Tuesday, July 24

favorite reads so far this year

I love to read, but the season of life I find myself in at the moment doesn't allow for me to sit and read to  myself much during the day while the kids are awake.  Other than when I'm nursing Emmalie, I read a couple nights a week in bed on my e-reader.  Other nights I fall asleep so quickly, I hardly remember my head hitting the pillow, while I pray Emmalie has another good night of sleep ahead of her. 

In the last several months, I've come across two books that I'd love to recommend. 

I'm a non-fiction girl, and rarely read a novel.  I like the practical side of a non-fiction book, and tend to zip through them faster.  But I do love reading great novels to the kids, and I guess I like novels more than I let on.  Maybe it's just that I spend so much time reading aloud to them during the school year, that my own personal reading time begs for something different. 

My sister, Jen, recommened Almost Amish by Nancy Sleeth to me a few months ago, and I just finished reading it a couple days ago.  The Amish are always intriguing to me, I love learning about them and their ways.  This book takes a variety of topics including hospitality, posessions, finances, media, etc... and compares the way our modern culture views these issues and the way the Amish do things.  At so many turns, our culture has things so backwards.  We have a lot to learn from the Amish!  There are a few things we've already put into practice - reading this book has made us rethink a few things that were already weighing heavy on my heart. 

For instance:

We now take a break from all things with a screen on Sundays.  We're just two Sundays into it, and boy, is it a breath of fresh air around here!  Not that we are logging crazy amounts of screen time anyways, but it takes away the pull of the computer for us all, and turns our minds to more worthwhile pursuits.  No computer time for the kids, no computer, email or facebook for Jeremy or I, and no family movie, etc...  The last two Sundays, I have completed several small projects that have been on my mental to-do list forever!  But it's sad how often the pull to jump on the computer "real fast" comes into my thinking.  I find myself on it less and less nowadays, and that's a very good thing!  We play board games, spend time outside, visit with family and friends, work on indoor/outdoor projects, and just spend time together.  Which we've always done, but it's so freeing to be free from technology.  And it's so funny to me that it feels so wonderful for a whole day to not do something that I have the choice to abstain from each and every day!  She can be taught, folks!! 

The other thing that we've decided, that was confirmed by reading this book, was that we'd have a designated night of the month to open up our home to a family, couple, or person that we don't know very well.  We love having people in our home, and like to do it often, but usually it's with the people we feel completely comfortable around, and who are already our good friends.  I guess it's sort of selfish hospitality in a way.  Extremely enjoyable? Yes.  But too far inside our comfort zone to stretch us at all, and we're feeling convicted to be stretched some more! 

I'd highly recommend Almost Amish to you - let me know if you end up reading it, I'd love to know what you think!

A Love That Multiplies is the second book written by the Duggars, who have nineteen children!  I own and have read their first book, which is the "why" of what they do as a family.  And this second book is the "how" they do things as a family, and it starts out detaling the extremely premature birth of little Josie.  So much of this book applies whether you are the parents of two or twenty kids, and I really enjoyed this one even more than the first.  I bought it before I read it, so I was glad it was worth the money spent! 

What a wise family with outstanding parents!  Jim Bob and Michelle aren't just scrambling aimlessly through their roles as parents, they are following God's word, teaching it to their children, and doing a fantastic job of managing a LARGE family. 

My favorite quotes from the book:

"Admittedly, we often felt overwhelmed, but we had given this area of our life over to God, and in faith we kept going.  We are so thankful we didn't stop, because then we had Josiah and Joy-Anna.  Then after the birth of our tenth and eleventh children, twins Jedidiah and Jeremiah, some of the very people who had been so critical started complimenting and encouraging us as though we were having our first child.  We didn't know if they gave up and decided they just weren't going to change our minds, or if they finally understood that we consider each child a blessing from God and saw that our older children were turning out okay!

We dedicated ourselves to training our children to love God and serve others.  Now, as we look into the precious faces of our children, we often think about how different our lives would have been if we didn't have each one of them.  We are thankful for each child, and each one is grateful to be here."  pg. 81

"The fact is, sometimes God asks us to do something we don't want to do.  We try to teach our children this concept about life's choices from the time they are young.  When we ask them to do something, they always have a choice.  They can choose to obey and do what is right.  Or they can choose not to obey and face the consequences. 

As adults, we have the same choice when we feel God directing us.  We can trust that God knows what is best and do what He's asking us to do.  Or we can choose what we want to do - and face the consequencs."  pgs. 84-85

"Consider this:  Christ did not command us to go out and make friends; He told us to make disciples (see Matthew 28:19).  We tell our kids, If your goal is to win friends, you'll probably end up doing a lot of compromising to keep their friendship.  If your goal is to love and disciple others, people who hang out with you will be challenged to follow God's vision for their life, and you will have true friendships where each encourages the other to live for God!"  pg. 231

A Love That Multiplies is a book I revisit often for encouragement in my life as a mom, I'm thankful the Duggars are willing to share their lives with all of us. 

Friday, July 20

this week

It was a fantastic week.

The sun came back, and decided to give us some super warm, run in the sprinkler kind of weather all week!  It is so amazing to me (truly!) that the sun is just waiting up there behind those ol' clouds just waiting to give us a sunny day...  but, alas, we've had mostly cool cloudy days this summer.  These sunny ones just refresh everyone around here. 

This week also brought some new and simple summer chore charts that I've been concocting in my brain and finally put onto paper last weekend.  They're laid out for just the days Jeremy works, and are great for keeping order around the house.  Since it's the first week, and there are a few things that I've added to their normal daily chores, they've had to be reminded several times to remember to check the chart during the day.  But they're getting the hang of it! 

I'm liking the clean bathrooms, swept floors, and playtime for Gabi and Levi with an older sibling each day.  The kids have always been helpful with their chores, and will help with whatever we ask them to, but it's so nice to have it all lined out. 

Here's an example of Morgan's Monday list...  super simple! 
She and Annika got illustrated versions for fun.  

Oh, my sweet girls!  I should have gotten Gabi out of her high chair so I would have had a picture of all four of my girlies, but I was too lazy.  :)  

A happy Levi headed out to play!

My cautious girl, not getting anywhere near that freezing cold sprinkler water.  I don't blame her!

 Emmalie wakes up one time in the night somewhere between 5 and 6 a.m. - this morning was no different... this was my view of the sunrise at 5:45 a.m. and below is my view of my beautiful girl as she woke up.  She was so sweet and peaceful, I had to grab the camera.  I'm not sure how I had such presence of mind at five in the morning, but she sleeps 6-8 hours for that first stretch so I was feeling pretty good.  Plus, that sunrise captivated me completely.  My photo out the bathroom window does it no justice!

 We are loving the purple flowers growing out of our enormous sage plant in the garden. 

 I snapped this photo tonight of this lone daisy that must have felt right at home among the snow in summer patch next door to the rest of the daisies! 

Daisies are one of my all-time favorite flowers. 

"Don't you think daisies are the friendliest flower?"
- movie You've Got Mail

Friday, July 13

little of this, little of that

I was thinking it was high time for a this 'n that sort of post....  there's not enough to say on any given topic for a whole blog post at the moment... so here goes:

Our brand new baby girl, Emmalie, is four weeks old today!  Boy, oh boy, that went quickly.  We went in this morning for our joint four week check up... she gained weight and is now at 7 lbs. 12 oz. - I was thinking how funny it is that we as Moms cheer when our newborns gain weight, and cheer for ourselves when we lose weight.  I lost four pounds since my last visit two weeks ago, thankyouverymuch.  And I cheered. 

I stepped into a dressing room (or should I call it a depressing room?) for the first time in forever today, in an attempt to spend a couple of gift cards I received for my birthday.  I did find a couple things I brought home (shirts), but what I was really hoping to find was a great pair of jeans to wear until the ones I have in my closet fit again.  But pants are so hard for me to find right after giving birth.  I know, I know, it's to be expected... but I don't own a full-length mirror, and it's such a sad reality check stepping into a dressing room!  Why couldn't they equip department store dressing rooms with those mad house mirrors that make you look super tall and thin?  Oh, well.  :)

I put cornrows in Gabrielle's hair for the first time last week and I think they turned out really well - her hair has thickened up and grown quite a bit since I last attempted them.  They stayed for nearly a week before they looked too fuzzy to stay in any longer...  her hair is getting to be even more fun to play with, and I'm always looking for better ways to take care of her curls. 

My birthday was on July 6th, and the kids wanted to get my favorite donuts for me as my gift.  So we turned the maple bars into my cake!  Oh, so yummy!  Jeremy's gift has me really excited - he bought us tickets to see Casting Crowns... I mentioned that it would be awesome to see them in concert again back in February when tickets went on sale, (I wanted to go realllly, realllly badly) but decided in my heart that I wasn't going to mention the concert again.  Well, Jeremy remembered, and surprised me with tickets for us to go! 


I am really enjoying the flowers in our garden this year...  I love perennials, especially all of the different colors of columbine we have around.  Jeremy took a bunch of pictures of our garden and greenhouse recently... so a whole gardening blog post is coming soon! 

Well, that's all for now from the land of this 'n that... a good evening to you!


Gavin turns 10!

Not long after the celebration of Emmalie's birth, we had another birthday to celebrate!

Gavin turned 10 years old on July 1st.  Oh, my!  We now have two kids in double digits - how quickly the years have flown since they were wee toddlers.

This year, we had a family party for Gavin here at the house, then celebrated with friends on his actual birthday a week later at the park in our neighborhood.

Gabi and I!

Gavin, the birthday guy, is in the green sweatshirt...  

My buddy Sarah let Gabi and Levi dig into some frosting... nummy!  

My Dad taking his turn to hold Emmalie - so sweet!

We thank our God for the blessing of our son, Gavin!
Happy 10th Birthday!!

Wednesday, July 4

Almost three weeks old!

Emmalie is two weeks old!  (Well, she'll be three weeks old in just two days...)  Blogging has dropped to a very low point on the priority list, but I do so enjoy it, so right before I have to feed Emmalie here, I'll attempt to finish this post I started days ago!  Here are some snapshots of Emmalie at two weeks. 

Since her weight gain from week one to week two was slow, I've spent the better part of every day nursing this sweetie pie to fatten her up for her three week weight check at the end of the week.
So I'm feeding her nearly one hour out of every three... so I've been spending a lot of time on the couch these days making sure she's had enough to eat.  I can check email and read blogs while I do that, but I can't type one-handed... hence the break in blog updates! 

She is such a sweet, happy girl.  Everyone still loves their turn to hold her. 

What a treat it was to have all three of our children's grandmas in one place!  My Mom (on the left) lives in Oregon, and left to go home last Friday... she was such a gift to our family!  She took care of so many things while she stayed two weeks with us.  She was so much help, I would have gone under if it wasn't for her!!!  Thank you, Mama!

How in the world did this baby fit inside my belly?  It amazes me each and every time I give birth! 

Here she is looking a LOT like her Daddy.

We are doing well, savoring each newborn day, they're so fleeting.  I'm recovering, but am still needing to take it easy.  Our friends and family are taking good care of us, and we're so thankful for all of the hot and frozen meals, gifts, and prayer.  God is so good to us.