Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Learning to Crochet?

Determined to spend a little more time doing the things we want to do and don't, we sat down to learn how to crochet today (among other things). 

The Littles did not think this was fun.  Mostly because I started with the Big Blossoms.  So there was crying and climbing on Mommy and the general chaos that seems somewhat occasionally normal around here.  It kinda reminded me of that 4-H project Blossom1 and I did together. 

As I was sitting there, straining to be patient as I situated little girlies' hands into the proper (and very unnatural) grip, I realized something.  Teaching your kids is hard.

That's why most people don't do it.  ("If this is hard, how am I going to teach them how to drive?")

But, I've been telling the Blossoms that anything worthwhile isn't going to be easy. 

It wasn't beautiful or picture perfect or peaches and cream, but we plowed through the chaos.  (This is actually grace in progress.)  They are learning how to take turns for Mommy, how to try something a little difficult and how to keep concentrating.  And, even the Little Blossoms got to be involved eventually.  They liked it, of course! 

Friends, I encourage you to do the hard thing - teach your kiddos something good.  In doing that hard thing of teaching them, you are teaching them more than just how to crochet.  These are necessary and worthwhile lessons of things like giving a soft answer, using patience, exercising diligence and so much more.

Monday, December 29, 2014

A Glimpse

"Yo, Christmas is cool!"  (Says the dog that has eaten way too many Christmas shniblets!)

In any case, here are a few little photo blurbs from our week. 
We always wait til Christmas morning to put Jesus in the manger. 
It's a terrific way for the Blossoms to kick off the morning.

My most FAVORITE part of Christmas Day and the entire week was UNO! 

Yep, UNO.

And, Blossom3 won the first game... for real!  We all enjoyed playing games together Christmas evening while we snacked and listened to Christmas songs.  Honestly, it really was the best part of the day for me.  The best things about Christmas are virtually free!

The Little Blossoms helped me put the sticky buns together for the next morning. 
I loved this slower pace!  (Mama isn't compelled to be so snappish.)

Ahhhhhh, yes, chillin' at grandparents' house with my feet up! 

I also learned a very important lesson this past week.  Be careful what you sign up to bring to parties.  In the past, I make whatever comes to mind or whatever is budget friendly, etc.  I'd get to a few hours before a party and be so tired, I just didn't feel like making what I'd planned.  This year, I tried to consider what would look nice, taste nice, be budget friendly, travel-friendly AND would be easy for me to make.  I have to say, I enjoyed the holiday season MUCH MORE.  Perhaps you don't quite grasp this until you're a mama trying to herd your crew out the door, looking somewhat presentable in their holiday garb AND have good food to share as well.  The little extra thought and planning made everything better for me... which, as you know, means a happier family too. 

I'm thankful for a nice Christmas, full of God's blessing on family and friends. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

What Today Is

It's my birthday today!

- I reserve the right to lock the bathroom door and do my business in peace. 

- I will eat dark chocolate for breakfast and maybe for lunch, too. 

- I will not mop the floor, unless I feel particularly inspired to do so. 

- I will finish every sentence, every reason and every conversation with, "Because it's my birthday."

- I refuse to rush through my makeup and hair prep, no matter who says they're starving... "Go eat a Christmas cookie, Honey... (because it's my birthday)."
- I plan to sit down on the couch and stare at the tree with blaring Christmas music in the background for longer than 15 seconds.  I will not feel guilty about it. 

- I will laugh at the wash. 

- At naptime, I will tell myself that I have absolutely nothing to do today and I will sleep if I feel like it. 

- I will thumb my nose at the dishes. 

- I will paint my fingernails with the Blossoms, even if the polish will be chipped off tomorrow. 

- I will bask in the blessings of a loving husband, sweet Blossoms and a lovely, cozy home, even if the house is a little untidy today and the Blossoms may or may not whine.  I will bask nonetheless. 

I am abundantly grateful for His hand upon my life.  May I use the coming year to glorify Him.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Bloggin' & Printables

If you haven't met Pinterest yet, you're missing out on a whole lotta good things in one place.  Particularly, I love free printables.  I used free Frozen printables for the Christmas Tea Party.  I've used them for a 1 Year Vintage Bluebird Birthday party.  I've printed I Corinthians 13 (the Love Chapter) in four different colors for under the clear tablecloth in the kitchen and on two different bathroom mirrors.  Yes, I love printables. 

When I journeyed to Wisconsin, I stayed at my aunt and cousins' home.  It made the journey (which was for my grandfather's funeral) much more pleasant.  Their house is chock-full of my cousins' artistry.  My favorite was this Roald Dahl (her favorite author) plaque, which I recreated in my own printable for the Blossoms' bathroom mirror (for now... perhaps I will frame it in my "free time"...)

So, without further ado, my first attempt at a printable!

Check out the new Printables tab and keep your eyes peeled for more to come!  :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Some things God has done this year

Our firstborn, Blossom1 is growing up.  She's growing closer to Jesus.  It's a thing that I love to be a part of. I am not the type of parent that believes that shy is bad.  Maybe in my naiveté at some point, I thought that.  But I don't now.  (Blossom1 is what most people call shy.)  God gives each person a personality and I think that one's personality can be a blessing and a good thing.

One just has to be able to obey Him and live a holy life. 

So, yes, if "shy" keeps you from obeying God, it's bad.  Otherwise, not so much.  I like to think of it more as hesitancy to trust.  Our girls aren't the type that just latch on to anyone and act like they've known someone for years.  I'm good with that.  (There's lots of creeps out there.)  Parenting a shy child takes purposeful work though.  We talk about what to say when.  We talk about how God gives a grace and boldness and peace to overcome fear.  We write verses like, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" on index cards and cling to them. 

And, what God has done in Blossom1 this year has been amazing.  Because of a consuming love of animals, she joined 4-H.  At the first meeting, she wouldn't even say her name to the entire rambunctious crew of current 4-Hers.  But, we didn't condemn her or make fun of her.  We just kept going to meetings and encouraging her in how to act outside your comfort zone.  Two meetings ago, they had a special guest speaker.  She spoke up on her own accord and asked a question; she even cracked a joke.  Additionally, all 4-Hers must give a 5 minute speech and presentation each year.  Her turn finally came in September.  She presented beautifully, intelligently AND calmly.  She did it.  Fair time rolled around this summer, she was interviewed THREE times in front of an audience on all things chicken and poultry.  And she won Reserve Grand Champion.  Even without winning, it was such a personal victory.  What no one else knew was there was a little index card in her jeans pocket that said, "I can do all things through Christ through strengthens me."  She kept mulling over it throughout that day.  On Sunday evening, she played Fur Elise, by Beethoven, in our church's Christmas program.  The amazing thing is that there is a one page version of Fur Elise that she can play perfectly... practically with her eyes closed.  But, she has been working on the 5 page version since September.  There are two parts that she only started playing both hands together in the past two weeks.  She insisted on playing the 5 page long version.  It bowled me over that she chose to do the harder thing over the perfect thing - she chose it of her own volition. And, while she played it well, it certainly wasn't perfect (yet).  She never cried or got embarrassed; she only became more determined throughout the song.  I was amazed at her perseverance.

In reflecting on all of this, I am in awe over what God has done in her this year.  Absolutely amazed.  She still is shy, but she has learned to do what each new situation requires with His help.  I am certain that all this is in answer to prayer.  It is the work of His Word.  In every time of fear or nervousness, we have turned to the Word together.  Yep, it's ok to be shy, but He will help you to do what you need to do.  He has and I am so thankful that God lets me be a part of her journey. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Homemade Happiness

I love Christmas and special homemade-by-the-girlies Christmas gifts!!!

Friday, December 12, 2014


Right now, I'm just thinking over this week.  I'm counting my blessings - the big ones and the little ones. 

I'm thankful
- For energetic, creative girlies that wear me out by the end of every day.

- For the Rugged Mountain Man's safe return from the Great White North aka God's Country.

- For surprise snowfall that makes it a Marshmallow World.

- For venison for the freezer. 

- For a Mom that keeps the Blossoms while Daddy and I have a shopping date. 

- For laughs, good memories, silly jokes, one-liners, secret looks and all the little stuff that me and my Man share.

- For sweet and spicy wings that hit the spot!

- For Shirley Temples.

- For happy grins, gurgly giggles and howling laughter in a cozy home on a cold, winter night.

- For an upcoming birthday!

- For sparkling eyes, mischievous plans and peeking (at Christmas gifts) girlies.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Solo with Mama

It took a lot for me to share my experiences with favoritism.  I am not proud of the fact that I showed favoritism, particularly in my gymnastics coaching days.  I've made a commitment here though, that I will not put up a front.  I live a real life, with real blessings, real victories, real messes and at times, real pains and real sins, but...

Steady plodding makes good progress.

So, I keep plodding along steadily in the pursuit of real-life holiness and I try to share humbly with you.

That said, I'd like to delve a little deeper into the sensitive topic of favoritism.  My parents never had favorites amongst their children, probably because my mom once recounted to me how her father was on the wrong side of favoritism.  It's funny how being on the wrong side of it, helps you to realize how truly wrong it is.  Mom and Dad were really good about combating perceived favoritism as well.  You've probably noticed the effects of perceived favoritism if you've ever had only one out of your four children very sick.  Everybody wants Mommy's attention, but all of Mommy's attention is taken over by your one little one who desperately needs you.  It's not a bad thing.  It isn't purposeful avoidance, it's just that your sick little one's needs are so much greater and more pressing at the time than your other children's needs.  Sometimes children don't get that.  That's when you gotta go the extra mile to communicate to your children that you love them all.  There's no pat answer for how to fix a situation like that, especially not instantaneously.  In my own experience, I've used the Mommy Date or Daddy Date concept with our Blossoms.  Each girlie gets a Mommy date or Daddy date every now and then.  It's not usually something huge, just a solo trip to Walmart or Lowe's with Mommy or Daddy.  This includes:
- a candy bar or bottle of Gatorade
- a sizable helping of undivided attention from the parent
- plenty of uninterrupted conversation with each other

Wow.  Our girlies thrive with this.  It really is an inexpensive, excellent way to combat perceived favoritism.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Thank you!

At our Christmas Tea Party the other day I heard from several of you that have been reading this little blog o' mine.  I just wanted to say, "Thank you!!!"  I appreciate you taking the time to read.

I write for lots of reasons and I'm grateful when you take a peek here.

- I love to write!  It helps me to sort my thoughts.  It is also an outlet to share what's on my mind - things that the Lord brings into my heart, the things that He brings me through.  I feel very strongly that the Lord wants me to write, in much the same way that I felt very strongly that God wanted me to preach in an earlier season of my life.

- I love sharing my experiences/experience.  The Bible says that the older women should teach the younger women.  I figure that there's someone out there younger than me, who can learn from me - my experiences, my good days, my hard days, my pain and my victories.  I've benefited so much from the wisdom of my mother and friends who are always willing to share their motherhood wisdom with me.  I like to pass it along to you.

- I love our life that God ordained for us here in this little Hollow.  Sharing the joy of the blessings He has given us is a way to be a witness... to show our real life, that we really try every day to live for Him.  It's just another way to let our little light shine.

So thanks for stopping by.  Know that it truly is appreciated.

Friday, December 5, 2014

How It Went

I think it may safely be said that the Mother Daughter Christmas Tea Party was a smashing success.  Last year, I created the menu with only the budget in mind and ended up with several items that needed only Mommy's delicate touches.  And, the prep was very stressful, which was counter-productive to the point of this party:

Teaching our children how to be hospitable. 

I can honestly say that I enjoyed this party prep, which, if you're a Mom, you know that's a


Other themes I desire to get across to the girlies through this party:
- Give of what you have.
- Perfection does not equal hospitality.
- More money does not necessarily make a better party.  

So, this year, I took the previously mentioned lessons and the menu was budget AND kid-friendly. 

Check out the Glitter Playdoh in progress!

All hands on deck!

This Taco Dip was such a hit.  So easy and so yummy.  Blossom1 was thoroughly disappointed that there were no leftovers.  (I'm tellin' you, the bowl looked like it had been LICKED clean!)

We made mini brownie trifles too.  Box mixes of brownies from the local Bent N Dent store, plus cool whip, mini chocolate chips and sugared strawberries.  I'd love to do them up nice in those perfectly clear plastic cups, but have you seen the price of those fancier cups???  (I promised my husband four years ago when we hatched this idea, that it would not become a burden on us.  So far, so good.) 

(Note beautiful Golden fur in background patiently awaiting dropped crumbs.)

Blossom4 busyness.

This is what happens when you plan your party when Grandma's in town instead of at some tropical island.  She takes a nap with Blossom3!  And helps with anything and everything.  YAY!

She also brings things like special Mary Kay stuff to bless the Mommies with favors and prizes! 

Her generosity MADE the Mommies' day!!

Snowman Olaf Bowling!  Such an easy and cute game.  Blossom2, Blossom1 and I had a great time doing the Olaf faces.  During the games part of our party, the one little baby child boy, who tagged along with his Mama, jumped off her lap, toddled over and knocked over the snowman bowling tower.  You could tell he was thinking, "I get this game.  You knock things over!"  I chuckled over his gleeful smile!

"C'mon girls, we're gonna have an assembly line!"

"What's an assembly line?" 

It's Mommy's favorite way to efficiently do things!
Homemade favor bags - check!
Frozen themed Chex Mix - check!
Aforementioned Glitter Playdoh - check!
Dollar Store Cookie Cutter - check!
Blue Candy Canes - check!

You rocked the favors, girls!

(Have you noticed that this a very kid-involved party??)

(Can I just say that I love free printables?  The links on my Pinterest Christmas Tea Party board were total winners!  The Blossoms were so happy with them!)

They're all dressed up and putting the finishing touches on the Mini Brownie Trifles. 

Do you see those snowflakes hanging from the ceiling?  Six for a DOLLAR at the Dollar Store!  I think I was awarded Mom of the Year from the Blossoms for those.  (I love how much they appreciate the little things!)  I already had to promise that we'd leave them up for a couple more days.  They will be reused since Blossom3 chose Frozen for the theme of her birthday party in a month.  Yay for reusing stuff!!!

At the end of the day, as I wrangled Blossom4 into bed to get her to wind down, I found this waiting for me. 

Gratitude.  It makes it all worth while. 

I've never been a fan of talking about money.  The Rugged Mountain Man says it isn't polite because there's always gonna be someone who has more than you and someone who has less than you (so it either breeds discontent or discomfort.)  Additionally, I feel like if I say it's a budget party, people will view my choices as cheap, even when I try to accomplish them tastefully.  But, I've decided to be frank with you about this budget-friendly party because I once attended my friend Linda's budget friendly party.  Her games were SO creative and inexpensive.  My girlies THOROUGHLY enjoyed themselves.  I realized that "cheap" is rooted in selfishness, but budget-friendly can have hospitality as the point.  An attitude of hospitality is what makes a guest have a good time.  So, we may not be able to drop $150 for a perfect party, but we CAN make sure you feel welcome, have yummy food to eat and have someone to talk to when you come over to our place.  Last night, I couldn't sleep after the party.  I felt so blessed, because I felt like our home had been a vehicle of blessing to others.  And the Blossoms got to be a part of that.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Christmas Tea Party To Do List

Those with toddlers might appreciate what it takes to get ready for a party:

- Wipe the Chocolate Chip smudges off the bathroom sink/faucet/switchplate and counter.

- Remove my homemade anti-toddler-lock-yourself-in mechanism (aka TAPE) from the guest bathroom door.

- Fold up all the "Throws" and arrange them neatly on the couches... AGAIN.

- Have someone dustbust all the paper clipping/scraps off the floor.

It's times like these that most of us are tempted to flip out over how much still needs to be done.  You all know that I try to keep our house tidy and the girlies do their best to help.  And yet, the temptation is there.

Mamas, remember this-
My house isn't gonna be stunning for the magazine perfect Frozen themed Mother Daughter Christmas Tea Party.  However, it is ready to be warm, inviting and welcoming for a fun-filled evenings with friends. 

Just in case you ever think I've got it all together...

just remember, I don't.  But, every day I wake up and keep trying.  And although today was tiring and I've resorted to calling our home, "Crazytown, USA," tomorrow morning, I'm going to get up, educate our children, continue tidying our home and keep on throwing wash in the washer. 
One random thing - Blossom3 observed me ironing Daddy's shirt not long ago.  Since then, she dug out my hand mixer and was lugging that around the house "ironing" all blankets and throws.  (I'm the lucky one that gets to fold them up twenty times a day to put back on the couches.)  I didn't like the cord that was tagging along.  It said DANGER to me.  So, I snipped the cord off my old iron and gave it to her. 

Every day, I notice this iron in random spots around the house.  My heart skips a beat because it looks like my dining room table is going to be uber-hot!  My strange sense of humor (Thanks, Dad) gets a wry chuckle out of it.

My Mom came over today to do some Christmas baking with us.  I thought "Frozen" themed Chex mix was adorable. 

Blossom4 thought it was highly entertaining, as she dumped the remaining contents of blue sugar all over the floor.  For about the fortieth time, I was cleaning up one of her little messes and then struggling to remember what in the world I was doing before that.  (Dipping Peanut Butter Balls?  Making lunch?  Packaging cookies?)

I totally had to show you my Mom's beat up old cookbook.  It's the one she used all of my growing up years.  Don't think she needs a new one... no way... the best cookbooks are the ones that are falling apart!

Yes, we actually did get some stuff done.  Don't believe the above picture.  That was the only corner of the kitchen that didn't look like a cookie-baking battlefield.  (My kitchen does not look Pinterest-worthy when we are bakin' up a storm and DEFINITELY not when Blossom4 is roaming around helping herself to chocolate chips and begging Grandma for m&ms!)

Blossom1 and Grandma got a huge kick out of carefully placing each m&m on these cookies. 

As if I didn't think the kitchen looked bad enough, I let the girlies paint tonight. 

I'm telling you Blossom4 is FAST, faster than Calamity Jane.  I turned around to wash a dish.  She spilled her water.  I cleaned that up.  I turned around to remember what I was doing.  Oh ya, washing dishes.  She painted her mouth.  I wiped her up.  I leaned over to check my email.  She's DRINKING her paint water.  I cleaned her up.  I'm standing there scratching my head, trying to remember what I was doing.  She decided to refill her own water.  I clean up the floor, the faucet, the counter AND her.  I decided to lay out Daddy's breakfast stuff and now she is PAINTING my cupboards.  She does it so carefully and sweetly though... Ya, I finally just gave up doing anything and put Blossom3 and Blossom4 in the tub.  I stared at the wall like a crazy person while they giddily splashed and sloshed.

Then, I called my Mom and asked her if I will survive this stage of motherhood.  She said I will.  Thank God for this stage and thank God for grace.

Monday, December 1, 2014

On Favoritism

I don't think anyone realizes how much favoritism hurts, until you're on the wrong side of it.  I've been on both sides of it.  I've been the favorite and I've been the forgotten.  My children have been the favorites at times, and they've also been the forgotten.  I've also unwittingly shown favoritism, though now I realize how awful it is. 

Let's go back to my gymnastics coaching days.  There was a little girl who was lovable and cute with a warm personality.  Everyone doted on her.  She got lots of hugs from me.  While there was another little girl who had more of a reserved personality.  I didn't hug her.  Later, I overheard her mom expressing, "Why doesn't my daughter get any hugs?"  Yes, I was a teenager.  And, I endeavored to be more fair after that.  For my part, I didn't really know that the other girl wanted any hugs, but no matter... favoritism hurts, whether we know it or not. 

I also was a normal teenage girl in that I loved snatching a baby before or after church and toting him/her around.  Babies are like living dolls, only they cry and coo better than dolls.  Yes, I had a favorite baby and favorite toddlers.  (They had special nicknames for me and would take me if they couldn't have Mommy - teenage heart melting...)  I showed favoritism. 

Fast forward.  I once walked in the church foyer with our two girlies (at the time) and no one said a word.  (This is fine with me.)  However, then, another child entered and there was a huge to-do.  It was the blaring contrast that caught my attention and grieved me.  I don't think our children noticed and I sure wasn't going to point it out to them.  They didn't need the attention.  It was the favoritism that bothered me. 

I was chatting with another mom and found that her heart hurt her when she saw her children on the wrong side of favoritism.  How can this be so in the church?!

Do you remember the story of Jacob and Leah?  The fact that God hates favoritism is plain to me.  Jacob loved Rachel better.  Yes, that was the wife he actually wanted.  He never wanted to marry Leah in the first place, but God expected him to act fairly and nobly even then.  Leah doesn't even sound like she had a nice personality (she was mean to Rachel!)  And what kind of woman would go along with a scheme like tricking a man out of the wife he wanted?!?!  Yet, God wouldn't let Jacob get away with favoritism.

Just because someone is cuter,
in a better (or worse) family situation,
more accepting to love,
wears trendier clothes...
you fill in the blank....
doesn't mean that it is ok to favor them. 

And, a child is a someone, as much as an adult is a someone. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Onward to the Festivities

We feasted!  We chatted!  We were grateful!  (and I ate Chocolate Truffle Pie - OH YAAAAAAA!)

And now, let the Christmas festivities begin!  Our Christmas Cookie baking day is coming up, as well as our annual Christmas Tea Party.  I am excited about all of those things. 

Today was a restful day.  (Well, it was as restful as "supervising" four children decorating a tree can be.  Daddy was chillin' with us and he commented that he could see why I'm tired at the end of the day.)  The Blossoms were so happy to decorate the tree though.  And Blossom4 was touching E V E R Y T H I N G.  I call it sensory fun (and I didn't even have to dye rice to make a sensory table!)  I did get a TERRIFIC nap today too.  I paid the price though.  Blossom3 didn't take a nap (because Daddy thought she was sleeping, when she wasn't) and now she's bouncing off the walls.  She'll probably fall asleep when we watch the Grinch movie later.  And, I awoke to Daddy escorting Blossom1 into the house with blood squirting from her nose.  Sledding accident.  I told her to be glad it's only Friday.  She doesn't have to go to church for a few more days and by then, the swelling will probably have gone down.  For now, I think we'll call her Rothlisberger.  In any case, it's been a nice holiday thus far and I'm thankful for that. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


I think you all have heard me mention the Blossoms' Jake's Cakes venture.  Here they are getting set up for their latest craft show.  Don't you just love that Grinch material?  lol  (I'm actually a big fan of the old animated Grinch movie... not the Jim Carrey one.)  Anyway, it was another terrific learning experience.  (Weren't the pink Santa hats such a nice touch for a Christmas craft show?)

Blossom1 mentioned, "Mommy, it is exhausting being polite for THAT LONG!"  Too funny!

This whole venture is a huge amount of work for Daddy, the girlies and me, but I keep telling the girlies, "Anything worthwhile takes hard work."  That's what I want them to get out of this and so much of our parenting. 

I'm so tired of the mentality that if it isn't easy, don't bother.  If every Christian subscribed to this mentality, no Christian would ever bother with holiness.  Holiness isn't easy.  Conquering the flesh doesn't just happen.  We are given grace to overcome sin.  We have the Holy Spirit helping us.  It takes patience.  It takes doing the harder things.  And, in the end (as in, Eternity), it is worthwhile. 

I like thinking about Eternity - the place of justice.  The time of rewards.  The time of perfect peace.

Eternity makes holiness totally worthwhile.  And that's what we're shooting for.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Cold and then warm...

The first snow here was an EVENT.
"'Now!?  'Now?"

Blossom4 was mesmerized.

They were simply enthralled.

It is a bit ironic that after the cold snap that produced the little bit of snow,
it is currently 69 degrees outside.  YAY!!!  :)