Monday, April 29, 2013

Happy Homemaker Monday 4/29/13

Happy Homemaker Monday

I found some lovely blogs this week, and decided to join in on this series. It gives me something to post about on Mondays, so why not? If you have a blog, you should join in.

The weather...

Ugh...the weather. Denver is all over the place, especially this time of year. We're getting sunburns in the garden and using the A/C in the car today. Wednesday we're expecting 2-4 inches of snow. Such is life in Denver. Look, as a native of Denver I'm used to it, but this year we are anxious for our garden to get going and worried about the frost killing some of our plants so... go away snow!

Right now I am...
Enjoying the cool morning air coming in the windows and listening to my children growl at each other.

That maybe I should really be getting ready for my day rather than writing this post. Nah.

On my reading pile...
Uh, I'm not much of a reader. I have a few unfinished books, but right now what is calling my name {nagging} is the Oriental Trading VBS catalog that I really need to go through and decide what to order.

On my TV...
We recorded Peter Pan for the girls to watch, and they loved it. But our DVR has been shockingly empty as of late, probably due to the fact that Justin decided to cut our satellite bill last month and now we have very basic programming. It's a good thing...though I miss all the Showtime movies and the Science Channel {we loved How It's Made and such}.

Blog Hopping {a newly discovered blog}...
Diary of a Stay at Home Mom, the blog that inspired this post. Good pictures, good cooking, lots of family, and some crafting. Everything I like in a blog.

On the menu this week...
Thanks to meal planning, we're looking forward to:
Baked Chicken & Broccoli
Cincinnati Chili {making this for the first time, the recipe intrigues me}
Bourbon Spiced Pork with Sweet Potatoes
A Freezer Meal {Chicken Enchiladas}
Fish Sticks & Fries {I work in what I call a "white trash meal" every week or so, they're easy and kid pleasing}

On my to do list:
Re-organize Pyrex, it's gotten out of control and messy
Get Justin to put up new/thrifted bookshelf in girls room
Work on the spring cleaning list {it's huge}
Plan next week's meals & shopping list

In the craft basket...
Still working on the crocheted blanket for Paxton.

Looking forward to this week...
The first Paris Street Market is Saturday! Justin works Saturdays, but I like to get up extra early and go first thing in the morning just by myself, then I'm back in time to take him to work and Eisley to ballet class. Hope I find some rare Pyrex...

Looking around the house...
Lately, I think it's cleaner than I give myself credit for. Last week my mom stopped by and said, "Your house looks spotless!" But I thought it looked trashed and saw messes everywhere. I think I'm nesting, and I notice every single little mess {plus, I know what is actually going on behind the closed doors of our closets right now, and it ain't pretty} but really it's cleaner than I think of it at least. That should make me feel better, but it doesn't.

From the camera...

On my prayer list...
The weight of the world. I've had a little anxiety lately. About everything.

Bible verse/devotional...
"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen." - 1 Peter 5:7-11

Have a lovely week!


Saturday, April 27, 2013

The trouble with boys clothes...

Forgive me for this post...
Turns out, I'm a bit of boys clothes snob. Okay, I'm a lot of a boys clothes snob.

I've never been terribly picky about what my girls wear, though I dislike cartoon character clothes in general {Eisley has one character shirt, Olivia the pig} but most prints that are girly and tasteful are fine by me. Most girly things are cute by nature (i.e. flowers, birds, ice cream cones). Boys stuff? Ick.

I've never cared what I see other little boys wearing, I've never even given it a second thought. But now that I have my own little guy on the way, I think of his blonde hair and blue eyes and his pink cheeks, I just find myself nitpicking what I'll dress him in.

Here's what I'm not into: super heroes, trucks, farm stuff, bugs, monsters, sea creatures, "Daddy's Little ____", "Mommy's Little ____", dogs, robots, airplanes, motorcycles, construction equipment, race cars, baseball, basketball, football, golf, hockey, etc., etc., etc. Those things just don't say baby to me, and yet 100% of the baby clothes made for boys are covered with these things!

Call me fussy if you like, but I'm also not a big fan of dark colors. We're Swedes, OK?! We don't do well in dark, bold colors. Especially when we're babies!

Part of this, I'm sure, is that I have no brothers or boy cousins. I'm just not used to boy things and never thought of boy things as cute. I've been happy to take the girls stuff so far, flowers and butterflies trump monsters and trucks, they just do. As I've said before, my father is currently my only living male blood relative. Dad has always been well dressed for a guy, a Land's End and J. Crew sort of guy. Masculine, modest, classy, clean cut. No golf polos here or graphic tees that say snarky things. This is all I know.

So given my list of dislikes, about 0.02% of the little boys clothes I see available in stores are acceptable for me to think of dressing my baby in. I'm. A. Total. Boys. Clothes. Snob. It's silly, yes. But it's who I am. I've often referred to myself as "aesthetically sensitive", I'm affected easily by colors and textures and such. I think it's part of what makes me artistically inclined, and also picky. That and, I just don't like boy things okay?!

Well, he will be here in a couple short months, so I've started to buy what I can find.
So Justin teases me that these are unisex onesies, but I adore the aqua and gray colors so when I saw these at Target I had to get them. Seriously, who knows what else I'll be able to find before Paxton comes?
Then there is this vintage, but unused, winter suit I found at a thrift store. Again, Justin says it's a girl color. But I don't care. I thought it was simple and sweet.
Khakis are fine and this pair a friend gave me are cute {as long as there are no pleats, long ago I banned pleats from my house, just ask Justin}. I thrifted the onesie, and the gray hoodie I bought on clearance years ago at Gap, in case we had a boy. Well good, now we can use it.

{And Gap, by the way, has more acceptable boys clothes than any other store. I just don't like the dark colors, but they do baby clothes better than anyone else.}
Then there are sweet little getups like this! Can you believe, I thrifted this for $3 at Savers? And it's very obvious it was never worn or used. On one hand it makes me sad that some little old lady probably spent hours on this, only to gift it at a baby shower and have it donated to a thrift store, unappreciated. On the other hand, my score! I've found a few sweet, vintage & non-vintage baby knits at thift stores and I love them.
Frogs and ducks are cute, these are both from Old Navy, but also thrifted. {Yes, Justin, they're unisex!}
And then there are the blankets...
Okay, the blue and white striped on the left has sparkly yarn so I'll probably be teased by Justin a little more that it's girly. The Circo blanket from Target was on sale; and, if you haven't noticed, all three of our kids have one of these blankets {Viv calls it her night-night} which are their best friends through the baby and toddler years. So he needed one of those.
But I'm also crocheting a little chevron blanket for Paxton. I found the pattern here, it's very easy and turning out so cute! I can't wait to have him here and bundle him up in it.

I also want to crochet him these shoes--aren't these sweet?
Oh, and these boots, darling!

So, I have just a few things for Mr. Pax to wear, I keep it tucked away in the little orange suitcase until he arrives.

So if you think all of that is ridiculous and picky of me, don't even get me started on baptism outfits available for little boys.

Let's see, I can pick from...

  1. Little Lord Fauntleroy
  2. Angelic Babe Ruth
  3. Mini-Pastor
  4. Tacky blindingly shiny tuxedo
Hmm...those all are just so tempting. My mom already had a good laugh at me one night when I was looking in horror at the goofy clothes they make for boy's baptisms. She told me I couldn't put him in my gown, which both the girls wore, because it has pink bows on the shoulders and smocking. Whatever, mom.

So, I think in the end I'll go with something simple like this

The Horribly Vain & Snobby 
Boy-Mom-To-Be Heather

This week on Lark & Lola:


Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Spring Shower

A few weeks ago I helped {only a little} to throw a bridal shower for our vicar's son and soon to be daughter-in-law. My vicar was also once my teacher and my principal through grade school. Ginny, his wife, is one of my mom's closest friends. We grew up with their family right down the street, and I babysat their kids a couple times--now they're all grown up and getting married!
This is Joshua and Virginia. {Aren't they cute?}
Josh is headed to seminary soon, after these two get married this summer in San Francisco. Virginia has a teaching job lined up near the seminary. (Funny fact: once these two marry, Virginia will share the exact same name as her mother-in-law, middle name and everything.) They're the sweetest couple, it was so fun to be involved in a bridal shower.
I made a marshmallow fondant cake for the occasion.
Any reason to create a new cake is good enough for me. 
Just don't look too closely. {There is always a backside to every cake, thank goodness.} My mom {the editor} always teases me because I write my ampersands backwards, as I did on this cake. In my defense, Wikipedia says you can.
Jessica, sister-in-law to Josh, made these beautiful sugar cookies.
They matched the table perfectly.
Chicken salad sandwiches in paper bags.
I also told Ginny I'd bring fruit kabobs. Of course, by fruit I meant cream puffs, marshmallows, and strawberries...drizzled in chocolate. Of course.
Ginny also put together these simple, but beautiful, party favors.
Virginia, her sister, Josh, and myself all have Nikon DSLRs. It was pretty funny to see all four of us snapping pictures and confusing our cameras, lenses, lens caps, and getting photos of each other with the same cameras.
Of course I always neglect to take good photos once the party actually starts, but I did get a good one of me and the Virginias.
What a fun party! I'm sad we can't go to the actual wedding because it's too late in my pregnancy to travel, but I'm sure it's going to be stunning. Even the invitations, which were designed by Virginia's artist of a sister, were just gorgeous, like no other invitation I've ever seen.

Best wishes Virginia & Josh!


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tuesday's Thoughts...


Just some random things that are on my mind today...

I have roughly 12 weeks left to go of this pregnancy, and suddenly I'm thinking of all the things we need to get together before Paxton is born. He will share my uncle's birthday, which is sort of special, my uncle passed away very suddenly and unexpectedly away when I was seven. Paxton will also be the first boy born into my family in over 50 years and he is my 2nd living male blood relative after my dad. {Though I know I have some distant relatives from my mom's side out east, unfortunately I don't know them.} Boys just don't come along very often around these parts.

Justin's sister ran the Boston Marathon yesterday. Unless you're a hermit, you've probably heard about the horrible bombings. We had a scary half hour or so yesterday...

I had ran into a Savers thrift store on our way home from errands, leaving Justin and the girls in the car. When I came back out Justin gave me this look, the kind that immediately communicates that something terrible has happened.

"There was a bombing--" he started, and I immediately thought, Oh great, what has that foolish little North Korean dictator gone and done? "At the Boston Marathon," he finished. Then I gasped and covered my mouth, "Oh my gosh, is your sister okay?"

Justin had just reminded me that morning that his sister was running it that day. Of course he had called his mom already, but she hadn't heard anything, nor had our other sister-in-law, Rachel, who is close to Katie and was often in touch. Three people dead, Justin read on the news. We reasoned, there are tens of thousands of people there, what are the chances Katie was one who was hurt? Not likely, but still, scary when you just haven't heard from them yet. We knew she had finished the race, but no one had heard from her since.

It's not everyday someone you know, let alone a family member, is on site when a terrorist attack goes down.

Very fortunately, we didn't have to wait too long to get word that she was okay, and apparently leaving Boston post haste (can't blame her). The crazy thing is (though forgive me if the details are slightly off here, most of this has been word of mouth through family, like a game of telephone) she crossed the finish line around 4 hours and 7 minutes. On TV, they keep replaying the moment the first explosion happened, the clock clearly says 4 hours and 9 minutes. She was right there. Her record time, she texted Justin last night, was about a half hour shorter, but yesterday I guess she was running with an injury. Terrorist attack aside, she's a rock star in our eyes.

I feel horribly for all the people who were hurt or had loved ones hurt yesterday. Though I honestly also feel for the runners--including our Katie--because this was supposed to be a moment of glory for them. The Boston Marathon is a big deal, and we know Katie had to jump through hoops to get into the race, which includes qualifying and a lottery system to get in. She's the athlete in the family, the runner, always running! Or biking. Or hiking. Or all three at once.

I just hate that this once-in-a-lifetime moment was stolen from so many people. That they won't always look back fondly on the day they finished the Boston Marathon. And all because of something so senseless, so STUPID and so horrific.

We're still so proud of her accomplishment, though she has many, including a doctorate, and we don't want for a crazy person's incredibly selfish and angry act to take away from this victory. We love you Katie! And we're proud of  you, and of course, just so thankful you're safe and sound.

So last night when the girls woke up from their nap we had the news on TV, and they kept replaying the explosion. This caught Eisley's attention. I know she's only four, but I also know I'm raising her to live in this world, I don't want to shelter her too much. I decided it might be a good moment to talk about stuff. 

"Eisley, some people were hurt today in Boston. Someone did something very sinful that hurt a lot of people, and Aunt Katie was there but she's okay. We should give thanks to God for that and pray for the people who were hurt," I tried to explain.

"Yeah, but...where's my dog's house?" she replied. The girls are currently obsessed with The Lady and the Tramp movie and she wanted help finding her toy puppy's dog house. Well, shoot.

SO, I guess not every moment turns out to be a teaching opportunity. Apparently she wasn't too concerned about what she saw on the TV. Fair enough.

Still, earlier this month when her fish died, I did find myself having a conversation about death with her. While I know she's a tender hearted 4-year-old, I also want to be honest with her. I'm sure someday she'll understand that fish might not go to heaven when they die, it was an opportunity to talk about death, grace, and Christ.

The Bible has beautiful verses about children and faith, I try to remind myself to trust the Holy Spirit to work in her heart despite how dark of a topic society sees death as.

Lately I've had these things on my mind a lot, and I often question how to share the Gospel with my children. Opportunities like this will come about more frequently as they get older,  and I have to say, I'm just at a loss for words to describe the peace and comfort I get in knowing I can actually explain these things to my children without feeling too sad or worried for the future.
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. - 3 John 1:4
Violet is still so little, but Eisley is very responsive to church and prayer and talking about God that it gives me such joy. She memorizes Bible verses thanks to her homeschool curriculum and she repeats them proudly and it makes this mama's heart so glad. More than anything in the world, I want my children to love the Lord.

We are still in the season of Easter, and what happened yesterday was just another reminder of what I can teach my children: that they need not fear death or anything else that can happen on this earth because Christ has defeated death. No other religion offers this sort of freedom and total forgiveness, all you have to do is not throw it away.

Last month, I was home alone with the girls on a Sunday afternoon when I got a knock at the door and found a young black woman standing on my porch. She handed me a paper and invited me to an Easter service.

I turned the paper over and looked at the fine print, The Watchtower was the publisher. A Jehovah's Witness.

I scolded myself in my head for not staying brushed up on their faith since I had learned so much in my apologetics class my senior year of high school. I said a silent prayer as I greeted her, that I would be given the words to say that needed to be said.

For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist. - Luke 21:15

We talked for two hours while my girls trashed the house inside. Our conversation was beautifully respectful and friendly. I actually really liked her and talking to her. (Though I was horribly ill prepared.)

As a stay at home mother, I am thankful for every opportunity I am given to share the Gospel of Christ. Sometimes I feel frustrated that I don't have such opportunities to feel as if I'm doing anything important very often, though I have to remind myself that my children give me an opportunity every day. (I think Satan must love to see me feel useless.) In this way, stay at home mothers are missionaries in their own home.

Jehovah's Witnesses believe that their works contribute to their salvation (among many other things that are not Biblical). In fact, she was no doubt out there that Sunday delivering pamphlets because she was taught that her salvation depended on it. They have a very strict set of rules to live by, and even then, since they believe that only 144,000 are saved, they never really have certainty that they are saved. It's all a risk. How sad.

At one point, she asked me, "What if your children stopped showing you love? What if they never hugged or embraced you again?" She was trying to get me to admit that I needed to do something to prove my faith to God.

I told her that would make me sad, but it wouldn't change anything important. That seemed to surprised her. Besides, if my children only hugged me and showed me love because they had to, then it really wouldn't mean anything to me. I want them to do those things only because they want to, not because their salvation depends on it.

I told her that I believe that any true "good works" are fruits of the spirit. The Bible gives us a good analogy to work with. An apple tree doesn't rely on it's apples to survive, but the apples are a sign that it is alive, it's just a natural occurrence that comes with the tree's life. The Bible refers to truly good things (love, patience, gentleness, etc.) as fruits, and I believe the wording is thoughtful and meaningful. I told her I had peace, knowing that I didn't need to do anything, but that Christ had already done it for me. In this way, I am so free! Talking with her really made me realize how free I am. The way she explained salvation to me, she sounded so bonded. Nothing is required of me, any fruits I might produce are an added bonus and not mine to take credit for. They grow, not because I am a tree, but because the Water of Life sustains me as a tree.

She still wasn't willing to acknowledge that such a gift of salvation could be free. I told her my version of Christianity in a nutshell--this is corny, but it's how I describe it sometimes--as if we are all stuck on an island where everyone is sick and diseased (by sin) but we are promised a way off the island, a cure, there is a lifeboat coming, big enough to take EVERY single one of us away, captained by someone who is not diseased but immune to sin (Christ), simply because we are loved, not because we did anything to deserve it. So we are given a ticket (faith) to board, which we cannot hand to ourselves, but it is handed to us. We can, however, throw the ticket away and say it's not worth anything, we can say that this guy over here named Buddha or Muhammad or Joseph Smith says he has a boat coming too, but those people have no credibility--and they're diseased too, so why should we listen to them?--and they want you to do things for them. I know, it's a lame analogy compared to the literal GOSPEL, but it gets across my point about faith: it's free, you can't give it to yourself, but you can reject it. If you lost your ticket and threw it away in a moment of weakness, you can have another. In the meantime, if you need to reach the captain He will accept your SOS (prayer) and respond, with your best interests at heart to be sure. When that lifeboat finally comes to shore, all you need is your FREE ticket to board. Your disease will be cured. Once and for all. When that happens, nothing that happened on the diseased island will matter any more. You'll be free because of Christ! The one person who was not diseased, God's Son, was worthy and able for us, and He comes back for us because He loves us. Not because you did anything to deserve or earn salvation. Hold on to your ticket. It is good and valid, even when we act in ways that clearly make us undeserving of the free ticket.

My whole point is, though this world can be terrifying for a mother (as yesterday proved just once again), these moments have drastically highlighted the blessing of the freedom my children and I have in Christ. The death talk with children is not at all depressing when I can explain to them that Christ defeated death and better things are yet to come:
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. - Revelation 21:4
I can't imagine raising children without Christ.

That's what is on my mind these days...

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Our Easter 2013

We had a really lovely, laid back Easter this year.
Sharing some photos from our day, in parts...

Easter Dawn
Justin was up at 4 a.m. to start the hams we were making for Easter breakfast at church. The girls were up at dawn to see what the Easter Bunny brought them.
Them spoiled, they are.
Also a little egg hunt around the house. The E.B. always did Russell Stover marshmallow eggs, turns out he did the same thing for my dad when he was a boy.
Easter traditions.

Easter Breakfast
I just adore our little church and everyone there. We put on a good Easter breakfast every year,
we really do. 
Can you see my Pyrex? 
Mmmmelon balls!
I can never stop myself from taking photos of my friend Jessica's baby. Little Eva! She's so sweet!

The Service
I love our church at Eastertide.
We played Praise to the Lord the Almighty on handbells. 
I bet you didn't know I'm a professional musician, did you? Ha! 
I rang the G & F bells not so much like a pro.
Easter Sunday is my #1 favorite hymn day of the entire church year. 

The Hunt
My little church also puts on a mean egg hunt each year, too.
Not that the moms fight over eggs for their kids, but there are SO many eggs hidden on our land that each child gets a basket full. 
Violet learned quickly this year. 

We forgot our pretty baskets at home and had to use grocery bags. 
DSC_0412 DSC_0415 

Family Portraits
I had my camera set all wrong, so this overexposed shot is the best we got of our family at church. 
This is our Vicar's family, I'm working on getting updated photos for our church website so I wanted one of all of them. Good looking family!

Vicar made it hard for me to get good staff photos, I'm trying to update our church website and thought Easter would be a good time to get a photo of everyone. He kept photo bombing, haha, I'm half tempted to use these on the website. But I'll refrain...
My parents & our girls.

Now, here is truly our best family photo from Easter Sunday.
I know, we're all so photogenic. Try not to be jealous.
It's hard to get good photos of the girls, especially the Violet child.
I just love these little shoes!
I love having little girls I can dress up.

Easter Dinner
We went to my parents house for Easter dinner.
And hello bloody mary.
My mom always says, "Nothing fancy, I'm no Martha Stewart!"
But really, she did a lovely job decorating her house and setting the table.
I mean, look at this salad.
She's too humble, everything was SO lovley.
DSC_0527 DSC_0532
Here's me.
And just another shot of my perfect children, I can't help it.
Again, don't be jealous of how photogenic we are:
Just when the girls started to get antsy at the dinner table, Grandma busts out a Jell-O bunny. For the win, Grandma!
And take a look at this, because it's the SECOND lemon meringue pie I made on Easter Sunday. That's right. I made two after my first one flopped...
Turns out lemon meringue pie, which is to Easter what the pumpkin pie is to Thanksgiving, is a REALLY fussy thing to make from scratch.

Happy Eastertide!
DSC_0514 Christ is risen!


You can see even more photos from our Easter here.

Also, this week at Lark & Lola, Snickers Cookies:

Snickers Cookies by Lark & Lola
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