Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Baker, The Candlestick Maker

My friend Laurie recently sent me a link to a recipe for Pink Lemonade Pound Cake that she thought would interest me.  I couldn't stop thinking about those pale pink mini cakes that sounded just right with summertime approaching.  I love the tart tanginess of lemonade, especially on a warm, sunny day!

I knew Madi would enjoy baking them with me, so last Wednesday we had a little baking date after school, but not before putting on the fun aprons my sis-in-law made us for Christmas.  (She even sent one for a doll to wear, how fun is that?!)

We followed the recipe, but substituted nonfat plain greek yogurt for the sour cream and used 1 egg and 3 egg whites rather than 3 eggs.  You can find the recipe for these adorable cakes by clicking right here.

They didn't take long at all to make, so we had a few minutes left to enjoy one together before lessons and church.  I brewed one of Madi's favorites -  peach green tea with honey.  She requested the butterfly teacup, and I chose the rose one.

I miss the days of Madi being home with me when we used to bake together all the time.  Our times in the kitchen are fewer and farther between than they used to be but I cherish them, and look forward to summer when school is out and we can bake and cook together more often!!  There is so much that happens between us when we spend time together in the kitchen.

Last week I also tried something else new, this time in the decorating department.  I'm not sure if this is even allowed, but since I was painting everything else blue, I painted a heavy silver candlestick that I've had for years.  It was sitting in a closet and I wondered what it would look like with a little paint.  Turns out it looks great!

The beautiful details in the silver were really brought out with this new look.

I used a candle and some scraps of ribbon I already had to dress it up.

And this is where it is at the moment!  Of course, that could change anytime around this place, but for now this is what is sitting in our little entryway by the front door.

With a little paint, paper, and a doily, I made that framed print recently as well.

Have you been making anything new these days?!  Would love to hear!

A Table Makeover, My Own Little Space, And What I've Been Studying

Remember the hand-me-down baseball table I redid a few years back?  Well, while working on some other projects I gave it a little makeover on a whim.  The soft blue paint brightened up my little corner. I've been bringing in some blues for spring and summer, and this Valspar paint in Mirage was just the right shade.

My mom still gives Jimmy and me an Easter basket every year (I know, right?) and this year our goodies were in this little tweed box with a leather pull.  It is just right for storing all my Bible studies and journals on the bottom shelf of the table!

My favorite pens and other little trinkets that make me smile sit on top.

I love the view from my own little space - and can't we all use a little space now and then?!

My cup of something warm is right in reach (this mug from a friend always brings my heart warmth).

And so is my life line.  There is nothing like spending time in God's Word to center your soul.

Lately I've been studying two books by Kay Warren.  Both Choose Joy and Say Yes To God have encouraged and challenged me in major ways.  Kay is a woman who knows and shares and lives the Word of God.  Would love to talk about these truths with you over a cup of coffee!  This is life changing stuff.

I'll leave you with her definition of joy that she used to summarize the many things the Bible says about it.  It is absolutely worth memorizing!

Joy is the settled assurance that 
God is in control of my life,

the quiet confidence that ultimately 
everything is going to be all right,

and the determined choice 
to praise God in all things.

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Snapshot From The Blurry Years

I have been thinking about an old photo from a season I affectionately call The Blurry Years, and found it the other night.  I've been in an old photo sort of mood, probably because Madi recently turned eight and birthdays make me nostalgic.  

Why do I refer to this season as The Blurry Years?  In April of 2005, I had an unexpected C-section at 36 weeks pregnant because of a very serious condition called HELLP Syndrome.  We had a rough start, this beautiful baby Madi and I, and just when we were getting the hang of things I found out I was having another baby.  I remember we waited until her first birthday to share the news. It was Easter time and I sang 5 nights in a Passion Play, praying each time I got up for my song that I wouldn't throw up because my morning all day sickness was so bad.  I remember being so sick the day of her Little Einstein 1st birthday party.  Six and half months later our handsome Trevor entered the world, and this time the C-section was routine.  But he had severe (let me re-emphasize severe) acid reflux and I was sick a lot his first year, with symptoms randomly mimicking those of malaria according to several doctors (wish I was joking).  We made it through his season of crying and projectile vomit and my season of spiking 104 degree fevers, flu-like symptoms, and other health issues. Then two days before his first birthday, we made a major move from familiar Maryland to our new life in Florida, which would prove to be a defining and refining time in our lives.

We were building a home so we lived in a lovely rental house for the first ten months of our time in Florida; however, this house was completely out of the way from everyone and everything we were involved with.  I spent most days by myself with the kids, surrounded by boxes since we didn't want to fully unpack, knowing we would soon be moving again.  In the rental we conquered potty training which meant we were down to only one child in diapers, and moved Madi from the crib to the big girl bed.  We swam in the beautiful pool, baked and decorated cookies, made our first Disney visits, played in a new playhouse on the back porch that Santa delivered, snuggled up with paci's and favorite books and videos.  It was a sweet time with my two precious babies - but when I try to remember it, things are blurry around the edges.  It's hard for me to recall details of that season.  God was teaching me to thrive amidst the changes and challenges and my new role as mother of two, but there were days when I was just plain trying to survive.  

The reason I share The Blurry Years with you?

Because I know from the feedback I get that many who read this small blog are moms of little ones.  Many of you are living your own blurry years. You are women in the season of nursing and diapers and tantrums and first steps and baby giggles and reading the same books over and over and new adventures and major life changes. You are learning to embrace the God-given role of mothering, a role that will both tear your heart wide open and make you bubble over with laughter like no other.

Now back to the photo...

I love this photo for so many reasons.

*the penguin Christmas socks our friend Jeannie gave me that date this photo as taken in December, 2006, the month of our worst Christmas ever

*that it was taken in our first home, a sunny little townhouse where we laid the foundation for our marriage and family

*the paper decorated with stickers on the table, and the one lone sticker stuck to the table

*the I'm a Big Sister book on the ground I had been reading with the new big sister in our house 

*Madi's comfy Nick and Nora lamb pj's my mom bought for her, and how that girl would have stayed in her pj's all day if I had let her (and some days did)

*that Madi is holding Ellie, who was a very important pink elephant in our home

*the random roll of toilet paper strewn across our carpet

*the fact that when I turned my back to tend to baby Trevor, Madi tried to help herself to a bowl of Cheerios

*the fact that not one Cheerio made it into the bowl, but the remainder of the whole box made it onto Trevor's baby blanket

*that even though my blurry world was spinning, before I cleaned up the mess I stopped to take a photo, so I know I was still me even though it's hard to remember

*that we made it

And so will you, dear mom.

Survive, but let God gently teach you how to thrive.

Hang on, but let go and enjoy.

Take a deep breath, but take time to exhale.

And grab the camera, because one day it's going to help you remember.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Just For Fun! {Recent Moments}

Happy Weekend to you!  I hope you are enjoying yours!  Ours has been refreshingly low key.  We spent our Friday night at home, which these days are some of my favorite kind of Friday nights.  The weather was spectacular so after making stuffed shells and steamed broccoli for dinner, the kids and I took a long bike ride then they played with dirt and sticks while Jimmy mowed and cared for our lawn.  I made Trev's favorite yellow cake with chocolate frosting and while we ate it, he seriously wowed us with facts he's been learning about JFK in school.  He is turning into one smart kid! Hard to believe his kindergarten year is coming to a close soon.  

Today was surprisingly chilly and gray.  We had plans to swim and cookout at our friends house and Madi and Trev both jumped right in and happily swam until their lips were purple, despite the cool weather!  It was nice to visit and eat food off the grill and take it easy together.  I was sleepy when we came home and the sky was so dark that I took a nap, which I rarely do.  It felt so good to drift off to sleep in my green chair - until I woke up and everyone was having emotional breakdowns, needing Mommy and something to eat right that second even though I was still in a foggy delirium (which reminded me why I don't usually take naps)!

I ended up with a few minutes to myself (the beauty of grandparents right down the road), so I thought I'd share a little of this and that from the last week or two.

Some outfits are just plain happy, and this was one!  I got this top and skirt on extra clearance at a J. Crew outlet while in Maryland.  I always seem to come back around to polka dots in the spring!  

I started a couple of my mornings this week with coffee in a beautiful yellow mug from my friend Laurie, who always treats me to the perfect little surprises.

I made some of these pencil jars for a flea market I participated in and Madi wanted one so badly.  I finally made her a monogrammed one and surprised her with it after school one day!

Speaking of the flea market, it was so much fun!  I got to spend the day with a great group of people and it was a delightful new adventure.  I enjoyed the creative process and was thrilled that quite a few of my homemade items sold, including this wreath which was one of my favorites!

Our friend Linda recently threw a surprise birthday luncheon for my grandma for her 87th birthday.  The past few years have been quite a struggle for her physically and mentally, and my mom has been such a trooper as her caregiver (which is a uniquely challenging role).  The day of her party she was in great spirits and looked fabulous, and we had a good time with lots of laughter!

During one of her temporary stays at a facility, my mom kept encouraging her to join the activities.  When the subject of bingo came up my grandma (spunky lady that she is) told my mom she saw no point in playing there because they didn't play for prizes. So...at her party, we had bingo with prizes - and good prizes!  I was the first winner and won a pearl bracelet set which was perfect since I'm a pearl-lovin' girl!  There was a tense moment or two when GG hadn't won yet - but rest assured, she won both of the last two games fair and square and got herself a prize!  It was a hoot.  

Madi's class recently went on a field trip to the zoo and Jimmy and I both went as chaperones.  We especially enjoyed the giraffes, and Madi got the experience of feeding one which was fun (and progress, since the opportunity to milk a cow on her kindergarten trip to the farm wasn't as well received, shall we say).

Madi recently turned 8 and our friends gave her one of those Skip It things that you wrap around your ankle and jump over.  Madi is quite the active little girl and took to it right away, and has a personal record of 366 consecutive jumps.  She wanted me to try it after school one day so I strapped it on my right ankle and gave it my best shot. It made it half of a rotation around, slammed into my left big toe so hard it left it throbbing, broke my toenail, and took a chip out of the polish.  I think it is safe to say she did not get her athletic genes from me!  We were doubled over laughing and she kept begging me to try again.  Right then and there I accepted the fact that I will never be a Skip It record setter and refused the offer.  :)

Well, the troops are back.  Trev is enthusiastically telling me the update on my brother's volleyball team's playoff game and wants me to look up a water gun that he wants to buy soon with his money.  Madi is snuggled up next to me and just informed me she is in a better mood because Grammie always puts her in a better mood. Those Grammies! There is just nothing like them.

Love my family and friends!

Enjoying these days.

Looking forward to worshiping with my church family tomorrow.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

On Grounding Your Sister And Staying Married

Tonight after church my kids were in this hilariously silly mood where they were cracking themselves and each other up!  We had a snack before bed and our kitchen was filled with uncontrollable belly laughs. They were enjoying each other so much I wished it wasn't a school night so I could have let them stay up and giggle some more! I love moments like those.

It was a far cry from last Wednesday night, though I have to admit I was secretly laughing then.  They had gotten into a ridiculous disagreement about something. Apparently Madi had the upper hand in this skirmish, and Trevor had just had enough. From the other room I heard him say in complete and total frustration, "That's it, Madi. NO ELECTRONICS UNTIL MONDAY!!!"

I'll let you guess who normally gets grounded from electronics around here.  :)

(I happened to have documented a fight Trevor lost over a Cubbies book a few years ago and the frustration that followed. Classic.)

Here's the thing about doing life together.  You're going to have wonderful, idyllic moments that make life and relationships incredibly meaningful; and you're going to have moments where the people you love most frustrate you to the point of grasping for the worst possible punishment you can think of to put them in their place!

My kids are figuring out how to do life together.  They are learning how to get along.
To be honest, most days they are the sweetest little pair! But they also have their less than stellar moments.

Just like all of us.

My parents will be celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary on Saturday.  That just amazes me!  40 years of life together, a happy life at that!

(For the record, they may try to ground me from electronics for posting this old photo but seriously, who could resist?!)

Regarding the issue of marriage, I've often heard my dad (who has not only been married for 40 years but has been doing pastoral counseling for nearly as long) say this...

It would be so helpful if people would simply learn to get along with each other! Husbands and wives and families need to figure out how to get along, not spend their time arguing and fighting, but enjoying life and enjoying each other!  

It is so, so basic, but isn't that how most profound truth is?

Sometime we need to get back to the basics!

We need to go back to the Biblical principles of being nice and kind and working things out with one another that we were taught as children.

Just as I want my kindergartner and second grader to learn to get along as we navigate through life and share this home together, I want that for us as a family.

And for your family.

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32

Let's all work on this in our homes!

I have a feeling it could make a huge difference in our relationships.

Enjoy your life!  Enjoy your marriage!  Enjoy your kids! 

Make an extra effort this week to simply get along with the people you love.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

So Much More {Gifts 141-165}

I recently watched an old interview with Ann Voskamp.  It was brought up that many view her as a modern day Pollyanna.  She smiled at the sweet reference, but responded that this life of giving thanks is so much more than that.  

She spoke of how we long for God's presence, how we are able enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise (Psalm 100:4).  How praise and thanksgiving draw us into the very presence of God.  How this choice for thanks literally transforms minds and changes lives.  So she counts on, and has inspired many others to do the same.  

#141- strength to make it through that song

#142 - my husband teaching on faith

#143 - a healing conversation

#144 - how Coke and crushed ice can help settle an upset tummy

#145 - rest when under the weather

#146 - courage

#147 - that God blew the clouds away when we asked

#148 - the most perfect beach weather

#149 - sweet little friends celebrating

#150 - a visit from the eagle that sometimes hangs out in the trees outside our home

#151 - seeing photos of my parents having a wonderful visit with my brother and his family

#152 - my friend telling me that the waves now make her think of grace upon grace

#153 - a cooperative Monday morning

#154 - that God's truths are truths to transform

#155 - Kay Warren's willingness to share truth

#156 - sunbeams

#157 - His perfect, unexplainable peace

#158 - watching growth happen

#159 - getting to do life with my very best friend

#160 - sweet, tender spirits

#161 - little arms wrapped around my neck

#162 - that we don't have to be paralyzed by fear

#163 - access to the Father

#164 - the power of prayer for those who suffer

#165 - the hope of what is ultimately to come {and HE shall reign forever and ever}

For these and more, I am grateful...

Thursday, April 11, 2013

{Gifts 96-140}

"A watching world needs to hear from us that God personifies joy."

"Joy is rooted in gratitude.  You cannot have a joyful heart without having a grateful heart.  And you cannot be a grateful person and not experience joy.  Those who can praise God will experience joy.  And those who are joyful will thank God.  Joy and gratitude always go together....Joy simply cannot grow in the presence of ingratitude." 

Kay Warren

Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

Colossians 2:7

#96 - wisdom from God's Word

#97 - new adventures

#98 - young people who love Jesus

#99 - bike rides in the orange blossom air

#100 - longer days 

#101 - backyard baseball

#102 - my mom

#103 - Jesus loving people who take time to love my kids

#104 - healthy homemade smoothies

#105 - hearing my husband teach God's Word to teenagers (never grow tired of it)

#106 - morning sunlight

#107 - eyeliner

#108 - God's creative and on time provision

#109 - that song you just want to keep on repeat

#110 - grace to cover all my messy imperfections

#111 - weekly small group time (my heart beats for those girls)

#112 - the sound of quiet

#113 - sitting outside in the sunshine

#114 - when unexpected and wonderful plans come together

#115 - childhood simplicity

#116 - perfect harmony

#117 - when someone just knows you and what you like

#118 - endurance

#119 - how forgiveness sets free

#120 - Psalm 1

#121 - the cross (may I never forget)

#122 - four generations of women on Easter Sunday

#123 - Kashi cookies

#124 - margin

#125 - stamina

#126 - the ability to get out and enjoy life with my family (never want to take this for granted)

#127 - 87th birthday celebrations

#128 - discipleship

#129 - fun and laughter on a bowling date night

#130 - creative spaces

#131 - innocence

#132 - continuing to learn not to worry what others think but what God thinks

#133 - people who live out their faith and set tremendous examples for me to follow

#132 - birthday breakfasts

#133 - those last minute plans that ended up being the best

#134 - finding exactly what you were looking for and knowing God cares about even the smallest details of your life

#135 - our wonderful school

#136 - their fabulous teachers (can't say this enough)

#137 - clean water

#138 - His peace in my heart despite this world's troubles

#139 - hymns and verses that come to mind that were tucked away in childhood

#140 - that I was his exception

For these and more I am grateful...