Thursday, June 19, 2014

Vacay to PA

We trekked out to Pennsylvania for a week, to visit Nate's sister Shannon and her clan. 
She has 3 girls, nearly stair-stepped with our own.  It is a mighty emotional time whenever those six girls are together, lemme tell ya.

Despite the rain, threatening clouds, and severe thunderstorms, we all had a wonderful time!  
We visited Chocolate World (above )and drooled over all the confectionery delights... and Monkey Joe's (below).

They aren't so good at settling down for campouts.  Two years ago when we let them attempt this, we finally called it quits just after midnight.  But after 4 nights of begging, we let them give it a try.  They did much better this time!

We got such a kick out of all the cups and plates all lined up in a row!  Those girls can PUT IT AWAY.  Sorta like their mommies...

Chloe Belle turned 4 while we were there.  Ellia's birthday is just a few days later (six, you guys.  SIX!  Can't go there.)  so we had a joint party.  They were such sweet birthday girls.

I mean, SO SWEET.

Our friends made a special dessert for Ellia's birthday.  We're so thankful whenever we can visit family and friends!  They're precious to us!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Easily Pleased

The girls are at such a great stage right now.  Sleeping through the night, but not too big to need hugs and snuggles. Learning at lightning-quick speed, and becoming great conversationalists!  Big enough to feed and toilet themselves (CAN I GET A WITNESS!??), but still little enough to be sweet and innocent and filled with wonder. 
***hiking the boardwalk along the Boardman River***

One thing I hope they never outgrow is their ability to be delighted easily.  It doesn't take much at all to please them--a sunny day, a picnic lunch, a living room campout...dessert.  I so want them to be women of contentment!

~~All we need is what God has given us.
And whatever that may be, it is more than we deserve!~~

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Foraging in our own backyard!

We just love living in a rural setting.

We are learning a lot about the plants and creatures that surround us, and that's exciting! This spring we have learned a little bit about the elusive morel mushroom.   We've enjoyed a bit of success hunting them on our own, right on the property where we are living.  (Did you know that people around here gladly pay $35-40 for one pound of morels?)  We've also enjoyed foraging for ramps (i.e., wild onions/ wild leeks).  They're plentiful, and very similar to green onions, but more pungent. Delicious!  We also came across a couple rhubarb plants, and we scarfed down a tasty strawberry rhubarb crisp last week.

We can't wait to have a garden!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

"New" Bikes

We dragged out Olivia's bike a couple weeks ago, and she looked absolutely comical on it.  Exactly like one of those clowns riding a teeny little bike!

We realized that she got it for the Christmas of 2010.

Nate scrounge at area resale stores and finally found a beautiful bike at a pawn shop!  It was a good deal at $40.  A week later, we stopped by to see if it was still there.  It was.  Even better, it was marked down to $30!

Brienna had also outgrown her bike, so the pawn shop offered a $10 trade-in, and we walked out with Liv's "new" bike for twenty US dollars!  Olivia's old bike, which is still in great shape, is just right for Brienna... who, coincidentally, is four.

Liv and I went on the first ride of the season today.  She will get used to the new bike quickly.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Mission Accomplished!

After my bout with pertussis a year & a half ago, I thought I'd never run again.  My lungs still aren't the same, but I'm thankful to report that I CAN do strenuous exercise again!

I recently completed the Couch-to-5k running program, which is such a great place to start for non-runners.  It's just enough to challenge you and increase your endurance, but not so intense as to be discouraging.

On Tuesday I ran the full 5k (3.1 miles)!

I'm not super fast, but I have plenty of time to improve my pace between now and Race Day:  July 4th.  I feel really great, and I am hopeful that I may actually end up ENJOYING running more, as I train and learn further.  

Habits are Catchy!

We all know that children are like little sponges, soaking up everything they hear and observe.  What's really unsettling, though, is the the way that these children mimic and imitate those things we say and do.  When they were very little, 2 & 3 years old, I could always get a pretty good idea of exactly how I was disciplining, by watching them "discipline" their dolls.  What an eye opener that can be!

While there are plenty of bad habits that I hope and pray my children will not pick up from me, I do need to remember that they will tend to pick up my good habits as well.  That's a better focus than the negative.  Small children learn quickly and happily--for the most part.  Pleasing Mom is high motivation for them!  They bless me by developing good habits and character so young.

  • They dutifully take their vitamins each morning.   Sometimes THEY remind ME!
  • They are (generally) diligent to complete all of their chores.
  • They are learning the joy and discipline of spending time learning God's Truth each day.
  • They have recently begun to feel burdened for the needs of others, and often their first instinct is to pray.
  • Their taste for healthy foods is rapidly growing, and I'm happy to spend a large portion of our grocery budget on produce!

Monday, May 12, 2014

That Lovin' Feelin'

Yesterday was perfect.
Just exactly how I would have written a chapter entitled "The Perfect Mother's Day."

Chocolate-covered strawberries and coffee served up by three eager kids with behead.

Handmade cards and adorably misspelled love declarations, along with presents of candles and chocolate.

So many kisses and hugs and "Happy Mother's Day" wishes, all before I had even brushed my teeth.  And they were so happy that it was FINALLY MOTHER'S DAY!  One child even said, "Mama, I love you and you're the best mom ever, so I'm going to be your shadow for the whole day and stay right by you!

After church, it was out to lunch at a fantastic Mexican place, where the chips were fresh and the salsa flowed freely.  We splurged on an appetizer and the kids even got to have frozen slushy drinks in fancy glasses with umbrellas in them.  La Senortia, your chili relleno just may have been the best I've had, and that, my friends, is sayin' somethin'.  They've certainly made their way into my heart and also the Preferred Restaurant List.

We exited La Senorita into the glorious sunshine and Nate snapped a photo of the girls and me.  And some kind woman offered to take one of all 5 of us.  I love it.

The weather was so lovely that I thought it might be a great day for a hike, so that is exactly what we did!  It was gorgeous!  Behold:

 This guy refuses to take a nice photo with me!  What a punk.  But he's MY punk, and I'm keeping him.

All was not lost, though.  I talked him into standing with me for a quick photo before we left.  Ellia  played photographer.

At some point during the hike, my phone died. 

But after the hike we went to a park and played together until the kids started getting hungry.  Ice cream sundaes and a fire in the front yard were the perfect end to the day.  The kids kept saying it was the best day ever, and I had to agree.  I am stunned when I think about God, my heavenly Father, relishing time with me and delighting in my simple, child-like adoration for Him.  I love being reminded of it.  Best day ever, indeed.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

What I'll Do On Mother's Day

Each Mother's Day looks pretty much the same:  gathering with other Christians to worship, going to lunch,  opening homemade cards and sweet gifts... and the splendid absence of cooking or dishes.

Last year I was a mess of tears and disappointment.  My expectations of enjoying the children's adoration and sweet submission were simply not fulfilled.  That was a rough wake-up call, but a necessary one, and not just for mother's day.  I learned that in order to be a truly servant-spirited mother, there IS no such thing as having the day off.  Or having a day that's All About Me.  Motherhood is never about me.  It can't be about me.  I learned that my lofty expectations for praise and honor had dug themselves a deep little root of idolatry, and when harvest time came and I was met with disappointment, I saw the situation as God did. He's merciful to let us see our sin clearly.

This year I'm trying to embrace a different perspective.  With God's help,

  • I am taking more time to reflect on God's good & perfect gift of my own mother.  She's amazing and she doesn't even know it.
  • I put more thought, care, and love into gift-giving.
  • I will gladly take opportunities to serve my children, and not expect the reverse.
  • I will tell them how much I love them and praise God for them, and not expect the reverse.  I would not BE a mother if not for them.
  • I will keep fighting against the lie that society keeps trying to feed me:  that a truly beautiful woman will look as though she never had children.  I will not neglect good health practices, but I will not resent the way that God's gift of children has changed my body.  
  • I will express my thankfulness to my husband for his support and love.  Again...wouldn't BE a mother if not for him!
  • I will pray extra for my girls, and for my own growth in godliness.
  • I have expressed my admiration and love for my husband's mother, who defies all mother-in-law stereotypes with her grace and wisdom.
  • I will take the time to communicate my thanks and love to my beautiful birth mother, one of the most selfless people I've ever known.
  • I will relish this gift of motherhood, and this particular season of motherhod, remembering how quickly the time passes.  I'll be thankful, because God is so good.  So good.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Enjoying God's Beautiful World!

After a week of rain, Sunday afternoon turned out to be sunny and warmish.
We had to take advantage of it and get out!

We stopped at Crystal Lake, finally thawed out and sparkling as usual.  

 We found a little trail, well-marked by the super DNR crew, which is a good thing for my less-than-stellar sense of direction.  We hiked.  And we walked on fallen logs  And we looked for birds, mushrooms, and little creatures. 

We also took Maizey, who made us laugh so hard.  I think she may not have keen eyesight, since she got all bristle-y and mad at a tall tree stump.  Maybe she thought it was a person?  Or a grizzly?  We love being outside, and the hard winter made us all the more aware of and grateful for the lovely spring air and sunshine.  God is good to us, and He makes all things new!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Easter & Spring!

Don't look now, but I do believe Spring has sprung!  We have highs in the upper 40's & low 50's right now, and we're trying not to be antsy for warmer temps. 

Easter Sunday.  We enjoyed a big family breakfast and 
then a  wonderful celebration of Christ's resurrection.

These girls are serious hopscotch players.

Brienna "helps" her Daddy change the oil.  

How's the weather where you are?