Monday, November 26, 2012

1000 Gifts: #41-50

41. Two children napping at the same time
42. Nursing by the light of the Christmas tree
43. Dancing to "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" with both girls
44. Long holiday weekends
45. Leftover pecan pie
46. A husband who likes to do dishes
47. Morning cartoon & cuddle time with my 2.5 year old
48. Non-fiction books for information and inspiration
49. Fiction books for relaxing and enjoyment
50. Waking up to a light dusting of pure white snow

Click here for more of my gratitude...

Monday, November 12, 2012

Do one thing.

Today was one of those days.

I wasn't looking forward to today. Monday. A long day with both kids, and the hubby won't be home till late. A house with stacked up laundry and dishes and weird smells coming from the trash can.

It WAS one of those days.

Then I told myself, as long as I can accomplish ONE thing, I will be happy with my day.

Yes I have a todo list a mile long, but accomplishing only one thing seemed doable.

So I started a load of laundry.

Then I found myself unloading the dishwasher. And reloading and running it.

Then my 3-month-old got cranky-sleepy, so I swaddled her up and put her down for a nap. And wondered how long it would last...

An hour and a half later I had another load of laundry done, the rest of the dishes finished, and had colored and played Hungry Hungry Hippos with my 2.5-year-old. Then Ellie woke up.

Wow. Did I really accomplish all of that before 10am?

Now both girls are taking afternoon naps, and I've been able to relax, eat lunch, wander aimlessly online, and not feel guilty about it! And if I don't accomplish a single other thing all day, I'm ok with that!

Tomorrow is another day... and honestly, knowing me, will be a day of not accomplishing much -- if anything. That's the way my week rolls. But you know what? It's ok. Yes there are many many other things on my todo list. But housework with two small children is never complete.

Don't feel guilty about the things you haven't accomplished today. Be content with whatever one thing you were able to do. Even if it was just a single load of laundry.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Roots

Set your timer, clear your head, for five minutes of free writing without worrying about getting it right.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

OK, are you ready? Please give us your best five minutes on: Roots...


No one sees the roots of a tree or plant unless the tree or plant is pulled up from the ground. Roots can be big, roots can be small. But they always serve the purpose of finding water and sending nutrients up to the rest of the plant.

In a vegetable garden, roots can be the actual food we eat, such as carrots. Or roots can simply provide the sustenance to the parts of the plant we do eat, such as beans or corn.

Without roots, trees would tip over. Without roots, plants would have to get all their water from the air (or something!). And yet we never see them.

Each of us has roots. We often think of "going back to our roots" meaning childhood, where/when we grew up, our parents/family, etc. But thinking of roots in terms of our lives can also mean the core things that we believe or make us who we are.

Where are the roots in your life go to give you sustenance? What or who do you dive into to get nourishment for your body, for your soul? I know what I want my answer to be. I know I want to say I am rooted in Christ and in His Word. But lately my life hasn't reflected that priority.


Want to see what came to other people's minds when they thought of "roots"? Click here to see all the link-ups!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

1000 Gifts: #31-40

31. Youtube. Seriously. My washing machine was acting funny and now I know how to fix it.
32. Facebook. Seriously. Almost all of my relatives can watch my girls grow!
33. Random 75+ degree days in late October.
34. Getting fed (in more ways than one) at MOPS every other week.
35. The amazing Moppet workers who take care of my kids, even when all Abby wanted to do was sit with me or go home...
36. Safety when a turkey decided to fly in front of my car...

37. Sunglasses, to protect my eyes and help me see when driving on a sunny day.
38. Abby's laughing at Ellie's cooing.
39. Bluebirds who come and sit outside my window, even though it's been months since I put any food out for them.
40. Super-amazingly-awesome friends and family who are willing to take our girls this weekend, so Rocky and I can focus on music and ministry at the high school youth group retreat!

Click here for more of my gratitude...

Monday, October 22, 2012

Beginner's Bible App for iPad

When Rocky finished his master's program last spring, we decided to get an iPad for him as a congratulations-you-survived-2+-years-of-papers-and-stress-while-teaching-and-having-a-kid  gift. It was the week after the iPad 3 came out, so we got a great deal on an iPad 2. :)

We've really enjoyed the iPad. So many free apps are available -- in fact, I don't think we've bought a single one yet. Abby enjoys it too, from a few cartoons in the morning to games perfect for her age.

The Beginners Bible by Zonderkidz was the best selling kids Bible while I worked at Family Christian Stores. When I heard Zondervan was creating a free iPad app based on this Bible, I thought it was a great opportunity to see what Abby thought of it!

The "Read" section includes 6 stories, with a voice reading the pages and highlighting words alongside an interactive picture page. Abby was more interested in playing with the pictures than hearing the story... but I guess that's to be expected from a 2.5 year old! (the app is geared toward ages 2-6)

The "Play" section includes 3 coloring pages, 2 puzzles, and 1 game that correspond to the 6 Bible stories. I have to admit, I found the background "music" pretty annoying. But that's easily fixed with the volume button on the iPad. ;-) I didn't see any settings to "turn off music". Abby is really into puzzles right now, so those were fun. Maybe as she gets a little older she'll do more than just scribble on the coloring pages...

What I didn't realize initially was that the free app only includes 6 of the 94 Bible stories, and 3 coloring pages, 2 puzzles, and 1 game. Additional 6-story packs are $1.99 each.

Overall, I'd say the Beginners Bible app isn't too bad for a free app, and $1.99 seems reasonable for additional story packs (although we're going to keep to our only-getting-free-apps goal). The graphics are great, but the music is slightly annoying. I think this would be a great supplement to the actual Beginners Bible book -- if your child is already familiar with that Bible, seeing and playing with the same pictures and stories would be fun.

I was asked to submit a review of the Beginners Bible app for Handlebar Marketing. I was not required to write a positive review, all opinions are my own. I may receive a copy of The Beginners Bible for my review. 

1000 Gifts: #21-30

21. Chilly fall rides on the pontoon boat
22. Bright sun glaring off the lake
23. Sunglasses
24. Friends who cook extra food "just because" and give you some leftovers for dinner
25. Cars to get you from point A to point B
26. The ability to hear music
27. The ability to see colors
28. The ability to taste sweet and savory flavors
29. The ability to smell said flavors
30. The ability to feel the touch of someone's hand

Click here for more of my gratitude...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

1000 Gifts: #11-20

11. Little noises in the night so I know my 2-month old is still alive :)
12. A few quiet minutes at the end of the day before heading to bed
13. A full-size bed to sleep in, and someone to share it with
14. A soft feather pillow
15. The smell and taste of a fresh cup of coffee (with cream and sugar of course!)
16. Playing hide-and-seek with a 2-year-old

17. Smiling at a baby and having her smile right back
18. A washing machine so I don't have to scrub laundry by hand
19. Medicine to help ease the pain of a sore shoulder
20. Books and the ability to read

Click here for more of my gratitude...

Monday, October 15, 2012

1000 Gifts

"A dare to live fully, right where you are."

I've heard of the book and seen posts about One Thousand Gifts floating around the last few years. Last week at MOPS the speaker talked about living in a spirit of eucharestio -- gratitude and thankfulness -- and referenced the book. I haven't read it yet, but I'm going to start recording the gifts I'm thankful for, and see if  I can get how long it takes me to get to 1000! Want to join me?

1. A husband who has a steady teaching job.
2. A 2-year-old and a 2-month-old who sleep well.
3. The bright, bold colors of the fall.
4. Cats who cuddle with me while I nap.
5. Running water to do laundry and dishes.
6. The ability to nurse Ellie when I had such trouble with Abby.
7. A church where we can use our gifts and talents.
8. Ellie's baptism yesterday.
9. Puzzles for Abby to stretch her mind and motor skills
10. A digital camera to capture childhood.

Click here for more of my gratitude...

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Simple fall porch decorating

I can't believe how BRIGHT the fall colors have been here in Michigan this week! Especially driving down the road wearing my yellow-tinted sunglasses. :) But even when I lifted up my glasses to see the trees with just my own eyes, I was in awe of how beautiful everything looks this year!

I wanted to post the little update I made to my front porch. This is one of the very few times of the year that I actually decorate out there. And this year I did it completely with stuff I had on hand, plus a few pumpkins I bought.

I brought all of my random fall-colored stuff up from the basement:

Including this cute little guy that I got from my secret pal at church a few years ago:

Then I took a basket and started throwing things together... and after about 10 minutes of arranging and rearranging, this is what I came up with:

Then I took the leftover flowers and grasses and put them in another basket along with some little pumpkins:

Abby helped me played with sidewalk chalk while I put the decorations outside.

I felt like something was missing with the basket on the door, so I looked one more time through my fall stuff and came across a yellow ribbon:

It's nothing much, but it makes me smile when I come home. :)  I hope to carve a couple pumpkins for Abby and Ellie a week or two before Halloween. Now it's time to start planning their costumes...

Do you have beautiful fall colors where you live?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Teaching colors and sorting using CandyLand

A few weeks ago I did a little rearranging in the living room. Sorting through Abby's mess of toys in the corner, clearing out most of our games from the bookshelf (and storing them in the garage -- I'm not ready to give them up quite yet! I want to be a game playing family when the girls get older!). I kept a few games on one shelf for Abby, even though she's still a little young to play them for real (Chutes and Ladders, CandyLand, Connect Four, Mancala). But she's managed to find her own ways to play with them.

She pulled out CandyLand and started identifying the colors on the cards. An idea flashed through my mind so I quickly ran downstairs and grabbed a few pieces of construction paper (and one piece of scrapbook paper since there wasn't any purple in the construction paper package...). I spread them on the floor and we started sorting the colored cards and little people onto the pieces of paper.

Abby also happened to be munching on Fruit Loops (I know I know, sugary cereal = bad mom). Did you know there are 6 colors of Fruit Loops, just like there are 6 colors of cards in CandyLand? And those were the 6 pieces of construction paper I had?

Now we store those pieces of construction paper in the CandyLand box. Abby still doesn't get the concept of the actual game... But she does love colors. Yellow is her favorite. :)

It's amazing what simple, teachable things you can find in your own house!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Goodbye summer... (and good riddance! ;-)

Today is the last day of "summer". As I look out my window, it's cloudy and 62 degrees. Rain is on it's way for tonight and the weekend.


I don't like summer. I never have.

I love:
  • blankets (especially heavy ones or super soft ones)
  • hooded sweatshirts
  • crisp air
  • fresh cider
  • soup/chili in the slow cooker
  • college football (go MSU!)
  • harvest/cinnamon/spice smelling candles
  • rich fall colors 

I took the girls to a local farm stand today and got a few pumpkins. Front porch decorating coming soon!

Do you think I'm crazy?
Am I the only one who hates summer and loves fall?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Make a difference for the "one"

Have you heard that little story about the boy throwing starfish into the ocean?

Ten years ago this fall, Rocky and I went to our first concert together (we'd been dating about 8 months). During intermission, someone gave a little blurb about sponsoring a child through Compassion International, and for the rest of the intermission sponsorship packets floated around the gymnasium. The one that came to us had a picture of a 5-year-old girl from Cochabamba, Bolivia. Rocky stared at it and told me "I went on a mission trip to that town when I was in high school. I probably walked down that street..."

It was a total God-thing.

We hung on to that packet for the rest of the concert and prayed for wisdom. And after the concert he filled out the information for us to become Kathya's sponsor.

Three years of dating plus seven years of marriage later, we are still Kathya's sponsors. We admit we haven't been very good about writing letters... but she faithfully has written to us about 4 times a year. She is now 15 years old and has grown into a beautiful young lady:

Compassion is a great organization. They focus on individual child development, and each child has only one sponsor. Because of their sponsor's support, they are able to receive consistent Christian training, educational opportunities, health care and supplemental food, personal attention, guidance, love, and so much more.

Within the next few years Kathya will graduate from the program. I hope to then choose another child to sponsor through Compassion, and involve my own girls in letter-writing and watch them grow together.

Do you sponsor a child through Compassion or another organization? 

You can search Compassion's website for children to sponsor based on country, gender, first name, age range, birthday. How neat would it be to sponsor a child with the same birthday as you or your child?? You can also find children who have been waiting the longest for a sponsor, are orphaned or affected by HIV/AIDS, or are mentally/physically challenged.

Consider making a difference. For one.

Join the Compassion Blogger Network

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Never forget

Last year was the big 10-year anniversary of September 11. Click here to read my story about where I was -- a freshman in college...

I came across the image of the flag above and really liked the simple symbolism it conveys:
  • The stars symbolize the airplanes that were needlessly sacrificed on 9-11-01. The star outside the pentagon represents the plane diverted by the brave passengers, saving hundreds of lives. 
  •  The red background of the flag symbolizes the lives lost and bloodshed of our fellow Americans... past, present and future. 
  •  The pentagon and two rectangles represent three of the most recognized structures ever built on US soil. The Twin Towers may be out of our sight, but never out of our minds. 
  •  The circle around the pentagon represents the unity that occurred after the tragedy. Instead of fear and helplessness, Americans united, to comfort grieving hearts and restore shattered dreams.

It's weird for me to think that all the students at the school I work at were born after 9/11... As time goes on this event will simply become another story passed down from generation to generation, just like events such as Pearl Harbor and the shooting of JFK. Eventually not many people will be around to talk about "where I was that day". Keep sharing your story. Keep telling your children and grandchildren where you were...

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Book Talk Thursday: Then Sings My Soul 3

It's no secret that I love music. And I love the history behind any and every song ever written. Songs had to come from somewhere, some inspiration -- my husband has written a handful, and I know the story behind each of those (his are almost always based on a specific Scripture passage).

Then Sings My Soul: Book 3 by Robert J. Morgan has the subtitle of "The Story of Our Songs: Drawing Strength from the Great Hymns of Our Faith." I have a copy of Book 1 as well. And I must say I love these books. Book 3 includes 50 devotional-style stories about various hymns from AD 100 through 2001. Honestly, most are hymns I am unfamiliar with, but each contains a hymnal-like page with the lyrics and melody so I could learn them if I wanted to!

What really sets Book 3 apart from the other two by Morgan is the "History of Hymnody" in the beginning of the book. He talks about how hymns and styles have changed, including Biblical, Ancient, Medieval, German, and English hymns to Gospel songs and Contemporary Praise. Change is not a bad thing, though music styles within the church are one of the most frequently argued-about issues.

I really enjoyed the very last section of the book called "Hymning in Private and in Public", specifically the chapter called "In Public: Old New Praise - Why We Must Embrace Interwoven Worship." Morgan talks about the importance of blending our music in corporate worship. I read a portion from this chapter during devotions at one of our music team practices, it spoke to me so strongly.

Our church makes a conscious effort to include both older hymns and modern praise songs in every single service. We utilize an organ and piano, as well as guitars and drums. This last chapter is everything I ever want to say to those within our church (and other churches too) who complain about either a) "I don't like those old hymns" or b) "I don't like those new songs". I could type quotes from this chapter till you stop reading because this post is getting too long... But I'll only give you two:

"If worship unites the entire family of God - past, present, and future - isn't it appropriate to intertwine the ancient with the modern? When I sing the Doxology, I'm joining in an exercise of praise known to my grandparents and great-grandparents. When I sing the newest upbeat chorus from a praise-and-worship band, I'm joining voices with my grandkids."

"Let's be Old New worshippers. Support your worship leader. Enjoy the drums. Retain the organ if you can. Learn the new songs, and adapt to them with grace in your heart. And don't let the great hymns of the church fade away."

That chapter alone is enough for me to give this book a 5+ star rating. This book would be a great devotional for a music lover or a church praise team. So go get it. Read it. Especially the last chapter. And pass it on to whoever organizes and plans the music within your church...

I review for BookSneeze®

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

I'm such a horrible blogger :(

image courtesy of ugaldew
I shed tears today.

When I transferred my old posts from to this new blog, I failed to realize that most of my pictures would still be uploaded and therefore linked to that site. Now that the hosting on my old site has expired (I got one year free and chose to not pay to renew), I have lost a TON of photos -- silly me, I only saved onto my computer the ones that included my daughter.

So I apologize for the posts with broken image links, I couldn't bear to delete them and lose all of your comments! I hope within the next few months to re-take as many of the photos as I can and re-upload them here.

This affects most of my recipe/decorating/gardening posts between Sept. 2011 and March 2012.

I'm so sorry... please forgive me!!! :'-(

What's your routine?

It's the first day of school for most kids in Michigan! (there was actually a bill passed a few years ago that requires public schools to begin after Labor Day -- since tourism, camping, etc. is so big in our state!) Even though I'm now going to be responsible for both of my girls all day every day, I'm glad this day is finally here.

I thrive on routine. I love schedules, itineraries, lists, etc. (if you're that kind of person too, check out this website). "Going with the flow" too often drains me. So I'm ready to get this school year started and get my girls -- and myself -- on a daily schedule.

photo courtesy of dwayno

Mostly I'm going to work on getting Ellie on a consistent eating and sleeping schedule. She's one month old today (wow!) and I believe is at the point where we can do things by the clock. Of course our evenings will vary depending on Rocky's tennis schedule, and meetings etc. at church. And Ellie cluster feeds quite a bit in the evenings (probably a reason she sleeps so good at night!) so there will be some inconsistency from day to day. But during the day, we're going to give a schedule a try...

I'm hoping I'll be able to use my morning-person-ness to get up a little earlier and do some things like devotions/reading my Bible, writing a blog post, and getting my Facebook-fix, so that once Abby wakes up I can give the girls my undivided attention for awhile. 

Eventually I want to get housework into my routine too -- although I'm not sure whether to plan a day at a time or a week at a time. I love lists and checking things off my to-do list, but I'm undecided about setting a schedule like: clean the bathroom on Monday, sweep the floors on Tuesday, etc. versus making a list of everything to accomplish that week and working on whatever I can whenever I can...

What is your daily/weekly routine like? Especially you young moms out there? Do you even have a routine??

P.S. I haven't done a Musical Monday post in awhile, and I know today is Tuesday, but in the spirit of the First Day of School, here is a fun little song:

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Saturday 7: August 26 - September 1

  1. I probably say this every month, but I can't believe it's [September] already! Where did August go? Oh yeah, I had a baby on the 4th... so I've been a little busy I guess. ;-)  Seriously though, July seemed to stretch out f-o-r-e-v-e-r, it was so hot and I was so pregnant, and I was so ready for summer to be over. August has been much better temperature-wise, and I've been learning how to care for both a toddler and a newborn. It really was a good month!
  2. Ellie is 4 weeks old today! Other than a couple rough nights here and there, she has been a great sleeper. Other moms, please don't hate me (and please don't ask my secret because I have no clue...) -- this past week almost every night she slept 6-8 hours in the first chunk of the night. Except the night after I wrote this post. That night she and I were up a lot and I got maybe 5 hours of total sleep...
  3. I get frustrated with baby clothes. Ellie is following the same pattern as Abby -- long overall to begin with, and mostly long-torso'ed. Gerber onesies seem super small to begin with... and this week I packed up the 0-3 month Gerber onesies and she's wearing 3-6 month. C'mon Gerber, she's just now 4 weeks old...
  4. Abby learned how to hop this week! Every so often throughout the summer we've tried teaching her how to jump and lift both feet off the ground at the same time. She couldn't seem to get it. Then one night this week during her I'm-gonna-act-all-hyper-right-before-bedtime, she started saying hop hop hop! and actually did it! And she does it on command too. So cute!
  5. We've been practicing some Love & Logic ideas on Abby. Mostly giving her lots and lots of choices. Just last night at dinner she wasn't eating, so Rocky asked her "would you like to eat this piece of meat with a fork or with your fingers?" and she responded "fingers!" and picked it up and ate it. I usually offer her a choice between 2 shirts in the morning. Anytime we offer a choice, we're perfectly ok with either of the options, but she feels like she's in control. So far it's working great. :) 
  6. Rocky starts school next week. We've had the last couple weeks to start getting used to not having him home all day everyday, tennis practice started 2 weeks ago and this past week he had both tennis events and meetings at school. Next week I'll really work on getting the girls (and myself) into a routine!
  7. Earlier this summer Rocky's dad bought a Hobie Cat sailboat/catamaran. He lives on a lake about 15 minutes from us, so we spend quite a bit of time over there during the summer (it's also the house where Rocky grew up). Rocky really likes sailing, and has gone out numerous times with his dad and sister. Last weekend he convinced me to go with him, and at first I wasn't at all interested, but once we got out on the water and I learned how to use the ropes and sails and things it was actually a lot of fun! This picture is from a really calm day a couple weeks ago, when Rocky and Rissa took Abby out:

    Have a great week!

    The Saturday 7: Post seven things that happened to you this week. Just a quick summary. Things you might not necessarily write a whole blog post about. Idea taken from Sadie's Lovin' Life with Lucy. 

Friday, August 31, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Change

Ahhh, Five Minute Fridays. A place to set your timer, clear your head, and for five minutes freely write without worrying about getting it right...

Five Minute Friday 1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community.

Today's prompt: change.


"Lutherans hate change."  That was the phrase I remember being tossed around jokingly at my church when I was growing up. When I left for college and soon after got married and moved away, my church was on the verge of a split because of music style. I remember in high school trying to introduce new songs to my church and even having a friend play guitar (along with the piano we had). It was received very coldly.

Why is music such a dividing point within the church? Does it really boil down to "old-people's-music" and "young-people's-music"? I love many hymns. And I love newer praise songs. I'm on the worship planning committee at my current church, and we are very deliberate about choosing both modern and traditional music for every service. We include the organ as well as guitars and drums each Sunday (heck, I'm the one who plays the drums!).

It's so hard to hear negative comments from people about music styles within the church. Music has changed over the years, even over centuries. Most churches don't use Gregorian-chant-type music anymore. Does that mean it's a bad style of music? No. It just means there are now other options out there.

Finding the balance between loving the "old" and embracing the "new" can be so difficult... But it's something that needs to happen.


Wow I had no idea that's the direction my post would go. I guess that's what I love about FMF. :)

Check out other people's posts here!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Sleep, blessed sleep...

My 3-week-old cutie
 Over the years I've come to grips with the fact that I need sleep. And not just some sleep, I need quite a bit of sleep. To function properly, to keep my emotions in check, to simply enjoy life, my body really does need 8-9 hours of sleep in a night/day.

I was the boring one in college who would fall asleep watching movies with friends, or bum out of an event because it was too late at night. I felt like an old person. Now my friends just realize it's who I am, and we joke about "pulling a Carrie" - aka falling asleep at night while others converse, watch a movie, etc.

My husband is one who can get less sleep and still function well. He will often stay up an hour or two later than me at night, or during the school year will get up extra early (4:30) to grade papers and lesson plan.

Abby has always been a great sleeper. She was sleeping through the night (8+ hour stretches) at 6 weeks old. Even now she still sleeps 10-11 hours at night and 2-3+ hours in the afternoon. So when Ellie came around, I was dreading the idea that I might have a more "normal" baby who wakes up constantly in the night to eat.

The first couple of nights home were rough, but now she will easily sleep 3-4 hours at night and occasionally 5-6 in the first stretch. I've been nursing in the middle of the night and pumping & bottle feeding during the day, so for awhile my dear husband was getting up at 7 with both girls and feeding Ellie a bottle while I got an extra hour of sleep (school starts next week though...)

While I've given up on napping in the afternoons (Ellie's schedule is still pretty unpredictable), I'm doing alright overall in the sleep category. I might not be getting my 8-9 hours of sleep straight through, but I'm getting enough to function well. And so far Ellie is on the same track as Abby was for sleeping through the night early.

Are you someone who needs a lot of sleep or do you function well on less than "recommended"?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Ellie's Birth Story

Well folks, it finally happened! Eleanor Gracelyn (Ellie Grace) was born last Saturday, August 4th at 11:17 am. She was 8 lbs 9 oz and 22 inches long. The first couple nights at home were rough, but she's been really good to us the last few nights... Here's to hoping for an easy transition from one child to two!

For those of you who like details, read on... For those who don't, skip to the bottom for photos. ;-)

It's been a rough last 6 weeks. I'm not a fan of summer anyway, plus we've had record heat, plus it's been the last 6 weeks of pregnancy. Yuck. In the back of my mind I was hoping to go early. Even a week early would have been great. But as the days went by, I realized this little one was following in her sister's footsteps (Abby was 8 days late).

I had a scheduled checkup on Friday morning (August 3 -- 5 days overdue), including an ultrasound and non-stress test. Everything looked just fine. The doctor stripped my membranes and we set up an induction appointment for Monday. I was at 3cm at that point. Rocky and I then walked a bit at the mall, saw a movie, had steak and corn on the cob for dinner, and took a pontoon boat ride that night.

I woke up Saturday morning around 3am needing to use the bathroom (like always...), but couldn't fall back to sleep. Contractions had started (I'd been feeling some cramping the last month or so but this was definitely steady and measurable). I started timing them, then told Rocky about it around 4:30. They were definitely getting stronger and closer together, so I called doctor shortly before 6am. We brought Abby to the Rocky's dad's house, then headed to the hospital.

I got into a room at 7:15am and was at 5cm. They started the first bag of antibiotic (I was group b strep positive), and I got an epidural at 8:45am. Checked again, and was up to 7cm. My water broke on its own shortly after 9am. Rocky and I watched women's tennis -- the Olympic gold medal final, Williams beat Sharapova easily. We joked about this match deciding whether we'd name our daughter Serena or Maria. It lasted until about 10:30am.

The resident doctors came in right at end of match, checked me, and I was already complete! I wasn't feeling a need to push (although I didn't know what I was looking for...), so we decided to wait until after 11:00 so we could start another bag of antibiotics then. The feelings of pressure changed around 10:45, so they quickly started the antibiotic and got things ready for delivery. My doctor arrived, and I started pushing around 11am. Ellie was born at 11:17am Saturday August 4. 8 pounds 9 ounces, 22 inches long. Total labor: 8 hours. Pushing: 15 minutes.

God is good: On August 4, 2004, Rocky's mom passed away from cancer. Eight years later, God turned a day of sorrow into a day to celebrate. :) 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Waiting waiting waiting

Pump parts, bottles, pacifiers, etc. sterilized -- check. 

Newborn clothes washed and organized -- check.

Bassinet in our bedroom -- check.

Package of newborn disposable diapers bought, 
and cloth diapers ready -- check.

Bags packed -- check.

Laundry and dishes caught up -- check.

. . .

What's left?

. . .

3 days till my due date.
Another doctor appointment tomorrow.
And Abby was 8 days late...

Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my sighing. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.  ~Psalm 5:1-3

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

About birds and flowers...

Photo credit

“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life - whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn't life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 

Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? 

And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? 

So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need."

~Matthew 6:24-34 NLT

Sometimes it's so refreshing to read a familiar passage of the Bible in a different translation. It puts the words into a new perspective, highlighting certain verses that I didn't notice before.

These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs." I was thinking a lot about our budget last night, wondering how to make things work in the next month. A lot of our home bills come due at the beginning of the month, and I was struck by the thought that I wasn't sure if we'd have the money in our account to pay them. I had a hard time falling asleep.

But when I woke this morning, I started reading the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). And came to this familiar passage. And it comforted me once again, especially reading it with fresh words. Worrying about anything (like where money for groceries will come from this month) won't add a single moment to my life. In fact, it takes away a moment from my life -- the moments I spend worrying about it!

So while planning and deciding what our next steps will be is good, the time spent thinking "woe is me! life sucks! oh my goodness what are we going to do?!?!" is not good. If I'd surrendered our situation to God sooner, I would have gotten more sleep last night...

Are you a natural worrier, like me? How do you move past it?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Saturday 7: July 15-21

  1. I'm 38w6d pregnant today. Some new symptoms came around this week that make me want to believe I'll have this girl soon. Late Monday & early Tuesday my body felt horrible. Specifically my belly. I just wanted to hold it up all day, I felt like my belly itself was going to fall off. Ha wouldn't that be an interesting way to have a kid? :) So while people have been telling me for the last 6 weeks "you've dropped!" "wow you're a lot lower!", I actually think I felt the dropping this time!
  2. We're just about as ready as we can be for the little one. I mentioned a few things a couple weeks ago I still wanted to do, and now our bags are packed, I have a breast pump I'm borrowing from a friend (will get some new parts for it after talking to a LC at the hospital), I got a package of newborn diapers. Still need to get a bassinet, but I'm hoping to talk to a family at church tomorrow about theirs.
  3. I sewed a ring sling this week (the one-layer ring sling on the linked page is the one I made). I'd like to be able to carry this new baby around and still have my hands free for housework, helping Abby, etc., as well as things like grocery shopping and church. I had a gift certificate to a sewing store so I was able to get fabric and supplies for only a few dollars out-of-pocket! I added some decorative fabric and a zippered pocket, and am really pleased with how it turned out! (yes that's a stuffed bear in the photo...)
  4. Abby is becoming a little more social at library storytime. All last school year, when we would go for the half hour program with a couple other kids her age (18 mo.--3 yrs.), she wanted to just sit on my lap the whole time. The first few weeks of the summer program (18 mo.--5yrs.), she did the same thing. This week I asked if she wanted to sit on the floor with the other kids, and she actually did! She still doesn't really participate in the singing and dancing too much though, but we're making progress. :)
  5. Rocky and I went and saw the new Pixar movie Brave yesterday. A friend took Abby to the zoo with some other kids, so Rocky and I had a lunch date! (gift cards to Celebration Cinema and Panera are awesome :)  We love Pixar movies, and this one did not disappoint us. What a great story/message, and beautiful graphics! I highly recommend it to anyone. Although some points were a little scary for young kids. 
  6. We're making progress on the basement again. We spent a lot of time purging and sorting papers this week, and moving things into the garage. Now we've put some studs and insulation around the exposed foundation (half-walls) and the bedroom and office are just about ready for drywall (need to put a couple more outlets in first). Slowly but surely, we'll get it done! 
  7. My favorite cute things Abby has started saying this week: "uh oh, where ______ go?" and "what _____ do?"  aka "where did daddy go" or "what is opa doing?" 
Have a great week!

The Saturday 7: Post seven things that happened to you this week. Just a quick summary. Things you might not necessarily write a whole blog post about. Idea taken from Sadie's Lovin' Life with Lucy. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Book Talk Tuesday: search of...

Last night Abby and I went to storytime at the library (a weekly thing during the summer) and afterward while she played with the puzzles I searched for more books to check out for her. We've been working our way through all the Curious George ones they have (she's been obsessed with him lately), and now I'm looking for a new series.

So I need your help!!!

What books do/did your young toddler(s) enjoy? Others that Abby really likes that we've already gone through the whole series are Llama Llama, and If You Give a ___ a ___ . Some of the older George books get a little long for her...

So that's your mission, if you choose to accept it. Give me your input. Ready? ... Go! Comment please! :)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Super simple sweet summer salad

Like the alliteration there in the title? :)

I've been craving fruit a lot this pregnancy (don't go telling me that means it's a girl [although it is] 'cause I've been craving red meat too). But as much as I love grapes or berries or even watermelon, I'll end up buying them then they'll sit in the fridge. I don't feel like chopping up the watermelon, or eating plain berries after all.

The solution I came up with a week or two ago: fruit salad. Something I could mix up quickly and make a big bowl of, and serve as a side dish on these super hot summer days, or eat as an afternoon snack. I searched online specifically for a "grape salad" recipe that used things I had on hand.

And then I decided to invent my own... (although I'm sure someone out there has made it like this before...)

And it only has 3 ingredients.

  • 1 block cream cheese (softened)
  • 1 container Cool Whip (thawed)
  • whatever fruits you have on hand and want to throw in and use up

    Beat the cream cheese until smooth, beat in the Cool Whip, fold in your fruit. The first time I made it I used grapes, sliced bananas, and diced peaches. The second time I didn't have the peaches but had blueberries. 


And my hubby even asked for seconds. Then thirds. And my 2-year-old daughter loves it.

It's going to be another hot, dry week. Time to use up some more fruit...

Monday, July 9, 2012

Supermarket vs. Farmers Market vs. Your-Own-Home-Market...

Photo courtesy of mushanga
Last week I made my first trip of the season to a local farmers market. I'd never been to this particular one in years past, so I didn't know what to expect. What I found were 6 booths, each offering something different (which was nice, so I didn't have to feel bad about buying something from one person vs. another!). There were blueberries, raspberries, zucchini, radishes, lettuce, broccoli, honey, and wool/handcrafted items. After paying $4.50 for a quart of raspberries and $1 for 4 zucchini, I headed to the grocery store for the rest of my shopping.

At first I found myself thinking "$4.50 for raspberries?? Yikes!" But I bought them anyway, knowing how much my hubby likes them. And when I got to the grocery store and found they were charging $1.50 for a 6 oz container of non-Michigan berries, I didn't feel so bad.

There's something about picking up fresh produce from a farmers market, where you know the fruit and veggies were grown locally and probably picked within the last 12-24 hours. Sometimes "organic" food like this might cost a bit more than if it was purchased from a grocery store, but as you can see from my raspberry find, not always...

Of course, growing your own produce from a seed packet is ultimately the most rewarding. Knowing the work you've put in to making your crop happen, the planting and weeding and watering and harvesting, just seems to make it taste better. :) And makes you waste less. I try so much harder to eat -- or at least preserve -- every last bit of produce from my garden, where I've been known to toss things from the store that don't get used up before going bad.

But there will always be certain things I just won't grow at home. I haven't had any luck with broccoli or melons. There's a tradeoff of how much effort I put in vs. how much production I actually get. Or if I want to make a big batch of jam, I can't do that with the handful of berries I harvest from my own plants.

How much of the produce your family consumes comes from a supermarket? A farmers market? Your own garden?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Saturday 7: July 1-7

  1. On Tuesday (the 3rd) the three of us went with a group of friends to a Detroit Tigers baseball game. We were originally not going to take Abby, but were having trouble finding a sitter for the afternoon (the evening was no problem). So since her admission was free, and there would be two other little ones going, we decided to bring her! And I'm so glad we did! She did fantastic on the car ride, through the rain delay, and the game itself.  They lost, but it was fun. We even got a little certificate for it being her first game. :) Abby loves to say "Go 'igers!"
  2. She has been talking in 2-4 word sentences a ton lately. A lot of the time I can understand her, or figure out what she's saying based on context, but a lot of the time I just smile and nod or reply "oh really?" 
  3. Abby knows all of her colors. At least the normal ones. We can ask her "what color is this?" or "where's the red ___?" and she knows it. Her favorite color seems to be yellow. I pulled out Candy Land this morning and asked which color person she wanted to be and she picked "wewwo!" :) (we didn't actually play the game, she just sorted the colored cards!)
  4. In just the last few weeks Abby has also really started to act like a two-year-old. Oh my goodness, the attitude and independence and stubbornness and crankiness! I'm so glad she's still taking a decent afternoon nap so I can regain my sanity... I'm just praying we can work through some of this before baby comes!
  5. We had our first-ever garage sale last weekend. About a month ago we realized we needed to do a lot of purging of our stored stuff in the basement if we had any hopes of finishing the basement properly! We had a ton of books and some random stuff, plus Rocky and I both went through our closets and purged our clothes. We ended up making a decent amount of money, so we were happy! And we just got a card in the mail that the Salvation Army is looking for donations of clothes and small household items, and will pick up bags and boxes on our street next week! So we don't have to cart our leftovers somewhere! Score!!
  6. I can't believe how hot it's been. Of course this has to be the summer I'm pregnant... One of our local tv stations gave these statistics: "Grand Rapids at 104 tied Phoenix AZ on Friday and beat Tucson by 6 degrees. It was warmer in Lower Michigan than along the Gulf Coast. The average high temperature for the first 6 days of July for G.R. is 97.8. Today (Saturday) will be the 11th consecutive day with a high temperature of 89 or higher. It’s also likely to be our 17th day of 90-degree heat this summer. Through Friday, Grand Rapids has had 6 days of 95 or hotter. Miami, Florida hasn’t hit 95 yet this year."
  7. I'm trying to think of everything that needs to be done before baby comes. I think we're pretty much set except for packing our bags. And setting up a crib/bassinet/pack n play in our room. And sewing a sling/carrier. And making sure I have a decent breast pump. And getting a box of newborn diapers (I keep waiting for them to go on sale...). At least I got all of the newborn clothes and receiving blankets washed!
Have a great week!
The Saturday 7: Post seven things that happened to you this week. Just a quick summary. Things you might not necessarily write a whole blog post about. Idea taken from Sadie's Lovin' Life with Lucy.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Five Minute Fridays: Story

It's been awhile since I've done a Five Minute Friday post. Sometimes I get writer's block and I don't know what to write about. FMF solves that! Hosted by Lisa-Jo (aka Gypsy Mama), here is what it's all about:

Five Minute Friday    
  1. Write for 5 minutes flat on the prompt with no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking. 
  2. Link back here and invite others to join in. 
  3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community...

So here we go! Today's prompt: Story.


"What's the story, Wishbone?" goes the little jingle from the PBS show I remember watching as a child. A dog (a Jack Russell Terrier to be specific) would daydream about playing the main character in classic stories, from Tom Sawyer to Pride and Prejudice to Robin Hood and many more. It was a great show to give kids a basic understanding of classic literature, most of which was too far above their own reading level.

I received a Kindle for Christmas, and am loving the immediate access I have to so many free books. I have not bought a single book yet for it. Many fiction and non-fiction books cycle in and out of being offered for free, but any classics and out-of-print books are always free. While I've spent most of my time reading Christian fiction (easy reading, just for fun), I've started reading a handful of classics too. Actually, the very first book I read on my Kindle was The Adventures of the Swiss Family Robinson.

We often think generally of "stories" in terms of fiction. But biographies are also stories. And you and I are writing a story for our kids each day we live. So what's your story, _________ (insert your name here)?


(I added the link and picture after.) Doesn't look like much writing for five minutes worth. :-P Oh well, I guess I'm out of practice. Join me! It's so simple! And remember to link up here!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Unbelievably Hot!

I never thought I'd think of the 80s as a cool down.

Many who know me know I'm not a fan of summer. I never have been. I grew up without air conditioning, and without access to a pool or lake (unless you count the little blue kiddie pool and buckets of water to stick your head in). I grew up on a small farm, where this time of year was spent getting our animals ready to show at the county fair. No matter the weather. It always seemed whatever day we picked to shave the goats turned out to be one of the hottest of the summer... 
(one of the few pictures on my computer of my 4H days - a scanned image from a newspaper article)
Since becoming part of Rocky's family, I've been able to enjoy time at "the Lakehouse". Rocky grew up spending his summers going to waterski competitions. While I'm not a skier nor do I enjoy tubing on the lake, I do like simply taking a dip in the water on a hot day. We frequently spend Saturdays and Sundays at the Lakehouse, and Abby is starting to appreciate the water too.

Unfortunately, the last few days have been (and the next few will be) HOT. And when I add an almost-full-term pregnancy on top of my already distaste for summer, even the lake hasn't been enjoyable for me. I'll be glad when things cool off again -- even if it's just the 80s. Thank goodness our house is air conditioned! (although I'm scared to see what our electric bill will be for this month...)

We're setting record temperatures here in Michigan. Have you been experiencing a heat wave/drought too? 

Monday, July 2, 2012

I'm still here... and so is she.

photo by riafnall
No, my lack of posting has not been because of a certain little girl's arrival... It's just been a busy last few weeks. Rocky and I went with the high school youth group to the Alive Music Festival in Ohio for 5 days, then we were involved in VBS at our church, and we held our first-ever garage sale! Needless to say, I'm pretty tired. But July is a new month, and we [purposely] did not plan much of anything for this month.

I'm so ready to have this girl and move on. My due date is 4 weeks away (July 29), but I went a week over with Abby... My goal this week is to pull out all of the newborn and 0-3 clothes and get them washed and organized (and figure out how to fit both toddler and newborn clothes and stuff in the same room...) and maybe get our bags packed. After that... bring it on! :)

Want to know what I'm looking forward to the most about being done with this pregnancy? Other than having a brand new, soft little girl to hold??
  • Not sweating all the time. I'm one who doesn't like summer anyway, but the last two weeks I just can't seem to stop sweating... it's pretty gross.
  • Getting my back back to normal. I've had issues off and on with my deep lower back for years, but this pregnancy seems to have really aggravated it. The last few months it's only bothered me if I've done something like walking or gardening without stretching first. Now that things have softened up and loosened up even more, every day is pretty painful.
  • Being able to lay on my stomach again!!
  • Taking ibuprofen. Tylenol works for headaches, but for soreness and muscle pain (like my back!), nothing beats ibuprofen. 
I have my next checkup this afternoon (36 weeks), and then I'm at weekly appointments until the little one is here!

Do you have a pregnancy story where your first was late and your second was early?? I'd love to hear about it... ;-)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Kids and gardens

Lorraine Johnson's book City Farmer begins with a story about her 10-year-old nephew who had never seen a "real live" (freshly picked) pea. The pod-like thing in her hand that she was shelling had him completely confused. When she finally got him to taste a fresh pea, his response was one of surprise and pleasure:

"It's sweet, not mushy, not like canned peas." I offered him another. Pretty soon we were shelling at a great rate, stuffing little peas in our faces, talking with our mouths full. It felt like a minor triumph, winning this pea convert through direct contact with something so recently attached to a stem. 
--City Farmer, p. 1-2

I remember my days in 4H and FFA where we would host special events for elementary school kids to see and touch real live farm animals. The joy and amazement on their faces when they saw a cow or a sheep or a chicken for the first time in their lives was unbelievable. So many children today are "city kids" who never get to experience where their food comes from any more than a trip to the grocery store.

My personal background obviously gives me reason to jump at any chance I have to take Abby to the county fair, or to an apple orchard, and most recently to planting and caring for my own garden. I love getting out there every day and pulling a few weeds and giving the plants some water. Abby has learned how to squeeze the nozzle on the hose to help me water my flowers in the front yard, and when her pool is full in the backyard she will take her little watering can and help me water the veggie plants.

I can't wait for the days this summer when she'll help me pick peas (not too far away!) and beans. I know from last year that she enjoys eating them raw. :) And as she (and our other future kid(s)) get older I hope to encourage their knowledge early on that the grocery store is only a stop on the journey our food can take to get to us.

If you have kids, how do you teach them about their food?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Seasonal Celebration and Conscious Consumption

"One of the defining features of our time
is the slow and steady erosion of seasonality."
-Lorraine Johnson, City Farmer

During my pregnancy I've had a few cravings here and there, but nothing too terribly strong. Except I did find myself gazing at various fruits at the grocery store. Longing for them to be on sale. Jumping at the chance to get the occasional "cheap" strawberries or watermelon -- which tended to be those that came from Florida or California versus South America... and weren't really all that "cheap".

About three weeks ago I saw sweet corn in the front and center display, and got a half dozen. One of the [few] things I like about summer is sweet corn. The month of August usually consists of fresh boiled or grilled corn-on-the-cob at every dinner meal.

Wait... August? But this was the end of May... Oh of course, this corn came from the southern U.S...

Lorraine goes on in her book City Farmer to say "As the specificities of seasonal changes get lost, we progress into sameness. And it's in the sphere of food that the loss of seasonality can be felt most acutely. One by one, the foods that once marked a particular period of time -- a window of taste - have devolved into a condition of always available."

As I'm becoming more interested in growing my own food and visiting farmers markets for those foods I don't grow, I start thinking about growing seasons and which crops are ready when during the summer. I know that peas are early, cherries are in July, and zucchini are in August. Sure, all of these foods are available pretty much year-round, thanks to other states and other countries. But have we lost some sense of excitement and anticipation, or "celebration" as Lorraine calls it, in regards to our fresh food? "Ho hum, it's just another pear, like the one I had last month, and the month before that, and the month before that, every month in fact."

Putting aside all conversation about "food miles" (the arguments about how far our food travels before we consume it), don't you agree that a basket of green beans picked five minutes ago from your own backyard or a few ears of corn purchased at your local farm stand just taste so much better when they're in season?

Not to mention those fruits and veggies purchased in season are soooo much cheaper...

I'm thinking I'd like to try and choose the produce I get from the grocery store based on seasonality. It's easy to do at farmers markets or your own garden since that's all that's available... But walking into a regular store and seeing a display of watermelons or asparagus out-of-season can be so tempting...

What do you think? Are you a seasonal produce-eater, or do you enjoy the availability of it year-round?

Monday, June 11, 2012

"City" Farmer?

I came across this book at the library the other day and was intrigued. While I don't consider myself living "in the city", I do live within the city limits of my little town -- and in a subdivision, so I have neighbors all around me.

The introduction and first couple of chapters really resounded with me -- I enjoyed the author's style of writing, and she spent a lot of time giving facts and research and her own opinions about the whys of gardening in general. Later chapters dove more heavily into the "city/urban" aspects of farming and gardening (containers and rooftops and community gardens and guerrilla gardening...), so I did some skimming there... But that doesn't discount the emotions the first few chapters encouraged in me.

I expanded my own little garden this year to be my biggest one yet since I've been married (and away from my mom's garden! :)  Of course this is the summer that I'm pregnant and due the end of July... but I just couldn't stay away from that dirt. So far it's been easily manageable, weeding and watering every few days. Abby enjoys dipping her watering can in her kiddie pool and watering the plants too. :) And there is SO much satisfaction when I look down from the back deck and see all those sweet little plants:

Sometimes I wonder if I'm the only one in my neighborhood who has a vegetable garden. I can see a few backyards of some of my neighbors and a few more as I drive out onto the main streets, but most are fenced in and/or just not in plain sight. My house sits on a corner lot where two streets come together, and it's not fenced, so anyone can see into my entire yard. Do they think I'm crazy for growing vegetables? Especially with this big baby belly?

I'm hoping to write a handful of posts about gardening topics, including:
  • The loss of "seasonal eating"
  • Hiding your garden in the backyard vs. a front yard edible landscape
  • Kids and gardening
  • Supermarket vs. farmers market vs. your own home market
  • The history of victory gardens
  • Community gardens

Do you grow your own vegetables? Do you live in the "city" or the country?

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