Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A House or a Home?

I never really understood the big deal about selling a home or moving away from one house for another for most of my life.  I moved every 3-4 years while growing up.  We always lived in a nice house, but I never felt any attachment to any of them. 

Then, at 22 I put in a contract for the house that has become our home.  I was tired of moving and transitions.  I wanted something to claim as my own.  This house has become the place I lived in while Hubby and I were engaged; our first place as a married couple; the place both of our children have come home from the hospital to; the place Hubby put in long hours creating a kitchen extension/laundry room and later adding a deck; the place we've grown as a couple and a family; and basically, we have made this house a home.  My first real home. 

I get it now.  I understand how people become so attached to their houses.  They aren't houses to them, they are homes. 

In the coming weeks we will find out if Hubby gets into Tech or if we will stay here and he will go to ODU.  In October, when he decided to pursue trying to get into Tech we were so ready to leave eastern Virginia.  In the months since then we have made friends, found a church, and realized how much more this house means to us than the space it provides us.  We are deeply emotionally attached to the roof over our head.  We have scrimped and scrapped to make payments.  We have given up so many luxuries to continue to afford this home.  Our home. 

Someday we will leave this house.  We will move on to another town or house, maybe many acres of land and the farm we dream of.  Or maybe in a few months we will move on to a two bedroom apartment in the mountains with zero yard.  Either way, I will shed many, many tears over this precious little house that has become such an integral part of our family.  Our first home.  The greatest home we could have ever asked for.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Perfectly Imperfect

Our kids aren't the perfectly well behaved type.  Their manners are a work in progress.  They can be overly rambunctious at times.  They love to engage in full out sibling rivalry.  They can be loud, whiney, and/or defiant.
BUT as their parents, we still find them perfectly imperfect in every way. 
And that is my favorite part of parenting.  We can look at our precious little creations and delight in their perfect imperfections.  Besides, I'm convinced they wouldn't be as much fun if they didn't add an extra large dose of chaos to the mix on a daily basis.
I laugh listening to their conversations - especially the ones over the monitor after they've gone to bed.  Sometimes Mannchen "reads" to Töchterchen.  Sometimes they are just chatting away together.
I laugh at Mannchen attempting to instruct Töchterchen in every detail of her play with him...and laugh again as she refuses to do anything remotely close to what he asks of her. 
My heart smiles watching Mannchen play an elaborate game of "Firefighter" on the playground.  His "firefighter friends" (i.e. imaginary friends) helped us put out the fire in the playhouse and then they came home with us, even requesting spaghetti for dinner.  When we tucked him into bed he said they were all snuggling in bed with him and proceeded to tell them all goodnight.
After putting Töchterchen down for her nap today, I came downstairs to find Mannchen holding his beloved Froggy, rocking him and singing lullabies to him.  Then he gave him a huge hug, kiss, and held him up to tell him, "Froggy, I love you very much, but you have to listen.  No tearing pages in your books anymore.  I'm taking them away from you for naptime today."  This *may* be a common topic of discipline with Töchterchen and I felt relieved that he gets the "You're in trouble, but we still love the heck out of you." part of parenting.
Saturday Hubby took over the bedtime routine to give me an evening off.  While I was taking a relaxing bath with essential oils, Mannchen peeks in the bathroom and says "MOMMY WHY ARE YOU HIDING???".
Then, several minutes later, over the monitor Hubby has tucked them both in, Mannchen starts yelling: "DADDY!!!!  She took her diaper off!  DADDY!!!  She took her diaper off!  Daddy, get the duct tape!"
My sweet, silly, wild, absolutely precious children...boy, do I love being their mama.


Kitchen play.

Stampeding out the door.

Two year old meltdown over not getting to the lawn mower first.

Three year old refusing to share the lawn mower - he has "SO much work to do".

Little mommy feeding her baby before church.

Our diva - refusing to wear pants for an entire day, despite goosebumps on her legs the whole time.

Playdough hedgehogs!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

So long Facebook

Ah, Facebook...

The greatest website for wasting time.  Don't get me wrong, I love FB.  Problem really is, I love it too much.  I love looking at pictures, being nosy, and feeling easily "connected" to people. 

Last week I gave up FB for the entire week.  After the first day I forgot about it almost completely...honestly.  I felt more free and I had so much more time to do other things I love doing - crafting, reading, truly connecting with my husband.  I wish I was a person that could just click on for a few minutes every few days and then sign off.  But I'm not.  I easily spent at least an hour of my day scrolling through all the posts and pictures...and that's after I purged from 600+ friends down to less than 100.  Ugh.  That's kind of pathetic to admit that I easily wasted that much time each day. 

There are merits to FB.  I can easily share photos and funny happenings.  I can stay in touch with friends that live far away.  I can share in the joys of my friends/family and offer support in the times of need. 

The problem I have with it is to a degree it started to feel superficial to me.  It started to feel like a way to keep in touch with others without having to ever actually talk to them.  I'm not connecting with other people on a truly deep level of communication.  I just know what others are up to based on what they post.  After various events over the past several months, I find myself longing for so much more than that.  I would rather have fewer, but deeper relationships with others.  I would rather clear out some of the static noise in my life to make room for the things that really matter.

Another reason I have decided to go FB free is we now have our own home computer again.  I feel I will be too tempted to stick my nose in screen and lose some of the precious time I have with my children.  I should have more resolve and be able to avoid that temptation, but I don't I also know myself better than that.

One of the biggest reasons I have decided to leave FB is Hubby let me know how much it bothers him at times that I would rather spend an evening online instead of having true connection with him.  I love that my husband craves such quality time together and between his job and school right now, that time is limited.  I am so thankful that he could share with me how deep that need is for him and I am now able to take steps to fulfill that need for him.  No website should ever hinder my ability to connect with my husband on a regular basis.

So, if you would like to stay in touch via the blog, look on the right side of the screen for where you can subscribe by email.  Every time I post, you will receive an email.  I know we have a lot of family spread out all over the country that will enjoy still being able to see and hear about the kids.  I will not be able to completely delete my FB account, due to my business page which is linked to my personal account.  You can send me messages that way or email me.  For all the friends I've kept in touch with more easily due to FB, make sure I get your email addresses and phone numbers.  I would love to still share new articles and keep in touch.  My hope in our friendships will grow deeper, not fade away.

Friday, February 22, 2013

{ this moment }

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Birthed by Soule Mama.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Blessings, luck...different people refer to the good things that fall into our lives in different ways.  I've wavered back and forth from time to time on which word I feel is "right".  But lately, I have to go with blessings...amazing gifts from something bigger than myself. 

A year ago I was trying to go against my lifelong desire to be a full-time stay-at-home mom and wife.  I was in graduate school, initially trying to go full-time, and working as a TA.  Life was not fun.  I am married to a man that takes providing for his family very seriously - he feels that is his duty for his family (and I love that about him).  But since he is a teacher, money was tight and rather than cutting back on the extras, I decided to make our situation "better" by going out and making money...and going back to school to make even more money in a few years.  It works for so many families, but it was not working for ours.  It was disrupting the harmony of our family life. 

Towards the end of the semester I had a long talk with a dear friend/mentor.  I don't remember her exact words, but she said something along the lines of I wasn't trusting my husband to provide for me in the ways he promised.  I was trying to take matters into my own hands, which was really only making matters worse in all other areas of life.  At the time I wasn't completely on board with the God part, but I could see my husband's desire to provide and how my attempts to change our situations were coming across as slightly insulting to him.

So, I very half-heartedly "finished" (there's a reason I put that in quotations) the semester and truly committed to being a stay-at-home mom.  Sure, I have dreams and hopes, but I don't really have any sort of career aspirations and quite honestly I can't recall ever really have strong ones for any extended period of time.  There are careers that don't sound as miserable as others.  But for me, I honestly believe my purpose in life right now is to be a mom.  That is what I was created to do.  I was blessed to marry a man that supports that "job" whole heartedly.  Making the financial sacrifices needed to allow me to stay at home are more than worth it to the both of us.

And what have I realized over the last few months?  This IS what I am called to do in life.  God has blessed us in every way through our commitment to our family over financial gain.  Whenever things start to get really tight and I start to worry, amazing things take place and our needs are more than met.  We've never missed a bill or had to go without food.  Everything we have ever needed has been provided.  I've been able to cut back on the time I spend making cakes and we're still able to cover all our expenses.  Whenever we try to write out a budget, the incoming money and outgoing expenses never add up.  On paper we shouldn't be able to make it month to month, but we always do.  There is always some extra gift or job or fund of some sort that blesses us. 

So, no, it can't be just luck.  There's too much chance in that.  It has to be blessings that keep pouring down on our sweet little family.  I have never in all my life felt more thankful for the life we are living and the blessings God is bestowing upon us.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Quilt is FINALLY Finished

So...Töchterchen's quilt...

I gave it to her for Christmas...and at that time it was mostly finished.  But I knew that I wanted to add some hand stitching to the center of each flower.  I hemmed and hawed over how exactly to do this, then this week I just went for it and I couldn't be happier with the results.  I added a spiral of hand stitching to the center of each flower in a thread that matches the natural color of each center. 

My stitches are far from the precise, even stitches of my Grandmother, but I still think she would be pleased with the treasure I made for my sweet baby girl - named in honor of her.  I have found that every time I work on a quilting project (quilt #3 is currently underway), I think of my Grandmother often.  I wish that I had taken an interest in such "arts" while she was still here on Earth, but I find that I enjoy quilting that more than some of my other sewing endeavors because I feel connected to her through it.  It also feels like I am helping to carry on a legacy of the women in my family - our family is rich with beautiful quilts!

I am so excited to share with everyone the finally product!  Her quilt is a good bit larger than the one I made for Jackson (oops!).  She loves it and refuses to go to bed or naptime without it.  (Which made finding time to add the finishing touches a little trickier.)

The whole, finished product.  I love the 30's prints!

I hope the stitching shows up enough in the pictures.  It is subtle, but I really think it added the finishing touch to my Töchterchen's quilt.  My hope is that she will take it everywhere she goes and will use it so much that by the time she has a daughter of her own it will be in tatters, much like my baby quilt is (the one she used until I completed this one for her). 

Yes, making a quilt is time consuming.  But all that time would be a waste if the fruit of the labor wasn't used and used and used!  On that note - drag out any family heirlooms hiding in your closets and USE THEM!  A quilt is a practical work of art, one to be used and admired.  My Grandmother made a gorgeous double wedding ring quilt for my 16th birthday.  It was pieced by machine, but all the quilting is hand stitching.  It still blows my mind that she did all of that stitching by hand.  So much time, labor, and love was poured into my quilt.  For years I kept it in a closet, afraid of ruining it.  After making the quilts for my children, I realized what a disservice I was doing to both her and the quilt.  The quilt is now on the foot of our bed - to be admired on the warm days and nights and to be used for extra warmth on the cold ones.  If it weren't pink, green, and everyother color that isn't in our living room, I would proudly display it on the back of our couch - just to show it off to the rest of the world...or at least those that come into our home.

And on that note - go snuggle up under something beautiful and handmade!  Winter is returning to Southeast Virginia, at least for the weekend!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

To My Generation

I've been doing a lot of thinking over the past months.  It has been partially little more than self-reflection, but lately I've found myself even deeper in thought as a result of a Bible study I'm participating in through church.  We're working through "The Seven Experiment" by Jen Hatmaker - check it out, it's great food for thought.

But basically, all my thinking keeps coming down to this: I'm not a big fan of the American lifestyle and the direction my generation is taking, specifically. 

We are in a rat race.  A rat race I will not take part in.  We work and work and work.  So that we can spend more, buy more, waste more, drive more, wear more, weigh more, spend more time on our phones/computers/iWhatevers, and live in bigger houses.  Why?  Has a single person in the history of this planet ever found these things to be the key to happiness?  If so, more power to you.  But I'm pretty sure that at the end of our lives all we will treasure will be the people in our lives, the quality time we spent with them, undistracted by all the crap we are now so distracted with. 

We've spent the past 6+ months without a personal computer.  Our phones don't even come close to accessing the internet.  It has been a huge blessing, forced upon my parenting skills.  I don't have to even worry about the distraction of a screen/computer during my children's waking hours.  I still have to deal with the distractions of cooking, cleaning, and gardening, but those are the type of distractions I want my children to witness.  There are no magically fairies that appear after hours in this house.  Children, at least my children, need to participate in the doing of those jobs.  They learn so much by watching and doing.  Someday they will live on their own and may even become a Mama and Daddy themselves.  My children will be equiped for the work of the home.  Besides, I have been amazed at just how much a two and three year old can do to help - clearing the table, loading the washing machine, unloading the dryer, handing clothes to me to fold or hang on the line in the warm months, making their beds, putting their clean and dirty clothes away, weeding in the garden, scrambling eggs, grading cheese, and SO SO SO much more.  Kids are awesome, let me tell you.

Our latest blessing in disguise is being forced into life with only one vehicle.  It appears it will be temporary, maybe only one more week.  But I've realized the blessing of time this has also been.  We are distracted by all the places we could go.  Even when I try to keep the errands to a minimum, there are still errands that I find myself "having" to do, that in all honestly are about as far from necessary at it gets.  Instead we've crafted, built, and explored right here at home.  Today we ran to the library (and back).  Good old fashioned foot transportation just doesn't get the recognition it deserves.  Yes, it takes more planning and coordination to make do on one car, but if Hubby's truck couldn't be fixed easily, I would be happy to go without. 

Granted, our lifestyle is partially forced upon us by our decision to survive on one income.  It's tight, but I know with 100% certainty I will look back on these days as some of our closest and best days as a family.  We are blessed beyond words.  There is an extremely nice, sturdy, and generously sized roof over our heads.  There is always food on the table (maybe more beans and less meat, but balanced, healthy food it is).  We don't have more clothes than we can wear, but we always have more than we can wear in a week.

Yes, simple is beautiful. I hope I can always have simple. To my generation, you can keep your over-worked, over-tired, over-spent lifestyles. I'm going to live my life with purpose, passion, and full of beauty.

 Sap dripping from the woodpeck holes in our maple tree.  Excellent lesson on where our syrup comes from!

How we spend hours of our days.

Latest backyard discovery - added to the tree on our nature table. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A little bit of everything

What a week.  Ups, downs, and everything in between.

The kids are sharing a bedroom again with excellent success!  They are so happy to sleep together and wake up with oodles of energy/joy!  Of course this also times with when I've tried to start waking up 30-45 minutes before they do to get an easier start to the day.  When they wake up between 5:45 and 6:15, that's becoming even harder than I originally thought.  But like I said, they wake up so filled with joy and I'm learning how to better handle their happy chaos, even before coffee.
Hubby was in a minor accident on his way home from class Wednesday.  We are operating on one car for now.  I'm starting to wonder if I could get used to only having the car on Tues/Thursdays.  It would definitely slow down our pace of life and help us focus only on the things that matter.  Thankfully he wasn't injured and his car isn't badly damaged.  However on our limited budget, any damage is more than we can really afford.  Guess that's life as adults.

The kids and I talked about and celebrated Candlemas/Groundhog's Day this week.  We made two types of beeswax candles, read some books, and added a few poems to our circle time.

Chalkboard verse and drawing.

Mannchen's first drawing of the family - (from left to right) Daddy, Mannchen, Töchterchen, Me (above Töchterchen), and Brady.  Maybe Töchterchen is so large because she's SO LOUD.

Cooking with Mama.

Homemade candles and our Valentine's garland.  I cut out the hearts, Töchterchen helped string them on ribbon.

To finish the post, I thought I would share pictures of our favorite room in the house - the playroom!  Hubby tore out the old asbestos flooring in December.  He laid laminate in the bathroom and we had carpet installed in the playroom.  It is so comfy and cozy now.  The kids play up here all the time.  I like that the entire upstairs in their territory.
The barn, game cabinet, and open floor play space.
Kitchen/house area - now complete with a hair chair and ironing board!  I certainly don't iron clothes, but maybe my daughter will be a better wife than I am in that department.

Toy bins, reading tent, book shelf, and dress up area.  Love this room with carpet!

Updated bath floor!

February nature table!  I'd share the weekly chalkboard verse and drawing, but it's...well...lame.  :)