hope

all things new.

I love spring…it’s my favorite season. it’s like all of nature gets a do-over. a new beginning. I love that.

flip flops. longer days. vacations. sunscreen. picnics. long walks.

trees birth new leaves, grass comes back to life.

birds return to our trees singing their song and announcing the warmer weather.

standing outside, breathing in air that even seems new, almost “births” new life into my being.

it is fitting that we celebrate Jesus’ death and resurrection in this season. another reminder of all things new… new life in Him. second chances.

sometimes our lives are like seasons. in the summer, things get a little uncomfortably hot… we complain and whine about the very heat we longed for all year. then autumn arrives and things cool down… and we marvel at the beauty of the colors. BUT what we don’t notice is that it means things are dying. before we know it, all the beauty fades and dies. things look gloomy and empty for while…until…. the pure white snow falls from the sky, coating the earth with sparkling diamonds. again, we are overwhelmed with the glorious beauty it brings. the cold months last long, yet the days are short. animals hibernate and sometimes so do I. ha.

and then…just when it seems like the winter season will never end, we hear a bird chirp… and a bit of hope emerges… it’s SPRING.

some people call life a rollercoaster. up and down and all around. i guess i prefer to compare it to seasons… seasons of emptiness, seasons of hope, seasons full of life, seasons that seem to drag on.

so as i walked around my yard today, listening to the birds and breathing in the fresh (warmer) air, i am reminded that life is always changing…it will never be spring all the time. without the changes of seasons, we’d not have the hope to keep moving forward. to keep getting out of bed each day. to be able to face whatever the day brings.

hope. hope in Jesus that offers life eternal.

 

 

 

 

 

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what is your word?

i have heard so many people doing away with resolutions this year. and i don’t blame them. how many times do we set ourselves up for failure by making our inspirational, and often unattainable, lists.

each new year, i try to look back over the previous year and evaluate how i did with my resolutions. and guess what… most of the time, i cannot even recall what i resolved to do, change or improve. please tell me i’m not alone. because if i am, then my new resolve will be to remember my resolutions. and my #2 will be to not quit my day job to become a comedian…. because, well, you know, that wasn’t funny. get it? no? yeah… moving on…

in place of resolutions, some of my friends have been coming up with a word for the new year. just one word. fantastic! i can remember one word. maybe.

i decided to think about doing this and i felt like there was much value in this idea. so i prayed and thought for a while…weeks even. one word was consistently returning to my heart.

it speaks life to my soul. it teaches me and reminds me. it comforts me. it convicts me. it strengthens me. it’s what i didn’t deserve. it’s what i want to give. i want to show this… to myself and others. it calms me. it brings clarity.

one word. one word taken from THE Word. something that my Jesus emulated so well.

grace.

what is your word?

but first…coffee. (a day in the life.)

so we homeschool.

okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, the rest of what I write will make sense to you.

a few have asked what a typical day looks like in our family, so this is me attempting to do that.

our day begins when our youngest calls from her room, letting the entire world know she’d like to come downstairs. this is usually around 6am. my husband, being the ever-so-kind husband (also probably trying to avoid me having to wake up quickly…not a pretty sight) gets her breakfast. he leaves for work and I try to get moving… but first

coffee.

of course, coffee is the essential ingredient for any homeschool mom. or any mom, for that matter.

and so it begins.

my oldest goes to her music courses (for 2 hrs), my middle-school aged daughter starts her school work and I do pre-K with my youngest. this involves a bit of hyped-up energy. on my part. but first

coffee.

do you notice a pattern? the struggle is real.

so we do our morning circle time… which is well, not really a circle… then we do phonics, bible time and our theme of the week. that is followed by a special “time” that her older sister does with her, and is usually a fun activity or a book that goes with the theme. after they are done, there is a small break in our day while I answer or help my older two if needed, then we continue with our lesson time. this is when I basically do the “teaching” part. but first..

coffee.

yes, it is needed. again. I mean, c’mon, it isn’t even lunch time and my energy is typically zapped by this time.

i have a “center activity” planned for her while i make lunch. this usually is math manipulatives, play dough, etc.

lunch is very simple… leftovers or pb&j. i make a full dinner each evening, so lunch isn’t usually spectacular. i choose my battles and challenges very carefully if i can. because, i’m pretty sure a FOURTH cup of coffee at this point would be needed, and i have to stop at some point. maybe. anyway, so i usually let my youngest watch a sesame street youtube clip on the letter or sound we are learning about while she eats. this is a treat for her, and she loves it. it also gives me some quiet to eat my lunch or throw laundry in or help another kiddo.

and then….. it happens…..

QUIET TIME!!

yes… we do a quiet time every day for an hour. we always have. naps are long gone in our house, but this momma needs a little breather and so do they. we all look forward to this time. we go to our rooms and do some quiet play or reading. it truly helps make a difference in the remainder of the day. if there’s ever a time it doesn’t happen, i can see the chaos and drama erupt pretty quickly. quiet time is a life-saver.

…because then it’s “craft” time. i am not a crafty person. like every ounce of craftiness had been used up by the time God created me. i’m pretty sure this is not an exaggeration. nonetheless, i am a good mother and allow the mess to ensue. (honestly, my older two had to go to Gramma’s house when they were younger if they wanted to use anything “messy” to be creative. progress, folks. progress.).

after this, it is usually time for me to begin making dinner.. and at least one of my older girls is done with their schoolwork for the day. typically, i use my powers of resistance and self-discipline to not make a new pot of coffee because… the evenings are made up of running someone somewhere, food shopping or planning for the next day (which i highly recommend.. the days just get off to a better start when the day is all planned and laid out the evening before).

so i won’t bore you with the evening details, because, i am sure yours looks very similar to mine. and hopefully we all find time to cherish the moments with our families, but also the quiet ones after they are in bed (i know you all are feeling that way… and i am here to tell you that IT’S ok! we all need a moment to breathe… so we can be a better momma for the next day. and the next day. and the next… you get the picture.).

well, there it is…

i’m skipping the crazy and  boring parts, and of course each day is different (well, except for the fact that momma is tired)… but this is basically our typical day. in the shortest version i could muster.

and since quiet time is over as i write this, i better figure out a clever way to wrap this up. but first

coffee.

 

once a month food shopping

once a month food shopping.

it’s an actual “thing”… did you know this? i found a few many ideas about it online. i know this because i spent many hours researching the whole idea. my journey to be more frugal has led me here. wherever “here” is.

the idea intrigues me.

my hang-up with it all is the lack of storage for the many items in the beginning weeks.

we have a good size pantry, but if i put it all in there, i have a feeling that my family will devour eat it and it will not be there for said meal plan. we also have an extra freezer, but i am sure the food won’t fit…oh, and it’s all the way in the cold and unfinished part of our basement. yes, that’s a reasonable reason.

as you can see, the jury is still out on if i will attempt this….so i’d love to hear your thoughts.

have you tried this method of shopping/planning? if so, what did you like/not like about it? if you haven’t tried it, why not?

help!  pretty please?….

holiday bake hop – christmas morning quiche

it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

i could write about all the reasons why that statement rings true.

or i could just show you… and by that, i mean with a mouth-watering photo of the yummiest breakfast ever (and a super sweet surprise at the end, so read on)…

or maybe it just seems that way because we eat it while relaxing around the Christmas tree, holiday music softly playing from Pandora and watching our daughters open their gifts.

as i thought about uploading the photo, i decided that i’d also share the recipe. you know, just in case you’d like to recreate the beautiful morning i described.

oh, and did i mention that  you can make this ahead of time? throw in the coffee pot that has a timer and your Christmas morning just got better…no hassle or baking! and may i suggest cute Christmassy (yes, that IS a word… maybe…) paper plates as well? because, really, who wants to do dishes on Christmas?!

quicheChristmas Morning Quiche

*1 prepared pie crust (didn’t i tell you it was super easy?!)

*10 eggs

*1 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese

*1/2 cup shredded motzerella cheese

*1 Tbsp minced onion

*4 oz chopped deli ham

*salt & pepper to taste

*unroll one pack of the prepared pie dough (or double the batch and make two since you already have the dough) and place it in pie plate, crimping sides, if desired. or you can just wing it and call it a “rustic” look like i do. no one will judge…and if they do, they will apologize profusely after digging in. i promise. in a bowl, crack eggs and wisk in onion, salt and pepper. mix in cheese and ham. pour into pie crust. bake 375 F for 25-30 min. Let cool and serve!

i make this Christmas Eve and after it’s cool, i stick it in the fridge (if we can keep from eating some…. it smells heavenly!) until morning… then i just slice it and reheat it in the microwave in the morning. usually, we take a bite, open a gift…take a bite, give a gift… and so on.

i assure you, it will make your Christmas morning less stressful! and it is embarrassingly easy! but…shhh… it’ll be our little secret, okay? okay.

but, wait!! there’s more… (I’ve always wanted to say that, by the way)

SURPRISE!! if you click on the gorgeous Holiday Bake Hop graphic below, it will take you to many more scrumptious Christmas recipes…all in one blessed place. clearly, a few of us bloggers have made this Christmas season a more joyous one for you… right? right.

ready, set… click!

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oh… and…

you’re welcome.

 

fall family fun

i love traditions.

they are heart-warming and fun… and full of… well…memories.

this year wasn’t any different.

each year i host a “fall family fun day” for my side of the family. it’s just a fun time for us to get together, eat, laugh and make memories. it has become a Halloween alternative for my family, so we make sure the candy is flowing. and that’s always fun. ya know, pump the kids full of sugar and hope the weather is nice so they can go outside to burn it all off before bedtime.

now that they kiddos are getting older, i think the adults eat more of the sugar (except what i hide in the cupboards… don’t judge).

i try to make the food fun as well. some years are simple and some I’ve gone all out. this year was fun to put together, so i thought i would share some snapshots.

fall fam fun 2.jpg

i chose a “chili bar” theme for the main meal… (chili, corn bread, baked potatoes, hot dogs and the extras that go with it). it was easy and could be made/purchased ahead of time.

fall fam fun 1.jpg

of course, the veggie dip had to go in a pumpkin. i saw it on pinterest… oh, it was a blast getting the dip container IN that pumpkin. my poor husband. he must love me… that’s all i will say about that. oh, and we don’t typically put candles in the brownies… clearly, we celebrated my daughter’s birthday as well on this particular day.

so while these parties take time and effort, the memories that come along with it are priceless. it was fun to find ideas, and my mom and sister graciously brought some of the yumminess to contribute. we ended the day with a huge bonfire outside… and hot chocolate. ahh autumn was in the air. totally worth it.

next year i think we’ll let the kids plan it…. hooray!

umm… maybe.

every day grace

there is not one single word that can easily describe motherhood.

and on top of all that it entails, we moms add our own description.

expectations.

expectations of our perceived views from people. from other moms. from our own moms. from our mother-in-laws. from the neighbors. from the seemingly perfect momma in the store with her angelic child sleeping in the spotless stroller. from our friends. from our very own children.

it hits hard. it sinks deep and begins to root.

and if we’re not careful, it can grow into a monster.

i was having a conversation with my daughter and, as we were (jokingly) telling each other what a “day in the life” of the other would look like, it was hilarious and hysterical. but as i walked away, the funniness seemed to dim as some words sunk in. i looked back on it and, from my perception, it appeared my child thought i rest often. okay, so pause a sec with me… rest? for a momma?! i know…it’s why i initially giggled when it was said. but when i thought about it more (why do we women analyze so much, anyway?!), i realized that, of course she would think that! let me explain…

i am a homeschool mom… an introvert… and suffer from frequent migraines.

my days  consist of surviving. oh, the joy it brings in my heart (for real!) but.. i am utterly exhausted each and every moment. i have not always been this way, let me assure you. but in this moment in time, it is fact. i am in no way complaining because my life is the dream i have always longed for… loving husband, 3 awesome daughters, a home to take care of … i could go on. it’s what I’ve always asked God for since i can remember. so, while it is tiring for me, i would not have it any other way.

but do i say that to my children often enough for them to know it?

my evenings consist of school planning for hours (some days) and preparing for the following day. and if i’m not doing it physically, i’m doing it mentally. nonstop.

but how would my children see that? they are sleeping or in their rooms. and they are certainly not in my head.

my mind is a never-ending cycle of thoughts… dinner, cleaning, laundry, family, thinking ahead (seasons, appointments, holidays), time with hubby, one on one time with each child, running places, etc… and when this happens, my mind and heart need a re-charge. due to how God created me, i re-charge differently than some. it’s not commonly talked about because our world has given mommas the stigma that you give and give until you go insane. that’s a good mom. really?! no wonder we all are trying and trying but not getting anywhere!

but how would my children see this or know this? i don’t teach myers-briggs or personality types to them over dinner.

Psalms says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

no matter what the other moms at the park think. or what our children think. or what WE think.

that is merely someone’s perception of us. they do not see us 24/7. they cannot see inside our heart.

i had to stop and think this morning…. am i looking at myself as God sees me?

i don’t think i do. and if it do, it’s only because i have the verses written in bold print hanging on my mirror. ha.

so… then, and in typical female reaction (i don’t disappoint! lol), i analyzed yet again. i analyzed MY attitude and thoughts of others. do i judge based on merely MY perception? i think we can all honestly say that we have. but we don’t see them 24/7. we cannot see inside their heart.

Pslams says they are fearfully and wonderfully made.

i believe there is one answer to this dilemma. this answer gives me peace when i worry if i’m doing enough, being enough or if I’ve “rested too long”.

grace.

grace for each other and grace for ourselves.