Friday, January 28, 2011

snow what

The table misses grilled steaks on a warm night.

The front walk longs for sidewalk chalk graffiti.

The trailer would like to haul mulch.

The lawn wants to be trampled by neighborhood friends.

The forsythia dreams of happy, yellow blossoms.

I must say, it is hard to be happy with all this cold, snowy weather when even the inanimate objects are discontent.

not so poetic

silently snow falls
in my home no peace is found
teething baby screams


Thursday, January 27, 2011

when red 40 equals greatness

What does it take to be the world's greatest mom?

The answer is surprising: deprive the children of cereal. Only buy it occasionally, but even then, have a pretty strict ban on any cereal that turns the milk pink.


Then, one Tuesday, tell your son he can pick any cereal he wants when you go grocery shopping. Watch the delight on his face as he chooses sugar coated rings of artificial colors.


Enjoy the pleasure of watching him merrily eat two bowls for an afternoon snack. And then be handed the title of "best mom in the world" from the world's sweetest boy.


Sometimes it really is great to break the "rules."

Monday, January 24, 2011

in blue

My artist has moved away from the abstract art that defined her early work.

Kate's recent pieces show lots of growth in real scenes and portraits.

The subject of this drawing is so recognizable, it can't possibly be required that the viewer be her mother in order to interpret and enjoy it.


Okay, fine -- in case you don't have a trained eye for Katie-art, I'll fill you in:


(I just read this post 5 hours after posting and had to fix 3 typos. Nice.)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

the kitty


Buddy the cat came into our lives in November.


He is a great cat; patient, longsuffering, and loving, with enough spunk to keep him interesting. And by spunk, I mean from ten to eleven o'clock every night he turns into a crazy tiger, and the house is his jungle, and any toes that might be wiggling under a blanket are his prey.

He thought the Christmas tree was the best cat toy EVER.


Most of the time, he is perfect.


All of the time, he is loved.


Sometimes this love may manifest itself as being wrapped in a blanket and taken for a ride in the kiddie shopping cart.


He doesn't seem too upset about it.

(confession: I will have to blog about Buddy from time to time -- what else am I going to do with the photos I take of him?)

Friday, January 21, 2011

I'll show you


See, I told you she walks.

Oh, yes she does.

What? You don't have a bottle of washer fluid sitting on your kitchen floor?

Oh, yes I do.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

step by step

On January 1st, after hardly staying awake long enough to kiss my love as the new year came in, I was up "celebrating" with Katie and the toilet at three a.m. Lizzie woke up with a mess leftover from the "celebrating" she did in her crib by herself sometime in the night.

After a day of cleaning up sick messes and tending to sick bellies, Adam told me to take a break and get out of the house and go shopping. After just a couple hours out, I came home around the kids' bedtime. I found Adam and all the kids upstairs in Joey's room. Adam avoided eye contact and confessed:

"While you were gone...Lizzie took her first step."

Of course she did! That little stinker waited until I was gone to teach me a lesson about skipping out on her. But before she went to bed, as though sensing my utter disappointment, she took one more little step just for me. All was forgiven. :)

She is so chubby and short, it is just the cutest thing to watch her place each foot down as she makes every shaky, but purposeful step. By January sixth she had put ten of those cute steps in a row. And here we are, only 18 days after her first, and she has figured out how to put a long enough sequence of steps together to walk herself into the bathroom and play in the toilet water.

Baby steps. Baby steps that have opened up a whole new world of adventure.


Monday, January 17, 2011

home boy

We are halfway through Joey's first grade year. Academically, Joey is wonderfully average. He would rather play all day than sit down and do school work, but when we do sit down, we are blazing no spectacular homeschool trails; just learning the basics for now, and that is perfectly fine with me.


Everyday I am more and more convinced that academics are just a part of homeschool, and the greater part is that he is home. We are together. He spends his playtime with Katie, investing in a lifelong friendship. Everyday I see little victories in the fighting-quarreling struggles the two have faced. Joey is learning the joys of teamwork, as well as understanding the challenge it is to love by seeking not his own. Lizzie is his joy and delight, and because he is home, he takes her out of the crib some mornings and entertains her all on his own.


His being home means I am his teacher. He read his first "real" book with me. I get to put the "Awesome!" sticker on his math tests and see his enormous smile. It isn't all sunshine and lollipops, and believe me when I say I have considerable shortcomings, and have sometimes been a complete failure. But when I ask for forgiveness, he is always ready to love and forgive. We spend lots of time together, and so far, he isn't tired of me. :)


We are both figuring this out together. I am blessed to have such a sweet boy to learn right along side with. I am blessed and grateful that homeschool is possible in our family.

I love having him home with me.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

buzzing about

If you need to go grocery shopping on the afternoon before snow comes to town because you actually need eggs, milk, and bread (plus your fridge is bare) I have a suggestion for you: let your daughter wear her bumblebee costume to the store. It is hard to be crabby while wrestling your cart through the swarms of shoppers when everyone you pass smiles at your daughter, and then looks at you and smiles as well.

For a moment after she asked if she could wear it out shopping, I wanted to say no, but then realized there was no reason why I should. What did it matter? The only slight hassle was trying to get her booster straps over the shiny, yellow wings when I had to buckle her into the van. A few extra seconds of trouble were worth it for every smile we received. One father even pointed my beautiful bumblebee out to his small daughter, while Katie shyly received the praise.

My cute little bee was also clever. "Ooo, Mommy, we are coming to my favorite section!"
And she then pretended to drink nectar and taste the pollen of all the lovely flowers on display in the floral department. When we were first walking into the store, Joey thought it was a little embarrassing to have a bee shopping with us as he noticed the looks from shoppers that Katie was oblivious to, but by the time she was "tasting" the flowers, he was pretending right along with her.

A friend told me this week that she is looking to put more joy in her life. It is wise to be conscious and purposeful in that pursuit don't you think? Our mother-attitudes can change the mood of our family, whether good or bad.

Maybe sometimes, we miss opportunities of happiness because we say "no" too quickly. I know I have. My happy, little shopping trip showed my that.

Wiser far than human seer,
Yellow breeched philosopher!
Seeing only what is fair,
Sipping only what is sweet...
Leave the chaff and take the wheat
from Ralph Waldo Emerson's The Humble Bee


Thursday, January 13, 2011

a couple of flakes

A snow day morning started with two sets of feet padding their way to the side of my bed. I have a feeling Joey told Katie to wake me up. Tapping my shoulder she said, "Wake up, Mommy! Look outside -- it's a glorious snowstorm!"

It was a beautiful morning, with Lizzie still asleep, but I got up to view the glorious snow that had fallen in the night.


Everything is new and pretty with snow on it.
I wouldn't normally take a picture of my flowering pear tree out front (with Christmas lights still on), but I would with some snow clinging to the branches.

The kids went outside to play right away. I think the only prerequisite was to let mommy have her cup of coffee first. Then they got all "bungled" up and headed out. Some day someone will tell the children that it is bundled not bungled, but it isn't going to me. I just bungle them up when they ask me to.


The swing set was suddenly much more fun and entertaining when covered with snow. Falling down the slide into a heap of snow was cause for great excitement.


Joey just radiates his glee. When he is having fun, he doesn't hide it.

And the pink snow princess? I don't exactly know what she was doing with the snow chunks she was piling up in the fort, and since I took all these photos from inside my kitchen with my zoom lens, I wasn't close enough to ask. But I love that she needed sunglasses to do it.

Lizzie noticed the snow as soon as she looked out the window in the morning, and then she tried to talk to me about it with her baby points, sounds, and nods. When it snowed last time, I got a bowl of snow for Lizzie to inspect when the kids were out. Joey wanted a chance to see her reaction to the snow, so he got a bowl for her this day.

While intrigued, she wanted nothing to do with touching it. It doesn't fit into her baby picture of what is normal in this world and she is fine with the snow staying outside, away from her personal space.

You can't tell in this picture, but she is shaking her head "no" as we would bring the bowl close to her, trying to get her to touch it. Of course, then we all enjoyed watching her shake her head in defiance for a few more rounds before I told the kids to leave her alone.

When the kids came inside from one of the many trips out, I peeled the layers of snow gear off of a rosy cheeked Katie and she told me, "I like playing in the snow. It's like taking a walk with Santa Claus in a dreamland."

I have never taken a walk with Santa Claus in a dreamland, but it sounds pretty good. :)
Too bad I don't have any elves. They could help clean up this:


Because that is how a snow day ends.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

model kt3000

I walked downstairs this morning and Katie was sitting on the sofa.
Sitting on the sofa with a q-tip in each ear.

Straight-faced, and matter-of-factly she explained, "I'm a robot."


This robot is so good at making play-doh cookies, bothering the cat, emptying the entire contents of the coat closet hat and mitten basket, leaving beads in places where the baby can eat them, and looking perpetually unkept, it can be sure I will never trade it in for a newer, better model.


Returning is such a hassle, and I am pretty sure I lost my receipt.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

ornaments of beauty

Last post about Christmas, I promise.

Our tree was decorated a little differently this year. When it came time to put on the ornaments, I just wasn't "feeling" my usuals, so I decided that the kids and I would be artsy-crafty and make most of the ornament with Christmas fun/homeschool art projects.

The results were interesting, but not exactly beautiful.


But they were full of lots of beads, and glue, and paint.
(Next year I will have to be a little more focused on creating ornaments that are actually pretty.)

Besides the kids' crafty creations, I did hang up all my "Natalie ornaments" from years past. A week before Christmas I still didn't have this year's, so I went out to Hallmark which very often has the one that is just right. They didn't fail me this year either. I knew I had found the perfect ornament when my eyes welled up after spotting it.


Every life leaves something beautiful behind

I use the word beautiful very often when talking about Natalie. Sometimes I wonder if people understand or think me odd. When I first lost her, I wouldn't have understood. I wouldn't have wanted to understand. In the beginning it was hard to think about how God was going to use a stillbirth in my life. I just wanted my baby.

But my loving Father knew how sad I was, and He saw me cry. And my God is a wise God and a Good Shepherd.

Grief and questions turned to hope and faith. Anxiety turned into peace. Tears slowly wained as I rested, comforted, under the shadow of His wings.

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion,
to give unto them

beauty for ashes,

the oil of joy for mourning,

the garment of praise

for the spirit of heaviness;

that they might be called
trees of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD,
that he might be glorified.
Isaiah 61:3

It is true, Natalie has left behind much beauty. God's lovingkindness, so clearly and tenderly displayed through His word and through His saints is beautiful. The unity and stronger ties created between Adam and me as we grieved and healed together is beautiful. Knowing I have Jesus who not only walked with me through the valley of the shadow of death, but also brought me back to the land of the living is beautiful. That I can share the joy and hope of Heaven with my three children on earth, and they can understand they have a big sister waiting for them there, is beautiful.

Loss is hard. Life is so short. I think of those of you who had a baby this year that was in Heaven before it ever made it to your arms. I think of those of you who lost a beloved parent or grandparent. Maybe some of you lost a brother or sister. Some may be grieving the death of a spouse or child. There may be some who lost an aunt, an uncle, a cousin, a dear friend; there is sadness in many lives, I'm sure. My hope is that in time, you too will be able to see the beauty left behind.

these girls got game

"Mommy, my princesses are ready for their picture!"


Thursday, January 6, 2011

what will you do this year?

I have been thinking about what goals I would like to make for the new year (since it is already the seventh, and I better set my goals soon or January will be over). Do you make New Year's resolutions? Do you tell people your resolutions or keep them privately to yourself?

I read this devotional this week about keeping your goals to yourself. It challenged me to consider my motives if/when I do share my goals or resolutions on this blog. Whose thoughts am I really considering when I share my goals? Do I just want to talk about my goals, or am I willing to seriously work at them?

There are so many resolutions I could make: as a child of God, a wife, a mother, a homemaker, homeschooler, friend...
I am so flawed, sometimes resolutions can seem daunting. But change, purpose, direction, and goals are good.

I need to resolve to be resolute in my resolutions. :)
2011 can be a success. I have 358 days left to make it so.


So, all that being said, I will share one goal (besides to take down my Christmas tree before the end of January).

I want to cook or bake at least one new recipe every week. Maybe two; I can't decide.

It figures that one of my 2011 resolutions has to do with food. I can't help myself -- I just love to eat!

See, here's the deal: I really love cooking and baking, and I am a cookbook lover as well -- I can spend hours just paging through a cookbook, and reading recipes, and dreaming about all the things in the world I have never tasted. But I still find myself in cooking ruts since I can be lazy. I need to stop reading all these recipes and just cook some of them already! So my hope is to stretch and grow my kitchen repertiore (without stretching and growing myself).

My mother-in-law gave me a subscription to Vegetarian Times, and while I am in no way a vegetarian, it is a great resource for cooking outside the steamed broccoli and frozen peas box. On Thursday I cooked up a recipe in the January/February '11 issue for a Baked Leek and Sweet Potato Gratin.

Confession: I have never before in my life ever bought or cooked leeks.
The result: a very yummy, savory application for sweet potatoes.

While I dress them up with mounds of sugar and butter and pecans for holidays, on an everyday basis I just bake sweet potatoes whole and serve with butter or honey. This recipe was very different from the usual and made me buy and try a new veggie. The leeks and garlic in the dish played so well with the sweetness of the potatoes, and I really enjoyed it.

So while I may blog about some of the new recipes I try, I think I will heed the advice in that devotional and acknowledge the wisdom of God's Word and keep the rest of my goals and resolutions to myself. I don't want to let pride or a false sense of accomplishment get in the way of what I need to do. Nor do I want to get any of the glory that belongs to God.

I hope your new year is one of thriving in Him!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

in her purple dress

A darling, purple dress from Grandmom,

and a headband from a clearance rack at Bon-Ton,

and a purple flower pin from a sweet friend,

and a furry cape from our costume bin in the basement, make

one little girl feel so special, all dressed up for the Christmas concert at church.



(I can remember being five years old in the bathroom at church comparing dress-twirl sizes with the other little girls. Can the desire for a twirly dress be in a little girl's genetic code?)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

twas the day before Christmas

The two weeks before Christmas were filled with the stomach bug, the flu, and other unexpected dilemmas. But I wanted Christmas Eve to be fun. I was hoping to maybe start some family traditions; I think I may have succeeded. The day was filled with two fun activities.

#1: Christmas Cut-out Cookies


We all had a great time mixing and rolling and baking and decorating.
Well, almost all of us.


She sat in her chair and wavered back and forth between looking cute and making a stink that she was stuck in the high chair.


Now here is a picture quiz for you. Look at the photo very closely and tell me what doesn't belong. Can you spot it?


Need a clue?


Yes, you got it! A jar of tomato sauce. But you see, when one leaves her rolling pin at her sister's house from cousin-cinnamon-applesauce-ornaments day, a jar of tomato sauce does belong because how else are you going to roll out the cookie dough?


I love the big brother/little sister dynamic when doing something like this all together. She is always looking to him for cues

or to get a kick out of what silliness he has drummed up


and then, of course, to be just as cool as he is.


Joey is so much fun. He loves projects that include any sort of artsy aspect. Some serious concentration and planning resulted in some real beauties.


And then there was this one by Katie which she entitled, "Worms eating a rocking horse."


Disturbing? Just a little bit. :)

My recommendation for cut-out cookies with small children is a 1:1 adult to child ratio. I did cookies with the kids by myself back in the fall, and lets just say this experience was much more enjoyable. A little less mean mommy, and a bunch more smiles.



We had so much fun together. It was one of those times where you know that the picture in your head can be very different from the reality that occurs, but on this day, the picture and reality were pretty close. The fact that I love artsy stuff was a bonus. As I stood at the counter squeezing green icing out of my make-shift ziploc piping bag, I turned to Adam and told him, "I could do this all day long!" There is a part of my brain that delights in the occasional art outlet.

They weren't glorious works of art, but in my book they were cookie success!


#2: Marshmallow Fight

I think I may have read in a magazine that one family's Chritmas tradition was a marshmallow fight, and I immediately thought now there is a tradition I could enjoy! It was worth every penny of the $1.78 it cost for two bags of marshmallows to delight in the wild rumpus of marshmallow blitzing, tossing, and zinging that filled the house.

And when you don't let your husband know what you have planned, but let your son help you devise how to spring the surprise on Daddy, the fun factor goes up exponentially. I wish someone could have been there to tally how many times I hit Adam in the head that night, because my aim was unusually dead on that evening.

Joey smiled so big during the whole marshmallow frenzy, I think he may have strained some cheek muscles. Katie would gather up a bunch in her arms and sling them all at once in a barrage of marshmallows that didn't hit anybody. Lizzie just did her best to stay calm and figure out why we had all gone crazy. The animals nibbled on marshmallows strew about the house. And I didn't take one picture, because it was one of those times that couldn't be weighted down with photographic desires.

Pure, family fun, and I loved every minute of it.

And what do you do after a marshmallow fight? You find a few marshmallows that don't look too dusty or chewed on and you plop them into mugs of hot cocoa while you watch some Christmas cinema and eat a cookie or two.



And that, my friends, was a really great Christmas Eve.

I love my family. I am so thankful for every one of these splendid people God has given me.
I hope your days with family were filled with laughter and love as well.