This blog has laid dormant for quite a while now. No new words. No new pictures. (Oh, I've been taking quite a few of those, believe me!)
God basically laid it on my heart, that He wanted me to take a break from posting for a while. And, I took that break.
But, today is a new day. A day for a new blog post, and breathing some new life into the stillness of these pages.
What's on my heart?
Pictured: The graduate and I
She's graduating....she's 18.....and there's just no stopping her now. As a mom, do you ever feel torn between wanting to stop time, but yet feel so excited for their future at the same time? I feel this way most days.
Emotional at times, and joyful and excited at others.
Her graduation banquet was last Saturday evening. A room at the church was decorated so beautifully, and they made it feel very intimate and small, even though the room was large. There were vines and branches on the tables, with candles lit nearby.
I had found out a couple of days before, that the parents may be asked to say something about their graduate. Umm.....can I skip that part? That was all I could think. And, then I thought...do we have to go up front? How long do we have? Thirty seconds? Five minutes? What if I start talking and just ramble on and on?
My eldest had put together a beautiful display for "her table" on which she placed an old window frame, and hung her name cut out of vintage toned scrapbook paper, and some of the pictures that are dearest to her. And, I put together a photo book of 200+ pages in record time that afternoon!
But, the really good stuff wasn't the display, or the decorations. It was the words.
The words spoken by the man who spoke and gave the challenge to them....and the words from parents to teens...and vice versa.
Although I was terribly nervous, I knew I wanted to say something about her to everyone. Although, I was afraid I would bawl all the way through I took the microphone with a shaky hand, and a quivering voice.
I looked around and said that although I wasn't an eloquent speaker, I needed to publicly say how much I loved my daughter. And, how motherhood surprised me. I knew that after giving birth to her, that she was obviously a girl.....but, what really surprised me was how this girl has become one of my best friends. Our relationship is NOT a fairy tale, but it is one of mutual love, respect and one of many laughs. (Which often times includes food or drink spewing from our mouths, from trying to hold it in!)
Also, as a homeschooling mom especially, I thought that I had so very much to teach her. About life. About love. About everything I knew.
And yet, she really has taught me so much more than she will ever realize. Or, at least until she has her own children. She has helped me to grow in character....oh, has parenting kept me on my knees more than anything ever could have.
I've seen the worst character traits I have, staring at me in the face when they come out in my child! And, if that doesn't make you want to become the best example you can, I do not know what will. She has taught me about grace, she has shown me that love doesn't always look like we expect it to.....and that's okay.
I've heard it said, that when they are eighteen, the work is done. You've done your job. Oh, how untrue that is! I want to be available to listen and to especially encourage. I still need that, and I'm going to be forty years old in a few years!
I am so thankful and grateful for the years we've had in this mother-daughter duo, and I cannot wait to see what else the Lord has in store for her on this wonderful journey called life.
So often I write for the masses on this blog. How to make a baby wrap, our teen girls' summer reading challenge, and oodles of recipes. However, I want to really be keeping more of a record of our lives. The lives of my family that is growing up so fast, I can scarcely believe it.
My little William, at 2 years old, learned how to cut with scissors just moments ago, for the first time. Samuel, my 8 year old, is really swimming well, for the first time this summer. So many firsts come beyond that first tooth or first step. I feel beyond priviledged to observe these firsts in their lives. To be a mother of five, soon to be six, feels like such a blessing, one that humbles me in an intense way.
But, not the intensity you may be thinking.
Intensity as in.....full, overflowing, and being very mindful. My mind is constantly whirring. What are the plans for today? What will be eating for meals? How much time do I need to prep these meals? What do I need to pack? Did I get laundry going? How will I fit in that game of monopoly with that child, when this child has a dirty diaper, and that child needs a ride somewhere?
Oh, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. There is so much joy, in the midst of all this. The smiles, the "I love you mama's", and the laughter. Lots of laughter.
One thing bringing us so much joy and laughter this summer is the water.
I am a bit suprised that we are not all walking around with our skin looking like wrinkled prunes, we are in the water so much.
Our home we purchased happens to have a swimming pool, and I am feeling quite spoiled. Unless the weather is poor, or we are gone for the day, we are in the water. Samuel and Katie are little fish, and the older girls are enjoying it so much as well. William has slowly been warming up to the idea of being in the water much. He prefers to walk around the edge with his big brother's water guns and shoot everybody. He loves the reaction he gets, and then he laughs this little "evil" laugh I call it. Maybe a little bit of "stinker" in that one....seems to be a trend in our family...hmmmm. Wonder where they got that from?
If we aren't in the pool, we are in daddy's favorite place in the world. Out on the lake in our boat. The water seems to have an immediate calming, and stress relieving effect on him, which I love. If he's had an especially tough week working, it seems as if the waves and wind take it all away. Every person in our family loves the boat, which is wonderful.
When you have toddlers to teens, it can be so difficult to find something that everyone enjoys. This is our thing. Mama making daddy spill off of the tube while she's driving the boat.....Katie giving daddy the signal to speed up the boat while she is "bravely" tubing at 5 years old, then immediately giving the signal to slow down while we all giggle, and enjoying picnics on the water.
These are the moments I look around at each face, and see the past, present and future all at once. I look at my eldest, seventeen next week, and see someone on the brink of aldulthood. I see my William, and see one who has so very much yet to learn.
This summer, I decided to put out a fun challenge for my daughters. During their free time...which they do have...between youth work trips, vacation with the family, volunteering at our local vacation bible school, working as junior servants at a local camp, not to mention time with friends! It sounds like every minute of their summer is taken up. However, they do have plenty of free time, to just be themselves.
For those of you who may be curious, I have 3 daughters. Two of which are teenagers, (turning 17 and 16 this summer), and one daughter who is just 5. My two boys are young as well.
So, onto the challenge.
I thought it would be fun to come up with a list of books for reading this summer, (and yes, I told them I'd pay them for completion of the challenge ;) These books are at times, challenging, entertaining and inspiring. Most of them I have read, though some came recommended by good friends. Of course, there are so many good books out there, it was hard to narrow it down!
They have to have read 12 of these books by the end of the summer....which brings us to one a week...(I am saying the challenge is roughly 12 weeks from June through August. One of my teens is a voracious reader, and one could take it or leave it. (Hence the money reward!) Some weeks they will be so busy, no reading will get done at all, I'm sure. But, other weeks there will be plenty of leisure and reading time. I hope your daughters, (or you!), might enjoy and grow from some of the books listed......
This recipe is something one of my daughters came up with yesterday. I am excited because I LOVE the Double chocolate cookies they sell at Subway.....even though I am sure they are full of mystery ingredients. Not something I want to think about my family eating often.
We try to stick to the 80/20 rule. We eat real food with no mystery ingredients 80% of the time...and so the 20% of the time that we do have food that's not so good for us, I don't worry about it.
We live in a REAL world, with REAL temptations. And, we also have 5 (going on 6!) children in our family. I don't want to be known as the "food nazi mama", who never lets her kids have birthday cake at a party, or snacks at a church event because they are aren't always "real food" snacks.
These cookies would freeze well, so make a big batch, and enjoy them without the guilt!
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (we use sea salt)
1 1/3 cup sugar (we used raw cane juice crystals)
1 Tablespoon molasses
2 sticks of butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (we made our own; learn how here)
2 eggs (we use free range from a local farm)
2 cups chocolate chips
1/4 cup milk (we use raw, whole milk)
A dash of all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together dry ingredients, (except chocolate chips), in a bowl.
Add, molasses, butter, vanilla, eggs and milk into the dry ingredients and mix well.
Now fold in the chocolate chips.
Spoon tablespoonfuls of dough onto parchment lined baking sheets.
One thing that seems to keep people from making real food at home, is the time involved. There can be a lot of preparation: chopping, mixing, baking....and not everyone has time for that.
This is one recipe that can keep prep time down, and enjoyment of making real foods in your kitchen up! A great meal for a night when you are shorter on time, but don't want to spend your hard earned dollars on fake food.
Asian Pepper Saute
1- 1/2 cups Jasmine Rice (or brown rice)
1 lb. grassfed ground beef
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 Bell Peppers (any color), diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (or use less if dried)
2 cloves garlic, minced or diced
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup beef stock
1 Tbsp. Bragg's Aminos or other fermented soy sauce
Chili paste to taste
1/2 tsp. worchestire sauce
Make rice according to package directions
Saute veggies in oil until softened a bit; Add seasonings, stock, paste and sauces.