Monday, January 7, 2019

Embracing the Seasons

I bounced a fussing baby on my hip as I hurried around the house, collecting a bottle, burp cloth and change of clothes. Glancing at the clock, I realized that we needed to be left in 5 minutes if we were going to make it to soccer practice on time! One child was still looking for their water bottle and the other was upset that their favorite shorts were no where to be found. My patience was wearing thin, and the baby's whines changes to wails. "Just hurry up and put SOMETHING on!" I snapped to the frustrated 5 year old. "We don't have time to find your shorts! Put something on! Anything."  Inwardly, I wondered at my sanity for thinking it would be fun for the children to play soccer. Getting out of the house with a baby in tow requires some effort, not to mention having to make sure both children have all their soccer gear along!

Fifteen minutes later, we pulled into the parking lot and unloaded what felt like a days' worth of belongings. We slid into a bench, just in the nick of time, and I let out a sigh of relief! After the children headed to the field, I began chatting with another mom who was sitting near me. Her youngest daughter, who was playing soccer, was 11 years old. She also had two older children, in their twenties. She smiled wistfully at me and my baby, who was chewing anything she could get her hands on. “I remember those days”, she said. We talked about homeschooling and how quickly the years fly by. Her children are now in college, miles away from her home.
 She seemed to have happy memories of those busy years when they were little, and she was their mother and teacher. I tried to picture my life in 15 years, when my oldest is 22, and suddenly I wanted to just freeze time! The chaos of leaving for a soccer game felt smaller, somehow, as my perspective on this season momentarily shifted. Because that’s the reality: I don’t get it all. One day, my house will stay cleaner and I won’t be constantly changing diapers, breaking up fights and teaching letters. But I won’t get those sweet childish hugs and see the wonder in their eyes when they start to read or watch them take their first step! This is my season, the hard and the wonderful, and I get to choose how I live it.

As the leaves turned from golden hues and fell to the ground, leaving naked trees behind them, I found myself resisting the change. I’m not ready for the cold to set in, and the darkness that comes so early in the evening! I longed for color and beauty for just a few more weeks, please. But I don’t choose these things; I choose what I do with the long winter days. Instead, I think about how to declutter the junk that magically collects in closets and drawers, and find a few minutes to paint or play piano when I would have been working outside in the summer. I embrace the urge to slow down and focus on creating a cozy space indoors. Each season can be beautiful, although I have to convince myself of the fact quite frequently in January and February!

One thing I have learned in my 35 years of life is that whether good or bad, no season lasts forever. Motherhood - and all of life - is also part of the cycle of seasons: always changing, never stagnant. And while I have moments that I would love to escape my reality, (aka: fighting siblings and babies that don’t nap) there are so many others that I wish I could capture forever.
So I lean into this season, with its sacrifices as well as its wonder, praying for grace and for eyes to see the blessings that are all around me. This is my season, and I embrace it, with joy!


Tuesday, April 3, 2018

What I Learned during the Fourth Trimester

Until recently, I wasn't familiar with the term "fourth trimester",
and would probably have looked at you like you were crazy if you had asked me how that particular season was going!
It goes without mentioning that most of us are more than ready to be DONE with pregnancy by the end of the third trimester!
Since Tirzah arrived 5 weeks early, I skipped over part of that final stage!
But we all go through the next phase, whether or not the baby arrives early.
Typically, the fourth trimester is considered the 3 month time frame after the baby's birth.
I can hardly believe it, but we are just ending that phase as she celebrates 3 months earth-side today!
As I look back on these last 12 weeks, there are several things that I've learned - or maybe I should say "re-learned", since this is my third child!

1. Exhaustion is a real thing. Rest as often as possible!
I was so blessed with family and friends who offered to keep our two oldest children so I could sleep when the baby slept.
It was the best gift!

2. Vitamins are your best friend.
If you're one of those people who think vitamins are only for health nuts, hear me out! After giving birth, your body suddenly stops producing hormones that were necessary for the development of the baby. You are healing from said birth and producing nourishment for a tiny (albeit very hungry!) little human, all while being seriously depleted of sleep! A good prenatal vitamin is so important for you and your baby. Omega 3's are vital for brain health and aid in relaxation. I used a plant-based one that had Omegas 3, 6, 9, 5 and 7 in it! B12 is also wonderful in combatting those baby blues.

3. Accept help.
I think most of us have had great training in what it means to be a responsible adult, and that is such a good thing! But it can make it harder to admit that you do need help, and gracefully accept it when it is given. If a friend offers to come do your laundry and cook dinner, let her! And thank God if you have the gift of family close by, like I do! I had to swallow my pride when Tirzah was born, because I simply wasn't ready. The nursery wasn't even set up! But our family and friends stepped in and cleaned the house, including the refrigerator (which was an absolute disgrace!) and set up the nursery. My parents took down the Christmas decor and helped us get settled in. Friends brought delicious food. And I realized again what a beautiful gift community really is!

4. Remember that this is a phase.
My Mom has a simple piece of advice when I feel overwhelmed: "This too shall pass."
And she's right!
When  you wonder if you will ever get a full night's sleep again or the baby will ever move past their growth spurt and actually stay full longer than 1 hour, know that it will happen!

5. Trust your instincts.
Whether you're making a decision about sleep training, vaccinations or baby wearing, you will find there are as many opinions as there are people!
It can feel overwhelming, but as the mother of your child, you have a sense for what is best for your baby.
Every baby is different, and what works for another mama may not work for you...
and that is okay!

6. Enjoy your baby!
After having had 2 babies, I had an idea about how fast they really grow. But it still amazes me just how quickly they pass through each phase! Those precious newborn snuggles are THE BEST, and I cherish them even more because I know they don't last. I'm trying to savor the little grunts when she's eating, the way her chubby hand wraps around my finger and the softness of her cheeks.
I only get this chance once to enjoy her as a newborn,
and I'm soaking it up!

Monday, December 18, 2017

My Christmas Home

It's the most wonderful time of the year again!
The lights twinkle on the trees while the aroma of freshly-baked cookies fills the kitchen.
Excited children count down the days until Christmas,
and carols play on Pandora.

I broke my tradition this year, and began decorating for Christmas before we even celebrated Thanksgiving, thanks to some pleading from my children!
But I'm not even mad about it.
A few extra weeks of enjoying the coziness of evergreen and twinkly lights is just fine by me!

I hung my hand-crocheted snowflakes (gifted from a friend) on a branch,
and then added some mini trees and a cloche to the arrangement, along with some candles.
This is probably one of my favorite spaces in the house!

I love the mini white church and house that I found at the Embellish Christmas sale!
Aren't they the cutest?!

I hadn't found any Advent calendars that I liked, but wanted something visual for the children to count down the days until Christmas, so I was happy to find these printable tags online! 

Just don't ask me how many times they have fallen down! 😏
I may need to come up with a more stable solution for next year. (See what I did there? Stable?! haha.)

This is Mom's corner: aka my personal hot chocolate bar.
And yes, salted caramel can take that drink to a whole new level!
You're welcome.

Who doesn't love a crackling fire?

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care...
but there's only room for two of them there!
Okay, I'll stop with the cheesy rhymes!

The wall seemed bare so I used some embroidery hoops to create a few simple wreaths.
Maybe they still need some ribbon, but I like the simplicity of the evergreen.

Target has some of the cutest ornaments!
I found this one on clearance after Christmas last year.
Rather than use just one style of ornaments, I like to collect a variety over time from different places.

After last year's tree issues (in which the tree shed half its needles before we even made it to Christmas 😞), I'm happy to report that this tree has been good to us!
Is there anything better than the glow of twinkly lights at night?

I wish I could invite you all over for a pot of hot tea (or coffee!), 
but I sure am glad you joined me on our Christmas home tour!

May your Christmas season be a time of rest
and your heart full of joy in the Gift of our Saviour.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017


Hello friends!
Has anyone else out there felt like they've been in a whirlwind the last two months, or was it just me?
Between several out-of-state trips, camping, canning, a family wedding and harvest,
I feel like my projects have all been buried under a pile of chaos and memories.
But it's time to resurrect them! (the projects, I mean)
I find that my soul needs space to create and just be.
Can I get an amen?

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to post about some of my current favorite things.

Current reads:

This book by Ruth Chou Simons is beautiful, both visually and spiritually. Her paintings
are lovely, and her testimony of how to choose grace in the everyday
is so encouraging to me.
You can order the book here

Current Project:

After purchasing a dresser on Facebook Marketplace (who else is addicted to shopping on here?!)
I decided it's time for me to learn the art of chalk paint.
I'm just a little nervous about this, but it's supposed to be fool-proof. Ahem.
All I can say is, I'll be calling all of you who persuaded me to try this if it's not! 😉
I'm just hoping that I can make it look better in real life
 than it does in my head right now!

Current cravings:

Velvety Chai Tea

This Velvety Chai (Bulletproof-style) is THM:S, low carb, sugar free, gluten and peanut free.

I crave this tea, and I love that it has so many health benefits as well!
I make mine with some variations, using MCT oil instead of coconut oil and I skip the butter.
This is also good when you add a bag of oolong tea along with the vanilla chai!

Current Struggle:

Can someone tell me how many tubs of children's clothing I should have in my attic?
Because I'm fairly certain I've exceeded the limit!
Also, how did I end up with 8 pairs of winter pajamas for Nicholas?!
The struggle is real, you guys.

Currently noticing:

The big and small ways that God has been answering my specific prayer to see His heart of love for me. I long to be rooted in His love, because everything else flows from this foundation.
So I simply asked Him to open my eyes so I could truly experience
this love in a deeper way.
It's been incredible to see that prayer being answered!

Currently listening to:

Printable 4 | "The First" (5x7") "The first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day is to have my soul happy in the Lord - George Mueller" Give It Pretty for Risen Motherhood DOWNLOAD

This podcast by Risen Motherhood is so relevant, inspiring and challenging to me.
I only recently jumped on the bandwagon, and found out how much I love a good podcast!
I would love to hear what your favorites are!

Currently loving:

No automatic alt text available.

The watercolor markers I bought on for myself as a birthday present!
(Please tell me you do this, too!)
I have more control with this marker style than I do with a paintbrush,
but it functions just like a watercolor should.
I kind of feel like a kid with a new coloring book!

Current Dreams

A day or two away with my husband, since I've only seen him
for short periods of time the last few weeks.
Maybe I'll get lucky and he'll read this and plan something! ha
A day away with girlfriends, with no responsibilities, uninterrupted time to talk,
and lots of good food. (A good time always involves good food. Am I right?)
A girl can dream!

Current Inspiration:

Seeing the light in my child's eyes when they discover something new,
or master a difficult concept.
Homeschooling was never in my plans,
but one thing I have learned is that God often changes our plans!
I find it fulfilling to teach my children, 
but it also makes me so much more aware of my inadequacies.
I'm glad we just get one day at a time!

And that's my list, for the moment!
Goodness knows it will probably change in a week 😊

What is inspiring you today?

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Summer Journal, part I

I check my calendar occasionally to see which day of the month we are on,
and I have been amazed that we are almost halfway through July!
That means summer is half over, ya'll. (At least by the way I figure things! ha)
Just crazy.
So I'm trying to be intentional about taking time to experience
 the sweetness and richness that is summer,
in the middle of travel, gardening and all the seasonal activities.

One way to do that is to
pick all the flowers!
There's nothing quite like a bouquet of fresh-cut florals to adorn the table.
Sometimes, the littles join in on the fun.
This is Hadassah's creation!

Ahh...fresh veggies!
Aren't summer meals delicious?! It's so rewarding to find goodies in the garden.
The children seem to think it's a game,
except when it comes to picking cucumbers, because they're "prickly"!

This little guy chose a rake for his gift from Timeless Toys,
and he sure has gotten lots of use out of it already!
His mama isn't complaining about the willing help, either 😉 

Calla lilies have long been at the top of my list of favorite flowers.
I even carried them in my wedding bouquet!
And it so happens that there is a bed full of them at the back of my house, so I make sure to pick plenty while they bloom.

I found this patio set at a yard sale this spring, and it's been perfect for summer dining!
Now that it's so hot, we opt for indoors most evenings, but it comes in handy when we're entertaining a crowd.

Not much beats sweet corn, and my son seems to think it's just as good raw!
He ate the whole ear before I even had a chance to cook it! 
Too bad those cows of ours decided to get out and have a feast in my garden. 😠

Rainbows are such a beautiful gift from God, don't you think?

Bubbles are some of the easiest and cheapest forms of entertainment for children!
I think it's time to get them out again.

Our Nicholas Edward celebrated his fourth birthday in June!
I can't get over how much of a little man he is.
This toy is a favorite, because he's "going to be a farmer when he grows up!"

He chose to have a pool party with his friends,
and they had so much fun!

Let's see how many children are actually looking at the camera!

Eddie traveled to PA to help with wheat harvest for a week, so the children and I joined him at my brother, Jim's home for the weekend!
Aren't these raised beds beautiful?

The children had fun playing in the sprinklers on a hot afternoon!

Can't let the children have all the fun!  

From Juniata, we drove north to join my parents at their campsite at Locust Lake Campground.
The children had a blast playing in the sand!

Grandpa was their hero, because he helped them build a huge fort!

Mom had their campsite all decked out for the Fourth.

Stars + stripes, baby!

The campfire is so fun for the kids, and Nicholas was happy to be roasting his own hotdogs,
while chatting it up with Grandpa!

Messy, sticky, sugary S'mores: camping isn't complete without them!

It was such a perfect evening...well, other than the loud music coming from the campers next door! 😏

Dad treated us to ice cream cones and a pedal boat ride!
Yeah, we were spoiled 😊

There's something so peaceful about being at the lake.

I think God blesses us with a sweet kind of rest when we choose to take time
to enjoy His creation.

It sure felt that way to me!

Thanks for following along on Part I of our summer adventures!
Here's to hoping the last half of summer won't fly by quite so fast as the first part did. 😉
Happy weekend, friends!