Monday, July 28, 2014

the vitality of sunday

It was so good to be back in church yesterday. We were out of town last Sunday for a family birthday party, and I remarked to J on our way back home that night how deeply just one absence was felt. You wouldn't think missing once was a big deal, and it's not in the grand scheme of things. One of the beautiful things about the freedom of a relationship with Christ is that being in church every single Sunday isn't a requirement. Because I believe and embrace that Christ died on a cross as payment for my sin, I have the freedom to be in His presence and to talk to Him anywhere at any time. For my little soul, though, the teaching and fellowship with other believers on a weekly basis is so vital. Church is the place that I want to be.

I want to sing songs of thanksgiving and praise with a roomful of like-minded people to the One who pursued us and saved us and guides our lives.

I want to see the familiar faces of my church family and receive the love and encouragement that they give me.

I want to be still next to my husband, the Word of God open between us, as we take in the message God has given to our pastor so that He can instruct us, convict us, and change us for the better.

Stu delighted me with his outfit choice. He took "dressy casual" to a new level. I adore my children's style confidence!

Our Family Pastor delivered the message in Psalm 121. Verses 1-2 are the ones that really struck me this time.

"I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth."

When I need help, guidance, or just somewhere to turn, where can I go? Straight to the source. To the very same One who made the vast, mysterious heavens and this earth. It's an easily glossed-over portion of the passage because it's familiar, but one of my favorite things about scripture is how every single time I read the same verses, they fall on me differently and bring new applications. The God of the Bible is so unique and wonderful this way.

Rosie made a fun craft. 


We weren't on the schedule to teach Sunday School this week, so we were only there for one hour. Since we had a bit more time, we finally made it to the grocery and stocked up!

I mentioned to J that I'd been craving Frito pie, and I asked him if it would be criminal to pick up a can of chili to quickly and simply make it. He gave me "the look". His "are-you-kidding-me-why-would-you-buy-canned-chili-when-I-can-make-you-chili-from-scratch?" look. So we re-routed the shopping expedition so we could grab the necessary elements.

We came home and unloaded everything, then he and I set to work. I got to play sous-chef, which is always fun for me. He and I enjoy cooking together quite a bit. We make a pretty good team. I helped him wash, prep and chop the fresh herbs and vegetables, and he set to work cooking it all. It was so beautiful in the pot even before he started any sort of sauce. I told him he could stop at that point, and I'd be perfectly content to eat the cooked meat and vegetable mixture on a tortilla and call it dinner.

He and I both love to cook. I am thankful that we have that in common.

We served Frito pie for dinner and had a quiet evening together to close out the day. The kids and I played school again for a bit. We also worked on reading some books to the kids to finish up their current reading log for our library reading program and then got our little sweeties to bed. 

I truly enjoy the slower pace and rejuvenating qualities of a Sunday. It's only magnified on a Sunday when we're all together at home.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

walrus sandwiches

I still haven't made the time or energy to go to the grocery, so breakfast yesterday was two tubes of nearly expired crescent rolls I'd had stashed in the fridge for a forgotten recipe project. The kids wanted to roll them, naturally, so I let them. I laughed when they came out of the oven. I thought they resembled sleeping walruses from behind! Cute little guys...

J took off before we got up to do his own thing for the day. I was lazy and unmotivated, so I stayed in bed after he left and until the kids woke up. I ditched make-up and getting dressed beyond workout clothes.

The kids wanted to go for a bike ride, so we began the process of getting ready at about 10:30. I kid you not, we didn't leave the driveway until about 12:15. It took three kids almost two hours to get ready. For a bike ride. Life is a challenge for a Type A mom navigating life with free-spirited children. Haha!

Because we got out so late, it was quite hot outside and we only stayed out for about 30 minutes to avoid sunburn or exhaustion. We came back home, and I made tuna sandwiches on walruses for lunch.

It was a lazy day for the most part. Life sort of goes that way when J's not with us. He's the go-go-go parent; I'm content to see where the day takes us at home. :0)

We cooled off from our walk by playing in the bathtub. The kids each took a nice long soak! That's one of the benefits of staying home during the day...mid-day baths.

They played some games on the computer. 
We played more school. It's been a daily occurrence here for the last several days. In fact, I've let them leave their whole set-up out in the living room this whole time. It's quite a scene here in our common areas! Another sign of summer. (And another challenge for the Type A mom. Haha!)

Stu broke away from the classroom after a bit to play trucks.

(The light in our house in the's glorious. I could sit and soak it in for hours!)

J came home around dinner time. I'd planned to make French bread pizza for dinner with leftover meat sauce from spaghetti, but I just couldn't find the energy. J and the kids had cereal. I skipped dinner because I was still full from lunch, but I sat with them. We had a nice conversation at the table together. Mealtimes with all of us together are a highlight of my day!

All was right in their world at bedtime. Stories and snuggles with Daddy. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

an academic day

 I can't believe I did it, but at J's urging, I officially entered the State Fair of Texas Photography Show. I spent most of the morning yesterday working on my registration. (The postmark deadline was yesterday, and I hadn't filled anything out yet.) I'm entering two previous winners from other shows, and two new shots I didn't even anticipate showing anywhere. I went with my instincts. We shall see, I guess!

We left to go mail my stuff and then went to go shop for school supplies. Three kids and school supplies, y'all. It is expensive. Expensive madness! Luckily it only took about an hour, and any sadness or wistfulness I might have about my baby starting school this year would have easily been squashed by the sheer stress and hassle of the shopping process.

Stu, like every year we've shopped for the girls, immediately found these plush doggie pencil cases. He wanted one, of course, but that $5 x three kids adds up fast. So sadly, I had to say no.

I was curious how he'd do. He's been antsy to get supplies since he picked out his backpack last week. He wasn't as pumped about it as the girls have been for the last three years. It's probably a boy thing. But he and I had fun hanging back looking at fun things while J and the girls shopped a little more seriously ahead of us.

Along the way he found a tiki piƱata. We laughed and immediately thought of Uncle Tommy who has an affinity for island things. It also made us laugh thinking about how happy we'd be to have a drink on a beach at that particular moment.  Haha!  School shopping is the ultimate beating.

(Of course, I'm sure I'll be singing school shopping's praises when we begin clothes shopping for three students next week.  Eek!)

I didn't take as many pictures of Stu's school shopping firsts. I forgot to photograph any of our backpack shopping trip last week, and I really didn't get many good shots today. Not because he's the third child. He probably has more photos of him in general than the girls because he's a more willing subject than they are. I think it's because we're all so relaxed about the whole event this time around. At least I hope so!

I did have to giggle at this one. I was trying to capture a sweet moment of Daddy guiding his kids through the store, but it turned out looking like he's dragging them.

We had a quick fast food lunch and then headed to the library for a special "Chemistry Roadshow" program given by Texas A&M University. We're Aggie fans through and through here, so we are happy to support their programs. M has also expressed a great deal of interest in chemistry (Grandparent hint: she wants a chemistry set for Christmas! Eek!), so we knew this would be a great thing for her to go to.

We had a blast! The professor was a great presenter. He was funny and kept the kids' interest. One of our church friends was there with her kids, so I got to sit with her and chat. The professor did so many experiments, I can't remember them all. There were lots of color changes, dry ice "smoke", foamy substances shooting out of containers, fire and explosions. 

Our kids loved it all and behaved so well!

We giggled when we drove up and saw his van. Stu just happened to have chosen his A&M jersey to wear yesterday! 

We made a stop into Sam's on the way home, and the kids found some huge stuffed animals to play with. I guess they're beginning to stock their Christmas toys. It's so exciting to me! I already have lots of ideas for our kids, and hopefully that will make our holiday run much more smoothly. 

Leftover spaghetti was on the menu once we got back home. We ended up having time for the kids to watch a movie before bed (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. I've lost count of how many times they've watched it! Haha!), so M and Stu did that with J. Rosie helped me clean up dinner while they watched the movie.

As I had been working to get dinner ready, I'd noticed that a magnet had fallen onto the floor. I didn't want to stop to pick it up even though I knew it would take less than a second, and I grumbled in my head that surely no one else in our house would be so kind as to pick it up, either. As I returned to the kitchen from the bedroom hamper to toss in our dinner linens, I noticed the magnet was gone. I audibly gasped and asked Rosie if she'd picked it up. She indicated that she had, and I had to fight off tears. I hugged her so tightly that I think I may have scared her a bit! I was just so thankful for her observant eyes and servant heart. It was only a tiny magnet and a job that took one second to complete, but to me it meant the world.

As inconvenient as it may be sometimes in certain circumstances (Let's face it, it's always faster and ultimately easier for me to do things myself), I'm delighted by my little ones and their helpful spirits.

Rosie wanted to separate her school supplies and get them packed. We continued to ignore the movie in favor of that. She sighed and told me she wished we didn't have another month until school starts.

She wanted to play computer games, so we went back to our room and played on the computer and snuggled. I couldn't stop thinking of how thankful I am for these days with my babies.

We all ended the day piled up on our bed saying our bedtime prayers. Cheers to quiet, calm endings to chaotic, busy days!

Friday, July 25, 2014


The plumber came yesterday morning finally, and I was nervous he wouldn't be done in time for us to make it to dance registration! Luckily time was on our side and it all worked out. We have all toilets in business again (It was a minor repair. He just got busy.), and the girls are all registered for their desired dance classes for the fall. Returning students get first dibs at registration, and classes fill up very quickly, so I wanted to make sure I got us there on time. As our children get busier with school and activities as they grow up, it's becoming more and more important for all the ducks to line up!

Our studio's dance team holds a fundraising bake sale at registration each year, so I let the kids pick out a treat. We look forward to that each year!

I had planned to go to the store afterward because we're out of almost all of our pantry staples, but behavior at the dance studio and the ride in the car afterward indicated to me that it was a bad idea. I was already pre-grouchy because our morning didn't play out the way I'd hoped it would. Add to that M being put out with me because I wouldn't buy her anything at the dance store while we were there. In my head I was screaming, "I just spent EIGHTY dollars just to REGISTER you and Rosie for dance. And I bought you all COOKIES with the last THREE DOLLARS I happened to have in my wallet, while I got NOTHING!"

Of course, I didn't react that way. I explained those general points to her in a calm, logical manner, but when you're a kid who wants something, all that reasoning might as well be a foreign language. Stu also had a huge long fit in the car about the cookie. So we went home (while all three of them protested) to scrounge up lunch from the elements we did have.

It was a wise decision. I don't always stay attuned to my mother's instinct which causes regret at times, but today I was pleased that I did. I definitely saved us all a great deal of grief.

When we got home, before we went in the kids checked on their cicada collection. With the rain the night before, they were concerned about losing some of them. We looked around and ended up finding quite a bit more to add!

Being out in the sunshine did us all good!

All three of the kids found spots in the moss to lift up to make a "secret pocket". Here's Rosie filling hers. 

Though I was relieved we could all melt down in the comfort and privacy of our own home, I couldn't shake the heavy gray feeling I had. Regretfully, I remained down and withdrawn most of the day. I hate when my children don't get my best.

J got home a bit earlier than normal, but I dragged my feet making dinner because I had a big case of the "don't wannas". By that time I was fully committed to slacking off--I was reclined in his chair with a blanket and pillow.

I am happy that I did finally suck it up and get up to cook. It always makes me feel better! I ended up making spaghetti with both a meat marinara and a pink sauce, green beans and garlic butter French bread toast. Rosie helped me cook and get the table ready. A well-set table always makes me feel better (yes, I'm a weirdo), so we set out matching placemats, china and silver. We had a nice family dinner, and everyone ate well.

I took stock of the freezer contents while I was working, and I felt better after realizing that we probably don't need as many groceries as I thought we did. I have the ingredients for 4-5 more dinners easily, so really all we need are a few basics. Amazing things happen when I stop fretting and begin relying on God...resting the peace and contentment of His provision.

As He's proved day after day after day, God can redeem even the grouchiest of days. I'm grateful for days that end on a high note!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

"cheat day"

Yesterday felt like a "cheat day".

Well, first off, we got cheated out of a swim day at Mama Landa's because we had to wait on our plumber who never showed up the afternoon before like he said he might. But he didn't show up yesterday, either. Roofers did come to make a minor roof patch repair (darn huge, old trees in our neighborhood!), so it wasn't for nothing. But we'd take swimming over being trapped at the house any day.

What I really mean by cheat day, though, is the way our kids handled the day. They played together independently almost the entire day! That rarely happens. They usually ask me to participate. I did jump in and play with them at times, but for the most part they were on their own.

I was impressed, as always, with their natural creativity.

They played hair salon with their baby dolls.  And each other. And me. I ended up with a sweet braid from M, grinning and bearing it at the thought of greeting the workmen in that state. Haha! But I knew it was the right thing.

They got out all of their toy helicopters (well, mostly stu's), and they played helicopters together for large portions of the day.

J came home with dollar hot dogs for lunch from sonic. Happy National Hot Dog Day to us! We're always so happy when J gets to come home during his work day.

They took their baby dolls to the "movies" by closing all the blinds and putting on their recently acquired copy of "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2". (Thanks, Grandpa!) I made them popcorn in their own cups and drinks.

They got out coloring books and colored.

They pulled out several little tables to set up their own "stores", filling each of their tabletops with some of their own items to sell to each other. They really do spend their own money on buying some of each other's things. I "donated" 50 cents to each of them in tip cups they'd set out on their tables. Capitalism is inherent here, apparently!

So, yes, today felt like a "cheat day" for me, because I wasn't really in their world too much. I wavered back and forth between feeling proud of them for being so independent and feeling terrible that I was off doing my own thing most of the day. It felt like I was ignoring them, in a way; cheating them as a mother in some form.

But at the end of the day, everyone seemed as well-adjusted as normal and not traumatized. J came home, we had frozen pizza for dinner (to keep with the "cheat day" theme), and a brief storm blew in. It was so wonderful to hear the sounds of rain falling on our roof at the end of July in Texas. For me, it could only point to a good God who gives us good gifts in His time.

 We watched a PBS documentary together about an orangutan's life in a Tennessee college research program in the 80s. J stumbled upon it as he was browsing channels looking for weather reports, and I silently lamented the lack of quality family television on in prime time in the evenings. Oh, what a wonderful thing it would be if there was TV programming on at night that we could watch together as a family! Even if there was, I reminded myself, we'd have to skip watching due to the raunchy commercials.

It could be a good thing, though. Being glued to the TV as a family in the evenings would definitely count as a cheat day for this family.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

up & down wednesday

yesterday, stu and I spent a good bit of the morning catching up on some cleaning that I'd fallen sorely behind on this week. we even cleaned off the porches and wiped down the outsides of the doors. that always makes me feel better about life when I have clean entries! :0)

then when we were done cleaning, we made (boxed mix) red velvet cake. I took this photo for instagram just to be funny, but I think I really like this picture! if I had more kitchen wall space, I might've framed and hung it.

I knew I wanted to do a glaze since I was making the cake in a tube pan and I didn't have enough shortening onhand for homemade frosting. I stumbled upon "Puttin' on the GRITS" recipe for cherry vanilla pound cake (which I fully intend to make sometime), and I ended up using her cherry glaze recipe for the red velvet cake.

it's so pink and pretty and tasty! if you love cherry flavor, you need to try this! it's so easy, too.  

when we played outside, stu had his big dump trucks out in the sand. I pulled weeds and he helped me some. we filled up his dump trucks with them.

we dug up a grub worm in the process of pulling weeds, which is normal for us. this one was fascinating, though--it was in the process of metamorphosing into a june bug! its head had turned brown and shell-y, and it had developed legs. I know it's gross, but I had to try to get a macro shot of it. he was pretty wiggly and I missed all the good shots.

I apologize if you're squeamish!


it's a terrible segue, but here's our finished cake. the glaze didn't turn out very pretty since I used a tube pan and not a Bundt, but it was so good. stu said it looked like a giant donut. he always picks the pink frosted ones. :0)  

stu had such a hard time waiting for mama landa's arrival, but she came after having lunch with the girls. I was happy we had some time to play outside. the weather was so beautiful! she took him to dairy queen for lunch at his request, and I took a quick shower and headed to a doctor appointment.

it was time for my annual appointment, and this time I had bloodwork so the doctor could check my thyroid levels. I won't get the results back for a couple of days. I was just thrilled that the nurse was able to get all of my blood sample very quickly, and I didn't feel it at all. beginning with my three C-sections I've had the worst time getting blood samples or donating blood because my flow was so low. so I was so very happy to hear that I have "beautiful veins"  that didn't even require a tourniquet for her! if all of my results come back clear, I'm so excited to go try to donate blood again. it's so easy and simple, and one donation can save so many lives.

after mama landa left, the girls ate their pieces of cake. they wanted candles lit. any excuse for a party! :0)

the girls wanted to do homework outside, and I couldn't refuse. it was gorgeous out! and warm, finally! M and I went back and forth about a report she was working on for next week, so once again I felt run through the wringer even before dinner time. y'all, parenting is hard stuff.

J got home a bit earlier than normal, and I was grateful. I got to enjoy my tree blowing in the high wind. it's all greened out now, and I love it! I'm so thankful that my favorite rustling leaves sound is back whenever a breeze blows through.

we had another hodge podge dinner, and seeing J and M work on her report so well together made me feel both better and frustrated that I couldn't for some reason work so peacefully with her. but the way things calmed down after J got home was a blessing to me. and M wanting to work more on a report due next week impressed me! her work ethic isn't usually like that.

I love the redemptive quality of evening time. we all gathered in the living room at bedtime, and the sunset twilight was so pretty through our windows. there were so many interactions between J and the kids that I had framed up in my head as pretty photographs, but I didn't have my camera to capture them.

It's a good lesson for me that not every moment is picture-perfect, and even the picture-perfect ones sometimes belong solely to the heart rather than the camera.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

tuesday tales

sunshine finally on Tuesday! stu and I took a lovely morning walk. it's been chilly at night and cool during the day. it's supposed to get warmer this week, too. I'm so excited.

I had to laugh at myself at lunchtime. he's a total baby of the family...the only one who gets away with having toys at mealtime. shh! don't tell his sisters he gets to do that when they're gone. haha! 

during naptime, I looked at videos to learn how to cut my own hair.  and I did it. I don't know that it's the best cut in the world. I'm a little scared now to go to a salon for fear of what they'll say about my handiwork, but for a girl who always keeps her hair up out of her face, I think it'll be ok. :) 

our dinner was a little disjointed because M and stu had a huge blow-out right beforehand and she needed time alone in her room.

he and rosie were so funny eating dinner together. they were making up songs about mama landa coming to take them to lunch tomorrow. it made me miss having the two of them home like last year before rosie went to school.

can we talk about my dinners this week? lackluster. I'm in complete survival mode during mealtimes. I am completely unmotivated to cook, so we've been eating a lot of frozen foods, cereal and hodgepodge throw-togethers. I kind of hate myself for it, but it's been getting the job done. haha! 
we're excited about mama landa coming tomorrow! I'm excited too because J has a lunch meeting as well, so that means I don't have to pack any lunches. that's my least favorite thing about school. it's like a mini-vacation when I get out of it.

happily, M finally joined us at the table, though she didn't eat much. but we all managed a few laughs and smiles, which I was thankful for.