Author Archives: jwolfe

All Things Baby Girl

This little post is entirely dedicated to all things baby girl.  I’m finally getting around to snapping a few pictures of the things I’ve been making for her and I decided to just post them all at once.

Last month Miss E helped me drag all her old baby clothes from the shed into the house, so we could sort and wash anything that this new little one might be able to use.  Fortunately, there were lots of sweet little things that could be handed down to baby sister.  E was enthralled and happily helped me make room in their dresser for the baby’s clothes.  I wish I had taken a picture of E standing on her tippy-toes, chin resting on the edge of the drawer, looking fondly at all the little things that will belong to an already most beloved little sister.

Now this beautiful piece of workmanship I had nothing to do with.  This is the baby quilt that my mom pieced and quilted for the baby.  Isn’t it wonderful?!  There are over 50 different pieces of fabric in this quilt that my mom pulled from her fabric stash, a few from my stash, and added a dozen or so new pieces of fabric just for good measure.

I am so delighted with how it turned out!  I gave her very little instruction but somehow she managed to make something even lovelier than I had envisioned.

I made the baby a few new dresses (hand-me-downs are fun but a girl needs a few things of her own)

One again I used Rae’s free Itty Bitty pattern.  I love that pattern!  I’ve probably made close to 10 of these dressed because they are so simple!

I didn’t make this dress.  I bought it at Old Navy and added the flower applique to the bodice.

I like the contrast of the navy stripes with the feminine floral.

This is a little glimpse at her hospital bag.  Just an assortment of things I have made and collected for her stay at the hospital and for her homecoming.

This is her “coming home onesie”.  I know it’s kind of silly, but I like to have something special for the babies to wear when they come home.  This is nothing fancy but it’s fun and comfortable, and I know it will fit her right away.

In her diaper bag I also have a few sets of tiny socks and a couple burp cloths.

I also made this little zipper pouch for keeping pacifiers from floating around in the bottom of the diaper bag.

I used the Little Cutie Pouch tutorial from Noodlehead (sorry I’m being lazy this time and not including links!).  It was a fun project that went together in about 20 minutes.

And of course the bag that holds them all together.  For her diaper bag I used an old favorite pattern, Amy Butler’s Swing Bag pattern.  It’s so simple and it really is the perfect size, not too big, not too little and easy to get into.

And lastly just a few onesies and headbands I put together for her.  It’s summertime and I know this little one is going to practically live in onesies or if I’m honest probably just a diaper :)


Both of these onesies are hand-me-downs that I added the cotton knit rosettes to.   It was a fun and easy way to bring life to something that was looking a little worn.

We are as ready as we are ever going to be and the doctor tells me that baby girl is doing great and can come anytime.  So now we wait…. but if there is one thing I have learned over the years, it’s that babies feel little obligation were due dates are concerned :)

Oh, and off the subject of baby girls for a moment; I’m in the process of setting up a new blog with WordPress.  I have been blogging on Xanga for 6 years now but it’s time for a change.  I hope to be able to keep in contact with you all, and I will be sure to post a link to my new website as soon as it’s up and going!

Thanks my friends,  April

 

No more one size fits all

In some ways it’s what I want, what I crave.  Just tell me what to do.  Give me a fool proof plan, some kind of formula; a 10 step program.  Because this being mom thing… it can be a little scary, it can leave me feeling weak and unprepared.  There’s a lot at stake, many ways to go wrong, so much unknown.  Surely there is a “best way” to parent, and all I need to to is find it and follow it to the letter.

But the longer I walk this path of parenting the more I am convinced that there are no “one size fits all” methods to raising children.  And chasing that idea is a waste of my precious time.  In fact I might even go so far as to say that there are as many good ways to raise children as there are good moms.  I believe that God equipped each of us with unique personalities, a functioning brain, intuition, and His Holy Spirit to accomplish this important work we are doing.  What’s best for my family is going to look different than what is best for your family, and that’s okay.

Please don’t mistake my meaning, I’m not anti-structure.  I don’t believe that parenting books, schools of thought, or formulated methods are evil or useless.  I’m a practical, rubber-meets-the-road kind of gal.  I understand the necessity of having a game plan.  From the minute you bring that tiny human home from the hospital you have to start making decisions and choices.  Nurse or bottle feed?  Scheduled or unscheduled?  Let them cry themselves to sleep?  Sooth and rock them?  And the decision making never stops, in fact it only becomes more complicated.  To spank or not to spank?  Home-school?  Private school? Public school?  How much TV is too much TV?  It’s not wrong to seek advise or to have opinions.  Choices must be made.   

Here’s where I start to see trouble.  When choices and decisions cease to become practical necessities, and are allowed to become divisive tools of the Enemy.  When our passion and excitement for our own chosen methods are twisted into superiority.  I’ve been there, I’ve done that.  I like my methods and it’s easy for me to loudly proclaim their virtues, while at the same time undermining those that don’t fall in line with my personal preferences.   It becomes this dangerous undercurrent that can erode the love and support I should be giving to the women in my life.  Being mom is important.  We make the Devil’s job easy when we tear ourselves apart from the inside out.  When we stand toe-to-toe, glaring at each other over lines dawn in the sand, instead of standing shoulder to shoulder facing the real danger.  Is my personal preferences really worth the damage I might be doing?  We must not loose sight of the big picture.  We must see each other for what we are, sisters who are all in this together.  Each of us with our own strength and weaknesses.  Be careful of how quickly we are to criticize another woman.  We should be united, but unity should not be confused with complete and utter conformity.  

So here it is in a nutshell.  We should be passionate, excited, and yes, even confident about our own parenting styles and choices, but that should always be balanced with an equal amount of graciousness for those who have chosen a different way.  To trust the Holy Spirit at work in the lives of other women.  To not see her as a rival, or a superior, or an inferior to yourself, but as your fellow companion on this journey to love and protect. 

Spring comings and goings

How has so much time gone by since I last sat down to share on my little blog?  I feel like I barely blink and I’m turning the page of the calendar.  I should have taken a picture of our March calendar page; not a single square that didn’t have writing on it. 

We did manage to squeeze in a 4 day trip to the beach; just our little family.  Getting ready for the trip was kind of crazy and hectic, but once we got to the beach it was just the break we needed!  Sleeping in, playing in the sand and water, lounging around the condo and just being with each other.

Lots of exciting things happening around our place too!  We are getting ready to plant grass in our backyard.  Everyone has been working so hard; friends, family, even the boys have spent most of their free time helping us get ready to plant grass.  It will be so nice to look out my kitchen window and see green!  And to have a lot less dirt coming into the house week after week.

When we bought this property 4 years ago there was only a horse pasture, a new double-wide trailer, a huge garbage heap in the back, and a whole lot of dirt and weeds.  That was it.  But it was ours.  Our own little place in the country were the kids could run and play.  There have been times when we looked at each other and said, “What were we thinking?!” but mostly we love were we live and wouldn’t have it any other way.  The key is to have patience (which can be hard for me) and take things one project at a time.  It just feels great to see our place start to come together.
 

My husband has been working so hard.  In addition to working full time, commuting, being involved in all the children’s extra activities, and picking up the slack for his pregnant wife… he somehow finds the time and energy to tackle big projects.

The back part of our property is planted with tall grass.  Our neighbor, who owns the dairy across the street, plants and harvests the back of our property.  This grass will soon be chopped and fed to the dairy cows, but for now it is where the children like to play best.  The grass is so tall that when Miss E gets into the middle of it I can’t even see her head.  They play out there until the sun goes down behind the hills, and I holler at them from the back porch to come in and get cleaned up for bed.
  
They come in every night looking happy, tired, and very dirty!

Baseball is in full swing.  J got his new uniform last week so I snapped a picture of him.

This year has been a year of growing for J.  It’s been fun for his Dad and I to watch him grown and come into his own.  Seeing his personality come out, watching him take on extra responsibilities around the house and seeing him thrive.  I’m really proud of this guy!

The younger two are also having fun with baseball!

G was showing E the proper stance for fielding balls.

The baby is growing and so am I.  

This is a picture my husband took of me last month.

This is a more accurate picture of what I look like now.

Some women do pregnancy so beautifully.  I do pregnancy so… largely.  It feels rather strange having people openly discussing your figure.  They want to talk about your size and shape, they try to guess your due date and the gender of your baby.  I know that for the most part they are only trying to be friendly but sometimes it starts to feel wearisome.   I love talking about the baby, I just don’t love talking about my expanding figure. 

Last week I made a few things to take as a gift to a baby shower.  My friend, who was also J’s first grade teacher, is having a little girl this spring. 

It was fun to make delicate, feminine onesies and headbands.

I’m definitely going to be replicating some of these for our baby girl!

I finally got to use some of the vintage doilies I ordered from Etsy.


This is the first time I’ve made a headband out of the skinny elastic but I love the way it looks.  I like the small delicate flowers and I thought they would make a sweet newborn headband!

Nesting is starting to set in.  I’m hoping in the next few weeks to get the girls’ room set up for the baby.  I like saying “the girls’ room” :)   There are drawers and closets to organize, tubs of E’s baby clothes to be brought in from storage to wash and sort, setting up the crib, and sewing projects to finish!  We shall see what actually happens before this baby arrives. 

I can’t promise that I will be blogging more frequently but be assured that when this blog is quiet it just means that life is a little extra busy.  I will try to update when I can squeeze in the time :)

Have a wonderful week!  ~April 

PS- please forgive any typos or awkward phrasing in my posts, pregnancy brain has hit hard.  I feel so addled lately and I keep putting things in the strangest places!  Last week I put the half-n-half in my tupperware cupboard and the sandwich bread in the frig.  The kids think it’s so funny, I think it’s annoying!

The Story of two little girls

They are cousins, born only days apart in the month of March.  It was only natural that we would expect them to be close, but in those early days it seemed a little doubtful.


Huge crocodile tears were what we most often got when we put them together.

Sometimes they managed to fain indifference

“Hey Cora, does this bumbo make rear look fat?”

But before long the two little girls who could hardly stand to be near each other became…

… completely inseparable.

They turned four this month.  We don’t always do combined parties but this seemed like a good year to do one.  Their very first all-girl party.  We asked them what kind of party they wanted and we got a one word response… PINK!  Very well then…

On a beautiful spring day we set the party table up on Jessica’s back lawn.  Seven little friends would be there soon with their party frocks on.  We planned a small art project, a luncheon filled with girly-pink foods and of course; pink birthday cake.

The two birthday girls waiting anxiously for their guests to arrive.


We put the party favor baskets down the length of the table.  In my head this seemed like the perfect solution but in reality it was a constant source of temptation and confusion for the girls :)   Fortunately everyone went home with their favor baskets in tact… mostly.

We started the party off with a craft project.  I found a free Birthday Crown printable on the internet. Jessica and I bought lots of fun paper flowers and glitter to decorate them with.

The grandmas stayed to help with the party.  You never know how art projects are going to go when you have a lot of little ones to help, but it went fantastic!  Jessica came up with the brilliant idea to use small bowls of glue and q-tips for application and that made all the difference in the world!  The girls carefully decorated their crowns and we left them to dry in the sun as we finished the party.

Next was the party lunch.  Lots of berries, pink milk, pink yogurt and heart shaped sandwiches.

(for the record, once the girls ate all the berries off the skewers they used them to sword fight)
 


They were pretty excited and I’m not sure a lot of eating actually happened, but at least we attempted to feed them.

Here they all are with their party crowns. 

I just love the way they turned out!  They all looked so darling with their party dresses and hats!

This is just a shot of the little hair clips I made to put in their party favor bags.  Right now you can buy these little crocheted flowers at Michaels.  A package of 12 only cost $2.00!  I think I need to go back and get a bunch more!

So many lovely presents to open!

And what Birthday would be complete without cake and candles!

Happy Birthday sweet girls!!  Looking forward to many more celebrations together!

This & That

Such beautiful weeks we have been having!  The days are getting longer, the weather is warming up, and everything is starting to bloom.  Not that March won’t still bring some chilly, rainy days but for now we are loving every moment of this perfect spring weather.  The kids have been staying outside until the last bit of sunlight disappears behind the hills.

A few weeks ago my sister-in-law and I took the kiddos to the annual Almond Blossom Festival.  Almond blossom season is a much anticipated time of the year and the Almond Blossom Festival is everything we have come to love about small town parades.   It was another gorgeous day (although a little on the windy side).
 
We arrived early to get prime main street seating, and pizza by the slice from our favorite local pizza store.  While we were waiting in line to get pizza, four of the Almond blossom princesses came in all decked out in their princess finery.  The princesses waved sweetly to our little girls who were too dumbstruck with sheer admiration to do anything but stare with mouths open.  It was so funny!

The stream of marching bands, fire trucks, police cars, and horses started at last.


The boys waving to the firemen up on the big red truck.


Lots of candy, pencils, and stickers were being passed out to bright-faced children who lined the edge of the street.  We waited until the very last car passed by and slowly made our way back to the van.

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Last week our school celebrated National Reading Day by coming to school in their pjs and spending the day reading books to each other.  They brought blankets, pillows and their favorite book to share.  Throughout the day the teachers arranged to have quest storybook readers come in and read the the classes.

Even Mrs. B came in her jammies :)   For lunch they ate a big pancake lunch (which my boys thought was the best thing EVER!).  It’s times like this that I am ever so thankful for the teachers we have been blessed with!

Miss E and I have fallen into a sweet routine at home while the boys are at school.  I really do love it.  After we drop them off, we come home and enjoy a leisurely breakfast.  Occasionally we even drink our coffee and hot coco out of fancy tea cups. 

The simplest things delight her!  She follows me around doing her best to mimic my every step, chatting happily (sometimes a little too endlessly) as we do the chores.

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Yesterday afternoon was just too beautiful to stay indoors, so we all piled into our little golf cart, and took a quick trip down the canal to the cousins’ house.

This is what the central valley looks like at this time of year.  I think it must be impossible to be unhappy during almond blossom time. 

When we arrived we found everyone outside and the boys practicing baseball.  They quickly rounded up some gear for J to play as well.

We moms sat and cheered and chatted while the kids did their best to play baseball.  Lots of chasing balls down :)


Mr. G injured his ankle while playing on the trampoline so he sat on the sidelines with me.


A fun spur-of-the-moment afternoon with the cousins turned into a “hey why don’t you come back to our house and eat pizza with us” evening!  Some of use rode back in the car.  The big boys wanted to ride their bikes back to our house so my husband followed them in the golf cart.  Such a fun perfect night!

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I’ve also done some sewing!!  It’s been a solid two in a half months since my sewing machine has seen any action, and I was aching to use my new patterns and material.

This pattern in the Geranium Dress from Made By Rae.  It’s a PDF pattern that you can purchase on Rae’s website.

I knew I wanted to buy the pattern the moment Rae introduced it, but I was fortunate enough to win it during her 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway!  My mom came over one Friday.  We worked on it together and by that evening the dress was done.

I’d like to make her at least one more dress and the tunic version as well.  Such a sweet and fun pattern!

Last but not least….

My tummy gets kissed by this girl at least a dozen times a day.  She is already so in love with this baby.

And that’s all the juicy news from our little corner of the world.  Hopefully I’ll be posting a lot more sewing projects soon!  I have an ever growing stack of fabric and patterns piling up to make for this little one.

The year of the flu

It really has been so hit or miss on my poor little blog lately!  I think this year will go down in the history book as “The Year of the Flu”.  Pregnancy has left my immune system basically worthless and for the last month we have all taken turns passing around a variety of illnesses.  Chills, fever, aches, sore throats, coughing, throwing up… you name it, we’ve had it!  I’ll admit that I’m a little weary and ragged around the edges but I think we are starting to see the end of this (knock on wood).

Valentine’s Day was sweet this year, not romantic, but sweet. 
The kiddos get so much enjoyment out of Valentine’s Day and the anticipation is half the fun!

On Wednesday morning I went to our local tulip farm Dutch Hollow and picked out a bunch of tulips for Valentine’s Day gifts.  Love going to Dutch Hollow!  Gorgeous tulips for amazing prices and it is run by the nicest family!  While we were there buying our flowers, Farmer John (the owner) went out to the field and came back with a pink tulip for Miss E.  She could not have been more pleased!  I also decided I could get used to having 70 tulips sitting in my kitchen!

I was sick with the flu just days before Valentine’s day, but Grammy came to the rescue and made homemade suckers with the boys so they could share them with their classmates.

I got up extra early and packed a special lunch for the boys, complete with a little love letter. 

This is a picture I took of the boys that morning, with the flowers for their teachers.  J wasn’t real keen on being seen holding flowers but I wouldn’t take no for an answer.  G on the other hand could hardly wait to walk into the classroom with his tulips for Mrs. Boone!

After I dropped the boys off at school Miss E and I went to my parents house for breakfast.  My dad had worked all morning to make a special Valentine’s Day breakfast for us!  We’re pretty spoiled girls.

Yes, that’s a little glimpse of my ever-growing belly.  

Later that afternoon, our little school, put on a sweet Valentine’s Day performance for the local rest home.  They did such a good job!  Afterwards they passed out handmade cards, cookies, and hugs.


Cutie cousins :)

That afternoon my husband came home early from work with the flu, so I spent Valentine’s Day evening curled up on the couch with some candy and watched the first two episodes of Downton Abby.  Yes, yes, I know!  I’m terribly behind on the whole Downton Abby obsession, but I’m catching up!

Lastly… it’s that time of year again. 

Hope you had a lovely Valentine’s Day!  ~April

Remembering

I was reading an article this evening entitled, “10 Ways to Love a New Mom”.  It jogged my memory back to the days when my babies were just days and weeks old.  And I remembered how my Dad would just hold my babies.  He would hold them and walk with them.  With an infinite amount of patience and calmness… he would just walk with them.  Anytime I would stop in to see my mom and dad, he’d greet me at the door, give me a kiss on the cheek and say, “Here babe, let me take her.” and off they would go.  He would walk through the house, and with the tenderest voice you can imagine a grown man using… he would talk to them. 

“Do you see this?” he would tell my 3 week-old son, “This is a light switch.  Look I can turn it on and I can turn it off!”

“And this is a picture of you mama when she was just a little girl.  Yes!  That’s right!  Your mama used to be little girl too, ” he would say as he lifted them closer to see the frame on the wall. 

Of course the babies were always such intent little listeners, taking in every word that Grandpa said.  Fussy babies were no match for Grandpa’s slow steady walking and quiet voice.  It was such a relief to know that they were safe and happy, and I could just unwind and have an adult conversation with my mom.  I know he loved being with them but I also know he was doing it for me too.

Thanks Dad!  I can’t wait to see you walking through the house, quietly talking to this next little one.

Right now

Right now I am loving the white tulips that are sitting on my kitchen table. 

Right now I’m eating entirely too much of this amazing sun-dried tomato, pesto, and soft creamy cheese spread.  I just smear a generous amount of it on a slice of sourdough baguette, and repeat until I sigh a happy, pleasantly full sigh.

I am enjoying my new living room shelves.  My husband hung them up after the new year and I’ve been slowly adding things to them.


Right now I’m wearing my new yellow bicycle scarf.

Right now this stack of fabric is making me very happy!  It reminds me of spring.  It is sitting in my clean and freshly organized sewing room just waiting to be made into something fun.

It’s probably just the pregnancy cravings kicking into high gear, but I could eat this salad morning, noon, and night.  It’s a mixed green salad, with a sweet basil vinaigrette, feta cheese, dried cranberries, and candied pecans.  It is amazingly good and it’s the dressing that makes it perfect.
 
It’s a recipe that my husband’s aunt has brought to several family events.  I got the recipe from her but I have no idea what the original source is.  The original recipe called for croutons but I don’t think the salad needs them.

I start with baby spinach, chopped iceberg lettuce, and leaf lettuce torn into bite-sized pieces.

Then I make the dressing.  Sugar, vegetable oil, two cloves of garlic, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper, and fresh basil, get tossed into the mixer.  I blend them together until everything is completely mixed and the dressing has taken on a lovely green color.


Isn’t that the prettiest dressing you’ve ever seen?

Then I drizzle the dressing over the mixed greens and top with the feta, pecans, and cranberries.  Don’t be stingy with the feta!  The creamy feta mixes so well with the sweet basil dressing. 

Really.  You should make this salad.  Your mouth will thank you.  And if you want to bring this to the next level, add some grilled chicken and a slice of sourdough bread, and you’ve got a lunch that would rival any bistro menu!

Sweet Basil Dressing

1/2 c. apple cider vinegar (don’t substitute this with another kind of vinegar.  It won’t taste as good)
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. fresh basil leaves
2 cloves of garlic (roughly chopped)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Blend in blender until well mixed.  Store in fridge making sure to shake well before using.

And now I’m going to go enjoy a big bowl of salad!

~April

Hi

 
Hi there.  Does it feel like I announced I was pregnant and then dropped off the face of the earth?  I guess that’s sort of how it happened.  I’ve written this post out in my head many times and always struggled to know how much to say about the last 2 months.  On one hand, this is the place were I write about our lives and record our memories, on the other hand I hate dwelling on the negative.  I think that some stories are best told with a little distance.  Not so much that you only remember them with fond rose-colored glasses but enough to gain some perspective.  So I think I will save any pregnancy stories I have for another day. 

Here are just a smattering of pictures I managed to take during the hustle and bustle of the holidays.  I hope you can bear with me, this will probably seem a little disjointed :)

Christmas decorations were a little sparse this year but we did manage to have a beautiful, tall, and lovingly decorated tree.

We are starting to establish some Christmas traditions that the children look forward to every year, and one of them is making paper snowflakes for our windows.

My mom made snowflakes with us when we were children.  My mom was an amazing woman who just knew how to do so many interesting things.  Her brain was (and still is) a treasure-house of creative wonderment!  Making candles, pressing flowers, brewing root beer,… I spent my childhood marveling at what she would come up with next.


I see the same wonderment on my children’s faces when I do things with them.


We must have made 3 dozen snowflakes but each and every time they unfolded one they would gasp in amazement!

We made Christmas cookies and I tried not to cringe too much when they piled candy and sprinkles on each cookie.  How many times did I tell them not to lick the frosting knife?!!  I planned on giving some of the cookies to the neighbors but decided that might not be wise ;)

Our Christmas picture to put in our Christmas photo album.

This was the one we ended up using

And here are some of the outtakes…

G being goofy in each one and E giving us her best cheesy smile


J was trying to be patient but quickly loosing interest in this photographic circus.

And he’s done…

A picture of my entire family.  My brother and sister-in-law, mom and dad, and all 9 (make that 10) grandchildren.

Her room is one of the coldest in the house.  Every night I go in and make sure she is all tucked in.  One morning I came in to rouse her for breakfast and all I saw where the soles of her little feet. 

Someone had his birthday over the holidays!

Mr. G turned six and we celebrated by having a movie and popcorn night at our house.  G is currently fascinated with the Disney movie Cars 2 so we watched that, opened presents, and sang “Happy Birthday”.

He’s such a happy guy.  So easy to please.  He was just delighted with every little part of his party celebration.  He is a good example to me.

Last but not least, I have these hanging on my fridge.  It’s been a long time since I had sonogram pictures on my fridge. 


 
It makes me happy.  It helps me to remember that there’s a child on the way and there’s a good reason I feel the way I do :)   Hopefully we will be finding out the baby’s gender soon.  The children have their hopes set on a little girl… we shall see!

Thoughts on being Momma

There were other choices I could have made.  Other paths to walk down.  I won’t flatter myself, being a neurosurgeon was never in the cards, but motherhood was not a default mode for me.  Did I fully understand the domino affect that would take place when I allowed those tiny humans into my heart and home?  How they would consume my every thought, and change the way I viewed the world around me?  No.  Certainly not.  Are there moments when I stand on the frayed edge of sanity?  Yes… many.  But I love it. I love being with them!  Sitting around the table, playing memory while we eat popcorn is my idea of the perfect night.  I love it in ways that words will not do justice.  I am passionate and enthusiastic about this dream I am living!  I love being their guide through life.  Even when I feel ill equipped for the task, it is always my goal, through the Lord’s strength,  to grow in wisdom and grace… to be better than I was before.  I make mistakes.  I am making them right now.  I say the wrong things, my temper can be quick, and my words clumsy.  My prayer is always that the Lord will allow them to see past my foolish ways and see my heart… a heart that loved them so much it hurt.

Our daily lives can be full of the mundane, the tedious, all the obligatory tasks… don’t loose sight of the goal.  Don’t loose that passion and joy!  This thing we call motherhood is a beautiful journey, treasure it. Don’t let tiredness make your decisions.  Never underestimate the impact you are making, and walk worthy of the calling you have been given.