Sunday, May 31, 2009

overheard

1) Ben: Kyle, you're the silliest brother I've ever had.
Kyle: And you're the smartest brother I've ever had!

2) Kyle, as Owen starts crying: I didn't do anything to make him cry this time!

3) Singing, "Get your chicks on Route 66..."

4) Kyle: Is Daddy going to take you to [cooking] class tonight?
Me: Nope, I'm taking myself.
Kyle: But how will you know which room to go into?

Friday, May 29, 2009

me, today

I have not one, but two exciting things to share!

First of all, you can read the story of Owen's birth, over at Momma Molly. I'm doing a guest post today on her wonderful blog. Hop on over; it's chock-full of recipes, encouragement, parenting information, and great ideas!

I was honored to be asked to share Owen's birth story with her readers. It was an amazing, intense, unforgettable experience. I was so blessed to be able to labor and birth at home, and even more blessed with the fruit of my labor.

The second thing is that tonight I'm heading to cooking class! Kimi Harris at The Nourishing Gourmet is hosting a series of three cooking classes. Her site is one of my absolute favorites, and I was thrilled to find out that she lives only 20 minutes from my house. I'm so excited to meet other whole foods enthusiasts, make new friends, and see a real traditional cook in action. I'm not sure whether she has any more spots left, but if you live in the area, and are interested in attending one of the available classes, check it out! I'll be attending all three, and I can hardly wait.

It's such an exciting day!

I have more exciting news coming in the next few weeks. Until then, I guess you'll just have to wait and wonder...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

two of me

There are two of me...

One shops at Old Navy and the Gap outlet store... the other wears long flowing skirts, henna tattoos, and Birkenstocks.

One would love to travel...the other is a decided homebody.

One champions traditional foods and food prep methods...the other adores her food processor, stand mixer, and toaster oven.

One believes that spontaneous labor is almost always best...the other languished at the end of her last long pregnancy, trying every "natural" method possible to try to get things started.

One loves nearly everything about breastfeeding...the other almost always feels antsy to wean her baby at around a year.

One has sworn off refined sweeteners for herself...the other hasn't yet taken much of a stand for her kids' own health when we're away from home.

One is a planner by nature...the other has determined to leave her fertility in God's hands.

One would love to have a daughter someday...the other gets extremely upset when people offer sympathy for the fact that she has three healthy boys.

One loves having a clean house...the other much prefers blogging to cleaning...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial

I would like to take a moment to say "thank you" to those who so bravely serve our country, willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. We hear so often that freedom isn't free, and it's true. I'm sure that there are innumerable details of which we remain unaware ~ both good and bad. But the fact is, these men and women are willing to lay down their lives for the United States of America, and her people. I cannot fathom what it must feel like to be in that position ~ but I'm grateful.

I never knew my Uncle Mike. He died in Vietnam, years before I was born. My father's only brother, he is known to me only secondhand. He was only one of so many who have fallen in battle, but he and I are connected. I will always remember my unknown Uncle Mike, my father's big brother.

So tonight I'm thankful for those who were willing to take the fall for me. May God bless America, and have mercy on us.

"Not me!" Monday

Yes! It's the moment you've all been waiting for. "Not me!" Monday is back yet again, as created, encouraged and endorsed by MckMama of My Charming Kids. For a refreshing read, as well as some breathtaking photos, hop on over to her blog today!

I always, always find it endearing when my 3-year-old sings "The Bare Necessities" (from the movie "Jungle Book") at the top of his lungs while clearing the table. Even if I am trying to listen to Pandora Radio.

I am absolutely not dying to learn how to make cheese. Nope. I mean, you can buy that stuff at any store...why would I be obsessed with making it in my own kitchen? Even if it is raw!

Speaking of dairy products, I was not tickled pink with my first attempt at making butter with my KitchenAid. It's a pretty lazy way to make butter, and using a churn is certainly more satisfying (and traditional!). I'm sure I wouldn't have been enamored by the rich yellow color, and savored every last drop of buttermilk it produced. But the buttermilk definitely did not make the pancakes we enjoyed this week the best! pancakes! ever!

I definitely did not attempt to give my 14-month-old his 2nd haircut ever (1st with clippers) solo, all the while hoping to hypnotize him into sitting still by putting on home video. I was also not charmed by his waving and saying "Hi-iiii!" to the film of Ben as a baby.

I totally do not think that 14-months old is a bewitching age.

If I had attempted to give my little guy a haircut without the aid of my husband, it certainly wouldn't have ended with me not being able to reach his neck, getting him out of his chair, and eventually chasing him around the living room on my knees, trying to "even things up a bit." No way. That would be kind of pathetic....

Following our hike last week, I absolutely, definitely, undeniably did not, in fact, turn the wrong way when I pulled out of the recreation area. And if I had, I certainly wouldn't have spent 15 minutes driving up the mountain before I realized what I had done. Nope, not me!

Speaking of our outdoorsy outing, a few minutes before our group set off down the path, I certainly wouldn't have been in the middle of changing Owen's diaper when a 5-year-old friend came to tell me that Kyle was hurt. I mean, I would never be caught outdoors, with a baby naked from the waist down, and another child wailing his heart out 20 feet away! But if I had, I'm sure I wouldn't have stood there for a second deciding how serious the cry sounded. Or then hefted the baby up, slapping the diaper over his privates as I hurried over to my scraped-up boy. Sure I would've taken precautions to prevent a situation like that...

Happy Monday!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

counting blessings

This has been a really hard week.

The reality has hit, that our house is really back on the market. We're largely at the mercy of who wants to come see the house, and when. Thankfully, at this point we haven't had to leave at any very inconvenient (read: Nap!) times. Still, it's an emotional roller coaster.

Then, on Wednesday we learned that the house we'd planned to buy has a sale pending. And it seems like it hurts more than it should. Here's the thing: we had decided to make a commitment to this house. We'd examined it, resolved that it would work well for us, invested in it. We paid for an appraisal and two inspections. We took the boys to choose bedrooms, spent hours arranging furniture in our minds.

At the risk of offending (forgive me if that's you, please), I feel a bit like a jilted bride. I was ready to make a commitment, to build a home in this place, to take this thing on for years and years to come. So, knowing that that dream has gone up in smoke, without so much as a "by your leave," smarts. A lot.

We're so blessed to be in this position; we don't have to sell, we just want to. We're looking to "move up," and it's great that we're able to do that. And it's a great time to sell, if you happen to find a buyer who can get a good loan.

So although we've been feeling really sad this week, putting away our hopes and dreams for the present...I'm going to count my blessings.

16Be joyful always; 17pray continually; 18give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. -- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I'm thankful for...
  • a healthy family
  • beautiful, enthusiastic children
  • a place to live
  • a patient, loving, and fun husband
  • Jeff's job
  • the fact that both my parents and Jeff's parents are still married and in love
  • watching Owen toddle
  • Kyle's zest for life
  • Ben's growing more accomplished in his reading
  • the ability to buy and prepare whole foods for my family
  • having a budget (yes, really)
  • my church
  • the friendships that have blossomed in my life
  • the ever-present, undeserved love of Christ Jesus
I could go on, but I'll stop there. My goal is to keep my eyes on God's grace, press on, and remember that "all I have in [Him] is more than enough." (from the song "Enough" by Chris Tomlin)

social creatures?

I am kind of a social freak.

I mean, really. Making conversation has always tended to be a struggle for me ~ the cadence of what to say, and how to time it. When to ask questions, pursue the subject more, or let it drop. It all seems like this mysterious dance, and everyone else seems to know the steps except for me.

Me? I fake it.

I take what I've gleaned from conversations over the years ~ the awkward and the comfortable, chats I've observed or even experienced. I apply the mental notes I've taken on what works and what doesn't. I'm no expert yet, as a good many people can tell you. But I choose to believe that I'm getting better.

This tendency that I have, this social awkwardness, leads to some anxiety. If I'm going to a place where I know I'll be thrust into a conversation with people I don't know very well, I am seized with nerves during the hours leading up to it. Even if it's an event which I've been looking forward to....anxiety bubbles up in my heart while I'm getting ready.

Take, for example, a field trip my homeschooling co-op recently went on: a visit to the local Guide Dogs for the Blind center. I'd been excited about it, and so had the boys. But when the day came, I began to honestly wish we'd never signed up to go.

We went, of course. I rarely let this anxiety actually keep me home. And the field trip was good...aside from the fact that they put children six year old and under (which all of mine are!) in a little room, watching a video on a small TV screen, for the entirety of the trip. Bummer! No tour for us that day. At least we got to pet some dogs, at the end: a small plus.

And the morning of this week's hike, it happened again. The day looked promising in so many ways, but I was once again nearly overtaken by fear of the unknown. Who would be there? How would it be? How would my boys do? And with whom would I find myself in conversation?

It was fine, of course. I got to chat briefly with some ladies I really enjoy from the co-op, and there were some friends from church attending as well. Socially (and in most other respects, as well), it was a great time. I'm really glad we went.

And that's the way it ends up going, the majority of the time. And as for the other times? When the awkwardness is palpable, and I feel like I've made the biggest fool imaginable of myself?

Those are the breaks, I guess.

Do you struggle with the dance of polite conversation? How do you deal with this?

Friday, May 22, 2009

taking a hike

On Wednesday we got together with a group of friends, and had a hike. Well, it was more like a stroll, really...but I was more than okay with that. We haven't taken our kids hiking in a looooooong time, so it's best to break them in gently.

We went to a "recreation area" up the mountain, about 40 minutes away from here. It was stunning, and I have to say that the weather was just exquisite. What a gift!


Here's a photo of Ben and his friend Hailey. Aren't they sweet? They walked, holding hands like this, for quite a while.


Kyle checked out some fish at a spot where we could see under the river.


Hailey, Brooklyn, Kyle, and Benjamin


A little blurry (my apologizes!) but isn't it precious? Owen was such a good boy the entire time, and Hailey seemed to really enjoy pulling the wagon for me. What a helpful girl!

Except when Kyle decided to ride, too. That was a bit much even for her...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

big brother

I just love watching my oldest son actively taking on the role of the big brother.

This week he's been helping Kyle with some of his schoolwork.

Need a sentence read aloud to you? Ben is on the job!

Benjamin loves it! And I'm so proud of him.


Monday, May 18, 2009

"Not me!" Monday

Another Monday morning? Don't fret, for it brings us another edition of "Not me!" Monday, the fun and cathartic blog carnival created by MckMama over at My Charming Kids. Hop on over there to see what it's all about, and join in the fun!

There is no way that I spent my entire day on Thursday cleaning. I definitely wouldn't do that for some unknown potential buyer who wanted to see the house. Nope, not me! They can take me as they find me, for sure.

And I definitely didn't take my two big boys shopping for sandals and other summer gear during our pseudo-naptime this weekend. I would never do anything so rash. And I certainly wasn't so pleasantly surprised at how the shopping expedition went, that I decided to drag them into B&B Works to get some soap.

I certainly didn't buy not one, but two bunches of fresh spinach this weekend at the farmers' market. Uh-uh! Because I am definitely not a recovering picky eater, and I didn't really enjoy the spinach that I sauteed last week, at all. I could never like spinach!

Speaking of food, I absolutely never apologize to the roasting chicken when I stick my hand up its...whatever. Certainly not every time...nope, not me! Why should it feel like a violation of the chicken's person? I mean, that's just silly.

And I definitely don't think I'll never be a vegetarian, unless the Lord sends Gabriel himself to make the request....

Saturday, May 16, 2009

the lesson of the lilac

When life gives you lemons...take photos of your lilacs!


This is the most beautiful year yet for my lilac bush.

It was given to me for Mother's Day a few years ago, by Jeff's parents. The first year, it produced no blooms. The next year, it produced a single blossom. Each year, its loveliness has increased exponentially.
In His Time
by Diana Ball

Ecclesiastes 3:11
"He hath made every thing beautiful in his time:"

In His time, in His time,
He makes all things beautiful in His time.
Lord, my life to You I bring,
May each song I have to sing,
Be to You a lovely thing, in Your time.

In Your time, in Your time,
You make all things beautiful in Your time.
Lord, my life to You I bring,
May each song I have to sing,
Be to You a lovely thing, in Your time.


going places





Boy, Owen is really going places these days!


Friday, May 15, 2009

homemade laundry detergent

I discovered a recipe for homemade laundry detergent through Michele at Frugal Granola. It's been a few months now that I've been making it ~ it's so easy, and extremely economical. So I thought I'd share with you just how simple it is.

The recipe requires three ingredients: Borax, washing soda (found in the laundry detergent area of most stores), and a bar of soap. I use Dr. Bronner's Organic Magic Soap. I've tried using Peppermint, and recently I used Lavender. They're both nice, but I'm especially partial to Lavender!


I'll let you click on the link above for the amounts, but I double of the recipe, resulting in detergent for 36 loads! What an amazing deal.

I use my food processor to grate the soap:

Then I pour the grated soap, as well as the other ingredients, into a big bowl to mix it all up. All that remains is to transfer the detergent to storage containers. I use two large, clean yogurt tubs. To use, I scoop 1 Tablespoon in to the washing machine, and we're ready to roll!*

*Michele did note that she hadn't used this with cloth diapers, and neither have I. I have no idea whether it would cause build-up or not. So, that's the disclaimer for all you diaper washers. I'll let you know the verdict when it's in!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thy Word


(You'll want to scroll down to the bottom of the page and pause the music. And you may need to turn up the volume for this...)

Psalm 100
A psalm. For giving thanks.
1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.

2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.

3 Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his [a] ;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.

5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

perspective

2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. --James 1:2-4

are you ready for this?

Last Sunday Jeff decided to take the plunge. It had been 11 years since his chin had seen the light of day, and more than 6 years since he'd grown his full beard. But at last, he decided to make a bold move.

Before:

During: there's no turning back now!

Who is this guy?

Whoa!

The result: clean-shaven Jeff is back.
His face if familiar, yet not familiar. I am continually doing double-takes. It's been a really long time!

And honestly? I'm totally loving it!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

a penny saved

On Sunday afternoon, Mother's Day, Benjamin swallowed a penny.

He came down from his bedroom, pretty panicked at first. Even after the penny had worked its way down his windpipe a bit, he was really agitated. Jeff was the first one "on the scene" and was wonderful. Very calm, he got Ben some bread to eat, hoping it would help ease the penny down, since it was clearly not going to come up.

Benjamin was extremely dubious. "But then it'll go into my stomach, and I might die!!" Jeff assured him that he would not die, but that the item in question would eventually be...(*cough*)...excreted. With this new information, Ben agreed to try the bread.

Meanwhile, Kyle calmly, and with great disinterest, says, "Excuse me, guys. Could you move? I need to get my milk." (the scene was being enacted in front of the refrigerator).

(Jeff's later interpretation of Kyle's attitude? "Aw, guys, you think this is dramatic? This is nothin'. Y'all are amateurs!" This seems pretty accurate, to me.)

So, the penny made its descent, and then Ben had some water to chase the bread down. We called the help line the doctor's office, just to make sure we'd covered all the bases. Ben was breathing fine, and he didn't seem to be experiencing any discomfort.

We were fairly certain that things would work out in the end.

You'd think that this scenario would be played out with the 3-year-old, or the orally-adventurous baby. But no, it was our experienced 6-year-old. Our oldest child was, fittingly enough, the first one to launch us into this situation.

Although he does tell us that it was Kyle who put the penny into his mouth. Kyle, for his part, claims he was trying to get the penny onto the bed, but the wind was too strong. Interesting.

Just one more investment which we're waiting to see work itself out...

he walks!

video video

Monday, May 11, 2009

day by numbers - Monday edition

9:50 - time I received phone call about a house showing

11 to 12 - when they said they would be here

4 - times I encouraged the boys to finish up their schoolwork

2 - boys I sent upstairs to clean their room

3 - rooms I swept

4 - rooms I tidied

1 - basket of dirty laundry I hid behind the shower curtain

5 - times I pleaded with the boys to clean their room more quickly

11:00 - our departure time

12:15 - time we arrived back home after fetching eggs and milk, followed by my noticing that there was no business card to be found (he had specifically said he would leave his card!)

12:18 - time I called to make sure they had been here; nope, not yet.

30 - minutes until he thought they would arrive to see the house

3 - boys removed from their carseats

2 - boys given the job of entertaining Owen while I made a quick lunch

4 - lunches I prepared

2 - number of time Owen burst into tears during lunch preparation

10 - minutes to spare when we climbed into the van again

1 - picnic at the park

2 - minutes eating before someone had to use the Port-a-Potty

4 - lunches left on the picnic blanket while we scurried away

1 - biker who got into the Port-a-Potty just seconds ahead of us

3 - minutes pawing through my bag in search of hand sanitizer

12 - times I wondered just when I lost control of my day

30 - minutes playing at the park after we finished eating

1 - child crying when it was time to go

3 - boys upstairs in "quiet time"

1 - completely exhausted mama

Lord, come quickly!

"Not me!" Monday

Another Monday has arrived, and with it, another installment of MckMama's "Not me!" Monday. Please check out her blog over at My Charming Kids. She's an amazing blogger.

Last week, on the first day that the sun really considered shining, I did not agree to take the boys to Imagination Station. I surely knew that there would be wild herds of children there, regardless of whether or not public school has let out for the summer. Thus, I was not utterly dismayed to find the place utterly packed. If I didn't want a crowd, I would never head to Imagination Station.

Also, I certainly didn't call them to eat our picnic lunch after only five minutes of play time. There is no way that I was anywhere near having a heart attack for fear of losing one of my children. I never panic at that particular park, even if there are a hundred thousand nooks and crannies in which to lose track of one's children.

Definitely didn't consider it noteworthy that I left, two hours later, accompanied by the same number of children with which I arrived. I never leave feeling as though I survived that park by the skin of my teeth...

I'm always on the prowl for a cute photo opportunity, so I absolutely didn't leave my camera at home not once, but twice on Saturday. I planned to take those photos all week, so there is no way I'd forget the camera. Or be too proud to take photos for my blog with my cell phone. That would be just silly!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

UPDATE: back in the saddle again

Yes, that's right. We are back in the saddle again, as they say. On Saturday morning we put our house back on the market. Our "buyers" do not seem to have a workable plan for the purchase of our home. We're sad to give up on the one party who's shown interest, and if they work something out, we'll be thrilled. But for now, we really needed to detach ourselves from them. Our house has been off the market for two months, and we don't have much to show for it. Only a mountain of boxes, emptied shelves, and blank walls. Oh, and a bucketful of dreams that are slowly fizzling out....

The really sad thing, for me (well, for all of us), is the likelihood that we'll lose the house we want to buy. If we can buy a new buyer quickly, we may not lose our claim on it. We'll get our earnest money back, but the money we've spend on the inspections and appraisal is likely gone. Unless God sends a buyer our way (ideally a cash buyer!!) quickly, and "our" house is still available when that happens.

So here we sit. House half emptied. A good share of bedroom furniture, photos, etc. in the garage waiting for the moving truck we didn't end up renting. And we have no idea when or if our situation will change. It's maddening. Frustrating. Depressing.

Yet strangely enough, I have a peace about me. When things were going downhill so quickly last week, I asked God to close the door if this wasn't his will for us. It seems that He may be doing just that. I don't have to like it, but I do trust Him. And if this isn't the right time, the right buyer, or the right place to move, then you know what? I wouldn't truly want it, anyway.

I don't know what He's doing. But He does, and that's good enough for me.

"Whatever You're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but somehow there's peace
It's hard to surrender to what I can't see
but I'm giving in to something Heavenly"
~as recorded by Sanctus Real


mothers and motherhood

This morning I read a great post at Frugal Granola. It addressed the fact that Mother's Day can be a very difficult day for many people, for a variety of reasons. A strained relationship with one's mother, missing a mother, the loss of a child, infertility...

I was reminded me of the time when Jeff and I wondered if we might ever be able to have children. Early in our marriage we were excited and full of dreams at the thought of becoming parents. Yet after more than two years of trying to conceive, it began to seem as though that were the impossible dream. I began to feel extremely awkward when I heard people discuss starting a family. And on Mother's Day, I felt like the odd woman out. I didn't want to rain on anyone's parade, but I was uncertain, inexperienced, and out of place. Empty.

I am so thankful that those days are long gone. Indeed, the Lord opened my womb, and we've since been given three beautiful boys and a precious child in heaven. But I hope I will never forget what it's like to linger on the outside looking in. I never want to forget the pain of (even temporary) infertility, and the slow dying of a lifetime of dreams. There are many people out in the world who are walking paths of grief and loss. I hope someone reaches out to them today.

I have been blessed with a kind, loving mother. She is sweet, considerate, and a whole lot of fun. She worked hard to see that my brother and I had what we needed. And though she is the soul of meekness, she has never hesitated to shoot straight with me when I needed it. Thank you, Mama. I love you!

My husband has also been blessed with a wonderful mother...and thus, I am twice blessed. My mother-in-law is an angel, and she is so generous with her time. She's also a wonderful listener, and very pragmatic, which I appreciate so much! Jeff and I are so thankful for her. What a blessing.

When I became a mother, I had a only vague idea of what to expect. I suppose I expected everything to run fairly smoothly, from infancy on, with an eternally orderly home, and laundry that put itself away. Obviously, that was not to be. Here in my home, I am constantly engaged in a struggle for order, cleanliness, and being caught up on all aspects of laundry. So many times I lose the battle, yet I keep reaching toward my goals...

The thing that motherhood has done, is changed me. Whereas before I might have been prone to seek the most efficient way, now I search for the best way. And although we hear this next concept so often that it almost seems to be a cliche, motherhood has taught me the art of self-sacrifice. Not that I have "arrived," because it is definitely a process. Still, I don't know of any occupation that requires quite so much dying to self. And that, of course, is what Christ calls us to.

22You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24

Today, I'm so thankful for the two women who have mothered me. They've shown me what it means to put marriage first, to serve their families, and to be continually molded into the kind of women God calls us to be. Thank you, Moms.

And I'd also like to say "thank you" to my children. Without them I would never be able to experience this wild, sticky, incomparable ride. I love you guys!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

market day

Today marked the return of our local Farmers' Market; and there was much rejoicing! It was so good to be back again! We made a family outing of it this morning, and came home with quite the bounty.

I had been curious to see what we might find today. I've never really paid much attention before to eating seasonally (and locally), but we've been trying to do that as much as we can. There was the expected asparagus, and we also bought spinach, green onions, apples, and pears. We also stocked upon raw, local honey ~ and the boys always love to have honey sticks!
(No, the apples and pears didn't make it into the photo. Feel free to use your imagination.)
I also bought a candle for my secret sister at church (who, I trust, doesn't read this blog!!) and some body wash for myself.

Last, but certainly not least, we bought a few pounds of wonderful, grass-fed beef. I love it!

I'm greatly looking forward to the next few months, to discover (and buy) more foods which the seasons provide in this part of the country. Eating locally/seasonally is something that's become really important to me. I'm planning to share more about that in the future, but for now, let's just say I'm thrilled to have the Farmers' Market back in swing again!