Monday, November 21, 2011

Retro(spect) Volume 1

Sometimes life has a way of making you feel wistful for the old days.  I was chatting with my Dad today, who has courageously gone back to school as a full time student, and was reading some heavy (depressing) literature for one of his classes.  He called me just to tell me his missed me, and it got me thinking about all those times from my childhood - the things we laugh about now, that were etched into our memories as classic family tales.  Since my family lives out of state, we don't get to see each other as often as we'd like, but we're still a very close knit bunch.  I am so blessed to be in a family where even if we don't always agree with each other, we love (and enjoy being with) each other always.  Even during the infamous teenage years, when most kids can't stand being seen in public with their parents (or younger siblings), my sister and I would relish the opportunity to spend a special day out with Mom & Dad.

I wish we lived closer, but sharing favorite family memories somehow has the ability to make those miles shrink ever so slightly, just for a moment.  Well Dad, I thought I'd give you something a little more lighthearted to read, in hopes of brightening your day a little, and helping you feel a little closer to your girls.  :)

The Kite:

It was a cloudy, blustery day in March, and I was so anxious to get home I could hardly stand it.  We were returning from a relatively short trip to Wal-Mart.  I say relatively short, because shopping with my Dad was never a quick trip.  Shopping is something of a quest when you go with Dad.  On this particular day, we went in search of a kite for my sister and me.

We had both ended up with identical, pink Barbie kites.  They were perfect.  We got home and, with Dad's help, assembled them.  This was no easy task!  The kites came with flimsy plastic rods that had to be threaded through the backs of the kites in order to give them enough structure to fly.  And of course, there were the tails.  They looked like someone had cut up a black garbage bag with a pair of squiggly scissors, and sneaked it into the kite packaging.  Nonetheless, they were attached to the bottoms of our kites, and with squealing anticipation, we got our jackets on to go outside and test them out.

My parents had recently built a home on the rural side of town, and while we had a large front yard, the landscape was still littered with plenty of trees and across the street, telephone poles complete with large, heavy wires draped in long arches high above the ground.  My Mom logically suggested we wait for a day when we could all go to the park together to fly the kites.  We saw the reason in this.  But what is it to be eight years old without an occasional indulgence in instant gratification?  After all, it was a perfectly windy day, and we didn't have to let the kites get up too high.  Mom consented with Dad's promise of supervision.

So there we were - the moment of truth!  Mom was strategically positioned behind the large picture window in the front of the house, video camera running, ready to forever memorialize the momentous occasion.  Dad helped my younger sister get hers up in the air.  She was, after all, the baby in the family, and the youngest always go first.  Her kite wobbled a little, and then with the next gust of wind was airborn.  She stood with the string, hanging on tight as she giggled with satisfaction.  Then it was my turn.  I stood in the middle of the street, with the string in my hands, and Dad on the other end holding my kite.  "Okay, GO!" he shouted.  We both ran, and there went my kite!  I was giddy!
After a few minutes of sheer joy, the wind began playing games with us.  First, my sister's kite was in peril.  "Run!  Keep it up!" my Dad yelled instructions.  It was no use.  Her kite ended up in the trees across the street.  No matter, Dad came to the rescue.  My sister waited patiently for her kite to be freed from its branchy prison.  Then, disaster struck.  My kite began to flutter in free fall.  I ran, and managed to keep it up for a few seconds more . . . just long enough for it to drift into the trees!  I began to whimper, and Dad reassured me that he would get to mine as soon as my sister's was free.  Just be patient, he said.

I was never one to be associated with the patient type.  Dad was really having a time of it, wrestling the tree's hold on the kite string, but he was winning - inch by inch.  After watching this for a couple of minutes, I decided to give it a go with my own kite.  After all, I was eight years old.  How hard could it be?  I began to tug, gently at first, then a little harder.  My kite budged.  It was working!  My sister's kite fluttered free - Dad had fought the trees and won!  Now if I could just tug a little . . . bit . . . more . . . It was almost free!

Then the unthinkable happened.  My string snapped off!  I crumpled to my knees in utter disbelief, totally crushed.  I wailed in despair "my kite . . . my kite!"  much the way someone wails when they lose a pet, or a loved one.  This was serious stuff, people.  Dad looked in my direction, not really sure what had just transpired.  "It's okay, Amanda - we can get you another one later."  He tried to comfort me, but it was no use.  No other kite could possibly be as perfect as this pink, Barbie, 99 cent kite.  And to make matters worse, my sister still had hers!  No, this was the end.  The end of my happy childhood as I knew it.  I was inconsolable.  I wandered into the house, my vision blurred from tears, and still sobbing, relayed the whole tragedy to my Mom, still behind the window, camera still rolling.  Mom said that it was too bad I hadn't waited for my Dad, like my sister had.  "Sorry, Honey.  Now go to your room until you can get yourself under control."

That's all the sympathy I get?  Inconceivable!  I went to my room, and flung myself onto my bed, sobbing into my pillow.  I would die all alone, without ever having any fun again.

And behold, the peak of my career in childhood melodrama was achieved!  I did, in fact, go on to fly many more kites over the course of my growing up years.  To this day, when the trees have all shed their leaves, you can still see a bit of black garbage bag looking debris fluttering in the wind across the street from my parent's house.  The infamous kite lives on!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Not Your Mama's Cloth Diapers

For those of you who might be interested in cloth diapering, or even for the morbidly curious, I thought I'd share our system. I began researching cloth diapers a few months into my pregnancy, and let me tell you: if you've ever done any kind of search on "cloth diapering" online, it's enough to make your head spin! I waffled back and forth for several months - daunted by my lack of knowledge and the seemingly huge increase in a workload that was already going to rapidly expand with a newborn on the way. There was also the husband-grandma-nursery worker factor. I didn't want to have complicated bulky diapers for helping hands to have to contend with. I was concerned about traveling with cloth diapers vs. disposables, as all of our family live out of state, so any visits require about a 3 1/2 hour roadtrip. Also, while cloth can save significant expenses in the long run, there's a pretty big investment intially.

My husband is very frugal (read: loves cheap!), so as soon as he heard the words "save money" he was completely on the cloth diapering bandwagon, and determined to make it work. I was certainly willing to give it a try - after all, I reasoned, even if it didn't work out, we wouldn't actually be out any money. Cloth diapers hold their resale value pretty well, believe it or not. Anyway, we'd still be spending money on disposables if we weren't using cloth, so I felt pretty safe.

There are several benefits to cloth vs. disposables, and while I love that I'm helping to clean up the environment, honestly my main intention was to cut costs. After researching several kinds of diapers (All-In-Ones, Pocket Diapers, Prefolds, Fitted Diapers, Hybrids . . . etc), we decided on the pocket style diaper. This one is a good combination of ease of use, and cost efficiency. After trying out several brands, we decided on using the Fuzzibunz (seriously, some of these diapers have hilarious names!) One Size diapers. You can check them out here. The obvious advantage to these was the ability to last from newborn through potty training - which means if we have more than one kid in diapers at the same time, we don't have to worry about different sized diapers. Also, these things are ridiculously adjustable! So with a hard to fit baby like mine - who is really long with chubby thighs, they work perfectly. They also work similarly to a disposable, with snaps instead of pins. The downside is having to use a different diaper with each change, but that didn't bother me.

We've been using them full time for about 3 1/2 months now, and it really isn't that much extra work! I am very pleasantly surprised. It's pretty safe to say we'll be sticking with them long term at this point, and I'm glad to do it. We ended up purchasing about 25 diapers, which can get us comfortably through about three days. I do a load of diapers three times a week, and our washer is enormous, so it's easy to fit them all in there.

I run them on a cold rinse cycle first, and then a hot/cold wash cycle followed by another cold rinse.  The company says to dry the inserts in the dryer on high heat, and the diaper "shells" in the dryer on low, but I prefer to hang them to air dry . . . I guess I'd rather be on the cautionary side.  We just have a clothes rack in the laundry room that I use, and on sunny days I'll put them outside.  They dry much faster!  Even indoors, they dry very quickly - it only takes 5 hours max.

After drying, I take all the inserts (made of layers of microfiber) and "stuff" the diapers.  Each diaper comes with a short and a long insert.  We use the shorter ones for daytime, and the longer ones for naps, or overnight.

My daughter is a heavy wetter, so sometimes if we're going to be out and about and I won't have as much opportunity to change her, I add a hemp insert.   The hemp inserts are super absorbent, and nice and thin, so they don't add much bulk.

 They really come in lots of cute colors and patterns too!  It was hard to decide which ones to get.  When they're all stuffed and folded, they look like this:

 The nice thing about these diapers, is that they still fit nicely in my diaper stacker that came with the nursery set.  Then they're nice and handy to grab during a change.

I also keep spare inserts on the changing table, at arms reach if I need to change the absorbancy level.  They have their own bin, so everything stays nice and neat (and out of sight!)

 As far as wipes go, instead of purchasing the expensive "cloth wipes" that are available, I just bought some cheap washcloths from Wal-Mart, cut them in half, and sewed a seam down the unfinished edge.  VoilĂ !  Cloth wipes!  I roll them up, and store them in a plastic container on the changing table next to the extra inserts.  I use a homemade solution of water, baby oil, and baby soap (we use Johnson & Johnson's Head To Toe wash) to keep them in.  They smell nice, feel nice on baby's skin, and get the job done well.

 We purchased a small garbage can instead of a fancy diaper pail, and we use a cloth liner that goes in the wash with the diapers.  It's never smelly, and it doesn't take up a bunch of space.  If the diaper is just wet, it goes straight into the pail, wipes and all - no fuss.

If there's a surprise inside, I rinse the diapers first, and then put them in the pail.  This was one of the biggest turn offs for me as far as cloth diapering goes . . . who wants to deal with that kind of mess?  After all, with disposables, you just wad the thing up, and never think about it again.  That's when I discovered, *drumroll please* the diaper sprayer!

It hooks right onto the side of the toilet, out of the way, and my handy husband even installed it without having a career in plumbing.  It's pretty high powered, so it gets the ick off fairly easily.  There's still the matter of wringing out the diaper, which I felt kind of squeamish about, but I just keep some of these on hand (pun intended):

I keep a box in the bathroom, and also in the laundry room for wash day.  It's a piece of cake!  I never have to touch anything, and so far, my baby has never had a diaper rash, or been smelly.  She'll tell you herself - she doesn't mind one bit!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Being "Real"

The last few weeks have been a perfect example of why I am not very good at blogging regularly!  I have been in the kitchen (much) more than usual lately, baking, and storing away goodies for the holidays.  The cooler weather has also prevented me from spending as much time outdoors, so with more time inside, I have had the itch for crocheting.  By "itch" I mean crocheting-every-spare-minute-I-can-get-my-hands-on kind of thing.  I'm still more on the beginner end of the spectrum, so I've mostly been learning new stitches, and pulling those out, and learning some more.  I have completed a few projects, but I'll save those for another post, another day.

To be completely honest, I haven't felt like I've had much worth saying lately.  I've been reading many of your blogs, and shrank back from writing feeling like I'm not eloquent enough, or witty enough, or interesting enough . . . and the list goes on.  I am often amazed that some of the busy moms I follow are able to find time to post two (or even three) blog posts a week!  It makes me wonder what on earth I'm doing with my day.  After all, I'm not working, and I only have one little love to take care of during the day - many of these incredible ladies have three or four!

Ah, how easily I am ensnared by comparing myself to others.  I haven't lost pregnancy weight as quickly as so and so, I'm not as creative as this person, I'm not as thrifty as this mom, I look so frumpy next to my always put-together friend, I don't know the Bible as well as this person, etc.  You see what I mean?  I'm sure I'm not the only human being to fall into this trap, but it doesn't justify staying here for long!

One of the things I've been challenged by lately in this ongoing process of being shaped by Christ to become who I was meant to be in Him, is to give of myself.  He created me and is still shaping me to be a certain way - different from anyone else on the planet.  Now I'm not talking about some clichĂ© self-esteem "being satisfied with who I am" kind of thing.  This goes so much deeper than that.  I have been created with a unique personality, certain abilities, and physique that is purposed for God's glory, and not my own. 

So much of the time I feel too vulnerable sharing pieces of myself with others because I am afraid it won't measure up to someone else.  This kind of thinking is rooted in my selfish, sinful nature where I feel the need to make myself look good.  And of course, I can't look good unless I look better than somebody else.  I feel like I don't have as much to offer as someone else, so I just don't offer anything at all.

How wrong I am!  God really called me out on this in a recent sermon by John Piper.  God's grace never ceases to amaze me.  Through Piper's words, God gently reminded me:  I have Christ (Romans 8:10).  I have the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19).  I have the Word of God (1 Corinthians 2:13).  I have spiritual gifts (1 Peter 4:10).  I am a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).  And I am a fountain (John 4:14; 7:38).  So, no excuses!  God has not called me to be the most intellectual, the most educated, the most "relevant," or even the best author.  He only calls me to give of myself - of my soul, not for what I can get out of it, but for His glory.

I still struggle with being a "people pleaser" . . . "Oh, if I write this, people are going to think I'm being 'too spiritual' and it will turn people off."  or  "I know this is how I've been feeling lately, but if I share that, it will make me sound too pathetic."

I want to be authentic!  I want to relax in Jesus and be who I am - struggles and all.  Friends, there is so much freedom in being able to hide nothing!  I hope that the Lord will move all of us, to be fountains - life giving, soul sharing, fountains.  By His sweet, amazing grace, Jesus is shaping my heart to be this way.  I am thankful, and I pray that you will join me!

Monday, October 24, 2011


Fall seems to be a built in time of year for noticing transitions.  (Enjoy these recent photos from around my neighborhood) Aside from the changing colors outside, and the noticeable difference in weather patterns, I start paying more attention to life transitions as well.  Instead of wanting to spend all of my freetime outside, I start looking forward to things like baking, and crafting.  I start getting the "itch" to study, and read.  My menus begin to reflect more fall flavors, and soups and stews start coming back to the party.  I even start to brainstorm ideas for Christmas gifts!

For whatever reason, lately I've been reflecting on life transitions as well.  We've been going through several as a family.  There are the more obvious transitions like going from a couple to being a family, or being a woman in the workforce, to being a stay at home Mom..  Then there are more subtle transitions - like my spiritual growth.

Some of these transitions have felt natural, and came easily to me.  Others have required a bit more effort on my part.  For instance, Nate and I can no longer just go out to dinner on a whim (or eat dinner together, for that matter!).  Our time together has to be planned, and intentional.  Even with careful planning, sometimes our best efforts are thwarted by a baby girl with an early appointment with her crib.  While I was working, I was used to getting up in the morning before dawn (my position at a local coffee shop required early rising!).  Now I'm usually up several times a night, so waking up around 7 am seems ridiculously early to my sleep deprived body.  While before even if my house was a mess, if I'd had a busy day at work I felt productive, now I need to have visible reminders around me to satisfy that need.  "Look, Honey!  I washed and folded six loads of laundry today!"

Even on the days when I've been working hard at being a Mommy, if I don't have "something to show" my husband at the end of the day, I wind up feeling lazy.  Surely there are lots of other Mommies out there who can nod their heads with understanding at this same conundrum in their own household!  After all, no wife wants their husband to walk in the door after they've had a long day of rocking babies, kissing boo boos, feeding babies, cleaning up after babies, reading stories, searching for Mr. Snuggles, etc. only to hear, "So, what did you do today?"

Then there have been the spiritual transitions.  When I was single, I had an awesome routine in place of spending time with God daily before bed.  I tend to be more of a night owl anyway, so this worked perfectly for me.  I remember having sweet times of prayer, and revelation in God's Word at 1 or 2 in the morning.  I could close the door, and I didn't have to worry about disturbing anyone else in the house with my late night devotions.  After I got married, I had to learn to do things a little differently.  Now there was the challenge of finding time to spend with God alone, as well as a time of devotions as a couple.

Needless to say, there were some days when I was much better at this than others.  Then came Mommyhood.  There seemed to be little time for sleep, let alone much else at first!  When Olivia was very tiny, I could put a Bible next to me while I was nursing, and read aloud to her.  To make a long story short, nursing was quite the process in the beginning, so it took a LONG time.  Anyone who has spent much time around a newborn knows that they eat often, so this system worked well for me.  For a while . . .

Then the process of shifting my time around began again - as I'm sure it will continue to do for the next several years!  On the positive side, these more recent life transitions have driven me to a point of utter dependency on God.  All those moments in the middle of the night with a screaming baby led me to cry out more than once "God, I need your grace and wisdom right now!"  And while it may sound trite, Scripture became my food.  I couldn't have gotten through the first few months of sleep deprivation, total cluelessness on what to do for my tiny, helpless baby, total lack of any alone time with my husband, an attention deprived dog, and a house that hadn't seen a good cleaning in weeks without constant meditation on God's Word.

Before Olivia was born, I took on the challenge of reading through the Bible in 90 days.  The entire Bible.  Cover to cover.  About 3 days in, I was thinking to myself how crazy I was to accept said challenge.  However, though it actually took me about 120 days, I was completely changed on the other side of that process.  If nothing else, I developed such a love for the Word of God!  It was and is living, breathing, and active in my life.  No other book could possible have that effect on me.  It was humbling, to know that God created me with the capacity to think His thoughts after Him.  To know that thousands of years after the words were penned, He still speaks to me through them.  Not a new concept - but so eye opening!

Nate and I have grown immensely in our walk with God over the past year, which has led us to transition between churches.  This transition has been anything but easy, and has pushed us even deeper into our trust in Christ.  Friendships have been tested, our character called into question, and the daunting task of finding a new church fellowship looms.  One thing has held us fast through all of this - and that is our unflinching faith in the Word of God.  It has reminded us that His opinion of us is the only one that matters, and His standard of what is right is the only one we will be measured by.  This has been so comforting in the face of criticism!

What about you?  Have you gone through any transitions lately?  What kinds of things have helped you adjust?  I'd love to know your thoughts.  Leave a comment below!  The time in transition may seem interminable now, but be encouraged!  They can be a time of blessing, and growth, if we have the right attitude about them.  If you're in the midst of one, hang in there!  Know that I'll be praying for you.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

30 Day Husband Encouragement Challenge

Love.  A single word in the English language with thousands of definitions.  I love chocolate ice cream.  I would love to go to a Cubs game.  I love my husband.  Hmm.  Wait a second!

Several weeks ago I began thinking about the way I use this word so flippantly, and I decided that I probably don't use it well in my marriage.  Just because I told my husband I loved him, did he really believe that I did?  Now don't get me wrong, I don't think that by saying I "love" to do certain things, that I'm automatically equating my husband with chocolate ice cream, or baseball.  However, I do all too often use the phrase without thinking about what I'm saying, thus devaluing it of it's true meaning.

 On the inside of my wedding band, I have 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 inscribed.  It talks about all the things that define true love, and serves as a daily reminder to me of how I should be loving my husband.  When I measure myself by this standard, I fall shockingly short!  All too often I found myself getting angry over petty things.  "I can't believe I have to do _____________ again!  Why do all these responsibilities get dumped on me?"  Love is patient and kind . . .

"It's so frustrating that he won't spend more time with us as a family.  Why do his priorities always have to come first?"  Love is not irritable or resentful . . .

The list could go on and on.  I had become so caught up with frustration, and dissatisfaction, that I wasn't able to enjoy my husband for the incredible man that he is.  God began quietly convicting me that the problem did not lie with my husband, but with my heart.  At first, I responded with annoyance.  I felt like a child again, being scolded for something I had done, and pointing to my little sister.  "Don't forget about her!  What she did was worse!"  But alas, it is not up to me to judge my husband's heart, only to let God cleanse and shape my own.

Enter the 30 Day Husband Encouragement Challenge.  I had been listening to the radio one morning, and heard one of the on-air personalities talking about this challenge that she had seen on Facebook.  The more she talked about it, the more I thought I really should investigate it for myself.  Since it happened to be the first day of the month, I thought, "Oh sure, why not at least give it a shot?"

I am so glad I did!  For 30 days, I was not allowed to say anything negative to, or about my husband to anyone else.  After signing up to take part, the challenge website e-mailed me daily reminders about the challenge, and had a specific focus for each day.  There were specific scriptures that went with each day, and a reminder to seek God through the challenge, and not attempt it on my own strength - which of course, would only end in failure.  There were days when it was easy to encourage my husband.  I could tell him about the things that I appreciated so much about him, or even better, praise him to someone else while he was listening!

There were other days where it was more difficult to bite my tongue.  So often, especially as women, we run to others when we're upset about something for vindication, and affirmation.  It is especially easy to do when we're frustrated with our husbands.  The challenge hinges on this concept of banishing all negativity from your vocabulary.  It was so hard for me to do at times!  God led me to read through the book of James, where he talks about blessing God, and yet cursing people, who are made in his image.  What a contradiction!  Negativity and criticism are poison to a marriage.  They deflate my husband's spirit faster than a needle deflates a balloon.  This challenge brought about significant changes in our relationship.

When I began, I really expected to see the majority of change coming from my husband.  I was looking for changes in his behavior, or waiting for him to "notice" how nice I was being.  Sounds ridiculous, but true.

To my surprise, and shame, I began to see that the changes were happening in my own life.  When I stopped focusing on his faults and shortcomings, and instead shifted my focus to God's unchanging promises and purposes for him,  I began to see him through his Father's eyes instead of who I wanted him to be.

I have always known since our marriage began that it is not up to me to "change" my husband.  It is not my job to "train" him, or make him into super-father-husband, who can fulfill my every need and desire, all while leaping tall buildings in a single bound!  In other words, this was not a new concept for me.  However, I justify my behavior too often by using the "I'm not trying to tell him what to do, but that doesn't mean I can't be angry with him!" line.

By the grace of God, I am now able to get past the issues that bothered me so much, and instead appreciate the incredible gift of my husband.  God made me and my husband specifically to be with each other, no matter how our personalities might sometimes clash.  When I think about that sovereign plan, I am in awe that I serve a God who knew before the earth's beginnings that we would be here now, serving him together.

Encouragement is true love in action.  Ladies, this stuff works!  If you're interested in finding out more about the challenge, you can sign up here.  I'd love to know what things you've implemented into your relationships to help you love your man better!  Leave a comment to share your tips.

Photos by Hilda Burke, of Angel Eyes Photography

Monday, September 26, 2011

Dear Chloe:

Dear Chloe,

Thanks for all the lovely memories.  I will never forget discovering you for the first time in my parent's garage, with your two tiny siblings.  While they were meek and timid, you were ferocious!  I knew you had some spunk in you when I tried to pick you up, and you hissed and spit at me like you were capable of taking off my hand.  You were so small, and puffy, you looked like a tiny mottled cotton ball with a wisp of a tail.  It was love at first sight.
I gave you your name, Chloe, after I got to know your personality a little bit better.  It means "a thriving, green shoot" - you never stopped finding ways of getting into mischief, and you were always good for a laugh!
Our first few nights together, you cried and cried, I think because you missed your mother - I sat up with you and played with you, and you cuddled in my lap.  After that, my lap was one of the places you felt most secure.  After a long day at the office, I looked forward to those cuddles.

Being a college student on top of working full time was tough.  Late nights were lonely as I sat up working on papers, or reading.  You were always there to keep me company.  And of course, to keep an eye on my mouse!
You loved my undivided attention.  If I had other things to do, you just made sure that I didn't forget about spending time with you first.  After all, you didn't mind if I was wearing smelly clothes, so why should everyone else?

You were very good at helping me stay organized - even down to the nitty gritty:

At times life could be stressful, but you always helped me not to take myself too seriously.

I am notoriously forgetful, but you were great at helping me remember the important things.  Like feeding the dog:

When I began my courtship with Nate, it was exciting, and terrifying all at the same time.  So many life changes to think about!  I often laid awake at night, unable to sleep for all the noisy thoughts in my head.  You helped me to think outside the box with a new sleep solution.

Unfortunately for me, it didn't work out so well.  With a wedding on the way, there were so many preparations to take care of!  People to call, reservations to be made, invitations to print . . . thankfully, I could count on you to take care of that last one.

After the wedding, you graciously agreed to help me pack for the honeymoon.  With the suitcase so full, I wouldn't have been able to close it without your help!

After the wedding, you decided to start your new adventure of apartment living.  You journeyed across the state, and into a new one in the back of my car (much to your dismay, I'm afraid!).  It wasn't quite what you were accustomed to, but you adjusted fairly quickly.  We lived on the second floor, with a great big tree outside the window.  There was a very chatty squirrel that you grew rather fond of watching.

And of course, you were very protective of me.  You always kept one eye on Nate to make sure he was behaving himself.

You moved again with us, this time to the third floor.  There was no more chatty squirrel to watch, but we had a lovely view of the sky, and you could see birds again!  They would make a commotion outside, and you would sit on my piano (mussing all of my sheet music, I might add), and stick your head under the curtain, just to sneak a look at them.  If your tail began twitching, I knew you'd found something exciting to watch.  It was always confirmed by your strange chattering afterward.  Nate doesn't share my love of winter weather, but you always enjoyed a good snowfall.  You would sit with me in the living room and watch the lacy flakes fall from the clouds.
Our third move was into a house.  Finally!  A place of permanence that wouldn't require you to add "gypsy" to your pet description.  Since I knew how much you hate moving, I decided to give you a mild sedative.  I've never seen a drunk cat before, but I'm pretty sure you nailed the definition.  No one got much sleep that night.  It was also your first time meeting another addition to our family, Sadie.  At first, you weren't all that enthusiastic.

Especially given the way Sadie liked to play!  She seemed to have forgotten that just because you squeaked, it didn't mean you were one of her toys.

After a while though, you got the hang of it.  You grew more cunning, and found her weak spot - you fought back!

After that, she grew to respect you a little more.  You regained your Queen status, and if Sadie had upset you, she came over afterward to grovel.

You were very thankful for the bed we bought you.  It gave you a perch to escape to!  You felt much more comfortable letting yourself relax on it . . .

Eventually, you and Sadie became friends.  You even missed her when she was gone (even though you pretended not to care . . . ).  She made an especially warm pillow.  You always enjoyed snuggling up to her for a nice nap.

And then, the biggest change of all came into your little life.   There was a miniature human on the loose!  You weren't quite sure what to think.  She took over your "safe space" upstairs, and replaced it with a whole lot of furniture, and all the late night snuggles you used to enjoy in my lap, were replaced with sitting patiently on the carpet and watching me pace the floor long into the night.  She made more noise than you ever knew a human could make, especially one so small!  When you noticed that I was feeling weary with my new responsibilities, you would make sure I knew you were on my side.  You had a tendency to pop up in unexpected places, just to make me smile.

And even though you weren't thrilled about us bringing her home, you knew how important our newest addition was to us.  You made sure you watched over her, and let us know (by clawing up the carpet under the door, unfortunately) if anything was wrong.

You were such a good cat, Chloe.  I loved you all the time I had you.  Your intelligence always amused me, even if it sometimes got you into trouble.  Your love of sparkle balls was forever a source for my entertainment, and you knew the value of a good conversation, as evidenced by your constant chatter.  You were a good friend, and lap warmer, and I know things won't be the same without you here.  There was just something about your purring that was soothing to the soul.  I will miss witnessing you leap three feet off the floor in pursuit of your feather toy, as well as your comforting presence at the foot of my bed at night.  I hope that you are happy, and content in your new home, and that you feel like a queen once more.  I know you will bring just as much joy and mirth to your new owners as you have to my heart.  Farewell, my sweet feline friend!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Farmer's Market Finds

We are fortunate enough to have a Farmer's market in our downtown district twice a month during the summer months.  Today was the last one for the season!  Needless to say, we couldn't miss it.  We loaded everyone up in my tiny Saturn (including my wildabeast named Sadie!), and off we went to see what we could see.  It was a chilly morning, with temps hovering around 50, but that didn't put a damper on my enthusiasm.  I really enjoy Farmer's markets!  There is an incredible number of vendors, limitless (locally grown!) produce to peruse through, flowers, music, zany entertainment, you name it.  There is a lot of ground to cover!  My browsing this trip was somewhat limited by the reach of Sadie's leash, but I still managed to find a few things to bring home.  Our first stop was at my favorite coffee shop's booth.  I have been looking forward to that cup of coffee all week!  The husband found a booth that sold breakfast burritos, and he was set.  I am a sucker for anything that blooms, and there is one local farm that always manages to pull off the most captivating displays of all things floral.  Of course, I had to stop there.
I also found a booth with all sorts of trinkety things for little girls.  Check out their beautiful handcrafted goodies here.  Since my sweet Olivia now has enough of a little tuft on top of her head to clip things in, I couldn't resist the temptation to snag a few things for her as well.  Here are a few of my finds:

This last one I particularly loved.  It will look so sweet with some of her sweaters!  All in all, it was a perfectly successful morning, and a certainly a fabulous way to welcome Fall!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fall Cleaning!

I don't know what it is about this time of year, maybe the cooler weather, everyone going back to school or back to a solid routine, it's hard to say for sure.  Whatever it is, it seems to bring out this primal urge in me to go through all my closets and purge, clean all the windows and even *gasp* baseboards in my house, organize my kitchen cabinets, etc.  Whether all this is actually accomplished, on the other hand, remains to be seen!  This is my third Fall season in our house, and I am really excited to get started.

The windows are first on my list to tackle.  They were largely ignored this Spring, due to my settling in as a new Mommy.  I like to use a solution of water with ammonia, and just a few drops of dish soap (too much, and you'll have too many suds).  I wash the windows with a terrycloth rag, and then use a squeegee and a microfiber cloth to dry them.  This combination usually leaves me with beautifully clean, streak free windows!

My oven and fridge also get a good rub down this time of year.  The oven, thanks to my recent escapades with homemade cinnamon rolls, already got checked off the list.  I have a self cleaning oven, so it's really just a matter of running the clean cycle, and then wiping it out with a water/vinegar solution.  For the stove top, I disassemble it, and then spray the parts individually with oven cleaner.  All the crusty crud wipes right off!  I don't even break a sweat.  :)

I try to clean out my fridge every other month, just to help me keep track of what I have on hand so that I don't waste as much.  I just do a quick wipe down, and throw away anything that's expired, or should be relegated to science research.  Cleaning it out in the Spring and Fall usually isn't so bad if I've stayed on top of it the other months.  I do take the crisper drawer out (my fridge only has one drawer), and wash it out, as well as defrost and wipe out the freezer.

This is also the time of year when I go through closets, and the attic storage to gather things to take to Goodwill, or the crisis pregnancy center.  A good rule of thumb for me when it comes to clothing is, if I haven't taken it off of the hanger all season, I won't wear it next season either.  The exception to this rule for me this year has been clothes that I am still working to fit back into after pregnancy.  I usually am able to purchase one or two new things to wear each season, so I figure I should be able to donate at least that much.

What about you?  Do you have any tried and true cleaning tricks that you pull out for Fall cleaning?  What kind of things do you put on your list?  I'd love to know your secrets!

photostock /
Ambro /
dan /

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Reason Why

Writing is like breathing for me.  It's been so long since I've come up for air, I've almost forgotten what it feels like.  This blog will hopefully be a place where I can stretch those breathing muscles now and again, preserve some of my more intelligent ramblings, and who knows?  Maybe even learn a few things!

I don't pretend to be profound, or even knowledgeable.  I am merely a small, created mind trying to grasp the mysteries of her Creator.  I want to be transparent as I share what I have learned, and am continuing to learn.  I want this to be a place where others feel free to impart their wisdom as well - and perhaps even hold me accountable.  Wisdom cries out in the streets, and I am praying for the ears to hear her.  She is worth far more than rubies!  (Proverbs 8)  I know she resides in many of those around me, and to be given some of that wealth through advice, stories, or life experience would be a precious gift indeed.  I welcome your comments!

I plan to share as much of my life, as often as my life allows.  I am, and will always be committed to my family first, and as the internet tends to be the mother of all distractions, I will guard against letting it consume too much of the time that I have to offer in service to them first.  I want to know that I have invested all that I could, however feebly, into the health and growth of their faith.

I pray that this will be a ministry to some, and sow seeds to many, for the glory of the God who gave me the ability to write at all.  It is in His name, and for His purposes that I hope to share from my heart.  I believe the written word is powerful, as well as a love language of my Savior.  It was through his Word that I fell in love with him, and continue to be drawn to his heart daily.

As I begin to tread in this new world of blogging, I hope that you will be encouraged, edified, and challenged.  Here's to many more adventures, lessons, and glimpses into my heart as I work to cultivate the faith I long to work out with fear and trembling.  Please join me on the journey!