Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Home Hazard

Apparently, hunting for missing library books
is hazardous to your health.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Happy Dance

We've been enjoying the Dame's Rockets lately.  They're one of our favorite wildflowers and the lovely purple shades are so pretty.  I thought you might like to take a peek. 

Also, this flourishing 4-H family is rejoicing because the poultry ban that was in effect due to Avian Influenza has been lifted. 

Squeals and happy dances ensued.  There will be poultry at the fair again! 
Have a great weekend, friends.  I hope you have something fun to rejoice about.  Enjoy the holiday weekend!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Availability, Even By The Pond

In the spirit of spring freedom, I was relishing our Tuesday afternoon piano lesson hour. 

Recently, I had been pondering and praying about how to regularly work with the girlies in their 4-H books.  4-H is no picnic and their educational books are an animal science course that oftentimes requires my supervision and assistance.  It was a time slot dilemma characteristic of those mama-burdens we carry.

Then, I believe a God-inspired idea came to me:
Work with each girlie as the other sister is having her piano lesson.  Then, switch! 

Simple, but genius, and it has worked well ever since.  Thank God He took care of that mama-burden.  Sometimes we carry burdens for far too long, simply because we don't ask for His help.

Now that spring is upon us, we spread out the picnic blanket and savor the time by the pond. 

In between a question here and there, I gazed out over this view and took a few deep breaths, so as to relish the fresh air, fabulous views and a time of quiet for my soul. 

I wasn't off-duty, but my soul still drank in the peace.  I'm learning to latch onto these moments, even amidst my daily duties, so that God can speak and move and work in me.  While being available to my children, I am still available to the Lord.

"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. 
My help comes from the Lord, maker of Heaven and Earth." 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Spring Freedom

Something I savor about spring time is the freedom.  Large chunks of our days are freed up to "just live," as Pollyanna would say.  Yes, we accomplish tasks and I've found it pleasant to have so many helping hands around.  It is also quite a training opportunity, as I realized as Blossom3 was struggling to buckle down under a little bit of work load this morning as we weeded the garden and all the flower beds.  The rain ceased and the soft ground made weeding as painless as it will ever be on this side of eternity. 

Last week, we were able to do a little garage-sale-ing with my sister and nephew.  We met old friends and faces and meandered past the house where we spent our most remembered growing up years.  My sister's snapshot of our childhood playhouse represents so much of our innocence and freedom.  When I see it, I think of imaginations weaving tales together. 

I remember my sister crouched on the stoop, engrossed in a book.  I remember the chilly rainfall as the four of us puttered in there on rainy days.  I remember parking my bike, Duchess, beside the nearby lilac bushes and dashing inside to cook a pretend meal on the ugly yellow stove that sat inside.  I remember my first lessons on how to properly paint, as we repainted the side of the playhouse, each paid according to our effort and work ethic.  Evidently, the painting lesson served me well.  Meandering through one of my favorite small towns ever was a bright spot in a week that included some sadness too.  A friend and former co-worker passed away after a long struggle with ALS.  While attending a memorial is never high up on someone's list for weekend entertainment, I was so, so, SO grateful I was able to attend.  Working with her when I was fresh out of high school, finding my way in the corporate world, appreciating all the wisdom of the Daily Dilbert, was something I enjoyed telling the Rugged Mountain Man about on the night I learned of her passing.  I'm praying for Hope and comfort for her loved ones.
Here's hoping your spring days have some freedom this week, freedom to smile and say yes when your "young'uns" want to do an experiment.  Freedom to nod when they ask for freezie pops.  Freedom to push them on the swings or play cat's cradle.  Freedom to smile and freedom to remember,

Friday, May 20, 2016

Garden, Girlies & God

I straightened from my stooped stance and surveyed the work in progress that is our garden.  I felt the Holy Spirit whisper,

"This is a lot like parenting." 

This parallel of gardening to parenting took my breath away.  I soaked in the lesson, letting the Lord teach me as I stood there in my cruddy jeans, muck boots and trusty old visor.  If you look at our garden right now, it doesn't look like much even though so much preparation has gone into the soil.  We've composted.  We've planted seeds and young plants.  We put up trellises and tomato cages.  Yes, there are some plants growing.  We've even harvested a few things, so there are some fruits of the work already.  Overall, though it is mostly in, the garden appears immature and sparse. 

I'm always struck by how much faith is involved in gardening.  I often stand at the garden gate and pray that the fruits will come, that He will prosper this little plot.  The same diligence - doing our part without giving up - that brings about an abundant garden is a part of parenting.  The same faith that causes me to plant a seed, to just follow the seed packet directions the best I know how, to water when it looks like it needs watering, to thank God for the sun, that same faith helps me gaze on our Blossoms and see that fruits will come.  Things might look immature or sparse.  There might be a bit of fruit here and there.  The Rugged Mountain Man and I will just keep doing our part ~ nurturing, loving, praying, hugging, correcting, disciplining, trusting God and loving some more. 

The harvest will come.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

My Poor Cuppa

You know you have kids when you're innocently drinking your warm cuppa Chai tea, soaking up the solitude that only a warm cuppa something can offer amidst the noisy din of a home overflowing with Blossoms and their activity, when you sip and think.  You again sip and ponder.  Then, you hear it.  A clinking.  You gaze around confusedly.  The clinking doesn't seem to be originating from din around you.  In horror, you realize the clinking is coming from inside your cuppa tea.  You reluctantly stare downward into your rich, warm Chai, only to see pink plastic peeking back at you. 

"What in the world?"

Retrieving a butter knife from the drawer, you fish out a plastic pink ring and it all comes together. 

Your littles had been on the counter, admiring the paint color that's about to go on the back door and using their toy hair dryer to lovingly and painstakingly cool off your tea for you.  Someone neglected to mention to you that the end of the hair dryer dropped into your tea.  That must have been the moment when they mysteriously disappeared to play outside. At least it wasn't the blue paint stick dunked in your tea.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Blue Doors

I know I left you hangin' the other day.  I didn't mean to, but the weekend was the busiest of late.

The homeschool convention was very productive.  I researched and purchased all the Blossoms' curriculum for the 2016-2017 school year... all while walking approximately 15 miles (I think) over the convention floor in two days.
But before that, the Rugged Mountain Man was spending some quality time with his Dad on a fishing trip to the beloved cabin. 

I scurried to Lowe's so I could tackle a small DIY project while he was away.

I don't like being without him, but I love the advice that when you're husband is away, find something productive to do.  It should be noted that I also spend extra time with the Blossoms when the Rugged Mountain Man is away.  Their idea of quality time is creek time.  No surprise there.  Creek and paint.  That sounds like a good deal.
The new Mountain Lake blue doors have earned mixed reviews.  For my part, I love the color.  I'm just not sure I love the color with the shutters, as I was shooting for more of a navy blue.  Looking at the pictures, they really are representative of the vast variation of the shades of blue in many different lights. Sometimes it looks brilliant blue.  Sometimes the teal tones greet you first.  Other times the blue gives a darker impression.  It varies widely, but I think it's staying. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Be Well Put Together

Hey friends,

Perhaps ya'll know that my state just so happens to host the largest homeschool convention on the East Coast.  My mama was a faithful attendee for years upon years, always returning refreshed and overflowing with new ideas and inspiration.  I've carried on the torch, attending each year, except the year of Blossom4's birth.  So, convention time is upon us.  I'm excited.  My list is all ready and I'm packed.  That's not to say the Blossoms are packed yet, but we'll tackle that with these cool lists this evening. 

I'll be volunteering as an "ever important" entry pass distributor, so I do have to abide by a simple dress code. 
Travel Mom

That really just means that I'm one of the smiling faces you meet at the door who has to look like they didn't just crawl out of bed and show up in their pajamas.   My new striped maxi skirt is already getting a workout!  I like to encourage ladies that looking well put together has nothing to do with shopping at the mall or having tons of money at your disposal.  It has more to do with collecting good versatile pieces over time.

Check it out:
Chambray shirt - thrift store find
Blue tee - Walmart clearance rack
Maxi skirt - gift
Shoes - LL Bean super clearance
Necklace - gift
Earrings - gift
Travel Mama Style

Denim vest - thrift store
Teal shirt - Walmart shirt
Maxi skirt - gift
Scarf - consignment store bargain
Shoes - Sam's Club purchase
Earrings - gift
Saddle bag - gift

I'm totally not bragging on my thrift store prowess or my fashionista status (which I DON'T have), I'm hoping to encourage you that no matter what situation or location or vocation you find yourself in today,

be well put together.  
Maybe I'll see you at the convention!


Wednesday, May 11, 2016


Here goes nothin'

6 Fun Things to Do with your Kids While Sitting

I've never subscribed to the old time philosophy that children should be seen and not heard.  Jesus called children to Himself to bless them, showing us that they are important enough to be noticed by the King.  That's not to say that I always feel like paying attention to them.  Sometimes a mama just needs to sit down for once, but I recently had a light bulb moment.  There's lots of things you can do with your kiddos while sitting down resting. 
 #1 - Thumb Wrestling
"One, two, three, GO!"  Then, whoever pins the thumb down, wins!  Believe me, it's only thumb wrestling, but it can get rowdy!

#2 - Tic Tac Toe
Play on paper with a pencil or get yourself an app!  You'd be surprised that even young 4 year olds can be taught to play Tic Tac Toe.
#3 - Cat's Cradle
I loved my impromptu mommy date with Blossom3, where I taught her Cat's Cradle and played it with her for an hour or more.  Then, the girlies played it with my neighbor, Sue.  They've also learned Cup and Saucer, Star, invented Sail Boat and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  All you need is a piece of yarn!  It's good for fine motor skills too!

(It's photo-bombing Rory and our neighbor, Nick)

#4 - Hand Clapping Rhymes
I've loved "See, See, My Playmate" ever since I was a little girl, when my mama taught it to me.  The girlies recently enjoyed "Miss Mary Mack."  All it takes is a little time and undivided attention.  The giggles are bound to start!  "Here is the Church" and fun bouncing rhymes like "This is the Way the Lady Rides" are great for younger kiddos. 

#5 - Hand Pile
It's the silly old game where you stack each other's hands and remove them one by one from the bottom to place them on the top.  You proceed faster and faster til someone messes up the pattern and we all start laughing or end up tickling one another!  I recently snapped a terrific picture of Grammie and three of the girlies playing hand pile.  It was a comical display of family time that made my sentimental heart go pitter-patter.

#6 - Paper-Rock-Scissors
I never liked this game much as a child, mostly because I had a strong disagreement that paper does not beat rock, as rock can totally grind up paper.  Once I reconciled myself to playing by the rules, I realized its virtue as a perfect waiting room game.  I taught Blossom3 and she adored the game. 

So many fun things to do while you're resting!  Mamas do need to sit down every now and again.  Why not use that as a fantastic opportunity for quality time with your children?


Monday, May 9, 2016

Mother's Day Weekend

Life around here sure has been spring-like and it's enjoyable, for sure!  The girlies and I have been whittling away at stacking the wood and on Thursday, we put in 2.75 hours and got 'er done.  Now THAT was a good feeling.  The Blossoms were such a big help this year! 

We squeezed in a little garage-sale-ing - a favorite pastime of mine - on Friday.  The weather cooperated for most of the morning, long enough for me to pick up a delightfully summery canvas bag and a vintage Strawberry Shortcake book.  I also snagged a neat plastic tote that is sturdy enough for all my smaller baking supplies, like Baking Soda, Baking Powder and such.  I'm totally loving that it has streamlined the baking process.  Speaking of kitchen things, Blossom2 made supper on Tuesday by herself and Blossom1 made supper Friday night.  To say that Mommy was grateful is a major understatement.  It was more like this mama was in awe of finally reaping a harvest of all the child training in the kitchen that we've done for so long.  (Galatians 6:9) 

Friday night, a friend hosted a wonderful opportunity for moms to get out and have a little time to themselves.  It was so enjoyable to chat and chill with old friends and new friends too. 

On Saturday, the sun shone again and the girlies and I puttered in the garden.  I think the time I spent in there was cut in half, since they were able to truly "help."  If you have a toddler and preschooler, you know why I said, "Truly help."  Again, the overwhelming emotion was of gratitude.  When God blesses us and lets us see the fruition of our labor, it's important to be thankful - to realize that what was done, was done by His grace and in His strength.  We can only persevere in child training, through Him and in Him.  When we respond to good results with pride, it's cripples God being able to do more, because pride goes before a fall. 

Saturday night, we trekked to family's house for my nephew's birthday party.  An amazing thing happened.  I was able to hang out with my husband some during the party.  For the last ten years, I've always had a "little," which needed more than occasional supervision.  I've tried to care for them with a good attitude and gentle love.  This time, however, Blossom4 was off and running with the cousins and only needed me checking in on her from across the room or deck.  It was a neat experience, watching the seasons of parenting change in our lives. 

Sunday morning dawned bright and sunny again.  I'm thankful that the Rugged Mountain Man tries to make Mother's Day a big deal here.  I realize that not every mother receives the treatment I do, but whenever things feel unjust in life, I find comfort in the fact that God sees and God always takes care of that stuff.  If not now, He rights those wrongs in Eternity.  That thought has been so big for the Rugged Mountain Man and me in the past two years or so, as we've been treated unjustly and had to practice making Godly decisions and living with integrity, even when we were being short-changed.  But God.  Yes, but God, always works in those situations and rights them. 

I taught the girlies how to makes earrings this past week and I, as well as all the womenfolk in the family, reaped great rewards of that yesterday.  FUN!!!  :)  When the Rugged Mountain Man asked what I wanted for Mother's Day, I requested a black striped maxi skirt and red sandals.  I've taken to asking for classic pieces on holidays, if I'm asked.  It helps me look well put together during the rest of the year

Mother's Day maxi skirt

Red sandals aren't as versatile as everything else in my closet, but I own several striped pieces and denim pieces, so I figured they'd end up seeing a lot of use.

We went out to eat after church to my favorite salad bar place. We were seated right smack-dab in the center of the restaurant. When the girlies were little, I used to cringe when we were led to that table.  Think, "Everybody has a front row seat to everything that can possibly go wrong when you take four young children to a restaurant for supper."  But, it didn't.  The Rugged Mountain Man and I told the Blossoms how glad we were that they behaved themselves.  More fruit.  "Oh, thank you, God!" 

I'm looking over the past several days with nothing but gratitude.  I'm praying that God can use me in some way this week, in the lives and training of our children and in the lives of friends and neighbors. 


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Monday, May 2, 2016

Your Excellent Stay at Home Wardrobe


I'm sharing my stay at home wardrobe journey today.  About ten years ago, when I realized that I always felt like crap when I wore yoga pants, I determined that I was going to dress decently every day, with jewelry, even if I was only barely awake while I was getting dressed!  There are so many things that precipitated this decision, which I have never once regretted. 

A bus driving friend once told me that when she dressed grungy, she got treated badly on her field trips.  When she dressed nicely, she was treated more courteously and respectfully.  I found that if you don't respect yourself, most likely, other folks won't respect you either.

I realized that I like to show my husband and family respect.  Only dressing nicely when I head out the door sends a message to my husband and family.  You don't matter... or I don't want to be my best for you.  Gah.  That's not the message I want to send.  My husband sees me 24/7 in working mode, but only sometimes in date night mode or once weekly in Sunday best mode.  Hence, I want my everyday mode to be attractive.  It's something I can do to bless my husband.  In blessing him, I've pleased the Lord. 

Most importantly, 1 Timothy 2:9 says that we should be adorned modestly. Another meaning in that word is to be well arranged or well put together. Our every day mode ought to exude excellence, reflecting that we are servants of the Most High. Let's keep growing in excellence and modesty.  We may not feel well put together when we are meeting the day bleary eyed, but we can do our best to be well put together.

Now, I'll share a few practical closet details with you, my friend. 

Stay at Home Mom Style

I have two piles of jeans in my closet, good and everyday.  Most of them were acquired at the thrift store, because that's how I roll.  They don't have holes in them and fit nicely, but not too tight.  My good jeans are the ones with absolutely no stains; I usually pay a little more for them.  In the summer, I wear knee length skirts.  I've made some and I've bought others on my thrifting expeditions.  They are so much cooler, more flexible and more modest than shorts.  Also, because I am borderline obsessed with denim, I own several denim skirts.  #denimlove  Ahem, yes, I purchased most of them from the thrift store. 

Stay at Home Mom Style

In the spirit of TMI - yes, I wear a bra every day.  You should too.  Enough said.  As for shirt styles, I never, EVER wear man-sized t-shirts.  Ugh.  I've found that's the number one way to feel like a mom-blob.  Most of my ladies fitted tees are basic Wal-mart $5.00 and under purchases.  I don't like to worry about what I get on my clothes, but I do like to be decently dressed.  I clean, mother, cook and school in these shirts.  I can't be worried about them.  I do don an apron if I'm going to be doing something excessively messy.  If I'm doing heavy duty work like stacking wood or gardening, I alter my outfit accordingly for that.  I try to wear shirts that are long enough for every day mom work (bending, twisting, squatting) and have a high enough neckline.  If that means I have to throw on a cami for coverage, I do so.  Part of motherhood is modelling modesty for my four daughters.   No, you will never find me running around in spaghetti strap shirts with Daisy Duke shorts, as that's mama and daddy bedroom attire.  Just sayin'.

Stay at Home Mom Style

In the winter, I wear warm, clean looking, comfortable slippers.  In the summer, I find a decent, comfortable, long-lasting pair of flip flops and live in those.  My feet need comfort, as on an average day, I walk at least 5 miles.  This year, Kohl's gets the prize for where I found sturdy flip-flops similar to the ones below.  So far, I love them!

Stay at Home Mom Style

When Blossom1 was a baby, I decided that jewelry makes me look like I got up in the morning and tried to look put together.  For years, I wore the same necklace, hoop earrings and spoon ring every day.  Yes, every day.  I'd still be bleary-eyed, putting my hair in a messy bun and latching on my necklace.  It required no thought at all.  It only took me an extra 10-15 seconds, since it was the same jewelry, every day.  Only recently have I begun to rotate through about 3 different necklaces.  They are comfortable.  They hold sentimental value that makes me smile.  They also hold very little monetary value, so I don't worry too much about losing them.  I still stick with my hoop earrings and comfy spoon ring.  I don't change into fancier jewelry unless I'm leaving the house.

Stay at Home Mom Style

I only paint my toenails.  I do this because it takes about 1 minute to do your toes and it lasts for WEEKS.  Additionally, it makes me looks like I tried to be well put together.  When it starts to chip, I take 30 seconds and touch it up with the same color repeatedly.  I never paint my fingernails.  It chips, it doesn't last and it makes me look like I'm too busy to do my nails, which I am.  I just try to keep them clean and trimmed. 

Stay at Home Mom Style

Now, I'm sure you're thinking the makeup question. Do I wear makeup every day? No, I do not. I apply makeup in the morning if I know I'm leaving the house in the afternoon or evening. My makeup routine is basic compared to some - CC cream, eye liner, eye shadow, mascara, blush and lip gloss. It takes me three minutes. Yes, I did time it, because I'm like that. #efficiency I've found that in my attempts to marshal the Blossom troops out the door, my makeup ends up last on the list and usually forgotten in lieu of last minute child shoe finding expeditions, etc. If I'm not heading out the door later, I give my face a break. I take care of my complexion so it is usually clear and healthy. My husband finds it attractive, so I go with that. I'm trying to send the message to my daughters that I'm beautiful with or without it. However, if I wake up in the morning after a rough night for whatever reason, and I find that I look horrible, I put on some makeup. Often times, just not looking haggard when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror helps me think about what has to be done, rather than how exhausted I feel.
Stay at Home Mom Style

I do my hair every day.  For me, that means I put it up in a pony tail, bun or braid every day.  It's tidy and attractive and it works for the daily demands on me. 

I'm hoping you've found some inspiration in my routine and these outfits. I encourage you to adapt them to your standards, your closet and your tastes. Don't be downcast. Make a fresh start tomorrow morning. Fling your yoga pants into the corner first thing and find something you can work in AND be attractive in.  To God be the glory!