The Perfect Gift ~ An ER Visit

Because my husband is the best he surprised me with a little gift…even though we weren’t to get each other anything. This year it was quiet, understated and just right! A few good things to curl up with…

Did I mention that the real gift this  year is this ~

Because who can beat a Victorian claw foot tub and a porch swing?

Well, maybe this can.

It is 12:57 am and my husband is at the emergency room with a little boy of ours. Pneuminia? Croop? Whooping Cough? Fluid in the lungs? Can’t tell but it’s getting worse by the hour. So a Christmas Eve vist to the ER it is. Did I mention how incredible my husband is?

The true gift of Christmas ~ 

One self-sacrificing daddy who loves to an unimaginable depth.

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Perfection Through Imperfection {Thankful Christmas Moments}

After reading this amazing post When It Isn’t Perfect, I need to reprioritize. The Bible talks of renewing my mind. When I start thinking one thing then I need to replace it with a truth. Now I’m sure scriptures are thinking much more along the lines of writing the truth of His Word on my heart, but for me I just need to remind myself of truth on a much baser level. This season of life has me really struggling to keep Christmas as the beautiful forefront of my family.

So, instead of seeing all the needles under the tree that I will vacuum up at least twice today (Did I mention our 1 year old pulled the whole tree down the other day and that the garland has been confiscated due to structural issues?), I will choose to see…

A mother-in-love who graciously gifted handmade ornaments that littles could touch for a season.

Instead of the lack of garland (see above), I choose to see…

Vivid imagination that sparks play in a season that will pass by way too quickly.

Instead of my floor that sticks to my feet as I walk through the kitchen and dishes piled high, I choose to see…

Littles playing in flour and helping daddy make imperfect gingerbread cookies.

Instead of worrying about the millions of scraps and toys and clutter on the floor (did I mention I had already vacuumed twice?), I will choose to see…

Children actively creating, making a paper town come to life.

Instead of seeing the marker on the walls that will need to be scrubbed before we move and the stains that need to be purged from the carpet and all the rest of this home’s imperfections, I choose to see…

The beauty of my morning walk by the window that I will greatly miss. Stunning really. Didn’t even have to go outside to take these pictures. Right through my dirty window pane, all finger-printed up, these images glowed through. How breathtaking. There is a lot about this house I won’t miss. This living room window will not be one of them!

Instead of seeing all the muddy boots in the entryway mixed in with shoes in heaps of chaos with a sprinkling of toys thrown in just for fun, I will choose to see…

Fleeting play days that melt quicker than a memory!

I know that one day I will look back on these photos and cry with a longing deep wanting them back and not even blink at the list of worldly mess that threatens to collapse on me today as a young mother. Renewing my mind and repairing my heart today. Belting out some Christmas songs of old and not caring who hears my out of tune voice!

 

Versatile Blogger Award

Seems I’ve been nominated…again. This has been my third nomination for the Versatile Blogger Award, the first in 2010 by Heather @ Cultivated Lives, the second from Abby @ Peace.Love.Jesus and yet again by Pam @ Everyday Snapshots

Sometimes it seems I get frustrated with myself because my blog does not seem to have a cohesive theme. And I am always tempted to pick something and stick with it…food blogging, homeschool blogging, etc. But I always come back to the same thing…this blogging thing is for me and my family. The information I share is secondary to my own digital scrapbooking. And I really don’t think I could be tied down to just one theme. I love having the freedom to take a picture of whatever suits my fancy. I love the freedom to journal or question out loud or share information. I love the versatility of this technological medium so it suits me well to win a versatility award!

Here’s my seven unique things list:

  1. I don’t own a cell phone. Neither does my husband. For as much technology as we have in our world (HDTV, XBox, Blogging, Facebook, Email) it is just refreshing to NOT be a part of this always needing the next thing crowd.
  2. I love taking pictures of food. I don’t know why. There is just a beauty there I long to capture.
  3. I love looking at foodie blogs (see #2) even though I don’t really care to cook. My husband is a chef and he’s taught me the core of scratch cooking (great for my family) but if he’s home to do it I’ll always allow for it!
  4. I just became a new homeowner. It is exciting and scary all at the same time! Reminds me of my wedding all over again – that thrush of new romance mingled with the forever commitment aspect.
  5. Despite LOVING photography, I am still using the point and shoot feature on my DSLR Nikon D3100! Though, I always have the flash off. You just can’t beat that natural light. Some day I really am planning on sitting down and reading the Nikon Guide I got to go with my camera!
  6. I only own 3 pairs of shoes (4 if you count slippers) – an everyday Ryka Mary Jane Tennis Shoe, a more serious hard-working tennis shoe, and 1 pair of heels that I’ve had for over 10 years and are on their last leg!
  7. I’m in love with Pinterest. I think I have more followers on my boards than my blog! I’m a visual girl so this has become my favorite bookmark tool! It combines all my hobbies into one glorious place!

7 Bloggers to Award:

Drumroll please…

  1. Elise @ Beautiful Mess ~ She is everything I’d like to be sans kids. I’m hoping her inspiration will spur me on with creating more beauty for me without the mom guilt!
  2. Amy @ A Contented, Common Life ~ Her style is very much my style. I relate. Beautiful!
  3. Jen @ Wildflowers and Marbles ~ She doesn’t post often but when she does it’s always worth it! Her quiet Catholic ways are inspirational.
  4. Nadene @ Practical Pages ~ A Charlotte Mason Momma that blogs beautifully about it!
  5. Quinn @ Reformation Acres ~ Oh.My. How beautiful are her pictures and words!!! I always take away inspiration, practical advice, and a love of creation around me.
  6. Elizabeth @ In the Heart of My Home ~ One of the first blogs I ever discovered. Her faith shines through in always thought-provoking words and she is just as versatile today as she was 4 years ago when I first found her!
  7. Julie @ Creekside Learning ~ A beautiful blog. Simple and elegant homeschooling. Oxy moron? Not with her!

Emerging Beauty

Sometimes we overlook the obvious as mothers. That same pile of papers that need to be filed is tuned out of our peripheral vision every time we walk by it. Sometimes this same overlooking can happen with our children. I always love reading and rereading Psalm 139 and marvel about how God had this all planned out before we even entered the womb. As a mother it is by far one of my favorite chapters of the Bible. But do I really take time to slow down and know my children? Do I see what He planted innately in them, tucking it deep in freshly folded DNA?

I’ve been noticing this in Lily lately. Between her constant fashion pairings of Sarah Jessica Parker-ish skirts paired with urban tops, her interest in more adultish dolls (Monster High), her gothic passion mixed with contempary prettyness…sort of a vintage mod look…this is a girl who is longing for a fashion outlet.

MOM, WHY DON’T YOU LIKE TO BE PRETTY?” she asked me tonight.

What??? That’s what I portray? She’s been wanting me to color my hair back to brown because the red has become passe for her. She refuses…REFUSES…to wear jeans unless dragged in her bedroom and forced to put them on (only because of weather, not because I care if she wears jeans). She desperately wants to dye her own hair and wear makeup. And tonight while pinning some new hair styles to try, she begged me to print out some pictures of pretty girls that she could cut out. She looked through this Beautiful Mess blog and stood there absolutely mesmerized. I can’t blame her. I was too. I printed some thumbnails for her and watched her scrapbook tonight.

Instantly I was transported back to my own childhood. Pouring over Allure, Vogue, and Harper’s Bazaar magazines and cutting out models. I had no idea what made me act on this. I didn’t know I wanted to dress a certain way or wear my hair a certain way or do my makeup a certain way. All I knew was what I was attracted to and the magnetic urge compelling me to scrapbook these beautiful findings. For me it wasn’t just fashion, it was style…my style. I also poured over (even more than the fashion mags) Victoria and dreamed of my “some day” house.

As we’ve been house hunting and that is turning into a reality I am reminded of how much a part of my soul that is. He created me exactly this way. Kids and finances forced a season of putting this on hold and, until I saw my house, I didn’t even realize it was on hold in me.

As Christian moms we often shield our children from culture and trendy fads. We, as adults who’ve learned the hard way, know that fads are fleeting and there are deeper things we want to pass down to our kids. But too often this turns into us playing the mom “no” card or the Christian “no” card and not taking the time to think about what or why we are shielding certain things.

One of the best parenting books I’ve read this year was Grace Based Parenting by Ted Kimmel. It wasn’t a book so much about how to discipline as it was a book on how to let go of things that don’t matter. Who cares if your daughter wants to dye her hair? Does that have anything to do with her character? Does it have anything to do with Jesus? More importantly, does it detract from Him? Yes, people judge…usually wrong. But God judges our hearts. He knows our character. And we, as mothers, are called to train hearts, not to worry about appearances as the Pharisees did.

I explained to my daughter how hard it would be for mommy to wash dishes in heels…the slipping, you know. And how taking an hour daily to curl and braid my hair wasn’t in the cards since I have many other responsibilities on my plate in a day. But the excuses sounded hollow, even to my ears. My daughter is sobering for me. She is a good dose of exactly all that is beautiful and pure and fresh. How lovely!

Preparing for the Season ~ Pinterest and Christmas

This is my favorite time of the year. Has been ever since I can remember. This is a cozy, snug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug, jack frost nipping at your nose, hot chocolate-y, hibernate at home season. As a mother of six children, traditions have become even more important to me just as much as letting go of unrealistic expectations have. (Umm…still working on that one!) I figure by the time they are all leaving the nest I will be just starting to get good at it!

This Christmas I’ve discovered a new tool that has been such a blessing for my sanity. You see, I am a visual learner. And because of that I am also a visual rememberer (is that a word?). And this little program {insert Pinterest here} has become my lifeline this holiday season. A wonderful little online space to bookmark things I’d rather not forget. When I look at my board I immediately think, “Oh, yes, that is the project I wanted to do!” I can lazily look through my boards on a free Saturday morning while drinking a hot cup of coffee and decide to do a project with the kids or just dream of future projects. Or I can browse quickly while homeschool planning and remember where to find projects, experiments, books, and ideas.

I’d decided I’d share a few of my favorite things this winter from my own Pinterest board. So go grab a cup of hot cocoa and let the browsing begin! Pin away and don’t feel the least bit guilty if you never do a one of them!

~ Preparing for the Liturgical Season ~

~ O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree ~

~ Letters to Santa ~

~ Christmas-y Crafts ~

~ Wrapping Up Love ~

~ A Very Recycled Christmas ~

~ Winter Decor ~

~ Christmas Photography ~

~ Comfort Winter Foods ~

~ Homeschooling by the Fire ~

Oh, and don’t forget to PIN this page while you’re at it! In fact, come back and pin up each category separately. Great way to organize that Christmas board!

Orange Clove Winter Stove Top Potpourri

 

winter potpourri

One of my favorite smells in the world is that classic cinnamon spice aroma that permeates the winter season. Most of us modern day Americans run to the store and purchase our Fabreeze or Glade cinnamon plug-ins. Some of us might even splurge on more pricey Scentsy warmers. But my favorite classic is the simple orange clove stove top winter potpourri.

This works especially well in a synergistic no-waste seasonal way as part of your kitchen clean-up. Winter is the traditional time for citrus to be in season and on sale. With a 4 pound bag of oranges at $1.49 a bag, who isn’t going to eat as many as will drip down their chin? So you are in your kitchen cutting up oranges for the kids lunch. What to do with the orange peels?

There is always the classic churn them in your disposal method. A wonderful natural cleaner for your disposal and sink pipes. But a better, more wintery way, is to simmer them on the stove top with some water, whole cloves and cinnamon sticks. (Stock up on them when they are half price in after Christmas sales…trust me, they will still be good when the next Christmas comes around!)

Ohhhh…the aroma! Just do as I say, not as I do. Use a bigger pot. There is nothing worse then your husband coming to you wanting to know what that burning smell is only to find your water simmered out and your cinnamon sticks are burning! Big pot + lots of water = lots of yummy smelling, house warming goodness! Enjoy.

Living Liturgically Through Nature

 

Some days you wake up overwhelmed and all you see is the mountain in front of you that seems impossible to climb. Sometimes you just can’t get past the next thing that needs to be done because the list seems endless. Nothing stays clean or orderly and life is messy. But sometimes you wake up on a morning like this and are thankful that the ice in your driveway won’t allow you to make it into church.

The kids will be missing the Walk Through Bethlehem, of which I was really hoping we could attend. I think the experience of them being able to time travel back to the city where Jesus was born and experience what that would be like in a very tactile and real way would be such a valuable experience and memory. Instead we were blessed with snow. And in this season of life we are blessed to live in the country. I knew when the sun peeked out that I just had to take advantage of the light and grab my camera for a morning walk. Full of warm carrot muffins and hot coffee, I headed out breathing deep the chill in the air.

There was no need for a temple house of worship this morning. Sabbath was made for man, not man for sabbath. This morning my worship came in being still.

BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD.” ~ Psalm 46:10

I didn’t have to sing. I didn’t have to read. His creation was my liturgy and I sank deep in it’s beauty. There is the deep sustenance – bread of life – that we are to drink from daily but that never negates the beauty in the fleeting. Sometimes we just need to stop, even when chores beckon, and be a Mary and sit at the feet of His creation. After all, this was for His and our pleasure. How can we enjoy if we don’t stop to even pay attention? Soon cars will spray fumes of gray across the white and sun will melt the soft powder. Crystals that shine brighter than any diamond will fade into the dreary background of life. But here, for this moment only, it is perfect.

As I walked all was silent and I heard the birds trilling praise up towards blue sky. I heard the sound of water softly running in the neighboring river. The only other sound was the crunch of snow beneath my feet. The only sounds of life around me where the fading memories of deer in footprints. Even the grass was silent, heavy with the weight of snow.

Be still and know that I am God. 

This verse whispered over and over in my head and through my heart. Oh thank you for this day. Oh thank you that you gave me eyes to see beyond the ordinary. Thank you that my soul longs to translate this perfection into art to share with others. There is no greater muse than You!!!