Thursday, December 25, 2014

Waiting.

Early morning waiting for cinnamon roll dough to rise ....

For a baby to wake with her morning yearning for mama ....

For kids to come squealing with delight that their cookie plate is empty and their stockings are full ...

Waiting for a savior to return.

Feeling so blessed this Christmas season.  Wishing joy and peace for all, whether their Christmas is filled with blessings or with trials, as I'm sure so many are.  May God give you peace today and the promise of eternal joy in Him.

xoxo


Friday, December 5, 2014

Christmas.

It's December 5th.

For most people, Christmas is already front and center on their minds.  Either with advent preparations, or gift buying and making, Christmas parties, decorating, the list goes on ....  Even away from home, Christmas is front and center here too.  We have our stockings hung and the kids love doing their advent calendar on the computer.  We love the chocolate advent calendars and that is the first thing they do every morning -- What can I say, I'm a softie :)  Soon we'll start crafting some ornaments and gifts.
We've also been doing some Jesus-based advent lessons and reading our favorite Christmas story books.

For me, it has never been too terribly hard to blend the Christmas traditions.  Jesus is always "the reason for the season" and I try to be very deliberate about reminding the kids of that.  But Santa can easily represent a lot of the things Jesus brought to us -- love, generosity, magic.

During one of my own adult advent lessons, I listened to a podcast of a collection of Christian women talking about advent.  And boy was it depressing.  One began by saying, "I hate Christmas."  How can one be Christian and hate the celebration of Christ's birth?  She referred to it as a "man-made holiday".  Really?  They said the lead up to Christmas is so exhausting, they don't even enjoy the holiday any more.  So sad, and yet probably very true for a lot of people.

I realize that many Christian holidays line up with equinox and solstice days, I'm not clueless.  But I also believe whole-heartedly in the truth of the bible.  The women went on to talk about how hard it is for them to explain to their children how Jesus fits into modern-day Christmas and all its commercialization, and some said they don't even try.  They keep them completely separate.  I'll admit, consumerism is a tough battle to fight, but it's not impossible.  Why should we choose our TV habits and our stores over the heart of our families -- faith?  If you're like me and crave a simpler Christmas, full of memories instead of exhaustion, turn the TV off and miss all those commercials and Hollywood versions of what Christmas is.  Stay home and out of the crazy stores.  I promise your heart will feel calmer.

It is a little easier here, as we're a bit off the grid.  But not completely.  I love giving gifts, but I'm not going to let it consume me and give me anxiety like I did last year during Black Friday.  If I don't find that all-perfect gift for someone, they'll understand.  And, more often than not, they won't even notice.  The next day I read a different (and better!) advent lesson on giving and receiving.  The author posed this question:  "When did we start expecting instead of receiving, and buying instead of giving?"

She offered this suggestion:

So whatever it is we're giving, let us offer in love.  And whatever it is we're receiving, let us welcome with humility.

Generosity isn't about what we give.  It's about how we give.  And receiving isn't about what we're getting.  It's about how we welcome.


Last night I let Ever stay up late to watch the Peter Pan Live special on TV.  It was alright, but what I noticed most were the commercials that, of course, made Christmas out to be all about the "stuff" we could get and give.  They are advertisements after all.  I tried to point this out to Ever and I hope some small fraction of it took anchor.

Don't let the world make you hate Christmas because you can't buy enough stuff, or afford the best decorations or gifts or food.  It's not about that.  It's about faith and love and family and friends.  My personal goal is to keep the magic in Christmas always and to never give up keeping Jesus at the front and center of this season.  Merry Christmas.





Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thoughts on a chilly morning....

:: Wishing my cup of coffee would never end ....
:: Thankful for a fire that's still burning in the morning....
:: Going to pull a Miracle on 34th Street this year and ask Santa for my dream house ;)  Wish me luck.
:: Excited Brad Paisley is playing in Alaska!  Utterly disappointed that the cheapest tickets are $300 a piece!!  Seriously, that's just crazy.

:: Really feeling this guy, Jonsi, from Iceland and his band that I first heard on the How to Train
Your Dragon 2 soundtrack.  Isla bird is feeling it too :)


:: May have found myself a new vacation knitting project.  Isn't it beautiful?  Spectra from Stephen West.
: source :

:: And if I could, I would knit this for ALL of my family & friends :)

: source :

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I needed to read this, maybe you do too....

This morning I read this post from the blog, letters from the nest.

Wow.  I mean -- WOW.  I needed that perspective refresher for sure.

Please read it.  

I promise it will change the way you view things today.  xoxo

:: Oldie, but goodie.  Ever on her first day of Kindergarten. ::
And special thoughts, prayers, and love to ALL our veterans today.  Where would we be without you?



Thursday, November 6, 2014

Book Report.

Amazon, man.  It's trouble.  It has everything you need and a million things you don't need ... that is until you see them.  

I have a lucky tendency to not know I need a book until it falls in my lap.  I recently ordered the book Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full by Gloria Furman.  It's short and sweet, with little pearls of encouragement.  I really love a directed bible study, which this is not at all.  But without time for a long study right now, this is limping me along until the next one.  

A couple favorite lines:

"Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God's grace.  And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God's grace."

"Glorify God by enjoying Him -- he is a truer and better award than the adulations of our children, of other women, and even of our self-approval."

I constantly need the reminder to place my trust and strength and joy in Him.


I've seen a lot of people celebrate November with 30 days of gratitude.  I think this year I will attempt it.  Although there are a million ways to do it -- one being simply to write a list on a piece of paper or in a journal -- I think we'll try to do something along the lines of this with the kids.
And though I'm not usually one to attribute inherent wisdom to celebrities, I am a Kate Hudson fan and agree with her here:

Research shows practicing GRATITUDE is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships. 

So start yourself a list and have a Happy November! 
xoxo

Monday, November 3, 2014

Seasons.


All of our lives have seasons.  Seasons of busy and seasons of quiet.  Seasons of sharing and those of self-reflection.  Seasons of feeling present and those that flow through our fingers like water where we're simply trying to keep from running out.

When I started this blog 5 years ago our lives were different.  One child.  No smart phones.  One camera.  No school.  Our life was made up of "less" in a sense.  But I was able to focus more on the less, if that makes any sense.  I now find it a daily challenge to be present, to be intentional.  I have some catching up to do when it comes to figuring this life-as-an-adult stuff out.

Instagram has, in a way, taken the place of my photo sharing on here.  But I do miss this space and hope to carve out a few moments each week to come back and add to my journal, and to our story.


"We love because he first loved us." 1 John 4:19

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Check it out.

 As a fan of photography, black and white imagery, vacations spent in the sun and - incidentally - freckles, I just had to share this one:



If it's legit, it's amazing.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

My Boy.

:: Love at first sight. ::
:: ONE :: 
:: TWO ::
:: THREE!! ::
photo taken by my friend Adriane Honerlaw 
"I'm three!  I'm three!!"  Thus began Tell's third birthday. He sat up in bed and proclaimed to the world, that he is in fact a whole year older, overnight.  

This boy.  Has me on my knees -- thanking God for his sweet little life intertwined with mine, praying for the energy to keep up with him, asking for wisdom to raise him right and protect him.

He loves his sisters.  
He adores his Papa.  
Everything has an engine for him.  He is constantly making an engine sound, sometimes he's not even playing with anything.  He just is an engine.  
He fixes things.  
Loves stories and lights up at the promise of a new book.
He attempts to drive anything with wheels.
Not at all a surprise, he is infatuated with airplanes.  
Loves his bike.
He's my eater.  Gets serious about food.  An empty plate has brought him to tears before.  That last bite can be a stinger, I feel your pain little one. ;)

Here's to you Tell, my little light-filled ginger -- I love you, I love you, I love you and wish you 100 more birthdays!


Sunday, June 1, 2014

A Conversation with Ever.

Tenderheart.  That is my girl.  Tender, gentle (mostly), and a bit of an old soul...

Last night she wanted to look at some of my jewelry hanging above the cupboard.  She loves the sparkle.  We went through it and I told her about each of the things hanging there.  I told her she could have anything of mine she wanted, except for my wedding ring.  She talks about me "donating" my things to her.  Been around for a few closet cleanings, I guess ;)  Anyway, I said of course I would donate my things to her.

Then she says, "Can I have your wedding ring when you live inside my heart?"

Huh?  Goodness.  "Well, of course you can.  You or Isla or Tell."

Within an instant she goes from the joy of "yes" to the sobbing, wailing tears of losing her Mama someday.  I mean she cried - hard - for half an hour.  And let's not kid ourselves, I cried a little too.  This tenderness did not show up out of nowhere.  And while we're at it, her Papa is no hard-hearted figure either.

Anyway, we were a sight to see.  Bry was so confused.  And then he wasn't when I told him the conversation.  He knows his little girl.

That girl carries my heart around in her pocket.  I told her I hope she will always love me this much.   And she answered, "Of course I will."
Crossing my fingers and praying every day...
:: Ever and "Tell" the (hopefully) hen, so named by Tell the boy :) ::

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Summer Book Review: The Nesting Place


"It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful."  Just what I needed to hear right now.  A little while ago I went on an Amazon binge and bought a few books for summer reading.  I wanted to share a couple trinkets from this last quick read -- The Nesting Place by Myquillin Smith -- that found a place in my heart right now....

"I don't open my home because it's finally done and presentable.  I share it for the same reason I wear a bikini to the pool.  It's not because I think I look great in it.  It's because I'm finally okay that I don't.  It's the same with our home.  I don't share because it's perfect; I share it because I'm finally okay that it's not."
-Myquillin Smith

"Everyone gets to decide how happy they want to be, because everyone gets to decide how grateful they are willing to be."  
- Ann Voskamp

and finally:

The Imperfectionist Manifesto

We believe that home should be the safest place on earth.
We believe that home has a greater purpose than looking pretty.
We believe that authenticity trumps perfection.
We believe in mismatched sheets and unmade beds.
We believe that the things in our house are there to serve us, not the other way around. 
We believe that toys and homework and smelly shoes and spilled milk are signs of life.
We believe in using the good stuff now, not waiting for some future better purpose.
We believe in handmade.
We believe that contentment results not from stuff but from gratitude.
We believe that decorating done good enough is better than decorating postponed.
We believe we are all creative because we are all made in the image of a creative God.
We believe that it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful.

Our family is in somewhat of a housing holding pattern.  In our current habits, we are starting to outgrow this space.  But this is our home and I love it.  My kids love it.  There is plenty of potential here and I was needing some moral support.  I found not only lots of inspiration, but also solace and peace of mind from The Nesting Place.  Another reminder to enjoy the present moment and be grateful for our blessings.  

Now on to Clutterfree With Kids -- ha! :)

Sunday, May 4, 2014

New York, New York.

Stacey, Isla, and I spent about 40 hours in New York City a couple weeks ago.  It was wonderful, and exhausting, and expensive, and chilly.  And a bit of a blur.

The highlights?  Having a photographer I found on Instagram - Mimi Nguyen - take photos of Isla in Central Park...








The skyline.  Amazing.  Simply looking up -- incredible.  



Grand Central Station.  Everything about it.  The Whispering Wall :)  The macaroons!  Fully living up to their glorious reputation.




The outrageous amount people can charge for a simple meal.  Although it was really good.  "I don't know what's in this, but it's even better than butter.  Whatever that would be..."


The Museum of Modern Art.  Truly a cultural experience for me.  A little tainted by the "video art" at the entrance elevators, but I recovered with Monet, Picasso, Pollock, Gauguin, Degas, etc, etc, etc.... Amazing!  And whoever painted this, it may have been my favorite:

























I'm so thankful we got to see a glimpse of the city.  I was really wishing we had a couple more days. And about $5,000.  And a baby sitter so we could go see a broadway show.  Well, we'll plan better next time :)  Thanks Aunt Stace for taking this detour with us... we love you.

P.S.  Happy Birthday to my Daddy-O -- I miss you and love you.  More with ever year that passes :)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Spring.

:: Mimi Nguyen Photography ::
Well, it seems that Spring may actually be here.  The rhubarb is peeking it's little red face from the dirt, tulips are poking up, Bry took the skis off the plane and has put on wheels.  
Yesterday we planted a dozen dahlias in pots to start sprouting.  Today I'm hoping we get a few seeds started as well.
I have some new plans for the garden and water system that I'm getting excited for.  And we also have a new lawn-mowing technique:


This guy was working at it off-and-on all day yesterday :)

More pictures from our recent NYC and Florida trip tomorrow ....

Monday, April 14, 2014

Lately 1.

So, I broke my phone last month.  Luckily I had insurance and just last week I got my phone back from being fixed.  Somehow, in the clearing and re-booting and syncing and linking, my phone linked up with my blog and all the photos I had ever posted on here are now on my cell phone.  It's crazy.  Bry thinks it's a little creepy -- all the syncing and linking that occurs without us really knowing it's happening.

Anyhow, it was such a great trip looking back at all those photos!  I love it and am so grateful for the peek back at the last four years.  I've gone in spurts of posting my very favorite pictures, sometimes frequently, sometimes not.  It really re-energized me to keep it up.  

Sometimes this blog is an outlet, other times I'm looking for advice, sometimes just sharing something I think is great, but most of the time it's simply a good old new-fashioned journal.  It helps me remember these "long days, but short years" and the fleeting stages these kids (and us, as parents) just storm through.  So without further ado -- here are more pictures ;)
:: My little Frida Kahlo ::

:: And here we are as Coolio and mini-me Coolio ::

:: Barefoot races on the ice. Love their in-sync stride here .... ::

:: Special trip to NE with Ollie, Stace, & Isla ::


:: Ready to eat! ::

:: Feed me! ::

:: Still ready -- sense a theme? ::

:: Isla and Sunnie at Omi & Opa's. ::

:: Miss these turkeys every day. ::


:: Sawyer loved looking at herself in the DSLR screen. ::
:: cuties. ::
I didn't take as many pictures as I normally do in Nebraska (Maggie, I didn't catch you once!).  But it was a short trip and I think I was just enjoying having a little more hands-free time since it was just Isla and I.  Looking forward to the kids getting to visit this summer, they were feeling so left out as you can see:
:: "Let me see all the kids." ::