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


"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
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,

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.
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.