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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Catching Up

While technically, summer will linger on a bit longer (according to the calendar), ours will be finding it's end shortly.  This last week, filled with a birthday party, VBS, play dates, and more gave us a dizzying whirl of activity, reminding me of the end of a fireworks show, when everything is exploding in every direction . . .
Yes, that describes last week quite nicely.
Particularly the dirty dish and laundry piles. ;o)
The highlights--
Last Saturday afternoon we entertained a pool full of kids in celebration of Isabella's birthday.
Sunday, I made a quick before-church run for some donuts as a birthday breakfast treat (Isabella had requested monkey bread, but after the aforementioned party I just didn't have a yeast recipe in me . . .).
I'm not really a store-bought donut kind of person.  After being spoiled by mom's homemade ones growing up I just find the ones you buy not-so-tasty.  I did however decide to get myself a sugared cake donut.  You can only imagine my surprise when I bit in to find it had been rolled in SALT!
I'm not sure if somebody thought they were being funny or if the donut maker was a recent hire.
It wasn't tasty. And I'm STILL really not a fan of store-bought donuts. ;o)
Monday kicked off vacation Bible school, where I got myself and five children to church for 8:30 five mornings in a row.  I worked in the 2-3 year old room this year.  And I must say, I really enjoyed myself.  I used to work with toddlers in daycare settings, and even though I've been home with some form of toddler in my home for awhile now, it was just different organizing a whole class of them.
We did our best to recuperate during the afternoons, a load of laundry here, a filled dishwasher there.
Jackson actually took a nap twice last week.
Isabella had fun crafting all sorts of scenes for her dolls (like this one, where they are at the library) and then asking to borrow my camera to document. I was rather startled to discover 87 pictures on my camera with dolls in various outfits and poses.
~
Emmett has been on a stuffed animal kick, where animals must be tucked in with him at night, or join us for meals.
~
I successfully mastered a "waterfall" French braid, and have tried Marissa's patience on several occasions attempting to get it "just right."
~
Jackson really thrived during the whole week at VBS, listening hard and coming home with all sorts of things to tell me.  He was really hoping to win the coloring contest.  He made a new friend. He warmed my heart by pointing out, "That's my mommy!" He informed me he would have seven children when he was a daddy and he would tell them all about Jesus and make sure they didn't say bad words.  And on Saturday, Marissa walked him through his wordless necklace and he decided he wanted to ask Jesus into his heart.  Oh, I know, he's five, and time will tell, but it has thrilled my heart to see some growth and maturity in him this week . . . and might I add *just* in time for him to start kindergarten. ;o)
~

Owen officially conquered his fear of the church nursery and now will walk in on his own without crying.  He also figured out how to keep his balance in a life jacket and can be found paddling all over the pool (still under close supervision of course-I don't just throw him out there!). ;o)
~
It was a busy week, but we all had a bunch of fun.
As far as the coming week is concerned, Josh and I will be tackling moving preparation.  We found a rental and it is officially vacant as of tomorrow.  Josh will move out there next Monday, and we will follow over Labor Day weekend.  And we're starting school in a week.  As sad as I will be to see August come to an end and our time in Lincoln over, I'm also ready to be settled and the focus shifting just to the schooling.  Trying to plan for both is sheer craziness. ;o) 


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Happy Eighth Isabella Faith!!!

These years are starting to fly together much too quickly!
How can it be that I have a fresh new eight year old on my hands?
Because I think it was just last year that you were this--
Where have those plump arms and cheeks of my little four year old gone??
*sigh*
Didn't you know you were supposed to always be the baby girl?!
This year I have seen your interests bloom, and I have found in you a kindred spirit,
one who loves to craft and sew and create as much as me. 
I love coming upon you working on some little project all by yourself,
cutting apart this old discarded shirt
sewing it to this unused skirt in the dress-up container,
and suddenly, you've created a new dress!'
You enjoy taking pictures too, and it is always fun to send you off with my camera and see what you come back with. Usually I find lots of pictures of flowers. And sometimes one or two of me. ;o)
You're still the shy one. My quiet girl. A natural little mommy.
But tough and resilient.
I love the sparkle in your eyes.
And every single one of those freckles.
I  love you bunches sweet girl.
It is a joy having the privilege to raise you.
Keep growing and shining, but most of all,
may Jesus be your all in all.

Happy birthday Bella-boo!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Hutch Whispering

Subtitled--"Making a Hutch what it was BEGGING to be"
So here's the hutch, found on craigslist for $75--it was going to look just perfect on the wall of what was going to be my dining room in Holdrege--but we won't focus on that. ;o)
It's in good condition, just not the look I was going for.
Within minutes of getting it in the house I had Josh trying to remove the "fences."
In the end, a saw was the best way to go.  The kids were appalled at the massacre of perfectly good little fences.  Josh assured them that Mommy had a vision.
And then with sheer brute strength he popped out all those little pegs, leaving me with 20 tidy little holes:
Holes "we" filled with wood filler. 
I was working along-side him until he took a peek at my handiwork.  He suggested I just let him finish it up . . .
While waiting for all those little holes to dry I gave her a good wipe-down with liquid sander. Then I got started painting the bottom part of the hutch.
With my helper Owen.
In my kitchen (also known as my "furniture painting studio").
Yes, that IS a dirty diaper laying over in the corner.
And yes, I do on occasion line my paint trays with tin foil, but usually only when I'm out of  "press and seal"--which was the case on this occasion.
The next day I sanded the patched holes.  I did a mediocre job.  Thankfully, black paint is fairly forgiving.  Looking at it straight on you can't tell the holes are there. 
It took two solid coats of Behr "paint and primer in one" in "black suede." And then a light third coat for a few little touch-ups.  I ordered new hardware for it from The Knob Shop--an ebay store with fabulous prices and fast shipping.  I love "cup handles" which can run you $5-$6 at a home improvement store.  The ones I ordered were $1.55.  I picked "antique weathered nickel."  Love them!
We (*ahem* Josh) did have to enlarge the holes for the handles with a drill bit because it was too tight a fit.  And also fill holes and redrill on the middle drawers because I wrongly assumed they were all the same distance apart. That will teach me to measure in only one spot!  Oops.  Minor speed bumps. ;o)
Here's the finished project:
I'm in love. 
 Forget the ironstone collecting.  I might just collect black hutches! ;o)
And one more time, just because I'm so thrilled with it (and side-by-side comparisons are so fun!):

 Here's to hoping the next home has *just* the spot for it!! 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Raising a Bookie

I've been collecting pictures of Marissa reading . . . I'm not sure why, mainly because they amuse me.
Here she is with a reading companion--
Here she is fitting nicely in a door frame--
Here she is just looking cute--
Here she has found the perfect reading spot, comfy chair and a bright window--
And here she is in the party aisle of Super Target--
I wish I had a picture of her five minutes later when she realized reading and walking through a store a good combination do not make.  She crawled onto the bottom rack of the cart, feet sticking out one end, nose buried in a book at the other.  It must be love. ;o)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Steady On

When we began the whole home-seeking process we really didn't know what to expect.  We really didn't know if--after several years of living on (what we'll refer to as) a very modest income--we would be good candidates for home-buying.  You can only imagine our excitement and delight when we had our pre-approval letter in hand, followed by the thrill of the accepted offer.  And so, you can also imagine what a heart-wrenching blow it was when our lender informed us last week, "Just kidding." Well, maybe those weren't his exact words.  He apologized profusely, he had made a mistake.  Come spring, everything should look great  he says, you can try again then . . .

I'm going to admit to feeling my insides crumple up a bit at that news.  I'm going to admit tears. And it's not just about the house I had dared to love and dream about.  Change you see, is not something that comes all that naturally to me.  I'm not really adventurous.  I'm safe.  Reliable.  Boring.  Josh actually gave me the final say when it came to accepting this new job.  Feigning bravery, I told him yes.  As I have watched our little plans unfold I have been amazed at how God worked them out in a way only He could, it was truly thrilling. But to lose the place we would be living has felt like coming upon a huge "dead end."  I find myself standing there, wondering whatever possessed me to say yes to begin with.  This is not how *I* like to do things.  This is messy, unpredictable, and so very fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants.
 
I have walked through these last few days, my stomach at times literally churning, reminding me of the days I walked through five years ago when brain surgery was looming on the horizon.  That worrying habit I thought I had kicked, rearing up with such a vengeance I can hardly stand to think about the situation.  In that dull roar, the swirl of thought and emotion, bits of scripture pierce through--
Matthew 6:25-34
For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!  Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. "So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
(if God cares about the needs of birds He know the needs of my family)

John 14:2
In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.
(even if I never get the chance to have "my own place" on this earth there is a promise of a forever mansion some day)

2 Corinthians 12:9
And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
(God gives grace abundant to meet me where I'm at)

Philippians 1:6
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
and
Romans 8:28
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to hose who are called according to His purpose.
(I don't always understand how God is working and sometimes I really don't like it, but I know He is working things out in the best way possible for me--even when it means I don't get what I want.)

And I stay camped out in Psalm 37, meditating on the words that call me to action (or inaction)--
Trust.  Do good. Dwell.  Cultivate. Delight. Commit.  Trust.  Rest.  Wait. Do not fret. Cease anger. Forsake wrath. Do not fret.  I'm loving that extra emphasis on not fretting.  Who, me??

I preach to myself truth and grace, whispering bits and pieces over and again when the panic surges up.  I remind myself of my word . . . patience.  I contemplate writing it out on paper just to have the chance to satisfactorily crumple it (and stomp on it a few times for good measure . . .).  But I refrain.  I know God is working here.  I know He is refining me.  I acknowledge that fires that refine can sometimes be a bit hotter than we care them to be.  I am thankful it's "just a house" and not some dear loved one that has been snatched away.  And I realize my vision is limited--perhaps that house was just all wrong, perhaps it is set to explode in November, perhaps Josh will take a new job next year and it would be better to be a renter, perhaps it was majorly inhabited by termites and various other wildlife . . . God knows all the details.

It's just one of those times when I'm reminded of why I started this blog in the first place.  Life doesn't always go as we expect it, but regardless, we keep on, steadfast, knowing He knows what He is doing.  And that is enough.

So yesterday, after getting the complete and official "no-go" I had my half hour of crying (eh, maybe 45 minutes) in which I informed Josh I was not going anywhere, he could just go on without me.  And then I rallied, reminding myself of a most recent Sunday school lesson  about Joshua and being "strong and courageous for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go . . ." As far as "plans" (trust me, I use that term loosely) to combat the looming homelessness, there is a rental possibility in Arapahoe that we are investigating.  It has three rooms and is described as "spacious."  That's all I know, but beggars really can't be choosers.  And I kind of laugh to myself because all along I've hoped to avoid having to move all the way to Arapahoe.  Kind of like Jonah trying to avoid Nineveh . . . We all know how well that worked for Jonah.  If that ends up being where we land I guess that really is where God wants us--what a creative way of pointing us that direction! I guess I should be thankful no large aquatic creatures have been needed . . . yet.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Happy Trails for the Weekend

1. Mint Ice Cream Torte--a tasty and *cool* dessert so you won't heat up the kitchen with baking
2.  Loved this article a few friends shared on face.book . . . I'm one of those people who hears--
"You've got your hands full!"
"You're a busy Mom!"
"Hi Kate!" (okay, just once, but it really rubbed me the wrong way . . .)
--on a regular basis.  I've never come up with a satisfactory answer, because well yes, my hands ARE usually full and life IS busy.  But truth is, I'd have five more in a heartbeat because I love them and the job of  caring for them to pieces.  Go and be encouraged.
3. I saw this skirt and thought, "How lovely!" and then I discovered there is a free tutorial for it!
So, I made one yesterday--and I LOVE it!  It is an easy pattern, but took a bit of time because you have to sew four separate channels for elastic and then thread four strands of elastic through.  That was tedious.  My hand looked rather claw-like when I was through.  It was worth it though--love the shirred look of the waistband.
It is super comfy for summertime.  PERFECT for walking along a sandy beach at sunset, wind ruffling through my hair . . . (were such a time ever to present itself). ;o)
4. My cousin opened up an etsy shop--she has some great bags available, so check it out!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Daybook for July11

For Today, July 11, 2011

Outside my window... the sun is shining and the sky already looks "hot"--if yesterday was any indication, I'm thinking we will have a very miserable warm day today.

I am thinking... about list-making and having a very productive day

I am thankful for... a God who makes "straight paths"

From the learning room... kind of quiet, but books have been arriving and I'm finalizing plans for our school year--tentative start day, August 1st---eeeeek!

From the kitchen... fresh fruit, sandwiches (thanks to a quick jaunt to the grocery store before 7:00 a.m.) I am going to admit being off my menu planning routine.  In some ways it's been a good break, and I've tried some new recipes, but I need to get back in a rhythm . . . I've wasted far too much time making quick trips to grocery stores for little items I'm needing.

I am creating... a hutch!! Well, I'm painting one, soon my "cast-off" dining room set will be complete. 

I am going... to catch up on laundry . . . that sounds like a stellar plan

I am reading... Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Give them Grace, and Exodus

I am hoping... and praying about "house stuff" that needs to be finalized

I am hearing... children's voices

Around the house... ummmm, no comment ;o)

One of my favorite things... my littlest guy's "Hi Mama!" and his "Den-tle." (gentle) said while taking his little fist and digging into my cheek not-so-gently.

A few plans for the rest of the week... Marissa gets to spend the week at the library doing a "writing workshop" and Josh has a week-long class (last one this summer, hooray!) other than that I think we will be doing a lot of swimming or hiding out in air conditioning.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing...
 this one might be one of my favorites that I took this weekend--if you look closely you can see my girls' heads way off in the distance ;o)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

My "Wheat" Pictures

I was able to take off with the kids this morning to get my much-desired "wheat pictures."  I'm going to admit disappointment whenever I attempt something like this.  I wish I had gotten more pictures of all five of them and tried them out further in the field.  But unfortunately trying to coordinate the smiles and patience of five children--I have discovered--is virtually an impossibility.  Not to mention my uncle and cousins were literally arriving with the equipment to start the harvest . . . I really couldn't linger forever. ;o)  Emmett was a bit of a stinker, but he was all smiles when posing with his beloved toad--had to include those pics too.  Overall, we had a fun morning at my parents and I did score a few favorite pics out of the deal. (edited to add--I used Picasa to put together a quick movie but I seem to have issues with blurriness, especially if you exit to full screen . . . I'm not really sure why that is, but really, my pics are not THAT blurry!!) ;o)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Summer Reads

Currently in my pile . . .
I'm just a chapter into it, but I think it will be a good one
~

I actually began this a few years ago, but never got around to finishing it--hoping to amend that this time around.
~

I think this one will be similar to "Last Child . . ." --again stressing the importance of free play in a child's development.
~
I have this and a few other L.M. Montgomery books I'm hoping to make it through.  I've purchased some used copies super cheap through Better World Books (the library doesn't offer many other titles, mainly just "Anne" and "Emily").  Marissa and I have decided to have a L.M. Montgomery summer.  She is currently reading Emily of New Moon.  She recently finished Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and The Hobbit.  She's got me beat again . . . I'm also trying to make my way through Rebecca . . . It's been such a long time since I read it.  I've found it is so much fun to revisit books that were favorites when you were a child--you notice such different things as an adult!  Anyway, I'm certain my pile is a bit too ambitious.  It might be a miracle if I finish just one! ;o)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Very Busy Weekend

(Subtitled--"So many pictures I should have made a slide show.")
We kicked off the weekend on Friday, with a picnic and a paddle-boat ride at Mahoney.
Summed up--It was hot.
I don't really recall Saturday, but I think it involved barbecued pork and swimming. Oh, and the fireworks show!
On Sunday I attempted to get a patriotic picture of my crazies.
Group shot--not so hot.
But I did get a nice picture of Emmett that didn't involve his tongue hanging out.
And one of my girls, which I absolutely love.
Have I ever mentioned that fact I adore all the varying shades of blue eyes all my kids possess??
I do.
I would go swimming in them if I could. ;o)
Sunday evening I majorly messed up the kitchen with cheese cake prep.
Owen helped.
Monday we enjoyed a noon meal at my parents' home in celebration of my dad's birthday.  Fifty-six I believe??
Unfortunately, (although that should read "devastatingly" accordingly to Bella) she woke up with a tummy bug on the 4th of July, causing her to miss the party . . . that matching bandanna tunic picture I had planned with her cousins . . . playing at Granny and Papa Roy's house . . . and the water games and trampoline jumping she was supposed to do at a friend's house later.
She emphatically pronounced it the "worst 4th of July ever."
She did rally by evening time enough to let me snap a picture of her, (I wish I looked that nice after throwing up in the vicinity of 10 times . . .) and do some sparklers, catch some lightening bugs, and blow up a few other things in Grandpa and Grandma's front yard.
Overall, a good weekend.
One we'll probably spend the rest of the week recovering from. ;o)
And by recovering I mean the rescue-the-home-from-dirty-laundry-take-over kind.
I'm hoping NOT the flu bug variety.  Let's all hope together!! ;o)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The *~*~HOUSE~*~*

The day I left for camp I saw this house had been posted on the realty website.
And I couldn't believe my eyes.  After several months of checking out houses, this one was by far my favorite of all that had come along.
And get this . . . it was the cheapest. ;o)
I've always had a "thing" for old houses, I think it dates back to when I was was the ripe old age of six and my dad had purchased a farm with an old farmhouse on it.  It had six rooms and I was fascinated by it.  I still love it and would move there if I could (in spite of the fact my dad thinks it could use a match . . .). ;o) But I digress.
As I clicked through pictures on the website, I think my heart picked up a beat.  Each picture had something I loved . . .
French Doors!
Beamed Ceilings!
Thick Woodwork!
Open Stairway!
Remodeled Kitchen!
Remodeled Bathrooms!
First Floor Laundry!
Beadboard!
And Porches!!
An enclosed front porch, a screened in back porch, my own personal sun room off of the master bedroom!!!
A Clothesline!
Not to mention spacious bedrooms, a room perfect for a guest room, another small room just off the dining room perfect for a school room.
It was *my* house.
And so I waited out June to see what we could work out.
Thursday our offer was accepted.
I keep pinching myself.
I can envision a whole lot of living going on there and it makes me crazy excited.
But now for the imperfect part . . . we can't close until September 23rd.  Already we are working out a plan for that involving me and the kids living here until that time and Josh living out in Arapahoe during the weekdays and coming home on weekends.  It's not a great scenario, but it is doable.  In the end it will probably be good that Josh has no other distractions and can focus totally on his new job and the planning involved. In a way it won't be all that different to when he was in school and leaving early in the morning and returning late at night . . . we didn't see a whole lot of him then either.  The kids and I will start back to school the first of August getting a good six or seven weeks under our belts before moving and taking off a few weeks to set up house.  It'll all work out one way or another.  And gives me more practice on my word of the year . . . patience.
Was that a good word or what?? ;o)

Friday, July 1, 2011

July!!?!

The year is half over.  That is just crazy.  The 4th is obviously right around the corner and I thought I would share a few of our little weekend plans--

1.  We'll be making those awesome fireworks cookies that were featured on the cover of the Martha Stewart Living magazine (although cutting a few corners with some sparkly red and blue frosting that comes in a tube).

2.  I'm going to quick whip up these cute little bandanna tunic shirts for my girls and nieces.  Talk about cheap!  Bandannas (two per shirt) are regularly $0.99 at Hobby Lobby and the grosgrain ribbon is half off through Saturday.  I did decide to finish off the armholes with binding tape (which I still need to go after).  They should be a fun way to show off some patriotic flair. ;o)  Too bad they don't make grown-up sized bandannas . . .

3.  Revisiting our patriotic floats from last year.

4.  And maybe a cheesecake if I'm feeling spry.

5.  Hoping to photograph my kids in the ripened wheat fields.  I meant to do this last year, but had the idea too late.  I need to move on that this weekend.

6.  And most likely doing up some BBQ'd pork.  Josh has been requesting it.  And I must say if you've never put cole slaw on it, you don't know what you're missing (although Josh prefers his with slices of dill pickle).  I think I have perfected my recipe . . . and it's really easy if you've never done it!  You need: A Boston Butt Roast (such a funny name), a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's (I think I used the brown sugar and hickory), and a crockpot.  Stick your roast in the crockpot covered in half the bottle of sauce and cook it for 8 to 10 hours on low.  Remove and shred with a fork. Mix in a bit of your cooking juices and then add as much sauce straight from the bottle until you reach your desired level of sloppiness. ;o)  DELICIOUS!

Have a wonderful weekend!! And stay safe too!