Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Life & Death - Memorial Day

 We were sitting in Satura Bakery in Los Altos on Sunday, for our annual brioche donuts.

(We had been to Alta Mesa in memory of Gabriel's birthday.  
One of the saddest things about going to the cemetery is not just remembering our own boy.
It is all of the stories surrounding us that we don't know.
We see a young dad with three children visiting a grave.
We see an elderly gentleman carrying flowers & his walking cane, searching for a particular grave.
And, we cry.  Death is so sad.)

While we were eating our donuts, the kids were begging for a cake.
A beautiful white cake topped with berries.
Scott had just brought home a couple flats of berries.
So, I said, "okay!"
We'll make one ourselves at home.
I had wanted to try a recipe that Andrea shared last month.
Honey & Jam has it all typed out for you here.
It's a Dorie Greenspan recipe.  She can be trusted.  It had to be good.
It is.  Go bake one.  You will be glad you are alive.

Speaking of enjoying life,
I went to visit my 96 year old neighbor yesterday.
Gillian came with me & brought her some flowers.

She is so sharp & full of life. 
When I hear someone talk about how they don't want to get old;
how they think people get grouchy & difficult & depressed when they are old;
I think of Udell & how that does not describe her at all.
She can talk & talk & talk about how great life is.
I love it.  She loved life.  And she loves life.
She loves her good memories of all she did in life.
But, she is happy in her life right now, too.
She is a woman who has purposed to embrace life for what is.
She finds fun where she can.
Like how funny it was that the elastic had gotten too loose in her pants,
so yesterday, they were completely falling off.  
That didn't discourage her.  
That made her laugh.
(And I offered to sew new elastic in there, because it may not remain funny if it keeps happening!)
We have a choice.  We CAN see the lovely in life, at any age.

Linking up at Heather's for Life Made Lovely

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Snack Cart

Play idea by Gillian.
She was a snack cart vendor.
So cute.

She only sold healthy, nourishing food.
No garbage.
Someday, I'm going to run a quality food cart, too, for reals.

Peyton had the idea to make popcorn for the cart.
It ended in a rather messy situation.  
I still haven't vacuumed it all up from the floor.
Maybe I'll do it tomorrow.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jog

Being back home is so nice.
That was almost 3 weeks of planting in Butte Valley. 
Once we hit the 2 week mark of being away from home,
it starts to get old; for all of us.
Scott is still working, & more than a normal work week.
So, it is not a vacation.

But, there is a lot we like about going to Macdoel.
It is a break in routine for the kids, but still familiar.
So, they feel comfortable since we go twice a year.

We like having country time.
The kids gave the horses their own names – Star, Paint & Ahmaria.
The big sky.  The bald eagles.  The tractors.
I like when the smell coming through my car vents is fresh dirt.
That happens here. 
Husband’s truck always smells like fresh dirt.  But here, my car does too.

(I usually take tons of picturew when we are there.
But, I didn't this time.
Look at old posts for Macdoel images.
I even missed an excellent bald eagle photo op on a misty morning.)

The internet at the house in Macdoel has always been spotty.
But, this time it was non-existent.
I am pretty dependent on the web.  So, that was a bit of a bummer.
I had to go sit in the office & try to keep all the kids in good behavior,
while I tried to do anything in the internet. 
It was a challenge. 
And I didn’t get to read many blogs.  Boo.

Here’s something big that I missed in the blog world. 
Thank you to all my friends who took part in the Love for Anika party.
You know something I love about the blog world?
It really helps people come to together,
throwing in their own little gift, & make a big impact.

Not only what Love is doing in gathering funds for Anika.
There is Heather & her Joyful Library.
There is Jeanett & her fundraising at Life Rearranged.
And so much more that I don’t know about. 
Tell us if you know of a blog project,
gathering up everyone’s effort to make a big impact.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"l" is for lollipop

Alrighty, ya’ll. 
I haven’t been working much on our letter unit studies.
We finally did the letter l.

“l” is for lollipop

Lollipop was a little tricky, for coming up with study ideas.
From lollipops, we decided to learn a little about sugar, too.

I couldn’t find any good books with the lollipop theme.
It is not particularly about lollipops, though. 
It is a book about adjectives.

Speaking of parts of speech,
we did start doing a little word/action game, while on the letter “l”.

Listen, Look & Learn
This game is a variation on the Simon Says game.
When I say a doing word, they do the action.
If I say a thing word, they need to just stand still.
While doing “l”, I tried to think of verbs that started with that letter.
Listen* Lick * Look * Laugh * Lounge * Love * Leap
But, the main point is just learning about verbs/doing words. 
So, we usually use words that start with any letter.

We played a Lollipop Ring Toss game.
I stuck little lollipops into a cereal box covered in foil.
I taped a number onto each lollipop.
I gave the kids 2 rings & they tried to drop them onto the lollipops.
They had to try to identify the number on the lollipops that they got.
Then we added the two numbers together.

We read Aesop’s Fable, The Fox & The Crow.
We learned about the false sweetness of flattery.

We talked about the sweet truth of God’s Words
& learned this verse –
Psalm 19:10
“{Your Words} are more desirable than gold, yes than much fine gold.
Sweeter also than honey & the drippings of the honeycomb.”

I tried to find books about how sugar is grown & processed with no luck.
I was bummed. 
And, the librarian was a little confused as to why I would want such a thing.
I showed the kids pictures of sugar cane growing & harvested, found on the internet.

We did a sugar cooking craft, making Lifesaver Light Catchers.
There may be a better way to do this. 
But, I didn’t have the world wide web available to me, to find directions.

We smashed the lifesavers & arranged them on wax paper.
We baked them at 325 degrees for about 3 minutes.
Bake them just until the sugars are all melted down.
Too long & you’ll burn the bright colors out & it will start to brown.
While we did this, we talked a little bit about the stages of cooking sugar –
The soft ball & hard crack & such.
Our Light Catchers were cooked to hard crack.
And, they did fall down from the window & crack, before the day was over.

We had a little dance party exercise time to the Lollipop song by the Chordettes.

We practiced painting & drawing lollipops. 
Gillian got the swirling rainbow circle action down pretty well. 
She was loving it.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Our Table + Five

Just for fun.
If you could have 5 famous people to your house for dinner,
who would you invite?

I have a table planned.
Well, the guests, anyway. 
I’ll have to think about the menu some more.
Keith Green
I love how crazy passionate he was for Jesus.
The fact that he seemed to always speak his mind.
would have made for exciting dinner conversation.
Plus he had crazy hair.

Julia Child
She had such a zest for life. 
She was such a genuine person.
She enjoyed good food.
I love reading her writings.
So, I think I would love to have her at my dinner table, too.

George Grant
I like to watch him talk.  (The way he moves his mouth is interesting.)
He’s really smart & knows a lot of cool stuff.
Plus he likes good food & he would wear a bow tie.

Elisabeth Elliot
I totally admire her & think she is pretty amazing.
Her books are great.
She is a wise woman.
 She knows how to get her point across well.
She has a lot of amazing stories to tell.
She would be more than welcome at my table.

Nigella Lawson
Because I was just watching her on the cooking channel
& she is so classy.
I love listening to her talk.
And, she would probably bring a fabulous hostess gift.

Alright.  Now you go blog about your table + five & link here in the comments.
Or, if you don’t want to blog it out on your own spot, just give us you list of 5 here.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Semi-Homemade Tagalong Taste-Alikes

I am not a Sandra Lee fan. 
I believe in the superiority of baked-from-scratch goods.
But a couple weeks ago, I was busting out the semi-homemade goods.
I don’t know.  The stuff just sounded good for some reason.
I made these Peanut Butter Sandwiches.

They look fabulous, no?
They did not meet my expectations.
They tasted totally artificial.
Hmmmm…  I wonder why?
Those were good.  Just cuz, I love rice krispie treats. 
They are amazing to me.

And I made Jello Poke cupcakes.
I was so curious.  I wanted to try it & see what it was like.
Once done, I didn’t understand what the Jello added.
I could hardly taste it & it didn't add a neat-o texture, either.
They would’ve been better without it, I think.

I felt like I was a failure as Sandra Lee. 
It just wasn’t working for me.

So, when Moira’s birthday came around, I made the cupcakes from scratch.
I used my faithful Perfect Cakes cookbook.
Fudge Layer Cake & Butter Cream.
(Although, I always make the Butter Cream.  I detest frosting in a tub.) 

Anyway.  I made a semi-homemade item the other day, again.
I wanted to make treats. 
But there was close to no flour left in the pantry.
I spotted a box of Ritz crackers.
I knew what the treat would be.

This isn’t a Sandra Lee recipe.
My friend Kim made them for us & I fell in love with ‘em.
(Just for the record, she is a great from-scratch baker.  She is not a semi-homemade gal.)
They taste totally like the Girl Scout’s Tagalongs.

Here’s the way to make the Semi Homemade Tagalongs
Open a package of Ritz Crackers.
Slop about 1 cup of Creamy Peanut Butter into a bowl.
Gradually add about ¾ cup of Powdered Sugar, stirring all the while.
Stir in 1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract.
Stir this until it’s nice and smooth.
Spread a spoonful onto the bottom of a Ritz & top it with another Ritz.
Refrigerate your sandwiches for a while.

Now melt about 1 cup of Chocolate Chips.
The best way to melt the chocolate is in a heat safe bowl,
sitting over the top of a pot of simmering water.
Stir, stir, stir until smooth.
Dip the sandwiches into the chocolate.
Don’t be tempted to eat them while warm.
Or else…

They are best cold, from the fridge.
Just like real Tagalong.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

It’s MacDoel planting season again

You know you are in the boonies when –

-          You are happy to drive 5 hours (round trip) for a great meal.
Last Saturday, Scott had to end the planting early, due to very high winds.
That was a bummer for his work. 
But the good news was it gave us enough time to get to our favorite restaurant around here.
By around here, I mean in Ashland (2 ½ hours away).

-          The most exciting thing to do on Sunday night is watch River Monsters.
Scott’s new favorite show.  He can’t wait for the next show.
Next Sunday 7pm can’t come soon enough.

-          You leave 1 ½ hours early for church, 
so that you have a few minutes to stop at Starbucks.
We were a few minutes early to church though.  Not a bad thing.

-          You come home from the market with the best choice for an evening drink – Coors
Really.  I had a Coors.  For the first time ever.
I wondered the very small mart for a long time.  I wanted a red wine.
The choices were all a label called Wild Vines, or something like that.
The varietals of wine all included an “extra” fruit.
e.g Strawberry Zinfandel, Blackberry Merlot.
No thanks.

-          You don’t hesitate to walk past the floor to ceiling windows in just your birthday suit.
There’s no one out there anyway.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Footprints on My Heart

Our son Gabriel was alive for only a few precious minutes after his birth.
But, I know he has left his footprint on the hearts of many.

Through his life & death, there were many people who left sweet footprints on my heart.

In memory of Gabriel's 6 year birth anniversary,
I want to publicly acknowledge some of these people.
(But I also want to say, if you are not mentioned right here, that does not at all mean I forgot you.
There were so many people who loved us so beautifully through our son's life & death.)

Rebecca Hughes
Rebecca gifted Scott & I with private birth classes.  
She loved us by giving us caring information, so we could go into our son's birth prepared.
She congratulated us in the birth of our son, before she offered sympathy for our lost.
She treated his life with dignity.

Alicia Gurnee
Alicia is a doula.  She was truly my caregiver/doula through my pregnancy with Gabriel.  
She was just "there" for me.  For whatever I needed.
She cared for me while I was on bedrest.
She took me to a scary appointment, when my family was all out of town.
She was a quiet comfort.
(btw, if you are wondering how to love someone who is grieving, 
I recommend this approach.)

Dr. Laura Diana
I am so grateful to have Dr. Diana as my OB.
I really believe she is a gift from God to me.
I had heard of her, "a nice OB in town."
I met her that night my water broke 
& we rushed to the hospital.
She was the OB on call.  
My OB was an hour away, at a different hospital.
She was so compassionate & loving toward our son
& toward Scott & I.
She has been my doctor ever since 
& has been there for each of our babies.
(Plus she is an adoptive mom.  
And she was just in Ethiopia on a missions trip last month.
And she brought me the book, 
There is No Me Without you the night Kendall was born.
And wondered out loud when I would ever get time to read it.
I haven't yet.  But I'm gonna.)

Nurses at Watsonville Hospital

Trish - my admittance nurse
We already knew Trish from church.  
She knew our story - Gabriel's story.
God gave us a wonderful gift 
to have Trish at the admittance desk that night.
We didn't have to tell the heartbreaking facts to the staff.
She did it for us.

Laura - my early labor nurse
Laura was so confident & upbeat.
She was what I needed.
I was nervous, unsure, sad…
She was a strength for us.
She told us she was blessed to be our nurse
& she imparted some of her confidence to us.

Heidi - my post delivery nurse
Heidi was tender & compassionate.
She gave us space & time to grieve with our son.
I don’t think I’ll forget her soft spoken kindnesses.
And, I won’t forget how she stood strong for us
when we were ready to give up Gabriel’s body.
She would not allow the nurse who came,
 to wheel him off in a cart, as she had intended.
Heidi firmly told that young lady to carry him.
Carry this sweet body in your arms.  Do not wheel him out of here.

These nurses were a gift to us. Each respectful, kind & strong women.

God gives tender mercies, even through the deep valleys of pain.
I am grateful. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Tradition of No Gifts {Moira Kicking It Off}

Leading up to Moira’s birthday, I thought a lot about presents.
What should we get her?
I kept coming back to one thing – nothing.
No birthday gift.

Scott & I talked about it.
We decided to start a new tradition in our family.
No birthday gifts.

We’ve been trying to lessen the amount of stuff we have around the house.
If we keep getting gifts at every birthday,
even when there is nothing needed or particularly special,
than we are our own worst enemy in the decluttering department.

It takes a lot of stress & pressure off, to eliminate most of the gift giving days.
I like gift giving.  A lot.
But, as our family grows, 
it gets hard for me to keep gift giving what I think it should be.

I feel like my mom did well in teaching us to give thoughtfully.
To plan & be purposed.
To give within your ability, & yet to be generous.
I never felt like gift giving, in my childhood, was a materialistic thing.

Gift giving can be great.
Or not so great.
It can just be motions.
It can be an expectation that puts pressure on the giver.
It can be a waste of money.

Now it seems, as life gets busy
& there are a lot of birthdays & a lot of gifts to give,
gift giving is becoming what I don’t want it to be.

So we are cutting back.
(We will focus on Christmas for the tradition of gift giving.
That’ll give me a whole year to plan for the one day!)

We still celebrate.
We still try to make the birthday person feel special.
We make it their day.
Just not with a new thing to open.

Ways to celebrate without gifts?
·         Birthday person choosing meals
·         Special  cake or treats
·         An outing
·         A celebration place setting for the honored person
(We haven’t done this one yet, but I want to.)
·         Balloons &/or other decorations
·         Party Hats or a birthday crown

How about you?  
How do you make the birthday person feel special & honored?

My Little Helper

While Daddy was away, my big girl rose to the challenge of being momma's little helper.
(Imperfectly, of course.  Come on!  She's 4! 
Plus, we're all imperfect at our calling, no matter what our age. 
She gave it a good effort, though.  I am proud of her.)

Gillian helped me out with bedtime on a couple evenings.
The first time was a night Kendall was super fussy &
needed bedtime rocking right in the middle of bedtime for the big kids.
So, I asked her to read them a story.
I came back after Kendall was down to Gillian "reading" them one of our bug books.
"Okay kids, what kind is this one?"  She was asking as she pointed to each one.
Then she would give them the answer.  She can identify way more bugs than I can.
I thanked her for doing such a good job reading & taking care of the kids.
She told me, "It wasn't because of me, Mom.  They were just really good."
(What?!!?  Where did she learned to be so gracious & generous?!)

The next time I asked her to help, things had been going fine with all 4 of them,
until Kendall pooped upward out of her diaper, onto her back &
also onto my pants upon which she was resting...
I asked Gillian if she would read to the kids while I cleaned up myself & the baby.
She said, "Oh yes.  I love helping out with the kids mom!"  Okay!
As I walked out of the room she was directing them to the bookcase to pick out their stories.
I could hear her "reading" while I changed the baby.  It was SO cute.
I tried to then capture it on video camera but my disc was full &
I couldn't find another.  So typical of me & video cameras...

Here's some photos though, of the proud big sister, with her siblings.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


This is going to be brief.
We have a poor computer/internet situation.
Computer seems to be on the fritz.
Internet connection is extremely spotty.
But, both are working at the moment.

So, last week, I was solo with the kids for over 8 days.
That was a tough one for me.
I am so used to having Scott here & fully present.
It was a huge challenge to have him away that long.
Plus, he had been in Europe. 
So, he is just now coming back into our local time zone.

It's so nice to be together again!
What a gift!
Happy Mother's Day to me!

I have no ability to upload photos or spend much time on the WWW. 
I do miss the online stuff.
But, I am reading Julia Child's My Life in France instead of blogs.
That's not a bad thing, I think.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Little Mo - My Crazy

Our Moira turns two on Sunday.

(Rats.  I've never been good at sharing special days.  
You & me, baby!  Mother's Day & MoMo's Day.)

She is a crazy little fireball.
She cracks us up with her silliness.
And, at times, concerns us with her fieriness.

The words she has now are fabulous.
She will often shout, "I did it!!"jumping up with her hands to the sky.
If will tell her not to do something, she will reply, "okay, I won't."
If we ask her to do something, she says, "okay, I will."
(The respectful replies are heartwarming.
Whether or not she follows through in action is another story to be told.)

She loves to run & jump & & skip & tease.
She's rough & tumble,
but loves pretty things,
and she loves the baby.
"Ooooooooo  BABY!" (giggle, giggle squeal)
I have noticed that a newborn baby crying seems to bother most little kids.
They get sad about it.
Not Moira.  She gets excited.
She seems to think it is funny.
It makes her laugh.

She loves a good lap cuddle.
But, when she is done she'll give you a head butt on her way off of your lap.

She has such a brightness in her little eyes.
People take notice of her almost immediately.

Moira, may that brightness in your eyes always remain.
May your laughter be a celebration of God's goodness.
May the fire in your heart burn with a passion for Jesus.
May your crazy spirit be ever ready for the adventure God takes you on.

Happy Day sweet daughter.
We love you!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Working the Land

Last weekend we spent some time hanging out at my parent's house.
It happened to be "work day" at the house.
So, everyone was doing chores.
Except me.
I just sat on the couch & talked.
And, went to a little antique sale down the road with my mom & sis.
I found a find.

They told me this is a Harlequin.
Whatever it is, I like it.

Back to the people doing work.
The kids picked up rocks & sticks, so Grandpa could do tractoring.  
Then, after the tractor work was done, 
they each got to drive the tractor up & down the driveway.
They were so happy!

This week's "embrace" is with Grandpa
Photos by my sister Liz!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Gift from My Mother - Real Play

I was reading these good posts on "Real Play" over at Having Fun at Home.
I couldn't help but think of my own childhood.
It was filled with real play of which I have very happy memories.
I am so grateful my mom fostered that in us.

Real Play really does seem magical.
I mean, check out this fort my sister found on Pinterest.

Magical, no?
That was us.  But our version was better.
We sat above the citrus trees, engulfed in Passion Flower vines.
The vines were strong enough that we actually used it as the rope ladder.
It was amazing.  It was one of the places where magical real play took place.

Until the day our mom had our brother cut down the vine so the citrus tress would live...

I want to learn to foster real play amongst my children.
I want to give them that gift.

Monday, May 2, 2011

How Do You Do It?

Some people ask me that sometimes.
"How do you do it?"
"It" usually being - have a lot of kids close together & staying sane.

I don't know what I usually answer.
Something lame like, "it's not always easy" probably.

The right answer would be, I can't & I don't.
I can't live the life I feel called to live, apart from the One who called me.

This evening was an example to myself.
And to my kids.
We were rather a mess around here, in every sense.
Tear stained faces, muddy hands, filthy floors & cluttered counters.
I can't go to bed until I fold a mountain of laundry that is on it right now.

I am not a rock star mom & I am not superwoman.
Most all of you know that.
But, I'm just sayin'.  I'm not.

But, I am able to accomplish what God has for me,
playing my part with grace & love,
if it is the power of the Holy Spirit in me.
And only then.

I have a challenging week right now, friends.
I don't want to give a list of the dramas.
And, I can't say why it is hard.
But, I know I am able, in Christ, to walk rightly.

Pray for me!
That I would not quench the Spirit.
That I would walk in His power.

How can we do hard things?  In the power of the Spirit.

p.s.  talking of the Spirit reminds me a good conversation Gillian & I in the car last week.
I should write it here before I forget.
She had me a bit stumped in the explaining...
"Mom, when we get to Heaven, will we be able to see Jesus?"
Yes sweetie!  That is when we will get to see Jesus face to face!
"But won't we just see right through Him?"
Um.  No.
"But God is Spirit & we can't see Him."
Well.  That's true.
Jesus is God in person, though.  Jesus has a resurrected body.  
I don't know exactly what it looks like, but He has a body.  And we will see Him.
"Well, but if God is spirit, & He has a body, that doesn't make sense.  
Because Jesus is God & that should be the same."


This Sunday the pastor quoted Augustine saying,
"If you deny the trinity you lose your soul, 
if your try to explain the trinity you shall lose your mind."
I laughed at that.  I knew the feeling.

What is Lovely?

Today is Life Made Lovely Monday.
I was thinking this morning about the question,
what is really lovely?

A perfect outfit, or a beautiful home,
a lush garden, gorgeous food,
or adorable crafts, or a fabulous party?

All those things can be lovely.
But, that's not all.
There needs to be more to it than that.
You know, as in Proverbs 11:22
"As a ring of gold in a swine's snout, 
So is a beautiful woman that is without discretion."
(Don't you just love the picture that verse paints in your mind?)

Anyway.  I threw a party this morning.  And it could not be called fabulous.

The company was great.  
The weather was lovely.  
We had some treats.

They are eating rice krispie balls on a stick.  The idea didn't turn out as well as I had hoped.  But, it worked okay.

And we had some fun.

But there was a lot of crazy.
Like I was late for my own party.
Like my kids had some crazy meltdowns.
And just the normal hecticness of having 17 tiny kids running around.
We got worn out today.  

But, you know what is lovely?
Friends coming together for the purpose of blessing someone in need.
Our party at the playground was a Love for Anika party.

With the mom's bringing the $20 for the fundraiser + kids giving their own change,
together we raised $200.64 for Anika's adoption funds.

Gillian wants to make sure that nothing happens to any of the money.
She is sad for Anika & praying for her to find a family.  

Like one of the little boys at the party said, 
it will be great when she gets a mom & dad "so they can say hi to her".
His mommy said, "Yes that.  And SO much more."

Life is lovely when we share the love.

P.S.  do you like my new blog design?  Katy did it!  I love it!
Contact Life Made Lovely Designs for your own!