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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Trusting . . .

Josh and I have spent the last week or so checking out the teaching positions that are opening up across Nebraska.  At this point there is nothing in our area listed.  And so we throw around town names and use map.quest to find where they are.  Could he commute?  Would we have to move?  Are gas prices going to shoot to the sky?  And in this time we've seen one listing taken down, leaving us reeling--that was crazy fast!!!--and I must admit, it makes me nervous.  We're hopeful that there will be more opportunities coming up--we've seen nothing at this point from the Lincoln and Omaha areas--but at the same time we realize we may need to widen our search and just take whatever offer he can get. 

Here's what I know . . . I've been praying about this time, the perfect job for Josh, for two years now.
And we've got this tidy little plan--Josh finds something within commuting distance of where we currently live (we were giving him up to an hour commute), we keep renting, and then the summer of 2012 we start looking for a house.  It's a good plan.  A plan that enables our life to stay predictable, keep family and conveniences and church and violin teachers (and Hobby Lobby and libraries--you know, the important stuff) ;o) all easily accessible. 

But a few days ago it hit me--
1) God has the perfect plan, will I trust Him or will I interfere (as in "No, Josh don't apply there . . . that's more than an hour away!!!")?
2) I was looking at all these little towns wondering what they could possibly offer my family, how would my life be inconvenienced, instead of wondering how could God use me--my family in a small little town somewhere.
3) It's easy to "pad" our lives, but when we step out of our comfort zones we get to see God better at work and we learn to rely more on Him--instead of patting ourselves on the back for a well-played strategic move.

Proverbs 16:9--The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.

And so Josh is going to apply for jobs all over.  We'll see what God does.  I'm going to try my hardest to not worry about all the stuff I want to worry about and just "go with the flow"--a hard thing indeed for someone who is a perpetual planner.  And I humbly request your prayer too, that God would go before and we would be sensitive to where He would lead us.  Most of all that Josh would JUST FIND A JOB.  A teacher in his Saturday class was commenting on what slim-pickings it was this year.  Obviously we have no idea what a "good hiring year" would look like, but we would really like this year to be such a year. ;o)  In the meantime, it looks like I'll be getting my "trusting muscles" in better shape, which I know from past experiences is not my most favorite kind of exercise. ;o)  I'm just thankful I have a God in charge who does not make mistakes.  That definitely takes the pressure off of us!  We'll wait and see what he does . . .

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Busy Kids

While I admit to personally being in a "creating rut," the same has not been true of the kids.  There seems to be a constant flurry of activity, paper and markers scattered through the downstairs, pieces of yarn and felt littering bedroom floors . . .  And while busy kids tend to be messy kids, busy kids are also QUIET kids. ;o)  And we all love that!
From Emmett--
Various pictures of happy little trains, cars, airplanes coming from his little hands, and a particular fondness for the letters E, O, W, T, and M.  That picture is a train (in the event you were uncertain). ;o)
From Jackson--
The first in a series of "spring" pictures.  I'm loving the bug variety and bright, cheerful colors.
From Isabella--
She has been sewing up a storm!! All these creations have been made without a single bit of Mommy assistance.  Starting on the left is a recycled sock doll, a rag doll, a wee cyclops buddy (over the ragdoll), an owl, a pillow, and a doll blanket.  I was impressed at her ability to follow directions from a book (although she decided not to use the suggested patterns . . .) and make these all by herself.  My favorite? The owl. ;o)

The book she is using was one she got for her birthday last summer.  It has some great patterns for kids (or adults) to do. 
And from Marissa--
It's me!! ;o)  She's been attempting to draw more realistically.  We checked out an Usborne "faces" book from the library which has been helpful.  While I still get the occasional picture from her, most of her free-time is spent either reading or writing (she's writing a book you know).  ;o) As much as I loved to write as a kid, I think she's already gotten me beat.  Periodically I read her book to see what she's been up to, and I must admit, my jaw kind of dropped when I read this:

"The wolves voices died away.  And the gate disappeared in a cloud of fog.  Silvery gray twigs snapped under Jenifer's feet.  Dark figures of trees loomed over Jake, Jenifer, and Maya, making them feel small."

Now, of course, the whole story is not written in this way, but every now and then I come across descriptions that surprise me. 
~
No creations from Owen yet, but he still fits the title of a "busy kid."  Have I mentioned the accompaniment he composes on the piano while the girls practice violin? ;o)  It's loud.  I figure that some day should my girls ever perform in public the whole building could burn down around them and their concentration would remain wholly intact.  Little brothers DO come in handy for some things. ;o) 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Happy Little Things

For a few years now I've found myself drawn to white ironstone--pitchers mainly--the simplicity, the curves, it all just makes me happy.  And I've admired out there in bloggy-land nice collections of ironstone displayed on shelves (for one of my favorites head here).  I've periodically checked ebay but never found anything for a "steal."  I knew my mother-in-law was heading to an estate sale, I told her to keep her eye out, and behold, my collection begins! Look what she found me: 
Would it be silly to admit they make me a bit giddy? ;o)
And they're even more special because they belonged to a very dear old lady who went to our church.  She's been gone several years now, but she was so incredibly sweet and known for her hospitality.  Thank you Linda! ;o)
I thought white dishes would really "pop" in my hutch--
Currently the hutch is home to all these pictures in white frames (I like how they "pop" too!). ;o)
Josh was rather concerned when he saw all these matching white frames.  But never fear, I've actually been very slowly purchasing them for the last 5 or 6 years . . . just when I happen to be at Hobby Lobby and they're half off. ;o)
~
Things are starting to "spring-ify" around here.  Originally I was going to make myself wait until the end of February to decorate.  But we have had nearly a week of crazy beautiful weather--when I logged onto my computer it was claiming it 70 degrees.  In February.  In Nebraska.  How can I not get out the spring stuff??!?  And I've also found myself cleaning more (who doesn't like that?) and have found it particularly lovely when using lavender scented products. Yes, I just used "lovely" and "cleaning" in the same sentence!  I LOVE the smell of real lavender.  That makes me happy too. ;o)
One of my new ideas for this year--

This is an old printer's drawer (what they used to store type in before the dawn of computers)--a craigslist score for $15.  It's in our downstairs bathroom--hence the toilet paper (to which Josh questioned "Now you're decorating with toilet paper?!" Yes, I am.)  And I thought it would be fun to stick a variety of eggs in those little slots.  I'm not going to fill it completely, but I do need to score a few more little eggs.  Nothing says "spring" like cute little birdie eggs. ;o) Well, for me anyway.  I feel a trip to the HobLob in the near future.  This weather also makes me want to pull out my sewing machine and start sewing children's clothes for spring . . . If there is such a think as "spring fever" I probably have it. ;o) 


Monday, February 14, 2011

*Lately*

Life remains busy. (strange, I know!)
I'm thankful Josh is not working his regular job because it kind of FEELS like he still is.  With interviewing, parent/teacher conferences, and just general lesson prep stuff he remains quite busy.  I can't imagine if he tried to do a job and student teach at the same time.  It would have been impossible.  On a positive note he is doing an AWESOME job.  He had his third evaluation today . . . and repeatedly he has been told that he is the best student teacher she has ever seen.  And on another positive note, he loves teaching (which is a good thing to realize after going back to school for two years to do it!). ;o)

The sibling squabbles between my eldest three have been a bit wearing as of late.  I'm hoping these last few days of spring-like weather will help stock up their "sunshine banks" and provide a bit more cheerfulness, love, and graciousness all around.  If only it were THAT simple . . . We're plugging along dutifully at the moment but it seems we have sprung a "joy leak." I guess what can I expect, it being FEBRUARY and all. ;o)

Owen continues to entertain and amaze us.  I think Marissa will go down in our record books as the most talkative of our little people, but Owen will be remembered for his understanding/mimicry of his family.  I'm continually amazed at what he understands like: putting dishes away in the correct spots in my cupboard, bringing me a diaper when he was poopy, following commands like "Let's put your shoes on." and he sits down and sticks out his feet, or I say "Let's go!" and he climbs in the car seat.  Oh is he ever fun--and he gives the best snuggles (and kisses too!).
~reading like Marissa~
~scrubbing the floor~
(I start 'em young!!) ;o)
~first time playing outside with the kids~
(He LOVED it, running all over the place, and so distraught when I brought him back in!)

Sadly, we have no Valentine plans.  I DID sprinkle some V-Day sprinkles on their pancakes this morning, we had chili for lunch (it's red and all) and I've got a gooey chocolate dessert tonight for supper, but otherwise we're keeping it pretty simple.  And I'm feeling kind of guilty because Jackson has been hugely disappointed.  Devastated really.  He told me "Valentine's Heart Day is my favorite day!" He wanted to know when the party guests were arriving and what kind of V-Day gift he would be getting . . .
*ummmmmm*  So, yeah, I've lost a few points in his eyes. ;o)  I just wasn't on top of things this year.

But this weather, yesterday, today--truly lovely--and a bit motivating to get rid of the rest of the winter decor, start some "sprucing and spiffing" and get ready to welcome spring.  Who would have thought cleaning would sound so refreshing?  And if I could do it in a house quiet and free of sibling bickering? Now, THAT would be pure bliss. ;o)  Have a lovely day!!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Quick Book Recommendation

This book is ADORABLE!
Owen received one for his birthday (or Christmas . . . it's all a blur) ;o) and LOVES it.
The little owl is a finger puppet attached to the book, as you turn the page he appears in each scene.
Owen thinks it is absolutely hilarious.
And there are all sorts of other styles if an owl isn't your gig, like a fish, a mouse, a bird, a monkey, etc.
Definitely recommended for the baby or toddler in your life. ;o)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Some Simple V-Day Ideas

I came across the idea today to set up a "Valentine Making Station"--which sounded like a perfect creative outlet for my kids.  A quick trip to Hobby Lobby scored me a few V-Day items 40% off, I tossed in some construction paper (pre-folded in "card" shape), glue sticks, glitter, scotch tape, cookie cutters for tracing, and we were good to go.  I envisioned some quiet, reflective Valentine making over the next few weeks.
Within 20 minutes the scotch tape was gone . . .
(card by Jackson)
I don't know what it is with those boys, but they LOVE scotch tape.
And 25 minutes into it the supplies were beginning to dwindle.
A feeding frenzy of the Valentine variety.
In the midst of the process I thought, "I should go print off some Valentine pictures to add to the basket!"
I was gone maybe 5--tops 10--minutes.
I returned . . .
  Oh what a rookie mistake!!!
Who leaves five kids alone with a container of glitter??
All the glitter messes of Christmas combined could not equal this catastrophe. It's in all of our hair, coating  body parts, furniture, embedded in carpet.  Emmett literally shook the whole bottle over the downstairs area of our home.  I asked why I was not informed, but nobody really had a good answer. 
Anyway, here's some cool printables . . . free to you, but really bought at the expense of my sanity:
At least I can say my house S*P*A*R*K*L*E*S--a rare occurrence indeed. ;o)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Warding off Cabin Fever

We've been home--inside--a LOT lately.  And today, no exception, with it being kind of blizzardy out there, will find us doing more of the same.

And so far, so good.  At times of course, there's a bit of "cagey-ness" but I honestly enjoy this cozy-up season.  How we're currently warding off the crazies . . .

1. Play-dough . . . never ever forget the magic of play-dough!  I've made two batches in the last day.  Using cooking flavorings I've scented one strawberry, the other lemon.  We have a lot of tools to use (as well as cookie cutters) but other things that can make it more fun: googly eyes, feathers, pipe cleaners, toothpicks, popsicle sticks, straws . . . They can come up with all sorts of interesting creations. 
2.  More read-alouds! Somehow I just feel like the pressure is off when I know I'm going to be going nowhere.  Life slows down and there are more moments to just stop, snuggle up on the couch and read.  Pull out the classic Pooh or Beatrix Potter, start a chapter book (especially all those Laura Ingalls Wilder stories . . . they're just wonderful!), make some cocoa or popcorn and have a book party in the living room.

3.  More family movie nights!  We are on a musical kick lately.  Our all time favorite being (probably) The Sound of Music--split up over two nights.  We did Annie last night and I'm awaiting My Fair Lady at the library--which is where I get a lot of older movies.  If you plan in advance and place holds you can have them for free.

4.  Start a project.  This is more for mommy sanity.  But now is a great time to organize or rearrange, plot some fresh ideas for spring, or ummm begin painting your armoire . . . 

;o)
5.  Check out some of these sites for more crafty ideas:
They are two of my favorites for finding clever little projects to do with the kids.

6. Bake more.  True it can be a dangerous thing to make a habit of (as my scale will attest to lately . . .) but nothing can brighten up a dreary day more than an ooey, gooey cinnamon roll, or fresh bread smeared in butter, or thick, moist brownies coated heavily in frosting . . . ;o)  Right??!?

7. And I guess finally, loosen up! ;o) If a fort remains in your living room all week, that's okay.  If they find a good area for a race track and schedule daily races, let them have at it.  If every single pillow and blanket ends up at the bottom of your stairs for them to jump in, life will go on.  As long as they are--for the most part--not in harm's way just be happy and thankful they are using their imaginations and keeping themselves busy. It will give you more time to devote to getting your armoire painted. ;o)

Happy snow day!