laborofwonder

Where Whine Meets Wine

Sharing Life…With You


I know, I know, it’s been…months. (*insert gasp here*) Don’t think I haven’t thought about you, dear blog, because I promise I have not. I have often thought of you. Almost daily. Which is how I knew I couldn’t let you go, not permanently. Now, now, don’t be so hurt… I had good reason. I have these things that require a lot of energy and attention and time…

There’s this one:

He lost his first tooth this summer! And now… He started kindergarten! My baby!!

And this one:

She turned 4!! My baby!!

And then there’s this one too:

He turned 2!! My youngest is no longer a baby!! He’s still my baby!

This summer has been filled to the gills. We went on a multi-state drive to visit family and spent days upon days in the water.

We pranced around Lake Michigan

We climbed on a giant elephant somewhere in Wisconsin

Even hubbyman got a picture on the elephant, but I thought you’d appreciate this one more.

Downside of the summer: Biggest ran a ridiculously high fever most of our vacation and his only request was naps. (Boo!) When we got home we realized he had an abscessed tooth! (double boo!)

Biggest E was the photographer. We had our first kiss on a swingset like this. I like it.

For her birthday, hubbyman built her a doll house, and her papa built her the furniture to go inside!

Navy Pier, the anchor. Watching all the Sailors almost made me miss military days. Almost. Maybe just the uniform.

And I’ve gotten to be a part of lots of births -2 a month!- since April… including this sweet little man’s! (Who also happens to be my nephew! Check out his shirt- he’s wild about Auntie! And it’s true! The feelings may be are mutual.)

So you see, dear, sweet blog, I  have been a busy mama. I have been a moving mama. I have been a travelling mama. I have been a tired mama. I have been the best mama I know how to be. And I think that if you asked my children what they liked best about me not spending hours on the computer, on a daily basis, they would have said that we played. Do you know that I also gave up cleaning? Ok, ok, so that’s not entirely true. But I stopped making them spend all day in the house, just so I could keep up with the laundry and dusting. We spent the majority of our days outside, in the dirt, at the beach, at the playground… playing. And I only stayed up really late cleaning…a couple of times, and I’ve been ok with it!  My kids seem happier, and I feel happier. And I’d say it’s a win in all departments.

Plus, now that I feel…organized, in our lives together (and you know how much I love organization). I feel that I can come back to you. I look forward to sharing stories with you. I look forward to sharing life with you. Know that you have been missed.

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No Longer A Baby


I know, I know… how can I even show my face around here? And I deserve it. Leaving you all high and dry. Ok, so maybe I’m being a little dramatic. But bear with me. I’ve been parenting and vacationing and organizing and garage saling and birthday-ing and working… you know, living. I do have happy news, I have had consistent clients from the get go, which is pretty exciting if you ask me! In fact, I have clients through February! (How awesome is that?!)

But the thing that drew me back here… well, really I’ve been thinking about doing a post for over a week now. Sharing various stories and laughs and pictures, but the thing that made it necessary to do today… is simple. Littlest is 2. I know, I know…it does seem like just yesterday I was recounting his birth (horrors and wonders alike)! And then I was dealing with the aftermath of his birth around his first birthday.

And now here we are, his second birthday. My baby is two years old.  My baby is no longer actually a baby. My house will no longer contain any babies. My house will never again be home to a baby. A baby will never again belong to me. Do you see the digression? Do you feel it? I feel it. I’m pretty sure I’ve been feeling it for about a month. I’ve become incredibly emotional and perhaps even a little irrational. You see, I would’ve been the little old woman who lived in a shoe, who had so many children she didn’t know what to do… and I would’ve liked it that way. Lots of people look forward to the end of babyhood and enjoy toddlerville and the elementary years; I am not them. Ok, that’s not entirely true- I do enjoy toddlerville and I am enjoying the beginning of our elementary years. But I am not a mama who looks forward to babies no longer being babies.

Obviously (as I’ve said before, I know), I would never trade Littlest’s sweet self for the option to have more children. But it is still bittersweet to watch him grown and to know that this is the end of babyhood. And childbearing. I’m even sad that I’ll never labor and birth another baby. That’s right, I’m in that deep.

But in the midst of the sadness, there is this deep thankfulness and joy. I have my boy and I get to witness his growth! My itty-bitty boy who never should have survived the pregnancy and his mama who almost bled out without anyone noticing. I have him. I cuddle him. I teach him. I try to ignore him listen to him. I love him. And looking at him today, I still see the miracle he was the day he was born, and the miracle he’s been every day in between.

The day we brought him home

Littlest E, you will always be the baby (as all of my children will always be my babies) and a constant reminder that miracles happen every day and to every day people. I am so, so blessed and thankful to be your mama. Happy birthday, my boy.

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The Peanut To My Butter


I am so excited that it’s Friday I could just sing…or dance! And I just might! We sing and dance while we clean, and little do they know- that’s the plan for today. A good ‘ol cleaning cleverly disguised as a dance party! I love it! If you tell me you’ve never had a dance party while cleaning not only will I not believe you (c’mon, I know you’ve let a move bust through the tunes while cleaning.), but I will defriend you. Unfriend. Whatever, we’ll be through. If you really haven’t. Crank up some of your favorite tunes from when you were in high school… and find yourself a’dancing! And then we can remain friends.

Now back to our regular programming.., I was so happy just a few minutes ago, and it seems my mood is fading fast. I’d better get to cleaning dancing as fast as I can so that I don’t lose my good mood completely. Deep breath in. Deep breath out.

So now we’re really back to our regular programming. It’s Friday, and I’m thankful. After a weekend that felt like it lasted a week, I’d never been so excited to see my children. 4 days was at least a day too long to be separated from them! But I am very thankful for my parents (and littlest brother) for having them, and the kids had so much fun. It’s very apparent our separation was much harder on the mama than the children.

Mostly, I am thankful for hubbyman. I wasn’t sure he was so supportive of me becoming a doula, but he has been amazing. During the weekend he’d make me a drink, and let me debrief. And he’d get up and make breakfast, and more importantly, coffee, before I’d head back in. After 6 hours worth of driving, 21 hours of sitting on the floor trying to soak in every word, and 3 hours of coffee runs… it left me completely exhausted. Mentally, physically, and definitely emotionally. Hubbyman has been so great. He’s put the big kids to bed and come up to find me still cuddling with littlest (What? After the weekend, I needed some extra cuddles!) and has taken him and put him to bed as well. And encouraged me to have some down time, some quiet time, and that it was ok to do so. He has done that almost every night this week. The first night I fell asleep on the couch, and the nights after that I’ve only spent maybe an extra hour awake and up, lounging on the couch. But it has been amazing for my own self. I actually have slept better, and better yet- I wake up, feeling like I actually got some sleep! And I am really shocked by how much more patience I have during the day. Apparently, I was really needing some down time. Where I’m not mom, and I’m not in charge, and even if it’s just mindlessly watching TV, I’m allowing myself some time to unwind, relax, and just be. And apparently, that’s exactly what I’ve been needing. I am so thankful to my hubbyman, for allowing and encouraging me to have some time for myself. (It’s like he knows me or something.)

Not only has he allowed me some time, but he was been incredibly supportive. He recently accepted a new position within his company and has promised to find ways that I could attend births, without having to stress over childcare, because he’d simply come home and stay with the kids. He is an incredibly hard worker and in his previous position they kind of let him do what he wants because of that- I’m hoping his next boss feels that way too! I will be doing daytime childcare for friends starting late fall/early winter, and so I’m trying to get all the births in that I can before then! (I have 3 on the books between now and then.) A local hospital has a great program where they offer doula services. While it’s unpaid, it would be a chance to get a good number of births under my belt, and stay active in the birthing community, and be able to schedule it. I’m going to wait a few months into doing childcare before officially signing up (I don’t want to over extend myself), but I’m very excited. And I love how supportive hubby is. He understands why I want to do it, and believes in it whole-heatedly. And is truly willing to explore every avenue possible so that I can do and achieve things that I want/believe in. It’s incredibly endearing. If I am successful in anything (be it professional or personal), a great portion of it is because I have his support. And I am so grateful.

Photo Credit: thestencilsmith.com

And now we’re off to my dance party! I hope you all have wonderful, dancing weekends as well!

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I Choose


There’s my sign. There’s your sign. As I begin another journey. I’m telling you, you can begin yours too. No matter what you’re doing, where you are, or who you are… there’s your sign. We’ve all been waiting for something, right?

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out who I am and what I want to be, or do, in this life. It’s good to know that no matter what point I’m at, it’s never too late to choose another route.

And so today I am leaping in, with both feet. A new horizon. A new career. A new start.

Today I am thankful for the people in my life who encourage, support, uplift, and call me to tell me to take a deep, cleansing breath. I am thankful that with them, and often because of them, I am strong. I am determined. I am starting anew. It may not have be the life I pictured as a little girl. But it is definitely the life I want as an adult. It’s been a journey to this point, but as of today, I am choosing my life. I am (continuing) to live with intention. And I’m being intentional about it.

*Thank you all for your kind words and thoughts! Cross your fingers, this is a big weekend for me! Full of lessons, note-writing, training, and probably not a lot of sleep! Plus Littlest will be spending two nights IN A ROW away. (For the first time.) I already miss him. Hubbyman has promised to tell the grandparents that they can drop Littlest off with his daddy at any point over the weekend. I know they won’t, but his words were comforting to my mama heart. May you all have a weekend filled with new adventures, incredible food, and unending wine bottles!

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Most Important Of All


A friend of mine recently shared this post, and wants it framed for her son’s room. She said it’s her favorite post of mine. And actually, the post I wrote yesterday already had me thinking about the things I want to teach and show and model for my children, which led me to think of those posts (there was one for my daughter too). So I’ve decided to repost them, and I hope you’ll forgive me. But sometimes, in life, you just need reminders. And today I’m wanting a refresher on all the things I want to teach my children, and really, things I want to (re)teach myself as well.

My Sons, I Want For You…

  • Be respectful. To everyone. Everywhere. People have hurts that sometimes aren’t visible, treat them accordingly.
  • Talk to others in a way that wouldn’t leave you embarrassed if you found out your mama was listening.
  • Learn to listen (for most men this is an acquired skill, I’m pretty sure). Really listen, not just hear someone making sounds, but the words that they’re saying.
  • Treat all women in the manner you should treat your mother: polite, respectful, helpful.
  • Be courteous- even if you think it’s not appreciated or deserved. Maybe especially then.
  • Be honest.
  • Violence (against anyone) is never really the answer.
  • Never look down on someone for the way they dress, how they look, or what they believe.
  • Be compassionate.
  • Never treat people as disposable. They’re not. Even if you date her for a week and find out she’s suuuuper annoying (even if I agree)… you will still treat her as an individual with feelings. Just not an individual you’ll marry.
  • When you are dating, try and behave in a manner you won’t be embarrassed to recount to your wife. Or your mother for that matter.
  • Never make fun of tears. No matter if they’re from a girl or a boy. Pain is pain. (Compassion, my sons!)
  • A strong man is someone who knows and accepts his weaknesses (or tries to strengthen himself in those areas).
  • Feelings are not a weakness in a man. Embrace them.
  • Don’t be run by emotions (or hormones), think things through.
  • Think before you speak.
  • Don’t let anyone push you around. Be your own man.
  • Learn to take charge and to be responsible for things. It’s ok to know what you want- and to go for it.
  • Don’t just follow ANYONE just for the sake of a) trying to look cool or fit in, or b) not having to make an actual decision yourself. Neither reason will suit you in the long run.
  • Know that you were made to be EXACTLY who you are.
  • Know that life really isn’t all about you.
  • Reach out a helping hand, whenever you possibly can.
  • A man of faith is a lot stronger than a man with no beliefs.
  • You’ll stand a lot taller, the more time you spend on your knees.
  • Family is a blessing. (Whether you like it or not!)
  • Dream dreams, wish wishes, and love your loves. No matter what others may say or think. (Except for your mother, of course.)
  • Be secure in who you are, because you will always have people that will support you.
  • No matter what else you do in life, what you wear, who your friends are, what your job is, how much money you make, or where you live… remember that your mama loves you. And please always live nearby.
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Yes, some of these are similar to things I want to tell her brothers, because let’s face it, the basis of how we live and treat people (or the ways we should), don’t change depending on which gender you are.

My Daughter, I Want You To Know…

  • The most beautiful people in the world are not movie or rock stars, but the people that are true to who they are and the things they believe.
  • While you are a beautiful girl, you should not look for validation through your looks. You will never find it, and it will leave you unfulfilled.
  • It is more important that you attain inner beauty than outer.
  • The way you treat people is much more important than the way you look. (Yes, I know these first ones are all similar, but in today’s society everyone comments on how cute or pretty or well dressed little girls are, instead of focusing on how polite or well-mannered they are.)
  • All that said, I hope you always know how beautiful you are, inside and out.
  • You cannot find validation through others. That is between you and God.
  • Never talk to anyone like you are better than they are (no matter what their circumstances are)- because you are not.
  • Talk to people in a way that shows that you are listening and that their thoughts are worth hearing.
  • When you have a difference of opinion with someone, consider their side.
  • Treat men the way you would treat a child. Kidding! Just wanted to see if you were paying attention! Treat men the way you would your father- with honesty, respect, and a little bit of fear. (ha!)
  • Don’t let anyone (man or woman) tell you that you are not good enough. You are. Always.
  • Don’t let someone treat you as though you are disposable. If they do, dispose of them. And quickly.
  • Embrace your feelings and emotions- but don’t let them run/control you.
  • Be a take charge person! Don’t follow anyone else who’s path does not lead to yourdesired destination.
  • Be responsible! And take responsibility for your words and your actions.
  • When you are dating, try and behave in a manner you wouldn’t be embarrassed/ashamed to recount to your future husband. Or your mother for that matter.
  • Think twice before you speak. Think three times before you act. And then go ahead and run it by your mother first.
  • Know that you are EXACTLY who you were made to be- and be proud of that.
  • Know that life really isn’t all about you, don’t expect others to act like it is.
  • A woman of faith is a lot stronger than a woman with no beliefs.
  • Family is a blessing, even when it doesn’t feel like it! Where else will you find people who will love and support you, no matter how crazy your ideas are?! (you are your father’s child)
  • You will never regret reaching out a helping hand, whenever you can.
  • Be secure in who you are and be the best YOU you can be because I will always support you. Maybe not without voicing my opinions, but I will still support you in your journey.
  • Don’t be afraid to dream your dreams (and follow them), wish your wishes (and turn them into reality), and love your loves (with your whole heart). No matter what anyone else says or thinks. Except for maybe your mother.
  • No matter what else you do in life, what you wear, who you know, how much money you make or have, or even where you live… remember that your mommy loves you. And I’d really prefer if you lived close by.

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Coffee: You Can Sleep When You’re Dead


I stayed up late last night. And it wasn’t to read a good book or have a good talk with a friend. No, it was scrubbing counters, floors, picking up countless odds and ends, organizing, and laundry. Doing all the things that never seem to get done on the day to day, or have a hard time getting them all done in the same day. When you live in a house full of the under 5 crowd (ok, so I guess it’s the just-turned-5 and under crowd now), sometimes it’s hard to stay on top of it all. Especially when two are boys. Boys who leave a wake of disaster and destruction. By the time I switched yet another load of laundry, picked up the last dinosaur, train, and strawberry shortcake figurine and actually climbed into bed, it was after 2am. There was a time when that wouldn’t have seemed so absurd but when you have little people that wake like a lightning bolt and don’t stop until 9pm… you come to value sleep in a way I’m not sure you can really understand, unless you’re a parent. I thought about texting hubbyman, asking him to grind some beans (I don’t know why but I hate that part of making coffee) and set the coffee pot for me. But I was so exhausted, and -of course- Littlest woke up as soon as I crawled into bed… so I just fell asleep to the thoughts If he really loved me, he’d prep and set the coffee pot for me. (It would definitely be further proof as this is something I don’t think he’s ever done before.)

Insert a noise that may have been a cross between the words, I hate the sunlight and a curse word in a language undeveloped (Or just really-tired-mama-speak) when I woke to find that MissE was in bed with me (who is about as lovely in the morning as her father…. and maybe her mama) and Littlest was wide awake and mad. And it was only 7. I could barely even keep my eyes open. I tried to coax them into cuddling and just laying quietly, but they were not havin’ it. I got them cereal, turned on a cartoon, and stood in front of the coffee pot, willing it to magically make itself. And then I noticed a green light on it. That was the timer light! Which means that he really does love me! 

(photo credit: Keeling Korner)

I still have more on my list of things to do today that I had high hopes of crossing off… but my Miss has just projectiled apples all over the living room. So I’m thinking this day may have other things in mind for us. Good thing my sweet hubbyman made enough for more than one cup of coffee. I’m gonna need it.

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Rocking Chair Bliss


Thankful Friday… today I am both thankful in general, and thankful it’s Friday. We are expecting some snow, starting this morning, this weekend and I’m looking forward to a weekend of snuggling in with my honeys and maybe some fun time outside. we haven’t had enough snow to really enjoy winter activities and my biggest boy has been so sad about that. Today he decided he misses warm weather since there’s nothing fun to do outside right now. Can’t say I blame him. We were looking forward to snowball fights, snowmen, sledding, and snowshoeing…but there just hasn’t been the snow for it. Hopefully this weekend will turn that around. So today, I am thankful for weather that feels like winter, and hoping it brings snow to make it look like winter as well.

I am also thankful for something else. Those that know me in real life, and probably those that have read along with me for a while now, know that I am a breastfeeding advocate (the daughter of a lactation consultant, I can’t help it!). Now if you know my feelings on breastfeeding and it’s importance you probably just think that I’m not one of the masses who has struggled with it. Unfortunately, that is simply not true. Now I am a go to person for questions, and have never minded the late at night phone calls fielding questions that I sometimes get. Sometimes my hubby even gets phone calls about breastfeeding to have him run by me. I don’t mind one bit. The truth is, a lot of the answers I have, is because I’ve been there. I’ve had a baby who only wanted to nurse all the time (and by all the time, I mean all the time. Truly.), I’ve had to figure out how to get newborns to latch correctly, I’ve had to figure out how to deal with nursing strikes and growth spurts, cluster feedings, thrush, and teething. With my oldest I lost my supply when he was only 9 months- when I was pregnant with his sister. With MissE she and I both battled a long, painful battle with thrush when she was 12 months old. And now with my youngest, after we passed the year mark I was thrilled. No major bumps (or bites). I thought that finally I might have one child that I could wean naturally, in our own time. And it seemed as if we were going rather smoothly along that road. Unfortunately, as his eye teeth have come in, he has developed some bad habits in his latch. My oldest was so adamant about nursing that even very, very little I could coach him in how to hold his mouth and he would do whatever it took to continue nursing. My youngest is more stubborn about doing things the way he wants. These teeth have been slowly easing their way in for months. Seriously- they first poked through  about 2 months ago and they’re still maybe half in. Try as I may, and try with all my might I did, but have ended with pain and lots of tears. After the battle we went through with MissE, hubbyman was adamant that I not let it progress to infection and the battle that becomes. While it seems we may be headed down that road anyways, we’ve certainly been trying everything in our power. I pumped and pumped and pumped some more. I was not getting enough milk and my body was not healing fast enough to actually nurse him. Last week he and I were both sick, which made pumping more difficult. I mean, not only did I not feel well, but he didn’t either, therefore was always in arms. Pumping and holding a wiggly baby toddler is not so easy. Today is my 5th day of not pumping. It’s kind of heartbreaking and I feel disappointed and sad.Littlest is now 18 months old, and I know that I have gone above and beyond what a lot of moms do, but it was not how I had envisioned things. You’d think with 3 kids, at least one of them would be easy! (But I guess it just adds to my frame of reference for more breastfeeding questions.) Now I know this doesn’t sound like it fits into a thankfulness post, and if I’m honest, I’ll tell you- I am not thankful for this. At all. But what I am thankful for is the support I have always been given by my husband. He came to my defense when I called the failings of my body into question (between his pregnancy, his birth, and now this…). He has become a staunch advocate himself, and  I find that something to be so thankful for.

We recently acquired a rocking chair that my parents had in the house I grew up in, which was wonderful because we didn’t have any furniture that rocked. And everyone with kids needs something that rocks! Between sick times and cuddle times- it’s just a necessity. At least to me. And over the holiday sales I found some suede microfiber fabric on major clearance that I snatched up to reupholster it with. I just about lived in this chair while we were all sick, rocking Littlest to sleep. And it became a miracle for while we were transitioning to bottles and milk not from the tap. We’d always nursed for nap time and bed time, and it was becoming a challenge to put him down without. In came the rocking chair. I mentioned to hubbyman how thankful I was for the rocking chair to rock and snuggle him in close, and how still having that time was helping to alleviate some of my disappointment. And so this week he took it upon himself and took apart the chair. He took the old upholstery off, he did some upkeep to the chair itself, and he spent a couple evenings in a row doing the actual reupholstering. I really missed being able to use it while it was a work in progress. But when I took Littlest upstairs to rock after an hour of unsuccessful bedtime attempts, I was overwhelmed with thankfulness. He put his chubby little hand around my neck, gave me a kiss (along with the sound- his kisses always include the sound mmmwah!), nestled in, and went right to sleep.  It may not be the way I’d hoped, or the way I’d envisioned, but as I sat and rocked my sleeping baby, the disappointment and frustrations subsided and all I felt was thankful. For this old rocking chair turned into new and my sweet hubbyman who always seems to know my heart.

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Season of Thankfulness


I can hardly believe we’re just a couple short days away from Christmas! Seems like last week we were still waiting on Thanksgiving! But that’s how it goes every year, isn’t it? And sadly, I missed out on yesterday’s “Simple” post… I seem to have been doing that a lot lately. And if I’m honest, I’ll admit that I sat down to do it, loaded all the necessary photos, and just didn’t feel like it. So the kids and I made another round of sugar cookies instead. And I don’t regret it one bit! But I am hoping to start doing  more recipes again! So that’s something you can be looking forward to (or not!). I have pictures and recipes just waiting to be shared! Everything from monkey bread pizza, sugar cookies!, and mug cakes (they take 2 minutes to make! seriously!). And more!! And they’re all gluten free! And soooo delicious! And since today is FRIDAY (duhn, duhn, duhn) and the fact that this is a season where we are bombarded by things to do, things to make, things to buy, things to give, things to get, and people to see…  it’s easy to get lost in all of that and forget all the things that are really important during Christmas, and always. Along with being thankful. For friends, family, jobs, homes… here are some things I’m  incredibly thankful for!

  • For a hubby who will have TEN DAYS IN A ROW off!! I’m so excited about this I can hardly contain myself! And my mom said that they’ll take the kids for a day during Christmas break, so we’ll actually get a day together! That’s really something to be thankful for!
  • For my Christmas present. Yes, I know it’s just a thing, but it’s a wonderful, pasta extruding thing that I’ve been wanting! And hubby was thoughtful enough to think of it and get it for me! (And let me use it before Christmas even! I did have his permission to open it, but I’m not sure how he would’ve stopped me since I was home when the Williams-Sonoma box arrived!)
  • I take great joy in finding “perfect” gifts for people! I am thankful that I have wonderful, beautiful people in my life to love and appreciate!
  • I am thankful for my NEPHEW that’s a’growin’ in my sister-in-law’s growing  belly!!
  • I am thankful for the sensitive side of hubbyman that who admitted he’d hoped it was a niece, because he thought it would be fun to have a cute,  little niece! (But it will be fun that Littlest with have a cousin close enough to his age that they’ll be playmates!)
  • I am thankful for surprising the kiddos with the arrival of their cousin and aunt and uncle from China!
  • I am SO THANKFUL that we got a dusting of snow this week… and that there’s lots coming down now! (please, keep snowing! please, keep snowing!)
  • I am thankful for every person that stops by here! The ones who read it occasionally, the ones who read it regularly, and even the ones who just skim through. (*ahem*hubbyman*)

And I’m off to go decorate some gingerbread men, snowmen, Christmas trees, dinosaurs, monkeys, elephants, and strawberry-shaped cookies!  What you don’t think dinosaurs or strawberry shortcake land berries are Christmasy? Well, you obviously haven’t seen our nativity then!

Merry Christmas, my dears! And may you accept all the love and hugs a little more graciously than my little ones!

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YOU Are Not My Judge


Last night I attended the memorial of my cousin, a man who for the last decade had spent most of his moments ministering to everyone he met. His favorite ministry was in jails, as he’d been a troubled teen who’d been there. Unfortunately, the last months of his life were in unwind. Things that had previously been of the highest importance, no longer were being prioritized. I don’t know what happened or why, but I am sad for an end that didn’t have to be. He was someone that was a little bigger than life, in personality. And in those ten years he changed people, you could see it in all the faces of those at his service, in their tears, as well as their stories shared. Growing up, I think that he was someone that people maybe tossed aside, deemed as too troubled, too wild, or just plain disposable. He was wild, uncontrollable, unreliable, a father at 16, and he bounced around homes… Fast forward to him being 20 and finding people that no longer felt he was disposable, who saw what  and who he could be. And he thrived.

What it had me thinking about this morning is something that I’ve talked about before, it’s the way we judge others. How different would the very people we tend to judge be, if we were to stop judging them and just start supporting them. I am not saying you let everyone (or anyone!) take advantage of you, and I’m not even speaking financial support…just support. That the next time you saw someone or came across someone that to you seems out of control or doing or saying or living in a way that is maybe unhealthy… just be nice! And not just those that are visibly unhealthy! What if you gave the next stranger on the street that accidentally bumped into you and didn’t apologize, or say excuse me, a smile and meant it. The point is, we don’t know everyone’s story, where they’ve gone and where they’re going… and it’s not ours to judge.

After all, haven’t we all been judged before? Unfairly, unreasonably, and hurtfully? Don’t we all have one place or one time where we knew we were judged? (Please tell me it’s not just me!) I can recall vividly the way it felt when I was going through something a lot of people in my life didn’t understand. I had left a relationship and a college that I knew were not what I needed, even though everyone around me seemed to feel decidedly different. I even received a letter from a woman, who really didn’t know me or anything about me, telling me how because I wasn’t getting married, and I wasn’t in school that I wasn’t following God’s will, or His plan for my life. It was followed by lots of advice and direction from people in my life, telling me what I should do next, where I should go, how to get back onto my path… the funny thing was, I never thought I was lost. I always knew that this was the road I had to take, and it would lead me to where I was supposed to be.

It’s not the same as my cousin’s life and I am by no means saying it is, it was just my jumping off point and what I’d been thinking about that lead me here… Anyhow, as it turns out, I was right, the road I’d been on was not the one for me, and I knew I had to take a side-street to get me to my true destination, my true path…the one God meant for me. And that’s the one I’m on now. The one where I’m married to someone who respects me and treats me with respect, the one where we have three beautiful children, the one where I’ve found my place. I am on my road.

And maybe the person next to you that is doing something that you don’t agree with, or maybe it just annoys you, and you really want to reach out and smack them on the back of the head… maybe instead  you reach out and give them a handshake, a hug, a cup of coffee, or simply a smile. Maybe your not judging them for things that are not within your control anyways, will be what it takes for them to pass it on to someone else. Some roads are unhealthy (like when my cousin was young) and some are just misunderstood (like mine) but judging and pointing fingers are not the answer. Can you imagine all the self-validation if we spent more time building each other up, the way we should be doing instead of tearing them down so we feel better, or look better, in comparison?

Rest In Peace

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We’re expecting


As I sat out on my deck enjoying the beautiful weather yesterday, I couldn’t help but thinking, I’m going to cry if it snows again. Leave it to my husband to burst my bubble, but… we’re supposed to have snow this weekend (Ok, so he didn’t choose this weather, but because he informed me, that really becomes a moot point.). And I really may cry if we do see snow. We have, after all, had snow since October.

Anyways, this had me thinking about expectations… we expect spring to follow suit and spring into summer, but here that is not always the case.  It likes to dabble it’s way in and out until we’re in full meltdown, and then it’s winter again. Aren’t there many things in life this can relate to? We have expectations about so many things, both realistic and unrealistically. Like the expectation so many have that you’re going to live happily ever after, because you have found the one. My brother is getting married in less than a month and he and his fiancée spent the weekend with us, which also got me thinking about expectations. There was a little squabble about him not being willing enough to continue helping with the projects that are of course leaving this soon-to-be-bride a little frantic. Erik and I laughed and said, You think it’s hard now, just wait. (We’re so encouraging, right?) And we both reiterated that the first year or two or three… are spent learning each other in ways you maybe thought you already knew. And most importantly, you will learn how to fight with each other. I don’t mean you’ll learn how to defeat each other with one fell swoop (although you will learn which button to push to do just that). What I mean is that you will learn the way each other fights (this was a point from our pre-marital counselling that really was so helpful to us). You may learn that he needs to work issues out immediately or that she really needs to be given some space before being able to talk through an issue. Either way, you learn, and you adjust.

What does this have to do with expectations? Well, we expect things to be easy, we expect to continuously feel love, we expect to always feel/work/live/love as we do now. Unfortunately, what people often fail to take into consideration is this simple fact: Life does not just happen. We make choices. I think what it all boils down to, and what much of the last weeks’ Love Dare has been talking about, is that we can choose. We can expect the worst or expect the best, but if we’re not actively choosing the best, we’re not going to get it. Expectations are not the enemy, lack of choosing to pursue them, is. Especially in our relationships. As most newlyweds/new relationships of any kind (whether dating or friendships) you have this rush, this glow that you may feel defines your relationship and surely you will always get butterflies whenever you see them. I’m not saying you can’t have a great relationship throughout the years, what I am saying is that you have to actively pursue that. Because even though I have known my husband for hundreds of years (ok not that long, but 1/2 of my life! That’s gotta count for something!) he cannot read my mind! No matter how badly I want him to. He knows everything about me, all my secrets, all my fears, hopes, and dreams… and yet he cannot read my mind! And your other half can’t either. No matter how many sentences you can finish, no matter how many times you find the thing they were looking for (before they asked for it), no matter how much you can convey through looking at each other… Because he cannot read my mind, and because I often don’t speak what’s on it…we run into problems. And sometimes that leads me to days where I don’t particularly enjoy being his wife. And I think I can say with some authority, that on those days, he’s probably not enjoying being my husband either. But we choose to continue to be. Year five of our marriage was a bit tumultuous for us, as individuals we’ve had hard things emotionally and physically, and as a couple we’ve struggled between how to be a loving couple while working and raising children, very young and close in age children. And on the days that we weren’t really feeling like being active participants in this marriage, we choose to do it anyways. We chose to kiss each other goodnight, good-morning, and goodbye every day, even when we don’t really feel like it. Which is why, as we’re gaining on year 7… we’re not itching (you know, the 7 year itch). In fact, because we CHOSE to push our way through, to love our way through, to pray our way through…we are probably in the best place of our marriage, thus far. We are leaning on each other more, we trying to voice our feelings (especially the good ones) more, and we’re loving more thoroughly. But it is not by accident.

We believe in living with intention, and not just in our food. In our lives too- in our parenting, in our interactions with each other and with those around us, and in the way we love and show love. We don’t just believe in living that way, we practice it. It’s not perfect, and it’s not easy, but it is why I have the expectation that we’ll continue living and loving together as a family for as long as God allows.

 

Better Than Expectations Pizza

I know I mentioned previously doing pizza fridays (and I still really want to do that!) but because it was so good, I’m going to share this recipe with you now, on a plain old Wednesday! Friday I’m going out to buy an adapter for this stupid camera! So maybe Pizza Friday will be pictures! Anyways, the hubs texted me a couple weeks ago saying Buffalo Chicken Pizza sounded good. We’ve never had one before or made one, so I did what I do when something sounds good that I haven’t made before… I google as many recipes as I can. And then I make something completely different! Here is what I made:

Super Yummy Pizza Crust (Makes 2 small pizzas- fed four)

  • 1/3 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/3 cup white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch/flour
  • 3 tbs dried milk powder
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp xantham gum
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbs olive oil (evoo)
  • 1 tsp cinder vinegar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray sheet for easiest crust removal. Combine flours, dried milk, salt, baking powder, and xantham gum. In a separate bowl, whisk the water, oil, and vinegar. Pour the liquid ingredients over the flours, mixing slowly with a spatula until it is a smooth and soft, that just holds its shape (more than pancake batter but less than cookie dough). Transfer about 1/3 of the dough to a pastry bag, or resealable bag (what I used) with one corner snipped off. Divide remaining dough between the two pans, spreading it thinly with a spatula- about 7inch rounds. Pipe a raised, “rim” around the edge of each one. *Brush all over with egg white (1 egg white, lightly beaten) to help sealing and browning. Bake until puffed and starting to brown, about 20 minutes. Cover with pizza toppings, return to oven for another minutes, or until bubbling hot.

*This crust was SO good! I think next time I make it I will double the recipe to make bigger, and a little thicker crusts.

Flying Buffalo Chicken

  • 3 cups of chicken breast, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (or whatever your favorite hot sauce is)
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 2 tbs flour (I used tapioca flour)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tsp buttermilk ranch seasoning
  • Shredded Cheese (I used mozzarella and cheddar)

While pizza dough/crust is in the oven (you can of course buy or make whatever kind of crust you like best), I do the topping: cook chicken over medium-high heat. When a little over halfway cooked, add in hot sauce. Stir to coat chicken thoroughly.

My husband isn’t a big fan of blue cheese, but you could always do the “sauce” with a blue cheese dressing, or ranch dressing from bottles. You could also use the hot sauce as the pizza sauce if you wanted a stronger taste/flavor and then have something for dipping. I make my own sauce:

Combine butter, flour, milk, ranch seasoning (the only mix I could find that is MSG and food coloring free!) in saucepan over med. heat. Boil two minutes, stirring frequently. If seems too thick add milk (by the tsp) if it’s not thick enough add flour/starch (by pinches).

Spread sauce on crust (as much or as little as you want), spread chicken generously over pizza and cover in as much, or as little, cheese as you like.

Stick back in the oven for about 7 more minutes, or until cheese is thoroughly melted and bubbling.

Enjoy! I’m not a big “buffalo” flavor lover, but this was really good- we’ll definitely be making it again!

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