Monday, January 28, 2008

JOINING THE GIVE-AWAY"One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach. One can collect only a few, and they are more beautiful if they are few." -Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I am joining the bloggety giveaway over at Shannon's Rocks in my Dryer. This time around, she wants the item given away to reflect something about the person's blog. I know I talk about a lot of different things here, and sometimes it isn't as cohesive as I would like it to be, but I do think that the topic that comes up the most is simple living. Being content. Paring down. Living a thoughtful and intentional life. Spending more time on relationships than stuff. I know that is what occupies a lot of my thoughts. How to live a joyful, simple life with my husband and children.

So, in that vein, I am giving away one of my all-time favorite books, Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

If you haven't read this book, you simply must, that's all there is to it. It reads almost like poetry, it is so soothing. Anne Morrow Lindbergh was the wife of Charles Lindbergh, the first american pilot to cross the Atlantic Ocean. She was the mother of six children. Her thoughts on life, mothering, and stillness are wonderful.

So, what do you have to do to win this fabulous book?
1. Leave me a comment below, between now and and 12 pm est on Friday, Feb. 1st. I will draw a winner (randomly) on Saturday morning.
2. You do not have to have a blog to participate. Just leave your email address so I have a way to contact you if you win.
3. In your comment, please tell me a simple pleasure of your day. Something you do on a regular basis, be it big or small, that makes your life more enjoyable and is restorative to you.
4. You do not have to be in the US to participate.

*Image from MIYAZAKI HIROSHI & N73 on

Saturday, January 26, 2008

FIRST ITEM ON "THE LIST"One of the items on my LIST is to run a 5K. I have always been interested in running a race. Runners seem so motivated. Well, Carpe Diem, that's what I say!! I am officially running my first race, with my good friend, Amanda, on March 29th! It is a 5K and I am really excited about it. I am going to follow this training schedule.

I have had several friends and family members who have been very negative and doubtful of my abilities to do this. I admit, at first it really hurt my feelings. But, I have decided to turn the negative comments into extra motivation. I am starting today and my registration is in the mail!!

I am really excited to train for and run this race because:
-It is something I would like to check off "my list"
-I like competition, a challenge, working toward a goal
-I have weight to lose
-It will be fun to do this with my friend
-It will be exciting to measure my progress

There are a few things I need to get.
-New tennis shoes
-New battery in my sports watch
-New sports bra
-A workout outfit or two (I have gotten rid of all my old ratty tee shirts and old soccer shorts)
-Some upbeat tunes for the Ipod

I would like your input on the last one. Do you have a particular song or playlist that you find really motivating for exercise? I would love some suggestions.
I am looking forward to turning my dreams into a reality. The first step is today, when I put my tennis shoes on and hit the pavement.

*This image from beckham2007 on

Thursday, January 24, 2008

BEFORE I DIE...With that new movie, the Bucket List, that is out now, I have been thinking about things that I would like to do before I die. Most of the things I want to do or try are not grand ideas...just small little things that I think I would enjoy.

I will never forget a phone call I had with my mother when I was in college. She called and told me about a list she had made when she was twenty. A list of things she wanted to accomplish before she died. That day, she told me she had just marked the last item off her list. She was 44. That is one of the things I have always admired about my mom. She doesn't just think and dream about the things she wants to do. She doesn't make excuses. She goes for it. She makes it happen. She did every single thing on her list. And then she made a new list. Since finishing up her first list she has taken a writing course. She plans to write her own book, Hiding in my Hammock. She took up photography. She loved it and has gone on to do photo shoots, has been written up in a local magazine, has won several contests and awards, and now is part owner in a gallery downtown where she sells and showcases her work. She has discovered and developed a whole new creative side of herself she didn't even know existed.

I want to be more that way. I am more easily defeated than my mother. I sometimes get bogged down in the DAILINESS of life. But there is much beauty in the dailiness. I don't want to diminish the importance of that. I want to always love my life where I am right now, and to make it as wonderful as it can possibly be. I really feel like I had huge growth in this area in 2007. Learning to really embrace the dailiness and make it beautiful. Cloth diapers, hanging laundry on the line, fresh fruits and vegetables, reducing clutter, etc. all really added a tangible quality to the quotidian events of my day.
At the same time, I want to have aspirations...dreams that rise above the daily demands of life. My "to do before I die" list is not very grand. As I think about it more, I am sure my list will grow. But here it is for starters. Will you share a few of yours with me?

-Finish my college degree: I want to switch from Business Management (I am lacking about 30 hours to graduate) to Culinary Arts, which is what I have really always wanted to do. Also, I want to take the rest of the Latin courses (I did the first one), even though it won't count towards my major. I really love Latin.

-Pick up piano again: I want to get back to a point where I can really enjoy playing.

-Learn to knit a sweater

-Read through the entire Bible

-Take a road trip. Explore the United States.

-Learn to make a really good cheesecake. And gravy. And a layer cake.

-Revisit Italy

-Run a 5K, then (if I like it), a 12K

*Image from Frank72 on

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

FILL IN THE BLANKSTomorrow: I have to drop off and pick up Caed from school. Which, for whatever reason, fills me with dread.

Feeling: Tired. Two of three children were up multiple times last night.

Happy Because: My house is warm and my day feels promising

Today I: Hope to accomplish most of my to-do list, enjoy my children, and make something healthy and delicious for dinner

Laundry: Is manageable

Something I know: that my hubby is my very favorite person ever.

Currently Reading: Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

Wanting: to get back under my feather comforter...just a few more minutes...

Favorite Gadget: KitchenAid Mixer

Thankful That: I feel at peace about our schooling decision for Caedmon

Wondering Why: it is so darn hard to get up early?!

Want to fill in any of these blanks for yourself?

*Image from massdistraction on

Monday, January 21, 2008

FOOD RAMBLINGSThese fresh, locally-laid eggs were a sweet find at the produce stand today. As were these carrots that were pulled from a field nearby just a few days ago. Isn't this pink colander adorable? My sweet mother gave it to me for Christmas and I just love it! I put my eggs in it and each time I open the fridge, I am happy all over again! Thanks, mom!

Oh, in other thrilling finds, I was in the Discount Food store earlier this week and found Burt's Bees lip gloss, which I love, for $1 a tube!! I had just purchased two tubes (for $8!!) a few weeks ago, only to have my two year old throw them in the dryer and turn it on (how does he know how to do that?!!). So, the lip gloss was all over my fabulous monogrammed Pottery Barn hotel linens, that I bought at TJ MAXX a few years ago. Anywaaaaay, in case you haven't heard, Burt's Bees was recently bought out by Clorox (do you think that is weird too?). So, I am pretty sure that bleach will be on the list of ingredients in the lipgloss soon:::sigh:::so I purchased 12 tubes of the stuff to stockpile. That should last me a good four or five months. Long enough to find a new natural lipgloss, I hope. Do you have any suggestions?

In other random things, what is up with this whole cloning-the-dairy cow thing? What, have they forgotten how to reproduce themselves or something? I am curious, how do you feel about eating cloned meat (or drinking milk from a cloned cow)? Personally, it freaks me out. But, I was already nervous about eating genetically-modified meat as it is now.

I am excited to begin preparing my square foot garden next week! First, I have to buy and build the frame, which I hope to get to next week. Then (Mom: stop reading here), I have to go over to my parents and load up the back of the mom-mobile with some prime garden topsoil from daddy's (now defunct) garden to fill in the frame with. I am going to mix it with my compost (see Hon, I told you all those banana peels and egg shells you toted across the yard for me, would come in handy!) and some other soil elements-that-I-can't-remember-the-name-of. By mid-February, it should all be ready for me to plant some different lettuces, spinach, carrots, onions, and possibly sugar snap peas. I think I will skip broccoli and cauliflower. We aren't big fans. I am really excited about the garden. If my lettuce is a success, I can officially eliminate grocery store shopping! Fresh lettuce is one thing I just don't want to give up, and the produce stand doesn't carry it (spoils too quickly).

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I know I have been a little scarce lately. It seems that this simple life I am after is keeping me awfully busy::sigh::but that will always be the way of it, won't it? I think that when I stop equating simple=easy, I will be more at peace.
Sometimes, I fool myself into thinking that if I get rid of all the plastic in my house, and pare down my errands to the essential, and I never go to Wal.Mart, that my life will be a fairy tale. And then my children will never get sick, I will never be grouchy, I will never have a sink full of dirty dishes. And that mindset just sets me up for failure. No matter how much I pare down, there are always going to be days that (in my sinful heart) I just want to END.
My two year old has been giving me fits. He is very, very trying. But, in the same way, he is also loads of fun. I love that child with a passion I can't even verbalize. But gosh, I am glad he is in bed, asleep!!
But, even hard days have a silver lining. Thanks to a challenging day, my evening of deliciously dreary weather outside, a cozy fire inside, and a mug of hot chocolate have been even more enjoyable than usual. I have been getting my computer fix (perusing amazon and all my favorite blogs), after turning it off since Monday night. Oh, which by the way, went great. I learned some interesting things from that little challenge. I think this will require it's own paragraph...

...Ok. I found that turning off the computer made me much, much more productive between the hours of 530-730 AM. As for the rest of the day, not so much. You see, I am very productive in the wee hours of the morning. The house is quiet, I am rested, and the world is my oyster. I can get more work done in those two hours than I can get done during the whole rest of the day. Which is why it is so imperative that I get up early for my day to go smoothly. Usually, I work for about 45 minutes, than sit down with the computer to do my devotions, and then check emails and blogs. Thanks to my little one-day challenge, I now see that is not the best use of my time, and I will not be turning the computer on during that time anymore.

As for the rest of the day, it was sort of a wash. My efficiency generally takes a nose-dive after lunch. Once the children have been fed, and the youngest two are down for their naps, I am pretty much worthless. I get very little housework done. The rest of my day is usually spent piddling, playing with the boys, cooking dinner, and just trying to keep the house from being destroyed by small children. I didn't see a difference there by having the computer off. So, that little exercise showed me that I should maximize those early morning hours as much as possible, when I am most productive, and save my computer time for during the children's naps, and after they are in bed.

There are lots of other things I want to blog about...books I am reading/want to read, how my energy reduction challenge went, thoughts on home storage and house size, whether or not I am going to homeschool, getting ready for my square foot garden, and home renovations. But I will have to save those for another day. The fire is dying down, which means it is time for me to tiptoe upstairs to peek on sleeping babies. Adjust the covers, run my hands over each soft little head, say a prayer for them, one by one. Another day is done, and I have much to be thankful for.

*Image from hey_rabbit on

Monday, January 14, 2008

A DAY OF THE NECESSARYTonight during dinner, I mentioned to my dear hubby that I wanted to make patchwork quilts for the three twin beds in the boys' room. He said "I don't know where you find the time to do stuff like that!". In truth, I DON'T have a lot of extra time (who does?!). I fully anticipate that it will take many months to make three small, very simple patchwork quilts. But, I also know that there are many activities in my day that suck the time away (this computer being the biggest!). That conversation led to a little mini challenge. Just how much could I get done in a day, if I only did what was necessary?
Tomorrow, for 24 hours, I am only going to do what is important for the welfare of my family. The hubby and I established that would include:

-Taking care of the children (feeding, bathing, dressing, and generally meeting their needs. Also, playing, reading to, praying with, etc.)

-Taking care of the house (laundry, cleaning, maintenance)


-Taking care of myself (shower, dressing, and devotions)

So, what will I NOT do tomorrow?
-No computer (this one will be the hardest)
-Very little phone (only when necessary)
-No TV (I watch very little TV anyway, and when I do, I am always folding or ironing laundry)
-No reading magazines or books, decorating

I am hoping for a two-fold result. One, that my hubby will see how busy I am caring for our home and children, and be eternally amazed and grateful to have me (grin)! And two, that I will see more clearly what "extras" add true enjoyment and value to my life, and what I would benefit by cutting back on. I don't think I am a big time waster, but I know that I spend too much time on the computer. Maybe I will really surprise myself, and, by the end of the day, will have a spotlessly clean house, well behaved, clean children, and a healthy, delicious dinner that pleases all family members, prepared in a timely manner (insert wild laughter here). See you Wednesday!

*This image from treasureup on

Friday, January 11, 2008

HAPPY PLACESThis is one of my favorite spots in the bed. The perfect place to read, think, pray, snuggle up with the hubby or babies, sleep, and dream. If my house were burning, I think my feather pillow and duvet might make the list of things I would grab.
I am not a fastidious bed-maker. I like a bed that is beckoning. So I generally stick with white bedding, out of 100% cotton in different textures. In my mind, it is beautiful, even when unmade, because is just looks so inviting.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Run, don't walk, over to Walk Slowly, Live Wildly and read this post on simplicity. It is so, so good. As I said in my comment on Sara's post, I seriously check her blog about fourzillion times a day, because of her amazing posts like this. I WANT this life. I really, really do. I am slowly baby-stepping my way...taking three steps forward, then two steps back. Re-evaluating. Thinking.
I think simplifying must be done in layers. Get rid of a little more clutter, breaking ties with the things that we hide behind, thinking they make us important and happy. We let a few things go and realize that it isn't true, that we don't even miss them. And a little later, we dig a little deeper, loosen our grasp on a few more possessions. And so it continues, hopefully. Every time I read a post of Sara's, I feel compelled to go clean out another cabinet and take another load to Goodwill. You can find more from her at her other site, the Live Lightly Tour.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

(sending my first child to school)
"No whimpering, madam!
You can not have the joys of motherhood, without some of its pangs!
Consider your blessings, and don't be a coward!"

-Mother Carey's Chickens

I am definitely feeling the "pangs of motherhood" tonight. Tomorrow morning, my five year old (and oldest child), goes to preschool. He will be attending the First Baptist Preschool, here in town. This will be his first time away from me, like this. Oh sure, he has gone to his friend's houses, spent the night with grandparents, even gone on trips without me, but nothing like this. He will be gone five days a week, three and a half hours a day. He is so excited. He picked out his backpack. We ordered a little metal spiderman lunchbox online (he is so excited to have a package arrive with his name on it). In many ways, I think this will be really good for us all. Caedmon is definitely a first born. Major Type A personality: organized, craves structure, analytical, a thinker. He loves to learn, talks CONSTANTLY, and is deeply interested in everything. He also adores doing crafts. (Having to make something out of pipe cleaners and popcicle sticks is my own worst nightmare, realized). I think he will really enjoy the structured atmosphere of a classroom, and will really thrive in that learning environment. I am looking forward to the structure it brings to my day, as will force me to get up early (always a goal), get things done more efficiently, etc. Also, I will be able to start walking regularly while he is at school, since I will only have two children at home.

But I will miss our happy mornings at home. I will miss having him around. I am sad that our family is changing, that my children are getting older. I don't like that for half of every day, I won't know what Caedmon is doing...that he will be having separate interactions and experiences from us. I think that I must be crazy (!) to have been so careful of his influences since birth, to suddenly turn him over to a teacher and peers that I don't even know!

The reason that we decided to send him is because we are uncertain about what to do for Kindergarten. I have been going back and forth in my mind about schooling, since I was pregnant with him. I was homeschooled until high school, and know firsthand the benefits of that education. My husband went to public school, as well as private, so he has that perspective. For kindergarten, we are trying to decide between homeschooling Caedmon and sending him to Kindergarten at our church school. So much of who I am, what I value for our family, and what I think is best for our children, points me to homeschooling them, at least while they are small. I won't get into all the arguments for or against homeschooling, but I will just say that I had a very positive experience being homeschooled. I later went to a Christian high school, then a large state University, and did well. There are so many reasons that I want to homeschool, but I admit, I often doubt my abilities.
On the flip side, I can see pros and cons to sending him to Kindergarten, especially to our church school. So, we thought that we would send Caed to preschool for the rest of this year. Our thinking was, if we do decide to send him to school, this will be a good stepping stone between being home all day to being in school all day. Or, alternately, it will help us make our decision to homeschool, because we will have a better idea of what school will be like.

Last night, I met a couple who have eight children, and they homeschool them all. When I found this out, I immediately cornered them and picked their brains for an hour. I found the fact that they were willing to make such personal sacrifices for (what they believe to be) the best for their children, so endearing. I love hearing about families that have large numbers of children, and/or that homeschool them. I just don't know what is best for our family. I have been praying about this for years, and now decision time is looming, and I am still confused. I would love to hear from some of you parents. How did you come to your decision for schooling? If you homeschool, how does it work for your family? What are some of the challenges that you face? If you send your children to school, what are some positives/negatives that you see? Would you all mind sharing some of your thoughts with me?

I understand that whatever decision we make doesn't have to be permanent. We are making a choice for one year only...and even then, if it isn't working, we can change. I am trying to remember that. And that God is sovereign over this situation. Both are good choices and we are very fortunate to have options. Matt and I are not going to ruin Caed's life by choosing one over the other. God will bless either one, and we will see His hand in either situation. But I still want to be wise. So, I would love to hear your insights.

*Image from Johnny Blood on

Friday, January 04, 2008

SIMPLE SHOESRemember a few months ago when I was gushing about these shoes? Well, after months of angsting about whether to spend so much money on one pair of shoes, my sweet hubby bought them for me for Christmas and I LOVE them!! They are very comfy, eco-friendly (soles are made of recycled tires, tops are hemp, buttons are coconut!), and I love the style. I love the classic, Mary Jane aesthetic combined with the earthy, granola girl materials. Exactly what I wanted...classic meets granola. That is a look that is surprisingly hard to find. I went clothes shopping yesterday with my mom. All I came back with was three yard of black linen and a pattern...but that is for another post. Anyway, I am simply delighted in my Simple shoes! I am going to Goodwill about three other pairs of shoes that these will replace (trying to simplify my shoes down to this new pair, a pair of tennis shoes, a pair of flip flops, and a pair or two of ballet flats).
REDUCING NOISE, REDUCING STRESSMy dear friend, Becky at Boys Rule my Life, has started a new carnival, beginning today, called Simple and Slow Fridays.

So, I started thinking about noise and sound and how it affects our family's home and atmosphere...both positively and negatively.
There are several ways that I have worked/am working to reduce superfluous noise in our house...with three little boys running around, there is plenty of yelling and running and banging and laughing.

-For awhile, I had really, really reduced television time. We had worked down to watching little or no television during the week, and then letting the boys watch a movie on Friday night. I would like to get back to this, but I know it will be an on going challenge. It is so easy to let it creep back up and to use TV as a babysitter.

-I got rid of all toys that use batteries or make noise. Every single one. The boys haven't missed them...and I know I haven't. Yes, I did get Landing the Band in a Box for Christmas, which makes a lot of noise. But, I have put them away, and only bring them out at certain times for them to play with. And, he really loves to make music (I use the term "music" loosely! ha!).

-I talk very little on the phone during the day. I find that I am not very attentive to the boys when I am on the phone...and they use that as an opportunity to get into lots of mischief. So, my phone time is very, very limited when they are up.

-No TV in the master bedroom. This is the first house we have lived in that we have not had a television in our bedroom, and I love the difference it makes. I love having that space to retreat when SportsCenter (my arch-nemesis) is driving me batty. Our children are only allowed in our room by invitation, so this room is truly a sanctuary to me. Nothing but books and down filled blankets and pillows there and I LOVE IT.

-I personally prefer to use learning tools that, for the most part, are not electronic. I know a lot of people rave about the Leap Pad system, but I would rather read to my kids, or use books on tape (especially in the car). My five year old enjoys listening to them with headphones during rest time. We also like workbooks (ok, I hate workbooks. Caed (5), likes them), exploring outside, cooking, reading, and using materials found around the house for simple math and such. Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike the Leap Pad or other similar learning tools, they just haven't personally captured my or my children's attention.

-On the flip side, there are some ways that I welcome noise into our house. I grew up home schooled (until high school), and my mom always had classical music playing. During planning, cleaning, or school time, she often played Bach, or other Baroque music, for its methodical qualities. For other times, Mozart or Beethoven. For evenings and winding down times, Brahms, or Chopin's Nocturnes (night music). I have begun to do this in our home as well, and have found that it can really change the tone of our house.

-People. We love to have people into our home. I love for our children to be exposed to different people with their own ideas, looks, and ways of doing things. I love the bustle of a house full of friends and family. It can get noisy, yes, but is well worth it for the happy chaos it brings.

My end goal is to have a home that is filled with sound...but I want it to be noise that is mostly generated by us...children laughing and playing, people talking, etc. Sounds that are happy and peaceful and creative, not mechanized sound from a blaring TV or battery-operated toy.

So, what about you? How do you feel about the noise level in your home? What have you done/want to do to reduce it? Or maybe add to it? Leave a comment here, or head over to Becky's Blog to link your own post!

*Image from lottebrayley on

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

This recipe was passed to me from my mother, who received it from her friend, Katy Sammons, who got it from her grandmother. It has been passed many times because they are AWESOME! Since I have sworn off food in 2008 (well, I am at least doing Weight Watchers. I am losing the rest of this baby weight in 2008, darn it!), I made a few modifications, which I have noted in the recipe. These cookies stay chewy and delicious, even after they have cooled. Yum!

Ginger Cookies
-1 cup oil (I used 1/2 cup applesauce, 1/2 cup oil)
-2 cups sugar
-2 eggs
-3 teaspoons ground ginger
-1 teaspoon ground cloves
-2 Tablespoons molasses
-3 1/2 cups plain flour (I used white-wheat bread flour, b/c that was what I had on hand)
-2 teaspoons baking soda
-1 teaspoon salt
-4 teaspoons cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together. Roll into small balls, then roll in sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 9 minutes. Do not overcook, or they will get hard, instead of chewy.I didn't measure my spices. Also, I used a little less than 3 cups of flour (but using bread flour might have made the difference). I couldn't tell the difference from using wheat flour and applesauce, but it did make them a little healthier (which is relative, I suppose, when you are talking about cookies!). This recipe makes a LOT of cookies, which was great for making some, and having dough to put in the freezer for another day.
(pictures below)
Yesterday, I caught the cleaning bug. I mean, it's not like I could go into a new year with dirty floors, right? So, my dear hubby took the boys outside to play for several hours and I got busy. After spending so many days lying around feeling yucky, cleaning and scrubbing was absolutely theraputic. I literally could feel my spirits lifting with each push of my mop. After a few hours I had:
-Vacuumed the house, top to bottom, including baseboards
-Mopped the whole house
-Wiped fingerprints off doors, windows, mirrors, door frames, and walls
-Wiped down all kitchen appliances
-Washed two loads of laundry and hung them on the line

Remember me talking a few months ago about cleaning up our screened in porch? Yeaaaahhh, I pretty much just talked about it. So, yesterday, I finally tackled that area and
-Wiped down all the chairs and table
-Swept down all cobwebs
-Swept down the leaves from around the outside of the screens.

Aaah, much better. I would like to make the porch a retreat to read, listen to music, use the laptop, watch children play in the backyard, or have dinner. I would also really like to utilize the location of the porch (right off the living/dining room, overlooking the backyard) to be a playroom of sorts. I would like to use it more for children's crafts and playtime. That way, I can see and hear them, but they aren't destroying the house. I think maybe I would like to have a wooden kitchen set out there. I am not sure. Do you have any suggestions?
The porch has double doors that open to the living/dining room, which I would like to replace with french doors to let more light inside, as well to be able to see onto the porch and backyard. The porch is elevated about 5 feet, so you are looking down into the wooded yard and it is really lovely. On one end is the pedestal table and chairs. On the other end are two rocking chairs with a lamp and small wicker stool/side table. I would like to incorporate some storage solutions. The porch is a huge asset to the house and is useable almost year around, thanks to the ceiling fans and shady surroundings. I welcome any thoughts and suggestions you might have for making this a play area for the boys, while still being usable as an adult area.
COZY CORNERThe sunlight hitting the boys' bookshelf this morning was so lovely.