Thursday, July 28, 2011

to affect the day

to affect the quality of the day,
that is the highest of arts.
h.d. thoreau

Here and there, uncovering slips of paper with sea creatures and bugs doodled, plans for their 70-story building sketched out, notes scribbled "i love mom" {me drawn with 2 ponytails and 3 strands of hair in each}, and journals with quotes jotted down such as the above have made this moving experience so much more than filling boxes with stuff.  I am reminded why and for whom we are doing this, and with what shall my heart be content.  It's a long story, what we've done.  Something you can read a little about here (a blog Andy started before his to-do list became a million items long...)  

We've drug 3 kids along in the process, and they've been troopers.  A few weeks back when the early mornings, late nights, long days were getting to me, they were just "at" each other.  My mom pointed out how we all deal with stress in different ways - my body let me know by breaking into itchy hives; they let me know in fighting and tears shed.  We've tried to do what we can to lessen the shock of all this on them - it's not a far move, but it involves crossing over the railroad tracks, getting used to a different house, switching schools, making new friends, learning other rules - a lot for a little one, especially for one who is already fragile about change.  

Yesterday, lessening the shock of all this looked like leaving the boxes behind and the grass that needs mowed oh, so bad...and hitting the beach.  
Just me and them.  Just 2 hours.  Just what we needed.  
Thinking through the day, what stood out wasn't the closets sorted or boxes filled (although "marchin on" blares while I do - thanks to you, Ang :), 
but taking a break at the lake for a few hours, 
sewing a baby gift to drop off for a friend (procrastination project #17...), 
setting a butterfly free, 
a most awesome meal dropped off for us (complete with sparklers - you're the best, Brooke!), 
All those who have chipped in to help make this nasty house our soon-to-be home…staying up until 12 and 2 to help my man paint (still in awe, Paul and Kristine!), swinging by the house to drop off some strawberries to my lonely love when his family is away (thank you, Matt and Jennifer!), caring for my kids like they're your own so I can pack (so grateful, Brandi and Becky!)
Thank you for creating beautiful moments to bless our days.
You are thoughtful, gifted artists.
And we are so thankful.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

journeying home

The boys and I had a great time with my fam.  It's been awhile since I've taken a road-trip solo with all 3 - the first time with them all in undies!!! (sorry to my future-teen-sons reading this :) and the first time not in a van.  That backseat can get a little crazy...  

This drive was sweet memories of queen anne's lace and bachelor buttons lining the road, grooving to a little credence clearwater revival, watching them through the rear-view tear into their snack bag before the car was in gear, and thanking the Lord for bringing us safely back home...again.  

We got to celebrate 92 years with my grandma...

Savor fresh produce at every meal...

Relive childhood memories of black raspberry shakes...
Go antiquing with my bro, while the boys visit "lego lady"...
Now we are home…for now... 
.: Packing, packing, and more packing…thinking this should be the next (and last) book I buy.

.: Making special moments amidst relish the view and the summer and these days we long for all year, trying hard not to let them slip away.

{This is what happens when you've reached your decision-making max, can't possibly make another one, and the hair stylist asks what you'd like to do...} 
.: Breaking out the ice cream lovewiches recipe – because oh, how we love thee.
.: Stopping to smell the flowers…
.: Embracing this moment, so full of sentiment, uncertainty, and evidence of His faithfulness.  3 days until the move!!!
.: Wanting to bloom where planted.

Monday, July 25, 2011

life beyond gluten

One year ago, I got the phone call that started me down this gluten-free adventure.  It was one of those moments I wasn’t sure whether to breathe a sigh of relief, or cry.  I tested positive for celiac disease, and was relieved to know why my stomach was so upset, why I was sooo tired.  But, I didn’t know the slightest about celiac disease, let alone how I would manage to cut out the 4 basic food groups of the American diet?  
You know…bread, pasta, bagels, donuts…

why kick the gluten?
Basically, my body could not break down the proteins in wheat, so every time I ate a piece of homemade whole wheat bread (that was supposed to be so good for me), it wreaked havoc on my insides.  My thyroid problems were probably caused by celiac.  A doc at the Cleveland Clinic told me 1 in 3 people who are hypothyroid have celiac!  [A ton of research has been done on the connection of the two.]

The only cure for celiac is to eliminate wheat, barley and rye from your diet, completely.   Once you try to do that, you realize gluten is in *everything*, from BBQ sauce to cold cuts to cookie sprinkles.  No wonder so many people are suffering from gluten overload.  Studies say 1 in 133 Americans have celiac, but only 5% are diagnosed.  The reason it is so difficult to diagnose is because there are over 300 possible symptoms! 

how to kick the gluten?
I am a firm believer that if you can do 3 weeks gluten-free, you can be gluten-free for life.  The first 3 weeks were the hardest:  figuring out what not to eatlearning what is okay, craving a crusty slice of bread.  But when I started to see how much better I felt, it was so worth it!  I lived most of my life in a fog, thinking everyone else was too.  I didn’t know better, until going completely GF.  I felt like I woke up for the first time in my life! 

It has been a challenge, mainly because I have kept our family’s grocery budget to $500/month, for the 5 of us.  Gluten-free food is usually double the cost of regular.  So, we have to be creative.  I try out lots of recipes.  We keep our meals simple, and rarely eat out.  But, it’s always such a treat to find a gluten-free replica that tastes just as good, if not better. 

what to do without gluten?
I just compiled a list of recipes we could do GF, and kept it at that for a few weeks, then added as I could.  It was something like:
Tuesday: curry chicken, rice, broccoli
Wednesday: stirfry, edamame
Thursday: rice and beans, chips and salsa
Friday: grilled chicken, potatoes, seasonal veggie
Saturday: pizza night!
Sunday: baked potatoes with toppings, salad
Breakfast: hard-boiled eggs, sconesbaked oatmeal, pancakes, breakfast casserole, smoothies, yogurt and berries, French toast, granola (with GF oats), bacon!!
Lunch: sandwiches on Udi’s bread, quesadillaswraps, taco salad with tortilla chips, BLT salad with GF croutons, pizzas on brown rice tortillas, mac and cheese, leftover soup from monday…

You might feel like you’re cooking all the time at first.  There’s no more “order a pizza” or “swing by a drive thru” option, because cross-contamination is fierce after you’ve been GF for awhile, and have a gluten sensitivity.  But, it is so. very. worth. it!
Just thinking back to what things were like a year ago before I knew what was wrong... Unbuckling Jude out of the car seat at the movie theatre on free-movie-Wednesdays, I remember last year, praying I could make it through the movie without having to take 3 boys with me to the bathroom because my stomach was in knots.  So often, I have thought how there’s no way we could have done this house renovation before saying goodbye to gluten. 

I’d just encourage anyone out there not to ignore the warning signs (all 300 of them...)  The risk of untreated celiac is disturbing, and why suffer from gluten sensitivity?  Just give it 3 weeks.  Buy frozen GF meals and make PBJ on Udi’s, if you have to (throw in a salad too :)  Taking care of yourself is so very important.  And, there is life beyond gluten!

Also, I know this is already weeks-worth of thoughts, but I read an interesting article in "Outside" magazine.  You can read it here.
Other GF link love:

I guess that's all for now.  I've had some little spies, who are just asking to get wrestled and then to pack some boxes with me :)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

room to grow

The house redo is {still} in full swing with 8 days until moving day!!!  A *huge* shout-out to each one who has helped in these final stages: Steve, John, Marty, Marc, Gabe, Jordan, Chris, Todd, Josh, Bob & Kath, SB, JB, Tim, Dan (guys from Cambodia, K-Stan and Brazil)!!!  We feel humbled and honored for the time you have spent serving us.  There's a little "open house" in the works to say thank you to all who have lended a hand.  We feel so very grateful and blessed.  

The boys and I are road-trippin' it to Ohio for a few days for Andy to paint 24-7 and for us to spend some good time with my fam.  The house is now trimmed out, with closets, and nights full of caulking, spackling, sanding, staining, and weeding...
Uh, weeding? you ask.
Yes, weeding.  Not that we need those removed as much as we need toilets before we move.  Maybe it's walking into the house and feeling a little overwhelmed by the man-tools that have overtaken our dining room.  Maybe it's the to-do list that seems like when 1 thing is crossed off, 2 things are added.  But, it's where I found myself outside one night, weeding...   

Somehow it became less about uncovering the bushes I had planted.  We talk about the "weeds in our hearts" with our boys, explaining to them how there is stuff in there we let crowd out our joy, our peace, our kindness.  So I was thinking through what those weeds are, that I'd like to yank out, to make room for their love to grow.  Then it turned inward to: what are my weeds?  What is in there that I thought may turn into something lovely, but now see it's just a weed that could take over?  
I love this little book, called "If" by Amy Carmichael.  It keeps it real for me. I thought of some phrases I have read often...  
If I can easily discuss the shortcomings and the sins of any;
if I can speak in a casual way even of a child's misdoings,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If I can enjoy a joke at the expense of another;
if I can in any way slight another in conversation, or even in thought,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If I covet any place on earth but the dust at the foot of the cross,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If the praise of man elates me and his blame depresses me;
if I cannot rest under misunderstanding without defending myself;
if I love to be loved more than to love, to be served more than to serve,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.
Beyond weeding out the impatience, bitterness, insecurity and pride that can take root and become full-blown before you know it...I've been thinking alot about what it means to make room to grow.  It's a 2-step process, weeding is.  I went outside because the raspberry and blueberry bushes I had planted were being overtaken by thorns and thistles.  I want to see them *thrive*.  Why is it we tend to focus on what needs changed, removed from our {or others'} hearts?  I think the Gardener may see it differently.  He has planted in us love and joy and peace and kindness and goodness, and what a work of His grace when those have room to grow.  When all else is exposed for the nasty weed it is, uprooted, laid aside so that the lovely may flourish.

The fruit of the Spirit is love. joy. peace. patience. 
kindness. goodness. faithfulness. gentleness. self-control.  
galatians 5.22

Tomorrow.  1 mama.  3 boys.  1 car.  4 hours.  Each way.  
Perhaps a little weeding is what is most *needed*...that love may have room to grow.

Monday, July 18, 2011


Mama’s got a new tanktop.
And yes, I’m still under oath not to buy new clothes (see here).
But this is what happens when you spend too much time in menards, and you see they have a sale on tanktops (like, free!).  You purchase 2 tank tops, for free. And when you really need to pack because you are moving in 12 days…ahem….Pull out your scrap fabric, doilies and ribbon and think how you can spice up free tank top. 
 a little Sunday afternoon sewing during the boys' "rest time"

Procrastination at its finest.
Hey, while the sewing machine was up and running, I did do something that *needs* done... 

It's Monday, and so far, I...
.: Sewed trim onto one pair of curtains.
.: Managed to vacuum the floors.
.: Packed the coat closet into boxes.
.: Washed rugs and hung to dry.
.: Counted 20 chigger bites.
.: Recalled a super-fun Friday night with B & B that make the chigger bites worth it.
.: Laughed a lot at hot kool-aid:  "I made this for you!"
.: Acted on a dream I had last night.  And to see God's hand so clearly orchestrating something through a dream...well, it stops me in my tracks. 
.: Love the boys' bug petting zoo,
and that Jack is very concerned people won't come because they won't see the signs for the petting zoo from the road.
.: Pulled dead frog from the petting zoo.
.: Thought of other posts I'd like to do (including "how to go gluten-free" in honor of my 1 year GF anniversary this week!)
.: Enjoyed another free lunch, and the ladies I ran into at the park.
The to-do list is long, but we're off to a good start.
But mostly, I am thankful for the joy of being the primary person in these boys' lives today, knowing the task is beyond what I can do, but reminded I am not in this alone, looking for the evidences of His grace in our day.  

Saturday, July 16, 2011

and there was

 Does anyone else swap out tool box, drill, gatorade in their mind 
for legos, fishing pole, sippy cup? 
 Appliances arrive TODAY!!!  I have to admit, out of everything we had to buy to outfit this house, the stove was my most exciting purchase.
Ok, maybe this was my most-exciting too: old dresser turned vanity.  
Still needs the vessel sink on top and some of these.
 We're all a little giddy to flip a switch, and WAAAH!
Can you tell?
From the sale of our "old" house a year ago to making a home out of a rental house to walking into our "new" house yesterday, we keep coming back to...
The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.  And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.  From one man, He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.  God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach for Him, though He is not far from each one of us.
Acts 17.24-27

We walk into a house with LIGHTS! now, and how I can start to grow attached, calling it "my own."  I look forward to getting settled, opening our doors wide, letting our light shine, but praying we would never grow too "comfortable" here.  This world is not our home.  So, our counter top plans fell through 16 days before we move...Yeah, it's a bummer, but what does it matter if we have to move in without counter tops {and a kitchen sink - yikes!}, in light of eternity?  Really.  Contentment without growing too attached, that's what I want to learn.  The art of losing myself in bringing you praise...

*another "lightbulb" moment this week*
My mom brought out a bag of home-grown, in-season cucumbers.  
I was standing there at the chopping board, wondering what to throw in with the cucumbers.  Mint!  Yes, of course!
I have no idea why this picture turned sideways.  Oh well. You get it, right?
Cucumber Salad
4 small cucumbers
Drizzle olive oil, white wine vinegar, and just a tad of honey over top.
Sprinkle with salt and cracked pepper.
Add fresh chopped mint.
Stir, taste, adjust to liking, the longer is marinates the tastier, enjoy!

*Also, birthday pics added to last post.  I wasn't sure how to add them here, but can't leave them out :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

fabulous you

Pause all the sorting belongings into boxes, sanding and grouting and caulking, and all the other odds and ends that need to happen for us to move in 16 days... 
'cuz it's a special day!!!
One that warrants the birthday banner hung over the boxes, brazilian rice and beans, pao de queijo, and carrot cake made in the midst of dishes that need washed, cards thoughtfully created, and something wrapped for all the river-stomping he does with our boys.
You light up our world, Andrew Paul.
We celebrate you, and are blessed to have you in our life.
{And, I *cannot wait* for you to see the card Miles picked out yesterday for you.  I let it slide, because it says "fabulous you," and is hilarious!}
Here's some of the celebration:

Candles ignited, flames blown, and a round applause for a year well-lived.
A happy birthday it was!

For the rest of the fabulous you's, as much as I'd love to write about all the goings-on, more needs to be going on...16 days!!  (I have to keep saying that to suppress the procrastinator in me :) 

Monday, July 11, 2011

moving on...

There is a time for everything, and last post was a time to acknowledge the very real stress of turning a 100 year old house into a home, and needing to move into it in 19 days.  I just want to say thank you for your words of encouragement.  They have meant a lot to us.  

Three thoughts that have come to mind this weekend, that give me wings, to rise above.
1. "Look at those little faces around your table.  Look into their eyes, each one of them, one at a time, and thank God for the blessing of their life."  (Thank you, mom.)  

2. "We spend so much time focused on what's around us.  We have to as moms.  It just hit me how much we look at our surroundings, rather than looking up.  And when I look up, I just see how much greater it is up there.  We need to look up more."  (Thank you, BF.)

3.  "As long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible."  (Thank you, AV.)
So, those in mind, we're moving on...
Looking at the lovely faces right in front of me, 
those who call me "mom"...

Breathing thanks for His endless gifts, 
taking library-reading-program ice cream cones to the park on a friday night
lego-funland in our own living room saturday

the pose above led to the pose below, and i love them both,
along with their bleach-sprayed t-shirts

summer's harvest, and boys that pick them into a frisbee
farms down the road that take the time to grow what i cannot, 
putting $3 in the can for an armful of fresh produce
 wild black raspberries, and fellow little foragers
 mama's got a new vintage bowl and it's metal, so i can get attached :)
a frosty glass of iced tea waiting for him to walk through the door
an evening outside at Cerulean's garden, to relax and celebrate my love (someone's turning a year older this week!!!)
 not having hershey's bars on hand for smores, but finding chocolate chips.  experimenting to find that melting chocolate chips, spreading them on wax paper, putting in the freezer until it cools and hardens, then breaking into smaller pieces makes a stellar alternative.

and renewing vision by looking up more.