Nowak Thanksgiving 2016

Nowak family Thanksgiving is salty ham, rosemary turkey, Macy's parades balloons, newspapers stuffed with Black Friday advertisements, and a long walk around the neighborhood to work off the breakfast pie. Charlotte is the center of the Holiday these days, and she depleted the stock of sweet baby gherkins like she's had teeth forever.

I stayed mostly on plan this Thanksgiving, and LOVED this sweet potato casserole from Briana Thomas. My sister-in-law also made some stuffing with Ezekiel bread, and when the leftovers ran out, there was a celery and apple shaped hole in my heart. So good.

Two years ago at Nowak Thanksgiving, we announced that our first baby was a son, Christian Vir Nowak. I'm thankful we got to feel him wiggle, to love him, to carry him. I'm thankful now for the breathing, giggling daughter we have, with her full-faced smiles and her liberally imposed open-mouth kisses. Every milestone a treasure.

Matt and I are thankful for our families and for our family. God has been good to me, to us. Matt loves me even when I'm selfish. We laid in bed together on Thanksgiving night and named some things we were thankful for. The list was scattered; It was impossible to encompass everything in our lives in one fragmented list. I recently finished reading 1,000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp, and though her writing style is a little bit flowery or wordy for me, her discovery of counting gifts is a treasure. Often we get caught up in what we don't have, discontentment piling up, and we forget to thank God for the beautiful life He has handed us. Count your blessings name them one by one.


Neighborhood Walks

 With seven more pounds to lose and the food-laden holidays quickly approaching, we've taken to the streets to help us get to goal before 2017 begins. Thankfully, we aren't the only ones who take Trim Healthy Mama seriously, and so our church gatherings and family dinners always feature something that we can eat and stay on plan. Matt has lost twenty-eight pounds this year, and I have lost sixty-five pounds. There's a lot less of us around these days, and that is something to be thankful for.

Charlotte is exploring everything, finding the TINIEST things on everyone's floor, and making totally adorable and unacceptable pout faces when she doesn't get to eat those tiny things. She's been sleeping all the way through the night again lately, which can also be added to the list of things I'm thankful for, right near other shallow things like hand-me-down high heels, double blankets on our bed, and thrifted Christmas gifts. On a less shallow note, my husband gets up early every day and goes and works his tail off in the freezing cold, and then spends most of his afternoons or evenings helping someone else with a ministry or a project, while still making time to tickle our baby on the nursery floor and love me hard. I'm thankful for him. We're thankful to have a real-live baby this year on Thanksgiving. I've been pregnant twice on Thanksgiving, and getting to have a breathing, giggling, crawling, exploring babe is all the gifts from God. We have a church family that loves people. and so many Aunt and Uncles and Grandparents around to love our baby and pray for us.

God has been good to us. He has met every need we've ever had. He has loved us unconditionally. He has comforted us in sorrow. He has given us hope.



Charlotte Pear: Eleven Months

We are one month away from our first trip around the sun together, and every day she teaches us something new about love. She makes me so full. Her open mouthed kisses are intentional. What a gift.

 Recently she has started crawling on hands and knees (instead of army style) and walking along furniture. She has six teeth, with a seventh about to make its appearance. We don't feel quite ready for her to be a toddler, but I love this transition stage as she explores her surroundings for the first time.

She loves her Da-da, and I love to watch them love each other. Last night, after a long day of work, Bible study, and helping my parents replace their wall oven, Matt buckled her into her carseat to begin our drive home. I know my tendencies, and if I had had the day that he had, I would have been brisk or indifferent to our baby as I went through the motions of strapping her into her seat, but he was kind. He spoke to her gently and handed her something soft. She responded sweetly with the whispered, repeated syllable, "Da.. dada..."

Even on cold days, we try to sit outside when Matt is headed home (with fluffy winter jackets, hats, socks, and shoes). It's a time to poke at moss, dig in dirt, and watch the kittens in the neighbors' yard. We spent some time in the woods last week with Maura, and I'm making a list of all of the free parks and trails in the area, so that when I'm lacking inspiration, I'll have a place to turn.



Recently, my sister-in-law began a bookclub. It was well timed, since I'd been listening to podcasts/reading articles from Wild + Free and At Home Podcast about starting homeschool bookclubs, and planning my future bookclub. Sometimes I spend too much time focused on the future, and what I'm GOING TO DO, and not enough time doing actual stuff in the present. So, this post isn't about my future homeschool bookclub, or even the bookclub for adults that I am currently attending. This post is about the booklist that I've added to the tabs on this blog. It'll be a running list of books I recommend and also what I'm currently reading.

My favorite books, as you'll notice, seem to be non-fiction marriage/parenting/homeschool/lifestyle books where someone who has walked ahead of me gives me advice on what worked for/helped them. I do not enjoy or glean from every such book I read, but this does seem to be where I lean most heavily.

March (pictured above) was a book we read for bookclub, but I did not admire the protagonist and would not recommend it.  I'd hate for someone to see it pictured, consider that a recommendation, and then be disappointed.

I'll try to keep the list updated with my favorites and the books I'm currently reading, and if you find your favorite books alining with mine, shoot me some recommendations!


Andrew & Kayla Pearson

It was the first day of October, the weather warm and quiet, a perfect day for no-sleeve dresses and love. There were four little babies who rode wide-eyed and silent down the aisle in a wagon, an answer to the mothers' silent prayers. Matt and I are blessed to be related to this beautiful bride and groom, but more than that, we're thankful to be their friends. Both of my brothers have beautiful brides, and I'm thankful that as our family grows, we gain friends.

We're excited for all the upcoming beautiful years of marriage, future baby cousins (nieces and nephews to us), and we're thankful for this picture perfect day.

Wondering what Matt and Andrew are laughing about? Andrew said, "Don't squeeze my butt. I'm not Amanda.... Or Bekah." That's a throwback to a Christmas a couple of years ago.



Life has been beautiful lately, and it seems that when life is the most beautiful, I am the least likely to document the moments with a camera and a spilling out of words. Charlotte and I are in good habits of reading together every morning out of a hardback version of the Book of Proverbs, which excites me, as I feed Truth to myself and to her. I've been making a purposeful effort to sit outside with her some every day, so she has the chance to smell flowers, crush leaves, and feel the grass against her bare feet.

This month, for the first time, I have jury duty. Though my group was called to jury duty, I was not called to next step in the process, and I spent four hours sitting in a room with fifty or so other Norfolk residents. I was thankful for boldness in my conversations, and I was able to speak Truth, actual words from the Bible, in effortless conversation. It is the most important thing I can think of, to have God's Word memorized, hidden in your heart, so that when you speak, it can be Truth. That's what everyone needs: Truth. At the end of the day I gave a seventy-two year old woman a ride home so she wouldn't have to take the bus, and I don't know if I'll ever see her again, but it was a victory of unselfishness for me. A battle I rarely let Christ win.

Matthew and I went to the Adventure Park this week on a date, and my arms are bruised and muscles throughout my torso are sore, but we enjoyed our time together, pushing our bodies physically. He amazes me with his agility. The way he takes to new obstacles, flying through difficult, taxing feats, left women (and men) buzzing about how talented he is, and I couldn't agree more.

As I continue following Trim Healthy Mama's diet plan, I continue to reach new lows in my weight. This week, I am 136.4 (with the ultimate goal of 128 before my next pregnancy, though we're not necessarily waiting to reach that goal). I started the year at just over 200 pounds, as pictured on the left side of that picture. That was nearly one month after giving birth to Charlotte, and I'm hopeful to never reach that weight again. In a couple of short months it will be January again, and I'm excited to take a picture in the same spot in the same shirt and compare the changes.

It's November. Charlotte is almost eleven months old, Christmas decorations are already popping up around Hampton Roads, and yesterday we had to turn the air conditioning back on because southeast Virginia is confused.



October is my husband's birthday month, and every year he asks for the same party: outside, a fire pit, some ping pong, and a huge group of people. There's a lot of prep work to lead up to it, and I wish I could say inviting 70 people into our backyard for soup and hot chocolate is stress free for me. I am, however, thankful for a husband who stopped me in my tracks and prayed with me when I was at the height of my scurrying. The party went beautifully. God answered prayer with perfect weather, just chilly enough to make soup and coco inviting, but not a breeze in the air which kept the smoke out of our faces. We're thankful.

I had told you that Matt was thinking about starting his own Window Washing business, and I thought it was time to give you an update. He spoke to his boss, and she gave him a raise, paid vacation and holidays, and reminded him that he signed a non-compete form when he arrived. So, we're on hold; Thankful for the raise and the improvements in his current position, and looking toward the future still. Because of the non-compete form, Matt would have to wait a year after quitting his current job, before starting his own Window Washing Business. The timing isn't right, yet, so we're waiting, praying.

Our house is still on the market, and awhile ago, we got a full price offer. If the house we had been hoping for was still on the market, we would have (of course) jumped on it and paid closing costs for him, but we haven't found another house we like better than ours since the house we had wanted sold. So, we told him he'd have to cover his own closing costs if he wanted to make us homeless, and he walked away. It's just as well. I love our house. At the end of November, our house will be off the market, and our plan, God willing, is to pay our house down so that when it is time to sell, we're walking away with more of a down payment for our next house.

Do you guys invest? I feel like no one taught us how to invest and more people should pass on information like that! I've only been researching and investing for a couple of months, so I'm totally not qualified to teach, BUT if you need just simple information on what funds we invest in and such, I'm an open book! This feels a little like a word-dump, but I had a minute, and I thought I'd update you on how our life is going, and how we see the Lord leading us this fall!