Saturday, September 24, 2011

Around the house

A shoe pile by the door, always--
 Two boys who collaborate on drawings, this one of robots, but often of race cars and raceways, airplanes and explosions, you know, typical boy stuff--
Celebrating the first day of fall with our traditional breakfast, apple cider donuts and apple cider--
Loving this hilarious little fellow--

Free entertainment out the dining room window--

We're figuring out our new rhythms, slowly, but surely.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


the mingling of sunshine, sweat, and a warm September day
smell the same at thirty-one as they did at seventeen
my feet crunch gravel in a familiar rhythm
for a moment
I'm taken back to country roads of yesterday
and long runs with sister and brothers
a whiff of lavender and fresh peeled potato
the whistling of wind on one side but not the other
the attentive caution of looking both ways again and again
because the sounds come at me confusing
bring me back
remind me I'm thirty-one
and blessed

(You all think poetically while exercising, right?  Good, because Josh thought I was being weird again) ;o)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Moving On

Today is the beginning of week three post-move.  We found ourselves back at school this morning and for the most part it was good to be back in that routine.  Jackson's kindergarten "lesson" involved him spending two hours working on a small Lego semi . . . and while maybe I should have cracked open the books, how crazy would I have been to interrupt such intense concentration? ;o)

So, the whole moving thing?  I'd like to tell you all I have sailed through this little life change quite breezily.  Truth is, it has probably been the hardest on me.  I told Josh yesterday I was now two days without crying.  He looked at me as if I had sprouted two heads, "You've been crying every day??!" he asked incredulously.

"Oh yes," I replied, "In fact, several times throughout the day."

"I'm glad I wasn't there to see it!" he exclaimed, compassionate and caring person that he is. ;o)  While I might err on the side of feeling too much, he would (of course) be on the opposite end of the spectrum. Anymore I find this amusing how completely opposite we are (wasn't quite so funny those first few years of marriage . . .). ;o)

And go me, but I just might make it through today tear-free too! I have no idea if two weeks of crying is a normal way to adjust to one's new surroundings, but I guess that's how I do things.  Even though I told my silly self that it's "just three hours" the truth is everything has changed.  My routines, the places I visit, my knowledge of where everything is located in stores . . . it's all different now.  I have stumbled through each day all thick-headed and clumsy-like, lacking greatly the smoothness and efficiency I enjoyed in the familiar surroundings of Lincoln.  And I have missed.  If I know you, I miss you.  I have missed serving in the orchestra at church, missed the "orchestra people," I have missed the predictability of the school year schedule and all the activities we would be doing but can't.  I have missed my Wednesday evening kid drop-off at my in-laws . . . after nearly ten years of doing so!  Ten years of leisurely chatting about life and gardening and recipes and decorating with my mom-in-law--oh how I miss that!  I miss the ability to decide something on a whim . . . a visit to my parents, a morning of playing with my sister's kids.  I miss it all!  That's not been easy.

But I like to think I may have turned a corner?  After a few weeks of curling up in fetal position and bawling my eyes out and telling myself, "Your blog is called "A Steadfast Life" not "An Unstable Life!!!"  I think I have re-emerged from that fog. (I didn't REALLY curl up in fetal position . . . well, maybe once . . .). ;o)  I'm starting to figure this new life out, and that is definitely a good feeling.  Especially since my favorite season is upon us and the crying was really putting a damper on the fall celebrating.  I think some apple cider donuts are in order!  And perhaps a few other things with "apple" or "pumpkin" in the title . . . ;o)  Life goes on . . . thank you to my praying friends/family, you probably have no idea how your prayers carried me through these last two weeks of what we'll call "adjusting." ;o)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Picture Catch-Up

I'm a bit behind in photo uploading.  I had a few from the old camera (which I had brought to the state fair . . . and it's the one Isabella grabs when she feels the need to document something) and also pics from the new camera.  A few snapshots of what we've been up to these last two weeks:

Emmett the lover of all creatures great and small
Owen and his big ice cream cone
Owen's way of keeping himself entertained for a good 20 minutes or so, complete with him walking around and bumping into things.  Remember Psalty?  Yeah, that's what he reminded me of.
A night of harvest moon chasing and apple cider drinking

Lots of track building by the biggest brothers . . . and unfortunately lots of destruction from the smallest one equals lots of "teachable" moments.

And here's me blind stitching the bottom of the next set of curtains with an Owen helper (as photographed by Isabella).  He seems to enjoy a front row seat to all I do. ;o)  And yep, I totally broke out a turtle-neck yesterday.  The sudden change of weather has left me a bit unprepared.  We showed up to a cross country meet yesterday with the girls in flip-flops.  I need to get some shoe shopping done for both of them. 
There are no major plans for today, perhaps a bit of "master" bedroom maneuvering (Josh and I took the smallest room to insure the kids had ample play space in their rooms) and well, things are cozy in there.  We might see if we can come up with a better arrangement.  Josh has a few plumbing projects to attend to and I have a few small sewing projects on my agenda for a little niece who will be making her arrival in the next month.  I must confess, researching cute baby projects is definitely a dangerous pastime as more than once my mind has wandered to "Maybe six . . .?"
At which point Josh covers his ears and hums loudly to himself.
Clearly the move has left me teetering on the edge of crazy. ;o)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Cinnamon Roll Recipe

My mom and dad were able to stop in yesterday for lunch, after swinging up to Ainsworth to spend the weekend with my brother and his wife, they took a "scenic route" back home so they could stop by to visit us.  We had chili and cinnamon rolls . . . perhaps a bit premature for a warm September day, but it felt good to do some fall-inspired cooking. ;o)  My mom wanted my roll recipe, so I thought I would share it here (in the event you may be lacking a good cinnamon roll recipe).  These rolls are super soft, and I am going to venture the reason why is the butter and whole milk, so don't skimp. ;o)

~Cinnamon Rolls~
2 cups warm whole milk (105-110 degrees)
2 (1/4 oz) packages of active dry yeast (or 4 1/2 tsp)
1/2 cup sugar, divided
7-8 cups of bread flour, divided
1 TBSP of salt (although I probably use 1-2 tsp)
1 cup melted butter
2 large eggs
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
(1 cup finely chopped pecans if you like)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, softened to easy spreading consistency

1.  In a small bowl, combine warm milk, yeast, and 1/4 cup of sugar; let stand for 5 minutes.
2.  In a medium bowl, combine 5 cups bread flour, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and salt.
3.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine milk mixture, butter, and eggs.  Gradually add flour mixture to milk mixture, beating until smooth after each addition.  Beat in remaining flour to make a soft dough.  (I probably end up using right around 7 1/2 cups of flour . . . and I don't have a stand mixer, so I use my little handheld with beaters until it gets too tough and then knead the rest by hand).
4.  Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Place dough in a slightly greased bowl, turning dough to grease top.  Cover and let stand in a warm place.  (I usually preheat my oven for a minute or two and then turn it off and stick the dough in there).  Let rise for 1-1 1/2 hours.  Punch it down; cover and let stand for 10 minutes.
5.  Lightly grease 3 9-inch cake pans, set aside.
6.  In a small bowl combine brown sugar and cinnamon (pecans if you are using them).
7.  I spray my counter with cooking spray and spray my rolling pin and then roll out one enormous rectangle--somewhere in the vicinity of 12x30 inches.  Spread butter all over it and then sprinkle with your sugar/cinnamon mixture.  Roll up dough, starting at the long side, jelly-roll fashion, press edges to seal.  I use dental floss to divide my dough into thirds (slide the floss under and bring the edges up and around to meet and slice the dough), and then each segment I get 8 rolls out of.  Arrange 8 rolls per pan.  Cover and let rise in a warm place for an hour or until rolls have doubled in size.
8.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake rolls for about 25 minutes or until lightly browned.  Let cool in pans for five minutes.

For frosting--
Either invert your rolls on a serving platter and frost them with "Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing" (3 oz cream cheese, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1 cup confectioners' sugar, 3 TBSP whole milk) or keep them in the pan and drown them in the "Pioneer Woman's" frosting (which is what I do about 99% of the time--LOVE the flavor of the coffee and maple in the frosting).  I can usually cut that recipe in half and have more than enough for my three pans of rolls.  (You'll have to scroll all the way down that link to find the ingredient list for the frosting). 

Enjoy!! ;o)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

As the first week ends--

Before time passes me by too quickly, I have to say how much my family and friends have blessed me during the moving process.  I have been overwhelmed, again and again . . . gift cards to eat out, gift cards to Hobby Lobby, sweet house-warming presents to cozy up my home, fun activities/gift items for the kids to do, being taken out to eat, help scrubbing up my old kitchen, the hospitality of family, notes to tell me I'm being prayed for, real handwritten notes arriving in the mail here--not to mention the help Josh got from guys helping him move as well as someone preparing a meal to feed all those guys.  I have felt so loved.  All of those sweet gestures have definitely helped cushion a heart that is a bit homesick and transition me from "there" to "here." Big (virtual) hugs to each of you--you know who you are.  I miss your faces already.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Bit of a House Tour

A few glimpses as to what was accomplished this week . . .
I rid the living room of this curtain contraption (the landlord said I could, phew!) it was old and big and heavy and coated in inches of dust and it took me forever to unbolt all the little pieces from the wall.
And in its place I hung the ticking drapes which feel so much lighter and breezier.  Even Josh commented on what a difference they make.  There was the perfect amount of space between the front door and this window to fit my smaller hutch.
The view from slightly left of my front door, looking towards the dining room
(you'll notice another curtain system that needs to come down . . . I have the rods/ticking, but I'm lacking some drapery lining at the moment, if I can get that this weekend I might try to sew those next week).

Looking at the dining room from the kitchen--

I'm not quite done fiddling with that hutch yet--as the real gourds/pumpkins become more available I may stick those in.  The white ironstone feels a bit too "gleaming" for fall decor right now, so I may fiddle with that too.  The door next to my ladder heads into my laundry/second bath as well as being the door going down to the basement.  I truly love the shade I came out and painted a few weeks back--if you ever need a good taupe color that has more grey undertones instead of tan/pinkish ones I highly recommend it (Home Depot's Martha Stewart line "tobacco leaf" only mixed in Behr).
Much of my black furniture is going to need some "touching up" after the move--mainly around edges, etc.--which I guess is bound to happen.  One of these days I'll get on that . . . ;o)  I think I may paint the bathroom this weekend--it could use some help.  Oh, and check out this shower curtain! I informed my mom what I need for my birthday.  One can't have too much ticking, you know? ;o)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Little Check-In

At the end of my 2nd full day, things I have learned--

~Microwaving my water for tea at 90 seconds proves much too long here, as my burnt (several times!) tongue will attest to.

~Puncture vine flourishes in the "grass" (as Owen's little bare foot will attest to) so we cannot leave the door without shoes.

~Two days is the absolute limit I can go without a laundry hook-up.  Thankfully Josh took care of that this evening.

~Grasshoppers are wildly entertaining.

~Burning tasty smelling candles is helping a bit to delay all of these fall baking urges.  Just as soon as I have some time I'm going to get myself a batch of cinnamon rolls going!  And pumpkin bars.  And pumpkin fudge.  (Yes, my pumpkin supply is unpacked!) ;o)

~I'm a badly prioritized un-packer.  It is possible all of my children's toys, books, and all of our bathroom stuff still remains boxed while pumpkins and other fall nonsense adorns my shelves and hutches. It is also possible that I had Josh help me hang a curtain rod last night when he probably should have been building the girls' bunk bed.  They may or may not be sleeping on the floor (Marissa) and a toddler bed (Isabella).

~I am really in need of an office area.

~I'm not sure if it's drier here but I am thirsty ALL THE TIME and my hands and lips super dry--kind of strange.

Overall, things are coming together really well.   For the most part I have managed to get the kitchen, dining, and living areas all set up and *ahem* decorated (enough) to make it feel like home.  Our bedrooms are all messes, but I do have 2/3 unpacked with clothes, so that is a good start. We cannot locate the boys' mattress pads and sheet sets which has left both Josh and I rather perplexed.  I remember washing and folding them all--I know they have to be in a box somewhere but so far nothing has turned up.  We really need another room for the girls so that the 3rd upstairs bedroom can be an office/school/sewing room and we're still tossing around ideas for that.  I'm staying busy, the constant-in-motion kind which leaves little room for homesickness (for the most part . . . I may have felt a bit teary this evening . . .) but we're doing good.  Tomorrow will be a long day though, as Josh has a weekly evening class in Grand Island.  I guess the girl's bunk bed will have to wait until Friday . . . oops. ;o)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Endings and Beginnings

We lived a very full Labor Day weekend,
 kicking if off Friday evening with our annual bonfire and S'mores roasting (a few days early)--

Saturday we visited my parents and I admired all the "golden" that has crept into the September ditches--
And said our goodbyes and cried a bit . . .
We bid our town home a fond farewell . . . three years of good memories there--
The kids swam some, but as the days cooled off found Grandpa and Grandma's hot tub much more preferable--
And bright and early Monday morning I admired the sunrise, was shocked at the sudden chill in the air, and knew a new season, a new chapter was upon us--
More hugs and goodbyes and tears--

And then we were off.

"What a happy summer this has been, " thought Anne...and then recalled with a little pang something she had heard Aunt Highland Kitty of the Upper Glen say once...."the same summer will never be coming twice."

Never quite the same. Another summer would come...but the children would be a little older and Rilla would be going to school...."and I'll have no baby left," thought Anne sadly. Jem was twelve now and and there was already talk of "the Entrance"....Jem who but yesterday had been a wee baby in the old House of Dreams. Walter was shooting up and that very morning she had heard Nan teasing Di about some "boy" in school: and Di had actually blushed and tossed her red head.

Well, that was life.

Gladness and pain...hope and fear....and change. Always change! You could not help it. You had to let the old go and take the new to your heart....learn to love it and then let it go in turn.

Spring, lovely as it was, must yield to summer and summer lose itself in autumn. The birth...the bridal....the death...."
L.M. Montgomery (Anne of Ingleside)
We got in yesterday evening around 6:00 (our traveling split up by a visit to the State Fair).  The boys promptly found a patch of loose fine dirt and set about digging.  Jackson excitedly informed me "Arapahoe has grasshoppers!!" and caught several.  Isabella organized her bathroom essentials and rode her bike back and forth over the long semi-circle drive way.  Marissa asked to go home. We ate some frozen pizza, built a bunk bed and unpacked a bit of the kitchen, and fell into bed, exhausted.
We're here and ready for some new adventures.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Tonight . . .

I notice the shakiness in his voice as he came down from bed requesting a drink of water.  "What's wrong?"I ask, kind of surprised.
"I hate moving!" his voice cracks, he hurriedly gets his water and heads back to bed.  I follow.
"Why are you so sad tonight?" I keep my voice quiet, neutral.
"I'll miss my friends," he breaks into tears.
"You'll see them at church tomorrow," I remind him.
"But tomorrow is the last time," he retorts.
"I know, but we'll come back and visit," I remind him.  Remind myself.
"Okay," he settles in his borrowed bed for the weekend, turns toward the wall, conversation over.
"Love you buddy," I say softly, creeping out, my heart slayed by the tears of a six year old boy.  (The same boy who I witnessed spitting several times today, who insulted his granny's cookies quite rudely, and punched his sister in the back).
He never fails to surprise me.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Summer Reading Tallies

Try as I might I couldn't get Isabella into reading this summer.  She did read the library's required 10 hours but once that was accomplished, she was through.  She tells me she'd rather sew.  And Josh keeps reminding me "go with their strengths."  So I didn't shove reading down her throat (much as I would have liked too). ;o) 
Isabella's Summer List:
By the Shores of Silver Lake by L. Ingalls Wilder
Elizabeth Gail and the Mystery at the Johnson Farm by H. Stahl
Marissa on the other hand, I--at times--had to order not to read. ;o)  She totaled 3,229 pages this summer (and that's just counting books with chapters . . . that girl reads ANYTHING with written word on it).  ;o)
Marissa's Summer List:
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by J. Verne
Five Children and It by E. Nesbit
Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Mysterious Handprints by D. Sobol
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by R. Dahl
The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit
Tales Before Tolkien compiled by D. Anderson
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm  by K.D. Wiggin
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery
Emily Climbs by L.M. Montgomery
The Gladiators of Capua by C. Lawrence
Peril and Peace by M. and B. Withrow

Her favorite book??  The Hobbit
One of these days I'm going to have to read some Tolkien and see what all the fuss is about. ;o)