Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Cabin Breakfast- an Unexpected Favorite

Happy December!!  So, we had an accidental breakfast creation a few months back, and turns out, the kids LOVE it!!!!  It is a super odd combination, but somehow, it tastes pretty good!  Here it is:

Scrambled Eggs
An enormous amount of cinnamon

And there you have it.  Not a professionally written recipe at all, but I think you can figure it out ;).  You might be surprised by how much you like it.  And if there are kids involved, make more than you think you should ;).

Blog notes: We are starting project Cabin Christmas today.  That means, we are attempting to convert our little cabin into Christmas.  We've had some sickness, so things may move slowly, but we will update as we go along.

Also, I haven't been including photos in my blog posts, because I'd misplaced my lap top charger, and my lovely blog doesn't like accepting photos from my phone.  BUT I found a charger.  So, hopefully more pictures soon :).  I do post some pics on our Facebook page.  So, you can follow us there for more of a visual and less words :).

Anyone else decorating for Christmas today?????

Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death

Many of you mothers know very well the feeling of waking with a sick child. Night time seems to always be the most difficult for a little one that is not feeling well. A few weeks ago, early in the morning, we heard the cry. It was Mia, our 2 year old. She thought there was a wasp in her bed. But, our tough little girl, that would normally fall right back to sleep when I told her she was safe...... didn't. She was insistent I take her to daddy. So, down the hall we went, and she felt so very hot. We did all the usual things you do to help a sick baby.  But, in an instant, things changed.  She became unresponsive, and we hurried to get dressed for the emergency room.  Before we could leave, she began having a seizure.  And it wouldn't stop.  They took us back right away, when we arrived in the ER, and the nursing staff worked as quickly as they could to get her heart rate, oxygen levels, and seizing under control.  The Lord gave Mia the very best Doctor for her, and she worked hard to get little Mia's body to stabilize.

In the rush to get her to the ER, and make sure our other children were cared for, the Lord had held my heart and fought off the fear that was nagging to overtake me.  But then, standing in that room, watching her struggle, and seeing the looks the nurses were silently giving to one another..... my peace fled.  Fear began to suffocate me.  And there he was.  Death was in the room.  And I was watching him take one of my most precious gifts.  I turned to Eric for comfort, and that's when I saw.  Head bowed, pleading for help from the only One that could give it.  And somehow, that's when I knew the Lord would prevail.  He would give her life.  There was nothing too hard for Him.  We continued to beseech the Lord for 2 1/2 very long hours.  Her poor body had been through so much.  There were so many questions.  Would she ever be the same little Mia we knew?  Would she walk or talk?  Would seizures be a part of our lives from now, on?

Finally, her body was able to stop fighting.  And she rested.  We waited to hear her sweet voice again.  When she finally woke, she was frantic.  Eric got her calmed down, and she slept some more,  The next few days were filled with tests and a very irritable Mia.  We watched the Lord answer so many prayers for Mia during our hospital stay.  When we brought her home, she could not sit up without assistance, her balance was so bad.  Within days, she was running and playing again :).  She still doesn't do well in crowded or unfamiliar situations, and a few other things we've noticed are a little different than before.  But, she's here.  She is still a little ball of joy, rolling through our family.  And I am so very thankful :).

Psalm 30:12 "To the end that my glory may sing praise to Thee, and not be silent.  O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto Thee for ever."

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

DIY Hummingbird Nectar

Hi all!!! I took a little break from blogging during this last pregnancy with baby #5. But she's here now, and growing strong! So, the blog will start seeing some more activity :).

I usually get sentimental when we bring a new baby home, and I start thinking about all the special memories I have from childhood. Then, I want to create those same special memories with my kids. My mamaw is one of my special memories :). She is one of the most amazing women I have ever met, and we don't he get to visit her NEAR as much as I'd like.

If you were to visit my mamaw today, she'd greet you with a beautiful smile, invite you into her log cabin for a glass of the most deliciously sweet iced tea, and she would visit as if you are the most important part of her day. If the weather is nice, she may take you to her cozy front porch, where you can sit on the porch swing and soak up the wisdom she will share.

It won't be long on that porch, before little hummingbirds will begin buzzing around your head, past your ears, and straight to one of the several feeders Mamaw has hanging for them. I don't mean one or two. I mean, dozens of birds! It is so fun! Those little critters buzz back and forth all day long! Her secret? She makes several batches of homemade hummingbird nectar each week, and fills her feeders with it.

So, when Eric mentioned he'd seen a sad and hungry hummingbird trying to find food in our feeder, which has been empty all summer :(, the kids and I decided we better make some special Mamaw nectar!!!! We made the super easy mix last week, washed and filled our feeder, and waited. We couldn't believe how quickly Mrs. Hummingbird found her special treat, and how often she has returned! We've spotted her every single day, and today, we've seen her three times already (I'm writing this at noon :)).

So, I decided to share my mamaw's recipe for hummingbird nectar, in case you also have a hungry little bird at your house that needs fed :). It is SO easy!!!

Just boil 4 cups water, stir in 1 cup sugar, let cool, and fill your feeder. Keep any extra in your refrigerator for up to one week :). That's it!!!

You can add red food color if you want it to look like the store bought nectar. But, the birds will eat it just as well without the color, and I read somewhere once that the dye in the nectar really isn't good for the birds at all. So, all natural and dye free here at the cabin :). Now, go fill up those feeders, and let me know how your hummingbirds like it!!!!

Oh! Ely and I have been trying to click a picture of our little hummingbird friend, but so far, she's been too fast for us. We'll keep trying, and if you get a photo of yours, be sure to share it in the comments :).

Monday, May 4, 2015

A Day In Our Life {Monday, May 4, 2015}

Happy Monday!!!! Today, we had LOTS that really needed to be done. Eric and I got up and he left for work (without breakfast :(), and the kids were already starting to wake up. So, we made some oatmeal, bananas, and yogurt quickly, while I snuck drinks of my coffee (I wasn't feeling like sharing this morning), and had our vitamins. Mia's diaper had a little trouble doing its job during breakfast, so it made a puddle on the floor... While I was cleaning that up, she took the defective diaper off before she realized she wasn't quite done..... Aaaaannnnnddddd, she ran through the kitchen, dining room, and living room before all business was fully taken care of..... So, that was quite the clean up operation.

 After breakfast, Ely gave us all a lesson in the CORRECT way to color a tiger. Then, we got dressed for some hard work in the sun and headed outside. We were planning to go straight to the garden, but the kids talked me into playing bubbles first while Carli giggled in her swing. I liked this idea, because it gave me a chance to grab a banana and some milk. Our crazy, pregnant cat had come thru the kitchen screen door and eaten my breakfast while I was getting everyone else settled at the table, and I didn't notice until too late...

So, we played bubbles, and fed the animals. Of course the cat wasn't hungry for cat food, since she'd already eaten someone else's breakfast :/. But we fed her anyway, because we're nice like that. Then, we gathered shovels and Silas' Tonka dump truck, and headed to the garden. We stopped to pet Oatmeal and throw her ball a few times, then got to work weeding the garden.

Ely's  home school project right now is to grow her own strawberry patch. She wanted to last year, but I procrastinated too long and missed the opportunity. So, this year, we got her two little plants, Eric tilled her a small patch just for her, and we let her do her thing. Today, her very first strawberry was ready to eat!!! She said it wasn't for sharing, but she did describe in detail how delicious it was!!! I will have to be patient to find out for myself..... if she EVER decides to share ;).

Eric had cultivated on Saturday, so it made our job MUCH easier!!! Mia and Carli played contentedly in a portion of dirt that hasn't been planted yet, and Ely and I filled our buckets with weeds while Silas hauled our loads to the "weed pile" outside the garden. This served three purposes. Silas loves to work with construction equipment, it kept me from having to waddle back and forth everytime my bucket was full, and it kept Silas busy and away from our vegetable plants (we're still learning to watch where we step ;)).

Things were going amazingly well for a while. Until Ely spotted a bug she wanted to show everyone. I never saw it, but she said it had a tiny shell that looked just like a turtle. But when she picked it up, it wrapped black poky legs around her finger and bit her. The drama that followed was a little more than I was prepared to deal with. So, we decided to all go get a drink of juice and regroup. While we were trying to recover, and Ely was still crying, Mia informed us that she was too tired and needed her bed. Everyone agreed, so we headed upstairs, read a story about a duck named Grumble that complained all the time, but then learned to be content, so they changed his name to Bubbles. Then, we changed diapers and put Silas and Mia to bed. Ely had already fallen asleep on the floor, so I decided it might be wise to let her stay there. Then, I fed Carli, and took several trips back upstairs to take Silas potty.

He  was almost potty trained when I found out I was pregnant with this new baby, and I was SO sick, I couldn't make myself take the many frequent trips to the potty or clean up poopie accidents. So, I got lazy and put him back in diapers. Well, I feel better right now than I ever have when pregnant. So, I decided I better hurry and get him used to going potty, while I'm not constantly throwing up, and before new baby gets here. He's done really well! So, that's exciting :)!!!

However, I still haven't gotten his new room set up. So, between all the potty trips, he woke up both sisters prematurely, and I found myself at the end of nap with no housework to show for it. Maybe tomorrow ;). We had some lunch, and headed back outside. We intended to go finish all the weeding, but instead decided it might be a blessing to daddy if we cleaned off the porch. So, we worked on that for a little, until Silas was too exhausted, and we headed back upstairs for some quiet time for the kids and a shower for me. I had an unexpected disagreement with someone I really care about, and I HATE that. So, I spent the rest of the kids' quiet time praying about if I'd been wrong in my actions, which had caused the breech. Disagreements are no fun and generally make me sick to my stomach.

Ely woke up first. We had an apple and peanut butter snack and talked about a few things, and then we saw daddy out the window! So, we ran outside to see him before he started weed eating and working on another project he's almost finished with. After supper, everyone was exhausted. So, we took it to bed, and I remembered I still hadn't put sheets on our bed. I checked the dryer, and sure enough they were still damp. So, I put on the mattress cover, and hoped that would suffice for tonight :/. Definitely better than a bare mattress.

This was our uneventful day :). What did you do today?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A Day In Our Life {Friday, April 10, 2015}

Yesterday was possibly one of the best days I have ever had. Nothing extraordinary happened, just life. But, it was such a good day in my heart. I hadn't planned to do this post, so I'll probably forget many of the details, but I wanted to keep a record of the highlights so I can remember it forever :).

Our day started a little hectic. One of our children has been facing some medical challenges, and had yet another test scheduled for the morning. She was nervous, and I was nervous for her. We got everyone bathed, dressed, fed, dropped off with one of their favorite people to play with, and headed to our appointment. My sweet, brave girl asked me to pray with her in the parking lot before we went inside. We also texted daddy about her concerns, and he promised to be praying for her, too :). Things moved really quickly, and she was so brave. Then, we were both surprised to hear that everything had changed. The issue she'd been dealing with was completely healed. The tests didn't find any problems whatsoever. She has one follow up test at another location, which is a little more detailed, just to confirm everything, but we left so very thankful. It was fun to hear her chatter excitedly about every random subject I had never thought of on the drive to pick up her siblings :).

The other kids had had so much fun with their friend, and didn't want to leave :). But I was tired and needed to get home to finish our week long project of going through and swapping out the kids clothes for summer.

At home, we had a quick snack, which had to involve cheese, Mia's favorite, and put everyone down for nap. A few minutes later, one of hubby's brothers stopped by for something, and had brought one of his daughters. So, everyone was back up and excited to see her :). A few minutes later, as cousin was pulling out, we headed back upstairs for nap :).

I tried to get my head above water with the dishes and laundry, and by the time everyone was awake and it was time to start going through MORE clothes, I'd decided to do something fun instead ;). So, we ate lunch, did diaper duty, and headed outside with containers in hand. I'd randomly ran across a recipe for dandelion jelly, and thought the kids would enjoy "hunting" dandelions, so off we went. This activity was SO perfect for the littles! It didn't really matter if a dandelion got squished, broken, dropped, or utterly destroyed by a well meaning hand. Even little 2 year old Mia collected her fair share of petals :). And we had unknowingly chosen the perfect time to go picking. We'd had a good rain overnight, but the sun had been out all morning, making our meadow the perfect spot for big, fluffy dandelions!

We had our needed 10 cups in no time, and there were lots of giggles and pleased little faces at all their hard work.

Back at the cabin, we did diaper duty again, then got to work separating the yellow petals from the green stems. Carli stuck with me on the porch the whole time, and Ely and Mia alternated shifts, but mostly the older three played in the creek while I watched and worked from the porch.

About halfway through our job, diapers were needed, yet again, and Carli was about ready for something to eat. So, we got everyone's wet clothes off, got halfway (but good enough) redressed in dry clothes, and sat down inside to feed Carli. We were discussing supper, when the door flew open and Daddy came in!!!!! This was such a fun surprise! Hubby works alot of hours to take such good care of us, and it is rare we get to see him on a weeknight before dark! So, we were all super excited!!!

We had a quick snack with daddy, and then he got to work mowing the lawn. The kids LOVE to watch him mow!!! So, they ran in and out the kitchen screen door, while daddy mowed, and I got supper prepared. All while cooking, I was just feeling so thankful, I was fighting tears.

We ate, and I got to work on the second half of my dandelion job, while Eric and the kids worked on a new picture for ely's sketch pad. I'm not supposed to see it until it's finished, but {I think} it's a picture of a pig, tree, earthworm, bird, and a pretty blue sky ;). I was still working at the kitchen table, but the kids were overly tired. So, Eric took everyone up to bed while I separated the last few petals and boiled the water to steep them in for the night. The few minutes of quiet, and the smell of dandelion petals gave me a chance to reflect on how much fun we'd had on this little project so far. Even if the jelly ends up being less than yummy, I am so glad we decided to put our responsibilities aside for a few hours and take the chance that we might like dandelion jelly after all :).

This  week has been challenging for me in my spirit, which has made me extra tired physically. Trying to get this clothes swap out done, with my huge and awkward pregnant belly, and several nights of little sleep had gotten me grumpy. Thursday, was especially difficult for several reasons. But, even with less than two hours sleep Thursday night, and my anxiety over little girl's appointment Friday morning, Jesus had given such a good day. Like I said, nothing extraordinary or significant just by looking from the outside. But my heart and my spirit were refreshed. I had all of my favorite people home, well cared for, and happy. There was sunshine on our noses and joy in our hearts. A dandelion may technically be a weed, but today, it became my very favorite flower because of the memories it gave us, and because of the work ethic and joyful character it helped to teach three little hearts.

I got the petals steeping in water, and headed upstairs with a sleeping Carli, to find three worn out kids cuddled up against the safety of their daddy. I obviously took a few pics ;), then carried everyone to their own beds and crawled into bed myself. I was so tired, I could barely move. But I didn't mind. I was laying with my very best friend, and had just had one of the best days of my whole life. Hopefully, we'll have a post up soon about our entire dandelion jelly experience and we'll find out how it tasted!!!! Yay!

This was our day. And it was a good one :)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

I used to be the PERFECT mommy!!!....Then, I actually had children of my own....

So, I was that girl. Not married yet, no kids, mild responsibilities, and I. Knew. Everything. Seriously, how hard was it to be a mom? I mean, I had younger siblings, my mom had a daycare in our home for a little, and I worked in a daycare myself for a WHOLE year! I knew all the mistakes other moms made that I, obviously, would never make myself! This post is making me laugh already :). Because, what I didn't know, is that I really didn't know anything at all. Isn't that how we do things? We look at an isolated incident in someone's life, assume we know everything about them, and we pick them completely apart? Just me? Hopefully, but I don't think so ;). I've been learning more and more lately to realize I have no idea what someone is truly going through, why they do what they do, or even who they truly are. It doesn't mean I have to accept inappropriate behavior. But, I have been learning that I am {surprisingly} not always right ;).

So, just for fun, here a few of my mommy judgments, that I've since learned interesting lessons about.

Hmm. Let's see. My judgmental little Mommy self started younger than you might think. I was somewhere in the "younger than 4 years old" range, and overheard some mamas talking in the nursery about a little boy that I knew. He had taken off his diaper, and wiped all of it's contents on his bedroom wall. {note: This part might get a little graphic. If poopie grosses you out, skip down a few lines.}. My only thought was that I hoped his mommy cleaned that up before I went to his house to play next time. Until..... One of the mamas made the statement that this particular boy's mama needed to get control of her boys. Ya'll, she had 3 boys UNDER the age of 5. But, my little heart had no idea the challenges she faced everyday, and obviously this mama I was hearing knew what she was talking about. I have spent the past 30 years, remembering that family as those three unruly boys that needed much more guidance from their mommy than they were getting. Fast forward to present day haha. And I have a lovely, kind, caring child that not only dug into his diaper one nap time with his bare hands, but also smeared poop all over two windows, every crevice of his crib, and all in his hair and ears. Yes, my sweet, perfect child. And, lest ye think this was an isolated incident. Oh no! He did the exact same thing just two weeks later. Oh, yes. And while I was scrubbing windows and cleaning mattresses, I actually thought of that mom from my childhood. Was there honestly any reason for me to think she wasn't a good mom, other than the one comment I had overheard? No. I played with her kids all the time, and we had so much fun! And I have a hunch she faced many more challenges, with three young boys, than I know anything about, even today. Be careful what you say in front of kids. They will remember it! But that's another post ;)....

Oh, and then there was the time I ran into another mom in the grocery store parking lot. On a Sunday. Right after church. In the heat. Their dad had gone in for groceries, and she was trying to keep everyone occupied until they could get home to eat. The kids were hot, had probably been sitting since Sunday school hours before, and they were hungry. But I didn't see any of that. What I saw, were kids unable to sit still, purposely annoying their siblings, interrupting their mom, and generally just being kids. I was pregnant with my oldest at the time, and since MY BABY was behaving so perfectly, I drew the quick conclusion that this mom never made her kids behave. Therefore, they were obviously brats. Um. Yeah. Good one, Iris. I know this mom! She is a great mom!!! And I have since been in her exact situation almost every single Sunday, for the past 4 years! (except hubby usually takes one or more of our kids in with him, so I really have it super easy). Folks, WHY was I so hard on her? I still don't know why :(. But, I have learned that I was wrong.

What else? The parents that would let their kids stay up past 8 pm while visiting family or friends. How horrible. Why didn't they plan ahead so they could leave in time to get their kids to bed at a decent hour? Actually, I am literally laughing at myself as I type this. I don't know if my kids have EVER been in bed by 8.... and 9 is pushing it. That's usually the time we are all sitting down to eat supper. Yes, I am serious. And you are welcome to think I'm a bad mom. There are reasons we do it this way, just like all those other moms had reasons they let their kids stay up, too ;).

And, there's more... Parents that use their phones to occupy or pacify their kids? It used to seem so lazy. But now? I've been known to play a YouTube song {or two} in the middle of the night for a teething infant because I was too tired to sing myself, and I knew it would buy me 3 minutes 47 seconds of quiet.

There are many, many more thoughtless conclusions that I came to about other moms without having ANY idea the challenges those moms actually faced every single minute of every single day. Just because I had worked in a daycare, which is not the same, by the way, I assumed I had all the answers. It is so funny how we learn things, and then remember specific situations where we were so very wrong, isn't it? Now, when I hear a huge fit in the store, or another mom is relaying a particularly difficult situation she has recently faced, I try SO hard to make myself learn by how well that other mama handles that situation. Because I just might encounter something very similar sooner than I expect :).

Anybody want to share a lesson they've learned since becoming a mama?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Pileated Woodpecker

Has someone ever told you something that sounded so bizarre, you were sure they had to be extremely exaggerating? Yeah, well, shortly after we moved into our little cabin, Eric was POSITIVE I was stretching the truth, multiple times... Until he saw for himself ;). Here's how it went down....

I was sitting on the porch one morning, before the kids were up, and someone started major construction 20 yards from my head. We don't have neighbors that close, so I turned to investigate. There on a tree was a woodpecker, the size of a chicken! I kid you not. That thing was ginormous. So, I did what any girl would do, and tried to get a pic! The thing flew off, of course, but I sat there stunned. What exactly had that fella been eating to make him so big???

Of course, I called Eric and told him all about it! He laughed. Alot. For a while. Thanks, Bub.

Well, a few days later, SAME scenario! Except this time, I was on the phone with Eric! I told him that chicken sized woodpecker was back again, sure he would believe me this time! Um, no. He laughed again. Even harder. AND he accused me of exaggerating. (note: Eric and I rarely ever argue. This was all in fun, and no one had hurt feelings)

So, I dropped it. But, he didn't. He brought it up to tease me every few days for about a month...... Until......

We pulled in the driveway after church one morning, and Eric's arm flew out the window while he exclaimed, "look at that woodpecker!!!!!!" Not one, but TWO big ole woodpeckers were right there, hammering away at an old tree!!!!! Yes!!! Doesn't sound so crazy anymore, does it?!?!?!?!

A week or so later, I was reading about a campground in Delaware Eric had reserved for us. It said, the campground was a home to the "elusive pileated woodpecker." Why hadn't I thought to look on my super smart phone before?  Well, I looked it up, and there was my tree hammering friend, in all his chicken size glory, with a name. Pileated Woodpecker.....

So, next time someone tells you something you think can not POSSIBLY be true, maybe consider that the Lord just might have made beautiful things we've never thought to think of before! (and look it up on your smart phone, too :)).

Here is some info on our cabin friends, if you're interested :). And a pic, since ours were camera shy....

A Day In Our Life {Wednesday, April 1,.2015}

Hi!!!! Welcome to our life :). I'm not sure if today is an accurate representation of our everyday, because Wednesdays tend to be different. We don't even attempt homeschool because it's tough trying to get ready for Wednesday night church ( Wednesdays are my most challenging days, by far ;)). But, today IS a good time to see how crazy it can be sometimes :). SOOO, here we go!!!

Eric and I woke a little late, so the kids were starting to wake up while he was getting ready for work. When they are up they like to "help" him get ready while I go down and make coffee, breakfast, etc. We got a few minutes with daddy during breakfast, then I walked him out, stopping for a few minutes to fix a few trailer lights (he worked, I talked ;)). Then, he gave hugs and headed to work. While I was outside, Ely had mashed a banana for Carli and started feeding her (first time for that, and a nice surprise), and Silas and Mia had unloaded the dishwasher onto the counter for me. A few little ones needed round two of diapers, so we took care of that, and I went to find my coffee.

Once breakfast dishes were picked up and the dishwasher was going, I set out some crayons and ran down to start laundry, but realized I'd left a load in the washer :(. I haven't done that in a loooooong time, but yuck. It stunk. So, restarted that load and headed back up to get everyone dressed.

Mia was needing assistance getting her baby doll dressed, so we took a few minutes to practice being a mommy, and she even let me burp her baby for her!! :). That was a big privilege for me!!!

Then, Mia talked Silas into playing tea set with her while Ely and I clipped a few coupons, and I went to find my coffee.... Again.
By now, it was 10:30, and I was feeling a little woozy. Great job, Prego, you forgot to eat breakfast. So, I made a quick chocolate, raspberry protein shake, drank before I had to share, and did round three of diapers. I also realized I hadn't even thought about supper, so I checked the freezer, got distracted filling sippy cups for thirsty kids, and went on my way without a supper decision...

A few weeks ago, we'd picked up some flower seeds from the dollar store, we've been so excited to plant!! So, hoping it doesn't freeze again, we planted a box of "hummingbird mix" in our front flower bed! We talked about what color flowers we hope will grow, and how many hummingbirds we think are going to come play at our cabin. If the kids are right, we are going to have LOTS of bird visitors this summer!! Then, I sent the kids to play in the sunshine while I fed Carli on the porch :).

After running inside to change Carli, again, I realized I was missing a Mia. She has a very mischievous personality, and has also been asking repeatedly to play in the creek. She didn't answer when I called her, so I took off down the hill, toward our creek. Halfway there, Ely said she found her.... Asleep.... She had buckled herself into our jogging stroller, which was parked under a tree, and immediately decided she wanted a nap. Nice... We watched a little woodpecker friend finding bugs in one of our trees, and Silas told him he was a nice fella and should live here from now on.

We worked for a few minutes on a ladder trellis we've been making out of some cedar branches Eric cut for us. We're hoping to lean it against the chimney, in the side flower bed, and plant some morning glories to climb it!!

After a quick encouragement lesson on being gentle with our siblings, we headed inside for lunch. I finally found my cold coffee, and did a quick pick up of the living room :).

After lunch, we did diapers, played a game about thankfulness and talked about how important it is to be content and thankful, and laid everyone down for nap. For the first time I can remember, ALL four littles fell asleep at the same time! Whoop whoop!!! I was so tempted to take a nap, too, but decided to go for a quick jog instead. I also planned to plant some bachelor buttons around the mailbox, but that didn't happen :).

Back inside, I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, swapped laundry, cleaned up the lunch table I had left, and took a quick shower. Once everyone was up, we had a snack, and I sat on the couch with Silas to answer some serious questions he had. Halfway into our conversation, someone let Oatmeal, our (outside) dog, in and when I smelled her breath, the morning sickness I'd been fighting all day finally won :(. Ick. So, that was gross, but the kids were playing happy and didn't seem to notice ;).

My plan was to do baths, then prepare supper. And {I think} I would have maybe had time. But, things never go as planned ;). I try to start early enough on baths to allow for unexpected delays, but late enough the kids will still be clean when we actually get to church..... Delicate balance ;). We headed upstairs for baths, and got a text from daddy that someone was coming to look at a trailer he had for sale. So, we all went back downstairs, I laid out some baby dolls and a tractor, and went out to meet the potential buyers. They were really nice, and excited that the trailer would work perfect for what they were needing it for. We were just wrapping things up when papaw came over, and I was sent inside so he could handle things instead ;).

Up the stairs we all went again, started bath water, and Silas saw papaw's car out the window. Well, that started a near riot, so back down we all went again for the kids to see papaw. They searched the whole property for him (or at least the parts they thought he might be at), and couldn't find him. I had no idea where he had gone, and we were pushing it to get ready on time, so I made everyone go back upstairs, yet again, tears and all.

Baths went extremely well, other than me getting soaked from head to toe, and needing to change again before church.   We headed to my room, where I had clothes laid out for everyone. Except, I stayed in the bathroom to plug in my curling iron and brush through my hair for 30 seconds...... Well, that was enough time for a certain little girl to cover her face, hair, and arms with a stick of brand new lipstick. It was brand new because this same little girl had emptied an entire stick a month ago on herself, her brother, and our cream colored sheets. I hoped a baby wipe would clean things up, but I realized she had also "brushed" her hair with mascara. Waterproof mascara. Also brand new. It was NOT wiping out of her hair or scalp. So, back to the tub, which had already been drained. A few minutes later, we joined our siblings again, and we all got mostly dressed. Well, except for Carli and me. I was just pulling clothes out for myself, when Silas noticed papaw out the window again. All three older kids scrambled down the stairs and out on to the porch to see him, and we talked for a few minutes ( Silas sneaking into the flower bed and making sure his pants got nice and dirty) before papaw left for church. I was starting to panic inside. There was no way I was going to finish getting everyone ready before Eric got home to take us to church. I told the older kids to get shoes on, and ran upstairs to dress Carli. The thought that I hadn't fixed anything for supper somehow began nagging at me, as well as the knowledge that any minute all the kids would be asking for something to drink, and I did not have time to round up sippy cups. Then, Carli's dress was gone. I had no idea where it had gone. I threw a skirt and shirt on myself, hoping I matched, and hollered down to ask Ely about Carli's dress. Ely's baby had needed it to wear tonight. I would need to find something else.... With no time to think, I grabbed Carli's "spare" dress out of the diaper bag, threw it on her, and strapped her in her carrier seat just as Eric was pulling in! Whew! I might've almost pulled it together!!!! But, then I glanced in the mirror ;). I had totally forgotten to get myself ready. I brushed my teeth, unplugged the curling iron I never used, pulled my hair into a clip, slapped on some chapstick, and ran downstairs to find Eric giving all the kids their sippy cups. Sometimes, the smallest things can make you even more thankful. My husband is a consistent blessing :).

We got everyone loaded and partially buckled into car seats, when we realized Silas had no shoes. This is not uncommon, however, I was pretty sure his shoes were on the front porch, so I ran to grab them. Then, while putting them on, I found a pretty nasty cut on the bottom of his foot. So, I told him to go barefooted, and left it at that :). We got all car seats buckled, including Ely's baby doll, and pulled out.

Unloading at church found Carli to be completely soaked from her diaper. But I had already used her extra dress and had nothing. I asked Ely if I could have Carli's dress back, but she looked so hurt. So, we looked through our crowded vehicle instead, and found a shirt and pants that would kinda work. Yay!! Eric took Mia into the service, and I took Ely and Silas to their class, changed Carli, and headed into church myself..... Only a few minutes late :).

Back home, everyone was starving. I heated up a quicker supper than previously planned, we all ate, and rounded everyone up for bed :).

And that was our Wednesday! My only three goals for today had been to load one of our trailers with donation items to drop off after church, to clean out the inside of our vehicle, and to be at church a few minutes early. I failed at all three of those, BUT I can try again tomorrow :).

Do you find a specific day to be more stressful than any other? And do you look back on your day and wonder how all those tiny tasks seemed to take so long? Yeah, me too :)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Little Brown Eyed Girl

It was Jesus who led me into the department store today, just as you were checking out. He needed to teach me something I had forgotten. I was in line behind your Grandma, and you were playing quietly near the pretty bed displays. You touched each pillow and comforter so carefully. It was obvious I startled you, when you realized I was watching, and you ran to your Grandma for comfort and safety. I noticed you were getting a new quilt today, and you kept sneaking touches of it from your spot below the counter. There was no smile, but your big, quietly beautiful, brown eyes showed that you were getting something special. Your dark hair and brown eyes reminded me so much of one of my own girls. But there was something about your eyes, so round, and so quiet, that I couldn't seem to turn away from. You finally smiled at me, but when you reached for Grandma for reassurance and security, your thin little hand accidentally caught her shirt, pulling it up a little.

Everything happened so quickly, I almost wouldn't have seen it, had I not been right behind you. I saw how hard she squeezed your painfully thin, little arm. And although she bent down to whisper in your ear, I could hear every single angry word. Oh, little brown eyed girl. As your face turned to the floor, my heart broke for you, knowing your little heart had been broken so many times before, just like this. And as your little brown eyes released streams of silent tears, I let quiet tears fall from my eyes, as well.

Oh, sweet girl. I searched my heart desperately for words to help you. Something, anything, that would let you know I heard, and I care. Like always, my social awkwardness left me standing there silent, just like you. The sweet lady behind the counter tried to tell you how pretty your new quilt would be on your bed, but you could only attempt to smile with your red, and tear streaked cheeks. I'll never forget you, little brown eyed girl.

See, I haven't had to feel those angry hands or hear those angry words in a very long time. Jesus healed those wounds and gave me a life of peace. I am so thankful for that peace. But, I allowed my own heart to forget that there are still little girls and little boys that aren't always treated with care and patience. Little ones that need to feel safe and loved. Jesus does love you, sweet one. And He heard those words today, just like I did. Maybe Grandma was having a very hard day. And I know there is much more to your story than the few minutes I witnessed behind that counter. But meeting you has changed my heart forever. And you and your grandma will be prayed for fervently, every day from now on. You have such beautiful brown eyes. I pray that one day, they sparkle with joy, instead of sadness. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Please DON'T Ask!!!

Ok. Disclaimer: I am WAY more private than most females. So, the following opinions are totally based on my own level of comfort. But, I also believe need to be said ;).

Please, please STOP asking people if they are pregnant!!!!! That may sound rude to you, and I understand that {most} people are just excited about a new life and want to celebrate with the expecting mama. But here are just a FEW of the reasons it may not be a good idea to ask:

She wants to have a baby so badly, but for some reason, it hasn't happened yet.

Seriously, y'all. This is probably my biggest reason I don't think you should ever ask a woman if she is expecting! It could be that wife wants a baby, but husband doesn't. She doesn't need added questions from you, while she is battling not to resent her husband in her heart. Or maybe she and husband BOTH want a baby. But they are in the waiting period, and not sure if it will happen for them or not. Imagine Hannah in the Bible. Her heart was constantly hurting and yearning for God to open her womb. Women today have those same desires and those same hurts. Just because YOU aren't aware of her struggle, doesn't mean it isn't there. She doesn't need a reminder of how badly she is waiting on God to answer her pleas. PLEASE don't be a hurtful reminder to her!!

She is struggling with weight gain, or with losing weight from previous births.

I don't lose baby weight quickly. I try, but it seems to just stick to my midsection, like a permanent reminder that it is NOT going away. Please don't draw attention to it ;). And DEFINITELY don't pat my pudgy tummy if you still can't help but ask if I'm pregnant! Seriously :/.

Maybe she IS pregnant, but she and hubby aren't ready to announce it yet.

SO many times, we've had to rush and try to call or text family members to tell them about a new baby because someone asked before we'd told anyone, and they could definitely read my silent but obvious facial expression. Consider that we had probably hoped to tell our families in a special way, but missed out on that opportunity because we had to rush to tell before they found out from someone else and got hurt feelings they didn't know first. If the mama wanted you to know, she would have already told you! Or she would have announced it in some semi public way that you would have known about.

Honestly, I don't fault anyone for being excited about babies. And people have asked me before in ways that I was NOT offended. So, it isn't always bad. But my suggestion is to play it safe, and practice patience. You WILL find out, if she is really is expecting a baby ;). But it will be on her time schedule.

Tell me. Am I being too harsh?

Friday, March 13, 2015

Why I Don't Throw {Huge} Birthday Parties For My Kids

So, my little Mia Joy turned 2 years old yesterday!!! Yay, Mia!!!! She truly has brought much joy into our family and home :). But as I was thinking of something special to do with her for her day, the thought crossed my mind that I am an oddity as a mother when it comes to birthdays. I'm not sure I've ever met anyone like myself ;). But here's what we've done for our kids' birthdays so far, and the reasons it may seem very unconventional...

We don't invite people over to celebrate.

Yeah, yeah, I know. But I actually have several reasons why I don't "go all out," and a few of them are actually valid ;).

First of all, I don't have it all together. My kitchen floors are covered with juice stains and muddy foot prints more often than they are clean and sparkly. Every system of toy organization I have attempted so far has been effectively demolished by busy little hands in less than a week. You get the idea. I don't mind visitors, but for me to get everything in shape for alot of people to come over, I would have to give up time with my kids.... on their birthday. To me, that sends the message to a little heart that wanting other people to think we have a spotless home is more important to me than spending time with them on their special day. I don't like that.

Another reason, is we have 4 little blessings {#5 will be here in August}, and we would be thrilled to have more. If I set the standard now that birthdays are supposed to be huge Pinterest occasions, what am I going to do if the Lord chooses to let us add more babies to our family? Because by then, they'll expect a huge event in their honor. I can't be planning 5... 6... 7 parties every year, when we have things more eternal we need to focus on.

And, probably my BIGGEST reason? I do not want my kids to learn that they "deserve" anything, just because it's their birthday. The Lord allowed them another year of life. The life He gave is more than enough. The blessing they have been, and ARE, to our family is what I'd like to focus on for their birthday. I just don't think fancy decorations and too many presents teaches that. I think a huge party teaches them to be superficial, to expect life to be all about them, and to hold high standards of what others must do for them. Gifts aren't bad, celebrations aren't bad, doing something special for someone isn't bad. But, I believe it should never be expected.

They may or may not receive a gift from Eric and I on their birthday. 

Yes, we buy gifts :). But, only if we know there is something that would be very special or useful to that child. We don't give "obligatory gifts." Again, what does it teach a child if they come to expect gifts every year? That people are SUPPOSED to buy them something, just because it's their birthday? I do know that certain people show their love by giving gifts, and one of our children is that way. So, I am not saying it's bad to give gifts. I AM saying it is bad if a young heart believes everyone has to get them something, and is upset or disappointed when that doesn't happen.

So what does a birthday look like in our little family? 

 Well, we all talk about what the upcoming birthday baby would really like to do on their birthday, and then we work together to try to incorporate that idea into their day. It might be making a train or construction site out of that night's dessert. It might be letting the birthday babe decorate the supper table how she thinks a fancy tea party would be, and letting her have a special cousin come to eat with her. For Mia, Ely really thought she would enjoy seeing all the animals at the zoo. So, when the rain clears, Mia will get a birthday zoo trip. Were there gifts involved? Sometimes. Did the kids expect them? No, but they were really excited and surprised when daddy brought the gifts home :).

We wake them up on their day with a reminder that it's THEIR birthday!!!! Yay!!! We spend as much time as life will allow that day, letting that baby do special things (ex. They get to pick the book we read before nap. I might even let them pick out their own clothes. I might let them do something they've previously been too young to enjoy, like help wash dishes or try honey for the first time). I have each sibling tell their brother or sister something they really like about them, and why they are thankful for them. I *try* to make something for supper that night that I know they really like, and when we pray before the meal, daddy gives thanks for allowing us the gift of that special child. To me, THAT is special :).

What are some special things you do in your family for birthdays? I would love to hear everyone's ideas and special traditions :)

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Silent Storm

Have you ever gone through a battle, a spiritual battle, that was so intense, it left you feeling like the person you once were is only a memory and this new person is a complete stranger to you? What if the physical circumstances that threw you into this storm, were completely out of your control, and so private in nature you couldn't confide in one single person for even prayer and comfort in knowing you weren't alone? Or maybe you tried to pour out the turmoil inside, but the hearer couldn't truly hear the cries of your heart, and you were deeply misunderstood, only adding to the pain that was already too heavy to bear?

What do you do, friend? What do you do when life feels more like a death of your heart?

That is where I have been. These months have worn out my spirit to the point I have retreated into deep silence. Unable to speak of anything with significance to anyone, for fear my heart would betray me, and pour itself out for everyone to see. Unable to write. Almost unable to love.

But isn't the love of God amazing? Isn't He so kind and gentle, in how He touches those tender wounds, and slowly binds them up, one by one?

My load has been heavy, friends. Too heavy for me. Just when I thought there was no hope, that no one would hear my silent cries, and I was left to walk through this awful battle alone, look at the love He poured into my soul:

Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God's: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it." Deuteronomy 1:17

{He hears the cries of my heart.}

And the LORD, He it is that doth go before thee; He will be with thee, He will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed." Deuteronomy 31:8

"The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and He shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them." Deuteronomy 33:27

"With a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm: for His mercy endureth for ever." Psalm 136:12

"In the day when I cried Thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul." Psalm 138:3

Suddenly, His sufficient Grace is so real. Suddenly, I am no longer alone. Suddenly, I don't need to be heard, because the only One that matters has already heard :). And suddenly, I am ok. My heart that I thought was surely damaged beyond repair, feels Life again. He is quickening my spirit once again.  As long as I have Him, I can face today. And the next. And the next.

I praise Him for never letting me lose my joy, through all of my dark days. He kept smiles and giggles in my home and in my heart, through it all. He is GOOD. So good.

If you don't mind sharing, what are verses He has given you, during the darkest trials of your life? His Word is life. HE is Life :). Let us never forget that.

Note: If you know me, outside of this blog, the details and circumstances leading to this trial, are not something I wish to discuss. Prayer is sufficient. HE is sufficient.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Where Have I Been!?!?!?!

Yikes! So, it has been entirely too long since I've been on the blog, and I have missed it! Between Christmas, sickness, losing part of my lap top charger, and getting our garden ready for spring, the blog took a major back seat :(. BUT we are back! And, I have so many ideas in my head, just waiting to tumble out onto the key board :). So, stay tuned, and new posts will start popping up {hopefully} daily!!!

And, I am trying to add photos of our past two months adventures, but my blog doesn't like to accept them from my phone :). So, I'll edit them in later :).

Thank you for not giving up on me, and for returning, even after my long silence!!!! You guys are the best readers ever :)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Friday Fruit Talks- {Joy}

Hi! Welcome to our Friday Fruit Talks!!! Today, we are talking about joy. Oh, how our world can be so different when joy is absent than when it is flowing abundantly. Joy is such a precious fruit to have in our lives. There have been times in my life, I allowed Satan to steal my joy. Usually, it was during a storm of life where I felt I was enduring some wrong that I didn't think I deserved.

Psalm 119:61 "The bands if the wicked have robbed me...."

Oh yes, how quickly joy can slip away. And once allowed to leave, we don't get it back easily.

Psalm 119:61, 62 " The bands of the wicked have robbed me: but I have not forgotten Thy law. At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto Thee because of Thy righteous judgments."

Can we be thankful to the Lord, even in our darkest days? I don't know about you, but it seems like He somehow always restores joy before the storm is even over :).

There was one situation, not too long ago, when I had no joy. I was miserable in my heart, and my misery was affecting my family. I had prayed for joy, I had tried to FAKE joy, but none came. Then, one morning, knelt beside our little stone fireplace, the Lord let me know a little deed I was doing that was hindering my joy. Although, it wasn't necessarily a sin, it was a way for me to try to grasp for control over something I didn't like in my life instead of trusting Him to faithfully heal the situation. He tenderly asked me to trust Him. If I did, it would mean I may never know the truth of a what was really happening, I may never have true healing in a friendship I hold dear, I may never have the opportunity to defend myself, but I would have Him. And I decided He is enough for me. I will love Him and trust Him no matter what the outcome of that trial, and even if I never see the end of that particular storm, He is enough, and His grace is sufficient.

 I gave it all to Him. But joy didn't come right away..... Remember that little deed I mentioned I had been trying to control. The opportunity presented itself the very next day.... I considered, but it wasn't worth it, and I walked away. And as I went about my daily cabin tasks, joy came flooding into my soul, like a dear friend that had been away far too long.

Oh, friend, has your joy slipped from your heart in the heat of the battle? There is hope. He can restore. Weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning :)