY sites that they love, feel free to share. I'm gonna need all the help I can get!

It's a GIRL!

A few reasons I am excited to have a baby girl (eeee!) :

1. I have always wanted to explore my crafty side, and for some reason it seems easier to do with girls. I'm not sure what I'll find when that exploration begins.....I'm not anticipating much :)

2. There is now an equal level of testosterone and estrogen in my home, something I have never before experienced.

3. Hair and nails. 'Nuff said.

4. I am significantly more clueless when it comes to girls (which seems odd since I am one?) and am looking forward to yet another challenge in child rearing.

5. John is even more clueless than I am. For some reason I find this incredibly attractive.

6. Getting to decorate a girl's room, and getting to use some of my old stuff. SO FUN!

7. Although I myself am not a huge fan of pink, there is so much of it out there! And it's so cute!

8. OWLS......This might seem strange, but trust me, it's cool.

9. The grandmas. I think they are more excited then I am.

10. Rowan gets to have a baby sister. Exactly as the Lord planned.

Let the fun begin!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


It is 5pm. I'm just getting a break in my day, which started at 3 this morning thanks to a leaky diaper. I am tired.

It's Monday. Supposedly the second day of ministry in my work week. But everything has been rescheduled due to my little Rowan.

Also, it's October. However, it's apparently difficult for me to get into the spirit of fall when it's 85 degrees outside. Is it possible to skip right to Christmas?

I hesitate to end my almost two-month blogging respite today since I feel the negativity seeping out of me like something from a bad horror movie. It's seriously a little scary, and I have a feeling it's going to infiltrate the entirety of this post. Awesome.

Insert dramatic sigh, tinged with french accent. Ahh but, so is life. Tiring, sporadic, flaky (that's probably me more than life) and sometimes draining. 

I promise I was going to try and think of something positive to say before the end of this, but baby has decided to wake up an hour early from his nap (for the second time today). Positivity will have to wait, along with my free time. Until then, here is a video that will hopefully leave you with a smile rather than a concern for my mental and spiritual health (Mom). Thank you God for making babies so cute. :)

Here Rowan teaches us how to fake smile for the camera. :)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Choosing sides

Which side am I on? I read this question in an Elizabeth Elliott devotional this morning. It came to her after reading Galatians 5:25

"If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit."

In other words, if the Spirit is our source of life, let's follow the course that the He sets out for us as opposed to going our own way. It's the Spirit's way vs. my way. Hence the question, which side am I on? 

Which makes me wonder, how do I know I'm walking by the Spirit, selecting the course of the Spirit daily? I could probably come up with some arbitrary checklist of ways that I could measure this, but I'm pretty sure having a daily nap time and consistent email checking would not be considered fruits of the Spirit. Fortunately, it's not left up to me - or anyone else for that matter. One needs only to continue reading in Galatians 5 to see what God considers walking by the Spirit. 

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.

These are supposed to be prevalent in my life if and when I'm walking by the Spirit. Apparently I'm not walking by the Spirit very often. 

I read recently that marriage is like a mirror. The relationship reflects back to you who you really are. It makes sense; it's hard to hide anything about yourself from someone who lives with you, someone who shares a bed, not to mention a bathroom with you. In the most intimate relationship we have here on earth, it's hard to be someone we're not. John unfortunately gets the pleasure of seeing my ugly more than anyone else I know. 

That's why this was so challenging to me this morning. I know who I WANT to be, who I DESIRE to be. But what am I actually allowing to eek out of me on a daily basis? I'm pretty sure it's not the afore mentioned traits of holiness. More often than not, I could probably be better characterized by the second string of traits that Paul lists:

Sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger (um, hello!), rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, etc.

Now, while I haven't really partaken in any spell-casting or orgies as of late (unless you count the occasional Harry Potter quote - for spell-casting, not orgies), it's ridiculous to even try to claim an absence of anger or frustration, dissensions and divisions, even within (and probably especially within) my own marriage. Again, which side am I on??

This is nothing new. Nothing I haven't heard before. But it never fails to astonish me at how much I don't measure up to this standard of perfection. 

Thank God for Jesus, literally. 

I don't think walking by the Spirit was ever meant to be easy, but it was also never meant to be a solo journey. It's important to try and walk by the Spirit, but it's more important to know that He walks with us. So, today as I go about getting ready for the onslaught of activities this weekend, I'm going to try and remember these things: 

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.

And when Rowan wakes up an hour early from his nap, and John comes home and plays Call of Duty when I know what he really should be doing is coming up with fun and creative conversation topics to discuss with me (I love you John), then I will look to my walking partner, remember that life is not all about me, and ask Him to help me look more like Jesus. 

After all, sandals and beards would be an interesting look for me.

Monday, June 13, 2011

First Date

This past Saturday was date night - a one night memorial of pre-parenthood life....kind of. John and I went to the ACME Oyster House a la a gift card from the parents (thank you mom and dad). We spent a lot of the night comparing our first date ever with this, our first date as parents. It wasn't too hard to remember what it was like being on that very first date - not with our host making comments like "good luck man" and our waiter asking us if we'd like him to split the check. We must look younger than we think. But we did make some pretty interesting observations.

1) I talked a lot more this time around and John talked a lot less.

2) We are now ok with silences and awkward pauses.

3) We're significantly more comfortable talking about bodily functions (although monthly cycles is still a growth area for us).

4) We were still nervous on the drive to the restaurant (John almost ran a red light -- I smiled a lot).

5) My husband still knows how to make me smile.

6) We may have wondered if there would be a second date, but it was for entirely new reasons.

7) And the biggest difference is that we get to come home to the same house, the same bed, and one sweet boy who one day may miss us greatly, but at this point doesn't really recognize that we're gone (I try not to take it personally).

It was good to get out of the house. I think we needed it more than we realized. So, I'm already looking forward to the hopefully not-so-elusive date #2. We have a gift card to the Olive Garden so the odds are pretty good. :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Insert clever title

I was reading a friend's blog this morning and she had this video posted. I love it, so I am unceremoniously stealing it from her...thank you Rachel :) This was my parents' new favorite song when they came to visit. If you haven't heard it before, take a minute to listen to it. It's good because it's true. It IS the little things that send me into crazy mode -- even more so now that I'm a mommy. 

It's having Rowan spit up all over the place (literally all over the place - himself, me, the floor, the table - think the splash zone at Thunder Mountain) and then changing him, only to have him annihilate whatever I put on him as soon as I snap the last snap. It's having to cancel dinner dates because baby has a tummy ache and has now spit up in your hair which is actually not so bad because you haven't had time to wash it in a few days anyway. People have put weirder things in their hair. It's having him pass out, dead to the world, right before his last feeding for the day, struggling through 2 oz. of milk only to have him wake you up an hour after you've gone to bed.....and every 2 hours after that. Not to mention the fact that eating a hot meal from start to finish seems to be a thing of the past. There are so many things that I could be frustrated with, scratch that, that I AM frustrated with at any given point during my day (and let's not even talk about non-baby related topics - most of which involve New Orleans drivers).

But the bottom line is, I have way more to be joyful about if I allow myself. I don't always, and I'm pretty sure John can attest to that. It's so much easier to dwell on the negative than the positive. I don't want to be Suzy Sunshine all day and make people want throw things at me, but I DO think it's important to recognize the blessings right in front of my face - a healthy (although spitty) little boy, a husband who loves me exactly how I am and encourages me to be myself, family and friends who care enough to make the heck-a-long trip down here to visit with us, and a God that despite my failings and my tendencies toward the baby crazies is proud of me just because He made me.

I'm working on being closer to Him in this new stage of life. I'm unmotivated, tired, and really kind of lazy, but I miss Him and I desire Him (which is a blessing in and of itself, because that isn't always true). Oh I know He's there alright, and we've been in touch, but I miss hanging out with Him regularly. I need to be affected by Him again. I'm trying to get back in the routine of spending time with Him daily - concerted, intentional time. But I'm struggling with it. Any suggestions would be welcome....

Well, time to tackle the small Everest that has found its way into our laundry hamper. Lots to do today, so I'll try to stay motivated and joyful as I sing my way through our dirty dishes, making friends with the local vermin who will willingly pitch in and scrub away, happily whistling along as the pigeons wash our windows from the outside (for those of you who haven't seen Enchanted, this is how all housework is done in New Orleans).

And for those of you who decide you like Francesca Battistelli, here's another song that is equally good. Happy listening!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Rather than bore you with all the background details of our lives, I'm just gonna jump right in. We have a son, his name is Rowan, and he is the cutest baby of all time (I am only slightly biased).

He turned 2 months last Friday and was a champ through getting his very first shot. We also happen to have an awesomely quick doctor. I don't have much else to say to get things rolling. He is the reason for this blog and therefore the obvious starting point. A shout out to Grandma who I'm sure is the only one reading this ;) I now have an extra excuse for taking more pictures. Now, let's see if I can figure out this slideshow thing.....