(A Rainy) Sunny Saturday

Where did spring go?  This weekend we are expecting nothing but clouds, rain, and temperatures unfit for flip-flops.  The good news is rain means less time working outside and more time enjoying each other all weekend long.  There are pancakes, hide-and-seek, and lots of books on the docket for today.  I'm a sucker for rainy days and the atmosphere it generates as the clouds part and precipitation falls from the sky.

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

First up, moms.  Hello?!  Moms are the best.  I know it's not Mother's Day, yet, but my mom was here all week and I feel like a brand new person after having some rest, a couple dates with my man, and a few afternoons alone with my thoughts at Starbucks.  Moms are awesome and I boast one of the best.  Call your mom today and tell her thank you...she loves you more than you can imagine.

Next up are lilacs.  These purple beauties have been filling my home by the handful and I can't stop picking them.  Either can my children.  They each want a few branches in their rooms at all times.  I am not complaining because the scent that floats through the house is one of my favorites.  It is making these rainy days a little more delightful.

I have mentioned this couple's Q & A journal before and Kevin and I took a sabbatical from it for awhile and are back at it.  We realized we needed to connect more on a daily basis and this book is the perfect format for us to do just that each and every day.  It gives us something to talk about that is not work related nor kid related.  It's what we need right now in this season.

My grandma's china made an appearance on my dining room table this week for Cooking Club.  Six ladies made the almost hour trek to my house to have a night of spring dishes and good conversation. I love pulling out this china whenever I get the chance and it went with our spring menu so well.  Even if I have to hand wash each dish, it is absolutely worth it.

Last, is my friend, Diane, and her husband, Russ', podcast.  A Guy, A Girl, and A Kid celebrated their 100th episode this week and did a live episode after our Journey Group meeting on Tuesday night.  It was so so much fun!  These two crack me up and I look forward to tuning in every week to hear their funny banter back and forth.  You should check them out.

I hope you have a Sunny Saturday wherever you may be today, despite the rain!  


Sunny Saturday

The rain could possibly be gone for awhile.  After a week of gloomy days, storms, and mud up to our knees, I am crossing my fingers and hoping for some sunny skies and warm days.  This week was one of slowing down and regrouping. We spent some time at the library with a good friend, had a few dinners with family, played at one of our friends' house down the road, and then stayed put and entertained ourselves in the mud the rest of the week. 

If you live in the midwest, you love this time of year.  The trees are in bloom and green is popping up all over the place.  It's pretty wherever you look and there is a sense of wonder and anticipation in the air.

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

First up is this book At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenredier.  I have been anxious to get my hands on this book for a month now and my pre-ordered copy came in the mail on Tuesday.  It is a lovely compilation of Tsh's travels with her family, including her three young children.  It is a page turner and one of those books I absolutely don't want to end.  

As I mentioned, spring has definitely arrived on the Trail.  We have beautiful purple blossoms on many of our trees and hostas, daffodils, lilac, tulips, and iris sprouting up as if to show off all the colors of the rainbow.  The outside has been making its way inside by way of adventures and I have been plucking some branches every now and again to beautify our living space for 0 dollars. 

On Easter Sunday, our church, along with many others in Omaha, Nebraska, launched a campaign about love.  Love Can is a movement meant to draw others together through love.  Over 30,000 people have committed to do 35 acts of love for 35 consecutive days, totaling over a million random acts of love or kindness.  This incredible active push to make our city come together in Christ is going to do big things for the kingdom.  I would love it if you are a local to join me in performing acts of love for the next 30 days!  And if you aren't a local, you can join in on the fun as well.  Some ideas I have been brainstorming: send a note of encouragement to someone I haven't spoken to in awhile, push someone's cart back to the store in the parking lot, leave a batch of cookies for the mail man, give a small gift to Luke's teacher, do one of Kevin's 'chores'  without prompting, open the door for someone.  Just think if we all looked for things to do for others everyday.  How different our world we be!  I would love to hear any ideas you have for random acts of love!

Not only do I love Tsh Oxenredier's book, but I devour her podcast, The Simple Show, every week.  She has three co-hosts and they discuss travel, books, and life at home.  I look forward to listening every week and I'm sure you will, too.  Tune in and give it a try.

I hope you have a great weekend wherever you may be today.  I have a feeling we will be outside all. day. long.  Have a Sunny Saturday, friends!


At Home on the Trail

Today, a book has been released into the world about being #athomeintheworld. I have been following along with Tsh Oxenreider over at The Art of Simple for awhile now and love her philosophy of simple living at home and abroad.  At Home in the World just got plopped into my hands by the UPS man and I cannot wait to delve into Tsh's trip around the world with her family.  I listened to the first chapter on her podcast, and guys...it's so good!  

In honor of her much anticipated book, I am sharing where I feel most at home in this great, big world. 

The sun is lazily making its way down the horizon and shining its fuzzy, magical glow over the fields;  an early spring dusk smack dab in the middle of flyover country.  We are meandering on a trail up and over the hill where we see fields for miles with daffodils and feathers in our hands. Treasures from our adventure.  My four year old Luke glides on his mud covered bike up ahead while his sister, Lily, stops to check out a ladybug atop a dandelion.  "Momma, it's a ladybug."  While we discover and intensely study fifteen ladybugs, birds sing all around us, oblivious to our presence.  Kevin and I stroll with our littlest man, Jude, at the back, making sure to savor the scene of another adventure in the books.

Muddy tires.  Check.  Dirty fingernails.  Check.  Tears because we have to go inside.  Check.  Check. 

The sun disappears and we make our way down another hill, stop and pick a few more dandelions and daffodils and arrive at our garden.  The kids 'help' dig up a few weeds as they try and 'forestall' the inevitable bedtime retreat. Finally we make it to our back door and boots with weeks' worth of mud on them are kicked off before we step inside for baths and goodnight kisses.  

Adventures with my babies on the Trail in rural Iowa is where I feel at home in the world. Growing up in the city I never dreamed I would live on a gravel road with my nearest neighbor a half mile away, yet here I am... and wouldn't change a thing.  The simple act of discovering a new robin's nest or digging in the dirt or stopping to listen to the bees buzz or watching Luke pull Lily in a rusty, red rider wagon as they hunt for sticks.  Those are the things giving me all the feelings as sweet as the blossoms on the trees... and I can't help but feel at home


A Sunny Easter Weekend

Happy Easter weekend, friends!  Although this can sometimes be a somber holiday, I am ready to celebrate the act of unthinkable love Jesus showed to all of us.  I'm pretty sure him conquering death calls for a celebration.  

Today as I reflect on the incredible sacrifice the God I serve made for me, I am in awe of the love and grace I have been given.  There is nothing that could make my week sunnier than knowing I am loved and known by Christ.  He has chosen me, loves me, and has made me to do things for His kingdom.  It doesn't get much sunnier than the God of the universe showing up for me. 

So, in honor of all this weekend celebrates, I am simply going to say what Jesus did on the cross is more than enough to make my week and my Saturday sunny.  It's more than enough for this week and every week.  Have the best weekend my friends.  You can find me partying all weekend to glorify the one who paid the ultimate price for me.  

Happy Easter, everyone!


10 Things for Spring

Spring is here.  God gave us a great gift with the changing of the seasons here in the midwest.  The anticipation of green grass, blue skies, warm sunshine, and longer days make life more beautiful after the cold, monotone days of winter.

The weather has been rainy and cold here the past few weeks, but the temperature has made an upward climb and the sun has decided to make an appearance.  Spring is in the air.

My babes have been a little cooped up these winter months, especially with a newborn in our home.  Going outside in the cold is a little more difficult with a fragile babe, so we couldn't be more excited about warmer temps and permission to head outside and breathe some fresh air.

I've come up with a list of things we plan to do this spring that include both indoor and outdoor activities to enjoy during these unpredictable wet, dry, warm, cold days of spring.

1.  Check out baby chicks.

Everyone loves a free outing.  Many farm stores have loads of baby chicks for sale this time of year.  After church on Sunday we headed to our local store and all I heard out of Lily's mouth for about ten minutes was, 'they're soooooo cute.'  And they were.  If only Kevin would let me take some home...

2.  Plant seeds.

Somehow over the last few years, I have turned into a plant lady.  I'm not super excited about working the dirt with my hands outside this spring and summer, but I don't mind planting a few pots in the house.  Picking up some seeds and letting little hands pour dirt, water the dirt, and tend them might be the epitome of a spring activity.

3.  Let the kids choose a park.  Bring a picnic.

Many times I am the one calling the shots.  We are going to the library.  We are stopping at Target to pick up a few things.  #right  We are meeting friends today.  You get the point.  A few weeks back we had an open day and I let Luke choose what to do and I didn't imagine he would love this so much.  So, this spring I am going to let him pick the park he wants to go to and help me pack the lunch.  It's such a small thing, but I know it will spark excitement and joy in my boy's heart.

4.  Check out books from the library about spring or flowers or Easter.

We have an incredible library in 'town' and we end up there almost weekly to play and check out books.  Since starting homeschool preschool with Luke, I have been more purposeful in what I check out to accompany our letter of the week, a holiday, or what we are studying in 'science'.  We have lots of Easter and spring books at home, but you can bet I will be perusing the shelves for some more to bring home.  Some of my favorite books for this time of year are: God Gave Us EasterThe Tiny SeedIt's SpringPuddlesSpring Is Here, and my favorite, The Three Trees.

5.  Make kebobs for the grill and let the kids help.

I loathe allow my kids to help in the kitchen from time to time.  They love to bake, so I let them scoop and pour and try and not cringe when they spill half a cup of flour on the floor.  This real life stuff helps them learn and grow and my type A personality just needs to take a break when we are baking together.  They don't help much with dinner, so making kebobs will be the perfect opportunity for them to help make something that doesn't involve flour or sugar.  I am thinking these hot dog kebobs would be perfect for my little ones. 

6.  Go on a scavenger hunt and look for pinecones, daffodils, and anything else winter might have left behind.

We are set up to do this easily on the Trail.  There are pinecones everywhere this time of year and daffodils are just starting to bloom.  Luke and Lily love collecting items to take to their rooms, so this is a perfect adventure for a sunny day when we can venture out of the house.

7.  Put on rain boots and play clothes.  Find the biggest puddle and let the kids have free reign.

Again, my type A personality has to take a back seat for this one.  I just ordered new rain boots for both Luke and Lily and my goal this spring is to throw my mud-hating fears to the cold April wind and allow this to happen. Friends out there, please keep me accountable for this and ask if I let my kids go nuts in a puddle sometime in the next few weeks.  (I am still warming up to this one.)

8.  Get a seed catalog or look online for seeds you want to plant in a garden.

We have already ordered our pumpkin and gourd seeds for this year.  We receive a Johnny's Seeds catalog in the mail every year and I let the kids pick out a few varieties, usually in February.  My kids get so excited to pick out their very own seeds and it is definitely a catalog that will keep their attention long after the seeds are ordered.

9.  Find an indoor garden where you live and browse what we get to look forward to this spring and summer.

We are lucky enough to live close to an incredible garden.  Last year I splurged and became a member because the kids love going there and I love a spot that is warm and cozy in the cooler months.  Lauritzen Gardens is a great spot if you are local and right now they have a incredible Lego display with lots of legos for the kids to build tall towers with the single goal of knocking them down.

10.  Dye Easter eggs.  Then make this avocado egg salad, because it is so simple and the best.

Hard boiled eggs are so yummy and easy.  I love dying them with the kids around Easter and talking about Jesus' resurrection as they giggle at the eggs changing color and dye their hands right along with the eggs.  If you want a simpler version of the avocado egg salad, simply mix one smashed avocado with one sliced hard boiled egg and spread on a piece of wheat toast.  Perfection and it really is the taste of spring.

Spring is one of my favorite times of year and I am looking forward to exploring and experiencing this season with my littles.  What are some fun things you do with your babes in the springtime?


Girlie Things for Mother's Day

Last weekend I had some time with my favorite girls from way way back in the tee-pee-each-other's-houses-on-weekends-talk-about-boys-and-eat-whatever-we-want days.  They came to visit and meet our Jude.  It was a delightful weekend filled with lots of lounging on the worn couch, watching the kids dance around with glow sticks, and chatting about our oh so different lives.  It was perfection and, as always, the weekend flew by way too fast.

Today I'm sharing some girlie things from the weekend that I thought would make great Mother's Day gifts (which is right around the corner).  I might even share what I'm hoping to be gifted this Mother's Day from the absolute best husband in all the land.

The sun made an appearance this week and everything is turning green.  It's like I wasn't paying attention and one day woke up and it's spring.  I. love. it.  The kids have been spending every moment they can outside searching for flowers (they don't have to search far), chasing ladybugs, and pulling each other around in the wagon.  Kevin takes the kids on adventures while I stay inside and cuddle Jude and they always bring me back some kind of treasure...a pretty spring branch from a tree, a purple flower, or a daffodil.  You can never go wrong with a springtime bouquet.

Moroccan oil.  I have had my head in the sand because I just discovered this stuff.  Since my hair is a tad lot frizzy, this potion makes it smooth and sleek and presentable.  I can now leave my house without a mass of flyaways sprouting all over my head like the grass seed in my yard.

Isn't this necklace beautiful?  I gifted it to my girlfriends this past weekend from Betsy Farmer Designs and I couldn't resist getting one for myself.  The length on it is precisely what I've been looking for and the simplicity of the circle makes it perfect to wear everyday.

Last Saturday I served up a bacon quiche for breakfast.  It might not be the girl-iest meal around, but I haven't met too many girls who don't like bacon, probably because I live smack dab in the middle of the US of A.  This quiche can be made ahead of time by cutting the cooking time in half and then cooking the rest of the way the day it's served.  It would be perfect dished up with fruit for Easter or Mother's Day or a lazy morning with guests.  

Another thing that made my week sunnier was time.  Time with my friends, time in the car, time.  It's probably the hardest commodity to gift a momma, but I'm sure glad Kevin steps up to the plate and does it.  Time is what I'm hoping for this Mother's Day.  A few hours to recharge and be alone with my thoughts. Being an ambivert (someone between an extrovert and introvert; I learned the term this week), I need a balance between being around friends and family and being alone.  Jude kind of tipped the scales a bit and I am needing more alone time than I ever have before.  Time is the perfect gift for a mom with young babies at home.

Since most of my readers are women and a lot are mommas, I have a tip for Mother's Day.  Tell your man what you want.  Send him an email, a text, or literally speak it with your mouth to his face in a real conversation.  Guys DO NOT read minds, as much as we want them to and know exactly what our hearts desire.  They need help, coaching, if you will.  I learned this awhile back (when I received a plant I killed in a hot minute) and Kevin is grateful I lay it out for him.  He wants to make me happy and I can sure help him do that with my suggestions.

Three cheers for sun!  It is actually sunny today and I am spending the day with my people having adventures on the farm and letting the warm sun dry up the mud that surrounds our spot on the Trail.  Have a Sunny Saturday, everyone!


Two months with Jude

Our littlest man is 2 months old (2 days ago).  It's hard to believe he is no longer considered a newborn and has slid into being a perfect addition to our family. He is adored by all of us, but it is truly something special to see his siblings shower him with kisses and hugs and run to see him when they get up in the morning with, 'Baby Jude!' and 'He's sooooo cute.'  These days are some of the best days.

Here is what our sweet Jude has been up to this past month:

  • Jude is smiling!  It is absolutely the sweetest thing ever and he has even started to coo and lock eyes with us as he wrinkles up his nose. 
  • Eating is one of Jude's favorite times of day.  He nurses between 6-7 times a day and takes one four ounce bottle from Kevin at night.
  • We are still working on this sleep thing.  He is now sleeping full time in his crib, which was a big transition for us all.  He takes 3-4 naps during the day, with the evening one being the hardest.  His night sleep is inconsistent, as he will get up to eat two to three times a night and will cry out for his pacifier numerous times in-between feedings.  He will sleep through the night one day!

  • When Jude isn't eating or sleeping, he is usually in his bouncer making googly eyes at whoever is in front of him or cuddled up in Kevin's arms or my arms.  He loves being held close.

  • Jude still sleeps in a woombie.  It will be a sad day when he decides he needs his arms free because he looks so adorable all snuggled up tight.
  • Jude has started taking more baths and he loves it.  If he is fussy in the evening, it is the perfect thing to do to calm him down.
  • Riding in the car is one of Jude's favorite things to do.  Thank goodness, because he gets toted to town quite often!

This boy has brought such joy to our entire family and we are so grateful he is ours.  


The Hidden Husband

Loving.  Compassionate.  Determined.  Helpful.  Jesus-loving.  Encouraging. Intelligent. Provider.  

These are the words that come to my mind when I think of my husband.  I believe I have the best husband in the entire world.  Some of you may role your eyes or smirk and that's okay.  But, I do and should believe he is the best.  Just like every wife should believe the same thing about her husband.  My husband is my encourager, my person, the one I chose to spend everyday with a little under ten years ago.  I am to be the same for him.  His encourager, his person, he chose me as his partner for this life.

Kevin and I are in a season of raising babies and going to bed exhausted and giving of ourselves all day long.  He is at the office providing to meet all our financial needs, while I am at home meeting our babies' physical and emotional needs.

I get a lot of credit for staying home.  This might come as a surprise to some of you, but I really do.  In a culture where many moms feel under appreciated and overworked, I have the benefit of living around people that appreciate and honor my stay at home mom job.  People tell me, 'you have your hands full', 'you don't have any time for yourself', or my favorite, 'how do you do it'.  As tiring as this mom gig is, those comments solidify that my job is hard and I am doing important work.

Not only do I get people telling me how hard of a job I have, but I go to a mom's group that is just for moms like me who are in the midst of raising babies.  I get celebrated at this group and showered with a hot breakfast and fun giveaways and receive truth from speakers about parenting and motherhood and marriage and my spiritual life.

I get lavished with flowers and gifts and kisses on Mother's Day.  Kevin plans the best day and somehow every year I feel like the most important person on the planet.

My husband finds time early in the morning or on weekends to get his work done, so I can have girl time because he knows it sustains me and grants me relationships with girlfriends I love.  Whether it's Cooking Club or dinner with a friend or a girl's weekend away, he is the hidden man that makes it happen.  He encourages me on Saturdays to go to Starbucks for a few hours alone so I can refocus and feel reenergized to care and love our family well.

I am blessed with all of this, because I am a mom and Kevin's wife.

My sweet sweet husband sometimes gets stuck in the background.  The hidden husband.  Don't get me wrong, I don't think he minds one bit.  But, our culture, our world, has worked so hard at raising up moms and women that I think we might have forgotten about the strong, hard working husbands and dads that do good work everyday for their families.

The husbands and fathers in our families maybe get a mug and a high five on Father's Day in contrast to the flowers, gifts, and breakfast in bed that many moms experience.  There is most definitely not a DOPS group (Dads of Preschoolers) and no one is asking a dad 'how do you do it' when he is working on a spreadsheet at Starbucks.  We seem to have forgotten that husbands and dads are an extremely important piece of the family puzzle.

Just because our husbands and dads are men, doesn't mean they are too strong or proud to be appreciated.  A word of affirmation can go a long way for the men in our lives.  'Thanks for working hard for us' or 'You are such a good dad' or 'I love doing this life with you' can make an overworked man feel love and respect.  Giving men permission to go golf or meet a friend or see a movie can raise them up as well.  If your man already makes time for these things, don't make him feel guilty, but encourage him and be happy that he is doing something that makes him happy.  These husbands in our lives need a break too, even though they seem to be 'away' all day.

I don't think anyone is going to be telling Kevin 'you don't have time for yourself' when he's presenting in a meeting or working in the early morning hours at home before any of us wake.  

But, I can be the person in his life encouraging him, conveying to him how grateful I am for the role he plays in our family.  I can acknowledge his hands are full and signify I see the sacrifice and work he does for me and our babes. I can make him feel known.

Our husbands and fathers to our children may never get the praise and recognition from people at work or the grocery store or Starbucks, but they surely can get it from us at home.  

What words come to mind when you think of your man?  

Tell him.  Today and as often as you can...make sure he is a known husband in your home.  



GIrl's Weekend Goodies

It is Saturday, April 1, and that means I have a houseful of some of my favorite people.  My best girlfriends from high school all came out to the Trail from Denver, Chicago, and central Iowa to visit for the weekend and meet Jude.  I have been looking forward to today for weeks!

The past seven days were absolutely lovely because my mom was in town.  She makes life a bit easier helping with the kids, watching the kids, cleaning and picking up.  AND she watched all three babes so Kevin and I could have our first night out together without one single child with us.  She is the best.

This week I am sharing some things I picked up to make this girl's weekend on the Trail a bit more special.

Plants.  This time of year makes me want to buy all the green things and plant them in pretty pots around my house.  I picked up a few Jade plants from Home Depot last week, repotted them and I love looking at them.  These babies are easy to care for: water once a week and keep in a place with plenty of light. Plants make me think spring which makes me think warmer weather which makes me think putting on and taking off coats, in the car, when we go to Target, will be over soon.  #itsthelittlethings

We will be celebrating a few birthdays this weekend and this Letterfolk board makes celebrating a bit more fun.  The quote is perfect for our family, well, because there are lots and lots of boogers around here.  (I may or may not get handed boogers on a daily basis.)  I had been waiting to snatch one of these boards up and the time came on black Friday this past year.  I have been loving it ever since.

Adding fresh flowers and a candle to the counter can make everyday life more special.  This candle will burn all weekend long in honor of the last time we were all together in Waco, Texas.  It smells like spring and will remind me of the fun time we had in the world of Fixer Upper and Chip and Jo.

We are going to be doing a lot of hanging at the house this weekend, so there will be a few meals eaten here.  This ham and cheese slider recipe is basically the easiest thing to throw together for a crowd.  Add a salad and some kettle chips and it's the perfect lunch.

Cheers to a great weekend and the most sunniest of Saturdays, even if the sun isn't going to show it's face.  Have a great one, friends!

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