Friday, April 14, 2017

Hello Fri-YAY: Week 2

Welcome to another edition of "Hello Fri-yay!" Another week has flown by.  Last week when I first put this idea "out there", to just check in once a week, I wondered at first if the days would seem empty, the blog vacant.  Now here it is and Friday snuck up on me.  The days are bursting at the seams with gardening, cooking, my girls, travel prep, and more.  I admit, it is such a good feeling when I realize I haven't even touched my fingers to the keyboard all day.  It sure makes this space feel a bit more sacred and special come Friday, just like it's been waiting for me to come sit and have a conversation all week long. 
I'll start by saying the theme of these first few photos and all of life really, is that things aren't always as they seem.  If I only showed you the picturesque coffee shop window, the succulents nestled in by a perfectly painted turquoise frame, you'd get a totally different understanding and view of my life than what is truly honest and real-life.  Last weekend Brett had a work obligation Saturday morning so the girls woke early (so early) and off we went to a favorite bakery in town, followed by a trip to the Farmer's Market afterwards. 

The girls dined on delicious pastries and we sat in the early morning light, enjoying the beauty of the patio. I just knew the day would be magical. 

On we traveled to the farmer's market, where the day wasn't magical but actually quite hard.  Nothing major, just some too tired girls which resulted in emotional, dramatic behavior.  Plus it seemed like every other family we saw had a perfectly loaded basket full of pretty things, smiles from ear-to-ear, practically glowing from the excitement of a spring market day. 

But let's be honest.  Out of the hundreds of people at the market, underneath all those smiles, I know I wasn't the only one having a less than perfect day.  My whole motto of life is to find the rosy in the routine, even when the routine feels a bit "off."  So that's just what we did for a bit.  And then my mama wisdom kicked in and I knew we needed to head home for a re-start!

So for us although we shortened our stay at the market, there were little snippets of beauty to behold, like this lovely, talented lady who showed the girls how she carved spoons.

I watched Anna Ruth purchase her own tiny succulent with confidence.  
Then we did the grocery shopping and went home for a re-start.  As soon as we walked in our home I felt more relaxed and at peace. The girls got some rest while I put the groceries away, then we had the nicest lady over from church. She was bringing us a church directory, a loaf of bread, an Easter basket for girls, and mostly there to say welcome and she was glad we're a part of the church.   The day felt new and recharged.

The next day we woke early for church and then enjoyed family lunch.  Afterwards we spent the day in the yard, flying this awesome kite Brett got the girls! I could hardly contain it when all the string was let loose!  It would go really high and all I could think of was the Mary Poppins song "Let's go Fly a Kite!" The girls named the kite "Sky Light" and spoke to it as if it were real.  Naturally.
Spring,  you are so, so good to me. 
 As we moved on into the week spring reminded me how it feels both like a shuffle and a sprint.  My exercise comes quite naturally this time of year because there is simply so much to do in the yard and garden.  I like that.  Isn't there something just so satisfying about having your hands in the dirt?  I know the girls sure do enjoy it.  Actually, make that hands AND toes in the dirt, that's what they prefer!  This day Anna Ruth joined me for the weeding, little snippets of conversation happening in between the satisfying sound of pulling weeds.  

 Of course with all the yard and garden work, there are also times that feel like a slow-down shuffle.  Moments like when we find a toad! We found two of them in the garden this week and had to stop and say "hello".  We caught the smaller one in our bug-catcher to get a better look and when it was time to let it loose we figured we should put it right back where we found it.  Perhaps the bigger toad was its mama! She'd be wondering where this one went.
 The carrots are continuing to grow well, or the tops are at least!  
Anybody have any knowledge in this area? We're wondering if we should thin them out so that they'll actually grow big.

 We continue to really enjoy salad from the garden for dinner. 
Often times (like tonight!) this will be our whole meal. 
I'll add protein, like a boiled egg, tuna, or salmon, to the top. 
We also like olives, sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, peppers, capers, a little bit of everything on top really.  Or it's even good to just drizzle some olive oil and vinegar on top of a plain bed of lettuce.  

 My sweet Betsy with her blankie.  All who know us well know about the blankie. It's literally like a full-sized blanket, brown and fleece.  Betsy used to sleep on this when she was a baby because she was a winter baby.  She's now four and still extremely attached.  At least with it being so big we're not likely to lose it!

I adore her little hair buns here!
 Brett and I are taking a trip together, just the two of us. 
So I stopped in Barnes and Noble to grab a magazine and was delighted to see all the art made by children hung up!
 This week I also finished up a photography project for Jerusalem's new book coming out this summer! I cannot wait for you to see the photos and her book quotes combined! 

These quilts even make an appearance. 
You can purchase the photo prints in my Etsy shop soon!
A random tip for you: 
One HUGE way I have improved my neck/ear/back pain is by putting the computer up high when I type or edit photos.  This is a game-changer for me.  

I recently looked around at the library at everyone hunched down over their computers and just cringed.  Then I thought I should make a mini, foldable desk that is portable. 
 Adding an umbrella to our outside play this week has been fun!
Anna requested this photo and this is the face she wanted to make. 
 We had a few movie gift cards so I took the girls to see Smurfs. 
I thought it was "meh", just ok. 
Anna really liked it. 
It reminded me a lot of Trolls, but without all the wonderful singing and silliness! 

By the way when we want to check out how appropriate a movie is we go to a website called Plugged In.  It breaks any movie down by categories like language, etc.  I highly recommend it!

 Beautiful, early morning light.
 Homemade hot chocolate for the win! 
In a favorite mug of mine from Grandma and Papaw.
 Brett and the girls worked on this puzzle for weeks and finally finished it last week!
 Sweet girls had their Easter egg hunt and party at school last week! 

And I get asked EVERYWHERE, "Are they twins?" !
 And this is our current favorite hairstyle. 

Now we're looking at a busy weekend celebrating Jesus and Easter! 
We are hosting for the third year in a row. 
Then next week Brett and I head off to Florida. 

We celebrate 9 years this summer. 
We're jumping and plunging deep into the waters of foster care, come June. 
But first we're taking a pause for us. 

What are you up to? What are you reading/watching/dreaming about? 
Any travel plans in the works? 

Friday, April 7, 2017

The first of a weekly blog post. Hello Fri-YAY!

Literally every Friday morning I wake up and think "It's FRI-YAY!" I suppose it's very typical to say Friday is your favorite day of the week, but it is in my world. It means we get Brett home from work for a couple of days, the schedule shifts for just a day or two, and things generally just feel different than the Monday-Thursday normal.  

For this particular season of life it's no secret that things are shifting and changing for our family.  Right now life is fairly predictable and easy-going.  Sure, we still have some challenges as does everyone!  But we're in the same little chapter of having two toddlers that we've been in for several years now.  Soon, that will change. Foster care (which doesn't have an ounce of predictability) and kindergarten will be our new "normal".  And let's face it, the word "normal" will probably not be used in our home for a long time, if ever again! We are taking the road less traveled and we know it. 

Did you know I've been blogging about 10 years?! Can you believe it?  I can't.  One of my favorite things to do is look back through old posts and see what life was like and what we defined as "normal" through the years.  I see the hand of God steady and true on our family, I see things left unwritten in-between some of the photos, times I wasn't sure we would come out on the other side hope still intact.  But as sure as I live and breathe, here we are, hearts and minds intact, hope anchored to Jesus.  Just as the girls are constantly growing my time has slowly shifted over the years, causing me to reflect on what truly matters to spend my time on. 
We each get to pick how our 24 hours a day will be spent.  In the past I had the time and freedom to do multiple crafts a week, decorate the house and rearrange things as often as I liked, time for photography and art, often all in one day! Now as the girls have gotten older and my own health has needed more attention (among other things), I'm just able to do much less than I used to.  And that is more than ok. All of life is sacred and worth revering as holy. The big pockets of time, the little, and everything in-between. 

So it's with these reasons combined with a few other personal ones, that I'm going to start something new on the blog, at least for a couple of months. 
I'm going to start writing a big 'ol blog post on Fridays.  I'll be sharing what we've been up to, books I've read, things I've cooked, and little notes I've saved during the week to share with you.  I hope and pray it will feel like a big girlfriend (and you too Papaw!) gathering here on the blog each Friday.  I'm hoping you'll want to stop in and leave me your own weekly thoughts, letting me know how your corner of the world went the past seven days. 
Without further ado, let's get started. 

We are loving the outdoors again! The girls especially enjoy the rope swing Brett built.  I've even been known to take a turn.  It's especially fun to lean all the way back, your face entirely to the sun. 
The clouds have been equal parts dark and mysterious with light and fluffy and full of sun.  So many good clouds this spring! 

Sounds a bit like life, doesn't it? 

It's the time of year for flip-flops already.  And that's when I can even get Betsy to leave her shoes on!  My wild child prefers to run barefoot through our country lawn.  And those barely-painted toenails? My favorite. She calls them her "feet nails". 

Bug-catching, bandaids, ladybugs, and pigtails flying are another common occurrence. 

Most days we get outside for an hour or two, at least. Some weekend days we're out for six hours or more!  The girls have a playhouse they enjoy, a yard to roam, the swing, the garden, and their faithful kiddie pool that's tried to blow away into the cow pasture a few times, but we always rescue it in time.  Life feels so much more relaxed when we can escape outdoors.  We even eat outdoors as much as possible! 

As I just texted my mom, the yard is Brett's domain.  It's truly where his creativity has a place to shine.  Good thing too because I have no idea where to even start with planting and identifying things in the yard and garden!   I am so thankful Brett knows more than I do in this area! He is working on making our yard so beautiful and it's fun to see things starting to bloom. 

This is our little country road view.  It never gets old. 

We've had two baby calves out this week though!  Somehow I've been able to get them both back into the pasture.  Naughty things! 

Our garden is really starting to take off! These are carrot tops, something we've never tried to grow before.  (the carrots I mean) I'm curious to see how well they'll do.  In years past I've slowly watched the garden start to grow, reflecting on each tiny bit of progress.  This year it felt like we did the planting and the next thing I knew, things grew! 

Our lettuce and greens have been such an easy, healthy treat to put on the dinner table.  Or lunch table for that matter!

When we first moved out to the country and had our house built there wasn't a garden at all. I have photos of Anna Ruth, so teeny and tiny, playing in the dirt while Brett built the garden. 

The right side of the garden is totally overtaken with weeds but will soon have squash, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, and more planted!
That sun!! Fills my heart right up with hope. 
I'm learning day by day to let the girls have fun, even if it means giving up control of the neat and tidy living room and let them leave a blanket fort out for a few days at a time. 
Waving "bye" to Daddy!
Anna's bottom teeth are growing in!
Early morning sunrise.
Homemade hot chocolate, a rare treat. 
I'm exercising again and have been for a couple of months. I can slowly (so slowly) feel myself getting stronger.  Last month I exercised 12 days out of the month, which is progress for me! 
We are loving my homemade kombucha! This day I added seltzer water and fresh oranges. 
Delicious! I drink one kombucha a day usually. 
A few weeks ago we gave our master bedroom a mini makeover and I love it! This is the view from the bed now. Makes it hard to leave sometimes! 
Sunset on the farm.
The great water bottle debate.  I am drinking a ton of water these days and wanted a new water bottle. However the price tag is so steep! I just stood there in Target forever wondering if a water bottle was really worth $15 or more.  

Any thoughts or opinions for me? Please share!
This is the view at my favorite tea spot. Isn't it dreamy? 
Homemade sushi for an at-home date night. 
I used to treat myself to a Snickers bar years ago when I completed the grocery shopping. 
I was about 15 pounds lighter and could get away with it. 

My how times have changed! (lol) Now I'm 33 and working towards a happy, healthy gut. No more Snickers for me.  Instead I treated myself to this little drink and it is a top favorite of mine. I bought it at Natural Grocers.  I mean it is seriously delicious.  
We made homemade gummies with beef gelatin (google this, it's very good for you) and organic, 100% peach juice. We thought they looked so pretty held up to the light. Betsy really liked the gummies but Anna didn't. 
I've been working really hard on my health and getting stronger.  No dairy, white sugar, most grains, processed, and mostly no eating out. I've been trying to get on the treadmill a couple of times a week at least and be plenty active in the yard the rest of the time. The good news? My energy is way better, no headaches, my endometriosis symptoms are way, way better, and my gut/stomach is happy 99% of the time. 

I'm still occasionally experiencing some endometriosis stuff that is preventing me from running on the treadmill or doing things as consistently as I'd like, but I keep hearing it just takes time. I really wondered if I should post this picture because I have to be totally honest here.  I am so used to the flood of before and after photos and the constant attention on weight loss that I feel like a very tiny voice focusing instead on my mental health and overall well-being. 

Plus usually the minute I post something about my health I get tons of requests and emails from well-meaning people to be a health coach, sell a product, etc. 
This is such a deeply personal thing to me, this health journey.  Brett said I should just put it out there and say "No soliciting".  So there it is. No soliciting please.  :) 

And can we please work toward a group of women with STRONG, able bodies and minds who aren't so focused on the scale? I'll be the first.

For the record I haven't really lost much weight since starting all this in November. Maybe around 5 or 6 pounds.  Nothing record-breaking according to the world's standards. But according to my general health, absolutely record-breaking.  My hope and strength is back.  That's a bigger win than the scale can give me any day. 
I know, I know. Betsy is sitting on my lap while I type this and she asked what this was and then said she didn't want to look at it, lol.  This is beef gelatin that I mix into tea sometimes.  
Look up the benefits! It's very good for you. 
Leftover millet, red onion, fried egg, and smashed avocado. 
Brett and I are going to Florida in a week or so!!!!!
Just us. 
Life will change so soon. 
For now, we're tucking in some time to celebrate us. 

My girls have the best ideas, even if they are a bit dangerous. 
I got to hold my nephew in the baby carrier last week! 
He even fell asleep! 
I had to remember all that I could do while wearing a baby carrier. 
Blueberry smoothie with coconut and granola on top! 
My family almost drank this all up themselves. 
Note to self: next time make more than one smoothie. 

These two are some of the best books I've ever read. Ever. 
Like they make my top five favorite books. 

The bottom book I'll be reading again, for sure.  It was painfully honest and real and yet so full of hope.  I've never really read a book quite like it.  It spoke volumes to me. 
(both were checked out from my local library)
Yummy lunch. Garden salad, tahini dressing, and half a sweet potato with hummus. 
Dinner (meatballs with sauce, salad) and a puzzle. We almost always have a hard puzzle out on the dining room table. The girls love working them and are really good at it!

This week I worked on organizing the closet, again. 
I do this at least two or three times a year. 
As the girls tried on things from last year I wasn't surprised to see almost everything was too short! 
My little girls are growing up. 
We bagged up clothes that were still in good condition to save in case we have a little girl needing them someday.  We threw away stained, worn out things.   And then we usually shop sales or thrift stores to find them new clothes. 
I found a book about myself at the library! 

We continue to make our weekly visits to the library, which is one of my top favorite places on the planet.  As my librarian friend said "We want this to be a safe place for people", meaning if your kiddo is crying or things aren't going perfectly, come anyway. 

These people teach me more about Jesus and love than almost anything else each week. 
There are all kinds of people at the library. Different shapes and sizes, walks of life, races and ethnicities. We're all there together, smiling at one another or visiting occasionally. Sometimes just letting each other be. It is a beautiful thing, this library of ours. 

That's been our week, or mostly it! 
I've also had the honor of working on a creative project to help launch Jerusalem's newest book.  I'm getting to combine her book quotes with my photography, props, and storytelling. I'll tell you when the photo prints are in my Etsy shop and ready to purchase! 

To end, a quick list of creative things I'm wanting to make time for: 
decorating for Easter (we're hosting!)
catching up on Project Life

Your turn to share! What have you been up to this week? 
What creative things are on your list? 
*Comment away! I'm hoping with one post a week I can start digging into the comments and replying more quickly.*

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