Thursday, February 28

when you feel overwhelmed

Ever feel so overwhelmed, that depression creeps in and pitches a tent and plans to stay?
Yeah, me too. 
I tend to have a difficult time when life is so overwhelming (like now) and I know there is nothing I can do to change it.  I love my life, my family, and homeschooling and I wouldn't trade them for anything.  But the fact that I have seven children who very much need their mom isn't going to change anytime soon - Lord willing.  To say I've been overwhelmed this winter is an understatement. 
I've felt bitter that I can't do the things and complete the projects I'd like to. 
Even though mothering is what I want to do even more.
I've felt sad that I can't be everything to everybody around here. 
Even though I know I can't possibly be and am not created to be.
I've sat staring empty out the window, because I have no idea what to do with myself when it's quiet. 
Even though I have several hobbies that are begging to be picked up. 
I've felt upset that I'm so worn out that I can't even stay up and enjoy myself after the kids are in bed. 
Even though rest is what I really need. 
But the fog has lifted. 
That thick fog that surrounded me on all sides is evaporated.
A new day has dawned for this mama who has a new perspective. 
This is what He has for me.  And this I'm going to do.  For Him. 
I still stink at having a good attitude sometimes.  Like the other day when I was standing at the sink doing the dishes on the verge of frustrated and worn-out tears with a major tension headache threatening. 
"I can't do this, God," I prayed. 
In an instant, He spoke this to my heart, "But this is what I have for you right now."
Because He gave me this task, and because I have complete faith that He will see me through by His strength - I will do it.  To the best of my ability, relying on Him and for His fame, not mine. 
17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:17


Monday, February 25

Shaking. Trembling. Humbled.

Shaking in my brown suede boots - that was me yesterday morning. 

In January, I wrote a blog post titled, My Water Bottle Life.  After pushing the publish button, I felt compelled to email our pastor and gave him the link just in case he wanted to read something I wrote that was brought on by his current sermon series on Holiness.  

One Sunday, a short time after, he told me that he'd like to quote my writing in an upcoming message.  I probably turned red the moment he mentioned it, then for weeks  I carried the anxious knowledge with me. 

I'm used to talking with women; speaking into their lives, encouraging, laughing - you know, girl stuff.  But the thought that men would be hearing my words also, sent a chill up my spine. 

Our pastor told me last week that the next Sunday would be the day.  And he said that he might use a picture too.  That doubled the shudder factor for me.  Well, I survived the week trying to not think about it.  But still wondered what he was going to say about me, what part of the blog post he was going to read, etc...  Then I decided that none of that mattered.  I was humbled that something I wrote would be used to bring others closer to God - and I prayed that would be the case.  It's a beautiful thing to be used by God. 

Sunday morning came and no one threw up, making it impossible for me to have a reason to skip out on going to hear my words read aloud in two services. I was calm until we made our way to our seats in the back row.  (Which I required for this particular Sunday, so no one could see me.)  Back row, far right corner please! 

My hands were cold and clammy, my breathing irregular.  You would have thought I was going to have to get up and give an impromptu speech or something.  I was a mess inside.  Praying that God would calm my heart.  It wasn't about me anyways. 

The time came, and the post was read in it's entirety as my heart beat harder than I ever remember it beating.  He even said my name and the name of the blog, and I survived.  I even shed some tears as he read my words and I prayed for those people sitting alongside me in that service. 

I stayed in my safe little corner with my back to the world after the service.  Glad it was over, but still nervous to be received.  I never want people to think I have it all together.  So untrue.  I didn't want this small thing to seem like a bigger thing to anybody.  So I talked to my closest friends, avoiding the rest.  Lovely of me, right? 

I did eventually have to venture out and leave the room to gather the kids.  I was generously greeted by hugs, fist bumps, atta girls, and from one hurting soul, tears.  It was a humbling experience - a good one, yet terrifying. 

That's the story of a Sunday morning, red faced, trembling me. 

Wednesday, February 20

3 changes to make for baby that make a big difference

As we've cared for our babies through the years, we've settled into a way of living and doing all things baby that makes the most sense to us.  We've learned some tricks and tips along the way to preserve our sanity, time, and money and I'd love to share them with you here. 

1.  Lay Your Baby Down Awake.  We've had a baby in the house near constantly for the last 12 years, and the most important thing I could tell you if you were a new parent is to do everything within your power to lay your baby down for naps and bedtime when they are still awake.  Even in those newborn days when it seems as if baby sleeps 'round the clock, don't give in to the temptation to rock, nurse or pacify your baby to try to get them asleep.  Babies who learn to fall asleep without help in those early days, will continue to lay down peacefully and sleep in longer stretches because they don't wake up confused wondering where in the world that warm body went that helped them drift off. (We use these in the first few months - can you say lifesaver?) Even if they wake up unexpectantly in the middle of a nap, they can drift back off to sleep without help.  And that's a good thing for an exhausted and busy mama.  We know by now that it isn't a fluke, seven babies proves that!  I'm sure if you asked a new parent what they dream of most, they'd say sleep!  And one of these (on the waterfall setting) wouldn't hurt either - we smartened up by baby #6, when this mama was tired of shushing everyone at naptime.  It drowns out all noises.  So fab!

2.  Make Your Own Pureed Baby Food.  This is something we started with baby number 4, after we realized just how easy it was to make and freeze.  We make and use our own baby food for about 6 months or so, and it's so rewarding and nice to know where your baby's food has been.  (Well, sort of.  We use mostly organic produce for baby food, we're trying!)  Here are some of our favorite ways to make it. 

Pears:  Remove the skin from 2-3 pears.  Cut into thin slices.  Saute' in a frying pan in extra virgin coconut oil until soft.  Puree in a blender until desired thickness.  Scoop into ice cube trays.  Remove and store in the freezer.  (I'd imagine apples would prepare well in this same way, but we buy a large jar of applesauce instead.)

Carrots, Yams, Butternut Squash:  Peel, and chop into chunks.  Heat your oven to 350 degrees.  Melt  around 4 T extra virgin coconut oil (for a full pan full) in a 9x13 pan in your preheating oven.  When melted, remove from the oven and put in your veggies, coating them in the melted oil.  We put all three kinds of veggies in the oven in the same dish, then separate into the blender when the time comes.  (You can mix the varieties too and they come out great!)  Bake for 1.5 hours, stirring every 30 minutes.  Puree roasted veggies in the blender.  Scoop into ice cube trays.  Remove and store in the freezer. 

Two fruits you don't have to do anything to to feed it to baby other than mash with a fork is avacado and banana.  I'd imagine that any kind of fruit or veggie could be prepared in one of these two ways and turn out fantastically.  I'd love to hear your baby food sucesses!

Emmalie loves all of these different foods, and it's so satisfying to make them ourselves!  Not to mention the cashola it saves us in the long run.  Each round of pureed food lasts around 3-4 weeks for her.  And that's with a mixture of all sorts of fruits and veggies.  We still keep commercial baby food on hand to bring with us in the diaper bag for outings. 

3.  Give Cloth Diapering a Whirl.   To me, cloth diapering was something those earthy, granola types did.  No offense, I just knew I wasn't one of them.  When our 5th baby came along, I was ready to give it a try.  It was painful to think about all of the disposable diapers we'd thrown away over the years, and all of the money that flew out the window with them.  It took Jeremy and I seeing someone we knew, in action cloth diapering, and telling us it was going to be okay.  We were eager to save money, first off, and the landfill second.  We've cloth diapered off and on through Gabi, Levi, and Emmy - they work for different seasons and not for others for us - but it's a great investment that pays itself back within the first couple months.  And with us having 3 in diapers, it's a big deal!  Plus, they're really cute.

Oh, and if you're wondering about all of the... ahem... poo?  You would never catch me rinsing out a stinky diaper over a toilet bowl, so you'll find me using these with each diaper change.  They lay inside the diaper against baby's skin and catch all of the yuck.  They say they're flushable, but we just throw them in the outside trash.  Then you can just toss the dirty diaper in the diaper pail with no worry. 

Enjoy those babies, friends - and gain back some of your sanity, time and money! 


Annika, the birthday girl!


Our sweet and hilarious, Annika Scarlet is now 5 years old! 
She is such a little light in our family life. 
We love you!


wait a minute

You may remember, that I got off of facebook back in late August, just before the school year commenced.  It was a good choice for me.  A needed break and time to regroup.  I was away for 4.5 months, and it was good.  There were times the first couple of weeks that I'd think, "I should post that on facebook...,"  only to remember that there was no facebook. 
As the months went on, I began to really miss certain interactions.  I began to miss the everyday fun knowledge about my distant family members.  To see how my nieces and nephews were growing. 
And I thought, "Maybe I could get back on facebook, but with some parameters and ground rules." 
And that's just what I did back in January. 
I set three very specific criteria for my friends list, and I stuck to them.  My friends list is now down to just over 100 folks.  And I really like it that way.  There is virtually nothing to look at, no long news feed to scroll through. 
I'm sorry if we're friends in real life, and we're not friends on facebook too. It's the way it has to be. I use facebook as a tool to communicate in a very specific way.  And it's a very good tool at that!
But then I got to thinking...  maybe I should create a page to connect with blog readers and friends too!  And that I did.  As you will see on the sidebar, you can "Like" my new facebook page, and we can be friends there too. 
Have a wonderful night!  I'm spent, and as I posted on facebook just now, I'm going to soak in a hot bath and start rewatching Downton Abbey season 3 and pretend all is dandy that big house. 
Monday, February 18

a weekend outing

It's not easy getting nine people snug in their snowclothes, piled in the car, and on the sledding hill.  But it's so fun.  And so worth it. 

We got some much needed fresh air, wind on our faces, and squeals let out as we raced down the hill.  Winter definitely has it's advantages. 

Sunday, February 17

interesting stuff

It's high time I share some of my recent favorite finds around the web with you.  Shall we? 

Try this on for size!  Ooh, la la... I love it. 

I love Mason Jars - you too?

Dr. Leman always makes me chuckle - great parenting advice to live by too!

Eeeenteresting - maybe you're the late one, or love someone who is. 

Dresses are my friend.  I love them and wear them every chance I get!  I think all of these dresses are fab, and modest too. 

And lastly, a homeschool article you really should read.  If you homeschool, or are a parent, you can breathe a collective sigh of relief along with me.

Happy Weekend to you all!  We have a birthday party tomorrow to celebrate our new 5 year old sweetheart - fun, fun!

Tuesday, February 12

sweet relief

About a year ago I stood in the pacifier aisle at the store when I was largely pregnant, pondering which kind I would buy.  I found one that was cute, new on the market and small enough for a newborn.  We definitely didn't want her totally addicted to it, but thought it'd be nice for car rides, church, and other moments when a happy baby would be nice!  But she would. not. take. it. 
She always spit it out immediately.

Until now, at 7 months!  She had been super fussy for days, a couple weeks back - and at my whits end dug out a pacifier for her, and hooray - she LOVED it.  And she has never turned back!  But the cool thing about it, is that she doesn't care if she has it or not, but when she's fussy, she takes right to it.  And it calms her down - exactly what we were hoping for! 

Plus, she's just adorable with her paci. 

Saturday, February 9

a coffee date


I absolutely loved what I read on this fun blog that I read, and it gave me the idea to have my own coffee date in a blog post with you!  Plus, those random posts I write from time to time that allow me to get out all of the things in my head can now be disguised under the premise of a coffee date with you, blog readers. 

So, if we were to sit down together in the quiet of a coffee shop, or on my couch during a rare peaceful moment, I would first hand you one of my favorite mugs filled with a steaming drink, then I'd take a nice deep breath, because it's so nice to just sit.  And then I would say, "So, what's new?" 

And you would proceed to tell me about what's going on in your life.  And I would try really, really hard to just listen.  I've been working on not interrupting for the last few months, and not having to put in my two cents.  I don't appreciate it when I can't get through a story, and I'm sure you don't either.  So I'll be good, and listen intently to what you're sharing. 

Then you might ask me what I'm up to lately, and I'll ponder briefly if I want to jump into the realities of my hard mommying month of January, or something light like the fact that I completely wiped out while walking on some ice this week.  I was walking to my car loaded down with the diaper bag slung over one shoulder, Emmalie in her carseat hanging in the crook of my elbow, and was carrying something in my only free hand.  I was commenting to my friend who was walking to the car with me, saying, "These boots have zero tract....."  I couldn't even finish the word "traction" and I was down.  On my rear, siting straight up with my legs out in front and Emmalie and her carseat on my lap. Amazingly, I felt fine right after falling, which was good, because I had a 25 minute drive in front of me at 11:00 p.m..  But I got home just fine, and then the pain set it.  I couldn't fall asleep for 2 hours.  I woke up painfully sore and have a bruise on my thigh where I "caught" Emmy's carseat.  Thankfully, she didn't feel a thing, but her mama, who isn't a spring chick anymore is feelin' it now. 

After I finished telling my falling on the ice saga, we might exchange falling stories, which always make me laugh.  I even laughed when I fell - it's just so funny to me!  One second you're up - the next you're down.  Granted, I've never broken a bone or been seriously hurt from fall - I don't think I'd be laughing then!

Then, you might notice that I'm not ordering my usual mocha or latte, and you might ask what prompted my uncharacteristic change to unsweetened tea. 

I would proceed to tell you that I had to begin again eating the Paleo way.  Dr.'s orders.  I saw her this week to get encouragement to begin again after taking a year's hiatus during the pregnancy and after, since I knew I had to.  Thankfully, there are tons of recipes out there to get you out of the doldrums I so often find myself in when eating this way.  And then I'd tell you that it really needs to be a lifestyle change for me, due to my body's reaction to sugar, grains, and dairy.  They don't affect me immediately like an intolerance or anything, but those bad yeast in my body sure love them and overgrow, resulting in unpleasant symptoms for me.  So it's starvation time for them, to get them back into their proper place.  Balanced and doing their job.

It truly has been hard for me to jump into eating this way again.  Mostly because it takes some thought and planning - and partly because I just love cookies and sweet stuff so much.  But that is what got me into this mess.   So that is why I'm having something like chai tea with unsweetened coconut milk today.  Then I'd sigh, because it sure isn't easy.  But God has provided lots of yummy fruits, vegetables, meat, nuts, and eggs for me to eat, and I'm thankful we have the means for me to take care of this health issue that has caused me so much trouble these last couple of years.  Plus, the great bonus is that the remainder of my baby weight is saying bye-bye.  It's nice when there's a perk, when you're doing something as hard as cutting out all carbs, sugar, and dairy, isn't it? 

Our conversation might then take a turn toward our children. 

You might tell me about the cute things your preschooler has been up to, or share about how your husband had "the talk" with your preteen son.  And I'd listen intently to that too, since we're right there with you.  You know, having "the talk" and all... it's looming.  We've had some talks, and when I say we, I mean Jeremy has had talks - but not the really big one.  I'd tell you that my youth pastor brother-in-law sent us some great resources, (this one and this one) but we've yet to read/listen to them.  It's on our never ending list of things to do - but we know that this one's a biggie. 

I might tell you that I fielded two questions this week that would have been a lot easier to answer, had we had "the talk" already - but thanks to listening to our audio Bible this week, I had to answer, "What's a prostitute, anyways?" and "What is a virgin?"  Lots of fun.  My answers were truthful, but not the whole truth.  Censorship is a good thing sometimes.  But someday soon, my Sunday School answers aren't gonna cut it. 

We may look outside and lament that the snow and ice will be around for three more months, and begin to dream of summertime.  I don't dream of spring, like you would if you lived somewhere that bloomed all alive like this, even though spring here eventually turns into summer - for spring is brown, drab, muddy, and still quite chilly around these parts.  But when those green buds begin to appear on the trees, I remind myself that I truly do love spring for the hope that it brings and the icy falls it prevents.

And our coffee date would end, either because our children came banging up the stairs looking for the moms, or because it's simply time to head out and head home.  But we'd smile at the hope of sitting again, warm cup in hand, sharing our lives.  I love a good coffee date - I have one tomorrow morning actually.  That is the main reason I need to wrap up our virtual coffee date (that I've been trying to crank out for three days now) and head to bed. 

It was wonderful to sit with you.  What would you share with me, if we were together like this?  I would really like to know.

Tuesday, February 5

Hawaiian Potato Soup: dinner experiment turned yum

I stood in the kitchen the other night with loads of leftover ham to be used for that night's dinner, but with no plan for it.  We love soup around here, so I quickly decided on it.  It's easy to make and it goes a long way to feed the family.
 I'm not one to post recipes, or make up my own too often - but this one was a real crowd-pleaser, so I thought I'd share!  It was so satisfying to experiement and have it actually turn out so deliciously.  Let me know if you make it!
Hawaiian Potato Soup

Serves 10
In a soup pot, melt:
4 T butter
1 T olive oil
4 cups chopped, cooked ham
6 med. potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup canned pineapple, chopped along with a bit of the juice
4 cups chicken broth
1 can coconut milk  (I used Parrot brand.)
2 T shredded parmesan
a few saffron strands (optional)
1/2 tsp curry powder
a sprinkle of oregano
salt & pepper
Boil until potatoes are soft.  Mash some of the potatoes to give it a creamier texture. 


the preschool crowd


clean up
footie jammies
messy solid foods
nigh night
baby smell
kissable cheeks
loves the mama
That's my preschool crowd.
I love them so much. 
I'm in the process of embracing the season of parenting many little ones and big ones too. 
This is a healthy dose of "Wow, what beautiful gifts God has entrusted to us." that I've needed so much to keep my perspective in it's proper place. 

Saturday, February 2

shock and awe

Something happened today that will long be etched in my memory.

It's sweet, hilarious, and awesome all at the same time. 

I was in Target today with all seven kids.  And I know you know that that couldn't be what was sweet, hilarious, and awesome.  And you're right.  The kids were amazingly good, though.  And I was told that I "have my hands full" three separate times.  Let's all work together and find a new line to say to moms in the store with a cartload of kids, okay? 

We were putzing around in one of those big red shopping carts that is long enough to be a passenger train and was holding four of the youngest passengers.  We were searching for three things on our shopping list.  We ended up with ten or more items in the end, but that's beside the point.  But I do have to say that the winter clearance was to die for. 

Anyways, we pulled the cart into the aisle that held the lint rollers.  It was on my list, and I even found a pretty black and white damask printed one.  Who knew lint rollers could be so chic?  Well, I knew I had to have that one. 

As we were leaving the aisle, Gavin glanced behind him to the other side of the aisle and saw the dish sponges.  He said, "Mom!  We're out of these kind."

"Oh, okay, let's grab a pack!" I exclaimed, glad that he was paying attention.  But we checked the price and decided that ten dollars was wayyy too much to pay for dish sponges. 

And then both of my boys looked above and beyond the dish sponges that were stocked on the lower shelf. 

They uttered, "Whoooooa." and  "Oh my word!"

They stood gaping in shock at all of the brands and varieties of sponges and dish brushes.  You might be wondering why this is such a big deal, and why ten and twelve year old boys would care about dishwashing accesories... let me tell you why:  our boys, who are ten and twelve work together to unload the dishes once each morning after breakfast, and then they do all of the dinner cleanup and loading of dishes into the dishwasher and handwashing of all the pots and pans.  And that's no easy feat when there's a family like ours eating and using all of the dishes!  So they know dishes.  What a proud mama moment for me to see that our boys take ownership of their job that helps our family out so tremendously.  And they do it joyfully. 

Looking down the aisle, they could not believe all of the products out there that could be helpful to them.  Then I brought shock and awe into their young lives.  I showed them those dish wands with the clear handle that holds dishwashing liquid.  You would have thought that I'd just shown them a way to keep clean without showering.  Boys this age aren't fans of that sort of thing. 

And you don't even have to ask -yes, I bought them one. 

Sweet, hilarious, and awesome all at the same time.