Came across this one and it made me smile. I don't know why I didn't post it, but here it is... three years old... and while sometimes, it feels like SO much has changed... these few paragraphs feel as familiar as if I'd written them last month. * * * Nehemiah 6:3 (ESV)
And I sent messengers to them, saying, "I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?" Have you ever heard someone refer to their "life verse?" Everyone who has one, has a story to go along with it. Often times, it correlates with a portion of their testimony in some way... how they came to know Christ... or some time in their life, when God spoke to them so clearly that it was almost audible. Mine is weird. Who chooses a verse in Nehemiah as their life verse? I love that when God inspired every word of His Word, He did it with intention... that every thought and word, would speak to one of His children in a way, that is so personal and intimate... P.S. I've written about Nehemiah before. If you want a recap of the story, you can read HERE. I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. My priorities will change throughout my life, but my true desire is that no matter where I am, in any given season, that they will be God-honoring.... and at the forefront of my heart and mind. No distractions. No noise. Focused. It's the end of the school year. My kids have serious spring fever. They are distracted. My days are busy. I'm at their school a lot, helping out where I can. I try to stay afloat with my responsibilities at home, as well as my photography business. It's pretty easy to lose focus.
* * * So, that's where I left off... Well, so, some things have changed... My photography has taken a serious back seat. Just had to. But the rest of it speaks of a sentiment I needed to be reminded. It is SO easy to lose focus. So easy to let go and try to run things myself. So easy to try to do things MY way. So easy to get discouraged. Fortunately, I know that God is full of grace and mercy. I am thankful.
I realized that I posted about my SIL's "Beautiful You" photos here: Sam Ketteman But I neglected to post my own! So, here they are. :) Just so you know, yes, it IS true that I wake up looking like this every morning. Just ask my husband and children. LOL. :)
I said I would post a bit more about food. But I also warned you it may not be too interesting. :) I am doing my best to get everyone on the same eating schedule now that summer is here. They all have different schedules when they're in school, and if I don't do something to organize their days, they'll eat me out of house and home! Again, they all have different tastes. While one will snack on apples and peanut butter, another would opt for the candy stash every time he could sneak an opportunity! :) Keeping snack bars handy has been a good middle of the road for them. Yes, they are still sugary, I know. But they're okay in moderation, and especially better alternatives than a nasty granola bar off of any old shelf, loaded with artificial ingredients and preservatives. Pick your battles, don't ya know?! :)
The first three, you can find at Trader Joe's. The last one is a brand from Aldi, and I've been so pleased to see Aldi offering more natural options!!! Then again, there are days, when a treat must be shared. :)
I LOVE music. My husband loves it. My kids love it. I grew up in a family with very diverse tastes in music. My mom loved to dig out her old motown tunes, John Denver, and Ann Murray. My tastes were usually a little more in tune with my dad's...One of my favorite memories of my dad and me were when we listened to music together. We didn't have ALL the same likes, but when we did, the overlap was fun. :) My brothers and I enjoy introducing one another to new things as well. We all have main genres we tend to stick to more often, so exposing one another to new groups and songs always proves to be interesting. I have one sister who once lived on 90s girl power music, like Sara McLaughlin and Jewel... and the other, who is all things current... and schools me often in my lack of trendy culture. :) All of that to say, like in most things, I'm good to mix things up a LOT. Lately, I've felt the desire for some soul-refreshing. I've gone back to some of my old, gospel roots, and found some treasures that I've been enjoying immensely. You know what I think is awesome? In the midst of my boys' very different tastes, they all seem to be enjoying my revived trend as well. Here's a little sample. :) He's Watching Me
In looking through old posts, I realized I've been blogging (and I use the term loosely, since I take extended breaks!) since 2010. How did four years go by? I also realized that I have eighteen "drafts" saved that are either completely empty, or never finished.... Maybe I should play with those a bit more? Just a thought. :)
Last few weeks of school are pretty crazy. We are now on week two of summer break, and I'm finally starting to feel like we can chill a bit.... a bit. :) Just a few happenings: My husband's brother is currently in Africa, in the middle of a two week stay for a mission trip. The updates have been so exciting! I can't wait to hear from him when he gets home.
Last weekend, to help her pass the time, my SIL came up with the kids. We did a little shopping, the kids got to go swimming, and Sam had headshots done for her "author profile" for her books!
If you're in the St. Charles, MO area, this photographer does a lovely job with weddings, family photography, etc. To my knowledge, she has now done TWO of her "Beautiful You" campaigns... mini sessions of headshots, just to make a girl look and feel pretty! :) Check her out if you can! Beautiful Life Studio
This week, so far, I've spent the time chilling with my boys. We've been to the skatepark, to visit their dad for lunch, a little relaxing on the back deck, and some movie watching. As much as I don't like the "housewife" part of my job (schedule keeping, chore completing, and the like), I LOVE the "stay at home mom" part. Having the freedom to spend solid, quality time with my boys is what it's about for me. And they may deny it, but I think they enjoy it, too. :) Happy SUMMER!!!!
I was a terrible student. No exaggeration... terrible. It's not to say that I was incapable of learning. Honestly, there are probably so many details that go into reasoning through it, that it would take way too long to sort it out in a way that wouldn't bore anyone to tears. I was way too wrapped up in the social aspect of being a teenager. I very much enjoyed attention from boys. I hated being forced to learn and/or study something in which I had zero interest. I had issues with authority. I didn't like going to a private school. My piers probably thought I was an idiot. My true friends knew better, but really didn't get it. My teachers, and ESPECIALLY my parents were continuously frustrated by me. I spent the majority of my teenage years grounded for poor grades, and bitter because that interrupted my socializing.... I really wasn't all that misbehaved, but I had a whole lot of inward struggle... always feeling a bit tied down and repressed.... and, well, like I said, the list goes on and on and on. Quite honestly, I'm so thankful those days are behind me. I'm not proud of them, but at least I can say that I'm not the same person I was. In fairness, who IS the same person they were as a teenager? YIKES! HOWEVER, my husband is exactly the opposite... THANKFULLY! I truly want my boys to take after their dad! :) He loves to learn. He reads constantly. He was an excellent student, and the man is a wealth of knowledge. THIS is why he has always wanted to go back to school. When we met, he had come to St. Louis to be a student at St. Louis College of Pharmacy. That education still serves us well. :) His career, however, took a different course. Only in recent years, have both paths joined.... into what they call "health informatics." Yeah.... you can look here:
Definition of Health Informatics So, that's what he does... he does it well, I might add. And he decided to get an official degree in it. I'll be honest, the idea of him going back to school had never been a popular one to me. He's already a busy guy. We're managing a family of five, with three growing boys who need their dad around. I didn't care for the idea of time being taken away from our family, while he was in classes. But I trust his judgment, which has not led me astray yet. :) He recently found this school that impressed him, and once he made the decision, he pretty much jumped right in. WGU Missouri To my pleasant surprise, he has managed for his studies to make little impact on our family.... so little, in fact, that I really didn't realize the weight of it until a couple of weeks ago, when we attended a "social, getting-to-know-you thing" for the students in the area. We went to a little restaurant downtown, where they did a "happy hour" kind of event, and we met the chancellor of the school, and mingled with other students.... even met two other "health informatics" people (who knew?!!!). And as I looked around, it all started to soak in.... he has finally done it... after nearly twenty years of wanting to, he's doing something he so badly wants for himself. And my heart swelled with pride for this man to whom I'm married. It's easy to overlook the wonderful things about a person when you've known them so long... to take them for granted. I'm thankful for the moments when I'm snapped into reality and it is made aware to me in a new way, how blessed I am. I love this man's brain... that he loves to soak up new things... that he loves to learn. I love that he wants to continuously challenge himself, to do better... to be better. He takes his responsibilities very seriously. He provides for our family, all the while allowing me the freedom to make our family my top priority. I happen to think he's pretty awesome. :)
I've loved them since I was a teenager. There have been times that they're more in style than others... On this, I don't really care. They're casual, comfy, breezy... perfect for spring or summer. I've had people eye me up while wearing them... and I'm pretty sure it isn't in a good way. Still don't care. I like them. :)
This is a really easy, tasty treat. Unfortunately, my oldest doesn't care for it, but he tends to eat healthier on his own. This is probably the only way I get a good-sized serving of eggs into my younger two on occasion. :)
I don't really measure anything for french toast. Break some eggs, add some vanilla and cinnamon. The coffee creamer just makes it a bit sweeter and creamier. Mix it up, dip both sides of bread into the batter and put it in the frying pan. I put butter in the pan, but not on the toast after. Top it with a little dusting of powdered sugar. Voila. :)
Now, I'm aware that the bread I use isn't necessarily my best option. There's an interesting article on bread choices if you'd like to take a look: healthiest-bread-on-the-market Unfortunately, there's no way my kiddos would touch the best options for bread. They take sandwiches for lunch to school every day, and I would maintain that their sandwiches made from home are still a healthier option than what the cafeteria would serve them.
I'm not a "no sugar" mom, but I do prefer to keep their treats as natural as I can. We have a community candy drawer in the kitchen, where gift/holiday candy is rationed upon request. :) Other than that, I prefer to keep the "desserts" as unprocessed as possible. Homemade means i know what's going into them....
Usually, when I prepare a dessert from scratch, I like to do it for real. My youngest requested these, though, so "all things in moderation" applies here. :)
Gooey butter cookies.
I used this recipe from Pinterest.
I mixed the butter, cream cheese, egg and vanilla.
Add the box of cake mix (this is the part I don't prefer.... Pre-packaged cake mix means I'm cheating on the "from scratch" part, but whatevs.)
Scoop by tablespoon and bake for 10-12 minutes.
The recipe says to roll the cookies in powdered sugar before baking, but I skipped this step and heard no complaints.
Yesterday, on April 1st, we marked 18 years since losing my sweet grandma. I was 19 when she passed away. I didn't get nearly enough time with her. Most of my growing up, I remember her living about two minutes away, in a little apartment where my siblings and I visited often. She was not a "we'll see her on the holidays" grandma. She was always around. When my sister and I would get angry with our parents, we would pack little bags of clothes and canned goods and plot to run away... which meant running to Grandma's house... explain the whole situation to her, and just KNOW that she would hide us for at least long enough that Mom and Dad would feel badly about us being gone. We never actually did it. I think I got as far as crossing our street once, and I got so afraid I'd get caught just crossing the street, that I ran back home and unpacked my bags... frustrated again that I didn't have the guts to go through with it. Incidentally, Mom always knew about these plans. She let us plot and scheme anyway. My mom and grandma were so very close. Mom was the baby of five, and the only one of Grandma's children who didn't move away from the area after growing up and having families of their own. Grandpa passed away when I wasn't even 3, and that's when Grandma moved so close to us. If Grandma wasn't at our house, we would usually know she was on the other end of the telephone line, while Mom cooked dinner or did dishes in the kitchen. She would even let Mom pass the phone to any one of us kids, and we'd chat away. She would entertain me endlessly with her phone calls. Mom says she'd let me chatter away about anything, and had no problem with any conversation my little heart desired. I would even sing songs to her over the phone. :)
I called her Mom-Mom all the way until I started KG. My mom tells the story that I came home from school one day, and asked Mom-Mom if I could call her "Grandma." She said, "Well, why, Laura? I love being your mom-mom." I answered, "None of the other kids at school have a mom-mom. They all have grandmas!" Probably broke her sweet grandma-heart, but that was the end of "Mom-Mom." She was "Grandma" from then on. I even have a locket that my parents gave her with the name "Mom-Mom" engraved on it. I wish I'd never asked her to let me change it.
Oh, how she brightened a room when she entered it. She loved colorful clothes and shoes and accessories. She would let us girls come over and play in all of her jewelry and we just loved that she'd never had her ears pierced, because that meant we could try on all of her clip-on earrings! She laughed... a lot... and loudly. :) She loved to give us hugs and kisses, and to play with our hair.
Dress up at Grandma's house.
She always carried peppermints in her purse.
She was sassy and mouthy and loved to tease my dad.
She knew how to laugh at herself. She never embarrassed easily.
She made regular appointments to get her "curly" (a perm) refreshed at the local hair salon.
She never had a driver's license.
She always kept Pepperidge Farms refrigerator cakes in her fridge.
She got married when she was only 17.
She never liked chocolate, because when she was young and worked in a chocolate factory, smelling it so often made her feel sick. She never had a taste for it afterwards. We thought that was CRAZY! :)
She went to the "center" every week, where she hung out with other senior citizens... just to get in her social time.
She went school shopping with us every year. She and mom would plan a day when we'd all walk to Kmart or Venture during the school sales, and we would get new supplies and clothes.
She loved to take pictures. She let me borrow her camera.
She was strong. She loved and cared for her mentally disabled son, when "back in the day," many other parents tried to convince her to put him in "a home." He passed away at 17 years old, and Grandma always ever spoke of him as having been such a blessing to her.
She ironed EVERYTHING.
She loved red.
She loved trains, because her daddy was an engineer.
She loved Native American decor in her home, because her birth mother was half Cherokee. Her mom passed away when Grandma was very young, and she liked to have things around that made her think of her.
She loved music by Julio Iglesias.
She wore dentures and used to let us take them out. Hahaa!
She would tell me when she thought a boy on TV was "cute." :)
She saved paper towels and aluminum foil and rubber bands, because she grew up during The Depression and never wanted anything to go to waste.
She had a million stuffed-toy kitty cats on her bed. And she made her bed that way every day, without fail and without flaw.... every cat had its place.
Sitting at the snack bar at Grandma's apartment.
She was truly one of the most special people I've ever known. I'm so thankful for my memories of her. I feel lucky that many of her personality characteristics were passed down to me. :) Every time my mom says I remind her of Grandma, it makes me smile.
We always joke that God decided to take her on April Fool's Day. She would've gotten a kick out of that. :) And she would've laughed and laughed as she told the story.
Today, my mother in law texted me and asked me if I'd ever considered blogging about any healthy meal recipes I use to cook for my family. I giggled upon receiving it. And promptly texted her back to let her know that I really didn't think anyone would be interested in the boring meals I prepare for my family. :) Trust me, there's really NOTHING for you to learn from me when it has to do with the kitchen. She was referring to a pretty significant lifestyle change that we made a few years ago... You can read more about it here: Food Challege In looking through the ol' archives, I discovered that was four years ago. I remember it quite clearly... freaking out after watching the documentary, Food, Inc. I've mentioned that I'm a person of extremes??? I went through my pantry and refrigerator and purged nearly everything. I researched and studied and shopped. All organic fruits and veggies. Some organic meats. Organic milk. That year, the boys received all organic candies in their Easter baskets. I looked for more natural hygienic products: soaps, shampoos, deodorants, toothpastes. I even threw away all of my perfume. I started buying toilet paper and paper towels from whole foods stores, because I learned that the standard brands actually used BLEACH to whiten their products. Ick. I got rid of any plastic in our cupboards and replaced it with glass... (which my siblings just LOVE, because they're so nervous that their little ones might break something during a meal...) I started looking into alternative cleaning products, that had naturally based ingredients. And don't even get me started on sunscreen. In other words, I drove myself insane. I felt like I needed to catch up! What had I been doing all this time, poisoning my family???? How could I not have known???? All of my babies wore disposable diapers, for goodness sake!!!! Well, as usual, time passed... I chilled. I just couldn't keep with it all. Every article I read, I learned something else I needed to avoid. Hello, living-in-a-bubble. So, maybe my next few posts will consist of some of my findings... Anyone who tries to make healthy lifestyle choices for their family has their little tricks of the trade. :) Some things may be more important to one person than to another, depending on whatever given variable. And since I'm bored with my fashion posts, there's no reason not to mix it up. :)
Today was a lunch date with my sister-in-law. We don't get to visit with my husband's brother's family as much as we'd like. They only live a couple of hours away, but the calendar seems to fill up and days fly by and before we know it, it has been months again since we've seen them. Today, my SIL had to drive to our area for an appointment, so we were able to fit in a quick lunch before she headed home. Here we are:
And here's what I wore (I'm actually starting to bore myself with my outfit posts... maybe it's already time to move on????.....)
Tshirt: Target Vest: 2nd hand Boyrfriend jeans: JCP