Saturday, July 26, 2014

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Birthday Baby Girl

A mother of mostly-grown kids told me the other day that the more babies you have, the more you wish they would stay babies a little longer.  I am finding that to be true.  I have enjoyed Eleanor's babyhood more than any of the others.  She's just  such a fun and sweet little thing, and something in me has finally come around to realizing what a short time babyhood is and I'm trying to learn to savor it a little.

Eleanor turned one today!  She's still a baby, but the time for that is getting shorter.  

I love how mystified one-year-old babies are for that first birthday.  They go along every day, following the usual routine and then BAM--  cake, candle, and "Mom's really letting me dig my hand's into this?"

It's hilarious.

Now, if you're my Mother or my Grandmother, you're probably noticing something right now.

Call me a narcissist, but I couldn't help myself.  Yes, that's me in the photo above.  Me, on my first birthday, in a little purple and white dress, with a kitty cake.

And I have that dress!  And I can make a kitty cake!  And I have this little girl.  So I did it.  I resisted the urge to make everything not-fun by trying to replicate the old photo exactly, but I just had to catch the similarities.  I only get one chance.

She's very much her sunny little self.  But she's wearing my oooooold dress.

I got her own high-fashion duds back on her after the cake, though.  She had that old dress pretty well covered with frosting.

Her Grandma made her a couple of cute little sunhats, and she looks adorable in them.  She wasn't too excited about having something on her head at first, but when sufficiently distracted, I found that she forgot about it and wore one for most of the rest of the day.  Call me shallow, but dressing her up cute is one very fun perk of having a girl.  (For the record, I like to dress my boys up cute, too...)

It was a fun day! And now my baby is a one-year-old.  Siiiiigh.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother Flowers

I was sitting on my front porch during naptime today and I noticed my purple creeping phlox all in full bloom. It is one of the few plants that surprises me by thriving in the hard clay soil here.  That soil frustrates my attempts to grow so many things.  

Nathan gave me this plant just a few days after Jonah was born-- on my first Mother's Day as a mother.  It was just a small plant then.  I dug it up and moved it a year later when we moved to this house and now it has spread out quite a ways over the rocks bordering the flower bed, softening the hard edges.

It has grown large and beautiful.

There are weeds intermingling among the flowers.  Some are very large and some are small.  They're all tangled up with the stems and roots.  Their tops break up the lovely surface of the phlox blossoms.

My state of motherhood has certainly grown since Jonah was born-- more babies, more joys, more struggles.  It's beautiful, but there are weeds.  Those weeds are mixed right in with the flowers.  I can try to pull the weeds, but they are very firmly rooted in that hard, dry clay of my heart.  Most of the weeds just break off at the ground and I can't quite get the root.  It really seems too hard for me to get the root with the weed and it takes an awful lot more work.  Even then, it might come back.

I can fluff the flowers around a little to try to hid the bare spot where the weed was, and where its root still lurks.  It looks a little better.  For now.

I take comfort in knowing that my motherhood flowers in the garden of the Master Gardener.  He causes it to flourish, even in hard, dry clay, and He will continue to work at those stubborn weeds that I am too weak to pull.

Just as the phlox cannot purge the weeds that grow with it, so I cannot free myself from the selfish sins that take root in my heart and make my motherhood imperfect and sometimes ugly.  Through God's constant care the weeds will not take over and the clay will not prevail.  By His saving grace my mothering will grow and thrive and be a blessing to my family.

Sunday, April 6, 2014


It's been a long winter, and I've tried to keep a steady stream of projects going to help it pass.  At least I can feel like I've accomplished something while we've been cooped up, and when we are outside all the time, I can fully focus on outside things without being quite so pulled to the inside projects that pile up.

Last week I was bit by a little sewing bug.  I love to sew if I can do it without interruption (nap time is golden) and when I'm fairly unrestricted in my creative flow.  I like to just create things and wing it and make it up as I go. 

I don't do so well with patterns, is what I'm saying.  

Also, I have this little girl, and one great things about having a little girl is making her pretty things!  I intend to do lots and lots of this.

I have lots of cute hand-me-down clothes for her, but surprisingly few skirts and dresses, at least in the size she's wearing right now.  I have all sorts of scrap fabric around and it doesn't take much for a little baby skirt, so I made a few for my little Eleanor.

I really love the trim on this one-- it's just grosgrain ribbon that I folded and pleated as I sewed.  I was really patting myself on the back about it until I got done and found that it makes the hem very stiff.  It's kind of like a hoop skirt... or a lampshade.  But it's still cute.

And when I asked her to model the little green and yellow skirt, she protested.  I guess she wasn't getting paid enough for this gig.

So those were quick and easy and fun and I still want to make a blue one (she looks adorable in blue with her bright blue eyes), but I don't seem to have so much blue fabric around.  I'll pick up a couple of fat quarters in some pretty blues to make a blue skirt.

 It's getting warm enough for skirts now (and it's about time, lemmetellya) and she should be able to wear these all summer.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Of Boo-boos

Pain hurts.  This is an obvious fact of life, but sometimes we have to go back to the basics.  When you're little and you're growing and you're just learning about life, this is a basic lesson that is often repeated.  I'm all grown up and I still have a little trouble with it.

My little guys have lots of owies, every day.  I kiss owies from dawn till dusk.  Usually a kiss is sufficient, sometimes some Arnica for a bad one, or a little homemade herbal salve for scratches.  Andrew loudly demands attention for the smallest bump --we call him the "squeaky wheel"-- but his owies magically disappear with a touch from mommy.  He runs off to play again, no worse for the wear.  Evan --our "highly sensitive child"-- has a little more trouble getting past things.  He seems to be genuinely hurt by every little thing.  Even toothpaste makes him cry because the mint is "hot", not matter how mild it is.  He's also a little clumsy, so he seems to get a lot of hard bumps.  When he comes to me crying, I comfort him but he says "It still hurts.  It won't stop hurting!  I want it to stop!"  I always explain that it will go away in a minute, but that is small comfort.

Sometimes I get so exasperated.  It's just a bump, Evan.  It'll go away in a minute.  Please stop wailing!  Recently, though, I had a sudden thought:  I sound exactly like this.  All the time.  In my pleading with God over every trial and pain, this is how I sound.  And worse, probably.  I go on about how hard it is, that I'm too weak.  I sound like Evan when he cries that "It's too hard! I'm too small!  I can't do this!" when I give him some small task that he doesn't want to do.  I'm a lot like Evan, see.  I can relate to him. I've always been over-sensitive.   I don't deal with pain well.  Physical, emotional, mental-- it hurts. A lot.  And I want it to go away.  And I avoid it at all costs.  I often wish this weren't true of me.  I wish I had a tougher skin.  I wish I couldn't feel things so much.  But it's life, right? Pain hurts.

Some people say, "Oh, but God will get you through it."  I respond, "I have no doubt of that.  The only question is how much will it hurt?"  I'm thankful that I have a loving Heavenly Father to take my hurts to.  Even though He often deems that I just have to go through it anyway.  I don't even promise not to whine.  It's a process.  I'm learning, just like my little ones, and sometimes I'm amazed to see the parallels.

I think that my "healing" tendencies --my fascination with health and the human body and remedies and medicines-- is partly rooted in this.  I love to learn about the workings of our amazing bodies.  I can read about it all day long and not get tired of it.  I'm always gathering information and putting it together and learning more and finding remedies for everything.  Perhaps this is the upside of my pain-avoidance?  Maybe I can learn to use it for the good of other around me.  For right now I am always learning.

A month ago we were in Oregon visiting our family there.  It was a great trip and I really cherished all the family time.  But halfway through the three-week stay, I got a nasty case of the flu.  It was the worst one I've had in years (possibly ever?).  It just went on and on and nothing seemed to help.  You can bet I did a lot of whining and complaining.  It doesn't help that when I'm sick, I don't sleep, and five nights without sleep makes me pretty crabby and fragile.  And I was so annoyed to be unable to join in all the fun.  The Superbowl Party?  I was in bed with a high fever and couldn't even enjoy all the amazing food we had been planning.  I was glad to have some sense of taste back by my birthday, so I could eat the yummy supper my Mom made, but I was still pretty miserable.  Then it turned into a bad sinus infection that had me living on ibuprophen for two weeks.  By then I was pretty sick of being sick.

But desperation is the mother of invention, right?  (That is how the saying goes, I think?)  Through all this sickness (other people in the house had colds at the same time) we needed some vitamin C!  We'd been using those Emergen-C drinks, but those are expensive and seem to be used up quickly.  Mom had some ascorbic acid, but that is not really vitamin C.  Our bodies can't use that alone.  So I got to thinking...  I came up with a vitamin C drink that is similar to Emergen-C (it doesn't contain the B vitamins that are in Emergen-C, though I have some doubts about whether the form of those Bs is even very good).  The idea of this drink is to combine the ascorbic acid with minerals and bioflavinoids to make it into a usable form of vitamin C (mostly calcium ascorbate) for the body.

So here's the recipe:

  • 1 part ascorbic acid powder
  • 1 part organic lemon or orange peel powder
  • 1/2 part dolomite powder (the fine kind like Kal brand)
  • 1/8 part baking soda (more/less to adjust the amount of fizz)
  • stevia powder to taste (optional)
These ingredients are all pretty easy to find at a health food store or on the internet.  Mix the powders together and store in a tightly closed jar, keep dry.  To make a drink, mix 1/2 teaspoon of the mixture into water or juice.  Sweeten to taste with stevia, honey, maple syrup, etc.  1/2 teaspoon of the mixture should contain approximately 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C.

And here is one more homemade remedy I recently made:

Ice packs for my little guys' bumps and owies!  They were always taking my big gel ice packs, which I would later find melting somewhere and not available when I needed one.  Not to mention the inevitable probability that I would soon find a mess of gel in the couch or my slipper or something.

I mixed 1 part rubbing alcohol with 2 parts water in a little zipper baggie.  I double bagged it and folded the top and taped it down.  Then I sewed up little pouches with some thrift-store flannel that a friend gave me.  It occurred to me that I could have used some cute trendy fabric and it would be all fashionable, but hey, I used what I had on hand.  And the boys like the colors.  We keep them in the freezer and the mixture freezes slushy, not solid.  The flannel is double-layered so they're comfortable to use right out of the freezer.  We like them much better than those little "Boo Boo Buddies" that you can buy in the store.  Those things are always small and hard and easily lost and broken.

Evan and Andrew happily agreed to pose with some pretend owies to demonstrate just how handy these little ice packs are.


All better!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Faux Gingerbread Houses

The thoughtful comments from my lovely loyal readers have convinced me to keep this little blog going such as it is and as much as I can.  I don't promise regular posting, but, as one reader said, it's here when I feel the urge to write.  And I like writing, when I can get to it.

We had a snow day today (and might have several after this by the looks of things).  It's quite a blizzard out there, so we're hunkered down waiting it out.  And tomorrow is Epiphany, so Christmas is coming to an end now.  I had all sorts of plans to do fun Christmas things (or, uh, I had plans to make plans... or something) with the kids for the 12 days of Christmas, but we've been sick and the weather has been bad, so regrettably, nothing has really happened.  But today the kids and I were snowed in alone (Nathan was fixing a horrible broken pipe mess at church) and we're feeling better (coughing and sniffling, but no longer miserable) so we  had some fun.

I even took all four of them outside to play in the snow.  Usually I kick them out the door and enjoy the quiet, but it was suggested to me by someone on facebook that perhaps my children don't stay out long to play because I'm not with them (duh), so I caved.  I got myself and my little ones bundled and we went out.  Even Eleanor go a snow suit, and she was fascinated to sit in the snow, until she tipped over.  Then she had to be held.  I helped the boys figure out how to sled on garbage bags (because, um, we don't have any sleds) and we started to dig a snowcave, and then the baby and two-year-old were done, so we trooped back in and made blueberry pancakes for lunch.

And no, I didn't take pictures, because I can barely manage the baby and two-year-old contingent in the snow.  The camera seems to be a bit too much.  Once again, lots of snow pictures of Jonah when he was little.... none of these guys.  Ah, well.

Jonah has been begging to make gingerbread houses for a month.  I have made gingerbread houses as a kid, and all I remember is how much I always regret starting the project once I'm half-way through it.  They never seem to turn out like they look in my head, and they have a way of falling down and getting lopsided andandand...

But I had a bit of inspiration the other day.  I realized that I had some chocolate graham crackers left from our summer s'more making and that they would make lovely houses, without all the work of making gingerbread house parts.

We also have piles of candy that came from the candy bags that are given out at church for Christmas Eve.  While it wasn't quite the usual candy that would be used for house decoration.... who cares?  The boys didn't know the difference and were quite creative with what we had on hand.

They had a great time, and it was pretty low-stress for me. Win-win!

Of course this was a nap-time project because I wouldn't dream of making gingerbread houses with Andrew at this point.  When he woke up from his nap, he sat in his new big-boy-bed (that we recently got out for him for the very purpose that he can get himself out of bed when he is done sleeping) and yelled for someone to come get him.  After a while I went up and asked him why he didn't come down by himself.

"I thtuck."  he said.


So that was our day.

And would someone please tell me how this baby is big enough to be standing up and playing with toys at a bench already?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


I just love looking over the history on this blog.  It's just about six years now that I've been posting snippets of our life here.  Reading back through it is just so fun!  It's all the scrapbooks and photo albums of our family that I don't actually make.

(I really wish there were some way to easily transmute this all into a print book that I can keep for my children to see later.  That would sure be a special book.)

The question now is:  can I keep going?

I seem to have lost my momentum... I can use the "busy" excuse, and it's certainly true, but I have time for what I make time for, right?

One post last month, two each of the months before...  It's a new low, really.  I haven't posted a single thing about Christmas.  Compared to almost 300 posts in the first year, 38 over the last is a little pathetic.  Does it matter?  I really don't know.  It's like the saying that the older kids are photographed more than the younger.  That certainly seems to be true.  It's like the complete baby book that I have for Jonah, the partial one for Evan, and the, um, NO baby books for Andrew and Eleanor.  I know they will love to have them, if I can ever get to them, and just what are my priorities, again?

So I'm trying to decide whether to keep this blog going, or just let it go.  Do I still love it?  Is it worth it?  Am I over it?  I really loved posting here for the first few years --it's been such a great creative outlet-- but I feel like it's turning into a chore.  But I do so love having this little family history like this.  But do I still want it to be public?  But if it isn't, will I even bother?  In general, dealing with photos and keeping records are grueling chores for me anyway, and that is all this blog has turned into.  I used to really love the funny and creative things I used to write here.  It's turned into just an occasional journaling of our life and times.  I feel like my "funny" and "creative" has been broken by "crazy" and "depleted".  Maybe it's not gone, maybe this is just not the time.   I hate to be a quitter, though.  Is "something" better than "nothing"?

In any case, I'm not sure than anyone even reads this anymore, considering the woeful lack of content.  If it's just family looking at this, isn't that why I have Facebook?

Anyway, these are the questions I've been pondering while I've been not posting anything.  Along with, you know, making and enjoying my little family Christmas, feeding growing little bodies and minds, and planning trips all over the country in the very near future.  Nathan just bought plane tickets to go to his Grandpa's funeral next week, and after he gets home we'll be preparing to leave for our Annual Epic Journey Across the Country.  These kiddos need to have a visit with their long-distance relations, but it means that the next six weeks are going to be freakishly crazy.

In the meantime, maybe I'll post some of it here, or maybe...