Hello there! That is, if anybody is still there? ;-) This summer has proved nearly impossible to blog with any sort of regularity. We’re having a great summer, but man alive…it’s flying by, and we’ve been busy.

I could tell you all about the fun things we’ve done, and we’ve certainly done our fair share. I could show you the fun photos we’ve take, capturing goofy memories and silly faces. But not today. Today, my heart feels the need to talk, and my heart likes to do that through words. And so as you read my words, know that you’re reading my heart.

The past two nights have been restless nights of sleep. Filled with dreams of various people going through numerous struggles, my heart aches even in my sleep.

We’re walking hand-in-hand with another loved one, both of us needing significant work on our houses, likely costing so much more than either of us are able to handle. And just yesterday, sitting in the parking lot of the pediatric orthodontist, gathering my thoughts about the painful (and extremely expensive) dental work one of my children needs. Sitting there, overwhelmed, when the door of our very tired old van makes a horrible noise, reminding me all too clearly how much we need a new vehicle, and how we can’t swing all of those expenses right now.

And then there’s things so much more significant and painful. Loved ones struggling through miscarriage. Others desiring long for a child, unable to see that dream fulfilled. Loved ones wading through disheartening news regarding the health of their unborn child. Heavy things.

In my dreams the past two nights, I have unsuccessfully tried to fix each and every one of these things. I saw myself working tirelessly to remedy each situation, and then awoke at 3:45 AM in a sort of panic attack…realizing fully that I have no control over anything. And while that realization makes me feel completely helpless and somewhat stranded, it also has reminded me how much I need to depend on the ONE who does have control. Over everything.

A pastor at church last Sunday said something that is radically changing the way I am trying to respond to these pressures in life.

“God is far more interested in our response to difficulties than He is in our relief from them.”

Wow! I’ve been praying a lot lately that my response to difficulties in my life and in the lives of those I love would be honoring to God. That I would stop desiring to fix everything, and start resting in His sovereign hand. That I would come up alongside those I love, hold their hands, cry with them if they need a good cry, and love them unconditionally through their struggles.

I’ve also been singing this song over and over to myself the last couple days. Encouraging!!

To be honest, I’m not entirely sure why I felt the need to share my heart today. Maybe it’s because I know that if we’re all honest with each other, we’re all struggling in our own ways. And while I know everyone handles their struggles differently, I wanted to share with you how God has been challenging my heart lately. That maybe it might encourage you as it’s encouraged me?

So to anyone who is reading this today and struggling through something in their life, know that you’re not alone. Know that there are people in your life who love you very much, and want to walk through life with you. And know that even in the deepest darkest times, God is good. He loves you…more than you know.

Blessings, everyone!!

SUMMERTIME!

As I sit down to write today, I’m not even sure where to start. This blog that I really do love…it’s kinda taken a backseat lately. Summertime is upon us, and while in a sense it brings relaxed schedules, it also brings about a house-full of laundry, activities, and general upkeep that makes me busier than ever. But I love it!!

So for today…just a quick post with some updates and photos.

 

 

Family trip to the Ledges State Park. So fun!!!

Family trip to the Ledges State Park. So fun!!! We love playing with cousins!

Vacation Bible School! Such a fun week with friends!!

Vacation Bible School! Such a fun week with friends!!

Our neighbor was kind enough to pass along their son's toy tractor to Titus. He adores this tractor! He plays with it constantly, and gives it kisses goodnight before he goes to bed at night. Obsessed with farm stuff? Yes!

Our neighbor was kind enough to pass along their son’s toy tractor to Titus. He adores this tractor! He plays with it constantly, and gives it kisses goodnight before he goes to bed at night. Obsessed with farm stuff? Yes!

We spent most of the morning at The Farmer's Market last Saturday. Dutch letters, fresh coffee, and chocolate croissants...a good morning had by all!

We spent most of the morning at The Farmer’s Market last Saturday. Dutch letters, fresh coffee, and chocolate croissants…a good morning had by all!

My baby boy is big enough now to sit in a big-boy carseat. How is this possible, and where have the last almost 3 years gone?!

My baby boy is big enough now to sit in a big-boy carseat. How is this possible, and where have the last almost 3 years gone?!

 

A fun lunch with friends, and these two girlies got the sillies! :-)

A fun lunch with friends, and these two girlies got the sillies! :-)

 

Who doesn't love a cool summer evening around a bonfire with family?!

Who doesn’t love a cool summer evening around a bonfire with family?!

If you know us at all, you know Tanner and I love our coffee. Every day. We didn't think it was possible to like coffee more than we do until a good friend made us a latte from his awesome coffee grinder and espresso machine. It kinda blew our minds, to say the least. Seriously...how awesome is this cup of coffee?!

If you know us at all, you know Tanner and I love our coffee. Every day. We didn’t think it was possible to like coffee more than we do until a good friend made us a latte from his awesome coffee grinder and espresso machine. It kinda blew our minds, to say the least. Seriously…how awesome is this cup of coffee?!

 

To end the post today, I thought I’d share about a few instances over the past week that have reminded me how important kindness is. I attended a friend’s Pampered Chef party on Sunday. I smiled when I saw another guest at the show who shared something in common with me, although we’d never met. At 6 foot and 1 inch tall, it’s not often that I look literally eye-to-eye with another gal….this woman was actually taller than I am, and we laughed and chatted together about our lives as tall women. Sounds weird, I know…but it was fun and refreshing to chit-chat with someone “in the same boat.” We both had a choice to either strike up a conversation with each other, or completely ignore each other….I’d say we’re both better off for choosing the first of those two choices.

Another example happened just this morning at the grocery store. As I turned the corner for another aisle, a mom with two young children was blocking the aisle with her cart. She quickly apologized, to which I said there was no need, and then we both giggled as our sons struck up a conversation with one another. I smiled and continued to shop, when I noticed that in her hand was one of my all-time favorite books. A fairly new book, I was surprised to see someone else with it, as I’ve yet to hear of anyone else who has read it. What was going through my head was something along the lines of…”Oh my goodness! I adore that book! You like it, too? You must like it if you’re bringing it to the grocery store, because it’s chocked FULL of fantastic recipes and stories. I think you might be my new best friend. Really. We should get together and have coffee, and talk for hours about this amazing book.” But what I really said (as calmly as I could) was…”Is that Shauna Niequist’s newest book? It’s a great one, isn’t it?” And wouldn’t you know…this woman at the grocery store was just as excited to have this conversation as I was. We proceeded to share with each other which recipes we’ve tried in the book, which ones are our favorites, and we even shared tips with each other about how to improve on those recipes. It was probably the most fun I’ve ever had at the grocery store! And if you’re interested in reading this amazing book, as well…I couldn’t recommend in more highly. It’s amazing. Truly!
breadandwineshaunaniequist

Both of these instances were so much better than the instance at a different store yesterday. Both of my girls had saved for a long time to purchase some items on their wish lists. Armed with their purses and wallets containing their hard-earned money, they made their choices, and stood in line to make their purchases. A teaching moment ensued when the cashier gave them their totals, and we had to count out the correct amount of change. An older woman behind us in line (obviously annoyed by what was happening in front of her) huffed and puffed, rolled her eyes, and shouted out loud for another cashier to open another register. Apparently her time was so much more important than anyone else’s in the store at that moment in time? While I was temped to say something to her, I simply turned around and gave her the biggest, most joyful smile I could muster. It was slightly awkward when she glared back at me, yet I continued to smile. Chances are likely that my smile did nothing to improve her mood that morning, but my guess is she needed that more than she needed a harsh word.

I’ll leave you with this quote from George Saunders that I love.
“What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded…sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly. As a goal in life…try to be kinder.”

So, friends, what do you say? Try, along with me, to be kinder? There’s a lot of people out there who need some kindness in their lives. Let’s do what my mom used to always tell us when we were small….”Kill ‘em with kindness!” :-)

Blessings to you all today! Hopefully next time it won’t be a whole month before I post again!!

Mud Pits

Monday evening was a family work night at my sister and brother-in-law’s farm. Several things happened that evening that I had never anticipated….

1) My husband drove a tractor. And he liked it. Had you told me when I married him almost 11 years ago that I’d actually get to see this happen, I’d never have believed you. While I have always dreamed of farm life, it’s been the furthest thing from his mind. This picture makes me smile. :-)
Image

2) I drove an off-road vehicle. And I liked it. Sorry, no photo of that. But seriously, it was so fun!

3) I learned a very convicting lesson from my hard-working 6-year old. How adorable is she?!
Image

We arrived at the farm with a specific purpose…we were to pick up all of the sticks and logs that littered the field and load them into the loader bucket of the tractors. And while our kids had instructions to work hard and be diligent, we also wanted them to have fun, so told them that they could explore the farmland a little bit. It was a beautiful evening, and there were many areas for a child to explore. Except one….the muddy valley smack dab in the middle of the field. I told Nadia specifically to not go near the mud.

Several minutes later, above the roar of the tractor’s engine, I heard screaming. I turned around to see that not only had Nadia gone near the mud, she was stuck up to her ankles in the murky mess. The wet earth, like quicksand, had enveloped her, and she couldn’t escape. She was terrified, and I was angry.

My one-sided conversation with her went something like this….

“I told you not to go near the mud!”
“This is why obedience is so vastly important…often times you must obey for your own safety!”
“You have this whole entire farm to explore…why did you insist on exploring where I told you not to?”

Her choice was a bad choice, and she was disciplined. But I kept thinking it through the next few days…kept thinking how much I’m like her. How often I make bad choices and choose to play in the mud instead of follow My Heavenly Father’s directions.

Just as my kids had been given a beautiful evening with a vast array of farmland to explore and play, I’ve been given a beautiful life with a vast array of blessings and gifts. Wonderful things. Encouraging things. And yet, even amidst the beauty, I often find myself wandering toward the mud pit. Wanting to dabble in something that God has not chosen to give me “permission” to play in.

And much like Nadia that evening at the farm, I walk away from the mud pit feeling remorse for my choices, and missing out on the blessings that surrounded me.

Maybe my mud pit is not the same as your mud pit. You see, a mud pit doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Were it the right time and place, it would have been so fun to let Nadia go wild in that mud. Play, have fun, get dirty…mud volleyball, anyone?! :-) It’s not that the mud itself was wrong…it was her choice to inch closer to it when she had been so clearly told not to. Not yet. Not now.

I would challenge you, as I’ve been challenged over the last few days, to examine what types of things you look at longingly. Is there something you want so badly that you can’t take your eyes off of it? Maybe the object of your longing is not bad in and of itself, but your determination to get it (regardless of God’s timing in your life) has become all-consuming? That’s your mud pit.

I’ve pointed out several mud pits in my life this week, and I’m praying that God will help me to take my focus off of the mud, and place it on Him. To look around the mud pit, beyond the mud pit, to all of the beauty that He has provided right where I am now.

There’s beauty surrounding us daily. Sometimes we just have to wipe the mud out of our eyes and off of our hearts in order to see it.

Image

I stole this photo from my sister’s Facebook account. This is one of many beautiful areas on the farm. Why did the mud seem so enticing?!

Image

And this photo was stollen from my brother-in-law’s Facebook account. Thanks for the picture! :-) Simply gorgeous.

I love this quote from C.S. Lewis, and I thought it was very appropriate for this blog post.

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with *sin* when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

 

A Mother’s Day Tribute to ALL WOMEN

Happy Friday! And a beautiful Friday it is here in my neck of the woods.

This weekend, as thousands anticipate Mother’s Day celebrations, I have a few thoughts on my heart. I thought I’d share them with you. Enjoy!

We used to tease my mother, and sometimes still do, when each and every Mother’s Day was accompanied by tears. Even before she breaks the seal of the first card’s envelope, the tears have begun to well up. She’ll read each card and brush away the silent tears that fall onto her cheeks. When I was little, I didn’t understand why a happy celebration would bring tears. But now…now I’m a mother. Now I understand. Now I, too, brush away tears each Mother’s Day as I open cards. “Happy tears” is what I tell my children they are. And for the most part, they are just that…happy. Joyful.

But, being the realist that my own mother has told me I am, I’ll be honest  and admit that sometimes the tears mean more. I think each season of motherhood brings different types of tears. Tears are an outward expression of a person’s heart, and motherhood, encompassing all parts of a woman’s heart, naturally turns on those tears. While I have not experienced all seasons of motherhood, I have walked through several, each one softening and molding my heart. Maybe some of you can relate?

Pre-Motherhood Season
Some of you are reading this, your hearts aching to become a mother. Your tears this weekend will be tears of longing, wondering when your desire for a child will be fulfilled. May I encourage you that even now, during this time of waiting, God is preparing your heart for the journey that awaits? While I know it doesn’t make waiting easier, please know that you are loved and prayed for often. May you walk in strength this Mother’s Day, knowing you are loved with an everlasting love, and that your Heavenly Father will fulfill your heart’s desires in His perfect timing.

     Psalm 37:7 “Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.” 

Mourning Season
You may be reading this, your heart aching for a child you never got to hold. Or, maybe you’ve had to do the unthinkable and say goodbye to a child who, by human standards, should have had longer on this earth. Or maybe you’re holding vigil night after night next to your child, both of you fighting with all you can for the healing you long for. Your tears this Mother’s Day will be tears of heartache and hurt. I personally know loved ones who are in each of these situations, and my heart breaks right along with theirs. Again, while I know it doesn’t make it easy, please know that you are loved deeply and prayed for daily. Please know that this Mother’s Day, while many are celebrating, there are people who have not forgotten you in your time of hurt, and would love nothing more than to hug you and cry alongside you. Tears in this season are not only okay, they are expected. And I wouldn’t want you to cry alone.

     Isaiah 40:31 “But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.”
Romans 15:13: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Pregnancy Season
Maybe this is your first official Mother’s Day, and to that I say a huge CONGRATULATIONS! I remember vividly my first Mother’s Day, and I imagine you’re experiencing the same thoughts and emotions that I did. You may have tears this weekend of thankfulness for the life growing inside. You’re probably overwhelmed with both excitement and nervousness, as you embark on a new journey that will forever change your life. May I encourage you to open your heart to another mother who has walked this path before? Someone you admire and feel comfortable confiding in? The women who have invested their time, advice, and love into my life as a young mother have been an incredible blessing! I love how each of them have never pretended to have all the answers to this journey of motherhood…but their camaraderie and willingness to listen and help when needed have been immeasurably wonderful! Soak in this Mother’s Day, and enjoy every moment. Oh, and try to sneak in a nap…it might be a while before you get one of those again! :-)

     1 Samuel 1:27–28 “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” 

Jayda 081

Oh my goodness…I look so tired in this picture! I had no idea as a new mom how much sleepless nights would affect me!

New Mommy Season
     This Mother’s Day you might find yourself snuggling your newborn baby, or like a good friend of mine, you new twin babies. :-) Your tears this Mother’s Day might be tears of joy and thankfulness for the new life God has gifted you. But, if you’re anything like I was as a new mommy, you’ll probably have tears of exhaustion, frustration, and overwhelmedness, as well. That’s totally normal and completely expected in this season of your life. Know that there are many of us celebrating alongside you, and many of us who would love to snuggle that new baby for you while you sneak in a nap! :-) Even though I remember all too well how exhausting those first few weeks and months can be, I’d encourage you to try and soak in each moment. Those little tiny baby toes…the way he or she curls up against your chest when you snuggle…the squeaks and squeals…the newborn baby smell…that will all pass more quickly than seems possible right now, and someday you’ll wish you’d have paid closer attention to all those details.

     Psalm 127:3-5 “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.”

Busy Season
IMG_1317
     This is the season of motherhood in which I’m currently camped. I’ve often wished I had a quarter for every time I heard the words, “Mommy, help!” There’s potty training, homework help, lessons to teach, clothes to purchase, noses to wipe, books to read, laundry to do…over and over again, without much of a break. This season has sometimes felt all-encompasing, and there’ve been tears of exhaustion. But more often than not, this season is wonderful and I’ve found myself having tears of thankfulness and joy. When my 2-year old tells me I’m the best mommy ever…when my 6-year old asks me to teach her how to cook…when my 9-year old asks if I’d be in a book club with her. These moments make my heart smile! And while I feel like I have a very small amount of experience/advice to share with new moms, in this chapter of life I often feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants. And so, while I encouraged new moms in the paragraphs above to find a “seasoned” mother to learn from, I’d also encourage you “seasoned” mothers to reach out to us younger moms. We need you!

Logic might tell us that what we need during the busy season is a vacation, a nap, a pedicure, or good grief…even just one time that we can use the bathroom alone without little people watching! But on Sunday, when we open the cards and gifts from our children…backwards letters scribbled on construction paper, little trinkets to fill our shelves, tiny handprints lovingly traced onto crinkled paper…we’ll probably shed a silent tear of thankfulness because THIS is what we need. This is what shapes us into women whose hearts continue to grow with a capacity to love more deeply. These little ones…they are our gift.

     James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.”

All Other Seasons
I know that there are many seasons of motherhood I have not yet experienced. Some of those seasons excite me, and some honestly scare me! ;-) While I know nothing of motherhood during these seasons, I do know one thing…I know that I loved and appreciated my mom more than I ever actually let her know. I know that becoming a mother has taught me more about my own mother than I ever thought I’d realize. I know that the world needs mothers, and I know I would not be the person I am today without the love, attention, and care from my mother.
IMG_2972

Mom, if you’re reading this (which I know you are, because all moms read their kids’ blogs) :-) thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything. Everything. You are a gift to me, and I can only hope to be the kind of mother to my kids that you’ve been to me. I love you.  I know as you’ve read this, I’ve probably caused you to cry more of those tears, but that’s okay. Tears speak our hearts, and your heart is full of love…I now know that’s why you cry every Mother’s Day. Thank you, mom, for all of your love. And guess what, Mom? I can guarantee you 100 percent that I’ll shed a tear along with you on Sunday. Because you taught me to love without abandon, and I’m forever grateful for that.

Happy Mother’s Day to each and every one of you ladies reading my blog today!!!! Many, many blessings to you all!!

A Few Updates

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you were all able to enjoy a wonderful Easter weekend with family and friends. Our weekend was a busy and full one, but also a blessed one. Here are a few snapshots from our Easter weekend.

IMG_3438**Easter morning…up early and excited for their Easter baskets!

 
IMG_3539**Easter Egg Hunt! Time with cousins is so fun!

 

IMG_3560

**Celebrating Grandma’s birthday was lots of fun! The kids couldn’t wait to help blow out the candles.

 

 

IMG_3537**My personal favorite picture from the weekend. How has my little boy grown so fast?! I love his eyes…they say so much about him!!

 

I thought I’d update my readers on a few happenings around our home lately.

Some of you have asked about updates on Tanner’s potential missions work for audio/visual ministry. Things are taking much longer than anticipated with the original missions agency he had applied with. He unfortunately had to call them last week and let them know that this summer would no longer be an option for him to travel, as he still had not heard back from them, and his vacation days at work needed to be claimed. They are still working on his application, and there’s still a potential there sometime in the future, but probably not as soon as he’d have hoped. He has begun some preliminary talking with another agency, and this particular agency seems to have a much better idea of what they need by way of audio/visual ministry. So, we continue to wait to see where God leads. In the meantime, he is still LOVING doing video editing for our church, and his heart continues to beat for this type of ministry. We’d appreciate your continued prayers in that area, and thank you so much to those of you who have been praying!

 
There are only five full weeks of school left! I really cannot believe it! Summer is approaching a bit faster than I am ready for, and I feel like I have much to do. While some may think that summer is a vacation, it’s also a lot of work and a big change for our family. I love it…don’t misunderstand. But I need to get my act together and prepare. Having all three kids home during the day takes a bit more work and planning, as does juggling a 3-month sabbatical from my income, as I only do childcare during the school year. But we are certainly excited for picnics, parks, and pool time! :-)

My love of baking continues. I love baking bread for a handful of customers who purchase from me…it’s a definite highlight of my week! I recently experimented with whole wheat/spelt crescent rolls….oh my! They were so yummy, and may have to become an option on my bread purchasing list.

IMG_3427**Homemade crescent rolls…part whole wheat flour, and part spelt flour.

A book I recently checked out at our local library has me drooling over its baked goods, and dreaming of one day opening a bakery. Written by the owner and lead pastry chef of a popular bakery in New York, it contains gorgeous photos and excellent tips for baking at home. Hopefully soon this book will hold a permanent spot in my kitchen!

book
Today took a bit of an unexpected turn…we had planned for a plumber to come and fix a leaking plumbing “stack” in the basement. Upon further investigation, he has begun to wonder if it might be leaking in more places than the one that was visible. He went ahead and fixed what was visibly leaking today, we coughed up the couple hundred dollars to do so, and prayed silently as I handed him the check that we would not have to call him to fix anything else. Because the other potential leak could involve the ripping out of drywall, pipes, ect, and cost a whole lot more than a couple hundred dollars. I’m pretty sure that I almost threw up when he was explaining the work that could be involved with such a project. You see…plumbing problems and me…we don’t get along well. Ever since our basement flooded due to a major plumbing issue, it was discovered by my sister-in-law who was spending the night and woke up floating on her air mattress, and we waded around in 14 inches of murky water while pulling out our valuables and furnishings….yeah, ever since then I cannot handle the thought of plumbing problems! So, fingers crossed and prayers said, we won’t have to rip out drywall and fix pipes anytime soon.

That’s it for today…just a few thoughts, happenings, and photos to share. :-)

I hope this post finds you all doing well, and I hope each one of you has a wonderful week! Blessings to you!!

 

Table Love

My kitchen is quiet this morning while I knead the bread dough, and smooth the tops of loaves.
IMG_3412

My heart, not as quiet, is aflame with thoughts of Good Friday, Easter, and The Last Supper.

Jesus, breaking bread with his disciples around the table at The Last Supper, shares His heart and His plan for their lives. My life. Your life.

Jesus, knowing that His disciples would turn from Him during His darkest hour in the Garden of Gethsemane, was filled with joy to share a meal with the people He loved. His love for them, and all of humanity, was portrayed that evening as He broke bread, drank wine, and washed His disciples’ feet.

Jesus commands His disciples to something so simply, yet so profound and sometimes difficult. John13:34 tells us that Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”

Love each other. His command to love is not a frivolous or superficial kind of love…Jesus commands His disciples to love each other as He had loved them. Love as Jesus loves. Love because Jesus loves.  Oh, the wonder our world would see if we could grasp this commandment and live our lives accordingly!

Some may say that I am reading too much into this, but I find it profoundly wonderful that Jesus chose to share this ever important command to love while gathered around a table, breaking bread, and fellowshipping with those He loved.

Table fellowship. Table love. This is how I believe my heart beats.
IMG_4569

For it is often the simple things in life that can be profound. The mundane that can be the miraculous. How is this possible? Because God, who loves us with a deep abiding love, is the giver of everything. Everything. And in this we can rejoice. In this, we can love.

As I pull hot bread from the oven, slather it with butter, and smooth napkins onto the table, my heart is full. My heart is anxious for the fellowship that will happen around my table this evening. An opportunity to love those around my table, and an opportunity to collectively remember what Jesus did for us on the cross so many years ago.
IMG_3427

So as you gather with those you love this Easter season, may you remember that each and every person around your table, and each and every item of food gracing your table, is a gift. A gift from The Gift, given so that we would glorify Him.

And this Easter season, if you’re finding it difficult to believe in a love so life-changing, I would love nothing more than the chance to talk to you more about it. God loves you. He sent His one and only Son to live a perfect life and to die for you. He loves you, and He wants you to accept His love.

And my table…it may not be huge, and we may often sit crowded together, but there’s always an extra seat. Always. And at my table, I would love to share with you how you can know God’s love personally. It will change your life.

 

Burlap and Creativity

Hello there! Happy Wednesday to you all!

It has been a loooong time since I’ve blogged about anything related to decorating. I used to blog a lot about my ever-growing project list, and I’ve missed telling you all about it. Rest assured, the project list is still there, and just as long as ever. :-)

For today, I thought I’d show you what I did with a large piece of printed burlap I’d purchased at the fabric store. It’s been a long time, actually, since I’d finished these two projects, so I can’t remember exactly what the price was on this burlap. I know I had a coupon, and I know it wasn’t too expensive.

I took a small bench I had “rescued” from the side of the road, and with some paint to cover the bench legs (which based on the bite marks, looked as if they’d been the homeowners’ dog’s snack) and the new fabric to cover the existing yucky fabric, you’d never know it had once been destined for the garbage truck.
IMG_3839

IMG_3841 IMG_3360While it may not be professional quality, I love it! The top of the bench opens for storage, and it is the perfect size to tuck into the corner of our living room. We often pull it out for extra seating if we have large groups of people we need to seat in our living room.

I took the rest of that piece of burlap, and covered the back of a very large and very ugly photograph I found at Salvation Army for $4.00. While the photo was hideous, I actually liked the frame, and knew it would be the perfect size to make a chore chart for our children.
IMG_3804I used spray adhesive to attach the burlap to the photo, and glued small clothespins onto the burlap. Each kiddo has their initial on the board, with their chores clipped alongside, so they can be reminded each day what is expected of them. Once the chore is finished for the day, they flip over the chore card to the other side, which has a small saying to encourage them for their effort. I painted the wooden letters for their initials, which I’d purchased for super cheap at Hobby Lobby, with the leftover yellow paint from the bench project. I love the quote above their chores. It says, “Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude.” I want so much for them to learn responsibility, and to learn the correct attitude to go along with that responsibility.
IMG_2259These two items in our home are some of my favorites. Okay, okay…so I admit that I have lots of favorites…I think I say that about every project I do! ;-) I love that they cost a small fraction of what they would have been in a store, and I had a ton of fun being creative to make them exactly how I wanted them.

There are lots more projects in the works currently…mostly outdoor projects. I’ll try to remember to photograph them along the way, and share them with you soon. How about you, friends? Any projects at your house? I’d love to hear!

 

Insignificant, or Important?

Recent Facebook posts, paired with the sun-kissed skin of those adoring its photos, revealed Spring Break vacations from many across the country. How many times over the past week have I either asked or answered the question, “Did you have a fun Spring Break? What did you do?” It dawned on me yesterday that by some standards our family didn’t do anything particularly exciting…but that by looking at it from another angle, we did something extraordinary.

Sitting in my living room yesterday, I welcomed back the children I take care of after school. We sat in a circle, each child re-telling their Spring Break adventures. After everyone had a chance to share, I asked if anyone wanted to hear what I did over Spring Break. One of my daycare kids said, “Did you, just like…. clean the house and cook for your kids?” :-)

My first reaction to this innocent comment was to feel badly that from a child’s perspective, I’d done such boring things over my Spring Break. What if my kids felt the same way? What if I am a boring parent? What if I ruined their Spring Break because we couldn’t fly somewhere exotic? What if, what if, what if…

And then I stopped myself dead in my tracks. I forced myself to re-think the fun and laughter we’d experienced over Spring Break. It was as if God revealed to me that grandiose plans are not necessary to create grace-filled moments. That the seemingly mundane can indeed be miraculous. That slow and simple can be soothing to the soul.

Fellow stay-at-home mama who didn’t vacation over Spring Break…may I encourage you? And myself? Let’s remember a few things…

*Cleaning the house gives way to teaching responsibility to our children. It opens opportunities for me to re-tell the story of how we prayed and prayed and prayed for this house five years ago. How we drove by it countless times, hoping and praying it could be ours…God answered and provided. Re-live these types of stories with our children…kids love stories, and they need to hear how God plays an integral part in their own life story.

*Cooking for our families opens doors to nourish not only their bodies, but their hearts. Stir that soup and bake that bread with joy…knowing that God can use it for His glory. I don’t know that I will ever fully realize the impact that family meals, cooked by my mom and enjoyed around the table together, had on my life. It’s so important.

*Down time is important, but often hard to find. Enjoy it when you can. Spring Break at home brought about opportunities to snuggle and watch movies, read books, and just relax. Unfortunately, in the busyness of life, those moments don’t happen every day. I’m extra thankful for those moments last week.

*Crazy and uenxpected things will, and often do, happen with little ones at home. Sickness, injuries, ect. Try to do better than I did when we had unexpected craziness last week…rely on God’s strength and patience to guide you through. Pray. A lot. Don’t storm off to the grocery store (for necessary supplies for said crazy event), all in a tizzy, and fill your cart with several boxes of chocolate cookies you knew you’d want to eat later to unwind. Bad idea. Don’t do that. Lesson learned. ;-)

*Surprise your kids every now and then. What was supposed to be a walk through the local pet store last week to look around, turned into impulse beta fish purchases for each of my children. That is so unlike me, but it was so fun. The kids were THRILLED!
fish

*Enjoy the simple moments in your day. God’s gifts abound each day…we just sometimes need practice recognizing them. As we recognize them, thank God for them, and make it a point to allow our children to hear our thanks. Thankfulness is contagious. I want to be contagious.

The point of all of this today? Honestly, I’m not really sure. I feel like I’ve rambled on and on without a whole lot of direction…but I felt led to write, and so I did. I felt led to share that little piece of my heart, and what God revealed to me about our Spring Break. Maybe someday God will provide a way for me to experience a Spring Break trip with my kiddos. I’d love to someday experience flying in an airplane for the first time (for me and my kids!) or experience seeing the ocean for the first time for all of us. God certainly speaks through experiences like that. But even if that never happens, we’ll continue to love each and every opportunity at home that He gives us. Because each of God’s gifts, no matter how seemingly large or seemingly small, is significant. Each one matters. Forever.

Blessings to you all today!

 

Spring Break

Spring Break is here, and we are enjoying some down time at home. Okay, to be completely honest…we’d have loved to have been able to travel somewhere warm and sunny, but we’re making the most of our “staycation” here at home. A few highlights so far….

**Sharing Dairy Queen Blizzards at the mall. We rarely take family trips to the mall, so the kids really enjoyed this!
20140319-085130.jpg

**Saint Patty’s Day supper with my parents and siblings…LOVE time with them!! Mom made her green cupcakes, a favorite in our house each year. Somebody was upset we wouldn’t let him eat them all!
20140319-085147.jpg

**While Spring Break is fun and such a blessing, any sort of break from the school year also means I take a break from income from childcare. And, this week, I took a break from bread baking/selling, as well, to spend more time with my munchkins. We very much enjoy the break and extra time together, but the lack of income is sometimes challenging. I did have some bread in the freezer from last week, and a gal stopped yesterday and bought $14 worth of bread. Perfect timing because “Frozen” came out on DVD yesterday, and we took that bread money and bought it for the kids…on sale for $14.99! And, one of their other favorites, “Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs” was on sale for $4. We had three happy kids!!
20140319-085155.jpg

**All three children had dental appointments yesterday, and they all did fantastic! Titus especially loved the pretend toothbrush and stuffed animal he could play with while he waited his turn.
20140319-085301.jpg

I left the office feeling a bit discouraged, as the dentist and I talked more about the orthodontia work that Nadia will need over the next few years. She has two very pronounced cross-bites, both of which will need major attention after she looses her front baby teeth. The process includes a bracket cemented to her molars that actually breaks her top palate and expands it, another devise to push out her front teeth that are not aligned, followed by braces, retainers, ect. All I can think about is how painful that will be for her, and how much money it will cost. I jokingly said to the dentist that I should start saving our pennies, and she looked at me very seriously and said, “Well, I’d actually start saving your dollars. She will need significant work.”

As we waited for the elevator to reach the top floor after their appointments, an older couple stood next to us, waiting for the same elevator. They lovingly looked down at my children, smiled a genuinely sweet smile, and said, “My, what beautiful children.” And while I know that older gentleman will never find and read this blog post, I wanted to say thank you. Thank you for blessing my heart with your simple smile and kind words. One never knows what a smile will do for someone else’s heart, and yesterday, that gentleman’s smile and words were what my heart needed. And, it encouraged me to do the same to others…wear my smile in public, and give grace to all those around me…for you never know how God might use that for good.

Last night was a big night for our two youngest munchkins. Titus FINALLY moved from his crib to a big-boy bed (which was Nadia’s old bed), and Nadia got a new full-size bed from her grandparents. They are growing up SOOO fast!
20140319-085222.jpg20140319-085210.jpg

Titus finally fell asleep at 10:15 last night, was up three times in the night, and fell out of bed with a thud at 6:30 this morning. :-( I think I have forgotten that it takes a while to adjust to a bed after being in a crib! Today will be a several-cuppa-coffee kinda day!
20140319-085640.jpg

We’re not entirely sure what the rest of Spring Break holds for us. The kids are begging us to purchase them a pet…not likely to happen! What else? Reading, playing, snuggling, laughing…simple things, but profound and necessary things. Things that make it extra fun being a parent!! :-) How about you, friends? I’d love to hear what you’re doing this week for Spring Break! Whatever it is, enjoy the days and enjoy the people you spend your days with.

Blessings to you all!!!

Wish Lists

Happy Monday, friends!

My day started abruptly at 2:30 this morning, as Titus wailed from his room, “I neeeeeeed you, Mommy!!! I looooove you, Mommy!! Can I sleeeeeep in your bed, Mommy?!?” While one part of my heart was flattered by such love, the other part of my heart was annoyed and sleep deprived. Part of me wanted to just pull him in our bed, and we’d all maybe go peacefully back to sleep. But I knew that would only fuel his fire and set up a bad pattern. Disciplining and reasoning with a 2-year old at 2:30 AM is not my ideal way to start a new week. Neither is throwing out an entire batch of whole grain waffle batter after hearing your kids gag and choke on the first bite. (for the record, they were right this time. It was n.a.s.t.y.) I’d rather not have scraped burnt bread dough from the bottom of my oven this morning, either, after all 6 loaves overflowed onto the oven racks beneath. Yep…happy Monday, indeed?!

Thankfully, after copious amounts of extra-strong coffee, the day has taken a turn for the better.

On my mind for today? Wish Lists. Last year, Tanner and I decided to try Amazon.com Prime Membership. I think I’ve blogged before about how much I really, really, really like having the membership. Who knew you could get anything and everything on Amazon.com?! I’ve ordered everything from books to bread yeast, and it arrives on my doorstep in two days. Awesome.

You have the option on Amazon.com to set up a “wish list.” It’s a great way to keep track of things you run across that you’d like to have someday. I won’t even tell you how many books my book wish list contains…it’s a bit embarrassing to be honest. ;-)

I’ve started to make a wish list for kitchen items that I’d love to have someday. All of them are complete non-necessities, but all of them would make my love for cooking even more lovely, and reduce the sometimes ridiculous amounts of time I spend in my little kitchen. You can read a gazillion online reviews for these items, but I thought it would be fun to share them here on my blog. If any of you own these items, or have used something similar, will you let me know your thoughts? Love it? Hate it? I want to hear from you.

So without further adieu…my kitchen wish list. :-)

1. Miyabi Evolution 7 inch Santoku Knife
knifeMy knife set, a wedding gift almost 11 years ago, has seen its better days. It’s getting really hard to keep a sharp edge, which makes all the cooking I do a little annoying. I used this knife at a store display in Chicago called SurLaTable. They had potatoes and carrots available to practice chopping, and I fell in love with this knife immediately. Who knew I could love a knife?! :-) I also loved the Wusthoff knives. I’d love, love, an entire block set of either of these knives, but good grief….you could purchase a room full of furniture for what a whole set costs! But one good knife might be a possibility sometime. What about you? Do you have a set of knives you love? I’d love to hear!

2. Keurig Rivo Machine
rivoTo those who know me well, it should come as no surprise that I fell head over heels for this machine when I saw it in an amazing Chicago store called Eataly. My coffee-loving heart about burst when I saw a Keurig that could brew my espresso AND steam my milk. At the same time!! Who knew?! We are the only ones on both sides of our families that do not own a Keurig of some sort. Thinking maybe this should be our way to join the Keurig club?! :-) Does anyone, by chance, have this machine? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

3. Breville Risotto Plus
risotoThis is not your average slow cooker. It’s a crockpot/sauté machine, rice/grain cooker, and risotto maker. Oh my! I personally love risotto, but hate making it. Typical risotto  requires almost constant stirring of the creamy rice mixture the entire time it cooks, usually around 45 minutes. Seeing as how my kids would probably destroy the house in that 45 minute chunk of unsupervised time, I’ve only made risotto a couple times. But with this machine it’s virtually hands-off, and cooks in less than 30 minutes. I can handle that! It also sautés the veggies prior to making the risotto, and cooks other grains like rice and our ever-favorite quinoa. It looks so awesome!

4. Digital Kitchen Scale
I don’t have a particular one in mind that I’d like to have, but I would love a digital scale. There are a lot of baking recipes that could be improved if I measured the weight of the ingredients, rather than the volume. Do you have a digital kitchen scale? I’d love to hear which one you have, and if you like it or not.

5. Silpat Mats
silpat
I go through a lot of parchment paper around here, and would love to replace that with something re-usable, like these baking mats. I know lots of people love them!

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on some of these kitchen items, or thoughts on some of your favorite must-haves in the kitchen. And now, in the spirit of cooking and baking, I’m off to try my hand at that bread again. Fingers crossed it works better this time!

Blessings, everyone!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 62 other followers