Easter Baskets: Keeping it Frugal and Fun!

Just a few days until Easter! Are your Easter Baskets ready? Mine aren’t assembled yet, but I do have everything purchased and ready to go. Because time is running out, I put a little video together for you showing what I have chosen to give our little girls this year (and other family members as well). I hope you find it helpful and feel free to leave your ideas and links on the comments! After all, it’s never to early to start ticking away great ideas for next year! Thanks for watching!

Find the video {here}.

a pregnancy ritual and a very intimate detail about ej

hello, friends. you’re probably all asleep as i write this, but i’ve got something on my heart tonight. i just finished my nightly cup of hot tea. it’s a pregnancy ritual that started during my first pregnancy (ava), and is still going strong today. not sure why it’s only during pregnancy, and on the hot, humid, summer nights to boot, but it is. a cup of hot black tea with one tsp. of sugar and a splash of whole milk. my grandma has made us tea that way since i was little, and it is by far my favorite way to drink it. i take my prenatal vitamin with it, brush my teeth and hit the hay. except for tonight, that is – i’m writing this first. and i’ve got about 30 minutes before the vitamin-induced nausea kicks in.

hubby rented ‘heaven is for real’ tonight. i have been wanting to read the book ever since it came out. i don’t know why i haven’t yet. maybe every time i think of it money’s tight or something, but i am going to make a point of buying it now.

i never questioned or doubted this little boy’s story from day one. i believe 100% that heaven is in fact real, so i embraced the movie with my whole, open heart. i didn’t watch it for some cinematic wow.  i watched it with the faith of a child, longing to catch a glimpse of Heaven.  to imagine angels singing, the beauty of every sight, the possibility of seeing Jesus as He really is. breath-taking. so many moments left me in tears – not necessarily sad ones either. i would describe them as being similar to tears of feeling overwhelmed. like when you bring your new baby home, and emotion just hits you, and you can’t do anything but cry…those kind of tears.

the part that caught my heart and attention the most, however, was the scene in which he tells his mom about his heaven-sister (seen in part in the trailer below). i.broke. bawled like a baby. wept. my husband looked over at me, like he often does during intense or moving scenes, and he knew what to expect. my face buried in my hands, eyelids clenched so hard, silent sobs and gross sniffles. all i could say between breaths was ‘don’t look at me!’, but a moment later, as i explained myself to him, i realized that i was explaining something to myself at the same time.

‘i’m not crying b/c i am sad. i am crying b/c it is so awesome.’

‘extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring great admiration, apprehension, or fear.’


God, you are awesome.
the fact that our ej is in Heaven with you, growing, thriving, constantly and eternally surrounded by joy, peace, beauty, angels, love…everything wonderful…that is awesome. that throws me to my knees inside. how incredible is the God we have?!

i don’t want to give the entire scene away, but i have to include this, b/c it is so powerful and why i am writing this post. the mother asks her son for his heaven-sister’s name, and he tells her something along the lines of, ‘she doesn’t have one. you never gave one to her.’ she agrees, saying that he was right, and that they didn’t know if she was in fact a he or she.

i think that was the moment that broke me.  i know it was.  it brought back my dream of ej. do you remember? you can read that post afterwards {here}, if you’d like. i want to tell you something that i have only ever told my husband.

ej is a daughter, and i believe her name is jade.

when i first lost the baby, i told myself many things to ease the pain and silence the ‘whys’. one of the lies i tried to buy was, ‘the baby was a boy, and maybe my body just can’t carry boys.’ lie. in a sense, i was cursing myself, speaking limits over my God-given body and eliminating the thought of ever carrying a son. the brain can think pretty irrational things when your heart is being torn. now, 10 wks pregnant with our fifth child, i am confident that there is a great chance that this is a son, and that this pregnancy will be healthy, regardless.

one thing this lie caused me to do was doubt – doubt the reality of my dream and doubt God’s message to my aching heart. i asked my husband when we were out to dinner last year for ej’s birthday celebration what he really thought – do you think ej is a boy or a girl? he said with absolute certainty, ‘girl’. even in that moment, three years after God speaking to me so clearly in that dream, i waivered. i wanted to put my trust in Him completely; i wanted to believe that what happened was so real, but there was still that little sliver of doubt lingering in the back of my mind. after tonight, He reminded me so strongly of my dream and the tender way He introduced me to the truth. i am so grateful for that encounter, and i will not be afraid to put total trust in what He told me anymore. ej is a baby girl and her name is jade.

i am sure we will call her ej forever, b/c that’s what we have called her and what the girls are growing up calling her, but it means something to me to tell you about her fully and to confess my fear and doubt to you. i hope our story encourages you. i hope it grows your faith. most importantly, i hope it reminds you that you have a loving Father in Heaven who knows you, understands your heart’s cry, and longs to speak to you.

and if you have a heaven-baby – a miscarriage, a stillbirth, an abortion – name him/her. your baby is alive and well, waiting to see you someday, and you, as his/her mother/father, have been given the awesome gift of bestowing a name. thinking again about that movie, his sister had aged, she was probably at least six, i would guess, and she did not have a name. the Lord, in His power, did not assign her a name. that floored me. even in eternity, He seems to say,’ your mother and father will give you a name, and even if it takes several decades, it doesn’t matter, b/c i know you.’ He knows the name, but it’s our gift to give it. let that sink in.

and just as an aside, b/c i don’t take it lightly, if you have experienced abortion, i pray that Holy Spirit would visit you right now, that He would minister to your heart, heal your deepest wounds, and lift the heaviest of burdens from your heart. you are forgiven, and you are not any less loved or adored by Jesus. i pray that you would come to that understanding and that you would have peace. you cannot change the past, but you have the gift of the future. you have the gift of dreams each night and endless opportunities for God to visit you and speak gently to your spirit. you have the gift of meeting your little one in Heaven one day. live like it. think like it. smile b/c of it. the story doesn’t end here. we don’t end here, and they didn’t end there.

well, thanks for allowing me to share this intimate part of my story with you. be blessed. until next time…

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i wish grace lived here.

once again i wake up after the husband and kids, b/c i’m dead-tired, dragging and wishing the day would rewind itself before it even had a chance to start. he’s in the shower, listening to his praise music. must be nice. to shower and spend your mental energy on Jesus in the morning. not this girl. i wake up to isla slamming a cupboard door that she shouldn’t be in, or hitting me over the head with a cup, asking for her morning milk, or ava swinging a remote two millimeters from my eyelid, whining that she wants to watch a show, or eden screaming from her crib, b/c isla already went in and offered her four barbie dolls.

husband emerges, says his hellos and begins to walk downstairs. ‘can you take the baby with you?’ i receive my first eye-roll/scowl/or lecture for the day. great. i just want to shower. oh, get up earlier you say, sir? well, i saw ava at 1am, and 230am (at which point i changed her peed-in pjs and tucked her back into bed). then, i had the pleasure of carrying isla back to bed at 430am, and i was so out of it that i called her ava, and it wasn’t until i was already walking down the hallway, that i noticed her petite body in my arms and realized that it was her this time. but hey, sure, i can get up at 6am and try to beat you to the shower so that eden doesn’t whine at you for more cheerios while you have your quiet time. either that, or i can just stink until 10pm, like i do most days anyway.

i stand firm though, and brush off his disappointment for some time to myself. cut myself shaving. ankles. probably the only bones still visible after growing my babies, and yep, i cut one. so, now i’m greeting the day with a bitter husband, whining children, and a wad of toilet paper stuck to a stinging ankle. doesn’t last long, b/c ava curiously rips it off before i make it past the dining room. baby is in her highchair, alone, a cheerio still left here and there. not happy, of course. hubs is partaking of his devotional time in the living room, alone, and the other two are running around like it’s 1999.

i have a sign in my dining room that reads: ‘let us be silent that we may hear the whisper of God.’ what it should probably read is: ‘let us lay prostrate on the kitchen floor until God actually shows up.’ i don’t feel Him on days like this. i know He’s there, but i can’t feel Him steering us in any shape or form. three tender moments today. three. over 50,000 minutes with my family, and i can count three tender moments.

we have breakfast. i have two loads of laundry going and all three cleaned up and happily dressed before 9:30am. miracle. we play in the backyard, enjoy homemade popsicles, and follow a baby bird around the yard, all before noon. poor bird. lunch and grocery time.

i get the kids in the car, and something starts to happen. the unraveling of a day. they want lunch now. they want to go to target, not sam’s club. they want to listen to the lion king song, not jesus culture. they want; they want; they want. no sam’s club card. nice. hubs has it. call him – no answer. i bet he’s out to lunch. call him again – answers. yep. out to lunch with a buddy at panera bread. oh, you know, the one restaurant he won’t take us to, b/c the portions are too small, the food is over-priced, and he always leaves hungry. yeah, that place. i head to the bank first for grocery money. ‘do the kids want lollipops?’ sure, nice teller-lady! two please. then it hits me that i just asked for punishment during our entire shopping experience. once eden sees those ‘pops’ in her sisters’ mouths and figures out that i don’t have one for her…i’m doomed. no one gets a pop until we get to the store. okay? okay. (at least if i sit her carseat sideways in the ginormous cart, she won’t be able to spy her sisters’ lollipop-sucking profiles.) they begrudgingly agree to my terms. i do a drive-by and grab the sam’s card from hubs, recalling that the last time he met us for lunch, isla was in a highchair. max ‘n erma’s 2012. interrupting his lunch date would be as bad as hijacking his morning quiet time, so i drive off to buy us a much unhealthier option – sonic. ugh. cheeseburgers and french fries it is. we eat in the car and talk about what policemen do. random and typical.

{most ‘recent’ lunch date – 2012}

arrive at sam’s and load girls into the cart as planned. perfect. eden never catches a glimpse of the goods and she is content to smile in the breeze. as i go to grab the handle of the shopping cart, i mistakenly whack ava’s lollipop onto the ground. the parking lot ground. after making her wait for 20 minutes, and lecturing her to keep it concealed…i knock it to the ground. as if my life flashed before my eyes, i whisk it up without hesitating and the ‘oh crap’ moment sets in. now what? there is more than half left on the stick. isla is savoring hers, and it’s my fault it went flying to the ground. the dirty, parking lot ground… the germophobe in me is screaming, ‘noooo!’, but the mama-guilt in me wins by a landslide. as if i was being filmed in slow-mo eating slugs on the nat-geo channel, i put the foul thing in my mouth and ‘wiped it clean’. ugh. oh heaven help me. for chicken and lettuce. i’m doing this for chicken and lettuce. and butter. can’t forget the butter. almost an hour later, what are we leaving with? a lot more, and if it were up to ava…a pretzel and a trampoline would have joined our caravan. (you know that moment in which you start over the initial drop of a roller coaster? this was that part of the day, and it crosses my mind that their sonic kids’ meals were laced with a disobedience powder of sorts.) i’m not paying $11 for butter, so i decide aldi’s is our next and final stop. to say they were ill-behaved would be putting it nicely. i got a sympathy pat on my right shoulder from a stranger – a mom of four. ‘i know what you are going through, honey.’ really? great. my usually kind-hearted and darling daughters are attacking each other, trying to headbutt the baby, sticking their tongues out at me, and shouting, ‘poop and pee’ at the top of their voices. can’t i just believe in aliens for two minutes, b/c these clearly aren’t my children. the ‘lilo and stitch’ dvd is going in the trash can tonight. have to start the reformation somewhere.

i make it to the checkout without buying popsicles or leaving ava in the freezer aisle. i am promising bum spanks once we get to the car (something i have never had to do in a public setting in all four and a half years of being a mom.) people are smirking at us. i am making jokes about ‘waving the white flag’ to onlookers, and isla is growling. eden is crying and has a red mark on her forehead. gee, is it any wonder why daddy never thinks to meet us for lunch? now i’m thinking about that again and how bad i think he stinks and i hope that his ‘pick two’ gave him reflux. i pay for the groceries, which started out as a butter-run and morphed into a fruit and veggie extravaganza, and we go to the car. of course there has to be a woman next to us while i have to follow through with the promise of spanking ava’s bottom. ‘you’re getting this spanking, remember? you didn’t listen to me in the store, and i told you that you were going to get a bum spank if you didn’t stop those x,y,z behaviors.’ cries for mercy break out. the woman is still piddling with something next to the car, and i quickly give a swat to the tushie of a very unhappy four-year-old. what a horrible day, and it’s just 2:30. oh, but it doesn’t end there. oh no…what happens next makes amelia bedilia look like she has it all together.

after putting the kids and the food in the car, i throw the stroller in the back. the box of chickens is sticking out of the van while i put the beast stroller in the right spot. in total haste and embarrassment, i run to the driver’s seat and hit the button for the hatch to close itself. the chicken. hit it again, so it becomes as confused as its operator and stalls. fix the chicken, and push the button to close the hatch again. proceed homeward. hop on highway. where is my phone? the stroller? man. get off of highway. pull over. phone? brand-new, four-day-old iphone…sticking half out from under the rear door! yep. good stuff right there. thank goodness, it still works. get back in the car and drive home.

eden wakes up as i pull into the garage. we all know what 10 minute car naps do to babies. bear. little grizzly. i make dinner for us and friends who just had a baby. that is the only thing going right so far. ava and isla are begging for tv, and, as badly as i want to glue them to the couch and let them sit in front of a movie, i realize that we are heading back out soon and the last thing i need is for them to pass out in front of the tv and pee on my floor. b/c they would. b/c i am having that kind of day. so, no! no movies. okay then, i guess running around and hitting each other is plan b, and i asked for it, right? eden is content, b/c i handed her a bowl of baby-sized white cheddar cheese puffs, and who doesn’t love cheese puffs? they’re all quiet. too quiet. ‘what are you doing?!’ ‘playing duck-duck-goose, mom!’ believable. okay. i finish dinner and begin to wrap up our delivery items. shoes on. dog in crate. no purse to be found and a kid has to poop. oh, for the love! poop then! where is my purse?! i’ll tear the house apart while you poop. no purse. seriously? i came in, put down our bags and haven’t left the kitchen in over two hours, and i manage to lose a purse?! panic hits. it’s gotta be on the highway. it fell off of the stroller and some wanderer picked it up and thought it was his/her lucky day b/c it had twenty-five dollars in it, my only debit and credit cards, a license, and one thousand joann fabric receipts. lucky day.

load up all of the food and the kids back into the car. open garage. frantically search for purse and husband appears. am i that late already?! and talk about timing – i just got these monkeys buckled. of course they don’t want to stay here with dad, they want to go with mommy. of course! i lost my purse. what?!!!?!!!?! yes, sir. i lost it. needless to say, grace still wasn’t showing up. husband speeds off for aldi’s. b/c, for whatever reason, they don’t list their phone number.  another wasted 411 charge.  i head for the highway.  i drive my little route twice. no purse in sight. he goes to aldi’s – no purse. i go to aldis’. ‘oh yes, i remember you – you had all of the kids in the stroller.’ yes, that was me, thanks. no purse.

white flag still waving. children all asleep in the car. i break out in a nervous-sweat, and my pit paste doesn’t want to work when i nervous-sweat. only when i’m nervous.  weird.  and see? i shouldn’t have even bothered with that shower this morning, b/c i smell like b.o. now anyway.

tender moment number one…in the midst of all the chaos and negativity, i get to meet nora. i get to see a few smiling faces that aren’t mad at me b/c i lost my purse, aren’t yelling at me to play a certain song, and aren’t pulling at my burning ankle, crying to be held. for about 10 minutes of this day, i felt the warmth of patience and hope and peace. so nice.  i think grace lives there.

i return to the van and decide to check the highway one more time. i drive like a ninny with my four-ways on, creeping along the berm on a very busy portion of interstate. pull off the exit that i had taken earlier and figure it couldn’t hurt to walk about ten yards or so of the straightest stretch in hopes that it’s there, blending in with the dirt. i pull over, lock the doors, and walk in the rain. now i’m smelly and getting drenched. no luck.  i get back into the car, succumbing to the fact that nearly the entire day has been a wreck, and i may as well write ‘epic fail’ on my forehead.  as i sit down and glance at my phone, i see a missed call and a text from the husband, who has been back at home for some time now.  ‘found it along with an empty bottle of rubbing alcohol , aroma oil, hair spray…’ (and a few other not-so-nice words about the kids not being supervised well enough and responsibility). insert crossed eyes here, b/c i think my brain just decided to braid itself. seriously? duck-duck-goose my rear! those kids were up there for 10 minutes, max! and when i asked twenty times if anyone had seen, touched, played with, taken or hid mommy’s purse…the answer was, ‘no.’ the truth of the situation is that isla had decided to snag my purse from the diaper bag (turns out my subconscious really does work when i’m stressed and frantically going through the motions) and bathe eden’s rocking horse, so she poured an entire bottle of safflower oil on its mane and tail and about a tbsp (all the was left) of rubbing alcohol on its saddle. and they lied about it all with wide eyes and innocent faces.  grace. give them grace. i wish i had some thrown my way too. i’d take a medicine cabinet installation also, please. that’d be helpful. i individually take the girls upstairs and talk with them in the bathroom about safety and poisons and things that they aren’t allowed to touch… deep breath.

i return to the main floor. child one lays on the dining room chair. child two falls back to sleep on the couch. please don’t pee there. husband already ate. i feed the baby. he’s still peeved. the house is a disaster. i played with them this morning. i fed them, clothed them, chased bugs and followed a bird around the yard for an hour just b/c they wanted to. i did two loads of laundry. i made eden take a nap a whole hour earlier, so i wouldn’t screw up this day. i thought i lost my purse, but i didn’t. the kids are all okay, even though we have to throw out a rocking horse. dinner is cooked and waiting for us on the counter. i try. i fail. everyday, i fail at something. i fail him. i fail them. i fail me. i wish grace lived here.

roasted chicken, veggie pasta, greek salad, and the kids want to eat a bowl of feta cheese for dinner. whatever. hubs leaves for class at church. baby is standing in the dishwasher. girls are watching a movie with their feta cheese, and the white flag waves higher. fabric sits untouched on the kitchen island. another day goes by that i don’t get any ‘work’ done. i clean the house. i fold the laundry. the kids won’t have to wear play clothes to bed tonight, b/c i actually got caught up today. finally.  isla walks up to me with three barbies in her arms. ‘thank you so much, mommy, for buying me this doll,’ she says with the most innocent excitement. she is referencing a ballerina that i brought home from a friend’s yard sale a year ago. ‘and thank you for buying me cinderella and thank you for buying me rapunzel too, mommy. thank you so much!’ she kisses me between each sentence, and i experience my tender moment number two.

as i pick up the last of the toys, the garage door sounds. has it been that long already? two hours past the kids’ bedtime. they need baths b/c they are covered in safflower oil and smell like cheese. i brace for the feeling again. fail. ‘no, i didn’t wait for you to put them to bed. i cleaned up the house. i folded the laundry.’ i bathe the baby and he takes over with the other two. i put eden to bed, and go to change ava’s sheets. the crew arrives, dons pjs, and we do our bedtime thing. isla first. i silently wet her blanket with tears as i quietly pray over her. she’s so little. she’s so pure, and i am messing this up royally. i kiss her and walk out, heading for ava. i kneel by her bedside, and she asks me to scratch her hand and then her back. her love language. i lay my head on the edge of her mattress and pray for her too. i feel so unworthy to pray, especially for these kids. i spent most of my day yelling and trying to rein them in. i scratch her back and ask her if i made her feel bad at all during the day. ‘yes.’ when? ‘when you spanked me.’ i figured. i ask her if i made her feel happy at all today. she pauses. she turns her head away and says, as if she is surprising even herself, ‘i don’t know. i don’t know when i was happy today.’ i don’t remind her of the popsicle or the baby bird. i just sit there and say the only thing i know how to say, ‘mommy’s sorry. we’ll try to have a happy day tomorrow.’

she’s nods and asks me to stay and scratch her back a little longer. tender moment number three. she gives me grace, even when i can’t give it to her, her sisters, her dad, or myself. she gives it. grace may not live here, but at least it visits us from time to time.

it’s quiet, the kids are sleeping, my legs and hands ache from a long day of barely standing still or sitting down, but i find myself wanting to be here, listening to audrey assad’s ‘lament’ on repeat, and pouring my own lament out onto this keyboard like telling my story will somehow prevent a bad day from ever happening again.

i’ve probably listened to it twenty times in a row just now, and it’s nearing 2am.  i’ll crawl into bed, hoping for double the tender moments tomorrow and praying that this song is the only thing on repeat.  xo

I’m Mary and I’m Martha all at the same time,
I’m sitting at His feet and yet I’m dying to be recognized,
I am a picture of contentment and I’m dissatisfied,
Why is it easy to work but hard to rest sometimes,
sometimes, sometimes

I’m restless, and I rustle like a thousand tall trees,
I’m twisting and I’m turning in an endless daydream,
You wrestle me at night and I wake in search of You,
but try as I might, I just can’t catch You,
But I want to, ’cause I need You, yes, I need You,
I can’t catch You, but I want to,

How long, how long until I’m home,
’cause I’m so tired, so tired of running,
How long until You come for me
’cause I’m so tired, so tired of running
I’m so tired, so tired of running
How long, how long until I’m home,
I’m so tired, so tired of running
How long until You come for me
’cause I’m so tired, so tired of running (X2)

{i originally shared this song in this post.}

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slow cooker pork tenderloin over steamed rice

seriously so easy.

seriously so cheap.

seriously soooo good!

slow cooker pork tenderloin topped with mozzarella cheese and served over steamed rice:

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homeschool: the movie ‘frozen’ and Jesus

ok, so if your house is anything like our’s (you have little girls)…then, you may be absolutely infatuated with the movie ‘frozen’! seriously, we all love it. i think even hubs loves it. it’s cool enough that he’ll sit and watch it without complaining, anyway. (completely off subject, but if we were a disney couple, it would totally be anna and kristoff. suddenly, i feel so cool in my house! i look just like anna when i wake up (see you tube video clip), and i’ve been rockin’ ‘elsa hair’ since back-in-the-day, so i am finally cool!!!  and hubs has kristoff’s humor, great singing voice, the boyish charm, rugged good looks, and he talks to the dog as if he’s a person, respects his vehicle to a ridiculous degree (i know) and picks his…dirty socks up off the floor. ah-hem. *wink* *wink* “every man does it,” right?)

ok, anyway…frozen and Jesus!

i know i’m way too into a movie if i catch myself thinking about it in the shower. i only think about deep things in the shower, remember? 🙂 so, i was in the shower the other day and i started thinking about elsa. what the trolls said about fear…her telling her parents that her powers were getting stronger…her lonely bedroom covered in ice…love being the force that thawed the frozen heart…and it hit me! oh my goodness, what a sad story of a little girl growing up! she couldn’t control it and it was growing stronger b/c she felt fear more and more and love less and less! so sad. that in itself will preach. God is love. perfect love casts out all fear. there is no fear in Christ Jesus! amen! so what a perfect opportunity to approach those truths with the girls! they’re already immersed in the language. i just have to route the conversation to the Word and what the Lord wants to do in their hearts and lives.

ava asked me after watching it this morning, ‘what is sacrifice, mom?’ i was taken aback by the question. she’s only four. she catches everything, though, especially words. she has a huge vocabulary. i love it. i wasn’t prepared for the question, so i stumbled a bit. i tried to explain that a sacrifice is when you do something to help someone else and it doesn’t really help you. i know – not the best definition. i tried to explain that anna could have kissed kristoff (SPOILER ALERT! haha) to save herself, but instead, she went and saved her sister. then i said to her, ‘Jesus made a sacrifice for us’, and then i stopped, b/c i hadn’t thought that through yet and didn’t want to mess it all up. i’m definitely going to revisit that topic soon, b/c that is the most important truth that our family stands on, and i want to do that explanation justice. going to have to consult the mister on that. but anyway, see? it provided an opportunity to talk about Jesus!

yes, i don’t like some things in the movie. no, i don’t think some of the phrases are appropriate…we are saying words like, ‘what the!’ and ‘butt’ way too frequently, and i’m trying to nip it in the bud, but overall, it is a clean movie with a positive message about sisterhood, family, love casting out fear, and sacrifice. ‘Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’ John 15:13

so, i plan on using the movie now to, not only practice singing at the top of my lungs, but to talk about the Lord. i want them to think ‘Jesus’ every single time they put that dvd on.

i also had the idea today to have our own coronation day! how fun would that be?! the girls would be so excited! we’ll let them dress up in their fanciest, frilliest frocks, i’ll give them ‘elsa hair’ and crowns, and we’ll celebrate them as God’s princesses! it will be a blast, and when we do it, i’ll be sure to share it with you! if you do anything, please come back here and leave your ideas and links too!

speaking of…a sweet friend sent this pin to me today, and it goes right along with the ideas i’ve just shared with you!

as always, thanks so much for stopping by ‘klover house’! if you get a moment, hop on over to my other baby, ‘eden gray clothing’. if i ever strike gold in the fabric world, i hope to bring you a ‘frozen’-inspired dress for your sweethearts!

happy friday! see you tomorrow for the ‘pin-it’ party!

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a mother. a mess.

mistake #1 tonight… watching ‘gravity’ as a tired, weepy mama of three little girls. the red shoe, ppl. i’m still thinking about it. and if you haven’t seen the movie yet, and you’re a weepy mama too, grab the tissues for that scene. my husband, on the other hand, embraced that part as his ‘ah-ha’ moment…’i thought this was halle berry all along!!’  oh, men.

mistake #2… having a serious debate conversation with your husband minutes before bedtime, after watching an intense and moving movie that made you burst into tears at one point. needless to say, my emotions are running hot, and i no longer wanted to go to bed. instead, i retreated to a hot cup of tea and my thoughts.

mistake #3… grabbing a box of samoas on my way to the couch.

yep. there i sat with raging hormones, a racing mind, a cup of tea, and a box of samoas. then, the baby cried. midnight. right on cue. as i walked into her room, dad was already there, holding her sleepy self in his arms. i love that sight.  even after a debate…

as soon as she spotted me, she lunged for me. i love that sleepy baby needing her mama stuff. she is pure preciousness. as i took her, i asked hubs to grab a bottle before returning to bed. you see, i’m a nursing mom with a history of complications, but God has been so good and faithful to me this time around. with ‘a’, things started to fail around five months. i went back to working full-time, and my supply quickly shut itself down. with ‘i’, i had even more of a struggle, even being a sahm, and things disappointingly just stopped working at a mere three months. but with ‘e’, i have been praying and believing for a miracle run. God has granted it. she’s nearly ten months old, and i still have the pleasure of nursing her in the wee hours of night. i am thankful.

all that said, i took ‘e’ to her nine month appointment, and her growth had slowed significantly enough that her doc wants to see her midway between the nine and twelve month appointments. that was a blow to me. a blow to my ability to sustain her, to satisfy her, to see her thriving and to have had a hand in it. so, to say i gave it all i could, i began pumping and doubling whatever i produced with formula. she has been doing quite well that way, but in the back of my mind, i think about doubt, and trust, and faith, and responsibility. but that’s all enough for another post.

in the minutes that my husband was gone, retrieving a bottle, i decided to nurse and sat down. ‘i still have this, Lord. i know what You’ve done so far, and i am believing for it to keep working, b/c you are faithful and i have faith in You. not me. You.’ and once again, i pray over myself and this vessel of a body, and i thank God for the gift as she takes every gulp.

no, this isn’t a post about nursing. that’s the one that i wrote while i nursed. this is a post about me, the mama. the mess.

i nursed her. hubs sat the bottle in the crib and returned to bed. i sat in the dark and stroked her head. she is so incredibly soft. i couldn’t believe how soft she is. no silk, no velvet could ever compare to her skin and fuzzy head of hair. babies are so soft and beautiful. i thought as i was bathing her tonight that there is nothing cuter that a naked, rolly baby sitting, splashing in a bathtub. well, there is nothing more precious than a soft, sweet-smelling, sleepy baby snuggled in a lap. so sweet, so soft…the epitome of peace.

i kept writing that post in my head – the one about nursing and God’s faithfulness, but i kept stopping myself thinking, ‘think about this, kristi. enjoy this. don’t go to the mental keyboard. you don’t know how long this will last. enjoy it. get out of your head and back into this room with this amazing baby relying on you for comfort, food, and love.’

and so the cycle went, until she began to snore (she has the sniffles). i prayed over her one more time, and as i placed her into her crib, i thought, ‘my goodness. i am a mess.  my head and heart are all over the place tonight’, and matthew 14:22-33 came to mind instantly.

i think about peter walking on the water a lot. and it struck me tonight that i feel like peter in this motherhood thing. peter called out to jesus. ‘let me come to you.’ (i am paraphrasing), and then he goes out with what seems as confidence, notices the wind, probably looks around at the unsteady waves, the rising waters, the unknown depth, the natural, the physical, the reality of the situation, and he falters. i mean, imagine the awesomeness!  you are walking on water to Jesus! seriously, could anything but flying be more incredible?! that’s motherhood. awesomeness. it’s also as scary as all get out, if you’ve turned your attention. that’s so easy to do. some days, i am confident. i’ve got this. i’ve got grace and peace and assurance… and then, i take my eyes off of Jesus and catch a view of the uncertainties, the responsibilities, the fleeting moments of baby-bliss, the state of my overwhelming emotions, and whoa. ‘catch me, Lord!’

i am a mess.

and just like with peter, i feel Jesus rescue me. mothering is hard. the ‘what-ifs’ are unending. the sleep deprivation and the worries are manifesting themselves daily in my body, mind, and soul, but He’s got me, so i know He’s got this. since nursing eden, i’ve gotten to put a sniffly isla back to bed and deliver a drink and a prayer to a sleep-walking ava. i kissed each of their heads, stroked their hair and cheeks. (gladly, even at four, they are still so soft. that doesn’t fade too quickly, thank God from this mama’s heart…) and i returned to my half cup of cold tea and a box of samoas with only one absent row (hallelujah) to tell you about my mess, and the water, and my Jesus before i let Him take me by the hand and lead me back to the boat. in this case, my bed. He knows that i need some sleep in order to fully embrace and appreciate the three beautiful blessings that will surely be there to greet me in t-minus four hours. hang in there, mama. i’m going to wake up in the morning with matthew 14:22-33 on my mind and ask the Lord to call me out on the water again. and tomorrow, as well as each day after, i’m going to try my best not to look down. keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.


and how can i reference matthew 14:22-33 without hearing this song?  
i love it.  it’s written on my heart.

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sweet and savory salad dressing

another one of my favorite salads! easy. crowd-pleasing. inexpensive. delicious. what more could you ask for?! this salad dressing goes perfectly with feta cheese (our favorite) or a little sharp cheddar. it’s a simple base for whatever fixings you desire! i also added about 4 chopped scallions before serving. it was perfectly paired tonight with a simple, roasted lemon-garlic chicken. (recipe below)

roasted lemon-garlic chicken:

1 roasting chicken (cost = $6.00)
1 stick of butter (i prefer trader joe’s)
6 cloves of garlic (3 minced, 3 whole)
1 sweet onion (peeled & quartered)
2 carrots (peeled & chopped)
1 lemon (quartered & seeded)
1 32 oz carton of chicken stock (i also prefer tj’s organic)

*remove bag of ‘ickies’ from the center of the chicken (you know, like the neck…)

*rinse your chicken with cold water and pat dry (i like to have a large plate with paper towels ready and nearby. if you bathe small children, this will be a piece of cake…ha!)

*add 3 minced cloves of garlic, salt, and pepper to your softened butter and combine well.

*place half of both the onion and lemon inside the well of the chicken along with the three whole garlic cloves and about half of your butter mixture.

*rub the exterior of the bird down with the rest of the butter. give that chickie a spa day!

*pour the 32 oz carton of stock into your pan and add the remaining lemon, onion and carrots.

*place in the oven, pre-heated to 325 degrees, and roast for about 3-4 hrs. halfway through, spoon broth over the entire bird and return to the oven.  check internal temp. using meat thermometer {here’s how}.

i will be reserving the broth for both butternut squash soup {recipe here} and italian wedding soup. i will be using whatever chicken we don’t eat this evening in a chicken pot pie later on in the week as well. one night of roasting goes a long way!

here’s a peek at what happened after mama recorded her video:

*note: the children were never left unattended during their mini-adventure on the kitchen island. 🙂

ava and isla decided to play ‘cooking show’ and my delicious dressing was doused with an extra 1/2 c. of olive oil.  i don’t recommend it…  we ate it anyway and remarked throughout the meal how well the girls can make a salad.  they beamed, of course.  😉

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my go-to list for a get-together (over a dozen yummies)

my go-to list for a get-together:

(all of these recipes have been personally tested and publicly praised!  you can’t go wrong!)
1 – pioneer woman caesar salad {link here} (see video)
2- pioneer woman greek salad {link here}
3 – sausage and cream cheese pinwheels (we LOVE these. i personally use italian sausage and pioneer woman’s cinnamon roll dough recipe. i like how the savory is balanced with the sweet bread.) {link here}
4 – cheese ball (see video)
5 – caramelized ham and cheese sandwiches {link here}
6 – asian chicken salad (my aunt’s delicious recipe)
7 – meyer lemon tarts (what i’m making for tonight’s get-together) 
{photo and link coming soon}
8 – cookies or gobs (making peppermint gobs, aka whoopie pies, for tomorrow’s get-together) {link coming soon}
9 – truffles (easy-to-make-ones like my ‘salted caramel oreo truffles’) {link here}
10 – grape salad {link here} or snickers caramel apple salad {link here}
11 – buffalo chicken ring {link here}
12 – amazing fruit dip (perfect with apples, grapes, or berries) 
recipe:  simply mix one can of sweetened condensed milk with one 8oz block of softened cream cheese. done. amazing. add to it or don’t; it’s perfection.

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good find friday: a sacred mess of grace

happy friday, friends. i’ve left you a little video introduction to this week’s ‘good finds’. i pray you find them to be as good as i have. they have really ministered and inspired me this week. xoxo

Hands Free Mama: The Bully Too Close to Home

I sat down on the edge of her bed and began saying things I’d never said to another human being—not even myself. “I feel mad inside a lot. I often speak badly about myself in my head. I bully myself. And when I bully myself, it makes me unhappy and then I treat others badly—especially you. It is not right, and I am going to stop. I am not sure how, but I will stop. I am so very sorry,” I vowed trying not to cry. Read more…

A Holy Experience: The Best Way to Do Your Christmas Cleaning

Why it happened right then, when she turned toward the stack of dishes on the counters, the squash peeling and apple cores and crusted pots, she had no idea.
No idea why it came right then, in the midst of kids and mess and loud, like a coming around:
How when you are turned away from God, life turns ugly, but when you are turned toward God, life turns lovely. Read more…

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