Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Managed Chaos and Thanks

Stack of magazines for a friend

It's so long between posts these days, that when I come here to write, I don't know what to say. Feels a bit like running into a friend that you haven't seen in awhile...a little awkward but good, too. 
Life here is messy, in all the ordinary ways. "Managed chaos" is what my husband calls it. I swing between over-the-moon blissed out baby love, to crying from exhaustion. People ask me how I'm doing and I have no idea what to say. Wonderful? Terrible? Neither? Both? 
Probably most of us can say that, on any given day. There's good and hard all mixed in together. 
Yesterday, when both girls were screaming simultaneously and my two year old was standing on the counter, throwing raw eggs onto the rug on the floor, I was positive that I couldn't do this mama thing for one. more. minute. 
But I did, of course, and the afternoon brought dinner with friends, and moments to connect with each of my children and hubby individually, and even a few moments outside, sweeping the beautiful red and golden yellow leaves off the porch. 
I have a beautiful, chaotic, happy life and some days I want to run away from it. I want to get in my car and drive fast to somewhere that no one will say "mama? mama?! MAMA!!!!" 30 times in a row. 
You get that, right? 
That it's wonderful and I wouldn't trade it for anything but sometimes I think I can't stand another minute of the chaos?
I hope you know what I mean. I always feel conflicted when people ask me "how are you doing?". I want to be honest and authentic and let the messiness show through but I also want to convey the joy and happiness that I feel. 

On that note, here are some things that I am loving right now:

~My house is slowly, slowly coming back together. One drawer at a time, I am paring down, organizing, simplifying. The external peace of my surroundings really helps me feel calm, so I'm thankful that I am making progress on reclaiming my home after all those months of bed rest.

~ Saulsy. Oh my, I don't know how I could possibly function without him. We will be celebrating our 11th anniversary next month and I am so exceedingly grateful for his love and attentiveness to me and our children. 

~Nursing babies. I was so anxious during my pregnancy that I would not be able to nurse these girls. And, when they were born 7 weeks premature, I was afraid that was the final nail in the nursing coffin. So, I am incredibly happy that they are both strong nursers now. I am proud of each and every one of their little fat rolls. Nursing them feels like a major accomplishment, and a gift. 

~Good food. I am so, so happy to be back in the kitchen. My pantry and freezers are bursting at the seams. I have all our food organized into categories on my phone, along with the quantity and where it is located (we have 2 fridges and 3 freezers). This is so convenient for when I am at the store, and can't remember if I already have something, I can just check on my phone. My kitchen is my happy place. Lately, I have a pot or two of soup going at all times. Today, I have a venison vegetable soup, and a 15 bean soup. I make a pan of cornbread and pull out a jar of freshly canned applesauce, and we have a yummy, quick dinner. I've been making other things that I will save for another post. 

~The leaves and weather have been exceptionally beautiful this year. I haven't been able to spend much time outside this fall, so I'm even more grateful for the beautiful fall leaves outside every window. 

~Good friends and family. I have so many that have loved our family in numerous ways over these last months. I have so far been unable to aptly express my overwhelming gratitude for the encouragement, the late night visits to hold babies while I sleep, the texts, the pointing me to scripture, taking a toddler for a morning, picking up kids from school, bringing meals, doing laundry and other housework, and the list goes on and on. It really does take a village (or two!) to raise a child and my village has been on over-time this year. 

~My children. It boggles my mind that I have six kids. I can't get over it. And twin girls?!?!?! Craziness. Saulsy and I stand side by side and stare at them at night, speechless. We really can't believe it. And wow, are we in love. And our boys!! Oh, man. Saulsy texted me the other day, while driving somewhere with our boys, and said "does your chest ever hurt? Sometimes, my chest physically hurts, I love you and our kids so much". Yep, that pretty much sums it up.  Breathtaking, overwhelming love.

~My washer and dryer. Dang, we do a lot of laundry. Where does it come from? I swear clothes multiply. I'm awfully glad I can stuff it into a machine and push a button. Magically, 54 minutes later, I have clean clothes!

~Psalm 34. My sister-in-law sent me to that chapter after a desperate text during witching hour when I was having a melt down and I cried over the text. Great comfort there.

That's enough for now. I want to share some links in another post of foods I've been making and links that have encouraged and inspired me. I always love to see what other people are reading and cooking!

Saturday, September 03, 2011

My first post-partum forays in the kitchen

(This picture of my mantel has nothing to do with the post, I just don't like having a post without a picture)

One of the things that I always struggle with the most while pregnant is how my relationship changes with food. For nearly a year, as I deal with morning sickness and fatigue, cravings and aversions, my love of cooking is put on the back burner, no pun intended.

For most of this twin pregnancy, I was too exhausted to even stand up in the shower, much less go to the grocery store or prepare food. Many meals, I was too tired to even eat. Many, many meals were cold cereal, as that was the quickest, easiest thing I could find in the kitchen.

In my darker moments, I despaired that I would never again enjoy one of the things that used to bring me so much pleasure. I mourned that part of myself that was gone. So, it has been with great delight, that over the last (almost) three weeks, since giving birth, that my love for food and cooking has started to return.
First, it was just pinning recipes to my Pinterest Food Board. Then, it was my first trip to the grocery store, restocking my pantry and fridge. And today, I was back in the kitchen, preparing some quick and simple food. It felt so, so good to be back in there!! I'm taking it slow and keeping my expectations simple...caring for the twins + the 4 boys is about all I can manage right now, along with keeping the house picked up and the laundry and dishes done. We still have dear friends bringing us meals three nights a week. But I just needed to get in the kitchen and MAKE something, you know? I needed to feel some ownership over my house and my life, after so many months of relegating nearly all my responsibilities to others, during the harder months of this pregnancy.
So, I made salted caramel popcorn (I didn't like this recipe as much as the one I typically use but I loved the finishing salt) and the yummiest pizza with fresh mozzarella, caramelized onion, and topped with arugula, lightly dressed in a greek vinaigrette.
Now I am anticipating all the wonderful foods of fall and hoping, HOPING I have the energy and time to can applesauce this fall. I love to have freshly canned applesauce for when my babies are ready for table food.
So, what are you cooking these days?
And, are you on Pinterest yet?!

Friday, September 02, 2011

Introducing Piper and Scout!

The girls are here! Piper Jane and Della Scout were born at 33 weeks, 5 days on August 15, 2011. Piper weighed 4 pounds, 11 ounces, was 17 5/8 inches long and was born at 6:48 pm. Scout was 4 pounds, 10 ounces, was 19 inches long, and was born at 6:49 pm. They spent 10 days in the secondary nursery and have been home with us for about a week and a half. 

The names Jane and Della are after our maternal grandmothers. Piper was just a name we liked, and Scout was from To Kill a Mockingbird. When I watched the movie in high school, I thought that if I ever had a daughter, I would love to have a spunky little Scout. I also really loved the name Dylan Wren (Dylan is also a family name) and it took us two days after they were born to pick which two of the three names we wanted to use. I still feel a little wistful about tabling Dylan Wren. Such a sweet name!

(Scout on the left, Piper on the right)
I will write their birth story in another post on another day. The girls are such a gift to our family. We just can't get enough of them. They are so, so tiny. And having girls (!!)...and twins (!!!!) is just rocking our world. We all just stand at their bed and stare at them. I'm not sure when it will sink in!
If you would like to see more pictures of our sweet girls, check out the shoot that my childhood friend, Jenny Evelyn, took.

More soon...for now, an hour of sleep!

Saturday, July 16, 2011


I never have much to say when I am pregnant. And what little I do want to get off my chest, usually fits nicely in a Facebook status. Hence, the four months of silence. 

Life around here has been good. 
Rich in friendship and community. 
I've been on bed rest for two weeks now. 
So, others are taking care of my children, fixing our food, cleaning my house. 
It's been hard to let go of my responsibilities, without also feeling worthless and guilty...but it's also been a relief. 
Guilt mixed with gratitude is sort of a weird place to be. 

Maybe I will talk more another time about the wrestling that has gone on in my heart for the better part of this pregnancy...relinquishing ideals and expectations, mourning things that have changed, anticipating new life that is coming to us...but for now, I just want to keep it light. 

In just a short time, we will be welcoming twin GIRLS into our family. 

I'm happy to be back, in whatever capacity. 
With millions of blogs out in cyberspace, I appreciate that you read and comment on mine.
 And I am so thankful for the deep, real friendships that have sprung up from here!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Random List of Thoughts

It's been awhile since I have been here, so I am keeping it short and sweet with bullet points today.

  • I am pregnant! With Twins! That's a large part of the reason it's been quiet around here these last few months. There has been a lot of lying in bed or on the couch, trying to survive morning sickness and fatigue. We are nearing the end of the first trimester and there is a (small) light at the end of the tunnel.
  • The hubby and I have started to make preparations for this big change that is coming. Selling my car, purchasing something larger that will seat everyone. Discussing homeschooling the older two versus putting them in school in the fall. Can I homeschool well with twin newborns (plus the other children)? What is best for everyone? Should we move to a larger house (for now, the answer is NO). What kind of help will I need in the coming months? 
  • After months of serious house neglect, coupled with the arrival of spring, I am wanting to pare down the possessions radically, deep clean, and make room for the new little souls that will be joining us in the early fall. I love this idea. Right now, I am working in about 10 minute spurts of energy, before I head back to the couch to rest. I have been modifying my to-do list...breaking even simple tasks in to smaller tasks, and giving them my all, 10 minutes at a time. And saying "yes!!" to every offer of help. 
  • My dear hubby has just converted his man cave into a walk in freezer/fridge. He sold or gave away most of the furniture, and replaced it with a chest freezer and a large commercial fridge. We now have 2 freezers and 2 fridges. I was at first skeptical that we needed that much cold storage. But, as I think over how much food we put up in a year, and how many people we are going to be feeding on a regular basis over the next two decades, it suddenly seems like a really useful luxury. I am rethinking my shopping (maybe only go to the store every 2 weeks? Start buying more in bulk?). I know that extra fridge will come in handy when the babies get here, and friends bring food! 
  • Strawberry season is almost here. My sweet boys, eying the strawberries at the grocery store, wistfully ask again "how much longer until strawberry season is here?!" Last week, I relented, buying Florida strawberries, while warning them they they wouldn't be as good as when they are in season locally. There is just no better way to eat fruit, than when it is still warm from the sun. We are all anticipating eating them fresh, made in to jam, shortcake, icing, sorbet, sauce, cut up on cereal, made into leather...
  • Wildly optimistic, as my Dr. says that chances are high that I will be on bed rest for a good portion of my pregnancy, I can't help but think to summer and reserve book upon book upon book from the library. Oh, home canning, how I love you.
  • A dear, generous friend gifted me with an amazon gift card, and I have decided that I need to read the books I already own before I buy more. So, I am torn between this hammock...the perfect spot to put up swollen feet this summer, while watching the boys run through the sprinkler. All while licking on a homemade popsicle, of course. Or, maybe I should finally get these for picnics? Such delightful, tough decisions!
  • I mentioned that I have been saying "yes!" to every offer of help...which means, I need to stock up on stationary and thank you notes. Do you have a favorite etsy seller for paper goods? I would love if you would share your favorites with me.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A List of Randoms

  • I was just looking over my 30 by 30 List (a.k.a. my bucket list), and realized I have 12 weeks until I turn 30, and have only crossed off 7 items (but the marathon was the biggest item, and it's DONE!!). I need to get busy. Speaking of the marathon, if you are a runner, and would like to read my marathon play-by-play, it is here. If you aren't a runner, you would probably rather get a root canal than read the tedium of my race, and that's cool too. ;)
  • Also, I have made my next goals for fitness and weight loss (losing those last 20 pounds is on my 30 by 30 list too). If you care, those goals are here.
  • I want to make these muffins and see if I like them better than these.
  • Itching to get my hands on this new book but am committed to reading most of these first.
  • My homeschooling mojo seems to have gotten lost during the shuffle of the holidays. It isn't that I'm tired of it, it's just that I can't seem to get back in a good groove. I will probably focus on #2, #10,  #11, #18, and #22 from the list for inspiration. Any advice welcome!
  • Related to the picture above, I would really like to have one of these little fences around my square foot gardens (which ARE going to get revived this spring, by golly!). This picture was taken at Yorktown, I believe. Colonial Williamsburg also has them and I just LOVE them. Besides, my boys have energy to spare, so I can put them to work gathering the sticks for it!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

First Family Photo

My childhood friend and photographer, Jenny Evelyn, took these pictures of our family in the fall and gave them to me on Christmas. I am so happy to have photographs of our family together and can't wait to see the rest of the ones she took. I especially love the one with our house in the background, because I am so Happy at Home.  :) Thank you, Jenny!

Saturday, January 08, 2011

January Reboot, and the Weekly Menu

Fridge, BEFORE

Fridge, AFTER

In January, I typically don't make resolutions, but I do give myself some small challenges to get our household back on track after a season of merry making. It feels really good to cut back, pare down, and get back in a groove. To do that, my goals for January are:

  • Buy only secondhand, except for food and household supplies. For anything else, I turn to ebay, thrift stores, craigslist, or barter with friends. Shopping this way requires patience and takes away the instant gratification of buying, which helps me redefine "need". It also is much more exciting to find what I need, after waiting and looking for awhile!
  • Declutter 5 items a day. After all the new things that come in to our house during Christmas, I always have a January pare-down. So far, I have tackled the laundry room and fridge. I plan to tackle the medicine cabinet today.
  • Spend no more than $65 a week on groceries. Our freezer and pantry are bursting at the seams, which is a wonderful "problem" to have. But even there, I want to have a little margin, so I will be focusing on making meals with items we already have. This week, I spent $59. $29 ($12 of which was for 1/2 of the $25 yearly fee that goes toward farm education, tours, etc. My neighbor and I shared the fee and order together.) at our online Farmer's Market on fresh veggies, bacon, and whipping cream, $20 at Sam's on raw almonds, dried cranberries, and popcorn kernels, and $9 at the grocery store on soap, bananas, and milk. 

These are some of the recipes I plan to make over the next week or two, based on foods we already have on hand (with the exception of spring roll wrappers and sausage). At the end of the month, I plan to head to either Savannah or Atlanta to stock up on things I have trouble finding here, such as dried cherries (LOVE Trader Joe's dried cherries, which were #42 of their favorite items in 2010. SO GOOD.), white whole wheat flour, brown rice syrup, raw nuts, etc. 

Almond Milk

Nut and Seed Granola

Breakfast Burritos

Green Smoothies

Whole Wheat Tortillas

Whole Wheat Waffles

Spring Rolls with Peanut Love Sauce

Black Bean and Corn Quesadillas

Shrimp skewers with Fried Rice

Egg Rolls



Corn, Crab, and Potato Soup

Curried Lentil Soup

Lentil Tacos


Saturday, January 01, 2011

2011 Reading List

This year, I have decided that I am going to, primarily, read books that I already own. I have so many on my shelves that I am interested in and have never read, or have read and want to read again. Have you made your 2011 reading list? Have you read and loved any of the books on my list?

1. Better Off by Eric Brende
2. For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer McCauley
3. Traveling Mercies* by Anne Lamott
4. John Adams by David McCullough
5. Gap Creek by Robert Morgan
6. Under a Wing by Reeve Lindbergh
7. Forever Music by Edith Schaeffer
8. A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L'Engle
9. The Art of Eating* by M.F.K. Fisher
10. Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv
11. Home Schooling Series by Charlotte Mason
12. A Praying Life* by Paul Miller
13. The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence
14. An Echo in the Bone* by Diana Gabaldon
15. The Last Time They Met by Anita Shreve
16. All He Ever Wanted by Anita Shreve
17. The Supper of the Lamb* by Robert Farrar Capon
18. The Gift of an Ordinary Day by Katrina Kennison
19. A Severe Mercy* by Sheldon Vanauken
20. Luncheon of the Boating Party by Susan Vreeland
21. The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges
22. The Montessori Method by Maria Montessori
23. Age of Opportunity by Paul Tripp
24. Every Day Talk by John Younts
25. Your Family God's Way by Wayne Mack
26. Good and Angry by Scott Turansky
27. The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace
28. Attitudes of a Transformed Heart by Martha Peace
29. A Woman After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George
30. Your Home, a Place of Grace by Susan Hunt
31. Blue Like Jazz* by Donald Miller
32. Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes
33. For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn 1.14.11
34. What We Eat When We Eat Alone by Deborah Madison

*Books I am already reading, or want to re-read

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Somehow it has been two whole months since I posted last. Not sure how time slips away so quickly. Here at home, we have been enjoying the Christmas season in small ways. Last year at Christmas time, I started these stockings. My dear mother finished them for me yesterday. I'm really happy with how they turned out. 
Last year, I didn't do much in the way of homemade gifts, still being in a new baby fog. This year, it's simply bags of granola, tied with kitchen twine, by the door for anyone that stops by.  It isn't much, but it is pleasureful to give, and hopefully to receive.

In truth, I have been struggling to find that joy that I have been so earnest about. Reading back over that post, I wonder if I have grown at all over the past year. I still feel the same way as I did then, much of the time.
A lot of it is expectations.
When I snuggle up with my children in front of the fire, hot chocolate in hand, ready to read Christmas stories before nap time, I expect them to just happily curl up next to me, and listen to the story. The reality is more likely spilled chocolate, whining because they can't see a page, or "so and so is touching me", or "so and so got to sit next to you last time, it's my turn", or "I don't want to read a story, I want to play with my friends", etc.

Over the last few days, I have been trying to adjust my expectations, again. The to-do list, already simple, is pared down further. I delete Facebook from my phone, again. Making conscious decisions to be focused on the PEOPLE not the experience I want to create. It isn't easy for me, doesn't come naturally. But I know it's important, so I keep trying.
And I mess up, over and over again.
My kids fight and whine and I get angry, raise my voice, eventually apologize.
It's real and it's messy and it's exactly why I need Jesus. And it's what we are celebrating this season.
Over and over again, my mantra: "My ministry is where my feet are. I am choosing Joy."

I hope that your holidays are joyful and filled with hope, in the midst of the messiness!