Monday, October 31, 2011

Intentional Autumn . . . the end

Well, it's not really "the end."  Every day we're always intentional about something.  I realized the other night, while doing bath time for my boys how relaxed and unhurried I was.  I thought about how the main reason behind my leisurely attitude was the fact I wasn't in my own home. We were at Josh's parents' home, and while I oversaw bath time, his mom washed the supper dishes. 
Too often routines become a sprint to the finish line (bedtime).
I run to-do lists in my head . . .
Clean up table.
Vacuum dining room.
All the while shooing children off to get showers or baths taken.
Sometimes I miss out on simple pleasures because my brain just gets too crowded up.

I realize sometimes that just can't be helped.  But every day we are intentional in the choices we make--and too many choices get made without much thought.  There are times we need to pull back a bit from the routine of life and really think about what is important.  That's been on my mind a lot lately.  People throw out the argument of whether children need quality time or a quantity of time.
The truth is they need both. 
“Wherever you are, be all there!" a man named Jim Elliot once said.  And in an age where our electronic devices make it easier than ever to be "there" but not "there" I think it's scary the amount of kids raised by parents who just aren't "there." I can't count how many times I've been at a park and watched a mom absentmindedly pushing her toddler in a swing all the while scrolling through on her phone. 
Be there.
Look them in the eyes.
Really laugh with them.
I know, even though I'm not at that stage yet, it is all going to be over way too soon.

And those are my thoughts after attempting a 31 day posting streak (won't be doing THAT again!).  I decided I'm not able to be witty that many days in a row.  It's quite taxing.  (And probably as the month dwindled to an end, rather boring!). ;o)  Now, to usher in November, work on our "Thanks and Giving" Tree (more on that when I figure it out . . .), and enjoy a bit of blog quiet. ;o) 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Intentional Autumn . . . Sock-Bun Curls

The girls and I have developed a new Saturday night routine this month,
first showers, and then I sit around with a pile of mismatched socks, rolling their hair and tying the socks in place.  They might look silly, and a bit rag-dollish--

But it produces the most awesome and long-lasting of curls--a huge plus when your hair is stick straight!

I do a tiny bit of touch-up here and there with a curling iron, but overall it is one of the LEAST labor intensive hairstyles we've tried.  It only takes about eight socks and five minutes!  They sleep on them, and then we do a little bit of fluffing and hair-spraying in the morning.  I remember my mom doing this to my sister and I (Lynsi has no recollection of this, but I'm pretty sure it happened). ;o) 
Anyway, just a fun idea for some pretty hair!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Intentional Autumn . . . An Artist Trading Card Party

Inspired by an idea in a recent Family Fun magazine, we decided to host an "artist trading card party" for Marissa's birthday.  With Josh having a three-day weekend we decided to do it this weekend back at his parents' house with a few of the girls' closest friends (and it always works out so nice when you can invite sibling pairs!). ;o)
To start off the party we decorated binders with stickers, these binders would hold our plastic trading card protectors (think what you would use to organize a binder of baseball cards).  Here are the girls with their decorated binders--
We then busied ourselves with markers, colored pencils, and stamp pads decorating works of art in the 2 1/2 by 3 1/2 inch range.  I ordered a stack of artist trading cards from Amazon (link here) as well as the sheet protectors (link here).  They would be fairly easy to cut of cardstock and with a paper slicer too.
After we colored every single card available they traded works of art with friends--
I also had sent each girl a blank card in their invite to decorate specifically in honor of Marissa's birthday for her to display in her binder--
Then--of course--there were gifts . . . See that Cubs bag?  We're a "Cardinals" family and one of Marissa's friends comes from a "Cubs" family.  There's a lot of good-natured ribbing going on.  Although, it really doesn't matter since we all know who the winners really are . . . right? ;o)
After a simple lunch of hot dogs and a few other things (apple cider and pumpkin cupcakes of course!) we sent the girls outside to run around and gather materials for a bonfire--
I'm not sure what they enjoyed more, the gathering part, or the actual fire, but whatever the case we had a wonderful time and couldn't have asked for more beautiful weather!
It was a fun party!  Hopefully I sent the girls home with a new hobby to do as these months get colder and we're inside more.  Most of these girls have become pen-pals with our move, and I'm thinking it will be fun to trade card through the mail too!  In fact, I enjoyed it so much I may have to start my own binder, anybody else?? ;o)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Intentional Autumn . . . Connections

I was thinking today, I really don't have much to say, we're back in Lincoln for the weekend, and as always, the days are packed with things to do.
A birthday dinner, birthday party, and a huge family gathering will be squeezed into these three days.
I realize that's what I love most about this time of year particularly as we head toward Thanksgiving and Christmas . . . gathering, and the people to gather with.  There is a joy in visiting and eating and hanging out together--and I appreciate it even more now that we have moved.  We have to work harder at those connections--plan ahead--but it is always worth it.  If there is anything we find ourselves being more intentional about it is keeping our special relationships alive and thriving.  The drive is always worth it.
Wishing you all a lovely weekend!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Intentional Autumn . . . Grandma's Pumpkin Patch

This past June, Grandma's new pumpkin patch was completed, at the very end of their property.
It's quite the patch, all neatly fenced in to keep any deer with voracious appetites out.
The pumpkins got a bit of a late start, waiting for the fence to go up, but as of the first of October, they were still thriving--
And this past weekend we got to check out the harvest (and take a few home for ourselves!)
The "Long Island Cheese" seemed to do the best and be the most prolific--
Grandma planted over twenty different varieties (I think . . .)!
It wasn't the best pumpkin growing year do to the really hot July we had.
And a few plants dealt with an over drifting of Round-up.
But the storage room still had a nice variety--

Sadly, we think there was only one of the greenish-blue "Jarrahdale"
There is still a shelf that will hopefully ripen a bit more--
Grandpa has been teasing her to figure out exactly how much money went into growing each of these pumpkins.  And we all laugh because some things are just better off not knowing. ;o)
I'm not sure there is anything quite as delightful as pumpkin plants, when it comes to gardening and all.  And it makes me happy that I can live vicariously through my mother-in-law's patch. ;o) 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Intentional Autumn . . . Road Trips

A new fact of life for us that we are slowly adjusting to:
Nearly every time we hop in the van we have at the very minimum a half-hour drive ahead of us.
Or 40 minutes.
Or one hour.
Or three hours.

We've made it this far without a dvd player in the van, and honestly I still have no intention of getting one.  We do however make use of our CD player!
We passed most of October enjoying Psalty . . . anybody remember that big blue singing songbook?
Turns out the records (that Josh listened to) and the cassettes (that I enjoyed) have all been converted to Cd's.  Josh picked his favorite (#2) and I picked mine (#4).  We have a friendly competition going about whose is better.  Mine has Charity Churchmouse, so I think I win hands-down (and the girls would agree). ;o)
If you too have wonderful memories of Psalty you can visit the Psalty store here.  I think my next purchase might be #3 . . .  It's been a fun walk down memory-lane for both Josh and I!

Van rides also make great opportunities to pop in the Sparks memory verse Cd's or the girls' violin Cd's or a book on CD.  I love that our van becomes a portable classroom!  Sometimes, when things are getting a bit rowdy I pop in a CD of romantic (era, not the lovey-dovey kind!) piano music and that settles them down pretty good.

Things going on my list to get:
1. More Psalty
2.  Diana Waring's History Revealed Cd's--she walks you through history from the beginning of time, and I'd love to own all the sets to reinforce everything we've been studying
3. The Jesus Storybook Bible-Every Story Whispers His Name --I've heard WONDERFUL things about this children's Bible, and the cool part, it comes with a read-aloud CD!  Perfect!
4. And I've always been a fan of Cedarmont Kids--my kids are always more apt to sing-along when other kids are singing.  Sadly all of my original Cd's have met their demise. 

Good stuff to listen to is one way of "redeeming the time" for us. You can only play the alphabet game so many times, you know? ;o)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Intentional Autumn . . . Loving October

October's Bright Blue Weather
by Helen Hunt Jackson

O suns and skies and clouds of June,
And flowers of June together,
Ye cannot rival for one hour
October's bright blue weather;

When loud the bumblebee makes haste,
Belated, thriftless vagrant,
And goldenrod is dying fast,
And lanes with grapes are fragrant;

When gentians roll their fingers tight
To save them for the morning,
And chestnuts fall from satin burrs
Without a sound of warning;

When on the ground red apples lie
In piles like jewels shining,
And redder still on old stone walls
Are leaves of woodbine twining;

When all the lovely wayside things
Their white-winged seeds are sowing,
And in the fields still green and fair,
Late aftermaths are growing;

When springs run low, and on the brooks,
In idle golden freighting,
Bright leaves sink noiseless in the hush
Of woods, for winter waiting;

When comrades seek sweet country haunts,
By twos and twos together,
And count like misers, hour by hour,
October's bright blue weather.

O sun and skies and flowers of June,
Count all your boasts together,
Love loveth best of all the year
October's bright blue weather.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Intentional Autumn . . . A Weekend Documented

So, where are we?  Like on "Day 24" of trying to thinking of something to say for 31 days in a row?  I'm starting to run out of steam. ;o)  But we had some beautiful weather this weekend, and while I had hoped to get a nice group shot of my kiddos--something kind of formal-ish that I could use for a Christmas card-- it didn't quite go as I had hoped.  Quite abysmal really.  I'm just not certain it is possible to get a decent picture of five active children.  I did follow my kids around with a camera though, while they were busy doing the stuff that kids do, and ended up with a few favorites. 
A bit of peek-a-boo around the tree
Going for a ride
"The tongue" which made its appearance in many a picture
Up a tree

A different tongue--note the missing section of hair?
I didn't do that.
A sweet moment between brothers, Jackson finding a "wish-blower" for Owen

A glasses-less Rissy--can anybody tell me how to photograph eyeglasses without getting an awful glare?
A sweet little Emmett
Owen delighting over a few acorns
Meeting my parents' new dog Lassie--the nicest and most natural looking picture I have of Jackson. That boy can make some goofy faces! ;o)

My point to this post?  Go take some pictures!  Before you know it there will be no light and it will be cold and you will be indoors--right now it's PERFECT!!!
(because fall is the best of all)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Intentional Autumn . . . Cousin Lovin'

We're back in Lincoln for the weekend and doing a bit of this--

It was nice to officially get my hands on my new niece, and marvel at how little she is and how I always forget they start so small, admire her long fingers and decide she will be an excellent pianist, delight over her round wee belly, and see Owen's reaction to someone so small (he loved her . . . a bit too much . . . and he has an amazingly strong grip). ;o)  But I'll be the first to admit, holding newborns is dangerous stuff, and I wonder will there ever be a point in my life where I'll not want another one right then and there?  Or is that just the destiny of an aging woman?

Whatever the case, we were delighted to meet Miss Addisyn and are looking forward to watching her grow and change.  And hopefully, she'll supply that "baby fix" for us all. ;o)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Intentional Autumn . . . An Adorable Book

If you read my blog I'm certain I've mentioned this book before and how cute I think it is--
The little felt finger puppet owl, the cut out pages, it truly is a favorite with all ages in our family!
For my sister's new little "pumpkin" we found this similar one--
Equally adorable with a little felt mouse finger puppet crawling his way through pumpkins and leaves and acorns and other delightfully fall-looking pages.  I want to keep it for myself. ;o)
The story line in both of these books is fairly simple (and similar), but I don't really like them because of the story.  I like the illustrations and I like the puppet.  In my opinion, they make excellent baby/toddler gifts!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Intentional Autumn . . . Favorite Soups!

Once September hits, the menu begins to change a bit.  More baking, less grilling, and a little something I like to call "Soup-er Saturday!!!" finds it way back into our week.  I really like soup!  To me, it is the ultimate cold-weather comfort food. And throw in some home-baked bread goodness, whether it be a bread bowl or a roll or a cornbread or a fresh loaf of "something" you have utter perfection on the meal-front. ;o)

So, a few of our favorites--

Chili (what I like to refer to as my "five-can" chili, or maybe "lazy" chili) ;o) but my kids LOVE it and would eat it every day for lunch if they could!)
--Around a pound of ground beef, browned (I keep already cooked ground beef frozen in one pound increments in my freezer AT ALL TIMES, it makes life so much easier!)
--Large can of either crushed or pureed tomatoes
--Can of Busch's "Honey" flavored baked beans (not the small can, but the tall one)
--Two cans of Busch's medium flavored chili beans
--Can of Rotel Tomatoes

Cook over medium heat on the stove or toss it all in the crock pot.  Serve with shredded cheddar and crushed tortilla chips.  It's a little bit spicy and a little bit sweet.  It isn't too bad mixed with melted Velveeta as a variation on the infamous Velveeta dip either.  It's good in a bread bowl.  It's good over a hot dog . . . really, quite versatile! ;o)

Baked Potato Soup
4 lg. potatoes
2/3 c. butter
2/3 c. flour
6 c. milk
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
4 green onions, chopped
12 slices bacon, cooked/crumbled
1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
8 oz. sour cream

Wash potatoes and prick with a fork. Bake at 400 degrees for one hour or until done (or use your microwave method).  Let cool.  Cut lengthwise, scoop out pulp.  Loosely break up any large pieces into smaller chunks.  Set aside, discard skins.  Melt butter over low heat, add flour, stirring until smooth.  Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Gradually add milk.  Cook over medium heat, stirring until thick and bubbly.  Add potato pulp, salt, pepper, 2 T. of chopped green onions, 1/2 c. bacon and 1 c. of cheese.  Cook until thoroughly heated.  Stir in sour cream.  Add extra milk if necessary so soup is desired consistency.  Serve remaining onions, bacon, and cheddar cheese on the side as toppings.  I usually don't put any green onions in the soup because Josh doesn't like them, but just use them as a topping.  And word or warning, there is never enough bacon. ;o)

Creamy Tomato Soup
(What I like to call "grown-up tomato soup" . . . I love it, Josh would agree it has good flavor but is not a fan of the tomato or onion "chunks." Usually, I make a batch for myself and eat it for lunch all week long.  It would probably be really good with some cheese tortellini thrown in, but I've never done that).

1 med. onion, chopped
2 T. butter
2 cans (14 1/2 oz each) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cans (10 3/4 oz each) tomato soup, undiluted
1 1/2 c. milk (or a can of evaporated milk)
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. dried basil
1/4-1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (to your taste)
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, cubed

In a sauce pan, saute' onion in butter until tender. Stir in tomatoes, soup, milk, sugar, basil, cayenne, and garlic powder.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes.  Stir in cream cheese until melted, serve immediately.

And a few more to link up--
Cheeseburger Soup--my mom and I have been making this ever since it appeared in Taste of Home for the first time.  It is awesome.

Chunky Taco Soup-- technically my soup isn't so "chunky" because I use ground beef instead of cubes of steak, but I still like the flavor.  We serve it with shredded cheddar, sour cream, and crushed tortilla chips.

Copy-cat Chili's Chicken Enchilada Soup--Josh's absolute favorite.  Did you know he was a waiter at Chili's when we were dating and very part-time during our first year of marriage?  Lots of cheap dates there . . . and we had this often! ;o)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Intentional Autumn . . . Fall-themed Meal

I bought my muffin tins two years ago, envisioning fun and festive meals on a weekly basis.
Suffice to say, that has NOT happened. ;o)
We have used them, just not nearly as often as I thought we would (although they do make handy trays for eating in the vehicle).  The kids LOVE when I pull off a themed meal for them. Both of my boys recall with fondness the car I made out of a pear (and that was two years ago!).  So, we broke out the muffin tins again--
Back row: an orange with a celery stem (it's a pumpkin)
Greek yogurt with a few fall-colored sprinkles on top
Acorns--half a mini nutter butter stuck to a Hershey's Kiss with a peanut butter chip stem (the favorite by far)
Front Row: PB and J cut out like a leaf
"Fall Mix" (craisins, pretzels, cheese-its, a few candy corn)
another PB and J

Fun memories.  But for the record I ended up with FOUR loads of dishes yesterday . . . not exactly the way to spend one's birthday.   Thankfully I am officially caught up (until lunchtime anyway). ;o)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Happy 10th Marissa Grace!!!

~ a carrot cake shaped like a pumpkin with leaf shaped sugar cookies~
~a caramel apple cake, your double black eyes almost faded~
~another caramel apple cake enjoyed by a flapper girl who minutes later was a ladybug~
~a maple pumpkin torte eaten by Tinker Bell and her costumed posse'~
~another maple pumpkin torte, note the shorn-off bangs~
~some sort of  "fudgy pudgy" chocolate cake that leaned terribly~
~revisiting the carrot cake shaped like a pumpkin dressed as Cinderella of course~
~pumpkin pie and a toothless grin and tricky candles that weren't~
~layered to look like candy corn, a young lady beginning to emerge~
And now for ten!!!
(which will be a cheesecake with salted caramel sauce, just as soon as I get it done) ;o)

In some ways I think "Ten, that's it?  Haven't you been part of my life forever??"  And the other part of me thinks, "Ten, how did this happen, aren't you still five??"

I love you because--
you have always been my sunshine
of your giggle
your love of blue like me and yellow because "it just looks so happy"
of your memory that borders on photographic
I have to tell you every three minutes to "put the book down" so we can complete a project
because you say things like "I can feel my gastroesophageal sphincter opening!"
of your incessant whistling that drives me crazy
because I give you the option to choose and you try to pick the thing that will make the most people happy
your hope that people think you weird
 you asked for a bow and arrow for your birthday
you write awesome stories about crazy stuff
and just for probably a million other reasons!

I have loved every single step of this "raising you" journey.  You are a joy!!!  I wish I could keep doing these ten years over and over and over ad infinitum.  We both know turning ten is big stuff, on one side childhood and on the other the growing up.  And we're both a bit sad about that.  But I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the glimpses of young lady I see in you and I am so very proud of you! 
Happy, happy 10th sweet girl, I hope you find this day extra special!!! 
(big smooches) ;o)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Intentional Autumn . . . Movie Night!!

While I realize in most parts of the country, the Smurfs are old news, the oldest four got to have a movie night with Daddy last night.  Arapahoe has a small theatre--3D screen and all--and shows movies just a bit behind everyone else.  The very best part?  Josh and four kids got into a 3D movie for $4.  No joking. ;o)  Monday nights are $1 movie nights, and kids not in school yet are free.  And a huge tub of popcorn? $1.50.  He did spring for $0.10 a cup water and $0.15 a piece "lollies" (suckers).  Small-town living definitely has a few perks. ;o)  We would have gone broke attempting such a feat in Lincoln!  (which is why we never did) ;o)  The kids came home all giggling and happy--sounds like it was cute--and I enjoyed some quiet time and snuggles with my littlest fellow.  It's safe to say a good night was had by all--and for a good price too!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Intentional Autumn . . . Astronomy!

To begin with, no, this is not our telescope (although Josh wishes it were).
He learned that the ESU in Holdrege has a telescope they loan out to teachers, and since he has hopes of doing an astronomy unit with some of his students come spring, he thought he had better bring it home and start figuring out how to use it.  (FYI Josh loves astronomy).
He has taken the kids to viewings . . . woken us up in the middle of the night to watch lunar eclipses . . . so we all have a bit of knowledge.  Emmett's pretty good at spotting satellites (I kind of stare up at the sky all squinty trying to figure out what he's pointing to).
Josh located Jupiter for us the other night (or maybe is was Saturn?).  To be honest it looked like a big star to me. ;o)  Later, after we had all gone to bed he really started figuring the telescope out and learning how to focus it better, so I'm sure we have more nights of star gazing ahead of us. 
The kids love it!  It's another spectacular part of God's creation to appreciate--one I know hardly anything about--but thankfully they have a daddy for that. ;o) 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Intentional Autumn . . . Contentment

"Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not;
But remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for."

I happened upon this quote a few weeks ago, and it's been rolling around in my mind ever since. It seems the last five or six years of my life have dealt with situations or circumstances where we would think, "If we can just get beyond this, it'll get better, once this is over . . ." 
And truthfully, I've been applying the same mantra to our most recent move . . . if I can just stick it our for awhile, put in my time, hopefully we'll get back to the area I really want to live in . . .
I forget, the place we're at now we spent THREE YEARS working toward!
Three years of crazy schedules, teeny tiny income, of Josh never home--it was just life.
In the midst of it you acclimate yourself and do it because it's just how it has to be done.
Now, I've had a bit of breathing room.
Josh leaves around 7:30 in the morning, pops in for lunch at 12:30, and then is home every day at 4:00.  We go places TOGETHER like to the park or the drugstore for an old-fashioned soda.  We eat supper as a family.  A peacefulness has settled upon our life.
I'm reminded that sometimes the things we hope for--the things we dream about--come wrapped up all different than we expect.  The pace of life we're living right now is one we had longed for and it's good and slow and lovely.
It's not perfect, but it's now.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Intentional Autumn . . . Get Messy!

Because sometimes patchy yards and gravel driveways really are the most fun . . .

Embrace it. ;o)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Intentional Autumn . . . Play-dough!

We had some fun with this!
I dyed some "cellentani" noodles using rubbing alcohol and green food coloring (no real recipe there, just dump some rubbing alcohol in a bowl, make it a nice green shade and then let your noodles soak for five minutes or so).  They have a nice twisty shape, perfect for pumpkins stems! We then made some play-dough, making it smell good with orange and almond extracts as well as some cinnamon.
The boys enjoyed themselves immensely.  Play-dough is always magic around here. ;o)
(And yes, I must once again credit Pinterest for giving me the idea . . . there's nothing original around these parts, just a whole lot of copying . . .) ;o)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My New Niece!

Meet Miss Addisyn Claire!
She was born smack dab on her due date at 6:20 this morning,
weighing in at 7 lbs 9 oz.
My sister and I, we hug that due date quite close, and all of our babies have been born within a day or two or right on the expected day.  Except Emmett . . . he only came early because Josh was in California. ;o)
From the picture I can tell she resembles her sisters and brother.
I have to say the distance of three hours today feels like FOREVER and I so wish I was there right now oohing and awing over tiny and perfect features.  I've got just over a week until I can get my hands (and camera!) on her.
Don't grow too fast Addi-girl! ;o)

Intentional Autumn . . . Girly Fun

Armed with a few bottles of $0.94 nail polish and about half an hour of free time I was able to transform my girls' nails into little bits of candy corn art . . .
It's far from perfect . . . I was "free-handing" it, but a coat of glitter over all is quite forgiving.
Looks almost good enough to eat. ;o)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Intentional Autumn . . . Glue Line Pumpkins

This art project was another idea "pinned" on Pinterest, but the original source would be here.
The idea is to draw your picture with Elmer's glue, outline it in permanent marker and then watercolor over it all.  The glue repels the paint giving it a cool effect.  I let the girls draw their own pumpkin shapes, but didn't even let the boys give it a try.  I had a feeling it might be too hard and a certain middlest (spell check isn't recognizing that word, but it's a real one as far as I'm concerned) child might end up utterly frustrated, so we just skipped that step and I designed the boys' pictures. ;o)  The painting is the fun part anyway!


(she must share my love for specialty pumpkins) ;o)



(he may have used more water than paint, noting the "scrubbed" texture)

Fairly simple and lots of fun!

(And just for the record I have picked this day as the day my sister will have her baby--she's due tomorrow and has never been late before, so I'm hoping . . . although the 19th would be just as  awesome as far as I'm concerned . . . but she would probably kill me for thinking such a thought!) ;o)