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Thursday, December 29, 2016

This book thing

A few months ago I stumbled upon this thing called Blogging for Books, and I was intrigued. You simply choose a book from their list that you're interested in and then they send it to you (for free), and you read it and then post a review to your blog. Mostly, I think it's pretty cool to get newly published books FREE. I enjoy reading, but often feel WAY behind the times of what's current in the book world; I think that has something to do with with motherhood-gig.
Anyway, writing a quick review in return for free books sounded like a winner to me.

Our most recent selection:

I decided to let Hattie pick this time. It also happened that this was the first children's book that had been in the list since I began. This musical edition was a two-disc set. One disc had the story and the other the thoroughly Broadway-sounding musical numbers.
Honestly, I was disappointed. Having a daughter in first grade, I thought perhaps this would be funny and relate-able, and that we could use this audio book for road trips in the future. This was not to be the case.
Some of the word choices (dumb, stupid, etc) fall into the inappropriate category for my children, and the attitudes portrayed were also not ones I wish to cultivate in my family. The story felt very much written by an adult, but dumbed down to sound like a 6 year old. For example, "quick" was used many times, when "quickly" would have been correct. I don't appreciate books reinforcing poor grammar, and I wouldn't want my children listening to this more than once. 
As for the music, it was fine. Very theatrical. But I found the songs told much more of Junie's story than the other disc, which was supposed to be the full story. This was baffling.

In a nutshell: Junie enters first grade, struggles to find a friend, gets glasses. The end. 
{And the musical numbers include some kickball scenarios.}  

I don't intend to listen again, nor do I intend to look further into the Junie B. Jones series. 


*I was provided a free copy of this audio book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my completely honest review.


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Christmas Recovery

It's 6:13pm. Usually, we'd be en route to church. But we haven't seen Usual in several weeks - and we haven't made it to Wednesday services in several weeks either.

One of my children has a nose running like a faucet (again), and we're trying to refrain from sharing...except as we all know this runny nose has the serious potential to trickle through our family one by one requiring a full three weeks to recover from; our last go-round (week before last) only two fell to the enemy germs. I don't have such high hopes now, only grim expectations of being thoroughly snot-covered for many days ahead.

I think we're also suffering from post-Christmas depravity. Regular {non-indulgent} life kind of stinks after a few days of nostalgia. Perhaps I'm suffering the most. Perhaps I'm wishing my cup of holiday cheer were overflowing. Perhaps I'm just tired.

Um, that's where the rubber hits the road. I'm tired...my nerves are frayed. Mama wants some silent treatment from the children.

It's a painful irony that when I feel the need for a few moments of quiet and go somewhere and close the door or ask for silence, the children howl all the louder because "We Don't Like Being Quiet!!!!!"

BUT BUT BUT
We did have a lovely little Christmas. I had the pleasure of taking the girls out individually so they could shop for their siblings, and it was delight to watch their little minds work and steer them a little towards a great gift. They really did well in their gift-giving. We made a few batches of cookies. We enjoyed the mess of paper and tissue in the floor as the children explored the gifts. And I especially reveled in watching them play all afternoon Christmas day with the wonder of new toys. I am not a toy buyer largely, so while Christmas is, of course, a special day, new toys make it even more so.
Emery's parents came to spend a couple of days with us, and it's so nice to watch the children forming real relationships with our out-of-town family. The girls and Grandma undertook a sewing project which resulted in stuffed foxes that are thoroughly cute. Hattie named hers Melissa. Adele thought John Wayne to be the best name for hers. I can't stop laughing over her name choice. This same child named a stuffed dog T.J. Maxx - and I thought that was brilliant too.




And, for the curious among you, I'm improving. This miscarriage has taken quite a toll on me physically, and I'm slowly regaining strength and energy. I am getting better, though a heart takes much longer to heal.


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The hurt that runs deep


*This post may not be for the faint of heart*



My newsfeed on Facebook today showed me a memory from 7 years ago.
 "thanking the LORD for His sovereignty in all things, even in those where the hurt runs deeper than you can tell."


Seven years ago I was in the throes of our first miscarriage. I was heart broken.
Four months later, another aching loss. This one left me in such poor shape physically, it was months before I felt normal again.

These experiences were life changing. They were my first real taste of grief. And through them, I've been given this opportunity to minister to other women experiencing loss. Because "Weep with those who weep,"- yes, I can do that.

The thing is, here I am again, surrendering another baby to eternity.

Y'all, if you've not walked this road, let me just tell you - it's awful.
It's awful to have labor pains knowing you won't get to hold your baby at the end of it.
It's awful to have to tell every body you lost the baby. And, frankly, sometimes it's awful to be on the receiving end of sympathy (this was hardest with my first when I really struggled with how to respond. "Yeah, I'm sorry too" doesn't have a nice edge to it.)
It's awful to see your protruding tummy and know there's no life there now. For me, it was awful to see my stretch marks - badges of courage from my full term pregnancies - and they mocked me that I couldn't carry this baby to term. {Of course, in reality, there's nothing about a miscarriage that's the mother's fault, but head knowledge doesn't change the feelings necessarily}
And it's awful to have days when you start to feel normal and find yourself smiling, and then you guilt-trip your heart for moving on - how can you possibly just "move on" when your child is gone?

This process is different for me now. I didn't have any children during those early losses and I had plenty of time to mentally and emotionally go through everything. But now I can't. I've got to keep taking care of my people. I can't indulge in as many tears as I want, when I want. But I can cling to the "Rock that is Higher than I" {You can find the lyrics to that old hymn here, if you're not familiar with it}.
I can keep pressing forward through His daily sufficient grace.






Monday, December 12, 2016

A little extra happy....

Y'all, can I just brag on my husband for a hot minute?
'Cause I'm gonna.

This evening, Emery put up Christmas lights outside for me.

!!!!!!

This makes me inordinately happy.

It's rather inexplicable.

He's put them up probably 4 of the last 5 years, and every time these crazy little lights just make me smile. What more, he knew we needed a little extra happy in our lives right, and that thoughtfulness makes me want to smile+cry.



----
As a knowledgeable youth, I was certain that WHITE LIGHTS were the only way to go. There was no question in my mind that I could appreciate colored lights, for I found them all garish. But Lo and Behold, things change. Somehow, I have colored lights wrapped around my house. And we have a little tree with colored lights (because the children picked). I love them. I can't imagine going back to white.
Perhaps it's mostly about what you're used to, but I for one, am devoted to our colored lights. So there. I'm glad I'm not a knowledgeable youth any more.




Saturday, December 10, 2016

No Fear

The book on my nightstand right is this one --->

No Fear, from Tony Perkins is a challenging and inspiring collection of stories from young Christians today who are taking a stand for their faith and Fighting against the those that would seek to silence them.

Growing up in the "Bible Belt," Christianity is a social norm. In other parts of the country this is clearly not the case, but regardless of the region Christianity is under attack. These bold young people are following the Spirit's leading: in saying a prayer when told to keep faith out of the picture, in embracing purity when the world mocks it, in doing what's right even when it's ever so hard.

These stories are encouraging, especially when the "Millennial" generation and those even younger are portrayed in such a bad light. There are still courageous Christians rising up.

Tony Perkins pairs each modern hero with a Biblical hero facing a similar situation, ringing true the relevance of the Bible to our current situations.

Before even reading this book, I felt "Aha, here is a good graduation gift for the teens in my life." And indeed, I do plan to give it away. When I graduated high school, my brother gifted me with a book entitled, Don't Waste Your Life. I feel like the themes between that one and this resonate well together. Be bold young people. Do hard things. Jesus is worth it.

One thing that has been on my mind with this young kids facing huge obstacles, well, I don't feel like No Fear is really a thing. I think it's doing what's right in face of the fears that weight heavy on your heart that's the crux of the matter.

But what if your moments of following God's leadings aren't major issues such as those brought forth in this book. What if your Fear moments come in the everyday trials. What if your Fear is to Obey God when he's leading you to befriend the person to whom no one speaks. What if your Fear is to step outside your comfort zone and speak authentically with those around you - to cut the small talk and get to the real heart issues.
Even these examples can feel terrifying, but you Go and Do. Because "God hath not given us a spirit of FEAR, but of Power and Love and of a Sound Mind"

{I was provided a free copy of this book to review from Blogging for Books. All opinions are my own.}

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Life Lately...

I know I've been a negligent blogger lately. My apologies, though I don't have any expectation that my posts will come more frequently. Y'all, life's busy - even right now when one of our vehicles has been in the shop for two and half weeks, leaving the children and I grounded - some days homeschooling and answering a quarter of a jillion questions and sort of feeding people and taking care of the home, it's all I can do. I'm not apologizing for that. THAT's my job.
This right here, this is a privilege - one that I've had neither the time or energy to do anything about. Oh well.
Wanna know what we've been up to in the last few months? 

The short answer is not much.

We've had our share of sickness (as you may recall I had shingles which gave all the children chicken pox). The girls had chicken pox during the week we were supposed to take vacation - that was a big bummer, we'd been stoked for months to get to go to the beach. The shingles reared it's head again for me - not in the actual blistery rash, but in horrible postural headaches/migraines (this means I was pretty much okay if laying down, but after 15 minutes upright this pressure at the base of my skull was killing me). The neurologist thought the virus had inflamed my nerve-beds and thankfully a round of steroids took care of the pain. And for one more dose of strange sickness, Hattie had a back ache/stomach ache for about a week - which turned out to be a UTI, but it didn't present any symptoms that would have made me think, "Oh this might be a UTI."

Thankfully, we've had several weeks of wellness. What a delight!

We began meeting with our Jr Co-Op this fall. It's a once a month group studying U.S. Geography and the body systems with the elementary school kids, and trying to keep sane with the three and under group...we've got about a dozen littles!
We also participated in a Christmas Around the World dinner last week. Honestly, I was so exhausted, I really wanted to chicken out and not even go, but somehow we pulled some food and research together and presented about a Norwegian Christmas. We also learned about Iceland, Ireland, Spain, Russia, China, and France. It was a fun night and opportunity to try lots of foreign foods.

In November, we got to make a quick trip to Kentucky. We weren't able to be there for Thanksgiving, but it was nice to get to see our family there. It'd had been about a year since we'd seen everyone, and high time!

And now, Christmas season is upon us. It's so nice and cozy to have our little tree and Christmas lights up and about us, to have various gatherings to attend, to have gifts bought and wrapped (and Hidden from the children!) One of our traditions is make hot chocolate when it snows -- uh, it doesn't snow here. I may need to amend this tradition, but it's not to say we can't have hot cocoa on other days, but Swiss Miss isn't exactly dairy free - and it takes more effort to make a pot full on the stove for everyone. Anyway, I'm cold and wish I had some hot chocolate now. Lol.

I'm also hungry. Which signals the end of this blog post!


Be on the look out for a new book review in the next week or so. :)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Of: Mommy Wars, Book Review, Revised GF baking

We've all heard the term "Mommy Wars"...you know the drill are you a breastfeed-er or formula feed-er? working mom or stay-at-home mom? vaccinations or non-vaccinations? homeschool or public school or private school?

It goes on and on and on.

We make choices for our families; choices that we believe are best for us and our kids, but somehow these private decisions get thrown into the public arena and available for criticism. This is baffling. And more so because sometimes we left our decisions define us. I understand that it's easier sometimes to label our parenting styles and use those to find like-minded friends, but what should it matter to a friendship if you make your own toothpaste and another mama doesn't? I mean, really.


So enter my newest read, Nourishing Meals. This is a well-written cook book with the best of intentions of educating families of how to eat more home-cooked, nourishing meals. That sounds great, doesn't it? The trouble is that as I was reading these healthy recipes, I felt this pressure mounting...pressure to do more, be more, do better - especially in the area of feeding my family {which isn't to say that we eat out all the time or are necessarily unhealthy, but we aren't doing all that they recommend - which I'll tell you about in a bit}. You know what? Sometimes the best I can manage is frozen chicken nuggets, especially in seasons where other areas of life are chaotic and I don't have the time or mental energy to plan from-scratch meals.

Can we all just agree to do our best, the best we can manage to take care of our families? Let's don't have mommy wars about anything, especially not about whether our oats are soaked. Please and thank you.

So this book advocates for food based on organic real-food choices; bone broth cooked for days, almost all grains soaked and/or sprouted; fermented vegetables and beverages, and all gluten free. It's very similar to Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions in approach, except I haven't seen any reference to Weston A. Price and the authors are quite as aggressive as Sally Fallon {who is constantly challenging the "Politically Correct Diet Dictocrats"}. They also don't harp on eating as much organ meat - for which I am truly thankful.

The other aspect of this cook book is that in order to follow these recipes, I would have to invest in a variety of new ingredients. I've spent the last five years baking gluten free using brown rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca starch with xanthan gum, but the authors recommend avoiding refined starches (potato starch) and xanthan gum; they prefer raw buckwheat (which is gluten free, though it doesn't sound like it), teff, arrowroot starch, and several others. It just so happens that I'm out of several of my usual baking items, but I'm not sure our budget can handle gathering them all in at once. I'm also not sure that I would like these new tastes. I certainly have never tried teff or buckwheat. But I'm open to change and am considering buying the ingredients needed to try some of the recipes offered.
It's hard to change what you've been doing for years. I understand the ratios I'm using with my current flours, I understand how they behave. I've made a few small changes - using almond flour and coconut flour now and then, but to abandon my old ways altogether, well I'll really have to be brave and step out of my comfort zone.
And I know that's a good thing, however hard.





I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.












Friday, October 7, 2016

Love Unending


Book Love.

I've been hankering to pick up reading again...I mean it's not like I'm not reading everyday, but I'm wanting to read things written for adults rather than the ever-loved Curious George or whatever other children's title might come into my hands. And I've forgotten how much I enjoy reading, in fact, I'm a voracious reader, which is perhaps why I don't read as much anymore because y'all, if I'm in - I'm all in.

Love Unending by Becky Thompson was my latest read, and it oh so good! Becky and I are in the same stage of life - the motherhood in the trenches phase - and she offers poignant reminders of how to nourish your marriage when you're already feeling stretched thin by the day-to-day demands of life.
The book is set up to be read as a 21 day devotional/journal, but I confess, I read through it in a couple of days. I'm sure going slower would help each challenge sink in and take root, but remember if I'm in, I'm all in. :)
I've come away refreshed and encouraged to make my marriage my top priority, and to live that out before my children.


I received a pre-release copy of Love Unending for review from Blogging For Books. You can pre-order your copy here. It will be released January 3, 2017

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Sycamore Bakes: Mixed Berry Crisp

 We made something scrumptious tonight. So good, in fact, that Emery asked for this to be served on a semi-regular basis. :) Call it a cobbler. Call it a crisp. Call it Yum!
I found this recipe on pintrest. You can find the original (with pictures) HERE.

Now, fruit cobblers/fruit pies have never been my true-blue love language. With the exception of apple pies or crisps, I haven't made hardly any during the seven years we've been married.  (I can think of one blue berry pie occasion, five plus years ago.) But y'all, this was great.  I did slightly alter the recipe because of what I had on hand, you'll find my changes in bold type.
Also, this recipe calls for beet sugar. I have never used or tried beet sugar, and to be honest, I think beets taste like dirt. I'm not sure if the sugar tastes that way or not. I lean towards a combination of palm sugar and stevia - but having none of that on hand either just used raw sugar. 


Fruit Crisp
Author: 
Cook time: 
Yields: 12 servings
Ingredients
For the topping:
  • 1 cup gluten free all-purpose flour - I used 2/3 cup rice flour and 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup granulated beet sugar - 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 cups gluten free rolled oats
  • 1 cup coconut oil (solid state) - My coconut oil was sort of melted at room temp.
For the crisp:
  • 8 cups fresh or frozen fruit (not thawed) - I had a bag of frozen strawberries and a bag of frozen blueberries. That was around 3 cups.  I think more berries would be all the merrier, but it was fine with that much
  • 2 tablespoons granulated beet sugar - reg. sugar again
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
Directions
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease bottom and sides of 13-by-9-inch baking dish.
  2. In large bowl, stir flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, sugar and oats. Use pastry cutter or two forks to cut in coconut oil until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. - Just stirred it all up
  3. In separate large bowl, stir fruit, sugar and cinnamon. Spread evenly into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with crisp topping. - Mixed the fruit, cinnamon and sugar right in the baking dish. I'm all for saving dishes.
  4. Bake 90 minutes until crisp topping is golden and fruit is bubbling. Cool slightly before serving.

6 weeks at home: What I've learned

If you've been a reader here for any length of time, you probably already know that I'm a full time homemaker. A domestic engineer, if you will. We stay home a lot...there have been plenty of weeks when we'd only get out to go grocery shopping and to church, but these last six weeks have been another kind of staying home. They've been quarantine.
Surprisingly, it's hasn't been that bad.

For a short recap, I had shingles and then we waited for the children to get chicken pox. The girls ran fevers, and we thought maybe they'd skip out on the serious business, but Elijah came down with a full blown case and they caught the big stuff from him. To add insult to injury, about half of us have colds too.

We're mostly on the mend.
The slow mend.
The slow paced life.

I've left the house six times in six weeks.

Emery has done the shopping for us.

And frankly, I LIKE BEING HOME.

I don't get behind on my chores (unless a child is really sick) when I'm exclusively home. I don't have to worry about making lunches on the run.
We've done plenty of playing, though not outside for the poor girls have had sores on the bottoms of their feet and couldn't wear shoes. We've done our chores and school work. And enjoyed a considerable amount of PBS Kids. 
 Life is more rested. We've never been ones to over commit ourselves and our schedules - and the play we did this Spring was almost more than I could cope with - but not running hither and yon to stores or play-dates or Anything, has been so restful. And perhaps directly related to this: Elijah sleeps better...I sleep better...AND I've been turning over a new leaf toward making breakfast for the family everyday. {Though I'll tell you right now, I cannot get myself organized and out of bed in time to cook when I've been up most of the night with a child - or children, as the case may be. In this respect, sleeping all night makes me a different person. I could get used to this habit. Lol}

What will I change moving forward?
Well, we've got to wean these children back from TV. Little addicts throw raging fits when I say No. And we do have commitments on the horizon, beside our 3x a week church service. But I am happy to just stay home. We've been working on our budget in order, and knowing our goals and what we're working with makes me all the more ready to stay home rather than go browsing the stores.

I think some may have thought that I was getting depressed when I expressed that once we could go out, I didn't want to. But I really don't think I've got the doldrums, just content with where we are right now.
Mostly, I'm thankful we're getting over this chicken pox episode and that my children aren't miserable with itchiness anymore.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Fashion Foward

Y'all, I'm not trendy. I'm not into haute couture. And that's cool with me.

I do want to look put together, and I do want to be aware of the trends enough to pick ones that I might eventually get used to, and, if they're still hanging around a few seasons later, try to embrace them.

Like skinny jeans. I first started seeing these in high school - class of 07! - and yet how many years did it take me to jump on that bandwagon? FOUR. Lol. And that was largely due to having just had a baby and needing to find a pair of pants that fit...which they did for approx. two weeks.  Another Lol.

But here's the thing. I'm a homeschool mom, and I REALLY don't want to fall into the comfortable and practical rut, ahem, denim jumpers ahem. Or even permanent yoga pants. I do own a pair of yoga pants and they are comfortable, and sometimes that's all I want in the world, but for leaving the house - they don't cut it for me.

So...good old pintrest. I see what's happening (it's good to have college girls around). I like to be informed, you know.
I know that styled/heavier eye brows are popular these days. And bold lips. These are things I can pull off and feel a little more polished. It helps that Emery appreciates these efforts
However, the 90s styles that have made their way back in -- I can't deal. Overalls and high waisted jeans. No, thanks! I'll just wait these out.
People will probably be wearing stirrup pants like I did in elementary school. Yikes. It may have been twenty years ago, but I'm not ready folks. I'll let the whippersnappers that didn't live through these fashions the first time indulge.

It's ironic that I've got this on the brain after a month of quarantine, wherein I have put together exactly two outfits. Maybe that's why, though, maybe I'm getting worn out of my at-home combos. Maybe some day I'll go shopping.
But it won't be soon because a) we're working on our budget and b) my daughters have the chicken pox.

I know. We thought we were over it too. We went to church twice and everything. Or rather exposed everyone. But here they are, all spotty and itchy...and at least they're getting full blown cases while they're young.
This means, however, that our beach trip, for which we've been eagerly anticipating for months has been cancelled. That's worth sighing over. Hopefully it'll be rescheduled fairly soon. I'm overdue for some vitamin-sea!

Friday, August 19, 2016

A pox on your house

When I imagine children catching chicken pox, I imagine them getting it from other kids - like in daycare or elementary school...but yo, my kids got it from me.
I had the shingles (see the last post) which isn't contagious as far as giving other people shingles, but it is contagious to those who haven't had chicken pox {Although it's an ironic fact that my grandmother developed shingles around the same time as I did}. Anywhoo, my children are incapable of not touching me - and it's direct contact with the blisters/puss that spread the virus - so lo and behold, they've been running the gamut of chicken pox symptoms. Of course, this is in spite of my "Don't touch my spots!!" warnings...although I confess that I was more concerned about the children not touching them because they HURT than I was about them getting sick. But sick they are and have been.
And in quarantine we are and have been. The four of us haven't left the house in two weeks. Hopefully, the girls will be able to go to church on Sunday.

Do you ever feel you have no idea what day of the week it is because your week hasn't been punctuated by church services? I sure do.

All in all, I'm glad for them to have it while they're young. I'm glad that these hot hot days of August have been for our staying at home (because missing out on Spring or Fall weather hurts my heart).  I'm especially glad that it looks like everyone will have time to recover fully before our beach trip in a few weeks.

Can I just say, Hallelujah for beach trips! We have been SO excited about going to the Florida panhandle for Months. It's been about two years since we've had any beach time and we're well overdue in my book. And as soon as Elijah starts to round the bend of his sickness, this mama is going to kick into planning mode and getting everything situated.
I'm so stoked.
Just writing about the upcoming trip makes my blood pump a little faster. Hooray!

And one more thing, I'm not ready for fall y'all.
You can keep all your pins about colorful leaves and warm sweaters and pumpkin everything - which, ahem, started showing on Aug 1st - it is STILL summer in this family. And I'm certain fall tones won't begin to drop from my lips till well after we return from the beach. So there.

Just hold my bouquets of sharpened pencils a while longer. {If you can't name that movie reference, shame on you! Hint: it's a Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks}


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Worth every cent

Some stories are hard to know where to start. In fact, this happens to me often, "Let me go back. Wait A little further back" - more detail, more story. To Emery, this is an over abundance of words. He looks at me like, "What on earth does this have to do with the statement you're trying to make??" Well, sometimes the correlation is very slight, but nonetheless it IS a correlation in - in my mind anyway.

Let's just go with right now. Ah nope, a week back should do.
I got a mysterious rash. Like poison ivy. Irritating, but probably no big deal, right? Well, this rash blistered and started giving me some nerve pain - at which point I accept the fact that this is shingles. Ugh. Last night, Emery and I jumped on the interweb looking for natural helps to fight off this virus. And then he makes me up a hot compress and loads me up on appropriate vitamins -- while making a note of other supplements that are helpful.
Now, today. My prince charming went to the vitamin store and comes home with everything I might possibly need or use to conquer this thing.

This is love. This is my sweet man telling me, "I cherish you. I care about your wellness. The cost of these supplements is no matter. You are worth it."


I forget this sometimes.

But today his love rang through beautifully clear. Especially as he made an extra trip home to deliver the goods in the middle of the day.

sweet, sweet husband. Thank you, Lord for my precious husband.


-----


In very unrelated news: we had grilled cheese and tomato soup the other day. I was going to blog about it, but y'all I didn't have time. Listen up. Being gluten and dairy free, I don't know when we've indulged in grilled cheese with tomato soup - oh so good! What a pairing! I can see why Tom+Chee works as a restaurant (though I haven't actually eaten there).
Of course, we had vegan cheese, gluten free bread, and homemade tomato soup. It was such a treat. And how silly does it sound for such a common thing to be so special to us, but it was and it was enjoyable for sure!


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Pink tastes better

I've long held the opinion that pink food/beverages taste better. They must!
Pink Cake - perfection.
White cran+strawberry juice - my fav.

{I understand this is a bit of a predicament for myself as I usually eschew artifical colors...but things colored with beet juice become nicely pink, too. On an unrelated note, I've been throwing "eschew" around like everybody uses it often. They - y'all - probably don't, but you might by the time I get off this kick.}

Anyhoo, I've got a nice PINK smoothie recipe for you today.

Watermelon Lemonade Smoothie

I used a lot of leftover watermelon - maybe 3/4 of the blender full of it
Several tablespoons of lemon juice, perhaps a 1/4 cup
a bit of stevia
one banana
ice cubes
{And I throw in probiotics and ecchinacea powder for an added boost)

I saw a watermelon mint lemonade drink at Aldi - which I almost bought, but decided not to - and from thence came the inspiration for this smoothie....so if you've got some mint, I think that would be an added deliciousness factor.
Hattie and Elijah and I enjoyed this, Adele and Emery weren't overly keen. A house divided. Oh well, maybe you'll enjoy it too.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Preach

Listen up, self:


Satan wants to steal your joy. You get to choose whether to let him.


 Real time, y'all. Everything can be rocking along just fine and dandy, and all of the sudden your mind starts to wander and you end up, "Why wasn't {so and so} there for me in that situation?" and "Why did no one teach me these things when I was growing up?" And "He's probably thinking I'm taking too long of a shower."
I WAS taking a shower when thinking all these things. And the baby did wake up, which I why I figured I was being judged and was honestly starting to get defensive over the fact that I was going to finish my shower And get dressed before coming to soothe said baby.
Isn't that absurd?!? To start to get upset because of what your think your spouse is probably thinking -- when you're in a different room, for crying out loud.
You tell me Satan's not at work. He is. And he hates family and marriages, and he wants to destroy them - if you let him.
All of these questioning things coming to my mind were putting little rifts in my heart between my dear, wonderful family member....whom I love tremendously, regardless of what waters went under the bridge 15 years ago. And I am refusing to dwell on past hurts tonight. Satan wants to bring these bygone things to our mind's eye and throw past sin in our face, but KING JESUS has put these sins away as far as the east is from the west. We are NOT condemned. We are washed in the blood of the Lamb.

Satan can't have my joy. I'm going to choose to fight for it. 



Monday, June 6, 2016

Where Monday found me

Normally, I don't mind Mondays too much. I don't like that Emery has to be back at work after the weekend, but I kind of like to jump right into the chores and such that at Monday a home requires.

Today wasn't my day. My A-game must have packed up and gone to Bermuda because it certainly wasn't with me today.

The majority of the day was spent trying to clean up messes that happened while I was trying to clean up messes.
Yikes.

So on the one hand I was happy that the girls were playing sweetly and not crying and I was being productive on one side of the house, only to find puddles of water and spice water (read: dig through spice draw and shake spices into a BUCKET of water). Okay, number 1, why don't these people tell me when they've spilled water that is beyond their skill level to clean up? {Yes, you're right, because that would probably make them adults with no need of me whatsoever} And number two, why, just why does the spice water need to be tested in every plastic vessel in our possession? {that might be a slight hyperbole, but never the less}.
Anywho, Clean that up. Clean clean clean...walk to the back of the house to find my room turned into a beach with ten towels spread over the floor. Ok. Might as well organize the linen closet while those are out. Only to then find.............I could go on all day.
I won't.

In between the sweet play there was a lot of crying. {I see you baby number 3!} And said baby busted his lip before the evening was out, and amidst the blood and tears I'm standing there wondering if his new little teeth are loose. I sure hope they aren't, but they did cut into his lip.

Lots of crying.

Frazzled Mama.

I was texting in for prayer support. I needed it!!

End of the day, my house is still struggling but at least the dishes are washed. I don't know about you, but I can't even think with a sink full of dishes - which was the situation all day, and so maybe I can therefore blame my bad attitudes on my kitchen problems. but hey, a heart problem is a heart problem.
And sin is sin.
And Hallelujah, where Sin abounds GRACE does much more abound.
Mama needs some second helpings of grace.

The messes are not the biggest deal. The messes mean my people live here.

I'm thankful HIS mercies are new every morning, and tomorrow I can attempt to model before my children how to work with a joyful heart, and a smile, and an encouraging word. I sure fell flat today.


Sunday, May 22, 2016

Of a journal

While it might be considered a mortal ill to some, I don't keep old journals around. I toss 'em like last Tuesday's leftovers. Know why? Because I hate to see the person I used to be...I know that sound awful and hard, but really - been there, done that, got the t-shirt and moving on. And I don't like clutter or boxes full of old notebooks that I'd be embarrassed for someone to read.

But sometime in the last few years, things shifted in my journals. The "I think", "I feel", "all about me-itus" that always left a bad taste in my mouth when perchance reading on old entry became more "I pray..."

And writing my prayers has been a great thing for me -- because I sure can't keep up with my train of thought if I can't see it. And this year, I've jumped on the scripture writing bandwagon. And flipping through a journal filled with {answered!} prayers and segments of scripture is a happy thing.

Now, I'm a ONE notebook/journal girl. I can't deal with a book for this and one over here for that. I've GOT to keep it simple. So, my journals with prayers and scripture also come with recipes and to-do lists and addresses and ideas and goals and meal plans. It's all mishmash in there, with handlettering practice scrawled across one page and the children's artistic endeavors, and yet it's like a little portion of my brain. There may indeed be forty things going on, but their my goings on, and I like them.

I do a lot less reflecting on life and a lot more actively living it these days. My journals evidence that. I do think some personal reflection is beneficial, but I don't have time for it much now. I do have time to think and plan and pray - and to live more in the present, than mulling over and recording what's already happened.

By the time all of the pages are filled, my catch-all notebooks are usually thoroughly worse for wear. But they've done their duty faithfully. As I picked up a journal from earlier this year tonight, I smiled to see it all. I'm not ashamed to reread anything there. I probably still won't keep it very long. I'll flip through and rewrite the recipes and other such tidbits in a more permanent place, and then -so long little journal, you've served me well.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Photo Mania

Y'all. I'm bad at managing my photos.

I'm a "carry the camera around every day and never use it" kind of girl. It's abysmal, really. But, I balance this out by not having any skill at taking a picture and then letting these bad pictures sit on my SD card for eternity. (Which I guess means I succeed in taking a few pictures once in a great while. Maybe on birthdays.)
Anyhoo, I have some fab family with a much better camera than I possess, and said family also usually has more free arms than I possess, and both of these qualities lend to better pictures of my children, which I greatly appreciate.
And now, photo dump. :)
Red curls! Which have since been cut off...

Last June:they look tiny!



October

Feb of '15




playground fun


I think he's enjoying the wind in his hair here

Newborn Elijah. How was this over a year ago!?!

Adele and Chickens last October. Sometimes chickens think Adele is a chicken - being near their height and often having a ponytail...my parents' rooster has gotten a little aggressive toward her from behind his fence.

These children think "say cheese" means frown and usually look anywhere but the camera

Christmas in our new house!


1st birthday

1st birthday

my FIVE year old!

Jolly boy

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Rainy Tuesday and a Note of Clarification

We haven't had rain in weeks. Afternoon thundershowers would be in the forecast, and yet they always fizzled with nary a drip for us. Our Maryland family, on the other hand, has had rain for 3 weeks solid. Yikes.
So, today in soft showers and heavy ones at times, we've had rain. A little thunder. And it could only be improved upon by raining at bedtime. That's the very best time for a rain as far as I am concerned; it's so much nicer to snuggle up under the covers with the steady patter of rain on the roof.
The rain has also given me an excuse NOT to go grocery shopping. Never mind the bareness in the fridge, we'll figure out Something. Getting soaked whilst loading groceries into the van isn't appealing. So we've stayed home and lounged. And it's been nice.

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You may have noticed my allusion to Sweet Gum House in my last post. I haven't told you, but we've named our little abode, and Sweet Gum House it is.
We don't have any sycamores in the yard currently, if we did I'm sure the name of our home would have involved a Sycamore, but we do have a prominent Sweet Gum tree in the yard, and we all agreed that Sweet Gum House fit nicely.

Hattie hold that if we were to open a restaurant in our home, then we could call it Sweet Gum Table. And I like that too, though I don't intend to open any restaurant. Hattie tends to give effusive compliments to my cooking when I serve dishes like hotdogs or fish-sticks. "Mom, you make the best {instant} oatmeal in the world!" or "You're the best hotdog cooker ever."
She's sweet and sincere, and I appreciate any compliment I can get, however it'd be nice if she gave accolades over home-cooked meals.  Oh well. :)




Thursday, May 12, 2016

the honeysuckles of Sweet Gum House

For days, the heady aroma of honeysuckles in full bloom met us as we came out the door. Strong and fragrant, and seemingly invisible, for I hadn't detected any blossoms in our walks around the yard. Until one day as we were driving away from the house, I spotted those white and yellow flowers tangled up in some bushes.
Then began the fun. Of stopping on our walks to pick a few - always one or two for now, and one for later (for Hattie, anyway) - and of jumping out of the van to grab a honeysuckle before going inside. If we weren't so sensitive to flowers indoors, I'd have picked a large jug full to permeate the house as thoroughly as our yard was with the fragrance.

But the honeysuckle days seem to be drawing to a close. They've bloomed their little hearts our and filled our world with their presence and now we'll file in our memory banks picking the flowers and tasting their nectar. The taste and smell of May.

Someone told me once that you can't remember a smell. A smell can trigger a memory, of course, but you can't just think of... apple pie for instance, and smell it -- you know of course that it smells of sweet, cinnamony apples and freshly baked to perfection pie crust, but no matter how much you think of it (or how hungry you get in the process) you can't smell it.

A few weeks ago, on the eve of Elijah's birthday, I was eager to soak up my memories from his entrance to this world. To remember the voices, the sights, the exhaustion, and even the smells. I pulled out a bottle of lotion that a dear friend had rubbed on my feet during his labor. It was a lotion I liked, and was glad to have, but after it being associated with HARD labor, I was NOT keen on using it for quite awhile. In fact, the smell was almost repulsive in the early weeks following his birth. So I put it away, to just keeping it for looks mostly (an attractive bottle IS worth something). But on the night before his birthday, that lotion, I found, smelled good again.
And it felt full-circle.
This little boy asleep in his crib is so far removed from the newborn who was such a struggle to give birth to. He's jolly and boy-ish and often hungry and toothy grins and walking and Delightful.
Maybe it's beauty from ashes that keeps getting more and more inexplicably beautiful with every passing day.

I know I'm rambling, I know I don't really have a point I'm trying to make - I keep trying to find one - but this one is just the feels. My daddy says you can't think and feel. So tonight I'll feel, and save the thinking for later.

One more thing I'm feeling. JOYFUL.
Really, really.
My house is clean. My dishes and laundry are washed. My children are pleasant and fun to spend my days with. My husband is wonderful.
And Let me shout it from the roof tops, I AM BLESSED - SO BLESSED - EXCEEDINGLY, ABUNDANTLY, ABOVE ALL I COULD ASK OR THINK!!
I hope to be so much more evermindful of God's bountiful, unending blessings.

PS - Today we played an extravagant game in which my name was Marie Calendar, and let me just say that Mary John and Callie were very valiant to fight Ana Ocho - the monster - and to brave the wiles of a harsh school marm, for their father, Mario, had died and their mother was unkind and they were sent to live with me - Marie. {This was the state of things ALL. AFTERNOON.} It was hilarious, and I love these little imaginations - and that they roll right along with the loops I throw into the story, too.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Adventures with Waffles

This week, we began a new book. Who am I kidding? We began about twenty new books, except most of them were picture books and quickly finished. {I love our library!}
Three of them were chapter books from Sonlight's kindergarten book list...I know Sonlight doesn't really want you to just place holds at the library for all their books, but hey, it's a lot cheaper. And the books are great.
So... Adventures with Waffles.
With a title like this, I didn't have ANY idea what to expect, but we were quickly enthralled. A boy and girl duo get into all kinds of imaginative scrapes, similar to Anne of Green Gables - except set in modern times in Norway.
I was charmed with the physical descriptions of the fjords and the mountains, and honestly, it made me want some heart-shaped waffles.

I've never had heart shaped waffles, but it seems they are quite common-place in Norway and I'm positive they must be delicious.

So positive, in fact, that I've ordered a heart shaped waffle maker!
Do you know, in these nearly 7 years we've been married, we've never owned a waffle maker? We were thrilled when Kroger started carrying Gluten Free frozen waffles -- because we were raised on Eggo Waffles (Leggo my Eggo!), but those are the only ones we've had. NO HOMEMADE WAFFLES AT. ALL. Isn't that a shame? I know it is.
But I have this idea that with my heart-shaped waffle maker, I'll be able to whip up such a lovely and delicious breakfast, and with greater ease than perhaps homemade donuts -- which I also love, but baking is a real struggle for me right now. My three helpers and conversationalists make it difficult to think And read a recipe And give orders about what's to be done. But waffles, I think I can manage.

Maybe I ought to tell the family it's my mother's day gift? ;)
That would be fine and dandy with me.

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I ordered myself some red saltwater sandals, finally! I've been eying them since last summer. I picked them up from the shoe store this morning. It's so nice to have a pair of shoes that I trust will travel many miles with me. And Hattie felt she would love it if I bought her some too, so we're twinkies - save hers are silver.
{I never heard anyone call two matching people twinkies until I moved to MS, maybe it's a regional thing, but I'll carry it forward. ;)}
I was going to look for some saltwaters for Adele too, but they only had white in her size, and she already has some white sandals, so we got her some glittery silvery crocs -- they're like the jelly sandals we used to wear as kids, but so much more comfortable. She's happy with them, and with her taste in fashion - I consider this a miracle, she's so hard to judge.

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Asa and his family were down for a visit last week. We had a ball spending a few days with them, and it's been so funny to listen to how much more Elijah is talking and jabbering. The girls used to do the same when we lived out of state, they come home with words they'd never said before....all from a visit with cousins.
Unfortunately, we must have also shared germs while they were here. We've been battling fevers and congestion this week. Hopefully, we've just about run our course for this round of sickness. The more children you have the longer it takes to cycle through a bug like this and I certainly hope it didn't take hold in Asa's family and his six children - for that might take 2 or 3 weeks to run its course.


Monday, April 4, 2016

One week update....training

So, it's been a full week since I began Elijah's sleep training process. And, no, I can't exclaim from the rooftops that he's sleeping through the night in his own bed in his own room. But then again, I wasn't expecting to...case-in-point, I haven't moved his crib from beside my bed. I'm all about baby steps remember.
{Speaking of baby steps, my baby IS stepping. He thinks he's all grown up now that he can walk across the room. Be still my heart. }
So, naps: he is doing SO great. Naps in his crib, and he's learning to fall asleep there by himself. I'm stoked that he doesn't HAVE to nurse to sleep. And speaking of nursing, I've been letting him nurse at night much less often, to which he hasn't put up much resistance. We're changing habits here, people. In January and February, he had gotten into an awful habit of waking a dozen times a night. I'm not even kidding. And he would only nurse back to sleep. Talk about being a "Mombie." Now, he's down to nursing maybe twice a night, and taking his paci when he wakes otherwise. He's starting the night in his crib, too. I'm very hopeful that as he gets accustomed to sleeping longer, he's be just as comfortable in his crib as in our bed.
Things are going well. I'm encouraged.
Thank you, LORD!

The next phase of this juggling act is getting down to business about potty training Adele.
{I hate potty trainging. Really. Can I outsource this job?}
And today we began the "we're only going to wear panties and you get to clean up your messes" phase. I hope she takes to this like a duck to water. I know consistency is the key, and I've been struggling to give our girl that. Seems like whenever we've decided to start getting serious about training her, someone falls ill and it seems impossible for me to have the follow-through to make sure she's going potty....I guess it's one of the failures of survival mode. Ho-hum. She's got a strong will and determination, and maybe maybe maybe she'll WANT to make this happen --- and get her celebratory lunch with Granana and new panties.
Here's hoping!

Happy Monday. 


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Looking forward to celebrating recovery....

Y'all.
I haven't had a full night's sleep since...I can't remember when...probably since my 2nd trimester with Elijah, over a year ago.
The bags under my eyes are pretty much triple-deckers. You know it's bad when your blush and your eye concealer are applied in the same place.

But I was inspired by a facebook post the other day, in which the mama of a little boy very close to Elijah's age, had moved the baby into his own room, and while it took a week - he finally slept through the night!
Those kind of posts almost make me cry because I UNDERSTAND the TRIUMPH.
...Because you really do feel like you're coming out of hibernation when you start sleeping like a regular person again.

And you know what? I'm ready!
I'm ready to be productive and energetic instead of just getting by. So yesterday began Elijah's sleep training.
I'm not a die-hard 'cry it out' parent. At all.
I like to ease into things, small changes and adjustments. For us this looks like starting with naps; yes, I'll nurse him to sleep and hold him till he's pretty relaxed, and then put him in his crib. Sometimes, he wants to raise a temper, but usually he's tired enough to voice a protest and then drift to sleep. {I just can't deal with putting him in his bed to cry until he's asleep, it's too much for me.}
Nights are another adjustment. Number one on the list is not letting him nurse as often, and thus getting used to sleeping longer stretches. I think even from our small changes during the day, he slept better during the night than he has in a while.
Baby steps. We will get this!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Ants'Hillvania

We finished our play doings. Part of me says, "Hallelujah" and the other part says, "what time is play practice??"

SCC (Shoal Creek Co-op) really pulled Ants'Hillvania together...admittedly, it was iffy for a while, but they did great on show night.

You can watch the whole production on youtube here.

So this afternoon, I sat down with my planning notebook and thought about this play.
It's easy for me to think that the whole thing was entirely too much to do with pre-schoolers; too exhausting, too much time away from home, too much to expect my littles to handle....but then I thought about the benefits. It's no small deal for preschoolers to be able to learn an entire play, but to know when to move, to sing and dance, and to gain confidence on stage - it was worth it.
So worth it.

Plus we benefited from extra fellowship time with other mamas and kids.

Please remind me of this when the next play comes up, because my first reaction will probably be to shake my head, "Oh no, we're not ready to that again yet," and I'll need to stifle that.


Saturday, March 5, 2016

Thoughts on today

  • brought to you by bullets...because I haven't had time for cohesive thoughts.
 
  • Sometime late last night or early this morning I got to thinking about my internet usage, about times when I want to shut-down my brain a while and numbly scroll through facebook, about what my children will remember about this stage when they're grown. I want to be present with my children. I want to cherish their fleeting toddler days - however hard. It's easy to live in the virtual reality of social media and be aggravated by the real life happening at your feet. Maybe if I hadn't been so absorbed in the newsfeed, I could have circumvented the aggravation with the littles. It's worth it to do hard things. It's the only way to grow. Short story long: I've decided to attempt to limit my internet time to when my children are asleep (Right now!). I first thought I'd proclaim a fast altogether, but I know I need to check my email now and then, and reply to fb messages, so - realistically - I think I can manage having after bedtime as my few minutes to catch up on what's going on in the world.  
  • Let me just say: red. curls. Oh my, and help me rhonda - this little boy has enlarged my heart. Love is an amazing thing. With each new baby, I've loved them so much it hurt, and as they grow, I just get all the more endeared to them. It's hard to believe, but this love multiplies exponentially.
  • I bought some fresh bedding today! It's been 5+ years since we bought new full/queen size comforters, and I was ready for a change. I'd been searching online and looking at prices and getting a little discouraged, but we went to Ohco (it's a strange factory outlet vendor of fabric, rugs, mattresses, and today - bedding) and were blessed to a quilt and a comforter set for under $70. I was a little hesitant about paying that much, but after we got home I noticed the Kohl's price tags...those things would have cost me $380 at the store!!! Thank you, Lord!! I love getting a great deal; it really helps me enjoy the purchase thoroughly. So I'm sure I'll sleep well under these covers. :)
  • The forecast for this coming week says it'll be 75-80 degrees here. I feel a "Hallelujah! Come on Spring!" to be appropriate.
Happy Saturday, y'all!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Instant Coffee

I keep instant coffee in my pantry. Perhaps it's adding insult to injury to tell you it's decaf, too. But as I'm the only {occasional} coffee drinker in our home, sometimes it's too much to get the coffee pot out and sometimes the full caffeine of regular beans makes me all kind of jittery and sweaty and keeps me from sleeping at night -- even when the cup of joe was had at 8am. It's not always worth it.

But the real reason for the instant coffee is nostalgia.

My Granny and Grandaddy are the only people I have ever known who would drink instant coffee quite happily and regularly. The aroma shouts breakfasts at their house - perhaps accompanied with poptarts or doughnuts (we always felt like we were eating well at their house, always the best snacks like sugar wafers and little cups of Blue Bell ice cream). Instant coffee to go along with rounds of Skip-Bo or less often Rummikub or Trianamos, and perhaps a bite size 3 Musketeer midway through the game.
Grandaddy always said Granny would beat him again. He liked to tease from the underdog position, and then would all of the sudden win the game while you weren't looking. Not always, of course, for Skip-bo was one of those games that didn't require any skill and it was just a matter of how the cards fell out. We all stood just as good a chance at winning as the most experienced players, and play we did.

Jolly games around their kitchen table make up a large part of my memories at my grandparent's home. And instant coffee is how it smells.

{I might add that they have recently gotten a Keurig, and are not drinking instant anymore. I don't know what to do with this information, and am choosing to ignore it for all intents and purposes. }


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

{Sycamore Bakes} Honey Oat Bread and a fresh smoothie

The last few weeks (months, maybe), I've had a craving for some hearty brown bread. The girls and I read Heidi in early January, and since then some nice whole-grain, dark bread has been on my mind. I really haven't felt like even attempting to make bread for several weeks {baby-induced exhaustion!}, but yesterday we found a recipe that seemed to fit the bill and piled into the kitchen. I say, "piled" because the effort took place with a baby on my hip and children on chairs trying to each get plenty of opportunity to add ingredients and stir. All the while the constant phrase, "what am I supposed to do next" running through my foggy mind.
It wasn't pretty, but we did it. I couldn't even find my loaf pan - almost laughable, I tell you.

Our recipe for Gluten Free Honey Oat Bread came from Yammie's Gluten Freedom. I so appreciate the people out there who develop great recipes, because I haven't got time for all that!

Gluten-free Honey Oat Bread 

3 1/3 cups oat flour (or 4 cups of gluten-free oats plus more for the top)
2 scant tablespoons yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup corn starch (or tapioca flour)
1/2 cup rice flour (white or sweet white rice flour. Brown rice would probably work to but I haven't tried that yet)
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
4 eggs

If you're using whole oats, blend them in the food processor until they're pretty fine (as fine as you can get them). Meanwhile combine the yeast and water and let sit for a few minutes. Add the oil, honey, starch, flour, xanthan gum, and oats and beat until combined. Add the salt, cinnamon, and eggs. Beat for a few minutes until fluffy. Pour into a well greased 10 inch loaf pan and allow to rise for about 45 minutes until doubled. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350ºF. Sprinkle the top of the risen loaf with some more oats and cut a few slits in the top with a serrated knife. Bake for about 45 minutes. Allow to cool before cutting.
I love using oat flour because, hello- economical! I also used brown rice flour and was short of honey so I used molasses for the majority of the sweetener.

Ours turned out great. Hearty and wholesome tasting, although perhaps a smidge too sweet. Next time I might add a little more salt to the dough.


I've also had an idea for a smoothie growing in my mind lately. I haven't been on a smoothie kick, and so didn't have too many ingredients to choose from...but gathering what was on hand, it turned out very nice with a bit of a zing! :)
We put a few handfuls of spinach in the blender along with a little hunk of fresh, peeled ginger, and some cilantro leaves - along with a little lemon juice and some coconut milk to blend thoroughly. Then we dumped some frozen blueberries and maple syrup. Blend till smooth.

I get weary of the fruit & veg smoothies, and I really like the heightened flavor with ginger and cilantro.
I especially like getting spinach into Adele who isn't inclined to eat it, ever.


On a side note, dear Emery hung curtains in our room this weekend, and they look so nice. It feels like we have a cozy, luxurious room now. Love it! Thanks to Susanna for alerting me to the sale at Target on curtain panels! <3

Saturday, February 20, 2016

A rare moment.

Emery just walked out the door with all three children. They're headed to the hardwork store (the hardware store, that is). Of course, he at first said he'd just go by himself and I volunteered him a clingy baby - who was making it impossible to chop an onion - and then the cascades of "I want to go!" And now they are gone.

I am by myself.

Whoa. Is this the twilight zone?
(doo-doo-doo-doo)

What should I do?
Eat chocolate? Take a bath? Paint my toenails? -- that's a good one! I've been trying to get my toes painted for MONTHS. Why is it so hard? (because of the people, of course).

Maybe I'll just savor the silence.
I could wash the dishes, but where's the fun in that?

Perhaps if I had more moments like this, I'd be a more rested, productive mama. But I'd rather take my silent moments at night time and soak up some sleep! That sleep thing is the main reason I'm not over-zealous nor over-productive.

Last night was even less sleep filled than usual. I lay there thinking and thinking. The homeschoolers are performing a play next month, "Ants'Hillvania". It's thoroughly cute, and we mothers - aka Costume Mistresses -had been trying to think up a good way to make a flower petal headdress for our little flowers.
So last night, I just thought and thought about how to make these headdresses, and by this morning I was certain that I knew how to do it and WANTED to get.it.done. I went off to Michael's this morning for the deco mesh and ribbon (and a few extras in the buggy because I had ideas). The flower petals are cute and fluffy -- but kind of itchy, I'm really not sure how well it'll fly. But I did it, regardless of whether they get used or not. And then those "extras" turned into my first deco mesh wreath and door monogram -- whoop! whoop!

I am not super crafty. But I do like to add beauty (on a budget), and to make some little details of this house myself enamors me all the more to this home of ours. 


 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Impulsive

I used to be a "planner."
You might say I'm a recovering planner. Life felt secure if I knew what was going on and when and for how long and what would be next. Which is pretty similar to saying, I felt calm and confident if I was in control. And God has had some things to teach me about who is really piloting the ship, especially in the last ten years.
So while it's been frustrating and agonizing to let go of those reins, it has also been very freeing to simply trust the Lord to take care of you.
He loves his children! He's going to take care of them!

Anyway, my former self would have had things planned. And my current self, oh boy, I fly by the seat of my pants, as it were. Perhaps it's due to that survival mode I've been talking about recently, but we just take things as they come and run with them.

{I KNOW I ought to plan more, and I have been working on getting things a little more organized, like in the meal planning department...but other areas are free and easy....}

Yesterday, we started potty training Adele. Yes, doing this was one of my New Year's goals, but I didn't expect to start before her birthday. She went on the potty before her bath, and we've just ran with it, setting the potty timer and having a little container of potty prizes. Adele is doing great, really and truly, and it's been more encouraging than discouraging, but I still can't believe we're doing this right now. My brain felt like complete sludge yesterday. I was SO tired. I do feel better today, but I know one thing, if I had been "planning" to start her on the potty, I wouldn't have. "Nope, not today. No way on earth I can train her today," I would have said - and probably not gotten around to it for several more weeks.

It's not just potty training. It's play-dates or inviting dinner guests -- I usually don't have anything scheduled until the day of. And I don't mind life this way. I do love having someone scheduled to come over, and having time for more thorough clean-up (my house needs us to have guests every so often!), but those are much more rare events.

I'm thankful God has been working on me. I'm thankful to be okay with 'holding on loosely' and to enjoy the spontaneity that characterizes our life.
I love this life.

PS: today Hattie was playing "birthday party" in which she didn't receive the kind of cake she wanted (blueberry instead of peppermint), and then she went to lament this in her room, quite loudly. When she came out all blotchy-faced, she said she was just crying for pretend, and everything was really alright.
I think she'll do pretty well in the upcoming play{Ants'Hillvania}. She's got the drama.
PPS: My hands are so dry, if I had any sanding to do, I wouldn't need sand paper. Come on Spring.



Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Snowed in

I'm sure there are some people snowed in now. We aren't included, thankfully. It would be pandemonium in this part of the country if anything in the realm of needing snow-plows occurred. We are not prepared for that kind of event!

But we are delighted to have gotten to witness a few flurries today. You wouldn't know it by looking out now, but we did watch the snow fall for a few minutes, and as per tradition, we made our hot chocolate.  :)

Adele still has some residual chocolate on her forehead. I never cease to be amazed at how she gets food on her forehead. You would think it would be altogether too far from her mouth, but no.


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I've been thinking about balance and survival mode a good bit in recent weeks. I have a negative connotation associated with survival mode...because I'm a perfectionist in some regards, and expect too much of myself. But I've decided to embrace survival mode. I AM HAPPY TO BE SURVIVING. I can get the basics taken care of at home, and I can't handle adding anything else in right now. Someday all my littles won't be under five years old. Someday I'll be sleeping like a regular person rather than a mombie, but not today.
I am not going to feel like I'm failing because things are being left undone at the end of the day.
I am not going to stress over toys in the floor.
I AM going to enjoy spending time with my children. These days are too fleeting to spend them beating myself up (or comparing myself to other moms who seem to have their act blissfully together).
These days are a gift.
Thank you, Lord, for my messy house and happy, healthy children.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

9 months...

So, Elijah up and turned 9 months old a few days ago. {How is this even possible?!?} And pretty much from that point on, he decided it was time to tackle table food. So he's been trying little bits of most everything with very few sour faces or gagging issues like he used to...these are exciting changes for our little man!
I think the solid food staying in his tummy longer has helped his sleeping at night, too. He'd gotten pretty used to waking up way too often to nurse, maybe he really was hungry.

Emery's working late tonight. When night time roles around and daddy's not home, my only response is "let's go to bed!" Of course, I don't say that out loud, for such would invoke wailing and gnashing of teeth, but I'll quietly clean up the dinner things, give baths, brush teeth, and then an "okay! time for bed"..... it's 7pm....I'm not mentioning it. (Hattie often likes to know whether it's 8pm or not so she'll know whether she's going to bed on time, but she didn't ask and I didn't tell.)

It was about 75 degrees here on Tuesday, and we were outside loving it, but the problem is that once the weather decides to be normal winter temperatures (anything under 60), it feels so much coooolder after that one warm day. Boo. I think I'd rather be well adjusted to the season than enjoy one blissful day and be all the more cold afterward.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

imperfect

so Imperfect.

Do you struggle with balance? Managing three littles under five. Running a household. Homeschool & library books. Juggling obligations...

I'm not overcommitted. I dont struggle to say no to all the extras...but the day to day staying home deal sometimes feels like too much.
I feel like I ought to be Able to care for the kids and get the chores Done every day. And yet. And yet, I can't or don't.
Where's superwoman when I need her? Surely if I were just more organized I'd be more successful....
But little brother and I don't sleep hardly any consecutive hours, so is it alright that my brain barely Functions? Does it justify my lack of get-it-done-ness?

Our Mamsie says do The next thing. Its the best I can do.
My house won't be perfect. I may only have a jug of tea to take to our church Dinner tonight. And I guess today, in this season of life, its alright.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Furniture

So we bought a house, right? And we had the normal-ish 30 days between accepted offer and closing...and I spend those 30 days thinking up the best way to arrange our furniture in our new house.
Okay, so that's not all I did. But it was on my mind. I wanted to get it right when the people helping us move set the furniture down. (btw, BIG thanks to everyone who helped up move!!)

And yet, despite knowing a good bit beforehand, I just guessed wrong on some of it. Because living with things everyday gives you a better feel than a virtual home layout.
Today, I pushed around some all of the smaller pieces of furniture in our bedroom. Which means I didn't move the bed.  Ha.
I'm glad I hadn't hung any pictures yet (because I tend to center pictures over the furniture), and it would have been a bother to rehang pictures. Only a humble clock graces our bedroom walls at present, and at present, it's the only thing that will. Maybe sometime when we get some family pictures made that include Elijah, I'll get around to putting them up.
Even Adele has moved her bed since I placed it in its designated spot.

I like moving furniture...at least until I stumble On the best possible arrangement. I like using rugs to define spaces, especially cozy nooks. And I wish I Had some indestructible decor items that would stay where I put them, rather than wandering all over the house With the children.

Here in our home, I'm eager  get things "just-so" with rugs and curtains and hardware, but the budget won't allow it all at once....it's nice to think though that we could be here for years and years, and there'll be time enough to feather this nest.


Friday, January 22, 2016

tradition

Covington. We get remarkably little snow...just enough to be head Over heels at a chance of it in the forecast.
Last year we embraced all three Flakes. And we started a new one tradition: snow = homemade hot chocolate (which is the only kind for us, being dairy free).
Tonight's forecast includes wintry mix, and it seemed wiser to let the children Enjoy their hot chocolate in the afternoon, rather than at bedtime.

We then held an exercise session/dance party to turn off the extra sugar rush.

I found some cool galacian folk music in our itunes library, and Hattie has especially been enjoying kicking up her heels to it. I have, too.
Wouldn't it be neat to find a folk dance instructor for families. Sign us up!

Back to traditions: I have been relishing our little family eccentricities. We have a happy handshake of sorts that brings a smile to all ...kind of a secret high five. :-) we say, "sweet dreams, good night" every night. We freestyle songs all the time. The things that makes us uniquely Sayres - things I love...things that may well be passed on to the next generation.I want to be purposeful In cultivating loving traditions, but at the same time, many of ours have just fallen into place without any planning at all, and I wouldn't trade them for anything.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

2016

I guess I was in a little funk the other day. The next day was better, and I did make a handful of goals for the new year. {It seems to always happen that I do exactly what I blog about not intending to do.}

I am tired. No doubt about that.
And I know myself well enough that making goals of x, y, and z that I will do every day isn't going to work out well.
But I can make big goals that will take time and effort, and realistically achieve them. Things like potty training and weaning...I'm not getting serious about either of them today, but down the road - in the spring and fall probably - I'll be working at each. Of course, my 8 month old surely isn't ready to wean -- the boy is not interested in food a bit-- all in good time. Adele probably could be well on her way to potty trained, but alas, we all fell sick two months ago (when I'd just barely started), and I can't remember the last time she's gone potty now...that's my spring goal.

I'm also hoping to make headway with Hattie's reading skills, and attempt having a quarterly date night.
I know. Some people have date nights every week or every month, and I think it's fab, but we just can't swing that in this season of life. And maybe maybe maybe if we pencil in the dates on the calendar, maybe we won't wake up realizing it's been 6 months since we have had a night out. Quarterly dates I think we can do. :)

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We all worked hard at getting our old house spic'n'span to turn over the keys soon. How is it the last load of leftover junk is enough to fill two vehicles? Ugh. I think I need to get more serious about clearing out the clutter. That or put plywood in the attic so we can use the storage space. Probably both. I think I'm the only one in the family who breathes easier when the chaos of clutter is tamed.

But our new house is so nice and not too big.
Big houses make for lots of maintenance; our old one was great for hosting company, but too much house for just us. And too much to clean!

It's also nice to be homeowners and in charge of our space for a change, liberating and refreshing after so many years of renting. Coming home to our house is just a delight.

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I'm excited for 2016. I hope you are as well for the bright prospect of days ahead.