Thursday, July 2, 2015

My Papered Life

This week we cleaned out our bedroom.  This is a major feat.  Some of you may have nice and tidy bedrooms, but we positively do NOT.  Our room is the catch-all room in our home, and serves as an office and storage room in addition to being where we sleep and store our clothing and a lot of books.  And I rarely ever have (make?) time to clean it. 

IMG_8826We went away for our anniversary (yay!) and stayed in our favorite inn on the Oregon coast. As we left our room that final day, I pondered how restful and peaceful and tidy it was, and resolved to do something about our room when we got home.  I had a vision and a plan, and it came to fruition this week.  It involved making some decisions like this may be a nice big dresser but it doesn't fit this space, and yes, we love books, but we don't need two bookshelves in our room, and it involved moving out four major pieces of furniture and repainting an old dresser and rearranging and a whole lot of sorting through things.

Mostly PAPERS.

There is just a lot of paper in my life.

Yesterday I sat down before a HUGE stack of papers with an iced latte nearby and sorted.  I recycled some and divvied the rest into piles I wanted to save, and it occurred to me that you can tell a lot about a person from their sorted papers. This is what I found as I sorted:

- drawings, pictures, notes and cards from my kids.  Oh so many of these.  I love this. And while I don't save every one, I do save a lot of them, simply because they delight me, and every time I look through them they bring me joy.  I saw so many I love you's and mommy's and misspellings and little drawings particular to each of the kids that are so *them* and long letters from my sweet Ella and my heart was full.

my most recent box of smaller letters, cards and notes. (most of the kids' drawings went into another box that both Mark and I add to)
-cards and notes and letters from Mark.  I was overwhelmed.  I am so blessed.  This guy loves me well.  And he excels in this area.  He expresses his love for me so well on paper, and these expressions of his heart to me?  I treasure them.

-verses copied down on various scraps of paper: some laminated, some all prettied up with markers, some mounted on card stock.  God's words, written down for memory or reminder.  Most of them for me, but some of them for the kids, too.

-homeschooling-related lists or ideas or plans: school-planning lists, book lists I'd jotted down, daily schedules and daily index cards, some printables and worksheets I'd printed out and had gotten lost in the shuffle.

-devotional papers: so, prayer lists and categories I want to be praying for, and Bible studies printed out, study tips and notes.

-recipes and meal plans and grocery lists

Yep.  That about sums up my life.  :)

What kinds of papers would you find?  Or am I the only one who is still attached to paper in this digital world?  ;)  And if anyone has any paper organizational tips, go ahead and send them my way. :)  I have several piles now (see above list) that I need to find a home for.

And not in our bedroom!

ps: our bedroom looks so nice and tidy and I LOVE IT.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Celebrating eighteen

This weekend marks eighteen years of marriage to my man.  Eighteen! 

Years ago, when we were dating, I asked God if Mark was *the one*.  I was fearful.  I wanted to be SURE.  I had been just a little girl when my dad walked out on my mom, then divorced her.   I was too young to understand it all, and yet that act of abandonment left a mark on me.

I said yes to Mark because I trusted him.  I loved him, deeply.  And he was my best friend.  But above all?  I trusted him.

Even so, I approached marriage with fear and insecurity~ certain, somehow that I wouldn't be enough, that I wouldn't be able to "keep" him.  My greatest fear was that he would leave me for someone else.  My heart was fragile.

And in God's great lovingkindness, because He knew the state of my heart, He knew just the kind of husband I needed, He gave me Mark: steady, faithful, loving, tender, kind.

he's my favorite
Mark has tenderly, patiently, persistently, graciously loved me in my worst moments.  He has faithfully pursued this heart of mine.  In our early years of marriage when I wanted to run away from a fight, he followed me.  When I have thrown harsh, sarcastic, hurtful words his way, he has responded slowly, and with kind words, and in love.  He always sees the best of me, not the worst.  When I am at my ugliest-- cruel and hurtful, he chooses to see the Stacy beneath the ugly, and speaks love to her.

He wooed me while we were dating with cards, notes, flowers and dates.  He has wooed me in our marriage with his patient, steady love and presence.  He has served me selflessly and tirelessly- doing dishes, getting up with the kids during all hours of the night, working so hard every day to provide for our family so that I get to stay at home.  He listens to my endless stories and ventings.  He prays for me.  He is my greatest comfort besides Jesus.  He tells me I am beautiful every single day- (and I have learned that he actually means it!)  He tells me he's still "smitten" (his word) with me after all these years.  He comes up behind me when I'm washing dishes and whispers love into my ear. He still makes me a cd every year for Valentines Day- full of songs that declare his love.  He still buys me flowers and he still writes me cards.

He loves me well.  This marriage we have?  It is a beautiful treasure. 

And Mark's love for me is such a picture to me of Jesus' love for me.  I am so thankful.  So blessed.

Happy Anniversary to you, my beloved.  (When you happen upon this post in a week or two... ;))
I love you.

Monday, June 15, 2015

End of the Year Thoughts & A Garden Walk

This week stretches ahead of us with literally NOTHING on our calendar: just a whole string of days at home with no school, no evening engagements, no commitments whatsoever.  [insert deep sigh of relief right here]

It's been a busy year.

The past few weeks people have been asking me and the kids, "Are you done with school yet?" (Yes, we were done early last week.)  I kept thinking about it in terms of the *kids* being done with studies and school, and it being their summer break and how happy I am for them....

It took all of last week before I realized how much easier MY life is without the addition of schooling.  All of a sudden I have no school-related questions coming at me from all five kids every day (Where is the pencil sharpener?  Mommy, will you help me with this math problem?  Where's the history book?  Mommy, can I narrate to you?  Mommy, can you look at this?  Mommy, I need some more of these pages printed.  Can you read this and see if I misspelled anything?)  All those types of questions?  Done.  No stack of things to correct in the evenings, no lesson plans to come up with (just yet), no looking at the week ahead to see what we need to accomplish, no writing everything up on the dry erase board each day, no hands-on sitting through a dictation lesson or a kindergarten lesson or a math lesson.  I am sort of stunned at how much is suddenly off my plate.  I seriously feel like a full-time job has just ended. 

For many mothers the end of the school year means they're suddenly ON: the kids are home, you have to keep them occupied for the hours a day they were previously in school.  For a homeschooling mother?  The end of the school year means rest.  Blissful, much needed REST. 

So happy summer break to ME!  And my kids!  :)  And you and yours if you're summering with us.

Care to take a walk with me through our garden this morning?
these are our May-Day flowers from Mark- he always gets all of his girls a flower, and I plant them all together.
You've seen this photo, but I wanted it here for comparison.  This is our garden, right after planting- May 19
and here it is nearly a month later- June 15
beans!- with my grandpa's old bean poles.  those poles make me so happy.
our happy rhubarb- already this year we've made rhubarb muffins and rhubarb coffee cake.  so delicious!
sun sugar tomatoes: these were my *favorite* addition to our garden last year, and I can hardly wait to taste them again!
romaine: probably what we harvest *the most* from our garden: for yummy summer salads
Ella's carrots
cucumbers- and in the back there, some more- amongst the weeds ;)
still some strawberries!
and all sorts of raspberries right now!

so... raspberries for breakfast this morning! :)
pretty hydrangeas- already blooming!
this is my favorite color of hydrangea
my cute Ella- up early and outside reading Rilla of Ingleside
cheery window box
front porch petunias
hanging basket
corn in the back garden.  knee-high by the fourth of July?  NO PROBLEM.
blueberries!- with more raspberries behind
one of our old girls, checking out what I was doing
red geranium on the patio table
the pot of clothespins I use pretty much daily
basket of eggs- waiting to be washed- on our very messy back porch
Eventually they all joined me outside:

Happy day to you from all of us!     

Monday, June 8, 2015

Happenings | Monday, June 8

Here's our garden right after planting- towards the end of May:


I don't have a recent photo, but things are happily growing!  This morning I watered, made a mental note that the radishes need to be thinned, and I hoed the rows and some of the walkways.  Then it got hot and so I decided to be all done.  :)  It's one of my favorite things to keep tabs on how our garden grows, and early mornings you'll find me (and often Ella) out there, just checking in on things.  :) 

This year we planted sunflowers, radishes, tomatoes (in the black pots), cucumbers, beans (far poles), dill, carrots, spinach, romaine and butter lettuce.  And corn in the back garden.  We planted less this year: less beans, no peas, no squash/pumpkins, no pickling cucumbers.

I also planted some sweet peas (flowers) today.  I think I'm super late on planting those, but hopefully I'll still get to enjoy the blooms.  :)

Audra's little bed on our front porch this morning.
The kids and their make-shift slip and slide.  :)
We're officially done with school, and the kids are all enjoying themselves immensely, feeling so free with only chores and piano practice on their agenda.  I am going to draw up some sort of a summer schedule for them, but I think I'll wait till July to do that and let them just revel for a couple of weeks.  Ella tucked herself into bed with me this morning with her book (she's reading the Anne of Green Gables series (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) ---Rilla of Ingleside as of this morning), and we read side by side until we had to get up (9:30ish?)  It was so delightful. 

Hope you're all having a great day!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Yogurt Biscuits

Really, I should do a whole series on the food we eat around here because I feel like that's ALL I DO. My life revolves around these three meals every day for all these people and it's just a lot.  :) Must everyone eat so much?!?!  ;)

This is one of my go-to recipes because they are quick and easy to make and they are versatile.  I'll give you the recipe and then talk more about them.

Yogurt Biscuits ~makes 15 biscuits

2 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup applesauce* (organic, no sugar added~ this replaces the oil the recipe originally called for)
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup plain yogurt*

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine dry ingredients, then add wet ingredients. The dough will be somewhat sticky.  Drop by spoonfuls onto greased baking sheet. (I use a Silpat).  Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until just starting to brown.

* Some notes on versatility:

The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup of oil.  I substitute applesauce nearly every time a recipe calls for oil.  Because you can.  And it's better for you.  This is what I use, because you can purchase it in a 4-pack at Costco:

But if you don't have applesauce go ahead and use oil.  Or melted butter.  Or whatever you have on hand.  :)  The other thing I often switch out is the yogurt.  Sometimes I don't have yogurt.  But I have sour cream!  Or cottage cheese!  As long as you get a cup of something creamy in there, you're good, whether it be a cup of yogurt or a half cup of yogurt and a half cup of sour cream.  Or milk.  Whatever you've got in the fridge.

Our favorite way to eat these is obviously with butter and jam.  Because YUM.  Or butter and honey.  We often have them for breakfast with fruit or eggs.  It's like a healthy scone.  ;)  I've even added lemon or orange zest.  Mmm.

Or we'll have them for dinner as a side with soup or whatever meal we have that I feel needs something extra.

But once I was craving hamburgers and had no hamburger buns and guess what I used in a pinch? This recipe for yogurt biscuits.  I formed smaller hamburger patties and we had mini hamburgers on yogurt biscuits and they were an instant favorite.  Seriously delicious.  I've made them as hamburger buns several times since.  YUM.

And when I decided to make breakfast sandwiches the other morning and didn't have english muffins?  Yogurt biscuits to the rescue.

You see why you need to have this recipe, right?  Yes.

And name me a child who doesn't like bread.  So this is a handy recipe to have.