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Chasing Babies... Growing in Grace: February 2011

Monday, February 28, 2011


We sat at the table early (though to you, maybe not.) Shining sun clouded out into dark shades of gray while sky water doesn't puddle, but flows steady through our yard. Pencils strewn about the table in a myriad of colors. Children chatter and create.

Small February rumbles go unnoticed over the hum of yogurt incubating nearby. As rumbles grow, I listen. I watch.

I watch my boy. Waiting.

Suddenly, at peak, his eyes meet mine. Big. Mouth parted, ready to ask.

I smile bright, glowing excitement. Hoping to dispel fears. "Thunder!"

His face hardly changes. Slowly, methodically, with forced smile, he speaks, "But why is there thunder in the morning?" His lip doesn't quiver, but I see it there. His voice doesn't quite shake, but I hear it. No tears come, but I see them. He works so hard to push all signs of panic from himself.

But I see. I see it all and my heart can only smile inside. My words work quickly... gently... to calm his anxious heart. But inside I cherish this moment. This memory.

How long will it be before his heart is brave and these moments are gone forever?

Daddy comes out later and I relate the little story to him quietly... "you know that little way he does it." I say, knowing that he'll know.

How I love my sweet boy.

Counting on...

201. his little quirks

202. all his fears

203. his dependence on me

204. his cuddles

205. his independence

206. his decision to "always obey from now on"

207. more discipline after that

208. raising up this little heart

209. learning to mommy him better

210. learning to depend on my Father in loving His little ones

211. thunderstorms in February

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

On the Table Tuesday

This past week I've been working on this bucket... bag... thing. It's done... though the gift it is to become is still lacking a couple details I'll have to show you later.

I'm planning to fill this part with rocks.



You heard me right.

And I'm going to make and hang a cute label around one of these straps.

It's a cute little thing that has Joshua 4:24 on it... and "100 days" nice and big and colorful in the middle.

You see... that 15 year old girl from my church had a bone marrow transplant this past fall. A little more than 100 days ago (yep, I'm behind. You wouldn't believe how many times I had to tear everything out and start again!) One hundred days is the big goal to reach in transplants, apparently... as it means your body will most likely not be rejecting it.

So the rocks in the bag??? Just a little reminder for her. A memorial kit, if you will. An opportunity for her to remember what the Lord has brought her through... and how powerful He is!

I decided to add this little flower after the whole thing was done. If I ever do this again... I'll definitely do these sorts of decorations before it's all sewn together!

How about you??? Do you have anything on the table??? (I say on the table because that's where I do my sewing... on our kitchen table. Your "table" could be in your craft room, in your lap, or anywhere else.) Are you working on any little projects? I'd love to know about it... and if you have posted on it, leave me a link so I can check out!


Monday, February 21, 2011

It could be me

It's everywhere. I'm surrounded. We all are, aren't we? I can almost guarantee you know someone. I know them by the handful. Ann talks of hers. Amy lives it.

Here, in real life, the numbers keep growing. One precious adopted grandma to my babies is gives up part of herself today... hoping the bad cells go too. Another special lady trusts completely as they watch her liver so close. Will those cells shrink? Will they be able to operate?

Our hearts remember each Sunday when we smile at him. It's only been a few months since we said good-bye to his sweet wife. Her battle here finished, but rejoicing and celebration There! A life well lived!

At 15, new marrow in her bones, each day she fights, each day she trusts. The blood is almost entirely hers, but the battle is not over.

The older gentleman worshiping with raised hands, he beams so that we can't tell how his body fights within. How the side effects ravage him.

There are more. So many more... each whose lives we've been so blessed to touch... to have been touched by.

I can't help but think today... there is no reason it's not me. Only that God has written the stories of each of us. And today my story is health... strength. But we do not know what tomorrow may bring. So for today I am grateful. Grateful for health. For strength. And for so many more....

May I always remember as I pick up my daily list of to dos, that I can do them... and praise be to God for that.

More of my 1000...

179. that He forgives when we stop giving Him thanks.

180. that we are only ever one thought, word, moment from the next opportunity to offer it up again!

181. health

182. strength: to clean potty off the floor, to carry my baby just because she wants me to, to read one more story, teach one more lesson, wash one more dish

183. that I can scrub my floor, wash my dishes, fold my laundry.

184. His constant presence!

185. a constant dialog

186. patience taught one moment, one event, one failure at a time

187. patience received from others

188. when they sleep

189. lessons learned when they aren't

190. laundry to fold (without babies there would be none)

191. dishes to do (without babies there would be so few)

192. help with the dusting

193. giggles with I Love Yous!

194. "we're playing a game!" {giggles}

195. clapping

196. laughing

197. hugs

198. kisses

199. cuddles

200. grey skies!

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What's on the Table Tuesday


I've been trying to get this post done all day. All. Day. Especially since I've decided (and have been waiting a week for this) that on Tuesdays I'd post a "What's on the Table Tuesday" post. And here it is. Tuesday... night. Ooops!

Oh well.

I could tell you about how I finally sat down to start this post officially at 8 this evening once the kids were in bed, only to get a call from the couple taking our kids tomorrow (so we could do an important business meeting) canceling due to sickness. I then spent the next hour and a half on the phone trying to figure out a back up plan with a back up plan. I could tell you about all that...but I won't.

I could also tell you that I haven't been blogging this week because I've been trying to be good and get things done around the house and pay extra attention to the kids and take care of some business things during nap time and try not to "waste" time on the computer so I find other things to do that aren't mopping... but again, I won't.

What I will do is jump right into what I have to share with you! Projects! Or project as the case may be.

Here it is... my first official finished project since beginning this renewed hobby of sewing/quilting. (ok... so the dress I made Sweet Pea count too I guess.)

So let me tell you about it...

First off... it's small.

Yep. Smaller than I was thinking actually. But small is ok with me for a couple reasons:

1. I wanted it to be short enough that I wouldn't have to move it when we sat down to eat, as our messiest eater (Sweet Pea) sits at the end of the table. Won't be a problem!

2. Pink is not really my decor... I've made this with Sweet Pea's birthday decorations in mind. So... when we're done using it for that day, I'm planning to tuck it away for a future day when she has her own (pink) room so it can go on the dresser or something.

3. It will make a lovely table runner for a kid sized table when tea parties become the rage around here!

Aren't these little Prairie Points adorable?!? I'm not creative enough to come up with them on my own. I've been spending time over at Pleasant Home lately, just drooling over her cleverness! We don't celebrate Halloween here, but I had to try this!

And my first attempt looks pretty good, doesn't it?

Until you see this!

Yep, it's gimpy... on All. Four. Corners.

I decided not to tear it ALL out to try to fix and redo... especially since it's deliberately a first project for learning and practicing.

You also can't see all the (many) mistakes in the quilting. (I took pictures, but they just weren't showing it all that well.) I've never machine quilted before last week... and this is the first thing I wasn't planning to immediately throw away that I've ever tried a free motion foot on. I chose to stipple it because that is how I intend to do Tornado's quilt once I have enough practice on smaller/simpler projects.

Not only did I cross lines (a big no no in stippling) several times, but the stitch length variations leave something (big) to be desired. Then there is the several areas where the tension issues show that I quite clearly have some work to do in matching the speed of my hands with the pressure on my foot pedal.

All in all, though, I'm thrilled with this first little project. I knew the above issues would be there and that is exactly the reason for some of these early projects. I'm getting my feet wet, if you were.

I also got a good start on the birthday banner I'm planning to make for SPs birthday. No pics to share though... sorry. I need a couple things for it, and they are on sale this weekend, so I'll be working on it more.

Oh, and I bought more fabric. We made our way (far our of our way) to a quilting shop to pick up something I needed and they were having a sale!

I didn't have a plan for it when I bought it... but I think I do now. Some of it anyway. I've never bought fabric anywhere but Joanns... this is the nicest feeling fabric I've ever touched! That may include clothes too. I'm afraid to cut it, but I can't wait to sew on it either!

How about you??? Do you have anything on the table??? (I say on the table because that's where I do my sewing... on our kitchen table. Your "table" could be in your craft room, in your lap, or anywhere else.) Are you working on any little projects? I'd love to know about it... and if you have posted on it, leave me a link so I can check out!

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Monday, February 7, 2011

Gifts for a little girl's 3rd birthday

With one month to go before my little girl turns 3, I've started
thinking about gifts. Not the ones we'll give her... no, no. The ones she'll get. We are so blessed with loving and spoiling family! The trouble is that I'm very particular... and we don't have a whole lot of space. Not to mention that we are trying to live simple lives (as best we can with all the things we get into) and to raise our children up simply! This means I'm often paring down the collection of toys and such that gather.

This is where "birthday lists" come into play. On one hand I hate them. They seem so assuming... so needy. In a world where really and truly our children do not need anything, a birthday list seems low. On the other hand, there are people who are going to buy something... whether they have a direction to go with or not. If that is the case, I'd really like to be able to guide the situation and control it as much as possible (control freak anyone???)

With this thought in mind, I usually ignore the "assuming-ness" of the whole thing and think up a Birthday List. Below you'll find my ideas for gifting for my little [almost] 3 year old little girl and future homemaker! Maybe some of them will apply to your little 3 year old too!

First of all... anything pink! Pink is "in" around here. We were talking about looking at houses and buying a house with a yard. She wanted a pink yard. We were going to the farm show for our anniversary and she wanted to know if there would be a pink lion there. Everything has to be pink. It's the theme for her birthday this year! Pink!

Dresses are a big deal around here too! She loves them. Skirts too. And if they are pink (see above), all the better! Our Sweat Pea is wearing size 4 in dresses and skirts... though even some of those are not long enough, so even then we have to pick (or home make) the longer of them.

Small Broom
As we work toward doing housework together, I think she would really enjoy having her own broom!!! And so much easier to use than the big one Mommy uses!

Manhattan Toy Stella Doll
This little baby doll is the only one I've found that is all cloth (at least as far as I can tell) and has a "real" look to it. She carries all her stuffed animals around, calling them baby. They get cuddled, nursed, and carried in a "sling" (creative use for a plastic slinky). I'm thinking she's ready for a "real" baby doll. And I'm hoping to hand craft a few baby doll friendly accessories (crib, sling, etc.)

Melissa and Doug Puzzles
Puzzles are a big thing right now. This isn't girlie per se, but she'd really enjoy these. She's ready to move on from her simpler ones, but not quite ready for the 24 piece puzzles her brother has.

God's Wisdom for Little Girls
Sweet Pea got this for Christmas and just loves it! It talks through the character from Proverbs 31 in rhyme. Very sweet!

Blueberries for Sal
We got this one from the library and the kids really enjoyed it. They were sad to see it go! I love that it starts and ends with pictures of mommy canning the blueberries and Sal "helping".

The Little House
Another sweet one we borrowed from the library!

Gifts not to get (each of these may need entire posts of their own):
  • Character specific toys and products! (No Dora, Seseme Street, Disney, etc.)
  • Princess anything, especially Disney!
  • Barbie... we are a no barbie family.
  • Stuffed animals!... nuff said.
  • Toys made out of plastic... there are a select few that are approved, safe companies. Plastic toys that come in rarely stay.

Like I said... this is a list for our family... for our girl. I know what we already have too... like craft supplies, which would also be great!

Do you have any ideas for 3 year old girls???


Saturday, February 5, 2011

A new hobby

We went shopping today.

I don't think I've mentioned my new hobby.

Anyone want to guess what it is?


Ok, I'll tell you.

I'm sewing. I used to do it some. Mostly quilting. That was before we were married... when I was preparing to leave for the mission field and sold my machine. I was going to buy one with the right electrical plug when I got to Bangladesh.

Then I got married and never went.

A friend of mine gave me her old one... but It was older and I never really got used to it. Plus, I was newly married. Then I was teaching high school. Then I was very pregnant and sick all the time.

Then another Christmas came and my mom was here. My Christmas present from my parents was a new machine, so we went and picked one out.

Then I never really used it. I had a newborn. And by the time he was 6 months old and I wasn't pumping and feeding by bottle and washing all the "dishes" from those things anymore, I was pregnant and tired and sick again.

Then I had 2 babies... and though it was a while before I was pregnant again... I had 2 babies. I picked at things occasionally. I did muster a simple quilt last year. Nothing fancy, but I sewed some left over pieces into a nice big quilt for our couch.

But now... now... now I'm ready to sew. I've caught the bug. I've been working on my son's birthday quilt... and have now decided to machine quilt it. But I have never machine quilted before. So I spent some birthday money on the feet necessary. One walking, one free motion.

In the middle of all this I found this blog with a ton of cute ideas and tutorials! And that led to this cute blog... more cute!

And today I bought fabric.

$45 worth of sale priced fabric. I chipped in some birthday money to help.

And I don't really have a plan for all of it yet (like all this cute pink)... but I decided to start collecting (and I know a little girl who loves pink!). I'm going to need some practice before I start free motion quilting on Tornado's quilt. And little projects sounded like good practice.

This fabric I have a plan for. Sweet Pea has a thing for pink! And a birthday right around the corner.

So I thought I'd try to make her a little birthday banner with some cute pink fabric. I didn't expect to find this adorable birthday like pink.

Not to mention so many coordinating together!

I'll have to show you how it turns out when it's done.

Then there are these. Don't they just scream spring. The longer I look at them, the more I love them together! I have plans for these cuties! I can almost see it in my head!

I don't officially know what to do with these yet, but they had to go together. My Beloved held up the top one and said, "what about this one?"

I wasn't sure if he was serious... but he was. And I love it. Especially with the other two.

So there. My secret is out. I'll try to keep you in the loop of my projects!

Do you have any favorite sewing/quilting blogs you use for inspiration??? You can never have too many! Share!

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Friday, February 4, 2011

All in one place

(Breakfast Star Toast this past December... kids were very excited!)

It's been a long (long) time since I've posted Toddler Menus. In fact... my only current toddler is a month away from being 3... and isn't so toddler-ish anymore.

Sadly, with the outgoing of my toddler menus, my menu planning in general is at best sporadic. I try. Sometimes. And one day I'll get back into it. One baby step at a time... and right now I'm working on 10-12 others.

Still... I love that some of my most popular posts are these menus! It's obvious that others struggle with what I struggle with and I am so glad that the work I did in putting these together is helping so many! At least I hope!

I'm regularly getting requests for printable copies of my menus... so a while back I made .pdf files for a bunch of them and uploaded them to It's occurring to me, though, that I may not have mentioned it... or made it possible for you to know that. At all.

So... without further adieu: (updated: if it looks like might be down... try back later. Sorry for the inconvenience!)

My Toddler Menus, printable, and ready for you to copy, change, enhance, or whatever! Sadly, my info/copyright stuff isn't on any of them (I was a young blogger), and I'm not going to take the time to go back in and add it to remake the files. Nope... you're on your honor. And you know what... I trust you. :) Use them, share them, enjoy them... but please don't sell them. And if you feel it in your heart to share that they came from me (assuming you remember!), that would be great too!

If you're going to use them, I'd love to know about it! Leave a comment or send an email! It will bless my heart to know.

Oh, and I make no promise than any one of them will be interesting... nor that we actually followed any of them to the letter. They are simply the plans I made during that season of our life! Enjoy!


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Saying "Bye-bye"

I'd been putting it off... I just didn't know how it was going to go. It didn't sound like it would be easy... or fun. But we really needed to do something about all those animals. A long while ago I made a "one in one out" kind of rule, but I'd never been able to keep it myself. Apparently I'm still more of a sentimental than I would have given myself credit for. How could I decide something so important as stuffed animals?

We headed to the bedroom. I gathered my littles around me and explained what we were going to do. I expected hysterics. There weren't any. I emptied the toy chest of all the stuffed animals... emptied the beloved toys onto the floor. The box was so full we couldn't even get the lid down all the way.

The first thing said was "not that one!"

I decided on a new approach.

"First, pick out the ones you want to say 'bye-bye' to." I said, expecting blank stares. There weren't any. In he moved, my four year old, picking up the first to go.

"Are you sure?" I asked. He nodded. "Can we say bye-bye to this one Sweet Pea?" I asked my almost 3 year old. She nodded. I tossed it out into the hall.

We moved through almost half of them in that fashion. I automatically saved a couple I knew would be great for Little Man in the coming months, and was prepared to save the ones that were mine as a child (though I love that I didn't have to... they were the first ones saved by the kids! They even held them the entire time so nothing would happen to them!)

The puppets were tough... Tornado announced early on that we needed to keep all the "hand ones". That's 12 of them. "Ok... let's move these over and do them after," I suggested. Once we were through with the easy decisions on the regular animals, we moved to the "hand ones". I laid them out in their family groupings as we'd received them. I knew there were some that never really got play time, and they were the ones to go first. A few favorites were caught up immediately and saved.

For the most part I tried not to lead them in their decisions at all. Because they were getting rid of so many, I really didn't feel like I needed to. Only on a few that I know we never play with did I recommend, but even then I didn't need to recommend. They were all for throwing them down the hall with the others... saying "bye-bye" to each one. And some of these were ones they have loved playing with. Some of these were my favorites.

The process was actually harder on me. As we were getting to the end, I'd ask about each one... "how about this one? Keep or Bye-bye?"

"Bye-bye," they would say. I would double check on some... afraid maybe Sweet Pea didn't understand.

"Are you sure?" I'd ask. Inside thinking all the while, but you love this chicken. You've played with it... slept with it... fought over it. My lip may have even quivered. I didn't say any of those things... I don't want my children to have the same material sentiment issues like I do if they don't already. But I can't stand that this little chicken isn't going to be part of our household anymore.

Then there is this guy.

"Are you sure? You don't have to say bye bye." I was practically begging them to keep him.

Why is my heart still sick over him? And I do mean still... I've fought the strong desire to call My Beloved all day to ask him to save Pink Doggie! I want him... he can go in the memory box.

Then I remind myself that I'm being ridiculous. We can't keep everything. We don't have the room for what we have.

Then, not two seconds later, I again break into that cold sweat and reach for the phone.

She loves this one. They both do. She's not done with him. I almost didn't even ask about him. I almost just put him in the box. He was on her bed. She'd been sleeping with him these last couple nights. The box had been opened and she saw him. I can still hear her little high pitched voice... "Pink Doggie!" I brought him out and he went right on the bed with the other beloved ones. Why did I ask?!?

I still don't know why she said bye bye to this one. But it's hard. Like loosing a piece of her. I remember the gifter, I remember the play times, the cuddles... how she needed him in her crib.

And now he's gone. Why do I want to let out a long mournful sob? Over a stuffed pink doggie?

Then the practical side of me returns... however weak. I still have those memories. It's the memories that matter... not the stuff of them. My resolve feels weaker than the words.

There is a memory attached to many of the loved animals in this bag. A few were easy to let go of, but most hold a spot in my heart because they are attached to memories I have of my babies being babies. I can still see them laying on blankets playing with this little "snake". But his batteries are just about dead, and no one plays with him anymore.

So I did the big girl thing. I didn't let my 4 and almost 3 year old see me cry over things. We put them into a bag and sent them off with My Beloved this morning. They are gone... somewhere. Available for some other little one to love as much as we did. Not being wasted or horded by me... the sentimental one in the tiny house

Update: As of finishing this post I have still not called to save Pink Doggie... though I almost have 3 times and was actually crying while I typed (just keeping it real). My resolve comes and goes... right now I'm in a weak spot.

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Be in the moment

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery. Today? Today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present. (Kung Fu Panda... though I'm sure it didn't originate with them )

(A very "in the moment" Little Man)

My cereal is gone. The kids have far to go. I'm antsy.

I finally give in and move to the floor to play *something*. I watch the clock thinking of all the other things I could be doing. (Forget that I probably wouldn't be doing them anyway.)

I wash the dishes, sweep the floor, clear the table as fast as I can so I can get to the next thing. Something fun.

I look around this house thinking of every chore that has gone neglected... and I dread that I really should do them. Know that I would enjoy my home so much more if I did. Wish My Beloved had a nice place to come home too. Many of them go undone another day.

I sit again to plan... a routine, preschool activities, today's to do list... but put off doing them, or miss doing them entirely.

I stare into the computer screen, blog after blog, article after article, encouragement after encouragement. And I am encouraged. Motivated. Sometimes I jump up and get some little something done... or at least started.

I'm determined... every day will be different. Every tomorrow will begin the new way. Every yesterday is the same... the very same.

What's worse... I've always been this way.

As a kid, I just couldn't wait to be older. In high school I just wanted to be in college. In college I just couldn't wait to go to the mission field (or be married). After college, when nothing I expected was happening, I just couldn't wait to know what was coming.

Then I met and married My Beloved. Thankfully I didn't have to wait long between the two events. But once we were married I just couldn't wait to have children (time I wish now I'd enjoyed a little more deliberately!) Pregnant, I couldn't wait for the baby to come. He came and it was one stage I couldn't wait for after another. Couldn't wait until he laughs, crawls, eats, talks, sings. Oh, and I just couldn't wait to start homeschooling. Now that we are doing some preschool, I just can't wait until we're doing the older kid stuff.

In some ways I've gotten better. With each additional child, I'm more happy to wait for each new stage, holding on to the baby as long as I can. But Overall, I'm just still waiting for the next moment to come.

Why do I do this? Why am I wishing away the present? This gift.

I need to be in each moment. Not just get through it.

When my 4 year old is telling another story with no point (or that I just don't understand), I need to be there listening, not waiting until he's done so that we can get back to the basics of living. His stories are the basics of living!

When chores take longer because we're doing them together, or when some activity is making another huge mess I'll need to clean up, I need to be in those moments, not dreading the lost time. This is what time is here for!

When I look around at the house needing so much work or the chores list soooo long, I need to get up and get going. Gather my children around me and take one thing at a time, not worrying that it's going to take all day. This is what the day is here for.

I was standing at the sink, washing a high pile of dishes when this whole concept hit me over the head. Punched me in the face. Pushed me over.

Still I'm digesting it.

We are to live for now? The point of this life is what we are doing with now?

Yesterday is forgiven (assuming of course you are living a redeemed life). Tomorrow will take care of itself (Matthew 6:34). Today... today is for living. And each moment we have only one opportunity to use the best way possible. Do I really want to spend this moment, that I will never get back, looking forward to the next?

Join me next week as I continue to contemplate.

I'm joining in with Walk with Him Wednesday... visit over there for more!

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