Monday, December 30, 2013

Motherhood is tiring BUT...

Motherhood is tiring.  I think all of the Mommies in the house just shouted their hearty agreement.  We all know it well this time of year, despite our planning and such to make it otherwise.

It's like 24/7 type of tiring. 

I was in a conversation with a friend today and I mentioned that motherhood is tiring.  She said,

"Motherhood is tiring, BUT there is grace."

It echoed through me for hours afterward.  Motherhood is tiring. 

BUT, there is grace!

Yes, I feel drained sometimes,

BUT, there is grace!

Yep, I can't always think clearly,

BUT, there is grace!

You're right that I sometimes get discouraged,

BUT, there is grace!

Just now Hebrews 4:16 comes to mind,

"Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

Lately, I think stepping back and acknowledging this... Yes, I am not enough.  It's true.

BUT, there is grace!
Drawing near to the throne, I find what I need!

Refuse to stay in the drained state of fatigue and discouragement.  Refuse to continue on in failure and pity. 

Shout "BUT, there is grace!" to yourself.  It's what I'll be shouting this week as the Lord takes me higher and further into spiritual victory.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Gratitude

"This is the BEST Christmast EVER.  I love you, Mommy.  Thank you."
- Scooter and Skeeter

(Melted Mommy Heart)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Mountain Christmas Memory

I was driving the Blossoms home from Skeeter's piano lesson the other day and noticed a man with a 4-wheeler hooked up to a rope and a sled.  Two beaming children sat on the sled.  Oh, how I smiled!  What memories!  Back in the mountains when the snow would fly, Daddy (my Daddy, not to be confused with the Rugged, Mountain Man Blossom Daddy) hooked up a rope and sled to the beat-up old brown 1984ish Dodge truck we owned and pull us along the back roads and trails. 

So. much. fun.

Snow covering your face.  Speeds that the National Keep Kids Safe But Never Let Them Do Anything Fun Association would thoroughly abhor.  Cold air blasting your cheeks til they were scarlet.  The faint smell of gas from the Dodge's engine.  The shouting laughter.  The calling to each other from the cab of the truck that we'd fallen off and it was time to stop and reload.  Good times. 

Merry Christmas!  May all your memories sprout from love, especially the love God shows us. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

More on my budget-friendly Christmas Tea Party

I recently shared some lessons learned when the Blossoms and I hosted our Third Annual Mother-Daughter Christmas Tea Party.  I thought you all like to see the very Christmasy pics of this year's tea party. 

 
Dipped Graham Crackers... easy and festive... and inexpensive.  (The Sprinkles are very wallet-friendly at my local Amish Bent N Dent store.)

 
I adapted this recipe from some other rollup recipes that I found.  Amazingly, the Blossoms loved them.  Cream Cheese, Taco Seasoning, Green Onions, Cheddar Cheese and Chicken
in a Tortilla...
what's not to love. 


Christmas cookies, baked on our big baking day with my sister.  What a great idea! 
So many cookies,
so much fun,
so little stress...



I already harped a little on these Mini Mousse cups.  If you don't have a recipe, tinker around and adapt, adapt, adapt.  Recipes are FOR perfecting.  Next time I'll try making the Strawberry Mousse, more strawberryish somehow.  We were thinking maybe Mini Trifles next year.  Hmmmm...
As you can see, I opt out of Pinterest Perfection for Blossom practice on the Food cards. I like the homey, handmade touch it gives. 


 
In my many Thrift Store trips, I will someday get a plain and pretty tea pot or two.  Until then, my sister (a tea party fanatic) is always willing to lend her festive tea pots to us.  

 
The decorations were a lot simpler this year.  I'm claiming Sweet Pea as my excuse.  Still, the Blossoms arranged these festive bulbs on the table.  And, they were so happy with it.
The point is
HOSPITALITY.
The Blossoms really enjoyed this little bit of pretty-fying our dining room.  Next year, I'm hoping to snag a few new ideas from my Pinterest Christmas Tea Party board.  But, this year, I rejected the Mommy guilt.  They were happy.  We achieved our purpose.


Much as I love Pinterest, I let go of the perfection in another area.  The Three Blossoms (not to be confused with the Three Stooges) each decorated six favor bags (Hey, a Mommy's gotta be fair!).  Skeeter made the sign.  And the bags had a Poinsettia Hair Clippie, made by all of us.  Skeeter had her first hot glue experience.  (ouch - no permanent damage done though)  We also included a bag of caramel popcorn, which is always a hit.  I always have a million favor bag ideas, but I take myself back to the point. 
 
Budget-friendly Blossom Hospitality


This is our pretty tree - put together and decorated by the Blossoms.  I love its festive-ness!
(That pink rocking chair ornament has been around since I was in first grade,
which makes it virtually an antique, right?  Especially considering the fact that I turned 33 yesterday!)

 
The first year I did this party, I did it for under $30.  I didn't bother to total things up this year, but it didn't set us back, at an already financially crazy time of year. This tea party has taught me as much as the it has taught the Blossoms.  Hospitality doesn't have to be expensive.  It comes from a generous heart and it blesses people.
 
(all photo credit to the ever-amazing Naomi Elle Photography)

Friday, December 20, 2013

What Motherhood Is Like

Motherhood is...

- Buying scotch tape to keep in the Miscellaneous drawer, school drawer and in the supply closet.
- Going to wrap gifts and finding NO tape. 
- Catching Blossoms' using the scotch tape for things like making a pretend sleigh for a new reindeer or making a wise man crown for Sissy.  (Glue takes too long to dry and doesn't hold as well, I'm told.)
- Scolding loudly at the incessant use of scotch tape.
- Forbidding the use of any more scotch tape for miscellaneous crafts because mommy needs scotch tape this time of year.
- Feeling bad because Blossoms then volunteer to pool their own money and buy scotch tape for various crafts.
- Assuring Blossoms that they CAN use and ARE allowed to use the tape for little crafts.  Mommy will just buy more.
- Reaching into the Miscellaneous drawer for the scotch tape, only to have to walk to the complete opposite end of the house to locate the lone roll and
- Promising myself that I will purchase a TEN PACK of it the next time I'm at Walmart.
- Buying 3 extra rolls of scotch tape so they can each have one in their stocking (Daddy's idea!)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Who Do I Look Like?

Skipper came into the kitchen, desperately trying to maneuver a hooded sweatershirt onto herself, by herself.  After Mommy helped her, she pulled the hood over her head and stuffed her hands deep into the pockets, only to announce,

"Yook Mommy, me yook yike G'ampa!!!!!!!!!!"

(Grandpa likes to wear hooded sweatershirts, with the hood up when he walks and prays in the winter time.)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas is about Receiving

Skeeter came to me tonight.  She'd obviously been mulling over something. 

"Mommy, Pastor Darrell said that Christmas is about RECEIVING."

"That's true, Honey.  He did say that." 

She seemed bothered that that was opposite what I usually say.  But, Christmas really IS about receiving... receiving God's gift of Salvation - Jesus Christ's life sacrifice for us.  And, that is even more important than our emphasis on GIVING gifts - my attempt to de-selfish-ize Christmas in our Blossoms.  We can't be selfish and emphasize receiving material gift!  We ought to focus more on giving gifts, yet it ought not overshadow so great a Salvation!

Monday, December 16, 2013

In the Rural Land

My friends, we had a gloriously beautiful snow storm on Saturday.  The Rugged, Mountain Man hunted and I wrapped up some Christmas details... Sweet Pea and I watched out the window, as the Blossoms burrowed in their snow piles and forts, frolicing and romping with energy, popping their heads out of their tunnels like little Jack Rabbits.  That glow of satisfaction filled my heart.  I thought back to the time when it was me and my siblings trouncing around in the snow.  My Mom probably looked out the window and smiled and thought these happy thoughts too.  They were sweet thoughts, that danced through my usually busy, distracted brain.  I prefer the slower pace.  I prefer to have that time to think and be thankful and such.  God is better able to speak to me.  Or ahem, I am better able to hear Him then.  In any case, yes, I do have those tired-mother-type Thank God They Are Playing Out There and Running Off Energy thoughts too... but there is underlying gratitude, lots of it.  And I love to revel in those sparkling moments when my heart feels like it will burst.

And then, we went sledding.  Sweet Pea sat, a round, pink bundle in the stroller and just watched contentedly, while I gave the other girlies a big push... and the giggles and squeals of delight ensued.  We even got Jake on a sled.  Entertainment at its finest!  Anyhow, I must run.  The internet was down all weekend and is just now back up.  I wanted to give a short hello from this life in the Rural Land... and then off I go, back to the Domestic Land... engineering schooltime and cranking through dishes and wash and such.  Merry Christmas...

Friday, December 13, 2013

On Why Everyone Needs an 8 year old for the Holidays OR Tea Party Prep Stuff

This year, instead of those lovely super mini-cupcakes baked in wax-paper ketchup cups, I was initially going for tiny fruit cups... with our budget-friendly Mother-Daughter Christmas Tea Party, I always shy away from the wonderfully delicious fruit tray with dip, to something a little less expensive.  (I'm learning to plan food the budget way... still nice and tasty too... just not always the first thing that comes to mind...) And, I wanted the girlies to be able to make it.  So, I came up with Nutella Mousse and Strawberry Mousse.  A little Cool Whip, a little Cream Cheese, some powdered sugar and then the flavor agent, either pureed frozen Strawberries or Nutella (that my bent-n-dent store sells for only $1.19!!!  Needless to say, Nutella lives in my pantry cupboard now.)  Anyhow, as we piped the Mousse into the tiny containers, painstakingly sprinkled on tiny garnishes (because garnishes are Tea Party NECESSITIES) and took them outside to stay chilled, I expressed that it would be the perfect dainty Tea Party edible.

Mommy: "Yes, Honey, I made up the recipe."
Skeeter: "You're a GENIUS, Mommy.  You really know how to make our Tea Party GRAND!" 
(Mommy heart pitter-pattering in joy)

Of course, during Tea Party Prep, one must have Christmas music... all day.  all night.  I realize that this would stretch some.  My friends, Christmas music is a staple here, year round, no joke.  I ended up with, "Here comes Santa Claus" stuck in my head though. 

Mommy: "Why do I have THAT song stuck in my head?  I don't even like that song... or Santa Claus!"
Skeeter: "Mama, people turn perfectly nice holidays into stuff about make believe people!"

Now who's genius?  (Just like we're not big Halloween folk, we're not big Santa Claus folk.)

We are enjoying the Christmas season, with all of it's ups and downs...  speaking of up, there was one more last night.  I got to read Dr. Seuss' "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," out loud, with special voices, to all the girlies last night.  And I read the whole thing.  The whole way through!  With practically no interruptions!  That is definitely still one of my favorite stories... perhaps the success was helped by Skeeter playing with Sweet Pea on the floor while I read with Skipper and Scooter on either side of me.  Maybe the point of this whole post is that everybody needs an 8yr old for the holidays...  :)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Lessons Learned - Parties with Small Children

Last night was our Third Annual Mother Daughter Christmas Tea Party.  As always, there were lessons learned.  I actually wonder if a person ever stops learning lessons.  Probably not...  I just hope the lessons get less painful as time goes by.

Lesson #1 - Leave LOTS of time.  I planned on the girlies doing all of the work alongside of me.  What I failed to remember is that you can't crank things out like your normally do.  My "Quick" Microwave Caramel Popcorn recipe that we traditionally (3 years in a row makes a tradition, right?) use for favors took three time as long because Scooter and Skeeter made it.  But they really made it.  And, that makes me smile as I sit here and type.  I will be honest and say that I wasn't smiling when I was cleaning up the corn syrup puddles off the counter and repeating, "DO NOT LICK THE SPOON. or DO NOT EAT THE BROWN SUGAR."  But, I'm smiling now.  And, proud of them.  In a good way.

Lesson #2 - Do not plan games that use or involve the word, "Out."  Small children just can't handle the exclusion.  While the parents thought it somewhat amusing, nobody like theirs to be the small child that's bawling their eyes out.  Little ones just think they're in trouble or suddenly not allowed to play anymore for some strange, weird reason.  I should've known better.  Now I do.  Next year, I'm thinking Pin the Star on the Christmas Tree or something like that.

More lessons to come... right now, real life calls. 

Merry Christmas,
Dominique

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Point of Parenting

As I found in my Christmas shopping with the girlies the other day, I'm finding I have to remember the point of all that I do our Blossoms.  Otherwise, I get caught up in making things super Pinterest nice.  Or, I want to use MY creative juices (not theirs)... Or I want to please other people... or a million other motives.  It isn't the point though.  For example, the girls and I are hosting our Third Annual Mother-Daughter Christmas Tea Party tomorrow night. 


This Tea Party was a scheme I cooked up for a few reasons:
- a get-together for their little friends and mine
- to teach the girlies hospitality (not entertaining) and planning for hospitality
- a budget-friendly party that doesn't burden us over the holidays


The first year was a smashing success.  The Blossoms were delighted, their friends were delighted, my friends were delighted and for a whole $30, our wallet was delighted. 


Last year, thinking only of the budget, I (yes ME) planned the menu.  And I made a mistake.  I didn't think about what THEY could do.  Because it is supposed to teach THEM to practice hospitality.  Don't get me wrong, they put in a lot of work to do favors and such.  However, the food required my minute handiwork and lots of last minute touches to boot.


You learn.  You realize that sometimes you gotta remind yourself of the point.  You gotta say, "Oh yeah.  It's about teaching the BLOSSOMS hospitality.  It's about THEM doing the food.  It's about them being involved."


So, tomorrow, we'll see if Mommy learned a little from the previous year.  I figured though, if it's so easy to just forget... over a party and other things, what else am I forgetting the point over?" 


I gotta remember the point.  Parenting is about that.  Remembering the point.  Keeping the passions and convictions that God has put in my heart, right at the center of it all. 


(All photo credit to Naomi Elle Photography)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Christmas Shopping

We have a lovely thing called a Dollar Store.  It's perfect for taking Blossoms to do their Christmas shopping for each other.  They got their $5.30 and put it in their chosen purse of the day and off we went.  Each Blossom had a basket to tote around.  It.was.comical.  I must say, it stretched me a little too.  They were intently looking for the perfect gift for each other.  And, they'd find something, put it in their basket and then cover it with their hat.  This is where it got complicated.  Nobody wanted the other girls (or Mommy) to see what they'd bought for each other.  So this protective Mommy was having a hard time keeping everyone together and happy... a problem we don't usually experience in stores.  And, Mommy was stretched beyond her limit when Skeeter wanted to be in a completely different aisle than Mommy.  Oh yes, and we finally had to pay for all the purchases.  One at a time, they put their purchases up.  Scooter accidentally dumped her purse all over the floor, poor thing.  Thankfully the clerk just played along with the girlies, treating them like "big girls." 

"Your receipt is in the bag."

It was a good experience for them.  I'm not sure everyone else felt like that.  They didn't like having to wait for us to put 3 baskets away and get all 4 girlies situated with their hats and bags and purses to go back out in the cold.  Now we have a new problem on our hands.  The presents were wrapped with much care and now they're under the tree.  And everyone's a little suspicious and upset with everyone else because they think everyone knows what their getting... or so and so told so and so... BUT they are so excited about each family member getting what they've given them and loving it and being so tickled with it and so on.  Once again, I have to remind myself of the point of why we do these things.  Ever since Skeeter was three, we've taken the girlies shopping, so they know the joy of giving... the importance of thinking of others.  Perhaps next year I will need to do separate trips for each individual Blossom... we'll see.  For now, it was enough to see that grin on their faces and shine in their eyes.  :)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Chicken Chasing 101

The nitty-gritty details of being a helpmate to your husband vary slightly for each individual woman.  Whether it's watching the local deer harvest forecast or making three trips through rural backroads to the butcher shop, there are many, many creative ways to be a helpmate to your husband.  The important thing is to DO THEM and to do them with a good attitude.  Who cares what other folks think?

On account of Sweet Pea being only 7 months old, we decided this time around to have an Amishman down the road butcher our 20+ chickens for us.  They needed to be there by noonish, but we mommas all know that babies have a schedule all their own... and for the good of the family, we ought to at least consider it.  Well, we figured Daddy couldn't get up at 4:30am to crawl around and load our fine-feathered friends into his study wooden crates.  He'd have to go to work and then the chickens would have to be crammed in those crates until Sweet Pea was appropriately fed and napped and ready for a long time in her car seat.  So, Mommy came through.  "I'll do it.  We can catch 'em and load 'em and drive 'em over.  The girls will help me.  We'll figure it out somehow."  Now Daddy was smart.  He said, "Let's do a trial run.  Can you even lift those crates?  They weigh as much as the girls do."  And I passed with flying colors (mostly).  Maybe those muscles acquired back in my gymnastics days haven't quite turned to mush yet.  Early Monday morning, I dressed in my oldest, cruddiest chicken-catching clothes, skipped the makeup, hurried the girls through breakfast, nursed Sweet Pea as much and as often as I could and when all was calm, we headed downstairs.  I gathered coolers... warm clothes for Sweet Pea... duct tape to mark the coolers... warm outerwear for the other Blossoms... the list grew longer and longer.  My brain was being pushed to the limit.  We drove up to the meat chicken pen and one by one loaded the more un-suspecting of the meatheads (forgive the pun).  I couldn't help telling those meaties not to struggle, otherwise they'd bruise their meat and be unfit for my fry pan.  Then, the wiser meaties had to be chased, baited and otherwise cajoled into my beautifully built crates.  (Thank you Rugged, Mountain Man.)  At one point, one rooster trotted forward in response to my calling, (I'm told it was Max) peered at me suspiciously and turned around and squirt-pooped in my direction.  Skeeter laughed aloud, "He just pooped at you, Mommy!"  Picture it - I'm sweating by now.  (Thinking, "Well, Max, if that's the way you want it...")

"Scooter, please keep singing to Sweet Pea." 
"No, Skipper, you may not get out of your carseat.  Please do not aggravate Sweet Pea." 

"How many more do we have to go, Skeeter?  Don't let them get back in the coop!  Keep them in the run!  Here, you block off that escape!"
"Stop struggling you meathead!"
"Scooter, please talk to Sweet Pea some more." 

Perseverance was the key, I suppose.  We loaded up the rest of the laying hens, who were destined for chicken and waffles.  That part went something like this. 

"Open the coop door, Skeeter.... Close it."
"Open the crate door, Scooter... Close it." 
Repeat eight times.  It had a beautiful, efficient rhythm to it, nothing like the chaotic chasing, scrambling and swiping up of the meat birds.  Finally, we're on our way!

Miracle of miracles... Sweet Pea fell asleep.  And, it's way back in the boonies... I almost thought I was lost.  As I was unloading, the Amishman commented, "Wow, who built these crates?  They're really nice."  (Good job, Honey!) 

Drive back home.
Do schoolwork.
Eat lunch.
Get little ones naps.
More schoolwork for older ones. 
Drive to piano lesson. 
Defy GPS and drive out to boonies again to pick up butchered chickens.
Pay Amishman.
Enter screaming Sweet Pea.
Sing Christmas carols at top of lungs to quiet her, until I find somewhere to pull over and nurse Sweet Pea.
Drive home.
Rugged Mountain Man unloads all the gorgeous birds quietly resting in the coolers, waiting to rest easy in our freezer. 
Uh oh.  One short.
Leave message for Amishman.
Rugged Mountain Man talks to Amishman.
Go to bed very relieved that chicken care is over for a few months, but still wondering where the missing bird is.
Wake up.
Receive message from Amishman that missing bird was trying to go home with other family so as not to be ingested by 4 famished Blossoms. 
Leave Rugged, Mountain Man message saying prodigal chicken has been found and is reposing in Amishman's freezer til he can be picked up by Rugged, Mountain Man's wife.
Finish schoolwork.
Defy nasty weather.
Drive to boonies again.
Victoriously lay long-lost bird on truck seat.
Drive home, with no screaming children/babies.
HURRAY!  Chicken Butchering Saga over for another year. 

And, you know what?  There wasn't any yelling or screaming (from Mommy).  Thank God for grace to do the hard things to help.  I can't help but think that I'd chosen to be unhappy about the extra work for me, my attitude would've been wrong all along.  But, there is grace, grace to help.  Grace to see the funny side of chasing chickens with your 8 yr old.


Monday, December 2, 2013

How to Interrupt your Parents

Not long ago, I read somewhere how to teach your child to interrupt.  We've tried lots of things. 

"Don't interrupt, honey."

Then, it was, "Say excuse me, Mommy." 

"EXCUSE ME, MOMMY. 
Excuse me, MOMMY.
EXCUSE me, MOMMY.
When is snack time?"

Are you kidding me????????  I'm on the phone in an important conversation and you pested me like that to know when snack time is!????   That got old fast.  Even Daddy said we needed a new system.  The Blossoms just weren't grasping the whole wait-for-a-lull-in-the-conversation thing. 

Now, they walk up to me and put their hand on my arm or shoulder.  They don't say anything.  They just wait.  When I see an appropriate time in the conversation, I stop and ask, "May I help you, Honey?" 

It's a beautiful thing.  The first time Skeeter came up to me and it led to a respectful interruption, I wanted to jump up and down.  I might have done that.  Maybe not, but I'm pretty sure I praised her.  Out loud.  To Daddy.  Right then.  Maybe it's patience in the works.  Maybe it's respect in the works.  I'm just glad.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Dreaded Sauerkraut

Without consulting each other, the following was spoken:

Skeeter - "Mommy, what is that HORRIBLE smell?"

Scooter - "Mommy, what is THAT smell?"

Skipper - "Uck, what you cookin Mama?" 

It was Pork & Sauerkraut.  Daddy's homemade kraut!  And I threatened them.  The more you complain, the more helpings you'll get.  And DADDY will give the helpings.  (He does not proportion according to Blossom age, size and birth order, as Mommy does.)  They ate it.  They ate it all.  They weren't even at the table for hours!  Victory.  I wonder what I can do to get that smell out of the house before people start stopping over...

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

On Being Overwhelmed

I woke up feeling yucky.  Really it's just sleep deprivation.  If I don't zealously guard the time I go to bed, I don't go to bed.  And, surprise-surprise, then I get less sleep.  Then I am not nearly so nice (meaning GODLY).  Sometimes I call and talk to my Rugged Mountain Man to help me gain perspective, instead of just wallowing in my oh-my-gosh-there's-so-much-to-do moments.  He's a great guy and he helps me.  One thing he said today hit me like lightning.  It was good practical advice just when I needed it.  He said, "Maybe if you spent more time with the girlies, the house wouldn't be such a wreck."  A little context here before you throw something at my husband (watch out, I have a mean tae-bo kick that I wouldn't hesitate to use)

- The house is generally tidy.
- I do spend time with the girlies.

He knows both of these things.  However, I see all that still needs to be done, after school is over for the day, the cooking, the wash to be folded and the deep cleaning that feels like it won't get done til my children's high school graduation... and I go into panic mode.  Only work, work, work, work.  Balance is the name of the game.  And that's the heart of what he was saying. 

He was bringing balance. 

Which is why I was almost speechless with the wisdom of what he said.  The house is generally tidy.  So, I shouldn't feel compelled to accomplish every item on the task list at the expense of time with the Blossoms.  Balance.  They go crazy-rowdy when Mommy goes into hyper-accomplishment mode. 

Crazy-rowdy equals bad things for tidy houses.  And that's makes Mommies sad.

I like the balance he brought.  It was a timely word.  And then he said, "Have a cup of Earl Grey tea." 

And I had two. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Why do I call them Blossoms?

Your mouth says what your heart believes.  Conversely, sometimes your mouth says words so much, your heart starts to believe it.  Like when I was a teenager and I started laughing along with the dumb blonde jokes.  I started cracking those jokes about myself too.  Then, I caught myself thinking I really was a dumb, ditzy blonde.  Cue abrupt end of dumb blonde jokes here.  I know I'm smart.  I know that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  I'm pretty sure that was the number one verse my Mama taught me. 

I noticed that folks say all sorts of things about their offspring.  And that's their business.  My business is the raising and training of our girlies.  I don't want those little pitchers that have big ears to tune into some conversation some time and hear something that they'll live down to.  I believe these girlies are treasures.  I believe that we are training them up in the way they should go and when they are old they won't depart from it.  I believe the girlies are pearls, cultured pearls.  Beautiful tapestries woven by the hand of God.  Not just kids.  Not monkeys.  Not hoodlums.  Not brats.  So, God helps me to call them Blossoms.  A flower that's rooted and planted in God's love and God's Word.  Growing.  Branching out.  Blossoming.  Into the Rose He intends.  Lifting up a fragrance to the Master.  Our Blossoms.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Where is the Sugar & Spice?

Everybody says that girls are Sugar and Spice and everything nice, but when my the Rugged Mountain Man's colleague sends home hand-me-down socker-boppers
(http://www.amazon.com/Big-Time-Toys-Socker-Bopper/dp/B004SCELN8/ref=sr_1_1?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1385078368&sr=1-1&keywords=socker+boppers),
I begin to wonder if the person who penned those words really knew what they were talking about.  Yes, there is punching.  Yes, there is grunting.  Yes, there is giggling.  I realize giggling is girlish... but it's giggling about punching each other!  Thought you might like to see what a real evening here in our happy little home looks like.  It certainly isn't just braids and bows and dress-up.  (Although, about an hour before they were knocking each other's block off, they were playing dress-up and "going to a ball" with Daddy as the prince.  They ambushed him at the top of the steps when he got home from work.)  As I sat there nursing Sweet Pea, listening to Celtic Christmas music, I enjoyed the giggles.  When Skipper decided to give the socker-boppers a go, she took a running leap at Skeeter, slashed her arm wildly in the air with a wild punch and then lost her balance and landed on her hinder.  And they all dissolved into a pile of giggles.  Sugar and spice and everything nice.  Thank God for little girlies. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Learning the Grunt part of Work

So, Scooter and Skeeter are baking til the cows come home.  Seriously.  Every night they bake a double batch of Jake's Cakes, their homemade dog treats.  And, it has been a test in perseverance.  They are getting tired of it.  Part of me thought, "Oh no.  They don't like this.  It isn't fun." 

(Stepping back making a look of disbelief at myself!) 

I never advertised that this project would be fun, at least that wasn't my main emphasis.  I'd advertised that they could earn money. 

I'm glad they see the connection.  Work is work.  It isn't pretty.  It isn't (always) fun.  It's messy.  It takes TIME.  I like that they are realizing that money doesn't come out of the microwave.  The Bible never condones get-rich-quick schemes (Read Proverbs.)  I really think it's healthy to understand that slow and steady gets the job done.  Last year, after it was all said and done, Skeeter said, "That was a lot of work, but it was worth it."  This is why this Jake's Cakes project is so important to me for the Blossoms.  That's what Scooter and Skeeter are learning. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Joy from Jake's Cakes

Last year, the girlies sold homemade dog treats at a local craft show.  It was such a smashing success that we decided to do it again this year.  I really want our daughters to understand business, to connect work with money and to comprehend the ins out and outs of entrepreneurship.  This is something I experienced being a part of my parents' snow removal company as a child.  It made such an impression on me that I still have trouble when it snows.  I have to restrain myself from loading the girlies into the truck and going out to shovel.  It was such a great experience!  So, just the other day, the girlies starting baking up their tasty Peanut Butter Dog Treats.  And, rose-colored glasses I acquired a week after last year's craft show, fell to the floor and smashed into a million pieces. 

I forgot how much I had to direct. 
I forgot how I had to referee. 
I forgot what a stinkin' mess it was. 
I forgot...

and I was glad that, on account of having a little 6 month old Sweet Pea, I stuck with only one craft show again this year, instead of more.  (Wisdom is a good thing, my fellow mamas.)  Now that we're about 3 batches and 100+ hand-cut dog treats into this journey, I'm glad again that we're doing this.  I can see the lessons being learned already.  And, they aren't just lessons for the girlies.  It's me too.  Real life lessons, the ones really worth learning, are messy.  It's not a pretty sight.  It's down in the nitty-gritty where real life stuff is learned.  And so yes, that's what I have a kitchen for... so three Blossoms can get covered in wheat flour, douse the floor in corn meal and roll out dough to their hearts' content.  Somewhere in there, Skeeter, Scooter and Skipper are learning to work.  To make those treats nice.  To be careful to follow instructions.  To work with their hands in delight.  It's messy, but it's beautiful.

Friday, November 15, 2013

A Fear Funny

The other day the Blossoms awoke and said, "Mommy, we read all of our books can we go to the library today?" 

I am known to say no quite often to many things... but I can't deny that request.  We loaded up the dump truck with the books... just kidding.  I gathered them into the reusable tote bags and loaded the stroller and off we went that afternoon.  If you've ever seen kids in a candy store, that is what our girlies look like in the Children's Library.  It's something of a breathless experience for me.  I've tried to tame it with organization and turn-taking and such, but I realized that I actually *like* the controlled chaos, so I let it be.  And then we got in line.  I let the nice, normal lady who only had like 5 books go in front of us.  Unfortunately, she decided to sign up for library cards for all three of her children... and her account information had to be updated too.  No biggie.  But this was chewing into the time cushion I built into our day in order to make it to piano lesson on time.  All things considered, we got 4 girlies into the truck at lightning speed, another 60 books or so loaded into the back and off we went to literally sprint to piano lessons... we made it.  I got comfy on the couch because Sweet Pea was starting to fuss.  I thought maybe it had something to do with being in a Snugli Front Pack Carrier on an Olympic Sprinter while doing the 50 yard dash.  Turns out, she's hungry... so I peeped into my diaper bag only to find that my go-to, amazingly wonderful nursing cover is GONE. 

Gulp.

Dry mouth.

Few things send chills down my spine and put the-deer-in-the-headlights look in my eyes.  Forgetting my nursing cover is one of those things. 

Deep breath. 

I also don't carry a blanket much because I usually just let my nursing cover double as one.  Ok, time to be a little creative.  A slightly flowy shirt, the cover of the Snugli and the lone burp cloth had to suffice.  That, and I pulled the stroller in front of us for a little more cover.  It did the trick.  Success. 

Boy, was I relieved to find it in the back of the truck after piano lesson.  That's good cuz I was about to send a posse out to canvasse the town in search of it.

I thought you could use a little humor considering some of the gut-wrenching thoughts I've been sharing lately.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

STOP and kick fear out

Long ago, my youth pastor told me that you can't keep a bird from flying over your head, but you can keep her from building a nest there.  Think of that example when it comes to thoughts.  It isn't wrong to think a wrong thought; it's wrong to dwell on or hold on to that wrong thought. 

In one area pertaining to fear, I had to go back to kindergarten.  I have been doing and continue to do this exercise that my parents taught me long ago.  It's based on 2 Corinthians 10:5,

"We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ." 

When a thought of fear comes in, STOP.  (Most of us make our first mistake here.  We grab the thought turn it over, look at it, dwell on it and that's just the beginning of our troubles.)  So, I STOP.  Sometimes I don't remember right away and sometimes I do.  But either way, when I do, I STOP. 

Then, I say, either quietly to myself or out loud, "I take this thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ.  It has raised itself again the knowledge of God." 

If I've been toying with that thought for a while, sometimes I have to STOP multiple times and confess that Scripture a couple of times.  Sometimes I have to repent - to tell God I'm sorry that I let worry and fear creep in again.  Nobody's gonna show up at your door to do this for you.  I've got to get a hold of the peace of God myself.  I can't keep praying for deliverance for fear if I want to keep my pet fear thoughts in my pocket all the time.  The Lord helped me to see this and is leading me to victory.  Be encouraged.  He will lead you to victory over fear. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Irrational Fear

Whether a fear is irrational or not, doesn't make a difference.  To the person being tormented, it's as real as the chair I'm sitting on.  The dread, the panic, it wears on you.  That's what's wrong with fear.  I think of Philippians 4:7... my paraphrase:

"And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension or understanding shall guard your hearts and mind through Christ Jesus."

The peace that comes from Jesus Christ is beyond comprehension.  I may have every reason to have peace or every reason not to have peace.  It doesn't matter.  He is the God of peace.  And I can have that in every circumstance.  ("Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance..." 2 Thessalonians 3:16)  When my children are sick, when my husband is unexplainably late, when I feel weird, when I think of weird things, it doesn't matter, I can have peace... peace that will guard my heart and mind. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Thresholds

The journey through fear was like hiking up a hill.  I'd experience real, tormenting fear over a specific thing.  I'd pray hrough it.  I'd confess the Word.  I'd cry.  I'd be awake at night paralyzed by lies, though they looked so real.  I'd talk to my husband.  He'd pray.  I'd look at the Word again.  And, somewhere along the way, victory would come in the form of peace.  I could move on.  It didn't paralyze me anymore.  It didn't matter what symptoms would say.  It didn't matter then.  The thing some people don't realize is how real the devil is more than happy to make your fears. 

When I was pregnant with Sweet Pea, we made it through the halfway ultrasound.  We got a good report, she was healthy.  Then, a day or so later, we got a voicemail telling me that I should call the specialist's office.  I never talked to this specialist before.  I didn't understand why my doctor had referred me to a specialist when I just had a great ultrasound.  I couldn't get a hold of anyone from my doctor's office after hours that day to find out what was going on.  And, satan had a heyday in my mind.  It was a long night.  In the morning, I eventually found out that my ultrasound results had accidentally been sent to the specialist.  That's it.  It was nothing.  Satan is a pro at taking nothing and turning into something, a big something.  That's fear. 

All along the way, I felt like God was holding my hand.  I was a timid child, something I'm not normally in my walk with God.  I'd always been so confident and sure.  Now, God helped me conquer one fear, walk in peace and tackle the next thing.  That's faithfulness.  I'm thankful that He is. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Mercy is stronger than Fear

"For indeed he was sick to the point of death, but God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, so that I would not have sorrow upon sorrow."
Philippians 1:27

All I know is that verse shot into my heart like lightning.  And I know, God had mercy on Paul so that he didn't have sorrow upon sorrow from losing Epaphroditus.  I saw the mercy of God in that passage.  And I knew, in my weakness, my sorrow, my fear, I needed mercy.  In the New Testament, I began to see that people would come to Jesus to be healed and they'd cry out, "Lord, have mercy on me."  And, He'd heal them.  They cried out for mercy and faith came next.  Clinging to His mercy caused faith to grow in my heart.  And Sweet Pea was carried full-term and arrived healthy and thriving. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Fear

I've wanted to write this blog post for some time now.  Maybe the lack of big chunks of time to write uninterruptedly kept me from writing.  Maybe it was not wanting to share my struggles that aren't totally conquered.  I'm not sure.  But, I'm sharing it now. 

It's fear.  It stinks.  It's deceptive.  It haunts your every breath.  I'd say two years ago that fear was only a minimal struggle for me.  Then, I lost the baby I was carrying in early 2012.  And, fear is what I walked away with... every day.  Fear of everything.  Fear of losing my husband, our children, fear of bad things happening, fear of tragedy, fear of accidents, fear of disease... just plain fear.  Don't check out on me and think, "You're just one of those worry-warts."  No, I live a real life, with real responsibilities with real people I treasure beyond measure.  Somehow, satan found a way to torment me. 

I know the verse, "Perfect love casts out fear."  I was so shaken and weak then that I was susceptible to whatever came my way.  I could only cling to the foundation somewhere deep, deep, deep in my heart that I knew God is good and He is faithful.  I didn't feel it.  I didn't see it.  I only knew it by faith.  But, that's the core of how I live.  And it was down there when I was shaken.

Later on in 2012 we were expecting again and this is the verse that helped with each day.
"For indeed he was sick to the point of death, but God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, so that I would not have sorrow upon sorrow."
Philippians 1:27

Mercy.  It's stronger than fear.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Thoughts from Last Sunday

Here are a few thoughts from our pastor's sermon last Sunday. 

"Be found working where God put you." 
Whatever season God has you in, whatever place He's put you, get busy doing it with excellence.  Lots of stay-at-home wife-mothers are discontent.  They want more creativity, an e-business, a nicer DIY type of home, better cell phone plan, a career, anything... just always something more than what they've got... I know the temptations.  It's deceptive though.  Be found working where God put you.  It implies contentment.  After all, Godliness with contentment IS great gain.

"Do you have that temporary-ness in your soul?"
This life is temporary.  Heaven is the point.  Heaven is the reward.  Heaven is the goal.  Having that temporary-ness in your soul is something you probably have to fight for every day as you walk through this world.  It's part of being IN this world, but not OF this world.  Folks who are OF this world, think that this place is it.  It's everything.  They think YOLO.  You Only Living Once shouldn't make your plans for this life reckless and uncaring.  YOLO should make you weigh your choices, ultimately choosing the eternal over the temporary.  I do so many things on a daily basis that are meaningless and boring compared to many other folks' exciting, flashy life.  That doesn't bother me now.  God has helped me to see that the fruit of serving my husband and raising our children in a Godly manner won't be seen til Eternity.  I'm good with that. 

And the last thought that resonated with my heart is Revelation 22:20,
"Yes, I am coming quickly."
My heart cried out again as I heard our pastor say it...  He's coming quickly.  Yes, Lord, come.  Take your people to Yourself!  Come quickly!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sweet Pea's Top Ten Toys

Top Ten "Toys" That Are Better Than Items Truly Meant for Babies:

1. Jake - What's better than an adoring Golden Retriever?  Fur to pull, paws to suck on, eyeballs to poke!

2. Pens - Mommy's busy grading schoolwork, while Sweet Pea's busy getting Mommy's pen. 

3. Keys - Mommy's busy bargain shopping, while Sweet Pea's focused on digging the keys out from inside Mommy's fuzzy scarf and putting them where they "should" be, in Sweet Pea's mouth!

4. Wash Basket - A colorful piano, linkadoos and taggie rattles are all left behind for the amazingness of a Wash Basket.  What a remarkable invention!

5. Furniture - The world's largest teething toys.

6. Crinkly Wrappers - Sweet Pea takes our Thou Shalt Not Litter law seriously... except the offending litter, goes straight to the mouth!

7. Watch - It's shiny.  It feels good on the gums.  Deal sealed as baby toy. 

8. Tablecloth - Would Mommy just LOVE to hold her plate in her lap instead of on the table?  Sweet Pea thinks so.  Yank.  Done.

9. Measuring Cups - Mommy flatters herself that this is really the love all things culinary beginning in little Sweet Pea.  It worked for Skeeter, Scooter and Skipper, didn't it?!

10. Paper - Schoolwork, bills, scrap paper, books, it doesn't matter... fascinating and definitely tasty!

And with only 56 days to Christmas, we'll buy her snazzy new toys and she'll play with the wrapping paper I'm sure!  Perhaps, we should rethink this...

Monday, October 28, 2013

Halloween & Tact

Let's start with the fact that I love the holidays.  And by that, I mean Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's.  I mean, I can definitely celebrate

- giving thanks
- rejoicing over Christ's birth
- giving to others
and
- new beginnings!

But, I just can't find anything good to celebrate in Halloween.  (I can say that without even going into the awful history and traditions of Halloween.)  For a Christian, a follower of Jesus, the One Who came that we could have life abundantly, I just cannot love a holiday that is all about

death,
witches,
spells,
goblins
and ghosts. 

I just don't get the obsession with Halloween.  And, I'm SO sick of it.  Even my daughters are like, "Why would you do that?"  They were referring to the fake graveyard set up in somebody's yard.  Death and darkness are nothing worth celebrating.  Death is a reality, not a joke.  I can't find anything good to celebrate in Halloween.  But, aside from you all who are listening to my thoughts on the matter, I say very little about it.  It really doesn't come up a lot in our daily lives.  Sometimes, random people in Walmart or the doctor at the Blossoms' well-checkups will say, "So, what are you going to be for Halloween?"  Most people don't really care all that much.  It's just a standard ice-breaker, as common as what is Santa bringing you for Christmas?  And, I try to model tact for my Blossoms.  Those folks don't need an eloquent theological response.  In fact, that's usually a turn-off triggering the gag reflux for them.  I usually go with, "Oh, we're not big Halloween people."  Sometimes people ask why.  They may really want to know.  Then, I realize that there's genuine interest there and I'm free (and ready) to respond.  The Word does say to be ready to give an answer. 

So yeah,

We're not big Halloween people. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Thoughts on Where the Blossoms are at

Sweet Pea is thriving... she sprouted two teeth over the weekend and has started crawling.  She's everyone's baby doll.  Her smiles and giggles are like gold to us.  The Blossoms literally argue over who gets to hold her first in the morning.  She really is the main attraction. 

Skipper's latest kick cracks me up.  She was learning her address and a little geography too.  The result: Daddy brought her M&Ms home, to which she replied, "You're da best Daddy in A-mair-I-cuhhhh!"  And now that's the way she shows her affection.  "Mommy, you're the nicest Mommy in America..."  (Balm to Mommy's soul, considering her other experience)  "Sweet Pea is the nicest sister in America..."  She emphasizes each syllable in a way that only a 3 year old can with those little chipmunk cheeks and rosebud mouth.  Bliss.  (stifling giggles)

Scooter is blossoming into this willing, industrious helper that fills up Mommy's love bank by choosing to dustbust under the couch cushions out of the blue.  The fact that she realized she'd get a prize from the prize basket may have had something to do with it.  Suddenly, Mommy looks around and sees bookshelves extra tidy, cupboards ship-shape and other such wonders occurring.  It makes Mommy want to visit the dollar store to fill the prize basket with trinkets galore... actually, I did have to make a limit of one prize, per day, per contestant.  But, it's had a wonderful effect toward more voluntary excellence in our home.  And, Scooter seems to respond very well.

Skeeter has been interested in 4-H.  Since Mommy & Daddy have finally convinced her that a horse isn't happening any time soon, she's rerouted her enthusiasm to RABBITS.  She's working on a research paper on Raising Rabbits.  We all get to hear about it.  All day.  Every conversation.  Each and every breath... with a gleam in her eyes.  Daddy says she must have Mommy's drive.  I like that, (Thank you, Daddy for that compliment) but it is interesting to see your own traits in your children.  It can also be exhausting.  I think it's safe to say that she's learning about rabbits though.  Mission accomplished.

What a beautiful, diverse life this is... changing... growing... evolving... Thank God for the grace to embrace it and keep pluggin' away. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Cannon Ball... Thud.

THUD.

"Scooter, please do not cannon ball into the tub." 

(Apparently, the rare bath is a treat and required some form of celebratory entrance into the bathtub.)

Well, at least, nobody was hurt.  (Pardon the Ernest Goes to Camp reference.)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Struggling with Nice

Speaking of "Being Real" (see previous post), I had a Mommy Date with Skipper the other day.  Daddy had taken the "big Blossoms" on a bike ride, that was too long for the "little Blossoms" to participate.  So, the day was spent as a Daddy date for the big Blossoms and a Mommy date for the little Blossoms. 

Skipper got to paint her nails.  All.  By.  Herself.  I don't like messes.  And, it is fun to paint little girlies' toenails, (it's a perk of having all girlies) so I usually do the painting, but Skipper is an independent fanatic.  She LOVES to do things by herself.  She'd rather do something all wrong, all by herself, than do it right, with help.  I have to remind myself that this is actually a wonderful trait.  Anyway, so Skipper got to paint her own toenails as many times as she wanted.  She also shared a Brownie In a Mug with Mommy.  And, I can't even remember what else we did for our Mommy date.  Oh yes, I looked her in the eyes and listened to every story and rabbit trail she invented.  She looked up and said, "Why you being so nice to me today, Mommy?" 

Pain. 
Really.

I like to probe for the truth behind the Blossoms' words.  They rarely say things that don't mean something. 

"Isn't Mommy nice to you other days?" 

"No." 

I separated the 3 year old truth from the other truth.  When Mommy says, "No" and doesn't let her jump on the couch or pester Sweet Pea to tears, Skipper doesn't think I'm very nice.  I understand that. She can't see the long haul that I see.  That she has to learn boundaries.  That she has to understand authority.  But, behind that, I could see her point.  Mommy had been struggling with anger and patience.  A firm voice, but a nice voice (not that get-out-of-my-face-I-can't-take-anymore-whining voice)... more saying yes to what I can say yes to.  Yes, it hurt to hear that from our little Blossom, but I tried to take it like a woman.  I tried to listen to the voice of God, speaking through our child.  May His Holy Spirit work real change in my heart and daily interactions with the girlies.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Is Blogging Ever Real?

Is Blogging ever real?  Ever?  I was wondering this.  In one way, you're getting info straight from the horse's mouth.  But, on the internet, a lot of folks can be whatever they want to be, just by fancy words and nice pics.  And you don't ever have to see the dirty, yucky home stuff that we'd all like to hide.  As I was sweeping the floor, I was thinking of my commitment to never manufacture this Super Woman/Perfect Life fa├žade.  It's never been my goal to radiate a sort of perfection here.  After all, I will answer to God one day for the words I speak and the words I write.  I thought that many people's blogs would be much more accurate if someone else blogged about them.  Then, I wondered, what others might blog about me. 

Here's what I would want someone else to blog about me and our life here at home:
- She really loves God.
- She truly loves her husband.
- She definitely loves those Blossoms and she works perseveringly to train them up God's way.
- She is committed to an excellent schooling experience.
- She keeps her house tidy for real. 

In the end, what I really want to hear about me is,

"Well done, you good and faithful servant."

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Will They Turn Into Their Mother?

On Monday, I shared my happy thoughts of daily life here.  My mind took it a step more.  I'm turning into my mother - my habits, my ideals, my convictions and my "happinesses." 

What will the Blossoms be like if they turn into me? 

What habits will they grow into?  What convictions will be theirs? 

It's another, further call to holiness.  It's true; I can't manufacture a holiness, so they grow up and be Godly.  I'd only pass on hypocrisy.  But, it's something to think on as the Lord searches my heart and shines His light on the things that need to change. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

I'm Turning Into My Mother

I sit in the dim morning stillness in my bed and I read the Word. 

I'm turning into my mother.

I bake up a coffee-cake on a chilly morning, to warm and cozy the kitchen. 
Then, I sit contented with our Blossoms around the breakfast table and chit-chat.

I'm turning into my mother.

I pass the dining room table and can't resist the Thomas Kinkade puzzle in process on it. 

I'm turning into my mother...

It's my childhood, being repeated and it's beautiful.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Noise is Treasure OR Love the Racket in your Nest


I love the new happy noise that we have here in our house.  I'm reminded of a sermon I once listened to by R.G. Kelly from Liberty Faith Church.  (Sadly, I was unable to find it online.)  It was called, "Treasure in the House of the Righteous" and referred to Proverbs 15:6,

"In the house of the righteous is much treasure:
but in the revenues of the wicked is trouble."

Even the noise here is a treasure... signs of little children, learning skills, loving life and singing out in joy.  Hearing Skeeter play "Lavendar's Blue" takes me back to my childhood when my sister was learning that very melody.  We sang that and other tunes together, just as Scooter and Skeeter sing together over the piano.  Right now, Skeeter's playing "London Bridge."  We've learned to recognize the tune of "Go to Sleep, Little Baby," a tune that Skeeter wrote and taught Scooter to play.  I'm reveling every day in the beauty of their childhoods.  It's the treasure in this house.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Glamor and Grammar

"No Scooter, you may not wear sunglasses
while writing your field trip journal entry."

Monday, October 7, 2013

Mommies Must Adapt!

In this post, I wrote to keep trying.  A Mommy cannot give up on the things that are important to her, just because what she is currently doing, isn't working.  I was referring to things like devotions with children, teaching them to work, having a tidy home, etc.  In our own lives, the itty, bitty baby Sweet Pea stage is a new season.  And, what worked in the previous season, isn't necessarily working in this season.  Devotions with the Blossoms are one of those things.  We were doing devotions together at breakfast.  Right now, Sweet Pea wants to nurse at breakfast time.  (Cuz, hello, people getting food, means Sweet Pea should be getting food, right?  It's part of the baby code!)  So, juggling breakfast, devotions and Sweet Pea just wasn't working.  Every morning, though, the Blossoms dive into my bed for a little cuddling with me and Sweet Pea.  So, we've adapted, devotions are happening before we ever leave this end of the house.  And, it's working for us.  We're back to being consistent with Blossoms' devotions.  That's VERY important to me.  I can't give up on something.  I MUST ADAPT.  And, I must adapt quickly.  I've said it before, dry seasons and discouragement have often come because I fail to adapt quickly.  ADAPT, don't give up.  ADAPT.  Change.  Tweak.  Do what it takes to perform the things that are important.  The eternal reward makes it all worthwhile.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Helping Children with Grammar

I was using the song, "Ain't it grand to be a Christian" to teach Skipper the days of the week...

"Ain't it grand to love your sister, ain't it grand?
Ain't it grand to love your sister, ain't it grand?
On Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday
AND ALL DAY SUNDAY!
Ain't it grand to love your sister?"

Skeeter quickly pointed out that I told them not to use the word "ain't."  Good point, Skeeter.  :)  Mommy was caught. 

Anyway, now that the Blossoms are learning correct grammar, Skeeter often says to me, "Mommy, that was what sounded right!"  Usually she has the correct answer.  The importance of speaking correctly has become very obvious to me.  Regardless of what her textbooks say, she is answering the questions based on what "sounds right."  Somewhere, deep inside her brain, are all the words and sentence structures we've spoken to her... and that's what helps her figure out what sounds right. 

I can take this whole thing a step further.  I can preach and teach Christianity all I want, but what I do to her and model to her every day of her life will be what she falls back on.  It will be what "sounds right."   God give me grace to be the model You've called me to be.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

On Thankfulness and Too Many Cereal Choices

My sister and I were roommates back in our Bible College days.  And, we both loved cereal.  No joke, we had what we called, "A Cereal Buffet."  On any given day, there were 10 boxes of cereal to choose from for breakfast.  And, we didn't believe in finishing a box, to open a new box.  They all eventually got eaten.  I've carried on this delightful college tradition.  But it went awry this morning!  When Skipper got the last of the precious Frosted Flakes... Two Blossoms were on the verge of tears... They scanned the FIVE (no exaggeration) open boxes of cereal and said, "There's nothing else to eat!"  Mommy almost melted down... in a righteously indignant sort of way. 

"There are children in other countries who are thankful for a bowl of OLD, MOLDY rice.  I think you can pick something to eat out of these FIVE remaining boxes of cereal!" 

I think we'll be working on thankfulness in the coming weeks. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Four Symptoms of Fatigue

You may have a condition known as Wife-Mother Fatigue if you exhibit the following symptoms:

1. You attempt to place the cereal in the fridge, until you realize that it doesn't matter if Honey Grahams are cold or not.

2. When preparing lunch, you repeatedly hit the button on the microwave, thinking, "Oh no, the microwave is dying!"  That is, until you realize that that was the CANCEL button.

3. When preparing for bed, you start to throw your socks in the garbage instead of the hamper.

4. You realize you wore your panties inside out all day, without realizing it.

Treatment for these symptoms:
Sleep

Either that or.....

CHOCOLATE!!!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Reading as a Family

The Love of Reading really has to be a culture.  This was the culture in my growing up years:

- Mom's idea of relaxing (in her rare "free" time), was kicking back with a Janette Oke book.  Other times, she was perusing books, to okay for my sister and me to read.  She had to keep up with our voracious reading habits... my sister read more than I did.

- Speaking of my sister, in first grade, she was assigned to read the first chapter of Sarah, Plain and Tall during class.  While everyone else read what was assigned, she read the ENTIRE book in that allotted time.  Um ya, that's why I say VORACIOUS.

- Dad read at night... usually the Bible.  That's a given for Mom and Dad.  But, we'd also pester and he'd read aloud Bible stories and other books to us. You don't know what it's like having a story read to you until Dad does it.  He had a voice for every character and perfect inflections.  Close your eyes and let your imagination soar...  On the other hand, we loved watching his face as he read.

- There was a big bookshelf in the hallway.  And, on any given day, we were camped out beside, reading and rereading the selections there.

- My younger brother read too... the Guinness Book of World Records and those sorts of things.  Consequently, he became an encyclopedia of what we referred to as useless information.  :)

- And then, there's my youngest brother... I remember him as mostly being on the receiving end of reading.  The way I read to my children was really developed and practiced in the times I read to him.  Additionally, his reading interests were piqued by our brother, which eventually led to him becoming an encyclopedia as well... 

Sweet memories to last a lifetime... my experiences with reading, growing up.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Growing Up Around Books

Growing up, books and the library were just part of life.  And, it wasn't just because we were homeschooled much of the time.  It was part of our lifestyle, even before we were all school-age and during our Christian school attending years.  This is my mom's philosophy:

"It's hot out."
"Let's go to the library." (Air conditioning!!!)

"It's a rainy day." 
"Let's swing by the library."

"We have errands to run."
"Let's stop at the library."

"We're going for a walk."
"Let's drop in to the library."

You get the idea.  The trips were frequent.  Yes, there are the inevitable searches for missing books, but it's all part of the fun.  I mean, when else would you be motivated to vacuum under the couch cushions? 

I can remember finding a M-I-A copy of a Beatrix Potter book in a dress-up purse out in our playhouse.  This was months after Mom paid the fine.  By the way, Mom, thanks.  I really did think we took it back.  :)

So, learn a little from my Mom.  Every day is a perfect day to go to the library.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Your Local Librarian is Your Best Friend

When Skeeter was just 5 or 6 months old, I loaded up my stroller and drove to my local library.  I met the children's librarian, Miss Nancy, on my first trip to the library in our area.  I said, "I don't know if I'm here too early.  She's so young, but I couldn't stay away any longer!"  I didn't even know what kind of books you read to a nice, little round Blossom like mine, but I was determined to read to her.  Miss Nancy immediately pointed me in the direction of books written by Nancy Tafuri, an author who has come to be a favorite here, and a tradition for our babies.  "Oh Skeeter, we won't just read you board books any more!"  Miss Nancy taught me that it's ok for babies to put books in their mouths.  It's their first "impression" of literacy... and it's tasty, as even Sweet Pea knows.  (just kidding)  Through the years, Miss Nancy has taught me in many ways.  I once attended her (free!) seminar on Early Childhood Education and Literacy.  It still affects how I think about reading to and interacting with my children in their early years.  Once, we were headed out the door on a family camping trip.  I didn't have the time or the resources to order a reference book on Butterflies in our area.  I called in, reserved a book and asked my husband to pick it up.  He came home with a stack of 4 books!  They wanted to make sure I had everything I needed!  Miss Nancy graciously helped me teach Skeeter how to use the library.  She is a fountain of information and inspiration.  Who wrote Billy & Blaze?  "C.W. Anderson."  Where can I find some good animal books for Scooter?  "Just over here..."  I need some ideas for read-aloud time.  "How about Stuart Little?"  I can tell Miss Nancy cares about the selection on her shelves.  She's constantly updating things.  We just enjoyed a new audio version of Mr. Popper's Penguins, a title that wasn't always available on cd.  I'm sure this was brought about by her tireless work.  Yes, your local librarian is your best friend.  There are countless versions of Miss Nancy all over the United States, waiting to meet you and your children, thrilled to answer your questions, share their love of reading. 

Go!

Ask!

May your love of reading grow!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Fostering the Love of Reading

Sweet Pea is five months old today.  She celebrated the occasion by initiating her love of reading.  I was in the kitchen, pulling lunch (and a crockpot supper) together.  Scooter was lounging on the floor beside Sweet Pea, reading to her... a book about wind.  I smiled and kept on with my work.  It makes me happy to see the love of reading growing in two girlies, simultaneously.  Next thing I know, Scooter's chomping away at her lunch and Sweet Pea's chomping away on her book!  (Don't worry, she was fine.)  But, I did snap a pic to show Miss Nancy, our local librarian.  :) 

There is a real culture of reading here at our happy little home.  The article below talks about that sort of thing pretty succinctly.

http://simplehomeschool.net/reading-the-good-stuff/

We love (and practice) the idea of fostering a passion for reading, rather than pushing them into it.  It's just normal here.  It's just what we do.  Maybe, that's why I didn't bat an eye when Sweet Pea swallowed two pages worth of info on wind.  She's not the first Blossom to have done so.  :)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

My attitude and the Infant Stage or Grace...again.


Skeeter, Scooter, Skipper and Sweet Pea + Real Life = Tired Mommy

I’m tired of even saying that I’m tired.  This evening I was even thinking of banning the word “tired” from my vocabulary.  Seems like the more I say it, the more tired I feel.  Fatigue has repercussions.  Most everyone battles their flesh more so when they’re tired.  That’s how it is with me.  My words sound sharper.  My patience-fuse is shorter.  And, being in public hasn’t been the exception.  I feel like I’m wearing my attitude and my own fatigue on my sleeve. (embarrassing)  “Can everyone see how icky I’m acting?”  “Did everyone notice the way I scolded my Blossom?”  I mean, at least, if I'm going to battle the flesh, I'd like to do it in the privacy of my own home.  However, far more important than what everyone does or doesn’t see, is what God sees.  And, He sees it all.  Grace is what I need.  I apologize to my children, yet again, which is so humbling.  And, I stop to ask Him for grace (again) to carry out today’s responsibilities (again).  He always answers with that grace (again.)
The pursuit of holiness has to be for the right reasons... not just because people see my lack of it.  I will continue to pursue daily, ordinary holiness in order to please God, whether tired or not.  And if I fail today, in public or at home, I'll try (again) tomorrow.

Monday, September 16, 2013

I don't homeschool for bragging rights


I don’t homeschool to make my kids smarter than yours.  I do think that children who get one-on-one instruction tend to fare better, but one certainly can homeschool for the wrong reasons.  Almost every parent deals with the competitive side of parenting at some point in their parenting journey, whether it is whose kid eats solids first, potty-trains quickest, is the politest or has the sweetest personality.  But, I don’t homeschool to make my kids smarter than yours.  It would be an unpleasant journey if that were the case.  I’d spend every day push, push, pushing the Blossoms.  Learn more.  Learn quicker.  Learn better.  I do strive to help them progress.  I think I am a pretty tough teacher, but I refuse to spend every day pushing them so I can look better.  I don’t homeschool for my own pride’s sake.  I don’t homeschool for bragging rights. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Nice

I was discussing our children's safety with my friend, Red.  You see, in our daily life our Blossoms have been or will be encountering some new, nice people.  I'm just not sure if they are trustworthy or not.  So, I was mulling over what the "rules" should be in regards to playtime and conversation.  I need to have the boundaries in place and clearly defined for the girlies, but Red wisely pointed out,

"Anybody can be nice." 

Excellent point.  Anybody can be nice.  It doesn't mean they are trustworthy companions or supervision for our children.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Lean Strong

"Every morning lean thine arm upon the windowsill of Heaven,
and then, lean strong to meet thy day."

I read this quote several years ago in a book on solitude lent to me by a friend/co-worker.  It remains a favorite quote of mine to this day.  Some day, when I have spare time again, perhaps I'll paint it on our bedroom or bathroom wall.  It stands as a much-needed reminder, similar to the one I had hanging on the back of my bedroom door when I was a teenager.  That sign said, "Have you read your Bible and prayed today?"  A family friend came to visit, stayed in my and my sister's room, and took the sign with her when she left, because she liked it so much.  (I gave it to her; she didn't steal it! :)  We need these kinds of reminders, when we're feeling our morning invincibility... the kind that eventually leads to the oh-my-goodness-I'm-on-E-and-there's-still-much-to-do-so-I-think-I'll-just-cry-now time of the day.   For me, in my current season of having a Baby Blossom, that means I sit down to nurse, take a deep breath, close my eyes and meet with God... again.  He'll enable me to lean strong to meet the ever-present challenges of the day.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Your Life is Funny

That's what my sister told me as I was im-ing her the other day.  "Your life is funny."  :D  It is!  I was finishing up scheduling some stuff with her while the older two Blossoms were working away at schoolwork.  Just then, I said, "Hold on."  This was my explanation at the delay in my response:

"I had to lay Sweet Pea down
and
deal with someone's fit
and
get someone a snack
and
forbid someone (Skipper) to stop jumping off the coffee table..."

It was later followed by, "Skipper, DO NOT wipe Sweet Pea's face with a wet washcloth." 
(Sweet Pea was gasping in surprise at the cold wetness.)
and
"Skipper, DO NOT put your fingers in Sweet Pea's mouth."
and
"Scooter, if ANYONE, and I mean ANYONE, jumps off that coffee table again, they will receive a spanking."

small children = more funniness  :)

Friday, September 6, 2013

Scooter's Birthday

After a day of cinnamon rolls, mac & cheese, brownie-in-a-mug, special candy from Daddy, a new RED scooter and spaghetti (one of her favorites) for supper, Scooter came tramping up the stairs.  She met me at the top and gave me a long lingering hug.  I snuggled her in closer and asked, "What was that for?"

"I'm having a REALLY GOOD birthday," she said to me softly.

Oh, a little thankfulness goes so far with Mommy!  :)

Happy 6th Birthday, Scooter, our sweetie girl!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Not What McClintock Would Do

Sometimes a little husbandly restraint is a really good thing.  No, I'm not really referring to actual literal husbandly restraint like John Wayne did (as George Washington McLintock in the movie McLintock) when he held his wife over his knee and gave her a good old-fashioned spanking.  (Their marriage, which had formerly been on the rocks, was reconciled after that.)  That isn't what I'm referring to.  I'm referring to a Mommy that thinks she can handle it all and do it all - in every season of wife-motherhood.  The reality is that that isn't true.  So, the Rugged Mountain Man said to me, "Do me a favor, Honey, and don't say yes to anything else."  Good words.  Good wisdom.  I'm using them to help me stick to the really important stuff right... just the really, really, REALLY important stuff.  That's what's getting done these days.  So, if your Husband Man comes over to you and shares a similar tidbit, instead of biting his head off or sassing him with your finest comeback, nod your head, smile thankfully and figure out a way to make his wisdom come to pass in your days.

PS - McLintock is a fun date night movie - one of my favorites, in fact! 

Monday, September 2, 2013

See it for what it is

We get discouraged; we get discontent.  Why?  We don't see motherhood for what it is. 

I love this Anne quote by L.M. Montgomery.  Someone was probing Anne about her writing career being left behind and she gracefully stated, "I'm writing living epistles now."

That's what we mommies are doing every day, writing living epistles.  Making true disciples.  Ministering life into growing lives.  Planting and watering seeds.  It's a lot like farming... a lot like writing... a lot like ministry... and so much more. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

In Sweet Pea's Shoes (or booties?)

I was sitting (finally) and nursing Sweet Pea, when I got to thinking about parenting and taking care of itty, bitty babies.  I realized that there's no rocket science about it.  I put myself in Sweet Pea's Shoes. 

If I were a baby, I'd want to be bathed frequently because I feel foul when I'm scuzzy.
If I were a baby, I'd want my diaper changed at once, since having a sore hiney is like Chinese torture.
If I were a baby, I'd want to be carried around and talked to about how to make spaghetti sauce and when Daddy will be home and my silly sisters' antics, because I understand more than you think.
If I were a baby, I'd want to sleep snuggled up on Mommy, since cribs are hard, cold and uncomfortable and make me feel lost and alone.
If I were a baby, I'd like to stretch my legs every now and then on my playmat, because getting my blood pumping makes me a nicer person too.
If I were a baby, I wouldn't want to be handed off and around to strangers, since they are not warm and cozy like Mommy and they look funny and germy. 
If I were a baby, I'd stuff Mommy's necklace in my mouth, because diamonds (not rattles and link-a-doos) are a girl's best friend.
If I were a baby, I'd only want to dress up every now and then, because clean, comfy, everyday clothes make me relax and focus on the important things - getting milkie and sleeping.
If I were a baby, I'd like to be read to, just like everyone else around here.

If I were a baby... you fill in the blank.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

On provoking

I've thought a lot about the concept of pleasing or provoking your husband.  Because there is such a provoking that can take place in a marriage, I could push my beloved man into sin!  Gah!  And, what is ultra-sobering is the thought that God will hold me responsible for my part in that.  (It's like putting a stumbling block in his path.)  I realize that my husband still has his free will and I still have mine, but now that we two have become one, my actions have a constant and direct effect on him (and vice versa, of course).  If I regularly provoke him with my choices, I think God will hold me responsible for constantly provoking him to sin.  It's one way we wives can be like a drippy, leaky faucet - choosing what does not please him and him having to fight all the harder to live a holy lifestyle.  Isn't there enough sin and worldliness for our husbands to fight against in this life, without having to battle the provocations of his own wife as well?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Where are the bake sales?

I survived Walmart today only to meet with some nice little boys at the exit with buckets for me to throw money in... for youth football.  Gag.  Amidst corralling 2 walking girlies, pushing 1 full cart with 1 girlie in it and me wearing 1 girlie, I thought, "Is this what our society is coming to?"  Kids are now taught to beg for money for their programs.  So many times I've thought of speaking with the chaperoning adult to let them know I would've happily bought a brownie or two... okay four, so there'd be enough for Mommy AND the Blossoms.  The only buckets I put money in are the offering baskets at church and the bell-ringing ones at Christmastime, which are totally different concepts - giving God the best and giving to the needy.  Football, cheerleading and such are not needy.  There are a few car washes left out there, but where are those irresistible bake sales?  Growing up, I got sun-burned washing cars for my gymnastics team.  I baked LATE into the night (okay morning) hours for youth group bake sales.  And, I learned that you work hard and long and that's how the funds grow.  Nowadays it's oftentimes just kids with buckets.  The blaring message is, "If you or your program needs something, just stand there and beg."  Was there work involved?  Nope.  Was their sacrifice?  Nope.  Was there a lesson learned?  Nope.  Just more entitlement mentality being fostered in our youth.  Would somebody PLEASE bake some brownies and I'll happily plunk down my quarters?!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

To Please or to Provoke

My rugged, mountain man husband and I are celebrating our 11th anniversary today.  We are very blessed to be happily married.  As I was reflecting on these blessed and beautiful years, my thoughts turned to share-able wisdom.  This is how I summed it up.  Lots of women will submit to their husband, as long as he flat-out puts his foot down about something.  It's the other little things that getcha though, I'm convinced of it.  I've always loved the verse that talks about how the married woman is concerned about pleasing her husband.  There's the key right there - PLEASING your husband.  I've discovered that I have the power to please him or provoke him in many, little everyday  things.  After 11 years, I know his preferences well and I am concerned with how I can please him.  It makes me sad when I hear women say that their husband doesn't like to have a lot of people over, but they do it anyway.  Their husband doesn't want them to go somewhere, but they do it anyway.  Their husband doesn't want them to spend the money, but they do it anyway.  Well, hurray for you - you didn't flat out disobey your husband.  (big time sarcasm) 

But you sure didn't please him. 

I do miss the mark sometimes, but I'm looking forward to many more years of being able to please my husband, even in the little thing.

Friday, August 23, 2013

A New Favorite Part of Our Day


TEATIME!!!!!!

I recently read an article suggesting teatime as a fantastic idea for connecting with your children on a daily basis.  It fit perfectly into our routine.  My husband even agreed.  "If you don't have the time, MAKE the time," he said, as I expressed my interest in this new tradition.



It's official.  The Blossoms LOVE it.  I love it!  Every day at 2:30, we sip and chat.


Neither the food, nor the beverages are the point.  The looking into their eyes and listening is the real point of it all... subtly hidden behind raised pinky fingers and sweet girlish giggles.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A New Happy Noise

Our house is real... lived in... alive... vibrant... pulsating with activity.  There are always signs of this life everywhere, things like open books scattered here and there or flip flops at every doorway.  I've got a new favorite though. It's the piano!!  We're only 3 weeks into Skeeter's piano lessons, but interest from all Blossoms has only grown. The piano is always open now.  I hear little melodies from waltzing fingers here and there and it makes me smile.  Yes, they are happy noises from a happy home.