Tuesday, April 8, 2014

play dough, for real

Yesterday, I felt like super mom. Made dinner in the crock pot, swept floors, played with baby, made homemade play dough. Today? Let's just roll with it and let it be what it is!

I used this recipe for play dough, and found it to be good. I didn't have quite enough cream of tartar, but it still turned out well! Smooth, soft, squishy, and almost exactly like the brand name stuff. It does have a bit of a salty, grainy texture, but that didn't bother me. Also, if it gets wet, the food coloring starts to bleed onto hands. But I can live with that! It also made A LOT of play dough - I split it into fourths and put away 3/4 of the dough in separate containers for another day.

Joshua loved it!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

thrifty Thursday

I love thrifting. It's thrilling to me to find something I've been needing for so much less that it would cost from its original store.

Lately, Brad has been needing jeans to wear to work. His office recently switched over  to more casual dress, and he hasn't worn a pair of khakis to work in ages! His jeans collection was starting to be a bit threadbare, and one of his last good pairs ripped all the way up the leg. Dire situation, indeed.

My mission upon entering thrift stores, then, has been first, to find jeans for Brad, second, to find clothes for my ever-growing toddler, and third, to find a couple nice pieces  for myself, since my post-pregnancy shape is so different.

Today was a triple win. Hooray!

Not one, but THREE pairs of pants for Brad:
One pair of Levi's (about $58 new), one pair of brand new, with tags, Old Navy jeans ($29.50), and a pair of Banana Republic jeans ($89!?!) for a grand total of $35.

A likely brand new baby Gap thermal (white with navy stripes) for my sweet little boy:
(Similar one $19.95) for $0.75. Boom, baby.
And a cute sweater and skirt for me! The skirt is old, from Old Navy. Probably about 2006? Let's imagine that it was probably about $15. The sweater doesn't have a tag, but it looks like it could be Old Navy, as well. I'll imagine that it was likely $20 new. Both items came to $6.50 total.

So the grand total is about $42.  It would have been about $222 new. I paid about 19% of the original price of these items.

I. Love. Thrifting.

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Like play-doh

It's said that the sense of smell is one of our greatest memory triggers. I remember Nanny when I smell her laundry detergent on a vintage sheet that has been tucked away for years. Lavender hand soap reminds me of the first time I visited Brad's parents' home as his brand-new girlfriend. I hear the laughs of my dorm-mates when I encounter the same scent that lingered in those halls. Cracklign wood fires bring to mind memories of childhood campfires in the woods behind my parents' home, and cookouts at the church in the fall. Even the smell of dead flies (ha!) reminds me of the fly-strewn practice room that houses my favorite piano at college.

Touch and texture remind me of things, too. Play-doh, that smooth to crumbly feeling that smells just like...play-doh? You know! And the plastic tub. The dough that's molded over and over and shaped and stretched and cut and extruded and smooshed back into the container with three different colors mixed in for another day. (Happy run-on sentence to you. You're welcome.)

Lately, I feel like play-doh. Familiar, soft, playful. Sometimes a little crumbly. Not perfect. Molded again and again and definitely not what I used to be. Still good, but not what I used to be. And my heart is so much softer than the first day I let God use me, the first time I let him have control of my life.

Life is full of beautiful blessings. Days that turn out perfectly, a loving family, a comfortable home, a beautiful, boisterous baby boy. But there is so much pain, too. I can't share all my pain here, yet, maybe never, but know that if you're hurting, I will cry with you.

There is a family in Buffalo, NY whose preschooler, Ben, has been diagnosed with a tumor, a cancer that has given him mere weeks to live. Ben is a twin. And the middle child in a perfect little family. They love God. They believe, they trust. But the end of Ben's life appears to be imminent. I know that God can redeem this situation somehow, but it seems that there will be tears. And mourning. And grief. And many whys with no answers that satisfy. His mother keeps saying "but God." But God could intervene.

He has, and He will. God is sovereign. He gives generously, and takes away. We may never know why on this side of eternity, but we can trust Him because He loves us.

Even so, I'm crying for little Ben and his family tonight. I'm crying because my heart resonates with the pain of loss, and of aching for ones I've loved. Because I know the peace that passes understanding, and his name is Jesus. He is the only hope for our hurting souls, and the only answer to the death, destruction, and pain in this world. He is the only one, who by his own strength overcame the grave, and who gives us a future and a hope in heaven. He has made the way for us to become children of God, and to live with Him through eternity.

I'm taking comfort in that tonight. Even though I feel like I'm crumbling. Bits of me smashed up with other bits that I didn't think belonged. But I'll be rolled out and shaped and formed each day of my life and one day, become exactly what my Father planned for me all along. The pain, the sorrow, the joys, the blessings, the longings, the dreams fulfilled - they will all be worth it. They will come together as part of His glorious plan and I will be perfectly content, rejoicing in Him.

Come, Lord Jesus, come!

Monday, March 3, 2014

little things

Little, tiny fingers, curling up and reaching toward me, just begging for tickles - love this.
The sweet birdie foot prints in the freshly fallen snow around the porch
A kiss from my sweet little boy
A warm house where we make our home
Cookies from my mom
Internet radio on my phone
Giggles from that ticklish toddler boy
Pretty love-themed decorations packed away for next February
March/Easter - themed decorations ready to be lovingly placed
Reminders of how much I am loved - handwritten notes, calls, thoughtful gestures

There is so much to be thankful for! Why is it so easy to miss this in the long, long days, while we count down the hours to bedtime and wonder what we might try to accomplish while the little one plays?

Trying to be conscious of the many blessings, and to be thankful. And to teach my son to do the same.

Monday, February 3, 2014

little things

It was a long, silent January, wasn't it? We experienced some of the coldest, snowiest days I've ever seen, and spent many cozy times cuddled up over "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" and piles of colorful blocks, not to mention stepping over piles of kitchen "toys" - pots, pans, recycling, spoons, canned goods...

So to begin February on a thankful note, here we go!

1. Warm, cozy days with my sweet little boy, who is growing and changing and learning so much each day
2. Cuddling on the couch with Brad after the sweet little boy is asleep in bed
3. Enough food, enough blankets, enough. We have everything we need, and so much more.
4. Putting away the last of the Christmas decorations, and looking forward to next year's decorating. Now that I know all the best places to put things out of Joshie's reach, I can better prepare for next time!
5. Visits with family and dear friends
6. The privilege of attending a truth-speaking church
7. Beautiful, bountiful, blessed snow. Sparkly, shimmery, swiftly blowing snow. Wind-blown dunes of crisp, crunchy, sand-like snow. Icy puddles that preserve fallen leaves, sticks, berries, pine cones.
8. The sound of birdsong today! Don't they know it's still winter here for another four months or so? God meets all their needs too, of course.
9. The blessing of many toys for my son, who insists he must climb on top of them all.
10. Safety for our family and friends, and the blessing of a Savior who knows us better than we know ourselves.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Joshua's first birthday

Whew, a year has come and gone! Joshua is ONE!

I started party planning back in August, I think, with this Pinterest board. I hope you can see that...let me know if you have trouble with the link.

First, a theme: rockets! How fun for a little guy, right? I thought so. And hey, I get to pick, since he's not telling me what he wants just yet ;)

I figured I'd make a rocket cake, stick with red and blue as theme colors, and maybe go with some galactic symbols here and there: stars, planets, aliens? Big brainstorm time.

In my planning, I also wrote a poem for his birthday invitation, which looked like this, thanks to some conveniently free clip art included in Publisher:
 Ta-da! Now we're rolling.
So, now for some pictures of the day.
 We gave Joshua his first-ever balloons to play with. Closely supervised, of course.

 I made star-shaped sugar cookie cutouts for the take-home gift for our guests.
The rocket cake was made out of a 9"x11" sheet cake (funfetti, of course). I trimmed the cake into the body of the rocket, and then used the scraps to form the wings on the sides of the rocket. The jets were yellow cake cupcakes in foil cups, frosted with red and orange frosting to look fiery.  I used a regular vanilla buttercream recipe for the frosting, tinting it with Wilton's gel paste food coloring as needed. Please note that it matches the rocket on the invitation; I was so happy with how it turned out!
 The rest of the yellow cake cupcakes, one of which was reserved for the birthday boy, were frosted in the same white vanilla buttercream, and sprinkled with blue sugar. Those are Hershey's kisses in the background, and one of our blue table runners from our wedding reception underneath.
 Joshua holds onto a willing hand to walk around the house and visit guests. So sweet. Also, he was pretty much permanently attached to that balloon.
 First cake ever. Clearly, a big hit.

 I kept the menu simple, with fresh fruit (thank you, Grandma Burr), a little veggie tray, crackers and cheese, and the desserts, of course. In the corner of the photo, you can see my star banner that I made! I wish I had a better photo of that, but forgot to take a good picture. We also decorated with pictures of Joshua from each month of his life, hung on a white cotton string with clothespins. There was also a banner of blue and silvery-blue triangles that we used at my baby shower for Joshua just over a year ago.
 Yes. The cake was satisfactory.
 A worn out birthday boy and two happy parents, celebrating one whole year! Also, more of that star banner I mentioned.
Happy birthday, big guy! We love you so much.

Saturday, November 30, 2013


Our first year as parents is almost over! Our sweet little guy will be one year old in just a few days, and it's so hard to believe. We have so much to be thankful for. Mercy upon mercy. Grace upon grace. So many blessings, achings, joys, sorrows, exhilarations, fears.

Joshua's first Thanksgiving was a cozy family gathering with his paternal grandparents. I completely forgot to take any pictures, and the camera stayed in the car the whole time! I'm pretty disappointed about that. We enjoyed a warm, play-filled couple of days by the fireplace, with snow falling outside and delicious dinners inside. There was a trip to a local tree nursery to see their decorated Christmas trees, and a brisk excursion to a small-town parade with Santa at the end. There were lots of stories and jokes told, a few rounds of Skip-Bo, and quite a few sweets.

We are blessed. Home, family, friends, safety, health, warmth, love.

Remembering the little things, and thanking the beyond-comprehension God who orchestrates it all and loves us more than we could possibly imagine.