Monday, April 24, 2017

With a White-Knuckled Fist

If there's anything I'm learning about motherhood lately, it's that tired mamas rarely focus on the bright spots enough.  We can have a single load of laundry done, with clean clothes in the dressers for everyone to wear and we'll fret over the mounds of dirty clothes awaiting us.  

In my case, I might focus on every single flaw in my children... 
only occasionally bothering to dwell on the good things that are happening in their lives.  

The maddening thing about my children's flaws, is that they look remarkably like every character weakness I've ever exhibited in my 11.75 years of being a mama.  #wheredtheygetTHATfrom

If you ever want to feel bad about every failing you've got in your life, just have kids.  

There's nothing like seeing the four year old version, seven year old version, nine year old version and eleven year old version of your diamond-in-the-rough self, 
all on the same day... all day... every day.  

I hope you're hearing the humor here, but hearing the "real" too.  Nothing has helped me to remember how much I still need to grow in God and let Him change me every day, than motherhood has/does.  

I wish I could say I'm doing all kinds of wonderful at keeping my perspective balanced, but I haven't been lately.  All the "stuff" you deal with as a mama, seems so big.

Some of it is big.  These are people in the making, after all.

I'm dropping into bed at night with tears on my cheeks, feeling raw, overwhelmed and sometimes mystified.  I talk to the Rugged Mountain Man.  I pray.  I read the Word.  I write my thoughts, my struggles in my journal.  

And the glimmers of wisdom and grace always come through.

"Set your mind on things above, not on things of the earth."  
(Colossians 3:2, my paraphrase)

I've been letting my mind go in the mama gutter, the gutter that holds all of my failings, all of my weaknesses, every time that I didn't discipline with a right heart, every time I lost my temper, every time I took the easy road...

But, I'm been trying to set my mind on different things, better things.  I need to be mulling over the good things that the Lord is doing.  I can't forget the bright spots that He sends, those little encouraging things that He is working in this family.  

It's funny, the more I dwell on those good things, 
the more He breeds faith in me to believe Him 
for greater things in our lives.

Seize that one bright spot today, Mama.  

Grab it with a white-knuckled fist.  

Turn it over in your heart and let it help you believe God for more of the same.

I'll be here right beside you, clinging to the little bright spots too.


Visual bright spots from our recent Track & Field Clinic at the most gorgeous college track on the East Coast.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Winter to Spring: Trials Do End

The breezes of spring slip around me, as I sway on my swing and read aloud to the Blossoms.  They are finishing their lunch at the big, old-fashioned table on the back deck.  This is one of our favorite parts of the day.  I'm drinking in the deliciously fresh air as I notice the blossoming lilac hedge.  Only a few short weeks ago, that very same hedge was bleak and gray.  

How like life the seasons are.

Winter always seems so long, until spring tiptoes in.  We're filled with hope, as the weather warms.

Trials are long.  They are lonely.  They are exhausting.  They can be bleak.  The end never seems near.  The point of trials doesn't seem obvious.  

Hope seems just out of reach.  

Like spring though, trials come to an end.  

Your cry for help has gone up to the Father.  

He has heard. 

He has not forgotten you.  He remembers you.

The Father sees.  Yes, He truly sees the place you're in.

He has taken notice.  (Exodus 2:23-25)

Just as winter always gives way to spring, 
you will come out of your trials.  

"The righteous cry, and the LORD hears
And delivers them out of all their troubles...
Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the LORD delivers him out of them all."

Psalm 34:17,19 NASB

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Your Long Lost Library Books

We love the library!  The Blossoms are blessed with a love of books, reading, and learning.  Since I can't make multiple trips to the library in a month, I'm not exaggerating when I say that we bring home 60-100 books at a time.

I keep the titles in a checklist in Evernote, so that I can keep track of what we have floating around our place.  The due dates are recorded in my Google calendar so we don't accrue fines.

The girls are allowed to read any time, excluding chore time, meal time and loading time.  They are also allowed to read anywhere, as it's too constricting to say that they can only read library books by the shelf in the dining room or near a book basket in any given room.

On library day, the Blossoms brings stacks and stacks of books to the computer in the schoolroom.  I make sure they've been entered on their book lists, check them off the library list and drop them in the library bags.

Inevitably, there are books missing.  

By now, we're professionals at performing massive search efforts in all the usual spots, under the couch, under their beds, and on our book shelves.  

During our recent efforts to return books to the library, I discovered a terrific #mamalifehack that helped immensely in locating the last few missing titles.

I googled the missing book titles.  

Why would that be helpful?

We can't always remember what the book looks like, but our internet search brought up the author and a picture of the book cover.

I could then see if the book was an easy reader, hardback, story book, or chapter book, etc.

I could tell which Blossom probably had the book last.

I could more easily sift through our bookshelves, because I knew the approximate size, type and look of the book.

Mamas, I located two missing books in a matter of five minutes, which left me wondering why in the world I'd never googled the books before!

The next time you're frantically digging through the couch cushions, vowing never to visit the library again, just google it.  Your search just might end with a smile and a sigh of relief.



Friday, April 14, 2017

Pretty Penny Pincher

Holidays are probably the days I feel the biggest pressure to buy something new.  I'm guessing I'm not alone.  Everybody feels pressure to get something new at some point in the year.

We live a single income lifestyle on a single income. 

That means, I've learned to shop my closet and practice contentment.  I'm certain one can do a lot with an American woman's closet.

Southwestern Spring Style

Southwestern Spring Style by lachicdominique featuring red shoes

For Easter Sunday, I wanted colorful and springy, so I pulled out my thrift store mint maxi dress, a clearance rack cropped denim jacket, those Mother's Day sandals from last year, a bargain necklace and a new pair of earrings from the Blossoms.  While I'm pleased with this breezy ensemble, this mama is also thankful that she can be well put together with out busting a hole in the budget.  I'm pretty sure the Rugged Mountain Man is thankful too.

As my sister says, 

"Sometimes, the best way to save money, is to simply not spend it."  

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Spring Lately

I'll try my hardest not to bombard you with any more snow pictures, even though I've got more to share in my embarrassingly vast picture gallery.  The change from winter to spring is such a refreshing transition.  I endeavor to enjoy winter and embrace the days and the weather as they come.  It helps me to smile at the days ahead, like a virtuous woman ought.  Every day is an attitude choice for me.  Then, when winter finally gives way to spring and the every day tasks start to change, I smile some more... at the springy days ahead.  

Recently, Blossom3 brought down the house with her rousing rendition of "In Her" by Shel Silverstein.

"In her long mink coat
And her buckskin pants
And her lizard skin boots
With the rattlesnake bands
And her beaver hat
With the raccoon tails
We heard her shoutin’…


For her first poetry performance in the Kid Poets' Society's Jack & Shel Show, 
she probably stole the show.  

Sorry, Jack.  

Better luck next time, Shel.  

Blossom1 and Blossom2 continue to improve in their poetry and theatrics.  It's exciting to see those "shy" girlies blossom into independence as they're ready.  They wowed us with their gestures, smiles, confidence, and humor.  

For once, we actually colored eggs on the warmest spring day prior to Easter.  It's kinda like chili night at our house.  If I cook chili, it will, inevitably, be unseasonably warm outside.  Every time. Correspondingly, if we have eggs to color, it will be unseasonably chilly.  

Not this year; we colored them on an 85 degree day!  


For once.

Hey, I'll take it, even if it means I ran to Walmart on said morning to buy 2 dozen white eggs because brown eggs are very uncooperative at Easter time.

I'm not sure why people buy their children toys.  This A-frame that formerly belonged to my swing is their favorite spring time toy.  Seriously.  ALL of them play on it constantly.  

It has fostered no end of interesting climbing configurations and inventive activities.  It makes me smile, because it reminds me of my simple childhood, a delightful time that included a whole lot of cartwheels, the above wooden balance beam, dirt, a rope swing, a pine tree and a clubhouse.  

Good times, my friend, good times!

The spring mornings here have been lovely.  

Whether I'm helping the Rugged Mountain Man get out the door or having some quiet time, I'm enjoying the green hills, against blue mountains, and a morning sky.  These are the fresh starts that every mama needs in her day. 

Speaking of fresh starts, there's no better time of year for a fresh start, than Easter.  

Blossom2 and Blossom3 put this Resurrection garden together yesterday.  

"First, go fill this with dirt."
"Ok, make a cross with those sticks."
"Can you find some moss?"  

Off they went on their little finding excursions.  

It's so meaningful to see a stone over a little "tomb."  Christmas always reminds me of God's great love in sending His Son to Earth for us, but Easter reminds me of sacrifice, a sacrifice that was done for me.  Like Blossom3 explained to Blossom4 this morning, "Jesus did that, because if He didn't, we would have to."

Looking at the burden He carried on the cross and how He overcame death, I marvel again at so great a salvation, friend.  Bunnies, eggs, and chocolate don't touch my heart, but the cross does every time.

May the cross and His resurrection be real and personal to you right now,

Friday, April 7, 2017


Things have been pretty normal around here lately.  Well, maybe I should say that things have been normal FOR US lately.

On Wednesday, one girlie noticed a bird in the wood stove.  When she opened the door to capture it, it flew out and took refuge inside the basement ceiling.  Great, just great.  We decided to let it creep out on it own, since the broom handles being knocked on the ceiling were not doing the trick.  Later that night, Blossom4 was getting her jammies on.  She came flying out of her bedroom, half-dressed and shouting, "Dere's a BUHD in our room.  It's behind the door and I tink it's a GWACKLE!!!"  Much to the poor starling's chagrin, it was corralled by four screaming and giggling Blossoms armed with several towels and then released on the front porch.  It promptly circled and flew back inside the open door.  Clearly our company is quite enticing.  Blossom1 promptly captured it again in the laundry room and this time was able to permanently release it.  #allcreatureswannabeapethere

Blossom1 and Blossom2 met one of their 4-H goals.  After a clinic with an older 4-Her a few years ago on rabbit tattooing and help from Daddy more recently, they have now begun to tattoo their own rabbits.  Things don't always go smoothly, as you're dealing with permanent ink, a sharp tattoo pen and animals who really do not want a tattoo in their ears.  Now Blossom1 has a new and permanent "freckle" on her arm.  Since they'd already taken many precautions, we used it as a life lesson.  "Always, always, ALWAYS remember that when you make a decision, it can have consequences for the rest of your life.  Make good decisions.  When you look at this, remember consequences."  #4Hproblems  #noMommydoesnotwantyoutotattooMOMonherear

For whatever reason, the Blossoms were discussing red hair vs. blond hair this morning.  Blossom3 was loudly and adamantly demonstrating an aversion to red hair, much to Blossom1 and Blossom2's annoyance.  "That's not very nice, Blossom3," they chided her.  I told her she'd better watch out or God would give her a red-haired husband.  Blossom4 sat on the couch, brushing her dolly's hair and mumbled disgustedly, "Ugh, I don't like red-haired husbands."  #??????????

Blossom2 wrote her spelling words on the board arrayed in an angel costume and makeshift veil, because she could.  #characterswelcome

After our Sci-Fri experiment, Blossom4 explained that magnets only pick up metal and not her, because she is a person, not metal.  She explained that the magnet couldn't pick up the pennies or the buttons for the same reason.  She was able to narrate to me that magnets work in water and through air.  I was so excited to realize that even our 3 yr old gleans from family science experiment time.  #homeschoolbaby

Well, friends, it looks like it's going to be a normal weekend here.  I've got a trip to the green house planned.  There will be some yummy family favorite chip dip to chow down on tonight.  There's a family party tomorrow and the Rugged Mountain Man is celebrating that statewide holiday known as Opening Day of Trout Season for Children.  It's gonna be a smashing weekend!  For now, I'm off to make ten plus gallons of sweet tea.  No biggie that I've never made it before; it can't be that hard, right?  


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

We Don't Go Anywhere Fast

I parade my crew through the checkout line, glancing at the frazzled cashier.  

"Oh, no worries.  I don't go anywhere fast," I assure her.  The cashier heaves a sigh of relief, even though the store is jam-packed with shoppers and the line is long behind me and mine.  

It's a secret I learned many moons ago.  This mama is WAY NICER when she isn't in a hurry.  I don't like roughly wrangling children into car seats, hurriedly grabbing wipes to remove lunch remains from someone's face or sumo-wrestling a kiddo onto the potty so we can fly out the door with a coat dangling from one arm and a boot dropping on the stairs on the way down.  

On any day we're leaving the homestead, I actually allot 15 full minutes for "loading."  Loading is my term for the process of everyone taking potty breaks, finding and putting on shoes, putting on their coats, carrying all of our stuff to the van, strapping in and getting situated in the van.  By the time I sprint back up the steps to get something I've forgotten or to double-check that both dogs are inside, it really does take about 15 minutes to "load."  Hence, the 15 minutes loading allotment.  My mind calculates travel time PLUS the loading allotment when I'm planning our day.  

All of you that don't naturally roll this way are laughing at me right now.  I laugh too because of how easily a five minute process turns into a fifteen minute ordeal, or more.  However, I gotta say, I really like not yelling every time we leave the house.  The peace level in our household vastly increased 10+ years ago when I realized that we don't go anywhere fast.  

(a rare photo of the Rugged Mountain Man doing what he does best ~ being rugged.)

Expect it. 

Plan for it.  

Accept it.

The funny thing I noticed recently is that when something surprising comes up and we really do have to hustle, hustle, hustle, I have 100% cooperation from my crew.  

They know, "This hustle is real.  It's serious and our team needs to MOVE."  I'm so thankful for that and I'm careful to tell them so.  I thank my Blossoms often for their cooperation getting out the door.  We are all on the same team and this kind of thing is household unity in action.  

I wanted to encourage mamas of littles today.  Yes, it does get easier eventually.  Someday they will be able to strap themselves into their carseats.  You won't have to take a diaper bag and oodles of gear to go somewhere.  Until those days and even during those days, adopt the mindset, "We don't go anywhere fast."  It will be easier for you to have a gentle touch and a softer voice.  They'll remember your kind manner all of their days, because that's love in action.


PS - I hope you enjoyed a few snapshots from the Blizzard of 2017, when no one went anywhere fast.  Snowstorms are one of God's ways of slowing things down.