Monday, August 31, 2015

One Thousand Gifts, 451-475

451. Nap time.
452. Family trip.
453. To the beach--my happy place.
454. Even if it isn't quite as relaxing as it used to be. ;)
455. Key lime pie at the beach.
456. An ice-cold coca-cola at the beach.
457. Finishing a novel.
458. Starting another novel (see me giving fiction a try again after so much non-fiction?).
459. The written word.
460. The true written Word--God's Word.
461. God's grace shown throughout His Word.
462. That we can pray.
463. That God hears our prayers.
464. Scripture scattered around the house as artwork.
465. That I have a plan to deep-clean the house this week...I just need to start.
466. Listening to Sophie sing and count.
467. Holding Nora while she naps.
468. Listening to Jacob make up story after story.
469. Watching Annie's first ballet class of the year.
470. Seeing her excitement for learning something new.
471. Reading books with my munchkins.
472. An evening at home with the Gent and no work.
473. Anticipating the joy having a clean house will bring me...must start actually cleaning soon.
474. Daydreaming about fall.
475. Finishing the laundry. For now.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Nora's First Table Food

Nora starting trying solid foods a few weeks ago. We began with sweet potatoes. So far she has tried avocado, banana, barley cereal, pears, carrots, and oatmeal and likes everything. I mean, really, really likes it. This girl can eat! She is already eating three meals a day, with two servings of vegetables, two of fruit, and two of cereal over the course of the day. She is still nursing seven times a day. I am skipping purees except for the baby cereals, which we only do because Annie and Sophie were anemic so the pediatrician suggested we go ahead and start Nora on some supplemental iron. Nora tries to feed herself first, and she is getting lots better at actually getting the food in her mouth. Then I clean out everything she dropped in the pocket on her bib and help her eat whatever is left that she still wants (generally, all of it--she wants to be a member of the clean plate club). Yum!

Not entirely sure what to do with it at first...
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Mama helping out.
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Trying out the cup, too.
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By the third day of solids, she was definitely a fan of sweet potatoes.
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Monday, August 24, 2015

One Thousand Gifts, 426-450

426. A good run at the gym to start off my week.
427. That my "tweaked" knee is better so I can exercise again.
428. A great sale at Gymboree.
429. Dinner and a concert by myself while the kids got some much needed Daddy time.
430. New favorite flower combo: dahlia, cosmos, and lavender.
431. A hairbow organizer for the girls--let's make my life a little simpler in the mornings.
432. A fun date night at one of our favorite college sandwich shops--now franchising. :)
433. Current read: Gilead.
434. Delicious new recipe for cheesecake.
435. Late-blooming magnolias.
436. An ice-cold coca-cola in a can on a hot summer day.
437. Field trips scheduled to the children's theatre, symphony, and ballet.
438. Getting my September calendar together.
439. Making a new friend and running into an old friend at our local library.
440. Squeezing in more summer playdates before school begins!
441. Helping lead worship yesterday.
442. Sweet friend keeping Nora happy in the church nursery for the first time.
443. Plans for fall-house-deep-cleaning.
444. Looking through photo albums with the munchkins.
445. Watching Jacob dance to Need to Breathe.
446. That he has a better since of rhythm than I do!
447. Sophie's first visit to the dentist.
448. Planning our end of summer beach trip.
449. Sweet baby snuggles.
450. Sophie's success in potty-training.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Diastasis Recti

After I finished my Body for Life challenge, my stomach was much flatter but it was still "mushy." I realized I had a mild separation of the abdominal muscles. Mine was two fingers right at the belly button, which is a borderline case. Here's a link to a simple test to check for diastasis recti. I have been following this exercise plan for the past six weeks (for the first two weeks I just did elevators, then added an exercise a week till I was doing all of them) and I have closed the gap to less than one finger-width, which is back to normal. Excellent! My transverse abs are in great shape now--on to targeting the upper layer of ab muscles...

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Parenting in a Nutshell

Here's what I've learned four and a half years into this parenting journey (not very far yet, I know!). To be the best mama you can be:

Ground yourself in the truth of the Bible. Every day. His Word promises that His mercies are new every morning and great is His faithfulness. Truly, thank you God.

Pray. A lot. Pray more. Pray with your kids when they are having a hard time, good time, are scared, learning something new, and so on and so forth. Pray without ceasing.

Love your husband well. This is one of the greatest gifts you can give your kids--a strong marriage.

That's all I've got. My kids have been--ahem--difficult this week. Reminding myself of these truths by writing them here today!

Monday, August 17, 2015

One Thousand Gifts, 401-425

401. Dahlias.
402. A cooler, rainy, slower summer week ahead.
403. Sweet friends to play with before school begins.
404. Visits with cousin Lilly (and her mommy and daddy).
405. Making updates to Nora's baby book.
406. Shopping with Annie for her ballet shoes.
407. Peeking in on my sleeping munchkins.
408. Watching cousin Mac enjoy his first birthday smash cake!
409. Hearing Jacob say, "I really like you, Mama!"
410. Listening to Sophie count from 1-10.
411. How proud she is that she can count, sing, and be potty-trained.
412. Looking back at pictures from the past few years.
413. Remembering how much fun the Gent and I had at the Outer Banks six years ago this week.
414. Making plans for football season.
415. New books arriving in the mail!
416. New library books, too.
417. Reading new books with the kids and watching their little minds grow and grasp new concepts.
418. Listening to the stories Annie and Jacob make up.
419. Hearing about their new Sunday School classes at church, Sophie in particular.
420. Shopping with Jacob for his soccer cleats.
421. A quiet evening in with the Gent--a rarity in this busy stretch he is in at work.
422. Making lists.
423. Checking dinner off my list before 8am (thawing something from the freezer).
424. That I have so much food and so many choices available--we are blessed.
425. Lemon cheesecake, last weekend's treat. Yum.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Potty-training Sophie (My Life Now)

Last week I decided to potty-train Sophie. She had all the readiness signs and I am all for having only one child in diapers. So we blocked out most of our week to be at home (something my big kids are not exceptionally good at--they tend to get cabin fever after a couple of days). I made a big deal out of wearing "big-girl panties" and we tried sitting on the potty lots of times. She wanted to sit on the potty, wipe, flush, and wash her hands, but nothing else was happening. ;) This went on all day Monday and Tuesday morning. She would tell me she needed to go potty right after she had...oops. So Tuesday after nap time I put her on the potty and gave her a cup of milk and told her we weren't getting up until she had gone tee-tee (all the potty-training pros say not to do this, but it is the only thing that has worked with my three potty-trained kids, so boo experts!). Meanwhile Nora wants to nurse, so I am sitting in the bathroom floor in front of Sophie, nursing the baby. Sophie is getting bored and Annie and Jacob want my attention. So I pull out Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things that Go and read it to them while I am sitting on the floor, feeding the baby. This is a long book. We read every word. We analyze every picture. We talk about how much fun it would be to drive a donut car or a bananamobile. It takes thirty minutes. Nora has finished nursing and is now sitting in her bouncy seat next to us. Sophie still hasn't gone but I know she needs to. I also need to start dinner. So I take all the kiddos downstairs, install Sophie on the potty (again), and ask Annie and Jacob to stay in the bathroom with her. I pull up "real people" Cinderella on my phone and give it to Jacob to hold. Nora and I start making dinner in the kitchen. I am wondering to myself, is this ever going to work? And about five minutes later Sophie comes running to tell me "I tee-tee, Mommy!" and pulling me by the hand to see her success. She is much praised by Mama, Annie, and Jacob. Fast forward twelve days and she is in panties full-time at home. She is still wearing a diaper (I haven't been using pull-ups this time, they feel so much like a diaper it was confusing for Annie and Jacob) for naps, bedtime, and when we go out. Because she still has the occasional accident and she doesn't give you much warning when she needs to go. If we're in the middle of the grocery store or at the zoo I may not have time to haul all four kids to the closest bathroom, which is sure to be at least a half mile away.

This is my life right now. And you may not believe me, but I love it.

Annie tells me when she grows up she wants to "be a mommy and bake." And drive an aqua van with green sparkles and have two boys and two girls and live across the street. :) And a little part of me has cringed at that and wondered do I need to be giving her pep talks about how she can do anything she wants and reach for the stars and all that? And then I realize that I've bought into the lie that motherhood and staying at home to be your family's full-time caregiver isn't "all that." Surely you've got to do more than change diapers and vacuum and make dinner to be fulfilled?

Of course Annie can't do anything she wants, but many opportunities will be in reach for her. She's one smart cookie and keeps us on our toes. And the Gent and I don't limit our kids or tell our girls they can only get married and have babies and stay at home with them. But if that is her dream I'm not going to steer her away from it. My girl friends from high school and college have pursued different dreams. Some have doctorates, some have become successful businesswomen, traveling all over the world. And some have put those just-begun careers away to stay at home and raise precious little ones.

But let me remind you of a big non-secret. You will never be fulfilled until you are in communion with God and fulfilling the calling that He has given you. And even then, there will always be a part of you longing for the new heavens and new earth where all really will be made right in Christ--no more suffering, no more death--true restoration of all things and all people who have trusted Jesus as their Savior.

Until then, I'm right where I want to be. Nursing babies, potty-training toddlers, answering my preschoolers 5,671st question of the morning. Washing dishes, reading books, making the 3,983rd peanut butter and jelly sandwich of my life. Singing lullabies, having a "dance party" to Need to Breathe or David Crowder, telling little hearts the Good News of the Gospel. Day in, day out, this is my life. And I really do love it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Picture Time

Picture catch up time! Annie decided to actually give the camera a real smile (a rarity these days), so she has the most pictures today. But I snapped at least one cute one of each munchkin (no easy feat). No time for editing, so you get the untouched real-story. :)

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Monday, August 10, 2015

One Thousand Gifts, 376-400

376. Cardio workouts in an air-conditioned gym in the heat of summer.
377. A healthy and strong body that can keep up with my munchkins.
378. Success in potty-training Sophie!
379. My big kids got to spend a weekend with their grandparents.
380. But that now my family is all under one roof again.
381. Community groups starting back at church after a summer break.
382. Friends who really pray for and support each other.
383. Psalm 121.
384. Little flower posies throughout the house.
385. Bread dough rising.
386. Watching Nora try solid foods for the first time.
387. Listening to Annie's dreams for her future. She wants to live across the street when she grows up. :)
388. A couple of hours to myself Saturday morning.
389. A new dress.
390. Listening to Sophie sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star over and over and over again.
391. Reading.
392. Looking at pictures of our family.
393. Jacob's hugs. The wrap-his-little-arms-around-you-and-never-let-go kind.
394. Date night in with the Gent. Risotto, prosecco, and lemon tiramisu. Delicious.
395. A good baseball game.
396. A new water filter that doesn't leak.
397. New-to-us old books.
398. The Gent makes me (decaf) coffee every morning before he leaves for work.
399. And he works on my weekend to-do list without complaining.
400. Watching Sophie "help" Nora.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Recipes Galore

I've been on a try-out-new-recipes kick these past few weeks! I've also been experimenting with sourdough bread and homemade pie crust. Here are recipes we have particularly enjoyed if you want to give them a try. Most are from Better Homes and Gardens or Southern Living.

Orzo Salad with Spicy Buttermilk Dressing

Bruschetta Biscuits with Feta

Southern Italian Chicken Soup

Classic White Bread This provides a variation from my usual sandwich bread. I use half whole wheat flour and half white.

Tomato Cheddar Bacon Pie A little bit of an effort to make, but so incredibly delicious. Not exactly health food, this is reserved for weekends or when the Gent's garden has a surplus of divine tomatoes.

Summer Spaghetti Salad

Taking sandwiches up a notch: Smoky Chicken Panini with Basil Mayo

Ham and Cheese Brunch Casserole

Another good brunch choice: Cheese and Sausage Quiche

Lemon Raspberry Coffeecake. Cake for (Saturday) breakfast? My kids were a huge fan.

And my new favorite way to eat chocolate (as if I needed another): Molten Chocolate-Espresso Cakes Eating one of these with a little whipped cream...words are not adequate.

Happy cooking, baking, and eating!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Nora: Six Months

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Nora is very excited about being six months old. Halfway to a year already! This month Nora has been practicing sitting up and learning to sleep a 7-8 hour stretch at night. She likes to chew the ears and tags on her stuffed animals and lovies, enjoys cloth books, and observes everything happening around her. She weighs 13 lbs, 10 oz (25th percentile) and is 27 1/4 inches long (90th percentile). Her weight gain has dropped off as Sophie's did but the pediatrician is not concerned, she says that's just the way my babies are. We have just begun solid foods--Nora tried her first sweet potato last night--so her weight gain should pick up with that boost. She is nursing seven times a day and taking a long afternoon nap, and usually a 30 minute nap on the go in the morning. We are going to try the church nursery in a couple of weeks, but she has gotten pretty attached to Mama lately so we'll see how it goes! Nora is wearing 6-9 month clothes and size 2 diapers.

Monday, August 3, 2015

One Thousand Gifts, 351-375

351. Daddy’s home from a work trip
352. Watching the munchkins welcome Daddy home with great enthusiasm
353. Nana helping out on the home front while Daddy was away
354. The sunflowers that are blooming away in my cutting garden
355. And the long-blooming black eyed susans and phlox on the terrace
356. Playing with a sweet little cousin
357. Listening to Sophie’s conversation skills expanding rapidly
358. “New” books from the library
359. A surprise visit with a friend who recently moved away
360. Watching all eight (!!!) of our children play together
361. A surprise phone call with another old friend
362. Ordering the last of our school curriculum for the upcoming year
363. Graeter’s ice cream.
364. Blissful low-humidity mornings—a rarity for this time of year!
365. Old books.
366. Lists of books to read myself, read to the kids, and buy someday.
367. Ordering a few Christmas gifts and making preliminary plans for the holidays.
368. Sweet fur babies.
369. Homemade peanut butter cookies.
370. Helping lead worship at church.
371. Amazon Prime. I know this is a material thing but it sure has simplified my life.
372. The new Hillsong cd.
373. A fresh start—new month, new week, new day!
374. Dreams.
375. Beginnings.