What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Countdown Begins (er, BEGAN)

I was all set to sit down and make a post about entering into the Smooch Final-Weeks Countdown, since I now have 10 weeks to go on this pregnancy.

Except, turns out, I don't.

I double checked my "week" just a moment ago and turns out I am NOT at 30 weeks, but actually 2 days shy of 32 weeks! SCORE.

That means I DON'T have 10 weeks to go, only8 weeks to go. Cha-stinkin'-ching, as we say around here.

This goes to show you-I was NOT exaggerating about being busy and time just flying this past month-it really DID!

So here are my supposed-to-be-30-weeks-but-turns-out-to-be-almost-32-week belly pictures.

Frankly, not sure how my belly can stretch out 8 more weeks worth, knowing that Smooch is going to likely triple in weight by the end.

Looks to me like Duchess it wondering the same thing...

Seriously, I am huge.

Not just my belly, either, but just about everything. Swollen feet (Leah O.)??? ha! I think not. Swollen EVERYTHING about sums it up. In fact, I weigh now more than I have EVER weighed non-pregnant and even PREGNANT. (May I remind you I still have 8 weeks of weight gain?)

Talk about DEPRESSING.

REALLY trying not to get discouraged about the whole weight thing. It isn't really working though. It is pretty much constantly on my mind. I have even had to stop wearing a few maternity shorts because they actually HURT to sit down in. ugh

I am also beginning to excel in the waddling which just adds to my lovely self-image! Nothing more lovely than a waddling beach-whale! hehe

On the BRIGHT side though-

I haven't added any NEW stretchmarks this pregnancy. Which doesn't really say too awful much since I am already the offspring of fruit-striped-gum. But no NEW ones is always good!!!

Also, my back, feet, and groin aren't in constant pain like they were during Adele's pregnancy. I remember it being almost debilitating back then so that is profound reason to rejoice!!

Enough about me, what about Smooch?

We are no further along in the name department. I have, however, changed my opinion as to whether this baby is a boy or a girl. Methinks it is a girl these days. Even still, I find myself referring to "him" more often than "her".

Andrew says it HAS to be a boy because God wants him to have a brother and he already HAS two sisters, so if Smooch is indeed a girl, I certainly hope it doesn't spoil anything for the Panda.

Little Smooch would punch and kick and I would feel all sorts of jabs and jostles. Now that Smooch is a bit bigger, s/he is getting a bit more feisty. Like doing actual SOMERSAULTS or swiping my belly from top to bottom in one huge, constant wave. It is really weird feeling and REALLY weird to watch. If I weren't so fruity-striped, I might just have had to post a video of my crazy sci-fi mutating belly. Its pretty fun to watch.

Finally~ that list I made of Smooch projects? Not a one has been done. Matter of fact, not a ONE has been started. Too many other things to be working on-for the family and for others. This makes me very, very sad because I wanted so badly to have some baby projects under my belt by now. Maybe when things slow down?

But slowing down? How likely is THAT?

Not very, if you ask me.

Especially, not if weeks can sneak past me unnoticed!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Multitude Monday

For the past few weeks, I have truly felt buried in my to-do list. So many things to do~happy, fun things and some not-so-fun but still worthwhile things. There have been places to go, people to see, projects to make, rooms to clean, and all manner of chores for this Mama.

As usual.

The problem was~I felt incapable of doing it all (or any of it). My days would pass just as busily as ever, but miraculously, by the end of the day-not a thing could get crossed off my mental to-do list.

I had been BUSY all day long but couldn't quite figure out what I had actually "accomplished".

The result was that I felt exceedingly busy but I didn't know what I was exceedingly busy WITH-all I saw was the masses of "undones", which in turn got me feeling more and more exhausted.

A few weeks ago, when I hurt my back, I had been in the middle of preparing for a yardsale. I wasn't able to do it then and so the boxes stayed pushed up against the walls of our rooms--no way I was going to trudge them back to the attic just to bring them down again in a week or so! Each weekend since has been B.U.S.Y so I still haven't had my yard sale.

And the boxes, they sit still.

And stare me down. I like things tidy and welcoming, and comfortable so for ME, there is nothing so depressing as rooms of cardboard reminders of work that needs to be done. I HATE being stared down by to-do lists. I HATE waking up to boxes that just scream work and going to bed with that being my last sight. I hate feeling...claustrophobic in my own refuge.

It was those yard sale boxes that started it all~my hopeless feeling of clutter. They got me down, so I decided as a remedy-I would organize all the school supplies since the school year is official over. I would also organize the bookshelves since they were so full, books couldn't be returned to them and were instead being thrown on the floor.

BIG mistake.

Tackling two huge jobs on two levels of the house in addition to the already insurmountable yard sale clutter was just enough to do me in. Besides cleaning the toilets occasionally, I stopped cleaning the bathrooms. Besides the sweeping of barefeet, I stopped sweeping the floors. Besides the occasional book plopping on a coffee-table, furniture stopped getting dusted.

I was just. plain. exhausted.

Well, Matt went out of town this past week and as is usually the case, when he is gone, I can't sleep a wink. Instead, somewhere deep inside me, motivation began to stir and my usually energetic self came back from vacation. And it has been NICE. Still lots to do, still there are yard sale boxes not-so-gracefully lining walls, but I am seeing bits of beauty and refuge in a home that has been void of it for quite a while.

I am ACCOMPLISHING things! And it is good.

This Multitude Monday, I am grateful for.....

~crossed off to-do lists, slow and steady

~ just beginning
He has half the deed done who has made a beginning. ::Oliver Wendell Holmes

~two bathrooms, scrubbed from top to bottom

~floorboards and moldings, no longer dusty

~area rugs, vacuumed

~a stove that is white again

~fresh sheets on the bed, smelling of June winds and lilies

~a tidy nook over the sink

~the smell of lemons and Murphy's Oil Soap

~walls, washed

~cobwebs, gone

~hardwood floors, mopped.

~that spot, under the office desk that has been covered in dust bunnies, that I stared at every.single.time I came upstairs~that isn't anymore.

~ dusted knicknacks. Dusted shelves. Dusted lamps. dusted furniture. dusted. dusted dusted.

~school shelves, organized

~ a nightstand, cleared and ready for a new batch of books

~ the top of a fridge that squeaks

~the task of purging ones self of excess books. Brutal. Necessary. Done.

~bookcases that actually fit books again

~an organized writing desk

~the bill folder, emptied

~furniture that reflects

~sinks that shine

~mirrors and windows without fingerprints

~laundry on the line and not on the floor

~flowers for the table, in Oma's pitcher

~the absence of stubbed toes on playmobil people

~ the tops of furniture-empty, except for IMPORTANT stuff

~a house that is a refuge, once more

~the feeling of confidence should unexpected visitors arrive

~ the feeling of pride and happiness, whatever room I am in.

~and most especially, the motivation and energy to finally JUST DO IT.

#446 ~ #477 blessings of fruitful work and perseverance, given by the Author of such things.

holy experience

Saturday, June 26, 2010


A few favorites of a recent photoshoot:

I had a few minutes right before 70+ guests arrived to a party to strip this babydoll down, toss my beanbag in a shady corner of the outdoors and snap a few pictures.

I am still amazed I had even just a few minutes-and that her Mama wasn't so frantic with party preparations that she was actually be able to watch.

AND help out. A lot.

See those smiles?

They were for Mama and her Mama only. Mama meant the world to this girl~it was plain to see.

Be still my heart-look at that pucker!

I have such a hard time picking favorites...so here ya go:

"F" family, your cd is FINALLY on it's way. Thanks for your patience! (And thanks for the party~ we had a blast.)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Treasure, unearthed

When I was engaged, I remember my Mom coming and giving me a letter from my beloved that had arrived for me. She chuckled at my delight and said "Enjoy it while it lasts honey, it won't always."

I took great offense then, thinking how utterly wrong a woman could be. Not Mattie. Not MY Mattie, she just didn't understand that he was DIFFERENT than other men. She didn't know him like I did.

That was 8 years ago.

He doesn't write me love notes anymore.

Sadly, Mom was right. (rats)

This week, Matt went out of town and on one of the lonely nights I tackled the rather hefty job of organizing my writing desk. It was 1am when, through the piles of bills and stationary, I found a manila folder. Not recognizing it, I opened it and found all the love letters of those wonderful by-gone days.

By 1:15 am I had hungrily devoured every note~from poems to little scribbles saying ILU HUNNY.

By 1:20, I sat crosslegged on the hard wooden floor in a rather large pool of tears.

I picked one~ a poem about him being away and how we would be reunited soon (perfectly fitting) and brought it to my bedside table. The next day I bought myself some roses (Those days are gone now too) and now, I have beauty at my bedside.

The first thing and last thing I think about each day. Being wooed.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


...even in the cookie crumbs

(...and yes, I did just post 6 photos of the exact same thing. What of it?!?)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Multitude Monday: Father's Day Edition

I can't help but reflect, this Multitude Monday, on the men in my life. This life of mine could look so vastly different than what it does. I see the truth of that every day and my gratitude is renewed.

Realizing what *could* have been and recognizing the abundant graces in life is the surest way to pull yourself out of despair. I *could* have had a deadbeat dad. I *could* have married a deadbeat man. Instead, I was born into a Christian home, raised by a loving man and taught to value myself and Christian men enough to patiently await finding the one that was right for me. My better half, and so he turns out to be.

Recognizing the gifts of....

~A father, my own, who raised up the gangly, knobby-kneed girl in my shadow-past to stand tall, even when her towering body wanted to shrink away into embarrassed little corners.

~the commitment of a father who worked days, months, years-usually two jobs-to provide for his family.

~salt and peppered man who enjoyed parenting so much that he started all over again.

~ a father-in-law who raised up a pair of two pound squirts, wrinkled pink bodies that fit into each one of his hands, one of which who grew to be the mighty man who I call my very own.

~ a father who helps a son. Often. and spoils grandchildren with TIME.

~ a gift of God , turned boy, turned man, turned husband, turned father, turned OURS. Perfectly named.

~ a Papa who doles out free pony and bull rides before bed.

~ the four little brown eyes, his own, that stare back at me when he is gone.

~ the forty little fingernails to clean, the eight feet to wash, and the four mouths to kiss each night (or almost four, anyway) that he made with me

~ a father who lets children work alongside

~ bits of himself to make bits of beauty

~ a husband who teaches a son what it means to be a responsible, respectable man.

~ a father who knows the answers to the hard questions

~ a father who leads

~ the red, wet eyes of a new father

~ a Papa who showers his girls, even the grown up one, with compliments

~ a husband with whom I respect and admire and trust, with my whole being.

~a faithful worker, on our behalf.

~ the tenderness he can show

~ a man who sits and eats with us at the table every night.

~a father who doesn't plop in front of the TV when he gets home, but walks in the pasture with his children.

~ knowing that HOME is where his heart is

~ callous, thick man-hands, cradling the tender, softness of his own legacy.

#423 ~ #445 blessings
poured out on me from the most perfect, most Holy, most adored Father of all.

holy experience

Friday, June 18, 2010

Finding the Worth of a Woman (and a book review)

I recently finished reading this book and I really, really enjoyed it. I am not surprised, because I usually really, really enjoy viewpoints that raise eyebrows and drop chins. The thesis of the book is that, now that there has been some time to see it played out in real life, it is clear that Feminism has been bad for the world and especially, for WOMEN.

Danielle Crittenden has written for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Ladies Home Journal and has appeared on NBC's Today Show. There is not an ounce of religion referenced within the work. I don't even know if she IS religious so if you are non-religious and afraid of some lunatic Christian writing some bit of religion-drabble (though I doubt anyone like that would read this blog, har har), don't let that stop you from reading the book.

The author shows us just how much of our "way" we have gotten~having just as many (if not more) opportunities for careers and education, more respect in politics, and still manage to get away with demanding more from everyone else. We have "won"-but at what expense?

She then explains that postponing marriage for singleness, motherhood for careers, and sacrificing values for promiscuity has led to women being sexualized, children to be raised by non-mothers (if you are indeed ABLE to have children when you eventually decide to have them), wives to be trumped by younger, more beautiful models (if they are indeed able to get husbands at all), and a whole other host of "results" (not so lovely) in areas of aging, politics, careers, etc. Her premise, then, is that we, the daughters of Feminism, have had to swallow a sour pill that our mothers spoon fed us without accurately assessing the implications of the medicine.

Her "remedy" of the situation involves WOMEN changing how we do things...find love (and don't give the milk out for free), get married, have children right off. After you have had the 2.3 children you desired and you truck them off to school, THEN you can have the career you have always wanted, the children you WILL want when you are old, and the husband who is already bound to you.

It is well written, insightful and will be profound to about 97% of the people reading it. Throughout much of the book I kept thinking, "THIS is what people need to hear! Girls need to realize the ramifications of them throwing themselves at men! Women ought to be getting married, not sleeping around uncommitted and then licking their wounds when they are hurt by uncommitted men! Children need to be raised by mothers-not by office-run daycare centers! Women need to stop making outrageous demands on everyone else, husbands, businesses, and legislation so that they can "have it all". This is what our society needs!" But as I read through the book and her conclusions played out, something unsettled me but I couldn't put my finger on it. For two nights I kept coming back to the thoughts swirling around in my head. What WAS it?

This book would have HUGE implications for women, children, men-and society as a whole if her practical, OBVIOUS insights into the failures of Feminism were actually adopted and acted upon. I would highly recommend anyone reading it and would anticipate better lifestyles for all the victims of the selfishness of Feminism (children and husbands and, turns out~ WOMEN).

So,where was the rub? What was it that was lacking?

Finally, it dawned on me. Danielle Crittenden, opposer of Feminism, was a Feminist herself. Or at the very least, had bought the same lie that had resulted in the transforming of a nation. What was missing in her book, in her life, was the very ESSENCE of femininity. It is her opinion that you can have it "all" if you do it in the right sequence and sacrifice in the beginning to get the 'necessities' out of the way first, but I wonder if her "all" is a different picture of what it would have been without the lie.

What lie?

The lie that a woman cannot have a worthwhile identity or be fulfilled doing womanly things. That her value is in the pay stub she gets every Friday at 3:30.

Radical Feminism is destructive of choice and of LIFE~offering no solutions and choices to those who are impacted by woman...only to WOMAN, herself. Babies are prevented or murdered, with no choice given to them. Men have the responsibilities of leading a household and contributing the finances while simultaneously taking over half the woman's jobs too, with no say in the matter. We Christian women look at these affects and we scoff. Radical feminism? Hooey. Pure selfishness. But how have our minds already been infiltrated with the subtleties of the Feminist lie? How have our lives been changed by the adoption of casual feminism? The lie that says we have no worth or value IN the home, only OUT of it.

Dianne Chrittenden says we save ourselves for marriage, "catch" husbands while we still have the sex appeal, have children early so our bodies are more capable and so that it doesn't disrupt the careers that we will have. All great notions, on the surface.

But you will see the feminist worldview if you ask the question: Why "do our time" for the good of the kids until we can procure a better career? Is there not intrinsic value in giving yourself to your family? Is "doing our time" the sacrifice or is it in fact, the "all" which we all seek?

I would argue that no career is as valuable as devoting yourself to your home and family.

Husbands will need you, even after child-bearing years are over. Older children will depend upon you, even after they begin schooling (sometimes more!). Nutritious food will still need to be put on the table, money will always need to be wisely portioned out, pantries will always need to be stocked, clothing will always need to be washed, homes still will long to be beautified, younger women will always need mentors, strong households will always need dedication to thrive, people will always need to be encouraged, women will always need to devote times to furthering themselves, and worthwhile pursuits are ever-ready to happen.

So, is "putting in your time early" really the answer to getting it all?

Or is REALIZING what having "it all" really means the answer?

Is a career even PART of the "it all"?

Who told us the lie that womanhood, marriage and motherhood isn't enough for us? Who told us (and why did we believe them when they said) that living an obedient life to God is not where true contentment lies?

Women need to realize where worth and value come from, only then can they understand whether or not they have attained it. Is worth defined by where they went to college, a title behind their name, or on which desk the brass nameplate sits? Not hardly.

So why do we seek it there and overlook it when it is right in front of us? Why do we seek to be fulfilled in unnatural ways-when we have the potential to live fulfilling lives every moment, if only we see our lives that way.

Please don't understand me, I am not saying that having a job outside of the home is intrinsically sinful. I am, however, unapologetically shouting from the rooftops that a JOB is not where true fulfillment lies. If you leave home to seek it, your quest will be in vain. It is found in the very place we are LEAVING.

True fulfillment is found by bringing Glory to God through obedience, to thriving joyously in the roles with which He has ordered for us. For many, it is a life of marriage and motherhood~ it is found in a well ordered home and being an asset to your husband; it is found in the adoring eyes of the children whose lives you impact every.single.day. For some, God does not grant children and so it is a life of marriage and devotion to being a helpmeet. It is found in the good stewardship of gifts~like money, food, home and family. It is found on the lace tablecloths, the dressers filled, the books dog-eared, the moments grasped with joy. And for some, true fulfillment lies in a life without marriage or motherhood but obedience to God and contentment therewith. It is living a life of gratitude and of selfless giving, and of making the world more beautiful through the gifts God has given you. For ALL women, a truly fulfilled life is a life lived for Christ, endeavoring to serve HIM and others~for His glory.

True fulfillment is found when you give of yourself joyfully and wholly and are received gratefully. True value and contentment is found when you realize your value and worth is far above rubies.

No brass nameplate can do that. Not even if you send the children to school first.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


I woke up to.... a nightmare about having egg customers lined at the door and the only eggs we had were all cracked (gasp!!!)

I picked....a bouquet for the table. Slightly more variety now that we are into June, but I still exhausted my flower capabilities for a few days with just a teeny amount of flowers. Oh, to have a Tudor garden full-to cut to my hearts content without ever seeing a difference!

I am remembering....the strawberry milkshakes we had with supper last night and looking forward to the strawberry spinach salad to go with supper tonight.

I comforted....this girl. Who, despite the fact that she has successfully ascended and descended the stairs thousands of times, decided to fall from the very top to the very bottom of the staircase (14 steep stairs), bouncing off of every hardwood step. TWICE she plummeted~ IN ONE MORNING.

I noticed....that our garden is being eaten alive by bugs. No plants are immune except the tomatoes. I might go rogue and get some sort of insecticide. I know, I know. We shall see.

My pen is... cruising along my full-page To-Do List pretty well. I even zip-tied the tomatoes, Mattie!

I have to go to..... the library. AND to clean the church. AND to CVS (great diaper deaL!).

I ache...in my hamstrings from picking strawberries. Yes-that was three days ago. Shut up. :-)

I am thankful that....we are finishing up school this week!

I made...rice krispy treats and promptly ate half of them. (I wish I were kidding.) This is why I cut them into squares and put them onto a platter instead of keeping them in the pan. Mental note: if you crave something for weeks~you WILL go overboard when you finally get them.

I am happy to....have the last of the strawberries dealt with-until Saturday (pie making day). I only made one batch of Strawberry Jam as I found eight jars of freezer jam left from last year. That oughta do us. So I made a batch of sorbet (oh.my.goodness is this stuff amazing) substituting peach nectar for the orange/pineapple juice. I'll keep it in the freezer until unexpected guests arrive. Or I get a hunkering...whichever comes first. ;-) All the rest of the berries I have frozen.

To freeze strawberries: Wash and hull. Place on a cookie sheet in a single layer and flash freeze. Then put in a freezer bag/container and label. Flash freezing ensures the strawberries won't lump and squish together into one massive frozen strawberry glob. In case you didn't already know...

I am anticipating...Mattie coming home! Soon and very soon!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Strawberry Picking

Yesterday morning I headed out to go strawberry picking. My sister met me there with her children. I wondered how two ladies with six children between them would be viewed going strawberry picking, but by the time we left the field was positively swarming with children. So I didn't feel so bad. ;-)

Our own strawberry plants look great but the slugs are eating the strawberries as fast as they are ripening. (This is our first year of strawberry plants~any suggestions anyone?!? Pretty please?!?) I knew in order to do the preserving and baking I do each year, I would need some extra "help".

I planned on using our strawberries for munching but I wonder if I might have to buy some "munching strawberries" too.

I wonder how they keep the slugs (and deer) outta these beauties?!

Cousins picking...or SUPPOSED to be picking. ;-)
Last year I recall Andrew eating more strawberries then keeping. He and Corynn were much better helpers this year.

...Had to watch Miss Addie Mae though-she loved snitching a strawberry, taking a bite and throwing it back in the basket. Stinkpot.

This year the u-pick price was $1.59 a pound. I wish I could remember what it was last year (which is why I am writing it down now.)

17 pounds worth was all this third trimester pregnant Mama with three children who had just returned home from a weekend away could muster in one trip.

17 pounds doesn't go very far when you have plans for a years' worth of jam and frozen berries, strawberry rhubarb pies, muffins and sorbet.

But 17 pounds is what I could handle yesterday, and what the children could handle.

Afterwards, we headed to the greenhouse/farm section for the children to play on the crazy cool yard toys...which they did.

Except Panda.

He found the owner doing animal chores and opted to tag along and help her. He fed the chickens and ducks, gathered eggs, corralled a renegade duck, and gave the goats hay.

I feel pretty confident it was Andrews farmer boy charm that resulted in the owner inviting us all in to the baby goat pen. A super cool, very special treat.

I can attest to the fact that catching goats is far easier than catching chickens.

He was pretty proud of himself for all his "catching" though.

And maybe even got a bit cocky.

We had strawberry muffins this morning.

Today is jam making day.

And a strawberry rhubarb pie is in Mattie's very near future.

The way to a man's heart is through his stomach so I am told...