Monday, December 28, 2009

Good day list...

In an attempt to ignore the dust bunnies, dirty floor, sticky tablecloth, and partially completed cleaning around here, I've decided to think about the good things about this day for the pleasure of the internet at large...

- Evan only got up twice last night and slept past 8:00 a.m. HUGE!!!!
- Seth didn't poop in his pants today! He actually went in the toilet!
- New nap nazi schedule is helping me a ton. Evan has to stay down an hour and a half now, whether he sleeps or not. This helps me carve out time that I know I can dedicate to Seth.
- Spent an hour and a half reading books to Seth this morning from the new library stash. What kind of almost 3-year-old would rather read this long than play? "No, Mommy, don't want to play play doh. I want to read another book!"
- Seth and Evan were great for a short grocery run before afternoon nap.
- Evan slept for 2 hours for his afternoon nap. Craziness!
- The floors are swept, if not mopped. I can vaccum after David gets home.
- I washed our sheets for the first time in a month. Now, can we get them back on the bed before we're wiped out? Hmm....
- Most of the laundry is clean. Don't ask me if it's folded.
- Both of my tiny boys have been very sweet and loving to me today. And Seth spontaneously thanked me for finding his "Little Red Hen" book to read to him before nap. Something's taking!

It's so easy to see all the things that need doing instead of the good things around me. You may need to make a list today, too. Go for it!

And, I don't know if y'all have any tips, but do you clean up the nursery rhymes you read your children? The Billy Goat's Gruff has some scary troll issues, and then there's the whole ax and wolf's stomach issue in Little Red Riding Hood. He doesn't seem phased by this right now, but I don't want to create nightmare fodder...

Saturday, December 26, 2009

It's lovely to be home for the holidays. =) Ok, well, sort of. We did got to my parent's for a few days before Christmas. It was a whirlwind of baking and sledding and tractor riding, of course.

Mom and Dad got the 5 inches of snow that we'd been denied here, and Dad dug out the old Snow Racer and cleaned it off. It took a lot of begging and watching his 6-month-old brother go down with Mommy first, but Seth finally decided to try the whole sledding thing. (The Snow Racer is this really cool sled thingy with a seat in between two skis with a steering wheel attached to a short ski. You can steer between trees and stuff. It's awesome.) So, I got to take both of my tiny boys sledding for the very first time. Seth couldn't get enough after awhile. He went sledding for an hour every day that we were there.

My mom's family always gets together for Christmas Eve, and my mom was in charge this year, since my grandmother is getting a little too feeble to do much hosting these days. I spent a lot of time in the kitchen this trip, working on things for the dinner. I also made a ton of cookies to give to our family members. Mom is lucky I can bake. =) I made a lot of rolls in one day. It was nice to be puttering around in the kitchen with Mom and Dad, working together. My parents' rock. Mom also helped me to get things together so Seth could pretend to be a wise man. She looks more and more vindicated for saving everything all the time, unfortunately. =) Sorry, Dad, it's true. And then it was back home to sleep in our own beds on Christmas Eve...

So... how does a non Christmas tree and non gift giving family celebrate Christmas, you ask? Well, we're still learning our way, but this year, it looked like this. We all got up, I made a big, scrumptious breakfast (all Advent candles lit!), and then David lit a fire in the fireplace. Christmas music played while we ate. Seth put the Baby Jesus in his Advent calendar. Then we went in the living room, sat down together, and David read the Christmas story. Seth played his Wise Man game, and then we got out a hymn book and sang Christmas carols together. Seth loves to sing, and he knew a lot of the words to some of the carols. Then we pulled his little table and chairs in front of the fire, and he did a Christmas craft with me. (It was one I'd already done with the 2's Sunday School class we teach, so I just saved some extra stuff for him.)

In the future, I'm sure we'll do more activities, but this was perfect for us this year. I'm thinking of ways to make the Wise Man activity more full in years to come. We will probably pick out gifts for the Baby Jesus in the days before Christmas next year. I'm thinking of explaining to Seth and reading him the verses about giving to the poor in His name, and we'll go through a catalog of things you can give to families in other countries- like lanterns for indigenous missionaries or chickens for a family in Nicaragua. Maybe we'll wrap up pictures of those things, and he can put those next to the baby next year. It's going to be a work in progress, but creating traditions always is.

I consider this Christmas a success because David said that he enjoyed it, and he didn't even miss the presents. Score! =)

The afternoon was spent having an adult's only Christmas dinner with good friends while all the babies and toddlers napped. We reflected on how God had been working with us in the last year. It was very relaxing and pleasant, and Evan was extra good. Our Christmas miracle was that he slept for over 2 hours!

And now its a calm weekend at home, and we're enjoying the time to relax together. Merry Christmas! We hope that this time brings peace and blessings and rest to you as you celebrate His birth!

Seth the Littlest Wise Man...

This year, Seth was a Wise Man. =) We woke up, had a big, yummy breakfast, and then sat together while David read the Christmas story. After he read a short section about the Wise Men from the Matthew account, we asked Seth if he'd like to be a Wise Man and bring presents to the baby Jesus.

"Yeah!" And so it was time to don my brother's old king robe from a play of yesteryear. We had the roll the sleeves up about 5 times. =)

Following yonder star with Daddy... "Where is it, Daddy?"

Finding one of the tin foil stars Mommy had put on the walls... and the present to give to Baby Jesus underneath. "Frankincense" looked an awful lot like a nice smelling candle this year. =)


"Look, Mommy, gold coins!"


"I give them to the baby Jesus, Mommy!"
I think we've got a new Christmas tradition around here. Merry Christmas!



Saturday, December 19, 2009

Free gift tags on the web...

I found a great site with tons of free printable Christmas gift tags. I printed off a few pages of the "Baked pretty for you" tag on card stock. There's something for everybody there. Enjoy!

Trying to keep a quiet heart...

I'm feeling a little challenged today. =)

I want to keep a quiet heart, and it's been a struggle. It takes so little to get me in a foul mood these days. Last night was long and tiring, thanks to a couple of window candles in Evan's room that I hadn't unplugged. Even after I unplugged them at eleven, that didn't do the trick. I think either David or I were up every 2-3 hours all. night. long.

I made the mistake of letting Evan cry in his crib after he woke up after 30 minutes of nap because I just wanted to lie in the bed. The furious crying that is payback for that has barely ceased since he got up. And I'm worn.

Combine that with my inability to get the decorations up because of a million and one interruptions, now including Mr. Spirit of Christmas Unhappiness, and I'm not keeping a quiet heart. David has now taken him out for the second time this afternoon, and they've walked around the corner to get the walnuts I forgot for the cookies I'm supposed to be making for Seth and Evan's Sunday School teachers because of my mommy guilt.

"Buy gift cards" you say. Well, sure, if we hadn't spent and spent and spent the last two months on things as unexciting as suits for David's job, plane tickets, bar association dues, etc., maybe I would. But we have, so I'm not. We're fine and dandy; I'm just trying to be responsible, yada, yada...

And the lights are now draped across the mantel with care, and the house is quiet, and I've scrapped the plans to make soup until tomorrow. But its not that easy to get back on the horse. (I actually have personal experience with that saying because I once had a horse that liked to run away with me until I fell off, and I did indeed have to take my shaken self and climb back on when I didn't want to). I made myself hold Evan and calm down and pray for my anger at him to leave despite the screaming because he can feel my anger, and I know it.

It's a dirty little secret, ya know. Mommies aren't supposed to be angry. Ever. But I am angry more often than I'd like.

I need to go and sit at the foot of the manger filled with the baby that all the songs say didn't cry...

*** The day was saved by David, my personal superhero, who got both boys smiling and laughing, giving me time to finish up the cookies, which turned out really cute with the tags. We watched "Elf," laughed a lot, and now I'm going to bed with an empty, shiny sink. So, despite the sad tone of this post, all is not lost, and I'm not about to throw myself off a bridge. Yet. Good night. =) ***

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Comin' to ya from the Lone Star State...

I gotta tell you, I'm still surprised that I'm here. =)

If you've been keeping up with the saga via Facebook, you already know that it's been a nutty last couple of weeks. David was gone for a week, and I came down with a virus toward the end of the week he was gone. It involved a nasty fever, and eventually, a full body rash.

FYI, if you're a nursing mother, Sudafed will dry up your milk supply, and Benadryl is totally verboten. I know about no. 1 from sad experience, but we're back in the dairy business now. I know about no. 2 because I felt like I was on fire for a couple of days, and I deeply resented the doctor's cheery "Have a nice day!" after he told me oatmeal baths would have to be sufficient.

In the middle of all that, it was starting to look very much like we were not taking our plane flight to Texas to see David's brother and his whole family. I called Expedia to get our options, and we thought about maybe just sending David and Seth so we wouldn't lose too much money.

So when I woke up Wednesday morning almost completely rash free and feeling human again, I can't tell you how thankful I was. And Thursday morning actually saw us lugging two kids and our stuff through the airport. =) Seth thought the "high speed jet plane" was the best thing ever, and it was so much fun to see the trip through his eyes. Both boys did remarkably well, even after we traded our plane for a 2 1/2 hour car ride out to Dan and Kelli's town.

Texas. It's a different country. =) Yup. Everybody wears cowboy boots here, and there's this metal star all over everything, and they fly their state flag everywhere. Definitely a different culture when we come here. I grew up in a small town, but it wasn't like this small town. I feel like a tourist, gawking at the natives. =) I probably smell like a yuppy Eastern big city gal.

We've done a lot of playing, some nighttime sleeping, a girl's night out, and plenty of eating. Tonight is the children's Christmas program at church. I am looking forward to watching my bevy of lovely girly nieces sing their little hearts out. I wish Evan could be baby Jesus this year, but I think some of his recent behavior disqualifies him. He's not of the "meek and mild" persuasion. =) He likes to try and bungee jump backwards off our legs, squeal loudly, and blow spit bubbles at everyone.

Heading home tomorrow. We'll miss this branch of the family once again... Wish us uneventful travel. =)

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Pasta snowflakes...

If you have craft glue and wagon wheels and spray paint, you've got yourself snowflakes. =) Go here for all the coolness... and make sure to look through the comments for more detailed instructions.

Since I hadn't thrown away that wagon wheel pasta from over a year ago, I made a couple tonight. We'll see what they look like after I'm done. Since I can't stand glitter all over everything, I'm thinking of spray painting mine silver.

We've had a great start to advent around here. I dispensed with the advent wreath in favor of plain candlesticks arranged in a circle, since it took up much less room. And Seth LOVES the advent calendar. So far, we have taken out a star, a shepherd, and a sheep, and he's put them in the blank manger scene.

He told me today, "Mommy, there's a sheep. The sheep has a baby. It's Baby Jesus!" Well, He is the Lamb of God. =)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Worn...

Today was a great day in a lot of ways, though things went a little south after 3:00. Evan was fussy and very difficult to console, and I was pretty frazzled by the time I dragged myself to the mall in the pouring rain to pick up David's new suits for him before he leaves. As I dragged out the stroller, trying to keep Seth from getting soaked while putting him in, with Evan strapped in on my chest, and the wind blowing rain in all our faces, I took mental inventory.

My pack mule status was a little ridiculous. I couldn't even open the mall doors for myself, what with the umbrella and the stroller and the backpack and Evan and Seth. And I was wearing an outdated maternity shirt, jeans that were sagging on me that used to belong to Mom, no makeup, and slightly crooked glasses. I had two boys hanging on me and an armful of suits before I left. But now they are in bed, and I'm thinking of this story. Enjoy...

From the THE VELVETEEN RABBIT by Margery Williams...

"The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else.

For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it."What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit."Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

Smile, all you beautiful, tired mommies out there. You are becoming "real."

Not-that-dried-out-potluck Macaroni and Cheese

Ahhh, back into the routine. And my fervent prayers yesterday were answered with a baby that slept WONDERFULLY last night. I know he must've hated sleeping in my parent's laundry room. =) Usually it takes him a few nights to get back into his good sleeping routine after we've been away, but God was gracious...

And since things have been going so well this morning, I decided to try a new recipe that Terri got from her friend, Beth. This is not potluck mac n' cheese where the cheese is all dry and it tastes mostly like noodles. Nope, this is very creamy and cheesy and EASY!

Beth's Oven Mac' N' Cheese

1 c. uncooked macaroni noodles (I used whole wheat)
1 1/2 T. flour
1 t. salt
generous dash of black pepper
1-2 T. butter (I used the canola oil and butter spread I keep in the fridge, and that was fine)
1 c. water
1 c. milk
1 c. cheese (sharp cheddar is wonderful)

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 2 qt. casserole, and dump everything in it except the cheese. Stir, cover with foil or lid, and then bake for 45 min. Stir once halfway through so the macaroni won't stick. After times up, stir in cheese until melted. Put in the hot oven for a minute or two if it hasn't completely melted from stirring. That's it! It's just that easy.

I buy blocks of cheese, slice them all at one time, then wrap them in paper towels and put them in a plastic bag. I just pulled out some slices, broke them up some, and filled up the 1 c. measuring cup I'd used for everything else. Worked like a charm.

This isn't as cheap as a Kraft box mix, and its probably not as cheap as Annie's either, but it's a whole lot better and far more natural, and it reheats well. We eat a lot of mac n' cheese around here, so this recipe is great! It also doubles easily, and you just use the same 2 qt. dish. If anybody ever breaks down the cost, I'd definitely be curious, so please comment and let me know what you discovered.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

- We got back this afternoon from Thanksgiving at Mom and Dad's. It was a nutty, pleasant whirlwind. I loved it, and now I'm loving that its over. =) There were 4 children under the age of 4 there, and the activities included lots of eating, very little sleeping for everyone, and tons of hanging out and trying to keep the kids happy and entertained.

- I've decided that Family Picture Day needs to be banned. It's quite stressful, and I personally do not think its worth the final product, especially with this many tiny kids. Inevitably, by the time everyone is dressed and ready to go, the whole morning is gone, and at least two of the kids are melting down. I do it because I love my mother, and it means a lot to her, and since she has made many sacrifices on my behalf, I will continue to do it. But I don't like it.

- By the time we'd left Mom and Dad's, the children had all been ranked by order of demandingness. We got the honor of having the outliers deemed Most Trouble and Least Trouble. Can you guess who got which honor? Doesn't take much guessing, does it? He also got the award for Least Likely to Sleep Longer At Night Than 3 Consecutive Hours. What has he won? Fistfuls of his mother's hair. Praying very, very hard that we get back into a good sleeping pattern... starting now.

- I think I've been starving my baby. I should've started him on baby food a month ago instead of a couple of weeks ago. He is finally eating oatmeal after rejecting rice cereal for a week. I'm going to put him on baby food at every feeding pretty quickly now that he's actually swallowing something. I looked at him this week and saw a tiny baby who's getting longer and not bigger around. Yes, he's developmentally on track, and he has no interest in a bottle of formula after he's nursed, but he's just sooo tiny. I'm a little worried about my milk supply, so we're shortening the feeding schedule again until he's eating more baby food and I feel better about things. I swear he burns up my milk like rocket fuel.

- Terri shared a great book with me called "A Praying Life." I think I'm going to get a copy soon, since I didn't get to finish it. It made me take a good hard look at my cynical attitude toward life and childlike prayer. He was brutally blunt about the reasons that we don't pray, and I loved that he put it right up front that one of the reasons that we don't pray is that we're tired of being disappointed when God doesn't answer... so we don't ask. Saves a lot of hurt feelings, right? Well, maybe, but it also keeps us from developing a close relationship. For more... go get the book. I think the author's name is Paul Miller.

- David is going away again this week, Tuesday through Friday. I will be doing a lot of praying for good attitudes and patience.... especially patience. And good sleeping. And patience again. And no disasters. And patience. You probably see a pattern emerging here.

- I just got a wonderful magnetic advent calendar. It's my big decorating splurge this Christmas, but I think its going to be worth it. You open each little box, and there's a magnetic part of the scene. One day a star, another day a shepherd, etc. I'm going to love doing this with the boys for years to come. I got the one from Kurt Adler on Amazon. It seems to be very sturdy and well made.

- And now I'm going to watch House Hunters. This is purely so I can feel morally superior to people who insist that their house must have pot lighting and granite countertops. =) Good night!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pleasantness...

Last night out was just what I needed. I've known Sarah since we were 8, and sometimes it still surprises and delights me to realize that we're experiencing another phase of life together, just another of many. We laughed until we cried, and I stayed out longer than the 3 1/2 hours I have been stuck to since Evan was born. And he went to bed without that final feeding and slept, and slept, and slept. It was a lovely night in so many ways...

It's a blustery day in my neighborhood. We got out into the sunshine and wind and went to the local park. Seth is getting good at climbing all the little ladders on the play structures, and he's very proud of himself. He still loves to swing, and I still love to push him, Evan strapped snugly to my chest with my jacket zipped around him to keep his tiny hands warm...

And Sarah helped me figure out the answer to Evan's recent frustrating behavior. It's time for another schedule change. A light bulb went off while we were talking over Mexican, and I felt like such an idiot. This is when Seth went to a 4 hour schedule, too, and he also stopped napping well then. So, today, I pushed Evan's nap off for 30 min. longer than I usually do. Lo and behold, he's napping well, twice today already!

Seth helped me make potato soup while baby napped this morning. We had no tantrums and hitting like yesterday. All is right with my world. =)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, 11but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.

Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, "Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here."

He replied, "You give them something to eat."

They answered, "We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd." (About five thousand men were there.)

But he said to his disciples, "Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each." The disciples did so, and everybody sat down. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to set before the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over." Luke 9: 10-17


Being a mommy is the hardest job I've ever had. The most rewarding... but definitely the hardest... I need constant wisdom that I don't have, and patience that I don't have. This job brings me to my knees faster than anything else could, I think. Today I've felt overwhelmed, thinking about Seth's tender heart and his recent interest in Jesus, and in my pathetic inability to show him the glory of Christ.

But part of my CBS study today was on Luke 8, the feedings of the 5,000. See, the disciples go to Jesus, and they tell him that the people need to leave and get food. And he says to them, "Why don't you get them something to eat?" Whoa, Nelly. See, now he's just placed a huge responsibility on their shoulders, one they can't possibly fulfill on their own. I understand the burden.

So they come up with a half baked solution, going to buy some food for all the thousands. Never mind that they have no money; they're trying to come up with something. They're probably feeling a little desperate. Been there, felt that.

Jesus then gives them something to do. It's something small, but it's a start. He asks them to seat the people in groups of 50. It's manageable, it's a first step, but they don't know what's going to happen next. They just go and do, and then they wait and see.

And then Jesus does the rest. He breaks the bread and fish, and he prays, and a miracle happens. He's doing the real heavy lifting, the only things that really make a difference. They just have to take the first step with him.

That's how I feel about raising my boys to love and serve Christ in the midst of the frustration and chaos and spiritual lukewarmness that I sometimes feel. I know my pitiful inability to raise them to love Christ. I know it all too well. I feel like he's asked me to make food out of thin air for a stadium full of hungry people.

But he just asks me to get started. Read the Bible stories. Sing the songs. Pray with Seth for patience and kindness and help when he's losing his temper. Just do it, even if your mind is on the mess you want to be cleaning up, even though it shouldn't be. And He'll do the real miracle.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

11:19 p.m.

Rough day. Rough last few days, actually.

Evan is not an easy baby. And he's started sleeping like a newborn again. He's up some nights 3-4 times, and its been a lot of nights for the last few weeks. Not really sure what to do about this, since Seth never did it. He's such a long, skinny thing that I don't want to deny him needed food if he's having a growth spurt or something. But that makes for a tired mommy.

Napping also isn't going well during the day right now. I might get an hour and 15 minutes out of him in one stretch... tops. And its not like he's super contented when he's awake. He wants to be held... or he'll cry. And since I get tired of listening to the crying, I give in and hold him. Sometimes I put him down for a nap, and he'll sleep, and sometimes I put him down, and he won't. No amount of letting him cry it out works if he's really in a mood... believe me, I've tried.

I'm worn thin today. I went from having 3-4 hours a day when I could get things done and hear myself think, unencumbered, to having about an hour each day. I was spoiled with just Seth. And I miss the time and the peace. I miss having time with just Seth to play and talk when I'm not trying to recover from being frazzled because of Evan's fussiness or listening for him to cry any moment.

And have I mentioned that, while Seth has peeing in the potty down cold, he will not poop in toilet? 'Nuf said.

This is me, venting. And hoping that tomorrow and the next day are a little easier. Sarah and I have a date with some Mexican food and no children tomorrow night, and I can't wait...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Gratitude for...

... gurgling, babbling, flailing baby with his tiny hand on my arm...

...getting better at small talk and enjoying the work cocktail party last night...

... being able to wear jeans to the party, since we're out of the law firm world now...

... sleeping in this morning... clean, oiled kitchen cabinets that smell like lemons...

... suit pant picks lovingly repaired by my mom's skilled hands... clean showers and tubs...

... having ingredients for chicken curry on hand for tonight...

... David taking Seth walking while I got Evan to nap with me this morning...

... Seth's delight over one of my favorite childhood books on sharing...

... a husband's sacrificial love.... snuggles and giggles... sunshine after rainy days...

Monday, November 09, 2009

Typed with Evan on my lap...

A cozy, fall evening. Evan is gnawing a dark, wet spot on my sleeve and making spitting noises at the computer. Big brother is upstairs, sleeping off what I have finally decided is the most cheerful cold ever. Wish I was that happy when I'm sick.

This weekend was nice, but busy. Among all the little errands, household chores on my list just didn't get done. Last night, I tried to reconcile myself to that. Fortunately, it worked this time. =) Since we've had Evan, there is ALWAYS more to do than time to do it. And how did the laundry triple? Huh? Explain that to me! I used to be able to fold and put it away before the hampers were overflowing again, but not anymore.

Amidst it all, I'm feeling peaceful. Evan is now going down for at least an hour and a half in the mornings and has another one of those naps, usually two, in afternoon and early evening. I'm having more one on one time with Seth, and his cuteness just grows every day. His vocabulary is exploding, and so is his imagination. All of a sudden, I find that I have a little conversationalist. Today his play involved having his toy dinosaurs coming in and out of the house, climbing on the train table and then getting punished for it, etc., etc. It was sooo cute.

A friend who has twin toddlers asked me the other day who I was having over these days. The answer is... mostly nobody. We aren't having as many people over for dinner, and we're not doing small group once a week anymore. (Everyone had another baby, and it fizzled in the ensuing chaos.) But I don't feel a loss. We're busier than ever, and we're making each other top priority right now. With David's recent job busyness and Evan's changing schedule, it's been a good time to circle the wagons and just...be. I'm ok with not feeling up to doing a lot of entertaining. If we want to see friends these days, we call and offer to bring ice cream and waffle cones over for an hour of conversation before kids go to bed. That's our speed these days.

And today I did a little bit here and a little bit here. That's how you tackle a mountain of chores. Just one rock at a time. At least I didn't let the pile of rubble intimidate me into procrastination, like usual.

Oh, and I'm not sure if I mentioned it in this space, but the "potty train" came to our house. Seth was asking to learn, so we got started. (He's 2 and 9 months now.) We used "Toilet Training In One Day." He taught the doll how to go potty, and then he learned himself. He had the idea in one day, and he did go in the potty. But the few days after were definitely a lot more... wet. Now he's been going consistently in the potty for more than a week. We've had a few days go by with NO accidents, and that's huge. He's still using the training potty and emptying it himself, and pooping in the potty isn't quite as consistent, but we're on the right track for sure. He's telling me spontaneously when he thinks he needs to go, so that's pretty thrilling. Diapers for naps and at night until I can see that he can stay dry, but that's ok. I'm proud of him. This ended up not being as huge of a deal as I thought it might be.

Ok, now time to sign off and cut up the potatoes for roasted potatoes. We're having that and leftover pork chops tonight.... Mmmm.

Oh yes, and if you live in the Raleigh area, I didn't realize this until yesterday, but Noodles and Company is now at Cameron Village. I am sooo excited. I LOVED that place when we lived in Arlington. I've got to go sometime this week, and then I'm going to harass them to put one around the corner from me so I can go there every week. =)

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Heal the Wound...

First, go here, and get this playing.....

This morning, I realized that God has now put someone unexpected in my life that I can help with the pain of infertility. I want to protect her privacy, but let's just say that there aren't many opportunities in the circles that I run in in our large church to meet someone struggling with trying to have their first child. (If you're a young married couple with a couple of small kids at our church, that's who you tend to know and spend time with primarily.) God, however, had other plans for me and for her. And I feel honored.

Despite all the ways I fail Him all the time, He hasn't given up on me. He's showing me ways that He wants me to reach out and share the compassion and hard fought healing that I've received from Him. I'm not too damaged to be a blessing for Him. Don't we all need to hear that sometimes?

This morning in the service, our high school girls' group sang this song. I hadn't heard it before, but I teared up when I did. I feel like I will carry the scars of infertility for many years to come, but I can turn that scar into a testimony of how far God has taken me, and the many things that He's shown me along the way.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Rockin' roller coaster...

Oh. My. Goodness. We were at a birthday party this morning, and they had this in their sloped backyard. It was AWESOME! Seth rode it over and over again, and he kept pushing it back up the hill every time. Great exercise. There are little grooves for the back wheels at the top, so it doesn't slide down as they're climbing on. Kids as old as 5 and 6 were riding it. I think I know what Evan is asking for for his birthday this year. =) Or maybe Seth. =) Or maybe I won't be able to resist and one of them will get an early birthday present. We have a sloping backyard with nothing in it, so this would be great. Oh, and its by Step 2. You should see the coaster for bigger kids. I think it would frighten Seth out of his mind, but maybe in a few years. =)

I cleaned up at a yard sale this morning. It feels like such a blessing to me. Basically, I decorate my house almost completely with yard sale or thrift store finds. I don't really care if things don't match or go together, and my current mantra is "If I wouldn't have it in my house exactly the way it is, I ain't buyin' it." (Though I may have a spray painting party with Terri over Thanksgiving.)

So at this one yard sale, I got: 5 oriental red rugs and hall runners, a green hall table, a kid's plastic step stool, a Lands End brown and black diaper backpack, a spring wreath, 3 picture frames, a Bob the Builder playset, 2 large soft plastic dinasours, several board and picture books, a basket, a wonderful easel with chalk and dry erase boards, and boy's sandals.... all for $15. I put out the rugs in the hallway and set the table in the hall and added some candles and flowers. It makes the hall look really... finished and nice. Pictures to come probably...

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Talents...

I did all my Bible study for the week yesterday. True confession. =) But I did half during the day and half about 11:30 p.m. last night, while I waited for my pumpkin cranberry bread to cool enough to put on the orange glaze. (Yes, I'm holiday baking already.) But... it was a big whammy to the conscience all at once.

This week's lesson was on Luke 8, and there are several parables included there, like the parable of the sower and the seed. There are many times in my life where I feel like I'm the seed that fell on shallow ground who withered when hard times came because she had no root. When I see how much my faith took a hit by the hard time of infertility, I know how shallow it really was and is. And I feel that. Too often.

One of our cross references in the study this week was Matthew 25, the Parable of the Talents. Go here to read it. Got it? Good. One thing that both of these parables have in common is that they highlight the fact that we're supposed to do something with what God has given to us, grow a crop, invest in the kingdom of God, etc. And... if we don't invest, what we have will be taken from us. That's a big kick in the pants.

See, I can think of some things that I don't have anymore because I stopped investing in them. I took piano lessons for 6 years, but I've barely played for more than 10 years. I didn't use my talent, and I essentially lost it. I stumble and bumble all over the keys now. It's pathetic. So I see what God is saying when he says what he's given will be taken from me if I don't use it. But it still stinks.

See, sometimes, I'm like that worthless, lazy servant. I say to God, "Hey, God, you're a hard man." That's what the servant called him. What I think he's saying is, "Hey, God, I don't like you very much. I'm afraid of you, but I don't really want to do what you say because I'm ticked at you. So, since I'm afraid of screwing up, and I don't like you right now, I'm not going to do anything much." And God's response isn't too encouraging. As the servant might have predicted, he gets angry and throws him into the darkness.

So where does that leave me, a person with puny faith trying hard not to be angry at God sometimes because of the things He doesn't explain to me? It leaves me feeling like I'd better exercise my talents, or else, and also like maybe, if I did use the talents that He gave me a little better, maybe I wouldn't be so confused, frustrated, and angry sometimes. Maybe I would have more faith through the working out. Maybe, just maybe, I'd produce a much better crop. But I sure hate having my soil tilled to make it take seed better.

Last night, after I did my week's lesson, I played around on the computer, looking at blogs. And I stumbled across this. Bingo. A way to use the talents God has given to me, though I don't know why some days. I may have a puny amount of faith, and I may get angry sometimes, but I do still believe. I have to. And here are people asking questions, and I could answer them in my pj's from my own computer screen. Is it a coincidence that I ran across this right after that big kick in the patootie? I don't know. Maybe I'm the last person someone asking questions about God needs to hear from. I've got plenty of my own. But maybe this would help me remember all those verses I memorized years ago, help me remember why I believed it all in the first place, remember when my faith felt newer and fresher and more exciting... I don't know. Please pray for me that I will do this if its what God wants to me, and that I'll pass it by if it isn't.

Because I am God's field. What will I yield?

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Custom shirt on the cheap...

This is my first attempt for DIY day at A Soft Place to Land. I've really enjoyed checking out the great projects, so I thought I'd dip my big toe in the water now. =) I have a 5-month-old, and I'm trying to lose baby weight. That means that a) very few of my clothes fit and b) I don't want to spend a lot on them right now. Enter the frugal customized shirt.

Here's how you do it. Go to Walmart and buy a shirt for $6. Count yourself lucky that it's not tummy hugging. Do a little cheer, and then go to the craft section and get a couple of colors of embroidery thread for $0.25 a piece. Pick up a cheap embroidery hoop and some needles if you need them. Straight pins are a good idea, too.

Take it all home, and get busy. Take various sized cans out of your pantry, trace around them on printer paper, and then cut out. Pin the circles on your shirt, playing around with the design. (You can see how I've done it above.) Then put your little hoop around each circle, and embroider around it. I used what is essentially a basting stitch because I'm lazy. =) It took me about an hour to do the whole thing.

I wore it to MOPs, and nobody could tell this was a DIY job. Pair it with some dark jeans, boots, and a scarf, and you've got style!






Monday, November 02, 2009

Our Halloween...

Last year, we didn't do anything on Halloween weekend... other than move all our belongings from one house to another. =) Yep, this weekend was the first anniversary of being in our new house. It seems like just yesterday that we moved in... until I think about all that has happened in my heart and life since we signed the contract.

This year, we decided to check out the harvest festival at church. Seth was a lion, and Evan was a 5-month-old punk rocker. I had originally planned for him to wear his baby bear winter outfit, but the high of 82 that day nixxed those plans. So I put him in a belly shirt that said "Party in my crib- 2 a.m.," striped pants, gave him a baby mohawk with gel, and put a cross earring on one tiny lobe with eyeliner. He was a Christian punk rocker after all. Ahem.

I have mixed feelings about Halloween. I don't want Seth and Evan to be involved in anything that glorifies death and evil. I don't want them celebrating blood and gore and guts. My family didn't do anything for Halloween when I was little, so this is new territory for me. But David's family did do some non-scary Halloween stuff, and he has much less mixed feelings about it. So, we went to the harvest carnival, and then we went trick or treating in the neighborhood.

I didn't live in a neighborhood growing up, so I'm still learning that dynamic, too. But walking around and knocking on the neighbor's doors, knowing they would be glad to see us, was a nice idea. Lots of lights were on, and there were plenty of glowing pumpkins on porches. Older neighbors that I'd never seen out before were on their front porches. And I didn't see any scary costumes. It was all little kids out in our neighborhood. And I realized something definitely good about Halloween. Unfortunately, there aren't many times in our American communities when people come out of their houses and welcome each other warmly. This is one of those few times, and I'm glad I didn't miss out on it. I don't know how we'll handle scary Halloween as the kids get older. That's still unexplored territory, but we found a way to do it that I can be comfortable with for now.

I sure would hate to miss out on the cute costumes entirely. And then there's the candy for Seth. He got to collect it, and we get to eat it. =)










Monday, October 26, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Packin' up...

We're off in the morning, and I can't wait. I feel like a little kid who's having trouble sleeping because they're getting ready to go to Disneyworld. =)

Being so excited makes me a little nervous. I'm just waiting for something to go wrong, since we haven't done something like this before with two little kids. Have I mentioned that I can be quite the pessimist? I got it honestly; Dad is the stoic in our family who is pleasantly surprised when things don't go wrong. I take after him on some days. So if you think of us, pray that there are no disasters...

Packing for an undertaking of this magnitude requires extra effort on my part. I have 2 lists. One is for stuff we're taking, and the other is for food. I packed up all the non-refrigerated stuff tonight in paper boxes from David's office. I made spice blends for the soup recipes that I'm going to make to avoid taking a ton of little jars. I also have a large piece of paper sitting on the counter with things we can't pack until the last minute, and I've listed them as special "DON'T FORGET!" items.

I like to cook, but this is not the time to plan for a ton of scratch cooking, in my opinion. I'm making soup in the crockpot one day, and I'm also making a roast with potatoes in there. Brownies and gingerbread and pancakes are going to be from box mixes to simplify life. My big homemade splurge is butter rich bread dough. I made up a batch in my breadmaker today. It will make 24 rolls, and it will keep for a week in the fridge. I'll just tear it off, shape, and let rise for each meal. You've gotta figure out where you'll get the most bang for your effort, and only go there when you're on vacation.

We got in touch with a local friend of a friend who lives in the area, and she gave us some great tips on things to do with small children. They sound wonderful! And apparently there's a local outlet mall where I can do some real damage. Y'all, I have so little that fits right now that its pathetic. David and I agreed that its time for me to buy some clothes, so I'm going to enjoy myself doing that during naptime on a couple of afternoons. You know things are at a dire place when just about every sweatshirt you own is stained, and almost every sweater you own was inherited from your dad. Oh well, I won't look cute, but I'll be warm. We're supposed to have snow flurries on Saturday!

So if you think of me next week, imagine me curled up on the sofa under a down comforter, staring at a fire, with a cup of steaming cocoa in my hand. That's what I hope to be doing... =)

Evan at 4 1/2 months...

Evan is 4 1/2 months old, and he brings me more joy every day. I love to watch him grow and change. I took him in for his check up last week, and he weighs 12 lb., 11 oz., and he's 26 inches long. He's coming into his hereditary weight now, so I wasn't least bit surprised that he went from 50% in weight to 10th. I smiled when I heard it. Seth never got above the 15th percentile, and he was consistently in the bottom 5th from 4 months on. We make long, skinny kids in this family. =) Evan also definitely has my coloring. He's more pale than Seth ever was, and I hear that he has my shade of blue eyes. I've been told that he looks more like me than Seth does, but I'm not sure. What do you think?

We're thumb suckers around here (well, not us, the little boys anyway), and life has gotten significantly more pleasant since Evan found his two middle fingers. He's not a thumb man; he's all about the fingers. He sticks them in, rolls on his side, and he's good to go. Now that he's got this down, falling asleep on his own in the crib is a piece of cake for him.

Today Evan rolled from his back to his front. I pretty much missed it; I was dialing a phone number at the time, and then I noticed that he was fussing lying on his tummy, and I sure hadn't put him there. He's not a fan of tummy time, but I'm trying to give him about a minute of it every day. That's all he seems to be able to stand.

Evan takes 2 naps a day, usually an hour and a half at each, unless I put him in the bed with me. Then he'll nap longer. Sometimes he gets a short cat nap in the evening. He goes down at 8:00 and wakes up right around 8:00. Life is good. =)

He cooes and smiles constantly, and I LOVE how expressive he is. I get belly laughs from him if I give him lots of kisses on the neck or tummy. Seth does interact with him, and though he likes Seth, he's all about Mommy these days. I get his best smiles. Daddy probably earned them more than I because of all those hours he was up with him at night while I snoozed, but he's being generous with me. And I did get wretched heartburn with him and give up my figure, so there ya go...

Evan will usually be happy if he can just be touching somebody or getting their undivided attention. He's a people baby, that's for sure. And he's turning into a hip baby. Sniff. It's easier to let him ride there, but I miss the days when he was too tiny and wobbly to do that. I carry him around with me all day long, and he likes to nuzzle into my chest with my chin on top of his little head. I rub it there to get my Evan fix as I putter around the kitchen or get things for Seth. He's an extension of me right now whenever he's awake.

And he continues to take naps with me. There was a moment a couple of days ago where I thought he was going to give up sleeping with me. I was so relieved when I found out it wasn't true. That's the best part of having a baby, in my opinion. He curls up in the crook of my arm with his head on my shoulder, and I watch his dark lashes on his pale cheeks. It's mommy bliss.

I love you, sweet boy. Don't grow up too fast...




Monday, October 12, 2009

Learning to parent two...

Hi, everyone. It's late, and I should be in bed, but I felt like posting. Today has had its ups and downs, but we'll start with the good news first...

Drum roll, please. Evan, at the ripe, old age of 4 1/2 months, is finally napping in his own crib, without being rocked to sleep. And...at the same time, he's not being rocked to sleep at night either. And... he's going to bed at 8:00 p.m. and waking up between 7-8:30 a.m. Hallelujah! Big, big doings around here.

He'd been going down around 8:00 for a couple of weeks, but I had to hold him with a passy in his mouth until he was good and asleep, pull the plug, and then I could put him down. And napping anyplace other than the swing was still a no go. I tried putting him in the crib, awake, last week, and he just cried for an hour, so it was back to the swing.

Well, last night, he didn't want the passy, and he kept waking up and trying to get his fingers, so I thought, "Well, I'll just try putting him down awake." And it worked. And then this morning, I discovered that the baby swing was broken. At this point, I think God broke it. =) I wouldn't have tried him again in the crib so soon after the last failure. So I put him down in it today because there was nothing else to be done, and it worked!

So, that's been great! But it was still a hard day in other ways. Seth didn't get enough sleep this weekend, and neither did I, so I felt out of it and not very engaged after we did our school time this morning. He wanted a lot of attention, and it was hard for me to give it. I was grateful when he asked to go down for his nap early. And I was even more grateful when David came home early from work (it's a federal holiday). Evan napped pretty well, but when he was up, he was fussy on and off and needed a lot of holding. And it was a very gray, rainy day, and I don't like those now that I have small children.

I don't know why it came up, but David and I were casually talking today about whether or not we'd like another child. We think we might. Maybe. After Evan is a lot older. And who knows if the clinic treatment would work again anyway. And we're not even sure about that. We're basically just not sure about this at all, really, but we'd like to want to have another child. Make sense?

But as I was washing dishes, I thought to myself, "Have another child? Hah!!! You can hardly handle the two you have! There are piles of newborn clothes lying on your baby's floor that have been there for a month because you haven't dragged the appropriate bag out of the storage shed. You haven't gone through the maternity clothes you borrowed yet to return them, and you're still wearing a lot of them. You look like a slob every week at church because you have nothing to wear that fits... and you really don't care all that much because you're too tired. You never feel caught up with anything lately, and your husband works too much and is more tired than you are. There isn't enough of you to go around, and all your friends think you don't like them anymore because you don't ever call back, and you should thank God you're not trying to do serious homeschooling right now with actual curriculum and testing and stuff. Because that would be truly terrifying..."

At least I'm getting a lot out of my Bible study this year, and I'm usually managing to get that done. It's a lifeline. But I don't have time to blog about what I'm learning, even though I'd like to. Maybe one day...

So... I'm here, but I'm struggling. And I'm REALLY ready for our vacation that starts on Friday...

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Adorable squirrels...

Ok, I found some fall adorableness off the Locurto website I listed earlier. There's a button on her sidebar for free downloads, and it was on there under holiday ideas, I think.

I printed off these adorable squirrels holding nuts. I did it on card stock so they'd stand up better, and then I taped them to wooden blocks and put them on my mantelpiece. I also taped a couple to the front door in the middle of my wreath. (I'm trying to hide the big holes left by the last owners' personalized door knocker that we haven't replaced. =)

Enjoy!

Free prints on the web...

Ahhh, this is better. I decided that the leaf rubbing hadn't come out exactly the way I wanted it, so I got something online to put in the frame instead. These apples do the trick, I think.

And that reminds me... I've learned that you can get a lot of lovely art online for FREE! If you have a good color printer and a huge pack of card stock from Walmart, you're in business. Your walls never have to go begging again...

I got the apples from Vintage Printables.
The top of the page is a mess, but if you wait and scroll down, you'll see a list on the lefthand side of categories of things. It's wonderful for old nature prints from the 1800's and early 1900's. I considered a print of different kinds of nuts, too, but the apples looked better in this frame.

And then there's this list of freebies from Creature Comforts.
She's got a great set of cute baggie tags for cookies that I plan to use later for my MOPs small group. Scroll through... it's great.

And here's another at Living Locurto.
And now the baby is whining, so I must be off. Enjoy!

Monday, October 05, 2009

October morning...

Another Monday... cozy inside on a rainy day, doing laundry, having toddler school, managing an unusually cranky baby... Today Seth made a tree with his handprint. See those brown handprint roots and the yellow and red fingerprint leaves? I'd forgotten all about this craft that I did as a preschool teacher until Wendy reminded me. Next week it'll be fistprint orange pumpkins, I think...

It was a good weekend, but an overbusy one. David and I ended it feeling like we still hadn't completely caught up with each other. It was an unsatisfied feeling, but I told him last night, after we'd bounced on each others' raw nerves all day, that, as Anne of Green Gables says, "Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it."

But it's fall, and it's time to decorate like it! Since we just bought a vacuum cleaner, and since we just seeded our lawn and bought sprinklers and hoses, etc., and since we're going on vacation... I passed by the big, orange pumpkins at the store yesterday. Instead, I pulled out the container of tiny fake pumpkins I had from last year and sprinkled them around the living room. I pulled out my tried and true fall wreath that I still love, and I put it on the door.

Seth helped me make the fall display for our end table down below. I got out my dollar store plastic vase that looks like glass =), and he helped me pick up pine cones and put them in there.

Then he colored while I did a leaf rubbing to put inside the $0.25 frame I got at a yard sale. He seemed interested by the process, and he kept bringing me the little pumpkins and asking me what they were while I finished up the morning dishes. It's a start, anyway. I may find a free printable online that I can size to fit the frame and put that in there instead, but this will do for now. And I got a bit of fall to fit my budget...

Oh, and just because I hadn't showed this bit of yard sale booty before.... check out my wrought iron plate rack! I got this for $5 a few weeks ago, and David was sweet enough to hang it for me over the french doors that lead to our back deck. That space had seemed a little empty to me, but I'd been waiting to come across something that looked good there. The plates are extras from our everyday china. I didn't want something bright to detract from the interesting scrollwork.





Saturday, October 03, 2009

Mountain dreaming...

I got one of the last really exciting mountain cabins for peak leaf season in October. ("Really exciting" to me means no ducks wearing aprons and a hot tub somewhere.) We are staying in this blissful retreat for a whole week! I'm like a little girl about this. It has a nice fireplace, a beautiful view, and the lovely below to enjoy in the evenings after the kids go to bed. We'll get a date night every night!

Now, I must stop myself from taking my entire kitchen with me in the minivan. Red and yellow leaves inspire me to want to bake and make soup. I think we'll take some new toys that Seth hasn't seen before, and I'm really looking forward to hiking with both boys. But best of all, 10 whole days in a row with my tired man who just got back from a week away. Boy, we missed him.



Friday, October 02, 2009

C is for cookie...

This is a new favorite around here. Seth asks for it often. We believe in cookies in this house. Maybe he'll successfully learn one letter of the alphabet this way. Hmmm.... maybe we should do P is for Pizza or H is for Hummus, etc.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Family devotions for the young and restless...

I came across this great article today, and I thought I'd share it with you. I see parting the red Jello sea and marching G. I. Joe's across it in our future...

Sunlit fall day in the woods...

(a trail at our local nature park)
The baby is awake. Nurse, put on shoes, grab hastily packed lunch bag out of fridge. Strap baby in infant carrier. Remind whining boy that we are going to the park as soon as Mommy has gotten everything. Rush, rush, rush... Put kids in car, buckling straps, arranging bags. Start driving 5 minutes to the local nature park and playground.

And then arrive in the cool, breezy, sunlit park. Feel God's beauty seeping into my soul, and slow down. Let the little boy climb down from his seat on his own, and watch his proud beaming face at his achievement. Rub the soft downy head of the baby riding in his front carrier on my chest. And take a leisurely stroll between the avenue of trees to the playground at the end.

The swing glides back and forth, back and forth, a soothing rhythm. All he wants to do is swing, and I let him, my hand continually finding his little back again and again. My mind drifts, and the baby takes it all in with wide, happy eyes.

We eat our lunch at tables filled with other mommies having their own conversations, complaining about parents and husbands and in-laws. I smile. I don't feel a part of that world today. We are here to enjoy the beauty God created, not mar it with angry, tired, sad words.

Walking back up the hill. Tempted to be in a hurry. It's a struggle... baby's naptime competing with small boy's enjoyment of the day. His enjoyment wins. He picks up rocks, examines, then throws them down again. He walks steadily behind me, looking around at everything.

And as I turn to make sure he's not too far behind, I catch it. He has stopped, his face uplifted in the sunlight. He is looking at the trees and smiling a beautiful smile, a smile of pleasure at what his young eyes are taking in. And I am glad I slowed down...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My little bear...

Hmmm... I'm thinking about taking back the $15 sweet pea costume I bought at Target the other day. Maybe a little bitty bear would be cuter instead? And since this is a nice, warm coverall, I don't have to worry that he'll get cold. My only question is about the brown hypoallergenic eye liner on his bitty nose... I sure wouldn't want him to get a rash from having it on too long.

I was standing in the line, waiting to pay for the costumes, and I was overcome with gratitude, imagining my boys all dressed up on a crisp fall day, waiting for a pony ride in the church parking lot at the harvest festival. My little bear and my tawny lion make my heart sing this fall...




Monday, September 28, 2009

Big sinners raising little sinners...

My son just deliberately deceived me for the first time today.

My heart is heavy with it. It involved the hiding of cheese so he could have pizza. He knew what he was doing, unfortunately. And after I told him that it made me sad that he'd tricked Mommy, and after I told him he wouldn't be getting mac n' cheese for dinner after all as punishment, and after I've put him down for a nap... I'm still sad.

I'm a big sinner raising little sinners. I know this. It's not like I haven't seen it before in everyone who lives in this house. But its still hard to see more clearly the beginnings of a lifetime of struggle against our fallen human nature.

Yesterday in church, we had a guest speaker. It was Gary Thomas, author of "Sacred Marriage" and "Sacred Parenting." One of the main verses he highlighted was this one:

"We all stumble in many ways."- James 3:2

It's so true. He also said that long ago, when he was giving his brother advice, he said to him, "If you want to serve Jesus, don't get married. It takes a lot of time and energy to be married, and you can do more if you're not. But, if you want to become like Jesus, get married. It is the best way to get acquainted with your sin and learn to be selfless that I know of." (I'm paraphrasing a bit.) The point was that marriage was a labratory to make us more holy by showing us our faults more clearly. And we grow as we struggle to love selflessly as Christ loves us.

We've got a houseful of people, all sinners, who are learning through the upholding hand of Christ, to sin a little less and love like him a little more. But it takes time and the daily friction of living together. Some days it's discouraging, and some days we all feel like overcomers.

So when I'm discouraged like this, I just need to remember how far I've come, how far I've got to go, and that I learned all of it through many struggles and prayers over many years. Seth needs me to discipline him, cry with him when he falls, and cheer him on... because we all need a hand up when we stumble.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Randomness on a fall day...

Some random thoughts from my head today...

- I finally caved in and joined Facebook. I'd been avoiding it for awhile, but I started to realize that some of my peeps that I'd been keeping up with through blogs had started talking more about everyday life over there. And some of my friends I couldn't get to email me regularly, so I figured this would be the only way I could get a good window into their worlds. It's an interesting program but not really a replacement for a blog. I feel a lot more free to ramble about nothing over here. A blog just feels more personal, I guess. It's not a substitute for real conversation, but this is an easier way to keep up with aunts and cousins and others that I just wouldn't email regularly. It's a friendly little space. I even got a babysitting offer based on a facebook post. Sweet!

- Gotta slow down again. I've realized that I fight having a baby and having to slow down because of it by doing too much and then regretting it. I try to do workshops at church, the women's potluck dinner, cooking from scratch too much, etc., and its a reaction to wanting to be able to do it all instead of being stuck in the tired mundane. I can't do it all, so I do what I want to do first, and then get frustrated because the more important things like laundry and going through toddler clothes aren't getting done. Grrr. At least David tells me that I'm not really behind on anything essential to him.

- Seth and I played with Playdoh for the first time today. He LOVED it. We made a ton of little ducks with the playdoh cutters I got at the consignment sale a year ago. Don't know what I was waiting for... I think its good for us to be spending Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at home. It forces me to slow down and just play with him. I see him using his imagination more. Today he told me about his horse and how it was sleeping and swimming and swishing it's tail. Then he wanted to go upstairs to his room and see his horse (rocking horse). We spent a good while up there talking and playing and with him helping me clean out his drawers. It was really nice.

- We just had a guy seed our yard. It was pretty much nothing but crabgrass. He didn't charge a ton, and I'm excited to see what it will look like once we get the weedy grass under control. It's the watering every day for the next few weeks that could get me... =)

- David is leaving on Monday for about a week for another "event with criminals." This will make a total of NINE this year. This is an absurdly high number for his office, and I spent a good bit of last evening being angry about it. He may break a record; that's how bad it is. Each and every one of these have really taken it out of him. I worry about his stress level and his health, and I frankly hate the time that he's prepping and in trial. Sometimes it doesn't turn out to be as bad as I think it will be, but it's the stress of not knowing how it will be that's almost the worst thing. I almost cried when I realized that he'd be working a lot of the weekends in October now. And he has one in December, too... I just want this to end. He tells me that others have unusually bad years, too, but I've stopped believing that this will ever be over. I just don't see an end in sight, and this started in January. I want promises, but there aren't any to be had. Guess you can tell that I'm still angry and frustrated and sad...

- We're having a Southern fall dinner tonight... fried pork chops, baked apples, succotash, and rolls, with no bake chocolate oatmeal cookies for dessert. Mmmm... comfort food.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Favorite cheesy country from back in the day...

Seth was sitting at the table, eating lunch today, and I was mentioning that he used to like peanut butter sandwiches, and now he won't touch them. All of a sudden, David launched into "Baby, things change." So we started talking about the cheesy country songs we used to like when we first started listening to country music, waaaay back in the day (early 1990's).

So, here's at least a couple of links to our favorites....

I loved an old Pam Tillis- Cleopatra, the Queen of Denial, whenever I was ticked at a teenage boyfriend, and you've gotta see the music video. It's a classic.

I was also fond of Mindy McCreedy- Guys Do It All the Time. Don't ask me why. I wasn't a partyer. But the second verse always made me crack up.

David really liked "That Girl's Been Spying on Me." Very cute.

And a classic breakup song for screaming at the top of your lungs after that guy you liked started hanging around another girl. Good old Travis Tritt. We've traveled a lot of miles together, brother. I was a bit of a drama queen in high school. Ahem. This was another of my cryin' songs.

We both think that country music has changed a lot in the past few years. The songs used to be a lot cleaner and somewhat goofier. Now, I'm afraid to listen to a local country station with Seth in the car. Who knows whether the next song will be some explicit bodice ripper or a patriotic anthem to God and country? It really could be either one... Grrrr.... I'm not saying these songs are completely clean, either, but they're a good bit better than what's on the radio now.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Easy Pie Crust...

Ok, I have a shameful secret to confess...

I make a lot of things from scratch, but not pie crust. I've tried so many times, but the crust has always come out like a chewy, nasty cracker. Eventually, I gave up, and the grocery store got my money for overpriced premade pie crust. I was bitter, but resigned.

I had a play date here on Tuesday, and I did not want to go to the store beforehand to buy a crust for the quiche I was making. Desperate, I went to allrecipes. And I found this: The Perfect Pie Crust For The Inept.

You don't even have to roll it out, people. It turned out beautifully. I read the reviews, which led me to only put in a pinch of salt and only prebake for about 5-7 minutes. If the vegetable oil taste is too heavy for your palate, I also read that you could do half oil and half melted butter.

I will never buy another premade pie crust again. I am triumphant. The end.

Enjoying my boys...

It's a gray day on Suburban Saga court... We had a friend and her two boys over to play this morning. I'm trying to keep us home so Evan can nap on MWF, so people are graciously coming to us for this season.

Her boys are 3 1/2 and 1 1/2, just about the ages apart that Seth and Evan are. It was kind of a rough morning. Seth is learning to share, and some days, it just doesn't go so well. He spent a lot of time in time out and had some other disciplinary action for throwing, screaming, and taking things away. It was tiring.

Some of our conversation revolved around how difficult it is for her to have two boys who fight a lot of the day, every day. She said, "Just wait until Evan can start taking things away from Seth. It starts then, and it doesn't let up."

After she left and things calmed down, and I put Seth into his high chair to eat, I started thinking... "Does it really have to be this way? Is it really hopeless?" See, I really want to enjoy my boys. And I don't want to believe that what I've got to look forward to for years and years to come is a bunch of fighting and arguments and people showing their sin natures all over the place.

Didn't Jesus come to save us from all that? I hope that by the time Evan is old enough to want to share the toys that Seth has come to think of as "his," Christ will have mercifully taught me how to teach him to share mostly graciously. I'm praying that our home will mostly be a place of harmony where we all, (and I do mean ALL of us), learn to live less selfishly and more gently with each other.

But tomorrow has enough trouble of its own. Today I will remind my toddler to say "thank you" after I give him a cheese stick, kiss his sweet head, praise him for asking to go down for a nap when he gets frustrated instead of crying inconsolably... I will kiss the chubby cheeks of the gummy smiling baby that I cradle in my arms, and I'll read him my Bible study verses as he sits next to me on the boppy and coos. Yes, I want to really enjoy it. These days are precious...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mountain vacation?

David came home last night talking vacations... a week in the mountains of NC, to be more specific. He asked if I'd be interested in that. Hello? My name is Ellen, nice to meet you, I think we've been married 8 years now. =) So now I'm frantically searching websites for a cabin rental for a week during peak leaf season in October. Not having so much luck with that... I guess it would help if we were the kind of people that plan our vacations a year in advance.

We didn't do much for fun this summer. It kinda slipped by in a newborn haze, really. But now Evan is getting bigger and happier and sleeping longer, and we're starting to think about being able to do more. David is so tired after his trial, and he just wants to go somewhere peaceful. I think this might be the first week long vacation we've taken by ourselves in at least 4 years, maybe more.

But I'm a little nervous. I want to go someplace pretty, but not so remote that we can't get out easily. I want to hit some apple orchards and petting zoos and pumpkin farms and local festivals, short hikes, etc. I thinking maybe something in Boone or Blowing Rock?

So now I'm asking for suggestions. Anybody have a great area in the moutains that they've loved with small children?

Monday, September 14, 2009

1st day of toddler school...

Today was our very first day of toddler school! I've decided to do it on Mondays this year so I'll have a little time to plan something short on Sunday nights. I'll be doing homeschool prep on Sundays anyway in the future, so I'm training myself with this. I just got out some books and craft materials and put them where they'd be easy to reach.

I've decided that our "school" schedule will look like this for now:
- Devotion
- Playing the shapes game where I throw them around the house and he brings them to me and identifies the shape and color
- Reading a book or two on the theme for the day
- Craft time
- Music and movement- I have a few good kids cds with music and movement on them, notably "Kids in Action" by Greg and Steve and one by good ol' Hap Palmer. =)

Now, we do some of these things on other days, but the combo at one time is what I'm looking for, and we usually don't do a craft, so that's different and special.

Today's craft was a tearing paper craft. I would not recommend this until your child is old enough to understand the difference between tearing construction paper and tearing book pages. =) I took out a few pieces of paper, got them "started" for Seth, and watched him happily rip away. We did a few different colors (colors practice), and then he glued the pieces, collage style, to another piece of paper. Good motor skills practice. We'll probably do this again periodically until he can rip without me needing to help him start off.

Seth always asks to listen to music now while he's eating, and I love what he's listening to. I can't recommend the Seeds Family Worship cds enough. He has started singing them with the cd now, and it almost brings tears to my eyes to hear my toddler singing God's word to himself. Today he was singing "Do not be anxious about anything..." If you buy directly from their website, they give you two cds, one to keep, and one to share with a friend, so I did that. I think I'll be getting the whole collection over time...

And I would also like to highly recommend our little daily devotional. David and Seth read children's bible stories at night, but its harder to get him to sit still and read with me for long during the day. That makes the Blessings Every Day devotional perfect for us. I found out about it from another blogger on Works for Me Wednesday, and its great. You find the date in the book, and there is one short page with a Bible verse, a short devotional, and a short prayer. It talks about things that are right on their level, asking them questions about sharing and forgiveness and getting angry. If you have a 2-year-old, you should try it...

And for those of you who are wondering about napping boot camp, I started him off easy since he got completely off schedule this weekend. He's recently become willing to nap in the swing, so I put him in there at the designated times today. We'll do this a few more days before we transition to the crib only. I think its helping him learn to find his fingers to self soothe. I want to get that down and stop swaddling him for naps when we start real boot camp. =) So far, so good today. =)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I know, I know....

This poor blog has been so neglected lately. That's partly because I can't count on many minutes with my arms free of baby. Hopefully, that will be remedied soon. I start Napping Boot Camp this week, so pray for us.

This last week was great, thanks to the help of my mother. David had two "putting criminals in jail" events this week, back to back. It was really, really hard on him, and he didn't get much sleep. He said it was very educational, and he learned so much about how to do things when he has these one after another. For one thing, he learned that he should get a second chair when it happens. =) For two, he learned that if you have an event with a bunch of offenders involved, things can keep changing if they decide to admit guilt and bow out at the last minute. And that can be a good or a bad thing, but complicated. Anyhoo...

We were both thrilled and relieved that it was all over on Friday. And I hadn't had a rough time of it without him because Mom was here to help. This weekend has been nice and relaxing for all of us.

Things have been going so well that we even picked up an extra son today. =) We signed up for the adopt a college student program at church. That means that Josh will be coming to our house and eating our food and doing his laundry and playing with his new "brothers" at least once a month for the next year. We're excited about it! And since he's a poli sci major, we'll have lots to talk about around the dinner table.

Community Bible Study and MOPs started up again for the year the last couple of weeks. I'm excited about the study for sure. We'll be studying Luke in depth. It's been nice to get back into a regular Bible study again. God's word seems more fresh to me than it has as I've struggled to get in there this summer.

And now Evan has stopped being happy on his blanket, and I have to go... =) Hugs to blogland.

Monday, September 07, 2009

First fish...

His very first fish. Papa was so proud. He has another fishing buddy now.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Decorating a kid's room on the super cheap...

I really wanted to get Seth's room decorated before Evan was born. And I had a particular idea in mind for it. See, I wanted it to look like a pretty little forest, but since I'm not artistically inclined, and I'm afraid of painting on my walls right now, I thought I'd go online and buy a pretty wall stick on tree. I went online. I saw the tree. It was tiny, and it was $30. For one of them. Sad, I gave up.

Then, about a month later, I was at the mall with a friend. Right near the play area there is a row of display windows. What should I see in them but large tree posters! So I asked my friend to watch Seth, and I went in the store nearby. Let's just call it "Kid's Location." =) I asked the manager what they were going to do with the trees when they got done with that particular display theme. She told me that they were going into the dumpsters out back. I then proceeded to shamelessly beg her to save them for me and give me a call.

God bless that sweet manager. She did keep my phone number, and the patrons of our local mall got to feast their eyes on the sight of a very pregnant woman pushing a stroller and carrying large cardboard trees. I got a few things in installments as they were taking it all down. I got multiple kinds of trees and a sun banner. And it cost me.... $0.

I went online and googled "bird templates," and came up with several I could use. I printed them out and traced them on construction paper, and then I put them by the trees with sticky tack. The trees were nailed to the wall, by they way. I used large pieces of blue posterboard to freehand some clouds. And here you can see the finished product....





Seth doesn't have a lot of decorating preferences right now. When he gets older, we'll spend a little more time and effort putting together a room based on his particular likes and dislikes. But for now, free kid's room decor certainly works for me!