Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Dreaming of Organization

There are times I get a burr up my butt and decide that This is the day I will get organized, and (cue horn salute) today was (kinda) one of those days.  Ok, only in one small section of the house, but really that's a step up for me.

We decided to come home after dropping Elizabeth off at preschool, instead of going to the Y or the store, which I had previously planned.  It was raining cats and dogs and there was a cold wind blowing and it just sounded a whole lot better to come home and watch Sesame Street and drink another cup of coffee.  I'll let you just guess which sounded best to whom...

So after making a batch of muffins and lunch and putting Mr. crabby pants down for a nap, I decided to tackle two of my biggest issues in the kitchen:  my leftover containers and my pantry. 

Now, don't get me wrong, I have spent plenty of time getting these two places organized.  However, there are three small people, WHO WILL REMAIN NAMELESS, that don't quite care for my system.

Here they are, making mama work to get to the stove.  This was while I was making dinner.  Now, the leftover containers were previously in that white cabinet behind Caleb.

Sine he has been able to walk, Caleb has been fascinated with the pantry.  It seems like every week, I have to move the heavier things up higher so he doesn't pull a can of beans down on his toe.  This has resulted in a ticking time bomb food avalanche just waiting to happen.

Did I take before pictures?  Oh, you know me better than that.  That would take previous thought and planning...two things I have not done since having these little creatures.  But I don't think the end results are too shabby.

Ok, here's the finished pantry with the heavier things up higher and the fun-shaky-but-can't-get-into things on the bottom.  We're going to have to repaint the cabinets...I'll save that sob story for another day...but the inside of this will be done and I bought some chalkboard contact paper to put on the inside of this door too.

This single move is going to piss my son off to no end.  He LOVES scattering leftover containers to all ends of the earth.  But I HATE picking them up and finding dog hair and slobber and who knows what else inside them.  So up they go.

He won't be left empty handed though...look at all those fun things down there to destroy play with!

Has anyone ever started to empty the flour into the canister, only to discover that there's too much in the bag but you already tipped it over so you just leave it there until you figure out what else to do?

Yeah, me neither...

I think it's a sign I need to make cookies...   :)

Happy Wednesday!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Silent Songs of Praise

You know how you have moments in your life that you just want to take a picture and keep it in your heart forever?  

That's partly why I decided to keep a blog - so I could capture those little moments at this time in my life and my children's lives.  I always like looking back at actual pictures of my parents and grandparents when they were my age to put bits and pieces together about what they thought and what they were like then.  Therefore, I have to tell you about the mental picture I took this morning.

(If you click on the song, you'll get the full effect of the message.  Especially since I'm listening to it now as I'm writing.)

At our church service, there is a gentleman who is hearing impaired and sits on the front row.  There is a woman in front of him who signs the songs and sermons and I always like watching her because I think it's fascinating how she can sign and remember what the preacher just said and listen to what he's currently saying all at the same time.  I know I would lose focus far too easily.

Not that I stalk this man, but I have always seen him stand or sit and just watch her.

Well this morning, we sang 'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus.  It was one of those songs that I can't say I've thought about in about a million years, but once it started, my heart went back to songs with my grandparents and growing up.  

I was already half way to weepy when I looked over and saw the man.  His head was slightly tilted back and he was signing along with the music.  And not just signing...SIGNING!  He was joyously singing as "loud" as he could - signing along with the woman in front of him.  His smile was so large that I could see it even though I was angled behind him and he didn't turn around.  

I have no other amazing insight except just the picture and the blessing it gave me to watch this man singing and signing his heart out.  My heart has been heavy with the news lately and there is even a lot of sadness behind the writing of this hymn from the late 1800's.  I got so much joy out of this open display of praise that my heart smiled.  I'm not sure if the man was singing out loud or not, but I can surely say that Jesus heard him this morning.  

I've listened to a lot of people say this week that the key to keeping faith in the hard times is to remember the good times.  They even advised writing down times of blessings or faithfulness to pull out when things get rough.  So I'll tuck this wonderful man that I don't even know deep in my heart to light the darkness if I ever need him.  And he will remind me exactly how sweet it is to trust in Jesus...

Have a wonderful night, my friends. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

All I wanted to do was cook...

I've been batch cooking for a while now - maybe 3 or 4 months, if you want to be precise.  We subscribed to Once A Month Mom and love their Paleo menu.  For about $70 a year, they provide monthly menus, shopping lists, bag labels and full detailed directions for your big cooking day.  Once or twice a month, I buy a huge batch of food and set aside a day to cook it all, bag it up and stick it in one of our three freezers.

Obsess much?  Three freezers???  Nah...

The reward has been life changing and I absolutely love just being able to pull out a dinner and not having to stress in the kitchen every night.  
So normally I do this cooking on a Sunday after church and wind up working all day and into the night.   Everyone gets high stressed because Mama is high stressed and it really doesn't end well.  So this month, I decided to cook during the week.

With my children home.

By myself.

(If you ever hear me mention doing this again, please just take me out of my own misery.)

What I failed to realize was that life and chores don't stop during a week you decide to cook.  And you can't exactly put it to the side because that stuff is going to go bad.  And your children don't stop.  Ever.  

So here was the scene at my house last week...feel free to feel tons better about your own home.  ha!

Starting with the kitchen, this was after I had cleaned so the dishes weren't overflowing from the sink quite as much.  Notice the stack of bags on the chair since I forgot about half a million things when I went to the store and had to make a second trip.
Stupidly, I also broke out the summer clothes that same day.  Which the girls happily distributed all over their floor.

Speaking of laundry, there it is!!  All waiting to be washed.  The dang laundry fairy is fired!!
Scenes from the play room...this was before they got into the puzzles.

I heard Caleb calling me so I had to turn everything off and see what he was into (and by me, I mean "dada").  This is currently one of his favorite climb to the landing and yell for someone to rescue him.  It's awesome, really. 

In the end, I got most of the meals done and what didn't get done, I just put in the freezer.  By the third day of cooking, the kids were going stir crazy so I called it quits and took them outside to play.  Everyone felt better from there on out.

This week, I have to catch up on my house cleaning and workouts, since I let both of those slack last week.  So if you don't hear from me, I've gotten lost in my mess of a bathroom or I've collapsed from too much Insanity.

Or I might be outside pushing can never tell.

Have a great day my friends!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Heaven is Real

I don't have too many opportunities to call Elizabeth an angel (ha!).  Maybe it was her singing or the message or maybe it was just the sun angle and her fairy wings, but this took my breath away.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Why Staying Home has Been My Blessing

I've been doing a Bible study on Monday nights that has really lifted me up.  It's on the book of Ruth and one of the questions this past week was: What has God done that has exceeded your expectations?

My answer was immediately being a stay at home mom.  

Don't get me wrong, I have always respected people who stayed at home with their kids.  

I just never thought I could do it.  

Elizabeth was kept by a sweet woman her first year while I worked and seeing the poor saint after eight hours with crazy toddlers made me thankful to be coming or going.  

I really thought I needed to work.

I thought I needed it socially.  I was convinced we needed it financially.  And honestly, I didn't think I had the "kahunas" to cut it in the SAHM realm.

But God obviously had other plans.

When we moved to TN, I began putting out applications, but I couldn't really find a job that fit.  I had no idea what I'd do for child care and Scott was working such long hours trying to get his wings as a rookie salesman (not to mention he worked 45 minutes + away) that I knew I'd be on my own.

Well, and then we found out we were pregnant.

Elizabeth and me, our first year as the dynamic home duo
I had no idea how it was going to work.  I made the budget out and every way I could figure it, we were in the red.  I had never made more than a couple meals a week and really never thought about shopping for a household much.  And on top of that, I was truly convinced that I would be bored. 

I mean, what can you do AT HOME all day...of course, now (as I normally do) I am completely doubled-over, holding my sides at my know-it-all former self. 

Of course, this was a major detour on my spiritual know, the path that I went down where I didn't know my way around or anyone except my one-year-old and husband?  The same path where I got down on my knees and cried I can't do this without You and I'm sorry I was convinced I had this whole thing called life figured out because I don't?

Maybe you know the one?

Now, I am almost into my fourth year at home and every day I learn and grow.  But I do know this one thing for sure:  I never thought this gig would be as challenging, breathtaking or humbling as it is.  And I had no idea what priceless memories I had in store.

So here's my top ten reasons why God has exceeded my expectations as a stay at home mom. 

1.  After-sleep-cuddles make me melt.  My kids all love rocking and there's something about that still-sleepy little person totally molded into you that completes my soul.  (That is, if they're not screaming their heads off for a sippy/show/snack.)

2.  I wake up every morning, put on my glasses, robe and slippers and walk down stairs to make 3 milk sippies and one cup of coffee.  

3.  I understand (and respond to) a one-year-old's commands.  This is especially challenging when the only real world he says is "dada."

4.  I get shoulder workouts doing three-swing push alterations.  

5.  I can make their day by playing with them.  Anything will do.

6.  I used to melt when my husband told me I was beautiful.  Now, I glow under my children's complements.  

7.  Today, I was crying and my four-year-old comforted me and cried with me.  She didn't even know what it was about.  But I felt her little arms around me and her compassion almost bowled me over.

8.  I know their distinct tastes.  Today, for lunch, I made one pb only sandwich (for Rachel), one j only sandwich (for Elizabeth) and one pb&j sandwich (for Caleb).

9.  I can sense when one of my children is into something they're not supposed to be.  Weird mommy intuition...or the Force, Luke...I'm not sure which it is yet... 

10.  Every day, I get to witness the pure joy and excitement when their daddy comes home.  As they hear the door open or see his car pull up, off they sprint to see who can get to his arms first.  I also get to see that same joy replicated in his eyes.

Now, I know that I very often write about things that are funny or over the top here just because those are the things that I want to make sure I save for my children.  But more than those, I want them to know that I treasure my time with them and it's something that I won't ever take for granted.

How bout you?  Got anything to add to my list?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Ewww, steaks!

I've fallen off the eating wagon.

With Scott on the road, my inspiration wanes and I tend to drift more to the kid's way of things.  Instead of fresh veggies and good meat, we have more mac and cheese and spaghetti.  In going away from good habits, I've not only noticed my waist line increasing, but my attitude slipping.

So today saw a new leaf turn over and we're back in the game.

Now the problem with officially declaring this was that I had basically no food for dinner.  Stuff had gone bad, we hadn't made it to the store, blah blah blah.  So I started a pot of split pea soup with a ham bone after breakfast, pulled a couple steaks out of the freezer and promised that I'd pick up one more vegetable at the store when I went today.  (And I did...corn on the cob.  I swear, nothing else says summer to me.)

Having steaks always brings up good memories for me.  Growing up, we had an uncle that was a farmer and raised and butchered cattle, so we were never short on beef.  In fact, I didn't know that having steaks was considered a upper class meal until after I left home.  It was just something that we had.  

Scott and I hadn't been dating too long when I invited him over for dinner at my apartment.  We hung out there a lot anyway and I'm sure had had dinner together already, but I wanted this to be nice so I bought steaks.  

Now, the softball team (I was an assistant coach) ran the concession stand at the time during football games and I manned the grill.  We served chicken, hamburgers, brats, know, all stuff you want cooked pretty thoroughly.  So I didn't really think twice before heating my little charcoal grill up and then burning those bad boys to a crisp.

In fact it wasn't until I saw my handsome boyfriend trying to smile at me while gnawing on his tough t-bone that I realized that you didn't have to cook steaks through.  In fact, some people liked them RARE.  Oh, I was horrified and embarrassed and he was ever the gentlemen and told me he liked them like that...burnt...and that it was a wonderful dinner.  (Side note:  he likes his steak still mooing.  And he married me anyway!!)

So skip forward plenty of years and I've now pretty much mastered our steaks.  What helps profusely is the fancy new grill we bought at Lowes last year on discount after season, where all the burners work and cook evenly.  I rub the steaks down with a clove of garlic, drizzle olive oil on them and rub in salt and pepper.  Then I cook one side about 4-5 minutes and the other side 2-3, depending on how thick they are. 

I set the hot food on the table and it was just the perfect evening.  We had the windows open and the warm, Spring air was coming in.  I bought some cheap, pink carnations at the store and put them on the table in my good vase.  The children were listening, actually washing their hands when we asked them to...

...and then they walked into the dining room.

"RACHEL!!  Come look at this!!"  Elizabeth yelled.

"What is it?"  asked Rachel.

"Just look."  said Elizabeth.  (Now, I was still in the kitchen so I could only hear this, but I'm imagining her pointing with a look of sheer disgust.)

"EWWWWW!  STEAKS!!"  They both said in unison.  


So, as it turns out, neither one ate the "ewwwww steaks" or what turned out to be "yuck soup".  But they did have two ears of corn apiece and then ran outside to jump on the trampoline while Scott and I ate the rest of their steaks.  

At least they were cooked right.

Oh, and the boy liked steaks.  Go figure.  :)

Happy Sunday eve, my friends!