Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Sweetest Season

(all photos taken by Lulu Photography)

This morning I've been thinking about what a sweet season of life this has been for me.  My pregnancy started out really hard, as they always have, but even in the difficulty their was blessing.  Before I found out I was pregnant, I was planning to go to a hermitage with a friend for a prayer retreat.  A hermitage is a little cottage at a Catholic monastery where you can stay for a couple days of quiet and prayer.

I've been running hard for the last ten years.  Babies, diapers, training, working a "part-time" job, homeschooling, keeping the house, the list could go on.  This summer God called me home full time and when I found out I was pregnant, well, I was just plain tired even from the beginning.

My friends told me that when your baby turns five you round a corner, a sort of graduation.  You've made it through the most labor intensive years.  The younger years are fun, they are just very physically demanding.  But when you reach the corner where everyone can bathe themselves, brush their own teeth, go to the bathroom by themselves and get dressed without assistance, well, that is a very big day in the life of a mama.

It is a little humorous to round that corner only to find that you are about to start all over again.  I have been so amazed and excited that we are having a baby.  I've always imagined we'd have four or five kids.  After our third, it seemed like the wisest thing would be to stop where we were.  I'm so thankful God had other plans.  We waited almost 6 years for this fourth little blessing. 

This has been my most unique pregnancy so far.  Since my boys are older, and I am home full time now, I have had the freedom to take the rest my body needs.  I'm a little, ahem, older now than when I started this journey of having kids.  I remember this summer wanting to be done with homeschooling.  I was so tired.  So, so, tired.  My husband felt like we needed to continue this year.  God confirmed the decision with lightening speed.  Within 24 hours, we'd been given all the curriculum we needed for the year.

Having my boys home with me during these slower, quieter days has been the greatest gift to me.  We have slow starts to our day, eat lunch, sit around the kitchen table or pile up on the couch in the afternoon for our lessons, and in the evenings we eat and gather again in the living room to hang out as a family.  I am not up and running around with a million things to do.  I've been able to be present in all that is going on around me.

Although I am so beyond excited to meet our little Annie Gray, I am not in a rush to cross the finish line.  The greatest gift of this season that I've been given is the absence of rushing and the gift of time.  We have more peace in our home than ever.  I am well rested.  My boys hearts are full and content.  They go around the house singing songs and playing and I'm doing the same.  This summer when I obeyed God and came home full time I was terrified of what it would look like.  I knew that the greatest treasure and blessing is only found when we are in the center of His will.  It has blown me away at how much richness and blessing has been found by being completely obedient and saying Yes to Him.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Ready For The Weekend!

It's been a full week of school, house, dinners and dishes.  Ready to enjoy this sunshiney weekend with family and friends!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Brain Power Break

This morning I've been finishing up lesson plans for the rest of the year.


My hands and brain are tired.  That is 12 weeks of planning.  Times 2.  No wander my head hurts.

It's a great feeling to be getting things in order though.  It is hard to believe that in 6 weeks or less we'll have a baby at the house.  I am a little anxious to see what it is going to be like going back to the baby phase.

You'd think since this is my 4th go round I'd remember everything, but I do not remember anything.  Well, except for being reeeeeeaaaaallllly tired at first.

I'm going ahead and finishing up lesson plans now, so I don't have to use brain power to figure out where we are later.  I am thinking we'll keep on chugging right along doing school, except for the few days while I'm in the hospital.

Hopefully between the two of us, we can keep the lessons handed out and finish at the end of April on track.  Yesterday we made a huge library run.  We have the best library!  I go online to check out my books, and when I get to the library, I just go to the front desk and they are there waiting on me.  Such a helpful service that I love taking advantage of.  That is phase one of library day.  Phase two is not loosing 25 books and getting them back on time.

We'll have to make one more big library run before the baby and when we finish up that round of books, we'll be looking summer in the face. 

In other news, I've been looking through the pantry and freezer writing down what meals I can make out of what we have on hand.  We're going to be eating out of the pantry, freezer and fridge for the next 8 days.  Joy of joys.  Not really my favorite thing to do, but definitely worth it to keep things cleaned out so everything is up to date.


It kind of sounds like I am nesting.

Chirp chirp.

Oh, and this is a big deal.  Yesterday, I made red beans and rice in the crockpot and it turned out great.  Used a bag of dried red beans and everything.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Similar To The Beef Stew Incident of '04

Yesterday afternoon was similar to the "Beef Stew Incident of '04".

I was pregnant with my first born and was hungry for beef stew so the two of us went to Cracker Barrel for dinner.  The waitress sat my bowl of beef stew in front of me and I immediately burst into tears.  It was more like a vegetable soup.  It had a beef broth base, stewed tomatoes and vegetables.  No.  What I was wanting was meat, potatoes and carrots in a gravy type sauce.  I excused myself from the table and went to the bathroom where I sat on a toilet for what seemed like forever crying my eyes out.

When I returned to the table, I think Shane was thinking-Wow.  Just.  All I can say is wow.  He offered to let me order something else, but I sucked it up and ate the crappy soup.

Cue yesterday afternoon.  Oh Lordy.  Yesterday was a combination of being determined to accomplish some things, being so tired I could barely keep my eyes open, being overwhelmed at all that still needed to be accomplished even after I'd worked so hard, being excessively hungry, and wishing I had hearing aids I could take out to turn down the volume.

By 3 o'clock I was on the couch going through the tissue box at full force,  crying my eyes out.  The main culprit?  My windows are dingy and my blinds are dusty.  That's right.  I wasted half a box of tissue over blinds and windows.  I couldn't even let myself think about the crown molding, baseboards and fans.  It would've been more than one heart could handle.

Who the heck knows what's up with that.

And then, just listen to this.  Shane tells me to make a list of all I want accomplished and he'll knock it out over the next few weeks.  Well.  That just made me cry worse because it was so stinkin' sweet.

Thank heavens for new days and fresh starts.  This morning I woke up feeling so much better.  The temperature has dropped outside 40 or so degrees and it feels good to have the windows open (lol). 

Yesterday we conquered introducing division and it went over surprisingly well.  This afternoon we are going to the library to refill the book bag.  My 7 loads of laundry (or was it 8?) are washed, dried, folded and put away.  My headache is gone.  And this morning I was reminded from the words of Jeremiah that God gives rain in its season, both the autumn rain and the spring rain.  He'll give what we need when we need it.

No matter what type of day it shapes up to be, we are always called back to follow the One who is gentle in heart.  We can sat our strivings aside, accept the unfinished work, and find rest for our souls.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Waiting For The Dryer Timer

In just a few short minutes the timer for the dryer is going to buzz (waaaaa!) and I'm outta here.  The bug man is coming today which has been incentive for me to get the floor areas picked up.  I'm like the little engine that could.   Or was it a turtle?  Or a snail?  Or a three toed sloth?

We've got the nursery painted, curtains hung, and this week we are finishing up cleaning out the closet.  So far, all the kids rooms are picked up and I'm working on laundry.

But I'm taking a 20 minute break.  One of the boys just came in and I said, "I want you out.  O-U-T!!!!"  Oh yes, I spelled the letters to the word out

Heh heh heh 


They are being exceptionally loud today.

Love 'em to pieces but they are loud.

Lord love 'em.

So Saturday night we got a date night thanks to our children's ministry at church!  They offered a free date night for families which was the greatest gift ever.  Our boys had a blast playing and we had the most romantic date.

At the last minute we scratched our P.F. Chang's plans and decided to stay local.  We finished dinner, drove through Starbucks, and ended up at home.  By 8 o'clock I was in my gown, sitting by the fireplace in a quiet house on the couch enjoying a raspberry steamer talking about the next few month goals with my man.  We would've been more adventurous, it's just that it was so late.  It was nearly 8pm when we finished dinner.  You see what I'm saying?

Shane gave me a P.F. Chang's rain check before the baby comes and we'll be leaving by 4. 

Yes I am well aware of the exciting life I lead.

I think the dryer is done but now I'm just pretending I still hear it going.

Today I am supposed to start division with my 2nd grader.  I'm procrastinating so bad you wouldn't believe it.  But hey.  I do have two picked up and vacuumed rooms so that must account for something.

I suppose I'll go face the noise again.  But for all my friends who think I never want to run and hide from my kids-this post is for you!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Sonic Date Night

Last night I had a hot little date with this dude.  My oldest sweet boy.  He decided we should drive in for a change so we went to Sonic.  It was so much fun sitting in the front seat together eating dinner.  (By the way, next Tuesday is National Popcorn Chicken day and for $1 you can try a snack size popcorn chicken.)

Besides just having fun eating dinner together, I love date night with my boys because they open up and talk their little heads off.  It is also a chance for me to speak words of encouragement to them.  After we ate I told this kiddo what a blessing and joy he is to our family.  I told him I appreciate his joyful attitude-whether he has to do a chore or is given a difficult school assignment, it doesn't matter, this one will do it without complaining.

He volunteers at church and loves serving.  When other kids come over, he lends a hand with the younger ones.  His giggle is contagious and before you know it, you are laughing just because he is.  This one is my Thursday night snuggler.  You probably already know, but every Thursday evening we have couch bed night.  This one always chooses to snuggle me.  Last night he wanted extra snuggles. 

I'm telling you-spending one on one time with your children does something for their little hearts.

After dinner, well besides going to Target of course, I had a surprise for him.  I was able to encourage him and tell him because of his great attitude we wanted to reward him with a game he'd been wanting.  Oh my, his face lit up like the 4th of July!  "You're the best mom in the whole entire world!!!!!"  (pst...and I found the game for $3 at the used game store!!!)

Our next round of dates will be individual at home dates with each kid.  They're going to get to choose a special snack and get to stay up late with just mom and dad.  I'll write about it when we try it out.  I'm very excited to see what kind of creative ways we can make this really special.  I'm really excited about this idea though because it won't cost any money-just picking up something from the store for a fun snack and maybe a board game or something along those lines.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Working On The Surprise...

There is good news and bad news.

The bad news is you don't build a moment or a day and then you are done.

The bad news is also the good news because when you have a day when the building process is non-existent there is always the next moment and there is always tomorrow.

The New Year is a natural time to evaluate the rhythm of our days but I'm a thinker and I tend to live in evaluation mode.  For Christmas, I got the book, 10 Gifts Of Wisdom.  Normally I would have a book like this finished in a couple of days, but this one is different.  I've been stuck on Chapter One for nearly two weeks because it has been so thought provoking for me.

This morning I read the words...A wise woman builds her house.

There are a whole lot of other verses that follow that one but I got stuck there.

I just keep thinking about how easy it is to be a grumbler and complainer.  About how easy it is to give full vent to your anger and to harbor bitterness.  Not on Sunday morning, of course, but in all the in between times where real life lives.

Chapter One talks about passing on the Gift Of Faith.  Last night after the kids were in bed we were sitting in the living room enjoying the quiet and talking about things.  Sometimes I wander what real life looks like in your house.  Not the you I see on Sunday morning when you are at your best, but the you on Monday night when you're whipped.

I get curious about what you are building in your home.  As I evaluate what I am building, sometimes I wander about you too.  This should be pathetically obvious, but it is only in the last couple of years that I realized going to church as a family and slapping a family devotional on the end of the day probably isn't enough to pass on a solid legacy of faith.

It is out of these kind of thoughts that I've decided to move my blog to another location and a more narrowed focus.  It has been in the making for almost two years, and after a few finishing touches it will be ready.  The focus will be on building our homes.  Faith, food, family, raising kiddos, opening our homes to share life with others, and maybe even some fashion tips.  (I've been wearing the same pair of jeans for almost 8 months, so I'm a credible source-ha!)

(Proverbs 14)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Saturday's Date

I gotta tell you about this boy. He is one in a million.  Not all boys are into snuggling their Mama's, but this one is my snuggler.  He still holds my hand while we're out and about, which of course I adore.  We call him the gentle giant.  He is a BIG BOY.  I'm talking, he has been wearing a men's size 6 shoe since he was 7.  He and I can wear the same size shoe and have been able to since he was 7!  He is tall and muscular and strong but boy is he a sweetheart with the squishiest cheeks you've ever kissed.

We went on a date this afternoon and the dude just kept melting my heart.  I asked him where he wanted to go eat and he said somewhere where he could be wise with the money.  He said Taco Bell, but only after making double sure Taco Bell was somewhere I wanted to eat because he wanted to go somewhere I liked too.  Just like his Daddy-always thinking of ways to serve and love on others.  His face lit up with joy when he got to order the 3 crunchy taco combo with an extra large Coke.  Even while drinking his Coke, he said he would take it home and share it with his brothers.

Of course you know, all date night roads lead to Target.  While we were there, he was thinking about his brothers.  He got some new Pok√©mon cards and asked if he could call his brothers to talk with them about his new cards. 

He also bought his brothers suprises while we were out.  I'm not kidding.  This kid is the most thoughtful little thing I've ever met and I love him to pieces.  He is going to make the most amazing husband one day!  Until then, he's all mine :).

Look how excited he is to give out his gifts! One more date night to go this week!  My dance card has been full!!

Friday, January 10, 2014

My Date Last Night

Me and this guy had a little date last night.  We started off at McDonald's (his choice) and ate Happy Meals and talked about Batman Lego, Star Wars Lego and Clash of Clans.
He said his new name is Barbarian King and I am an Archer Queen Mama.  Then we went for ice cream.  After ice cream, we went to Targe' to get him a new belt.
Our boys will probably associate date night with needing new underwear, socks or belts, because everytime they need something like that it turns into date night with Mama.  Hopefully the girls won't find that too odd.  Hey Baby, I'll pick ya up at 7:00.  You can choose between Mickey D's or Chick and when we're done, we'll go to Target to buy me some new boxer briefs and we'll end with ice cream.  Ahh, the romance will never end!

I love this little guy.  He is so much fun.  We were in a wedding together this year and this is him in his little coral colored bow tie...what a cute little turkey!

One of my favorite things in the world is getting away individually with the kiddos.  They talk and talk and talk non-stop when they don't have competition and it is the sweetest!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

We Have Internet!!!

We have Internet!
We have Internet!!
After TWO WEEKS without it, we have Internet!!!
Holla!  SO much to talk about!
The first thing I Googled was paint colors for the nursery.
Quickly followed by a trip to Pinterest.
We have Internet!
Miss Anti-Technology is so happy about this new development.
Because I have a BIG SURPRISE for you.
Actually a couple BIG SURPRISES coming down the hopper.
And now that WE HAVE INTERNET I can wrap up loose ends and get ready to unveil the BIG SURPRISE!
(is Internet supposed to be capitalized?  who the heck cares, we have it now!)