Friday, March 23, 2018

Life Update

Winter is starting to fade and we're feeling the little touches of spring here and there.

In our family, things are chugging right a long.
I feel know we are on the cusp of a very busy season that spans spring all the way into September.
It's kicking off with the mad rush to renew our foster care license which is a yearly beast of a process.

I am also planning events for my sister who is getting married.
I'm her maid of honor and more than happy to be planning bachelorette stuff (going camping!!), wedding shower stuff, and getting my own dress and things lined up.

Speaking of weddings, we have so many young couples that have gone through our ministry who are getting married. Adam will be busy completing marriage counseling. We like to take each couple out on a double date at some point too. Plus the actual weddings.

Our kids all have birthdays during the warm months.
Birthdays are an on going challenge for me because I would prefer a more minimalist way of celebrating. I would prefer taking the kids on a outing they choose or just eating somewhere they like plus a surprise. It's just very hard to celebrate anything in a minimalist way when there are so many people who want to love on the birthday kid. Parties tend to stress me out and bring so much waste and clutter. But I totally want to give my kids a special day and to take a moment to celebrate that God brought them into this world. This is the back in forth my mind goes through. Birthdays are something that will probably just be tweaked from one to the next depending on what the family needs and what the birthday kid desires.

The girls and I are also planning a little gardening project. Our neighbors are always generous with their vegetable garden. The girls have LOVED being able to pick off a few tomatoes or an egg plant or zucchini. Inspired by their enjoyment of that, we are going to make our own garden. The plan is to grow a salad. I think a tomato plant or two and a few lettuce and spinach plants are all we will tackle this year. I'm excited for the girls to help with the work, care for the plants, pick what grows, and eat it with something Daddy grills up. I'm looking forward to savoring every minute.

We are going on a family vacation in June which is something I am really looking forward to.
Traveling with the kids is becoming something that is easier and easier to do and I hope to do lots of it with them.

Traveling is also becoming more doable since soon our ADOPTION should be complete!!!
Wooo hoooo!
Our son's adoption should be final within these next few months.
Speaking of parties, somewhere in there we'll be planning and throwing an open house to celebrate!

There will be a few more times here and there that either Adam or I will be traveling on our own.

Given all that and knowing it is all soon to start has made these last few weeks of winter very enjoyable.
The slow pace is about to fade with the snow.
I've used the tail end of winter to make lists and plans, streamline our house so it's easier to maintain, and read up homemaking wisdom for busy seasons.

It all comes down to I just love this life.
I love the slow and quick rhythms and seasons.
I love caring for and meeting my family members' needs through the changing times.
I love making a plan that has their best interest at heart.
I love growing our family, celebrating, working on things with them, partnering with my husband through everything, and enjoying the rich life the comes out of it all.

Taking this time to reflect and look forward has me all excited for whatever comes.
It is all for the glory of God.
I'm praying for God's joy, wisdom and peace.
I pray that He would give us discernment for times we need to take rest.
I pray that we won't be too busy to spend time with Him and to look outside ourselves to see the needs of others.

How do you prepare for life's busy times?
Especially when it comes to managing home and caring for the spiritual + emotional well-being of your family members?

Thursday, March 22, 2018

March Favorites

This post will be the first of a new monthly series.
Since our family has grown to include kids my ideas, time, and attention are definitely more focused on them (as it should be) and much less on updating this little hobby blog of mine.

I'm at the point where I'm like, ok.
Either I need to write or I can go ahead and shut this space down.
In an effort to motivate myself to write more often, I'll be posting a few things that I'm loving once a month.

The five categories will be: what I'm doing, what I'm reading, what I'm making, what I'm wearing, and what I'm using.

So let's kick this thing off!

What I am doing...

We are working on renewing our foster care license right now. I am in the throes of scheduling our required classes, lining up child care for those times, gathering paperwork and documents, making sure our house is up to code, scheduling our home inspection and's a yearly process that is always overwhelming at the start. I cope by making lists and not procrastinating on what I can get done right away.

What I am reading...

My women's bible study group looks more like a book club this Spring. We are reading Redeeming Love and discussing it together.

It's so good! It's a novel based on the book of Hosea. It does a beautiful job of illustrating the love Christ has for us has He saves us from our life of darkness and brings us into a life of light, love, and eternity. I love reading it with our group mostly because I love the women of that group. There are a handful of much older ladies and a handful of young moms. The natural discipleship and instruction that happens in our conversations is a wonderful thing to be part of.

What I am making...

I don't ever go all out with store bought decor, especially the seasonal variety. I still love to have the inside of our house change seasons along with the outside though. I keep the seasonal decor very natural and almost always free by gathering it from outside or making it. A few weeks ago, with Easter on it's way, the girls and I put together a simple resurrection garden.

I happened to find a bag of grass seed in our shed when I was doing yard work and that seemed like the perfect thing to do. We invited some friends over to make their own with us which was just next level fun! We simply filled a wide, shallow dish with soil, sprinkled on a few handfuls of seeds, watered it, made a little cross out of sticks, and set it on our table in the sun to grow. It's completely low maintenance and a constant reminder of the approaching Easter Sunday and the hope that comes with it.

What I am wearing...

Though it really and truly is officially spring, the weather says otherwise. It snowed last night leaving a good amount of accumulation. So I'm still wearing my unofficial winter uniform of black on black on black.

I can't wait to pull out some long dresses, sandals, roughed up shorts, and t-shirts!

What I am using...

Last summer I hosted a Norwex party and received a bunch of cloths. I'm usually VERY skeptical and never truly sold out to any products from pyramid companies like this. These things though I am truly sold out to. These cloths and water are what I clean our entire house with 95% of the time. The other 5% I use water, vinegar, essential oils, and a sometimes bleach. I started cleaning my parent's house from time to time and I use only these there too. I've been completely satisfied with the results of cleaning this way for these past several months. I had strep once this winter, the Boy has had a couple colds, but my oldest who goes to public school has been completely healthy all winter! I'm very happy with whatever cleaning this way has contributed to that.  Just like anything worth having, they are on the pricier end up front. They are so worth the initial investment though and I do not say that easily. Believe me. I am so dang cheap 😉

What a good start to something new!
Like I said, I'll be posting my favorite stuff that makes me happy or makes doing life a bit more manageable.

What's something you're loving lately?

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Miraculous Paint

The first summer we lived in our house, I painted our kitchen a minty green color. 
Except it was a little stronger on the green side than I was going for. 
In my mind I saw something almost white with just a hint of cool green. 
Instead it was quite a bit more saturated. 
It made our cabinets look pink by contrast. 
At night the walls became a peculiar glow-in-the-dark type green under the ceiling lights. 

O well. 

I carried on, slapping the paint on the wall and getting it over with. 
There were many more important things to worry about at the time than getting the shade *just right*. 

This past year the itch to get it right got real. 
As a maker of the home we live in, I am in the kitchen A LOT.
As a very visual person who gets great satisfaction from a beautiful space, the off-tone was getting to me, becoming a real irritation every time I passed through. 

After finally living with the wrong color long enough, I started thinking about what paint color would make my eyes the happiest for the longest. 
I didn't want to be in this spot again any time soon if I could help it. 

After waffling around a bit, I decided on white, a warmed up white like my favorite flavored coffee cream. 
The can said your basic Vintage White. 

One evening a few weeks ago when Adam was out, I gathered all my supplies and jumped to work.

Our kitchen is small enough that I was able to get it all done within an evening and morning of work. 

Several coats and a few Netflix romantic comedies later, I'm in love!
It's insane how much a coat of paint can make it or break it. 
Our kitchen feels so much more united with the rest of the house.
It even elevates the cabinetry and worn counter tops (which will hopefully be getting switched out as soon as we can wrap our heads around it).

So fresh and so clean.
So much better. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Winter Ways

It's 100% winter in every way these days.

Fall faded away too quickly but we had a great, chill Christmas full of our favorite people and activities .
There was only one week of December that was just way too busy for my liking.
A surgery, a check up, a school program, several Christmas parties, and our church's Christmas program all somehow landed in the same week.
I have no idea.

But it all settled down and it really was a great Christmas after that.

New Year's Eve, we stayed home, put the kids to bed a tad early, and had ourselves a little date night complete with takeout and chocolate cake.
That's how we party.

To literally top it all off, there's been snow on the ground since mid December.
Personally, I love snow.
It makes my eyes happy.
The house is brighter, the mood is slower and cozier, and everything is just renewed with every fresh dusting.
Don't go trying to convince me otherwise.
It won't work :)
I love it.

With all the snow and super cold temperatures, our schools have been put on two hour delays or completely cancelled a lot already.
I think Larissa has been to school exactly three times since they let out for Christmas break.

With so much time at home and limited time outside, we've got a need for a plan.
Budgeting our time so all of our needs for activity and chill time are balanced helps us all SO much.
So here's my very flexible, balanced plan for our winter, stay-at-home days...

8:30- everyone up, eat breakfast
9:00- Malachi play, girls- play dough, Mom- coffee, news
10:00- Girls- short cartoon, Mom- get dressed, tidy up
10:30- Kids play in rooms (maybe go on a snow walk or run errands)
12:00- pick up toys, lunch, read, maybe a cartoon if there's time
1:00- naps
3:00- up, snack
4:00- bath (incredibly entertaining and great for cold days)
4:30- play in bedrooms till Dad gets home
5:00- Dad home, Mom start dinner
6:00- Dinner, pick up all the toys
7:00- Bed for Malachi, movie for the rest of us.

I've set up the kids rooms so they can be as free as possible to do anything they want in there: jump on beds, have as much floor space as possible, have access to all toys for play and pick up, pull out tents, color at their little table, a couple gross motor play toys....

Lots of options that help them stay engaged and give me plenty of time and space to do want I need and want through these cooped up days.

A happy, active, rested mom is just as important to maintaining peace at home as happy, active, rested kids.

We've all got a lot of freedom at home to do what we like to do.
This little, loosely used routine helps us have that.
If things start feeling crazy I can glance at what's next and get us there by moving activities up or back.
Whatever helps.

I mentioned winter walks in the line up.
I've found that at my kids' ages,  full on wallowing/playing in the snow leaves them cold, wet, and cranky within (literally) seconds of finally getting outside.
If it's too much much work for not enough return, we might never go outside.
That's just not an option.

We already like walking together when its warm so now we do winter walks too.
I wear Malachi on me under a coat I borrow from Adam and the girls wear snow boots, coats, and gloves.
I warn the girls not to roll in the snow or get all wet.
As long as they can stay somewhat dry, we're able to burn a good chunk of time and energy out in the beautiful, frosty, white world.

This is a life saver to all of us as the walls begin to move in and we just want to be outside without being immediately miserable!

This is my fourth winter staying at home with my kids and so far it's the best.
I don't feel trapped or at a loss of what to do or overwhelmed constantly.
Figuring out what works for us and praying for wisdom has just made it a good time.
Sure we all whine and grumble and need space but it's just become more balanced with good times and laughs and tolerance for each other's ways.

That's pretty much what living in a family is all about, right? :)

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Enjoying What Was, What Is, and What Is To Come

It's feeling like a time of transition over here.
Just a tiny one.
Fall finally came around and started to feel like itself again.
The trees have peaked and are dropping their leaves like mad.

I feel like so much has happened these last few months.
I'd like to make note of them but don't have the time/energy/desire/emotional stability to make a nicely package blog thing out of them so here's a straightforward list for future recollection...

  • school is going awesome for L. She loves it! She's actually bummed about being off all next week for Thanksgiving in a few days.
  • My sister got engaged and knighted me the maid matron of honor. Bring on the wedding plans!
  • Mid October we fostered a newborn for a couple weeks until DCS could find a long term placement for her. I wish SO HARD that I could have been that for her. But we just couldn't right now. My feelings are so complicated about our time with her and letting her move on. Emotional stability is not a guarantee so that is all I have to say about her.....other than she was perfect.
  • We lost a couple close friends to death within a week of each other. One had been a longtime, close family friend to Adam's family. Though she wasn't part of our daily lives, the loss of her gentle presence on earth resounds in our hearts. Looking forward to seeing her again. 
  • Adam and I have chipped away at some more house updates: resurfacing the half bath floor, laying carpet and fixing the ceiling in Malachi's room.
    • We are having new windows put in through the whole house within a month or so. Huge yay for that one! we replaced a sliding glass door and that has had a huge impact on the way things feel inside. I can't wait to see what solid windows do. 
    • I'm very tempted to repaint our kitchen. It's a light green color that just feels like it misses the mark, you know what I mean? I wanted a soft mint color and I think this is just too saturated. The itch isn't severe enough to scratch yet. 
Actually the color looks great in these photos.
Ha! Wish the real walls looked more like these. 

  • Malachi has had several surgeries to remove cataracts. After doing eye drops 6 times a day to prevent scar tissue from forming, we found out that some actually did form over his right eye. He will go back in for surgery in early December to have that buildup removed and hopefully it won't come back. That's a bummer, painful for him, and inconvenient for family life but we are crazy thankful that we have been given all that we need to get this boy to 100%. 

So those are the main events of these last couple of months. 

This week I have been just enjoying home life as much as possible and soaking in the good, comforting, simple things of it. 
Lighting a candle for home time.
Cleaning out well used closets and cabinets. 
Walking in the chilly air to get Larissa from school instead of driving.
Sitting at the table working on our family yearbook. 
Enjoying doing laundry while a book plays (Under A Painted Sky)
Caring for home things and my family.
Staying away from too much TV for once :) 

So naturally I've been beginning to think ahead to Christmas. 
Not really wanting to rush into it but just to anticipate its coming and savor the last days of autumn before they fly. 

One major place that needs attention is our shelf wall. 

I'm just really hankering to take everything off, clean it all, and put very little back up. 
It looks crazy busy to me.
Books, photos, pumpkins, candles, lights, decor I'm over (and some I'm not), dust, baby things....
Plus there are some cords that run down the side that drive me crazy. 
Crazy enough that yesterday I sat down and stared at it while I brainstormed an inexpensive way to hide them other than just putting stuff strategically here and there to block them. 
(Which doesn't fool anyone, especially me)

I came across fabric cord covers on Amazon that are mostly used for covering chandelier or lighting cords. 
I found a 5 foot long white one that has a whole velcro seam so you can just wrap it around the cords. 
Not an invisible solution but one I can get behind. 
For Christmas and beyond I'm thinking stuff along these lines....

After the unexpected twists and turns of our fall, I'm praying for a chill Christmas.
Warm and bright. 
Simple and hopeful.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Michigan Magic

A few weeks ago, some really thoughtful, generous friends offered us a few days at a lake house situated on Lake Michigan. 

With a giddy heart, I jumped at the unexpected offer. 
A handful of days away from the norm lakeside for next to nothing? 
We'd be crazy to not make time for such a trip as soon as possible. 

So right after church, we loaded up the old minivan and started north. 

Our only goal for this trip was to be together doing a whole lot of nothing. 
Our nothing looked a lot like eating a bunch of yummy food, enjoying the beach, sleeping in, soaking in the house hot tub, making s'mores, and playing.   

Of course it was kind of chilly. 
Definitely not swimming weather.
But the kids loved playing in the sand and splashing in the waves a bit. 

The house we stayed in was beautiful. 

I think the best way to describe this house would be European lodge. 
Lots of it reminded me of houses I saw in Germany. 
But so much of the inside was like a cozy lodge with dark wood paneling, fireplaces everywhere, and a staircase that was almost a ladder. 

This living room had huge sliding doors on three sides. 
I LOVED having all those open all day. 
One evening, it was a little chilly and a few candles were lit. 
We all watched a movie under blankets. 

This living room had several deer heads and even a bear. 
You can see it on the right side of this picture. 
I though the girls would be terrified but they loved this guy. 
They kissed its nose good morning and goodnight everyday.  

One day we visited Port St Joseph.

Larissa has been really wanting a scarf of her own. 
We found this super soft infinity scarf in a thrift shop.
It's perfect for her and she wore it every day. 

This port town has so many cool shops and a sandy park along the lake shore. 
You can tell it must be a really fun place in the summer months. 
It was pretty sleepy while we were there.  

Also I'm terrible at taking location shots and rule at taking pictures of my kids. 
It's probably a very good thing I'm not a travel blogger. 

I'm so glad we took this little pause. 
I'm so thankful for the gift it was from our friends. 
I love my family but I don't always *ahem* enjoy them like I should. 

But Adam and I looked at each other countless times to just gush over each kid and their sweetness/funniness/ridiculousness/quirkiness/cuteness/loveliness. 

We looked at each other countless times too and just enjoyed what we saw in each other.
What our time together through the years has looked like. 
We've been together 12 years.
We're still growing up together. 
It's an endless adventure. 

These pauses help us to keep going with joy in our eyes, strength in our bodies, and faith in our hearts.