Monday, July 21, 2014

The Big Things

Everyone talks about "the little things",
those bits and pieces of a day that make up a good life...

...The sunlight streaming through a meadow;
fresh raspberries along the lane;
the joy that shines from on a child's face when they discover something new.

Those things, in reality, often are the big things.
They matter.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Little Man Turns One!

A week ago, we had a birthday celebration for Nicholas, who turned a year old!
From the start, we've nicknamed him "little man", and it seemed fitting to have a party with that theme!

I made some mustache sugar cookies
and decorated them with picks...mustaches of course!

The first year of a baby's life is so full of milestones, and I love to take their monthly pictures, 
so I compiled the two on a chalkboard I created.
The change from a newborn to a one-year-old is absolutely amazing,
and every stage is precious. I could get a little teary just looking at this!

Every party needs a "stache" of candy!!!
Gummies are my personal favorite :)

Cute little striped bags were perfect for the favors!
I added some mustache stickers and wrote their names on them.

She's sneakin' food again! Wonder where she learned that from?!

This little guy was a trooper at his party, even though he was teething.

I'm learning to take family pictures before the party, if I want them!
Kyra (my sister-in-law) was in charge of the camera
during the party and she did a great job!

The smash cake was made out of the abundant zucchini in my garden.
I was secretly worried it wouldn't smash as good as a regular cake, but I should have remembered it was Nicholas who would be doing the smashing! :)

This little guy is all boy!

He tore into the cake, and pounded on it like his life depended upon it!

His audience loved it!!

He demolished that cake, and wore the same mischievous grin he always wears when he's in trouble!
I love this little guy!!

She is his biggest fan. It's so fun watching them interact!

Opening presents is always fun, probably even more for the other children than for the baby!

A little man's first birthday isn't complete without a tractor from Grandpa Shenk :)

The besties loved their candy!

This picture is priceless! I want to squish them all!!

This handsome boy is growing so fast!

My heart melts every time I look at this.
My family. My world.
I am so blessed!

So tiny. So precious.
How are you one year old, little man?

I think he's the cutest little guy ever! But I am prejudiced, a little :)

Happy birthday, Nicholas Edward!
We couldn't love you more.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Homemade Series: Laundry Soap

There is so much satisfaction in making something from scratch;
whether it's a pie crust or homemade laundry soap!
I get together with a friend to do these projects; somehow, it isn't as daunting
and it's a whole lot of fun!
We tackled homemade shampoo the first time,
and this time, we decided to try making laundry soap. 

We found all the ingredients at Walmart, except the essential oils. Since we were splitting it between the two of us, we made 4 times the amounts shown on the following recipe.

// Homemade Laundry Soap //

3 cups Borax
3 cups washing soda 
(note the box; it looks similar to the baking soda but is labeled differently)
3 cups baking soda
1 bar Fels-Naptha soap
1 bar castile soap
1 1/2 cups Zote soap
30 drops essential oils

My friend did all the shopping [see why I like this?!] and bought some cheap graters to use for grating the soap. This step takes the most time!
But it's good for the biceps, and it makes you feel a little like a pioneer woman. 
The Zote soap came in flakes, which meant less grating. 
Get those if possible; who needs nice biceps?!

[Note to self: Let your toddler photo bomb - messy hair, fake jewelry and all; it makes wonderful memories!]
Mix the dry ingredients together, and then add the shaved soap.
Stir everything together in a large bowl. 
If you want a finer consistency, put it in your food processor or blend it for a little.
Add your essential oils last!

We used a combination of orange and lavender oils. It would be fun to try experimenting 
with different scents! 
30 drops seemed like a lot, because it smelled heavenly with about 20.
But we agreed that it would have been best to use the full amount.
You can't go wrong with essential oils!

Add 2-3 scoops of soap to your laundry, depending on size of load.
I use a baby formula scoop, which is about 1.5 tablespoons.
With a soap that has a scent like this one,
 doing the laundry might become your favorite job after all!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Abundant Life

The past couple of weeks have flown by in a whirlwind of activity,
with housecleaning, garden planting, weed pulling and flower planting.
They've been weeks of abundance.

The cool morning air is perfect for jogging with a stroller of babies.

The warm afternoon sun tempts us to play in the pool!

Or in the sandbox, if that's your thing!

But Spring also brings with it an abundance of work,
especially for my Farmer husband!

 The hours are long, and the nights short. 

But there is tremendous satisfaction in seeing the fields get planted,
just before the rain comes!

There are suppers in the fields with Papa,
and rides on the skid loader!

There is so much beauty everywhere!

But it's possible to experience all these things
and not live an abundant life.

 I know...because I've been there!

Sometimes, it's just the mundane, mind-numbing normalities that drag us down,
And we forget to stop and say "thank you" for the precious gift of now.

Or more often, it's the trap of comparison.
I love my life...
until I see someone who has a perfectly decorated home,
a toddler who is potty trained in 3 days,
and is still efficiently managing a business!

It's so childish, really...but it's a battle, 
this choice to live an abundant life.
Because it is a choice.

There will always be someone smarter, prettier, skinnier,
a better housewife, and yup....a better mom!

I look at these precious little girls (who, by the way, are the cutest!) and I see joy.
An abundant life is one that is full of joy.

 It's not devoid of suffering. It's messy and hard.
But it is lovely,
when it is lived with joy.

That's the life that I want to live!
An abundant one.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Sound of Music

The classic song "The sound of music" keeps playing in my head when I think of this amazing time of year.
It really feels like the earth is singing a beautiful new song,
along with my heart.

"The hills are alive

with the sound of music

With songs they have sung 

for a thousand years.

The hills thrill my heart

with the sound of music

My heart wants to sing

every song it hears."

// The song of friendship //
My friend, Aud & her little sweetie, Abigail
were in PA for a wedding and we got to spend a few short, special hours together!
It's rare we get to see each other since she lives in Kentucky and I live in VA.

We've been best of friends for years,
so it's been a dream come true to have our girls [who are only 3 months apart] get a chance to play together and become friends too!

// The song of enduring love //
My handsome date & I at a friend's wedding

// The song of life //
This little blue-eyed cutie turned one, and we celebrated her birthday at the park!

My talented friend made this adorable smash cake,
and my sister-in-law made the delicious lemon cupcakes with raspberries.

They were the perfect blend of tart and sweet.
I want one right now.

Little man rockin' the baseball cap!

The kiddos loved hanging out with Aunt Edie :)

The cupcakes were a hit with everyone.
[Sorry about the nose...I can't seem to stay on top of that!]

// The song of motherhood //
I treasure hugs from my little people and the joy that being a mother brings,
in the middle of the busyness and chaos.

// The song of springtime //
This is Hadassah's version of "sniffing" the flowers! Too cute.

A friend & I went to the JMU Arboretum while the tulips were in bloom.
I've driven by every spring and wanted to stop and take pictures
but that never happened
until now!

The brilliant colors of springtime are so refreshing after the gray tones of winter.

This peaceful place makes me think of that beautiful verse in Psalm 23:2, 
"He leads me beside the still waters; He restores my soul."

// The song of triumph //
This gorgeous sunset took place on Good Friday.

 It felt to me like a perfect picture of the glory of a Saviour Who died for our sins,
and then arose in triumph!

// The song of the Saviour //
There have been days when my heart has overflowed in song,
when the joy of springtime and the wonder of a risen Saviour filled my soul!
But there have also been days when the constant demands of motherhood threatened to overwhelm me;
when there were potty accidents, fussy babies, interrupted naps
and more work on the to-do list than I could get accomplished.
Through it all, I lost my song.
In desperation, I cried to the Lord for something, anything, to restore my spirit.
And He gave me a precious gift;
He sang His song over me!
That, by far, is the most beautiful music of all.

Zephaniah 3:17 The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing."

I hope you hear His song to you today! Blessings, Ruby