Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My cozy kitchen

This note was edited after the post published: My loving husband once again caught a mistake of mine. Apparently, there is no such thing as 'rod iron'. It's 'wrought iron'. Hmmm.....and all these years, I was sure it was rod iron!


I got a new kitchen floor today!!!! (I'm just a little bit excited about it ;) My kitchen floor was one of the only things that I didn't really like about the house when we moved in. We'd been wanting to replace it since day one. By the way, have I mentioned how great my husband is? When I tell him something that's bothering me, or something that I'd like to change (like the kitchen floor!) he doesn't freak out or immediately start calculating how much it's going to cost him. He listens and considers my point of view. Then, we sit down together and talk about whether or not what I'd like to do is an option. In this case, we decided the floor WAS an option. But, I digress :) Here are 'before' pictures of my floor:


Excuse the mess in my kitchen---it was all torn apart to do the floor!





So...the kids and I left the house bright and early. I didn't want them to be around and getting in the way while the poor work guy was trying to get the floor done! Let's see, where should we go? Shopping? For 8 hours?? Definitely not. The library? Nope. Where did we end up? Grandma's house!!!

We headed over and did our school work at her house for the morning, and then did our best NOT to eat her out of house and home while we were there :) She had pancakes and eggs waiting on us when we arrived (Have I mentioned that I have the best mother-in-law imaginable?!)


Eli making some kind of craft project with their newspaper

They also lined up seats and played church

Oh, and Grandma gave Eli a hair-cut while we were there. But I don't have any pictures of that, because I was too busy trying to convince Eli to hold still and not blow his hair clippings everywhere. Man, does that boy have a head of hair!!


Anyway, when we returned home this afternoon, my husband had my kitchen put back together, and it looked something like this:



Love, love, love the tile look with my black rod iron bar stools!


I love my new floor...my kitchen...our cozy home. Wish my Mama could be here to see it!




Monday, March 28, 2011

Guess whose pretty pink and green fingers these are!



Cosette's? Nope, too small.

Leanna's? Nope, too large.

Let's see, who is between Cosette and Leanna? Hmmmm.......Yep, those are Noah's fingers!!

Cosette forgot and let her finger nail polish bottles out today, and Noah just kind of... helped himself. He always wants his finger nails painted when Cosette does hers, and he cries every time when we tell him "No, boys don't paint their finger nails." Funny thing was, after he did it, he ran to me crying because he didn't want it on anymore! :)

Unfortunately, I'm completely out of fingernail polish remover at the moment.....hee hee :)






Friday, March 25, 2011

Just me...being me.......

I have four children. I have been pregnant four times. They say that pregnancy kills a few brain cells. I'm beginning to think they may be right. After four babies, sometimes I amuse myself to no end with my silliness. Need proof?

This afternoon, I took Cosette to the post office to mail a package. When we got back home, I looked down, and I was wearing two different shoes. Now, grant it, they were the same general dark blue/ black color, but still....they were two different shoes! And I wore them at the same time....in public.....gracious!

Okay, then I was out in the garage, cleaning out our traveling trash can (aka: mini van), and my husband pokes his head out the door. "Um, your piano student is here for her lesson." Me: Huh?(Totally clueless!) Joel: Um...she's waiting in the living room for her lesson. Me: OH!! I completely forgot about it!" I had forgotten to write her time-change for her lesson on my calendar, and it had completely, just......slipped my mind. So there went I, sweat-shirt clad, hair a mess, hands filthy, and nose dripping snot because it was so cold outside, to teach the lesson. Splendid, real splendid. Fortunately, this particular student's mom is a friend of mine, so no big deal :)

Okay, next story of shame....... I was putting soup on the stove for dinner. Baked potato soup. MMM...one of my favorites! I had glanced in my pantry earlier in the day, and noted that I had all of the ingredients. Dinner time rolled around, my husband would be home soon, and I pull out the large container of chicken broth, only to turn it around and find out that it's......beef broth. A half hour before dinner. And the baby needs to nurse. And the kids are waking up from naps. And do I have CHICKEN BROTH?? No, of course not....I have beef broth!!


I looked at both of my boys the other day, who were misbehaving, and said in my most stern 'Mommy voice' : "Eli Shaun! Noah Jacob!" They looked at me like I had two heads. Because, wouldn't you think, naturally, that your own mother would know that your names are actually "Eli Jacob and Noah Shaun"??


The boys made a 'club-house' at the top of our stairs the other day. Well, after spending a day at Grandma's house, we were back home again and getting ready for bed. I was cleaning up the 'clubhouse' and putting everything away. I picked up a table-lamp that they had been using, and carried it down the stairs....improperly....and managed to drop it and shatter the light-bulb. Oh, and did I mention that we had just had a major thunder storm and the electricity was out? So there we were, with no lights to turn on, and a light-bulb smashed to smithereens on our living room floor. Ever try to sweep up shattered glass by the light of a flashlight? Lesson learned: Never carry a lamp by the shade!!


I'm learning that it's better just to laugh at yourself. When you wear two different shoes out in public, don't pray that nobody saw you, announce it on Facebook and give everybody a good laugh! It was almost as embarrassing as the time at college when a guy tapped me on the shoulder and said "Excuse me, do you know your jacket's on inside out??" Haha.

Have your own embarrassing story? I could go on for hours. Trust me, there's no end to my stories of shame! What can I say? I get my genes from my mama....the woman who would, inevitably, burn at least one grilled cheese sandwich every time she made them.....the woman who went around the house hunting for her glasses when they were on top of her head......the woman who reminded herself during her work day a million times to get gas on the way home, and then still ran out in the middle of the highway. I love my mama! Someday in heaven, we'll look back at our silliness and delight in the fact that we were able to leave it behind! But for now, I'll just keep laughing....




Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Monkeys

There is snow in our forecast for next week. Snow. Uggh! We decided today, though, to ignore that small fact and enjoy the beautiful sunny day outside.



Can't believe how big this girl is getting!





I remember when she was little enough that she needed me to push her on the swing. Now look how high she goes!



Leanna was a little uncertain about the whole swing thing.


Eli was wearing a helmet because he had just been riding his bike---not because he was playing on the swing set :)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

To dream.....

I have a dream. And in that dream, I have a wonderful green thumb, and can change my backyard into something beautiful and peaceful. There would be brick walkways, bird baths, white wicker trellises, and lots and lots of flowers. There would be raised flower beds, sunken flower beds, flowers lining walkways and beautiful vines growing everywhere. It might look something like this:

all picture taken from a google search


Or, perhaps, something like this.



But alas, I share my dear mother's ability in the 'green thumb' area. In other words, I don't have one. I kill plants. I don't try to. It just happens. Oh, and I could probably tell you the difference between a rose and a tulip, but that's about as far as my 'flower knowledge' goes. What can I say? I spent too many hours cooped up at the piano as a teenager!

So, I fear that my outside paradise would look something more like this:




Haha. Some of you are laughing----my family members are probably just nodding their heads, knowing that I exaggerate only slightly :)


So, while I know my dreams of beautiful outdoor gardens are not going to come true, I do have a few simpler dreams for our yard this year. Simple, easy, yet pretty....maybe not too much for me to handle with my kiddos, and yet still add a little beauty to our yard. Here are my hopes for our yard/garden this spring and summer.

1. Order and plant a row of blueberry bushes toward the back of the yard.
2. Plant tulips around the edge of the garage and back of the house.
3. Clean out the dead leaves/foliage from under the deck
4. Plant two oval shaped, ground level flower beds to either side of the swing,
and fill them with a mixture of perennials and annuals, maybe creating a simple brick or stone walkway between them.
5. Expand the size of the vegetable garden that is here from the previous owners and plant a strong wall of marigolds around it to keep out small creatures.


And that, I think, is lofty enough ambitions for this Mama. Hopefully I have 'success' pictures to share with you later this spring/ summer :) Anybody want to share your own gardening expertise with me?







Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"What's for breakfast, Mom??"

Do any other moms struggle with breakfast? I sure do.

I want variety--I get tired with the same old toast and jam. I want it to be healthy---no '14 g of sugar' cereal for my kiddos, please. I want it to be quick---because it's 8 a.m., I've been up for two hours already, and we're all starving! So what's a mom to do?

We DO keep a few boxes of cereal in the cupboard, and there's usually a morning or so a week where I just throw up my hands and say "Just pour yourselves some cereal!"

But cereal doesn't last my boys very long. As in---they need more to eat. As in---Eli finishes his first bowl and says ''So, what ELSE is for breakfast, mom?" Lord, have mercy!! The other morning, for breakfast, Eli had a big bowl of cereal, a dippy egg, a piece of toast, a banana and a whole glass of milk. And he's skinny, skinny! But I DO know where he puts it all----he's about ready to pass his sister in height!

But, back to breakfast.......here are a few of our recent favorite ideas for breakfast. Do me a favor. If you read these, take a minute and let me know one or two of YOUR favorite breakfast foods. It would add some variety to our morning meal :)


1. Apple and Cheese Quesadillas-----Take whole wheat quesadilla, spread it with a thin coat of olive oil, sprinkle on some sugar and cinnamon, and slap it on your griddle. Fill ONE HALF of it with shredded cheddar cheese, a layer of thinly sliced apple, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and more cheddar cheese on top of that. Grill the quesadilla open-faced, and then, right before serving, flip over the empty side to make a closed quesadilla. This is one of our favorites---SO yummy! The kids were eating them this morning as fast as I could make them!


2. Egg Sandwich. I admit it, I'm no good at making this. I overcook the egg almost every time. So Joel often makes them for us on Saturday mornings, because he's good at making dippy eggs :) Here's how----Toast an English muffin (or, if you live in our house, toast 6-8 English muffins to fill up everybody), then smear it with 'healthy' mayo, a dippy egg, and a sprinkle of your favorite cheese. You can put the cheese on the egg as it cooks to make it all melty and yummy :) Joel and I like to add a slice or two of deli roast beef to the griddle as the egg cooks and then add it to the sandwich---even more tasty!


3. Oatmeal. Joel detests it---he will. not. eat. it. Cosette tolerates it. The rest of us LOVE it and cheer when I fix it :) So, we never have it on the weekend when Joel's home for breakfast :) Here's how I do it----Quaker quick-cook oatmeal (however much you want), twice as much water as oatmeal (or add some milk), a sprinkle (small sprinkle) of cinnamon and nutmeg, a good teaspoon of vanilla OR almond flavoring. Dump it all in the pot, stir, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. You can add blueberries as well, or sprinkle some flaxseed on top to be extra-healthy and make up for the extra piece of cake you plan on eating later ;)


4. Yogurt Parfaits----A layer of yogurt, a layer of banana (or any other fruit mixture), a layer of organic, flax-seed granola. Repeat layers. Only this doesn't typically fill up my boys, so we usually have toast with it as well :)


5. A whole wheat bagel with cream cheese. That's it. (Or, if you wanna be really fancy, smear some simply fruit jam on top of the cream cheese :)


Okay, I'm out of ideas! Help!!! Leave me a comment and give me some new breakfast ideas :) I KNOW you're dying to try that egg and roast beef breakfast sandwich now, so be nice and give me some new inspiration :) I'm looking for 'different' ideas here----please don't tell me you eat toast or pop tarts every morning :) Oh, and please don't mention cream of wheat. That stuff gags me. But any other ideas are quite welcome :)



Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Happiness

On this Tuesday evening, for me, happiness is.......


1.) Watching my sweet little one give a concert. You'll have to ignore Joel and Noah's voices in the background---they were playing a game :) I love how Leanna is so excited to be sitting at the piano like a big kid :)





And today, Happiness is....

2.) Looking forward to a date with my husband on Friday evening. Dinner? Dessert? Movie? All of the above---and we're never leaving our house! In an effort to make dates a bit more 'inexpensive', as well as avoid the need for a baby-sitter, here is our new plan for our date nights:

1. Feed the kids PB and J for dinner and put them to bed a little early.
2. Make something yummy for dinner. In this case, we'll be having frozen Stouffer's meals ( I always cook from scratch, so frozen dinners are a big treat), store-bought iced tea, and a big tub of Ben and Jerry's cream-cheese brownie ice cream :)
3. Rent a movie, or possibly borrow one from the library.

Our general details may change with each date----maybe a board game night----maybe a steaks on the grill night----maybe a sit on the porch and drink lemonade while watching the sun set night.....but, regardless of the details,.......it's a date! A Yummy date.....no babysitter required.......and all for less than 15.00! You can't beat that!

And, to conclude my 'happiness' post......


3.) My beautiful girls. Cosette said Leanna was helping her with her math :)








Sunday, March 13, 2011

"Pray for what you are passionate about".......and then blog about it......

A few weeks ago in a sermon, Joel said that we should 'pray for what we're passionate about.' In other words, if you're passionate about politics and government, pray for it! If you're passionate about orphans, pray for them! If you're passionate about AIDS in Africa, pray for it!

Well, I assumed that if it's a good idea to pray for what you're passionate about, then maybe it was also a good idea to blog about what you're passionate for :) I regularly blog about at least one thing that I'm passionate about----my children! But there is something else that can really get me excited---a discussion on marriage. I believe that marriage is a beautiful, God-ordained institution. (Not that everybody should get married, mind you, just that once you ARE married, it can be beautiful!) And, sadly, like every other beautiful thing in God's creation, Satan is out to destroy it. he (no capital letter deserved here) wants to take two people, working together as one for God's kingdom, and pull them apart. And it's up to us, through God's grace, to keep him from doing that.

I have been blessed with a beautiful marriage. Now, a disclaimer here. I am not claiming that our marriage has been perfect. I am not claiming that we've had nothing to work through, or struggles to over-come. Since we've been married, we've had to endure an early miscarriage, weeks upon weeks of bed-rest during my third pregnancy, my struggles with pleurisy a few years back, my constant on-going annoyance of my hearing loss, the loss of six (6!) of our grandparents since we've been married, and now the most recent loss of my Mama. Plus, we have our own struggles and short-comings that each of us have to work through. I loose my temper far too easily. And Joel is so calm and even-tempered about everything that....oh wait, that's not a short-coming ;) So, in saying 'beautiful', I don't mean perfect. What I DO mean is this.....

In spite of all of the above nastiness, I'm always amazed at how God can work to make something beautiful! Two people, working together to raise a family and make a difference for God's Kingdom. Working through struggles, through short-comings, through disagreements and sins to stay committed to each other.


I have been reading a book recently that I found on one of my Mom's shelves when we were packing. I brought it home with me because I remembered her saying how good this book was, and what an eye-opener it was for her. If you've never read it, let me highly recommend it now. It's called 'The Grace Awakening', by Charles R. Swindoll.


In one of the later chapters, the author explores the role that grace plays in marriages. He outlines three main ideas that he feels are essential for any marriage that is going to last. I'd like to share them here with you, because I know that Joel and I have also found these ideas to be true in our own marriage. (I am not pretending to be any kind of marriage counselor or advice giver here, folks----I am simply sharing with you truth that I've had shared with me, and has benefited my marriage!)


Truth number 1.) Marriage requires both parties to become 'unselfish'. How very true! In entering a marriage, you must expect that your 'rights' are no longer your 'rights'! You now hold the needs/wants/desires of another person higher than your own. Do I really want to rise early in the morning before day-light? No, but my husband needs a lunch to eat at lunch-time, and it's my job to fix it. Would my husband rather spend his Saturdays doing something he enjoys rather than paying bills, fixing things around the house and taking care of children? Of course! But he has entered into this marriage commitment, and committed he is! The author says "It calls for grace to release rights and expect little in return"


2.) Marriage means a lifelong commitment. From the very beginning of our marriage, Joel and I agreed that 'divorce' would never be an option. We would not threaten each other with it, we would not talk about it, we would not consider it. It was not a possibility. That way, when times got hard, our first thought wasn't "Oh, well, if this doesn't work out, no big deal", but rather, "How DO we work through this and come out stronger on the other side?" Throw the word 'divorce' out of your vocabulary right now. Of course it's easy to give up and leave a commitment that you weren't really committed to in the first place. The author reiterates again that this takes grace. It is not natural to our sinful, selfish selves to keep going when the going gets tough. Our first response is to flee and run. But, through God's grace, we can keep going.


3.) Marriage includes times of trouble. That's just life. Life includes trouble! That's why we say in our vows "For better or for worse". I'm gonna stick with you no matter what. Even if there our times when I don't feel like I love you. Because I realize that love STARTS OUT with a commitment. A decision. Then the feeling comes. I believe that every marriage goes through times when one or the other (or both) people don't feel that mushy, gushy, 'head over heels' feeling that you felt on your honeymoon. But that doesn't mean that you don't love the other person! Because love isn't a feeling, it's a decision. You will have to go through difficulties. They may be like the ones I listed above, or they may be your own totally unique set. Financial problems, loss of loved ones, job loss, personality clashes----these and more may come to you, but you must decide before hand that you're going to stick it out!

Here are just a few of the more 'funny' differences Joel and I have experienced in our marriage:

1.) I'm a night owl. Light on until midnight is not uncommon for me. My husband is a morning bird. Light on at 5 a.m. is not uncommon for him. We both agree to continue sleeping and ignore the other one's craziness ;)

2.) I'm always cold---he's always hot. The electric blanket goes on MY side of the bed, folks.

3.) I have a flaring temper, he is ALWAYS calm and in control. I've had to learn to bite my tongue and hop up and down when I stub my toe instead of yelling and punching some unfortunate inanimate object. Because my husband was getting tired of fixing closet doors that I kicked when I pinched my finger. Next subject, please.....

4.) He prefers action/war/people turning into robots kind of movies, I prefer anything that makes me laugh (think Tim Allen drooling out his peaches after he gets a Botox injection on 'Christmas with the Kranks') So, we take turns picking movies on movie night....


You get the picture. We're two different people----if we weren't, this marriage thing would get pretty boring! We use our differences to grow and to have fun.


Alright, I've probably stepped on a few toes by now. Forgive me. Blame my husband and his 'Pray for what you're passionate about' statement ;) Or, better yet, blame Charles Swindoll and his book "The Grace Awakening". By the way, you HAVE headed on over to Amazon to order that by now, RIGHT?? :)

I know that I have those reading my blog who have gone through or are going through struggles in their marriages. I'm not trying to point fingers, judge you or condemn you. I'm not trying to make this marriage thing look easy, because it's not. It requires hard work and commitment! I am simply trying to ENCOURAGE you. Encourage you to TAKE BACK what Satan so desperately wants a hold of! You can feel free to comment and leave me tips for things that have helped you along in your OWN marriage. (And by the way, just so you know, I DO pray for your marriages-----because the praying comes first, THEN the blogging ;)

And THAT is something I am passionate about. Better not get me started on Krispy Kreme blueberry glazed donuts, or we'll be here ALL night.....





Thursday, March 10, 2011

Catch the moment

So often, it seems, I allow myself to get all bogged down in 'what I have to do'. And, it IS true that as a mother of four little ones, there is ALWAYS something I could be doing. Sometimes I feel like I'm multi-tasking 24/7. I've got dinner on the stove, a baby on my hip, a piano student ready to come, two kids napping, another child needing my attention or help on the potty.....all at the same time. And I think......aaaghhhh!!! How many things can ONE mama do at the same time?

But then, I read a blog about a Mama whose child has cancer. I hear about an acquaintance who lost a baby. I hear about struggles that friends are going through. I remember losing my OWN Mama.

And I think.....how silly of me. How silly to get all bogged down in the things that don't matter. Well, okay, they do matter. Because my family does need dinner. And my baby does need a clean diaper. And my children do need care and 'looking after, and my house does need cleaned.....and so on and so forth.

But when I let those things suck up all my joy....instead of finding the joy in them, that's a shame. Or, when I miss the sweet moments, because I'm too busy trying to do everything perfectly. What a shame. I hear about all these sad stories....and I think about how much I miss my own Mom........and I am more determined than ever to catch every minute, to find the joy (because most of the time, the joy isn't 'hiding', I've just closed my stubborn eyes), to LOVE my family, and to serve my Jesus.

I caught a moment tonight. A moment I may have missed if I hadn't taken the time. But I took the time. And this is what I caught:

Two brothers. One who is supposed to be asleep on the BOTTOM bunk, but persists in moving up with his big brother night after night. And hey, when they're sleeping so peacefully, and causing no problems, and make for such CUTE pictures....well, who am I to argue? :)

Catch the moments. Even those moments when you're doing dirty dishes or stuck in rush-hour traffic, or some other nasty chore......find the joy. Life is so fragile, and I don't want to look back with any regrets!










Monday, March 07, 2011

Sugar and Spice and everything nice....




I'm lovin' my latest two dollar Good Will find. Especially
since the little feet underneath are even sweeter than
the shoes themselves ;)




Apparently, they're even good for eating!

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Pizza Sunday

I just realized that I haven't posted all week! That's life I guess---sometimes it just speeds on by!



My husband is a wise man. I've come to realize (well, I knew it before, but now I realize it even more), that when he makes a suggestion about something, it's usually a good idea to pay attention.

Recently, I was lamenting the fact that Sunday mornings are so busy for us. One of us (Joel or I) are often at church early for worship team practice. Or, Joel is busy going over sermon prep for the morning.

That leaves the other one of us (usually me) to get the kids ready and out the door to church by ourselves. It's no easy task. Just as soon as you think you have everybody ready, you turn around, and Noah has taken all his clothes off. Or Eli has gotten the paint down without asking and is now covered in paint and needs another bath! Yeah. Sunday mornings are hard.

And, to top that all off, I was trying to put together a fancy 'Sunday dinner' for us to have after church, whether it was just our family or if we were expecting guests.

Problem is, food on Sunday is hard. It's like, you either have to put something in the crock pot to cook during church, (which, knowing my luck with crock pots, it usually burns), or you have to have something ready to put in the oven AFTER church to bake. But that's hard, because after church, everybody is starving, and doesn't want to wait for food to cook! And, besides all of that, you're running around like a chicken with your head cut off, trying to get yourself showered and dressed, four kids ready for church, a baby nursed, and food prepared.

So what's a Mom to do??!

My wonderful husband said: "Why not make pizza? Forget the big Sunday lunch, and just have pizza every Sunday. Everybody loves it, it's yummy, and it's fast".

I love that man!!

Now, here's something to note: Store-bought pizza to feed our family could be expensive EVERY Sunday, so we're mostly going to be doing homemade pizza. I'll make the crust Saturday night and stick it in the fridge, and then we'll just throw the toppings on after church and bake :) This way, I can use whole wheat flour and make myself feel a little bit better about serving my family (and any guests) pizza once a week :)

Here is a link for a basic pizza crust that works well for us. You can also make it ahead of time through the rising stage, and then refrigerate it until you're ready to bake it. Just bring it to room temp. before baking.

The more children I've added to my family, I've come to fine that simple is good. Simple is better. Simplify, Simplify, Simplify.

Your husband will be much more impressed with a simple pizza lunch AND a wife who is smiling and happy than he will be with a gourmet meal served by a frantic and grumpy woman.

Just something to think about.....





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