Sunny Saturday

We are coming off a tough week. I received a good reminder from one of my favorite little girls: My God is so BIG, so STRONG and so MIGHTY...there's nothing my God cannot do.  That girl is a truth teller.  And then there were glimmers of hope and redemption in some lives that are so dear and close to us. I am so thankful to serve a God that is bigger than the hard and ugly things of this world and can redeem anything and anyone.  

On a lighter note, it was a beautiful sun-shiny week on the Trail.  We had five stellar days of sunshine and 70 degrees and it doesn't get much better. Today I'm sharing some things that made my week a bit sunnier and a lifted my spirits.

Reading is one of my favorite things to do when I get the time to do it.  Tsh Oxenreider released a new book At Home in the World this spring and after reading it I have been going back and reading her other books.  Organized Simplicity is a book about intentional living and I am speed reading it.  A lot of the tips I already have implemented because I read Tsh's blog as well as devour other simple living books, but it's a good read nonetheless.  I just love Tsh...check her out at http://theartofsimple.net.  On a side note, I recently started checking out books from the library and have already saved loads of money.  And, guys, I can put them on hold online and just pick them up. Genius.

Give me all the white pumpkins.  One of these years I'm going to do my wallet a favor and buy some white pumpkin seeds.  #nextyear?  I picked this guy up at Trader Joe's and he is as imperfect as they come, which is why I love him.  It sits simply on the brick by my wood burning stove.  Jude uses it help himself stand up and Luke and Lily sit on it and take turns trying to pick it up while I tell them in my nicest mom voice to 'please-put-it-back-down-noooowwww'. This scenario is on repeat all day long.

Do you have a friend who just oozes love and thoughtfulness?  I am blessed with many and one of them sent me this beautiful runner for my dining room table this week.  It was a sweet surprise and perfect for this time of year.  It came from Etsy if you want to find one similar.  Thank you dear friend.  I love you!

It is soup weather!!!  I love a good soup, especially if it's served with some fresh bread.  My gardener extraordinaire mother-in-law has a bunch of butternut squash and I have used them to make this delicious roasted squash soup twice in two weeks.  The hardest part is cutting the squash, but I have a trick passed down from Kevin's Grandma Turner.  Simply slice a few lines down the squash and microwave for 3-4 minutes and it is much, much easier to cut.  (Thanks Grandma Turner!!) You should definitely get this soup in your dinner rotation.  

We are spending the weekend with family, which is always so good.  Have a Sunny Saturday, all!


24 Hours

I had an epiphany the other day.  I was almost mad at myself for not coming to the conclusion sooner.  I was looking at my calendar as Kevin and I were discussing our upcoming week.  I looked a few weeks ahead and saw some BIG weeks.  Things to get done, places to be, celebrations to be had.  All fun things, all good things, all things I really, truly want to do.  And then I realized I might not be able to do them all.  There might not be enough time to do all the things and foster family relationships at home.  I only have 24 hours in day and it just isn't enough to do everything I want to do right now. (Anyone else??!!)

Then my epiphany came...everyone has 24 hours in a day.  I'm not the only person looking at the calendar thinking there aren't enough hours in a day. Others are doing this, too.  My neighbors, friends, parents, my barista (unless she's in college because let's be real, there is a plethora of time during those years), my in-laws, our mail man, my sweet husband.  They all have 24 hours, just like me.  We all get to choose what to do with those 24 hours we are given everyday.  

I get to choose what my 24 hours looks like each day. It's up to me.

As I looked and debated and went back and forth about what to say 'yes' to and what to let go, I decided I needed to set some boundaries.  I need to make decisions within the lens of what matters most to me during this season.  As I processed this, being present with my family came first, along with my relationship with God, and loving my extended family and my girlfriends.  I also thought about my passion for women in the trenches of motherhood.  I decided I needed to work on cutting out anything that wasn't within the scope of those things.  Use my 24 hours for the things that mean the most to me, especially in this full season with three littles at home.  

As I journey to this goal of only doing things that are of high priority to me, some things will fall to the wayside.  I don't need to be spending time on social media as much, I need to be spending time writing about my passions more.  I don't need to be spending time worrying about what Suzie thinks of me because I said 'no' to a request (a request that was good and needed, by the way), I need to be investing in my family more.  I don't need to be filling our calendar to the brim, but instead leave some margin to breathe.

My patient husband would say I have a long ways to go on this, but I want to take steps in the right direction.  I want to be in charge of the 24 hours I am gifted each day and use it for the purpose God has called me to.  I want to live in the everyday, in the simple moments, the meaningful minutes and hours that make up my time at home with my children and my husband.  I want to choose how my 24 hours look and not let it get decided by others. I want to make my 24 hours count.


Sunny Saturday

What a week.  We actually had to crank on the heat in the middle of the week, because it got chilly...around 40 degrees.  And then today I am sitting outside typing away in the sunshine.  Oh the diversity of fall!  This week was a MOPS week, so I was able to be with my mom friends and, as always, it filled my cup.

Today I'm sharing some things that made my week a bit sunnier.

First up, I am on a bread making kick lately.  My Cooking Club girls have tasted my failed, unleavened bread, but I think I might have turned a corner. #fingerscrossed  This week I whipped up a loaf that looked and smelled and tasted heavenly.  One of my goals in life right now is to be a woman who bakes bread.  You could call it one of my values (ha).  Practice makes perfect and my carb-loving children don't mind the job of taste testing one bit.

Being flexible.  My personality wants to know what is going on a week from now...yesterday.  Unfortunately for my brain, the world doesn't quite work that way.  Instead, I am left being pulled in a different direction at 1:00 in the afternoon than was on my schedule at 6:00 in the morning.  On Tuesday of this last week as we headed home from the city, we watched combines, grain carts, grain trucks, and tractors busily working on our fields across from our home. I was planning on completing some school activities, but instead, spent the next hour and a half either riding in a combine or watching one.  Don't get me wrong, it was an absolute joy for me to watch my babes get giddy with excitement over the big green machines.  The discomfort I felt with the change in schedule was not fun, but so worth it after I watched my children's wide eyes and thought about it later that afternoon.  They learned so much more watching and riding in those combines than I could have taught them in an hour at the kitchen counter.  Flexibility is a skill I am attempting to obtain through practice and experience.  I have a feeling it will be a life long journey...

Pumpkins.  You probably have one on your porch right now.  We have little ones scattered throughout the house and I picked up a bunch of small ones at a farm stand down the road.  Luke and Lily painted a few this week and it kept them busy for a good thirty minutes.  One can never have too many pumpkins.  Yes?

Beyond Belief is a campaign our church is currently engaged in to surrender more of ourselves to God and grow in generosity.  I love how our church community intentionally thinks about the future and dreams of more people hearing about Jesus.  I'm all in and am personally praying to hear from God to see how He would use me during this endeavor.

Today we are watching football (obviously) and prepping for our Journey Group bonfire tomorrow afternoon.  Fall really is one of my favorite times of year! Have a Sunny Saturday, all!


8 months of Jude

This past weekend my father-in-law was talking about how Jude will be 8 months this week.  I corrected him in my head because Jude wasn't going to be 8 months, but 7 months old.  Then, I did the math and I caught myself.  My father-in-law was right.  My third baby is turning 8 months old...today.  Bless his heart, he is the most easy going, rough and tough baby I know.  His older siblings have pretty much determined he must have this personality.  

Our sweet Jude is stealing more and more of our hearts day by day.  Here is what he has been up to this past month:

  • Jude is standing, crawling, and carefully walking around things while he holds on.  He is a bruiser and got his most recent bruise to the head this week when he crawled into the corner of a wall.
  • Sleep has gotten so much better for Jude.  He is taking two naps a day with his longer one being in the afternoon with his siblings.  He sleeps a solid 11-12 hours at night.  
  • Jude's chunky thighs speak to his love for food.  He nurses three times a day and takes three bottles.  He is now chowing down on real food and eats breakfast, lunch, and dinner with us.  He is partial to pears, peaches, and broccoli.
  • There isn't much that can beat Jude's giggle.  It is the back of the throat kind and it makes me smile every. single. time.  
  • Jude loves to spend time outside, especially in the swing.  He is just like his brother and sister.
  • Two pearly whites now stick out from Jude's bottom gums.  They weren't too traumatic for him, so let's hope the rest come in the same way.
  • Exploring is at the front of Jude's mind all the time and, unfortunately for Luke and Lily, he has started to love to crawl to their rooms and get into their toys.
  • Giggles fill the bathroom when Jude takes a bath.  It's still one of his favorite times of day with Daddy.

Our little man is so easy to love and smother with hugs and kisses and snuggles.  We simply adore him.


Birthday Boy

My kids are giddy with excitement about celebrating the 'birthday boy' today. They have been anticipating this day all week...making birthday brownies and opening presents and watching a special movie and singing Happy Birthday to their Daddy.  You will find us today at home, watching football, and loving on the main man in our life.  

Happy Birthday to the guy we call Daddy, babe, and Daaaaaadddddyyyyyy.  We love our life with you.

Finally, Fall

Finally, fall.  It is absolutely here.  The perfect season in rural Iowa when the temperature drops just enough to dig out leggings and hoodies and the fields are golden with the glow of harvest just around the corner.  I am donning leggings as I sit with my feet up and windows open wide.  Like everyone else in the country, I am singing the praises of this glorious season.  There is something about the change in what we see, eat, drink, and smell that makes us feel more alive.  I am on the fall bandwagon.

Today I'm sharing some things that have made life just a bit sunnier.

First up, MOMCon.  If you follow me on Instagram, you know I attended a conference with mommas from around the world in Kansas City.  I was only able to be there for twenty four hours, but I packed a lot in.  I was able to hear from Bob Goff, worship with Elevation Worship, have Erin Loechner all to myself, and the best part of all, spend some quality, uninterrupted time with some of my favorite girls.  It was splendid.  Although I didn't purchase any momentos while I was there, I did get this nifty water bottle in our welcome bag and I have been using it all week long.  Lesson of the week: two littles who can reach the counter requires a water bottle with a lid.

Next up, this Wax Buffalo 'The Orchard' candle.  It is bursting with the scent of fall and I am absolutely in love with it.  Enough said.

Kevin's grandpa passed away two weeks ago.  He built the house we are now raising our family in and left a strong farming legacy to the next generation. His life was honored last weekend and for a guy in his 90s, he sure did have a lot of people come out to celebrate him.  These flowers have been brighting up our kitchen and reminding us of him. 

Anyone else making applesauce?  There is a lot more input than output for a jar of homemade applesauce, but I find it's a simple luxury.  It's not complicated, but not easy, and takes some time and care.  The result, though, is warm, smooth fall-in-a-jar goodness.  Most of the time, I leave out the sugar.

Today is my sweet husband's birthday.  We will be celebrating by staying home and eating good food and watching football all day, per his request.  I can definitely get behind that.  Have a Sunny Saturday, all!


Motherhood Matters

Lily and I are rocking back and forth, back and forth in the worn chair in her room.  She is stroking my neck as I pray words of affirmation and encouragement over her.  I stop and ask quietly, 'would you like to pray, Lily?'  She says yes, folds her hands and starts mumbling softly under her breath, talking to Jesus 'in her heart'.  She then prays aloud and thanks God for her 'beautiful Mommy' and her 'princess Mommy' and her Mommy that has 'beautiful hair'.  My mouth slowly turns upwards into a wide smile and I feel my eyes wet with tears. This girl of mine is saying the most wonderful things about me.  And she doesn't even know that I haven't washed my 'beautiful hair' in five days.

How in the world does my almost three year old know to pray these things?  How does she know her words bring power and meaning?  By the end of her prayer, it clicks.  She is saying these wonderful things because night after night after night I have been thanking God for her.  I thank God for the way she is kind and sweet to her brothers, how she makes us laugh, the way she is friendly to the people around her.  (I leave out: 'please help Lily to keep her hands to herself when her brother does something irritating and please, God, help her to obey when I tell her to please put on her underwear'.  Yes, I leave those out.) I have been doing this for months and my Lily has caught on and is experimenting with this thing called prayer.

Five minutes of prayer time with my Lily taught me so much.  It taught me what I do matters.  It taught me she is always watching and listening.  It taught me I absolutely have an incredible influence on each and every one of my children.

Not every day or moment is as sweet and momentous as that five minutes before bed with Lily, but everyday and every moment matters.  It matters how I respond and react and communicate with my babes.  It matters how much I tell them I love them.  It matters if my face is in front of my phone all day or my eyes are gazing their way.  These things all matter because Kevin and I are the single most influential people in their lives.  I would do well to remember that.

The simple prayer from my baby girl reminded me I am vital in Luke, Lily, and Jude's lives.  I'm not just feeding, clothing, and bathing children.  I'm not just keeping them alive from day to day.  (Although those things alone equate to a full time job.)  I am building character.  I am (hopefully) modeling Christ-like love to them and our friends and neighbors.  I am teaching them about laughter and family and making a meal and relationships and Jesus and nature and prayer.

This motherhood gig is not a runner-up career.  It's not second-best and it's not just a supporting role. It's the whole shebang.  It's important.  It's vital.  It's necessary if we want our earth populated with loving, caring, kind human beings.  Whether you are a stay-at-home momma or a momma working 9-5, your motherhood role is imperative and influential for your babes.

I know I'm preaching to the choir, but sometimes we all need a reminder that being a mom is more than wiping bottoms and putting our littles in time-out. Moms matter.  Deeply and immensely.

So, if no one tells you today...

Momma, you are important.  You are loved.  Your work day in and day out for your family matters to them and to God.  You are shaping the minds and character of tomorrows mothers and fathers and teachers and scientists and aunts and cousins and neighbors and politicians and pastors and caregivers. 

Those five minutes with Lily will forever be embedded in my memory and my heart.  And if I didn't know before, I know now.  My sweet girl doesn't know the difference between five day old hair and newly washed hair. #blessherheart 

And Motherhood matters. 


Sunny Saturday

Fall might be just around the corner, but it still feels a bit like summer here on the Trail.  It hit 90 degrees a couple days this week and as badly as I wanted to pull on my sweat pants, mother nature had me reaching for my shorts for a little while longer.

Our homeschool routine is getting a little bit better each week and I feel like we maybe, could be, in a bit of a groove.  I have had to say 'no' a few times to friends getting together and playdates, but I know it's all part of this season.  We try and say 'yes' as much as we can, but know we need to be home a certain number of days during the week to complete preschool activities.

This week I'm sharing some things that made this week a bit sunnier.

Youtube.  As a new homeschooler, I have been using Youtube for mini lessons and songs and a reward for completed school work.  They are almost always short and under ten minutes, but they provide value to our learning and give Luke an extra incentive to get his work done.  

Our preschool theme this month is apples.  We have been painting with apples, performing apple experiments, counting with apples, and reading loads of books about apples.  Even though we have a plethora of apples right outside our door, a friend asked us to go to the apple orchard and it was a perfect way to tie everything together.  Tress, Shrubs, and More is a sweet orchard.  It is small and quiet and my littles loved running down the rows and pulling their wagons while apples bobbed inside.  After we tasted all the apples we could, we went to the nursery and I picked up this ornamental kale and purple aster.  The kids helped me plant them this week and they look so fall-y on the back deck.

As most of you know, I am an avid reader of anything in the genre of simple living.  I recently subscribed to a quarterly online magazine called Simplify Magazine.  I signed up for a lifetime subscription for a mere twenty bucks and have loved every single article that has come across my screen.  Two of my favorite simple living gurus, Joshua Becker and Tsh Oxenreider, created this magazine, among others.  You can still snag a lifetime subscription for $20 if it's something that peaks your interest.

As I mentioned in my last post, Kevin's parents are raking in the homegrown goodies.  They have been so generous with their zucchini and I have been baking bread like it's 1950.  This zucchini bread is so tasty, my kids will stuff it into their tiny mouths any chance they get.  In college I would make zucchini bread with a hand held shredder like those mommas doing their thing in the 50s and this time around I am using my food processor and it. is. life. changing. I can whip this bread up and have it in the oven in twenty minutes.  It's perfect for a mid morning snack break.

I am spending today celebrating a friend's birthday and then it's football, football, football all weekend long.  Hope you have a Sunny Saturday wherever you may be today! 


Sunny Saturday

I know fall is officially a few weeks away, but everyone knows after Labor Day it's okay to pick apples, order a pumpkin spice latte, and cozy up in leggings and sweaters (weather permitting).  I'm not in full fledged fall mode, yet, but this week we did sleep with our windows open a few nights and pick some pumpkins because the kids were begging to...so I guess I'm easing into it.  

Today I'm sharing some in-progress fall things that made my week a bit sunnier.

My in-laws are pros at growing things on the farm.  Bless them, we get to benefit from the apples, zucchini, squash, grapes, and green beans they have carefully grown from seed to plant this time of year.  We have been eating all we can of the fresh produce and have enjoyed picking apples every chance we get. On Monday we even borrowed their juicer and made fresh apple juice.  The kids love this time of year almost as much as I do.  Luke has been begging to make a pie, so we are going to try this recipe sometime soon, with a Pillsbury crust of course because momma doesn't have time for that.

It was a Cooking Club week.  Horray for extra time with girlfriends!  My cup was filled in the midst of our first days of homeschooling.  I needed some adult conversation, friends.  My friend, Nicole, picked the theme of Mexican night and it was simply delightful.  The food was over the top and the conversation just what I needed this week.  My friend, Lydia, literally threw together this incredible dessert and we all were speechless as we ate it.  She did something similar to this ice cream cake, except substituted roasted pumpkin seeds for cornflakes and put a layer of salted chocolate sauce in the middle.  There isn't much I wouldn't do for another piece of that deliciousness.

Football.  Kevin and I always look forward to the last weekend in August because: football.  My Hawkeyes are playing his Cyclones today and you can better believe our house will be divided for a few hours this weekend...all in good fun.  This is the one time we will fight over who gets to dress all the children.

Many of you know our family took a two week road trip a few weeks back.  It was absolutely wonderful, but I did lose a few house plants during our time away. I feel it's my duty to tell you about one of the few that made it.  This jade plant looks exactly the same since the first day I planted it.  After two weeks without water or sun rotation, it is still kicking.  This is a public service announcement for all you black thumbed girls like me.  It seems this plant can't be killed.

This last one was a gift from a dear friend.  This Be You print from lovewell handlettered means a lot to me because I have found myself in a season of rediscovering who I am not just as a mom, but as a woman.  Motherhood is my dream come true and part of my identity.  However, God created me with other gifts to use on this journey.  I am working on honing in on those gifts and using them for good.  

I hope you have a great weekend.  I could be hiding all the Cyclone gear before the game starts this morning in hopes all three of my littles will be adorned in Hawkeye attire.  If I can pull it off, you can catch it on Instagram.  Have a Sunny Saturday all!


7 months

'You're such a cuuuuute baby.  Yessss youuuu are.'

Those are the words that escape Lily's mouth almost every time she lays eyes on her baby brother.  There is no doubt, he is loved.

Our Jude is 7 months young today.  He is acting like a nine month old and I just can't handle all he is doing these days.  He is making his baby days fly by.  Here is what Jude has been up to this past month:

  • Jude is crawling and standing and this makes him happy.  He is on the move, all the time.
  • Apples, pears, peas, strawberries, peaches...Jude loves food.  He is eating with us these days and gets giddy when he sees a baby pouch appear.
  • Bottles are another one of Jude's favorite things.  He nurses three times a day and gets three bottles a day.  He is most definitely our chunkiest baby.
  • Jude loves to be kissed and snuggled and loves it when raspberries are blown on his belly or arm or neck. 
  • As much as Jude loves standing or crawling, he wants to be held often.  We don't mind, most of the time.
  • Jude takes two significant naps a day and sleeps from 7-7 at night.  We started sleep training when we returned from vacation and he is catching on.
  • Bathtime is officially done in the bathtub these days and is needed everyday.  He is a mess from eating food and needs to be dunked and scrubbed every night.  
  • Winter is going to be brutal for Jude because he loves being outside in the sun.  He has also discovered the swing this past month and can't get enough.

We just love this kid to pieces.  Slow down big guy.

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