Friday, April 18, 2014

Raising girls. Why I love it and am 100% sure God knew exactly what He was doing.

Previewing our Easter dresses
My girls. 5 and 2 (almost 3!) and truly one of the biggest joys of my day each day. Sure it's hard work, long hours, and ridiculous arguments about hair do's, bedtimes, and eating healthy... but it's a wonderful blessing in my life to raise these ladies.  This afternoon while I watched them dance and play in the front yard - it dawned on me how obviously in control and intentional God is in my life. While I do really know this on a day to day basis... watching my girls was like a thunder clap to my senses in what I believe about God. 
- I love girly girl stuff. Dresses, hair bows, baby dolls and painted nails. Bring it on! 
- Princess movies, dress up gowns and the general color PINK. Still some of my favorite things :)
- A strong dislike of cleaning the bathrooms. While my girls are not without their "messes", after chatting with mom's of boys, I'm positive I would not fare well with the messes I hear about from the other gender. Pos-i-tive. 
- Girl pretend. There is something amazing to me about watching my daughters pretend to be momma's - that nurturing, gentleness they display with dolls or sticks wrapped in blankets to be dolls blows my mind. It's inborn and it's so precious to me. 
And maybe it sounds silly to even bring God into that, but then again maybe not. He so intimately knows me...before I was even formed, to know what I needed to grow and flourish. And one of the big answers is = girls! Even when I feel my inadequacy and insecurities creep in... He knows. He provides the wisdom and strength. Good stuff. 

And while not totally on topic - though I can weave it in... 
I love that my girls really truly appreciate it when I try to be Susie homemaker :) This week I tried my hand at some place mat pillows to spruce up the sitting room. They made me feel like a rock star and couldn't believe mommy could turn a place mat into a pillow!  While they aren't totally finished... they were easy, quick and I love 'em!
Quick tutorial:
Pick up some place mats, I found a package of 4 at TJ maxx for under $10.

Rip the seams open large enough for a hand full of fluff to go through. Fill with the fluff, remembering to get corners fluffed as well. I found the fluff at Joann Fabric with a 50% coupon. And it ended up being on sale anyway for $6 or less.

Rip off the tags, and once you have your desired level of fluff, you just pin it together and resew them shut. That's what I'm waiting to do now - once I dig out my sewing machine from our pit of a basement :) So, 4 brand new, adorable throw pillows for $15 or less - I'll take it! They run for about $15 per pillow to buy premade at TJ Maxx. I'm excited to get them done. 

And lastly, I promise, I may be strange to admit this - but I so enjoy doing laundry. It's one of my fave household chores and prepping for baby girl THREE and getting her clothes ready has me just about giddy. Last week I tackled a pile of badly stained outfits and (AMAZINGLY) all the stains are gone, they've been washed, folded and tucked into the nursery in waiting. Have I mentioned how much I adore baby girl clothes?! And how Oxi clean is a miracle worker?

Thankful for all these things today!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Happy Homemaker Monday

 As I look outside my window:::
Sunshine is trying to break through an overcast sky. Lots of birds out today and it makes me think that maybe spring really is coming!

Right now I am:::
Finished my morning bible reading and gearing up to do a quick tidy! HUBBY IS FLYING HOME TODAY! He's been gone all week and we are eager to have him home.

Thinking and pondering:::
It's our annual week of prayer here (at our church) and I'm trying to think of ways to really be involved this time around. Would love to get my kids involved.

On my bedside table:::
My One year Bible
Daughters in Danger by Elayne Bennett
An "In Touch" magazine
Treasuring Christ when your hands are full by Gloria Furman

On my tv tonight:::
I've been watching through "The Paradise" on Netflix. I'm on episode 5! Though, not sure now that hubby will be home if I'll get any further tonight.

Listening to:::
My  2 year old talking to her princess puzzle :)

On the menu for this week:::

Monday - Garlic chicken & Potatoes (trying those land o' lakes saute things) -taking a meal to a new mom!
Tuesday - Crock pot ranch pork chops & rice
Wednesday -
Thursday - Oven Fajitas
Friday - Baked Potato Soup & rolls
Saturday - Cincinnati Chili over spaghetti
Sunday -  Left overs.

On my to do list:::
General tidy of the main level
Unload dishwasher and reload
Start some laundry
Paint a dresser for the girls shared room

Happening this week:::
Monday - 5 year old's ballet class, meal for a new mom, visit friend in hospital who had twins!
Tuesday - Taking a family night at home.
Wednesday - Youth ministry
Thursday -  Cell group #2
Friday - Daddy's day off, get some projects done around the house.
Saturday - Plan for Easter

What I am creating:::
Painting some old ugly dressers white, which is taking forever.
Need to whip up some Easter decor for the house
Working on the nursery for baby 3!
My simple pleasure:::
My old industrial wire basket here beside me filled with all good books.

Homemaking tips:::
Oh man, seems homemaking has been hit and miss around here lately. I'm learning to reuse, I suppose. When I used up all our dishwashing packets I kept the bucket to dump the new kind in. Keeps under the sink organized and tidy.

Looking around the house:::
Some small tasks to do and my dining room floor could use a good dust mop run over.
From the camera:::
Loving this book! Gospel meditations for busy moms is such a great way to saying it!

Prayer List:::
Music pastor and his wife as they welcome identical TWIN girls!
Remainder of my own pregnancy, 8 weeks. Eeek.
Hubbys final flight home today!

Bible verse, Devotional:::Really appreciated Gloria's thoughts this morning:
"As mothers we need to train ourselves to focus on the things they are unseen and eternal (2 Cor. 4:18). As we struggle to maintain this perspective and even as we fail to struggle, relenting to the temptation toward apathy, we must look to God's word and believe it, even when we can't feel it." 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

High Heels

She's been asking for months. "High heels, Mommy". "I want some high heels like you". And I almost laugh because at 32 weeks pregnant I know she hasn't seen mom in the really high heels in awhile. But it doesn't matter - mom's and high heels, sometimes they just go together in a little girls brain. So every time we go to Walmart she finds the pair of white little girls heels, tries them on, and spins in the mirror to admire her grown up self. And every time I have to bite my lower lip to keep from falling apart.

When did the calendar page flip and my baby is going on 5 1/2 and wanting to wear heels? And how do I stop this speeding train called time? And why are the days so difficult sometimes and we butt heads and argue, but then in those moments she's precious all over again? This mother/daughter relationship thing is weird and I fear I'll never understand it all. And why when I fail day after day with raised voice, short temper and sharp words does she still want to be like me with heels on?

Don't mind the mini wearing no clothes. She admires her sis and wants to be in every picture.

All I can do is throw my hands up and beg for wisdom in leading her and loving her. But the heels... that seems easy. So when we found a swap site selling a whole bag of consigned shoes in her size - and one pair were heels in a lovely neon orange color, it was a double blessing. And she wears them daily now. This girl in her orange heels, prancing through my yard with her long girl legs and braids down either side of her face. She spins and twirls and watches her feet and often reminds me (and everyone else)... "I have high heels like my mom". And my lip is bitten over and over to keep it together. I watch her and I just can't believe she's mine and we've made it this far. She's amazing in so many ways - do I really notice every day how incredible she is?

No one tells you about these moments. The strange moments where your heart feels like its ripping down the middle - 50% joy in the moment watching your child grow, 50% heartbreak as you realize how time has passed. That's where I am tonight, right in the middle, and thankful for every second. These heels and these blessings... little reminders of my Great God.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Trinkets & Treasures: A Mom's pondering...

I'm on my own this week while my husband enjoys a conference in NYC. He had invited me to join him, but I'm thinking that walking the big city at 31 weeks pregnant is not my cup of tea. Not at all actually. So I've got time this week. I've also got lists of things to do...but, that's another issue. {grin}

The last few days I've been mesmerized with my little girls, and let me explain. There is something fascinating about listening and watching little girls play - it almost always involves some sort of treasure or trinket. In my girls case it's jewelry boxes, small polished stones, shells from the beach, occasionally one of my necklaces, dress up shoes and small stuffed animals. Their treasures. My first born especially seems to have a disposition to hoarding, we'll work on that later. Her bed is chock full of every kind of toy possible with just a slim snuggle in room for her own body. I remember being the same way when I was 5 - feeling like each and every treasure needed to be with me at all times.

My soon-to-be 3 year old maybe displays her love of trinkets and treasures the best. She wears them all the time. If you know us at all or follow any of the pictures I share you will almost always see her in a dress up dress loaded down with necklaces and bracelets and the works. This morning is no different. Here is how I found her as I sat down to write:

Her sisters church dress and her special blankey as a cape. :) 

Trinkets and Treasures and all the things childhood is made of. We learn early that some things are just more special and worth taking care of. In the last few days as I watch them play and pretend it just draws me in but also convicts me. What am I treasuring now?  Am I still chasing after silly things like a 2 and 5 year old - all that glitters? Over our spring break I was given two beautiful pitchers and I suppose they are kind of treasures to me. I've started collecting them and right now they are kinda my favorite. I love the details, the history (one was made in the 1800's) and how they fit in with my other white pitchers. :)
But as sentimental and lovely as they are, they can't be my ultimate treasure. And maybe this is where the Lord has been hammering on my heart lately - LAY IT DOWN. The things and people I cling to who are taking the place of where only ONE should be. 

This morning I read this sentence -
"It doesn't matter where you are from or what your circumstances are; the greatest reality a mother can appreciate and rest in is the work that Jesus has done on the cross on 
our behalf." 
-Gloria Furman, "Treasuring Christ when your hands are full"

And that is our treasure as mothers, as women, as people who believe - Christs work on the cross. Looking back over the last few weeks of my life it is so evident that I value and elevate all these other trinkets above the true and lasting treasure of that sacrifice. Thanks be to God for his grace and mercy in loving me, pursuing me, and not getting annoyed with my overwhelmed - distracted self. 

Trinkets & Treasures - doing a lot of mom pondering today. Funny how watching our children can sometimes be such a mirror into our own lives.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Being the hands & feet. My God is the provider.

source: google.
I have a confession.
I'm a selfish, worry prone, woman. And in the case of being a mother I find myself with these temptations more often. As I carry this current baby and quickly approach 31 weeks I have had my fair share of mini-freak outs. General ones about lack of space or disorderly closets, etc. Then maybe bigger ones about the "big" needs - you know... car seats, diapers, expensive things.

There was a time about a month ago where I just sat before the Lord and confessed my sin of selfishness to Him. Selfish because, I had a list of needs that I seriously felt took priority and when they weren't provided for I was angry and even felt a little forgotten. Can't we be so silly about things like that? This was not my first go-round with this type of situation.

But anyway, the Lord is GOOD and He provides on his perfect schedule.

In the last few weeks we have been recipients of baby clothes, brand new baby bouncer chair, crib bedding, and the offer of getting to "shop" in a friends basement for any other baby needs we might have. Which seem to be a lot right now, and I don't totally understand why as we already have two children. Ha! Just today a gal from church dropped off two bags of beautiful baby bedding and a new copy of Frozen (the movie), which blessed my socks off. And I'm learning another lesson - that we, the body of Christ, are the hands and feet, truly. God allows us to be used to bless and minister to one another. What a gift! What an opportunity! Do we have our ears and eyes open so that we can see these opportunities? Do I? After being the recipient of such blessings I'm challenged to look around and see where I can bless someone.

Just some thoughts. Thankful for a an awesome church family and a BIG, provider God.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Spring Break recap... and the thoughts that come after.

We returned on Sunday evening from our week long trip to Ohio. My family is there, and when I say my family I literally mean just about every family member alive is there - excluding a few "strays" who live in Oklahoma and California. The drive to and fro went well and we are so thankful for our ROCK STAR children who made the trip in the car for 10 hours go by smoothly. They slept the entire state of Indiana on the way home, which I know is all part of God's grace because none of us slept the night before. While the trip wasn't meant to be this huge teachable moment thing, I left with this impression on my heart that I had aged, matured, whatever... time is moving and I saw the effects of time in a big way. Part of me was changed and can never go back.

The town "I grew up in", which was really only 10th through 12th grades, had gotten older, again. Houses looked worn, familiar faces still working at the same grocery store were years older, rumbling trucks on small streets still running but older and maybe louder. My old highschool looks old and dirty. Even my parents Boxer/Mastiff dog had gray hair and my cat growing up now walks with a limp from sore hips. It's so weird to feel like you are going back in time...but that time hasn't been kind, or maybe it has. My bedroom in highschool is now the kids toyroom and linen storage, my brothers room a remodeled office, and aside from our Senior pictures you might not know there were once teenagers there. My baby cousins are in college or married and little kids whose diapers I onced changed are driving cars, dating, and planning futures. It' But perhaps the hardest part of watching time pass was visiting my grandparents. At almost 32 years old I have little experience with this sort of thing. I only lost my great-grandparents in Jr high and the sight of death isn't often in front of me, at least with my family. We are a seemingly healthy, young, falsely eternal bunch. So as I took a deep breath, closed the car door and walked toward the nursing home... I could feel my heart failing me. It hurt. This brick building with a pot hole parking lot seemed so sterile and unkind. Not the warmth of grandma's house with her decorations, afghan blankets on each couch and the smell of grandpa's aftershave. We made our way down the hallway to the room that had their names on the door and as I peeked around the door I realized time had come here, too. When you are young you know your grandparents are old, simply because they are your parents parents. But they also bake cookies, take you out to shoot the BB gun, give you dollar bills in your letters, and teach you things only grandparents can. These people I was looking at now were the same, only changed. Gray hair had gone white. Flexible shoulders slumped down and full cheeks were thin with age. My grandpa didn't recognize me at first but thought I was one of the nurses - so I helped him with his jacket and whispered a "suprise" and then his eyes changed as he really saw me. Grandpa. I'll always see him as I did when I was a child, but this man I saw today was still just as handsome and just as much my grandpa, though altered. Grandma sat in her bed and smiled as my children filled the room and became the entertainment. Still Grandma, with hershey kisses to share and her hair pulled back in a bobby pin. My heart pounded and I was so proud of myself for holding back the hot tears during our visit. Part of me wanted to run away and part of me wanted to make this visit last as long as I could...because what if?... I can't even say the words. Later to my husband I cried my fears that that was the last time I might see them. Then I cried for saying that out loud. Time has crept on and maybe it was just more apparent to me this visit - but I felt it. I felt the weight of the situation. I felt my baby brother turning 29 soon. I felt my parents "handling" their aging parents as well as their own aches and pains. And maybe I felt older, too.

I don't mean to sound down. The trip went so well - we had great family time, spent some money to do a few fun activities and just enjoyed our visit. But these above thoughts still kinda haunt me as I think and ponder life and time.

We got back to Iowa and it's still just as cold as when we left. I think it was 22 degrees last night. Bah! But, as the sun peeks out this morning we are hopeful that the warmer weather will one day arrive and Spring will carry on.  Spring Break 2014. Memorable for sure.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Spring Break Vacay, and why my hubby is a rockstar.

We made the 10-12 hour drive to my parents home last night and today has been a laid back, lazy, recovery day. Two girls are napping and my awesome - navigator of a husband is conked out on the couch. It's just me, Food network, and the smell of a yummy apple pie baking around me. :) My parents always, without fail, have loads of good food packed in their deep freeze, cupboards and fridge. Such a treat to be here and help ourselves :)

Spring Break week is upon us and we are armed and ready for a great week!

I am truly, truly, so thankful for my husband and his love for me. I don't know a lot of guys that would be excited to drive 12 hours across the country to no-name town Ohio for a week, as his vacation. He genuinely enjoys coming, loves my family, goes with the flow… and it's such a blessing to me. He is a rock star!

Here's to a week of family, good food, fun memories and warmer days! Happy Spring break!