Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Welcoming May//Happy Things

I woke up early this morning, while my whole house was still very quiet. As the coffee brewed, I stepped outside to let the chicks out. Sunny early mornings are hands down my favorite time of day. When it's sunny and I'm up early, I feel like I could conquer the world all before 7am.

Over the next few hours, I did laundry, made the kids breakfast, got everyone ready for the day and then headed out to take Judah to preschool. Instead of taking the girls back home, we headed to the beach and spent the morning there. I got down into the warm sand and Eliza crawled all over me, while Paisley buried my toes. In those moments, I felt like maybe I should take Facebook off my phone for the summer. I need more of those fully present moments with my kids and less time connected.

I've been thinking a lot lately about those little things that make my heart sing. While talking with a friend recently, I told her about one thing I love doing and how it makes me self conscious. She reassured me that I shouldn't feel self conscious, but I should continue doing that thing that I love.

Our little talk has been sitting in my head, because I think we all have those things that make our hearts sing, but we don't do them often enough, because they aren't what everyone else is doing. It's so easy to compare and feel like we must not be normal, if we don't have the same interests as everyone else. Why do we always forget that we were uniquely and wonderfully made?

I've also been thinking about something another friend shared recently. She said that as she realizes that she can't control the lives of the people around her, she's been realizing that she's called to just live her life beautifully. I just love that. We're all living out our own stories, with our unique gifts and challenges. We shouldn't compare, but instead, we should just live this one life that we're given more beautifully. Daily, I've been wondering, how can I live my life more beautifully?

In just 2 weeks, I'll be turning 30 and that feels a bit crazy. Personally, I think I could stick with 29 for  few more years. I like 29, but what I AM loving is that in my 20's, I feel like I've really figured out a few of those things that make my heart sing---a few of those things that make me....ME. In May, I want to spend our time doing more of those things that keep us full. Spend more time with those people that help fill us up. Visit more of those places. Say yes to more of the things that grow us and freely say no to the things that aren't for my family right now. 

So, as we welcome May, I'm sharing a few of our happy things from the last few days. 

Gardening with this little helper.
 Nature scavenger hunts with Judah and Paisley.

 Drawing what we found and practicing writing (for Judah) after the scavenger hunt.

It's a bird...It's a plane....
 Mornings at the beach with these girls. 
 "Mama, I'm wearing my mud slippers!"

This boy and his Woodbark.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Green Chili Egg Casserole

Even though I'm not a big menu planner, one thing that I usually stick with is Meat-less Monday. Really, there's no reason why I go for Meat-less Monday, other than the fact that it helps me figure out what to cook for dinner. If we have Meat-less Monday, Taco Tuesday and Breakfast for dinner on Friday, it's pretty easy for this non-menu planner to feed her family something other than cold cereal or oatmeal.

This Green Chili Egg Casserole is what we had last night. It's a recipe that I go back to time and time again. Even with the green chilis, all of our kids gobble it up, even baby Eliza. It's one of those recipes that makes a family dinner easy, if you know what I mean. So, today I thought I'd share it with you guys.
To add some veggies in there, I sauteed some zucchini, mushrooms and garlic together with a little butter, just before the casserole was done. Those veggies were the perfect topping and come on...everything tastes better with butter and garlic.
One thing I love about this casserole is how it always cuts so nicely and comes out of the pan really well. It's one of those that I love taking to Bible Study or MOPS, because I know it's going to slice well and not be a big, embarrassing mess.
The recipe, is actually from a friend that I go to MOPS with. She brought this one day and everyone was asking for the recipe. She didn't garnish it with the sauteed veggies and it was great like that, too. So, if you're not a big zucchini or mushroom fan, feel free to skip that part.
Green Chili Egg Casserole
10 large eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 Tbsp butter
2 cups cottage cheese
8 oz Monterey Jack Cheese
8 oz Cheddar Cheese
10 oz roasted green chilis
Salt & pepper to taste

To garnish:
2 zucchini, sliced into small pieces
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 Tbsp butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
Salt & pepper or seasoning salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350(F). In a large mixing bowl whisk 10 eggs. Stir in cottage cheese.
Gradually add shredded Cheddar and Monterey Jack Cheese and combine thoroughly.
Stir in green chilies.
Stir in flour and baking powder. Season with salt & pepper.
Coat bottom of baking dish with melted butter.
Pour egg mixture into baking dish
Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake for 50 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 10 minutes until the edges are golden and the casserole is cooked thoroughly. 

On medium heat, melt butter in a pan. Sauté zucchini, mushrooms and garlic until tender. Garnish egg casserole and serve!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Bits of the Weekend

Goodness, what a fun few days we've had, with a big sad thing in the middle. 
Friday, we spent a few hours at Jungle Playland with the cousins. I figured it was time to take the kids again, since after all, they've been playing "Jungle Playland" at bedtime, instead of going to sleep. When your kids are actually setting up the playland in their room and acting it all out, you know it needs to happen.

So, when we woke up on Friday, I bribbed them to be really good with Jungle Playland. The truth is, we were planning on going no matter what, but hey, it worked. They were angels and we all had a great time.

Auntie Sally brought cupcakes to celebrate Jackson's birthday and you can see from the photos below that Paisley really enjoyed her blue frosting.
When we came home, I went to check on the chicks and what I found was awful. In broad daylight, something had tried to pull our chicks through the chain link run, killing one and injuring Tilly. 

Quickly, I rushed the kids inside, stuck them in front of a show and called my sister to come over. Here's where she adds just one more reason to the list of why she's the best sister in the world.  You all know we love these chicks and when I found the one dead, with feathers and blood everywhere and then Tilly with missing feathers and a hurt foot, I was a mess. While I was crying and freaking out a bit, sister just calmly helped me clean it all up and that's just one more reason why I love her a ton. A good friend is there for you ALL the time, even when you're a wreck because one of your chickens dies.

I don't know for sure what killed it and hurt Tilly, but I'm guessing an Eagle, since we saw one sitting on our neighbor's fence today and then fly down into his yard. An eagle- in the middle of town going after chickens. I didn't expect that! Now we're wrapping their chain link run with 1/4 inch wire and they won't be free-ranging for awhile, unless we're right there with them. 
 Friday evening, Eliza came out and "helped" me weed the strawberries. This girl is getting ready for a summer of being outside and she's loving every second of it. Pure sunshine, she is!
Right before bedtime, I sat down on the swing with her and as I pumped, she almost drifted off to sleep on me. I love this picture of her.
Saturday morning, I was happy to see that Tilly was up and eating. I think she'll be okay. Her foot was really hurt, but she isn't letting that stop her. She's got things to see and stuff to do. Also, she really loves a good selfie from time to time.

Hi Tilly.
 Later on Saturday, we cheered Judah on at his first T-Ball game. As I stood there, with cousins and some of our favorite friends, I just couldn't believe that suddenly I have a kid old enough to make me one of those T-Ball parents. For years, I drove by the busy school parking lots filled with mini-vans and Moms pushing strollers and just like that, I'm one of them. I was even part of that crazy-long line going through McDonald's after the game on Saturday. Yep, I'm one of them now and I love it.
The cool thing about T-Ball is that there's no pressure. No score, just fun. After the game, he told me over and over what a great time he had. This is his first team sport and it's such a positive first experience so far.
I hope you had a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

For all of the Small Things

I don't write too transparently lately, but I've had it on my heart to put this out there, because I believe that some of you might be feeling this too. I've been going through a season of restlessness and really feeling like there's a fine line between wanting to go out and chase your dreams when you have young children and feeling completely frustrated that you aren't able to go and do all that your heart desires. Somehow the things that we're doing on a day to day basis don't feel important, but they still need to be done and we can't forget that they matter.

I've been reminding myself  that for today, these are the things that are mine to do well. It doesn't matter what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow. All I know is that I have today and even if my little things seem so unimportant, I still need to give them my very best.

I've been realizing lately how important it is to be faithful in the small. To press on through the things that aren't my favorite and do them right, even when I don't feel like it.

The truth is, sometimes I feel like staying home with my kids is causing my brain to drip out my ears. I miss using that brain of mine---the one that I feel like I lost part of when I had each child. I miss crunching numbers in an accounting office and I miss challenging myself mentally. I miss knowing that everyday, I'm guaranteed to have adult conversations.

I know that all Mamas go through seasons where the daily stuff seems unimportant. I go through seasons where I feel like I'm meant for more than this, but when I remember how blessed I am, I feel horrible for thinking that way.

See, I don't like cleaning, but I love a clean house. You guys, I don't like sweeping my floor or doing laundry and there's no end in sight to those things. For the rest of our lives, it's likely that we'll be wearing clothes, getting them dirty and  I'll be the one washing them. It's inevitable.

What I've realized lately is that when I'm doing these things that I don't enjoy, I have two choices. I can either do them with a grumpy attitude, or I can do them cheerfully. I'm trying to choose joy, even when the things that need to be done don't feel like they carry any significance.

It's very easy for me to look at all the Mamas that are out there going to writing conferences, going to big speaking events, spending time in coffee shops writing alone for hours and honestly, I'm completely jealous of them. What I want to know is how they do it. I mean for real, where are their kids? Who's holding down the fort? I know, don't I sound horrible?

But, it's the truth.

They are leaving their homes and their families to go pursue their interests for not just an hour here or there, but for days at a time. There are actually women who are getting on airplanes, without their kids and listening to books on iPods while they fly places, to do things that seem so much more important than what I'm doing right now.

Today the rain fell for most of the day. I drove kids to and from preschool. I washed the curtain for the slider door and the shower curtain, because someone with messy hands had grabbed it far too many times, on the way to wash their hands. I grocery shopped with kids, made sandwiches and put kids down for naps. I put kids in time outs for telling me no and that I'm not in charge and then I prayed with that child. I took kids outside and after 3 minutes, they were muddy and wet. I made dinner, nursed a baby before bed and sang her songs in the dark.

And I look at that and feel like my life is so small. But, that's a lie. My life isn't small and neither is yours. So, how can we make this job feel like it matters?

We can get up each day and be the best that God created us to be. We can be faithful in the small and do all of our little things well. And we don't have to stop there. We can also chase after the things that tug at our hearts, while remembering that this other stuff is important, too.

I am so restless, but I know that all of this matters.
The smiles matter. The efforts to be kind and patient matter. The sandwiches, diapers and spills that I clean up matter.

The truth is that Mothering isn't easy, but it's also not a trap. We're raising people here and it's a joy and a privilege. I'm trying to remember everyday that our kids know if we're enjoying them or not. The last few days I've been guilty of not enjoying this time with them like I should be. They know if I'm just trying to manage them or I'm truly enjoying my days with them.

Tomorrow is new and before tomorrow even begins, I'm committing to remember that lots of little things add up to big things. All of these little things matter.
Be faithful in the small things because it is in them that your strength lies. - Mother Theresa 

I love this video so much that I need to share it here. This is for all of my Mama friends. What you're doing matters.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Country in the Cul-de-sac

I distinctly remember sitting and crying after we signed papers on this house almost 3 years ago. It was banked owned and the previous owners had done nothing with the property. There was no grass, only weeds. No flowers and no flower beds and there were no trees. There was nothing, except a quarter acre of weeds. 

Judah had just discovered how wonderful it is to play outside and after signing those papers, I realized that my boy wouldn't have any trees to play in. Well, let's fast forward a few years. God has been so faithful to us here. 

Tonight we had our first salad of the year from the garden and although we aren't really "country", we've brought our piece of country into this cul-de-sac.

Lettuce, spinach and cilantro from the garden for tonight's taco salad. 
Since moving in almost 3 years ago, we've planted everything from fruit trees, to willows, to hydrangeas, to roses, lilacs and bulbs. We've built garden beds, planted  herbs given to us from friends. Planted rhubarb, flowers and veggies. My husband has worked his tail off getting rid of those weeds and now we have beautiful grass. I truly am so thankful every time I see a bird in one of our trees or see a flower that we planted bloom.
Right now we have strawberries growing. These were given to us from Judah's preschool teacher's Mom. Our little community is the best. Plants from friends just seem extra special, you know?
And of course, we have these 6 ladies. They're just more and more fun all the time. Now they want to follow us around the yard. My next thing is learning how to compost their manure for the garden. Today I had the most fun conversation with our pediatrician about this and once again, I love this little town. You take your daughter in for her well-child appointment and end up getting inspired to compost your manure. See, you really never know what's going to happen!

We also have lettuce growing right now and since we have a limited garden space, I have it growing in containers. It works---quite well actually!
 The peas are getting tall and looking to climb. I really need to get out there and set up a trellis for them.

Cosmos and cilantro are growing along the chicken coop. Don't you just love cosmos? I wish I had a whole field of this stuff!

 Basil and some other flowers are also planted next to the coop.
This year I planted Marigolds next to the broccoli. I hope they keep the bugs away!
 My broccoli is floppy, but it's growing well so, we'll see!
 We have chives, mint, rosemary, thyme and dill growing, too.

 This garden bed has garlic, spinach, beets and carrots.

 So, that's what our garden is up to these days. I need to start zucchini and pumpkins and get ready to plant corn sometime soon. Isn't this time of year fun?

What are you growing right now?


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