Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
1 Corinthians 3:17

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

MOMMY MOMENTS I WANT TO REMEMBER

So many things going on over here, but I haven't quite processed them all. Know what I mean? Mostly good, so that certainly helps, but still...life just feels a little chaotic and busy recently. I wanted to jot down some of my very favorite moments from the past week or so so I won't ever forget. Plus, they're good reminders on those not-so-great Mommy days that we'll all be just fine. =)

I'll start with Isabelle. Oh, Isabelle. The brown-eyed love of my life, so sweet and kind and generous... except... when she isn't. I know, I know, we all have our moments, so I'm writing this with a big grin on my face. For the past six months or so, we have gotten into the habit of snuggling for an extra long time on Sunday evenings. She talks about our upcoming Sunday Snuggles bright and early Monday morning, ha ha, so clearly my girl loves her time with her Mama. This past Sunday, she started talking about being adopted. I mean, really talking about it, much more than ever before, and I have to admit that sometimes it sends me in a slight panic because I never want to say the wrong thing to her. Just to be clear here, I love Isabelle's birth mother with all my heart, and when we speak of her, we do so lovingly and respectfully. I can't tell you how many times I've had to stop people from speaking negatively about birth parents, and while not all are honorable as we have so painfully learned, many, many are. Anyhoo. That's for another day.

I don't ever want to forget the rituals of our special nights. How she steals my pillow and blanket off my bed and props them on hers, the way she wriggles and flops around because she's excited (which actually drives me kind of nuts, ha), when she grabs hold of my hand and squeezes it, and then places it on her back so I will "do words." I don't want to forget any of it.

Wednesday morning is "coffee morning" (which is today...yay!) for Ethan and me. I know that when I return home from dropping off the other boys that some delicious caffeinated aroma will greet me the moment I open the door. Sometimes I take him out, either to one of the grittier coffee shops in town or to the swanky one, and yes, even McDonald's. It doesn't really matter, it's just fun. And the fact that he doesn't act put out or embarrassed to be with his old Mom is an added bonus.

Our middle boys have faced some challenges recently, and there is just nothing worse than seeing your child in pain and feeling like there's nothing you can do about it. I feel like I always have to have an answer- which of course I do not- but lately I'm learning the importance of simply being there for them. Oh I've got words of encouragement and extra hugs, but that doesn't "fix" anything. Or does it? I also need to remember to PRAY for them. Why is it that prayer feels like the last resort, the thing to do when all else fails? This year, I want prayer to come first, and then we will face whatever issues we've got going on. It sounds so simple, so why do I have such a struggle with it?

Well, anyway, Caleb invited his two best friends from outside of our church to a fun youth group activity, and when I asked him to look inside my wallet for the money before we left, he smiled and told me he had it taken care of. That really touched me for some reason. I told him I was proud of him and then asked if he'd look for the money that we'd use for his friends. He smiled again and assured me that it was taken care of. What a sweet reminder from my little boy that we should always be cheerful givers and be generous. I may have a generous spirit, but my generosity often gets stopped when I think of bills to pay, and this and that. I really can't stand braggy parents/posts, so I hope this isn't coming off sounding that way; rather, it was just a tender moment I want to remember because lots of our moments lately aren't quite so tender.

I want to be respectful of my children's privacy, especially as they get older, but I will share that Jonah has been struggling with his place in this world, in our family, at school...just an overall confusion and anxiousness I guess you could say. I know we've all been there. Goodness, I think I land there several times a month, if not more, and I've got quite a few years of life experience on this kid. This is yet another example of things I don't have answers for, but I can be the most loving, supportive Mom I can be. I know I've failed lots of times, but there have been successes too. And in his way, he lets me know that he sees me trying- for him- and that means the world to me. I want to remember that the trials haven't broken us; they've brought us closer.

I bought him a brunch cook book from one of those Job Lots places with the hopes that we could spend some time together in the kitchen (which is really, truly, a difficult thing for a control, neat-freak like me!), just him and me, whipping up yummy things on the weekends. He has mentioned this cook book, thanked me for it, and leafed through the pages no less than a dozen times now, which shows me that it means something special to him too. And we get to eat delicious food as well. Win win.  =)

This was probably the biggest bore to anyone else reading it, but my best intentions of remembering these everyday things always fails me, and every single time, I wish I had just written them down when they were fresh in my mind. As I mentioned above, we do have a lot going on right now. We've begun making some big decisions for the future of our growing family, and if you could keep us in your prayers we'd so appreciate that. Thank you! Have a wonderful Wednesday...here's a shot of my silly girl to make you smile!
She cracked herself up all through dinner. Oh look! They're reversible! HA HA HA (She was concentrating reaaalllly hard doing Isabelle's hair.)

Oh, and in case anyone is interested, I put up a little post on the Rose & Ruffle blog featuring some adorable new baby things for sale in my shop. Thanks! Here's a little sneak peak...



























Friday, January 16, 2015

HUMBLE BEGINNINGS: LOOKING BACK AT OUR FIRST HOME

Sometimes I see a photo of myself from years ago and can't help but wonder what the heck was I thinking with a particular outfit or hairstyle. Please please tell me I am not alone here. Pretty please.

The same goes with my very first apartment as a new bride. While I've always had an interest in houses and design, options were limited to magazines and...no, that was pretty much it. We lived in an apartment complex on the outskirts of a major city, perfect for my new husband's commute, and I marveled at all 560 square feet of because it was our very first home. I can remember each and every piece of furniture we purchased for that space, each thing brought from my childhood home as well as from my husband's. It all meant something to us. (I don't have pictures to share because I honestly don't have pictures. So sad!)

I can also remember that if I stretched out my arms while standing sideways in our kitchen, I could touch a wall with each hand.

But teensy kitchen or not, our time there was shorter than we'd planned, and we somehow found ourselves blessed beyond our wildest imagination when we moved into a brand new house just a few miles from the apartment. This was truly our first space that we were actually able to change things, however we wanted to. Even when, maybe, we shouldn't have. ;)

I recall purplish paint colors, stenciled ivy above the cabinets, blue carpets galore, and a new mishmash of furniture. With more than twice the space, and more than half of it completely empty, the temptation to fill in won out and we wasted money on lots of things for a few years. To say it got worse before it got better is probably the understatement of the decade. But...we perfected our painting and woodworking techniques there, learned the value of neutrals as well as the benefit of waiting for things and choosing them wisely. We pulled up our sleeves and stained the deck, installed a brick walkway, and learned the hard way that mulching an area does not magically keep the grass from growing back up. That's where I also perfected the art of constructing a rock wall and a plant bed and discovered the importance of light. We began our traditions and rituals there, many of which remain to this day, such as our Saturday morning brunch.

 At the time, I felt like I'd won the lottery when it came to our new spacious kitchen! Soon after, we painted the walls a purply-pink, stenciled some ivy leaves, AND added botanical tiles as a mini back splash.
 It's nearly impossible to tell in the photo, but there it is. Who cares anyway when you see that adorable little baby Ethan?!?!?
Apparently, I was all about interesting window coverings, too. I made every single curtain, valance, and other that we hung on the windows there.

Not long after I discovered my love of having a bureau in the dining room. Never mind the bright blue carpet or the Las Vegas looking glass pendant chandelier. Or the unfortunate pistachio green color I painted on the poor bureau.
I still try to have something green and alive in every room of our home.

I'm not intentionally using all these pictures with my cute baby, but back then, it wouldn't have even dawned on me to take a picture of the new brick walkway we installed...unless there was a cute baby in the photo.

During nap times I perfected the art of rock wall building. Or something like that. Fast forward fifteen years, and I'm still smitten with 'em.

Our walls remained bare for quite some time between both my fear of commitment and fear of holes in the walls. With Baby #2 on the near horizon, I got over it. I forgot about that shelf until I just saw this photo! We put another one up in the dining room and it looked gorgeous. Sometimes you just gotta take the risk!

Here we are saying goodbye to our first home, the place where I brought two of my beautiful babies into the world.

In thinking back to our humble first apartment, there really were lots of options in terms of putting our stamp on the space had we lived there longer. At the end of the day, an apartment or house doesn't become a home because of what you put on the walls or how you decorate; it becomes home because of the people who live there.

We have been really fortunate to have worked with several real estate professionals who have become our friends, and their expertise and insight in finding just the right situation for us was invaluable. But we've heard the horror stories, too. It is so important to work with someone who listens to your needs as well as your wants, and can truly help you navigate the often-bumpy real estate road. I'm sharing this story with Urban Compass as part of their new series called Starter Stories. They can help people find just the right space in bigger metropolis areas, which can be extremely daunting, and have launched a new platform for New York City housing; you can find it here.

Everybody deserves a place to call home. Whether you want to roll up your sleeves and get to work (and gain some valuable experience!), or simply walk through the door and hang up your keys, there's the perfect place out there waiting for you to find.

If you'd like to see how we've transformed the house we're currently living in, click here and here, and be sure to check out the different rooms listed in the sidebar. Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

COMFORT FOOD: STOVETOP HOMEMADE MACARONI AND CHEESE

This post could have been alternately titled: It's Cold Out and I'm Bored and Freezing So I May As Well Cook Something Else in My Nice Warm Kitchen. Catchy, right?

Getting a little stir crazy up in here, that's all. It is so, so cold, and there hasn't been much sunshine this winter, so I think it's making us me a tad grumpy. It's just for a season, it's just for a season...

Anyhoo. Thought I'd share this yummy and quick lunch with you. It's versatile, cooks up super quick, and of course is delicious! If you thought convenience involved a little packet of powder, think again. This is an absolutely perfect comfort food for little time and effort, and with real ingredients.


 Here's what you need:
1/2 box/bag of pasta
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
1/4 cup milk
1/2 - 3/4 cup cheese, either Cheddar or American, or a combination of the two

Here's what you do:
First, cook pasta according to directions in a small to medium sized saucepan. Use whatever pasta you like- I prefer bow tie or elbow. Drain cooked pasta in a colander and let sit while you make the cheese sauce.

In the same saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Of course you don't actually have to use the same saucepan, but it does make for quick, no-mess meal prep. Next, stir in flour; then milk. Don't worry about little clumps- they will work themselves out as the sauce heats up. (You can easily do this in the microwave as well, but I'm on a sort of anti-nuke kick. We shall see if it lasts.)

While milk mixture heats up, cube the cheese (or simply tear the American in several pieces), then carefully drop into milk mixture. Keep heat low and stir every minute or so until the cheese melts and sauce thickens. Add a dash salt and pepper. This entire process takes five minutes or less. Be careful not to let the mixture scald or burn on the bottom, though. At this point, give it a little taste and decide if you'd like to add more cheese or if you like it just the way it is. You cannot go wrong!

Now you're ready to add the cooked pasta back to the saucepan. Gently stir the noodles into the sauce, coating everything evenly. That's it! No chemicals, no unnecessary ingredients or preservatives, no artificial powders...just good stuff. And love.  =)


I whip this up and pack it for the kiddos' lunches several times a month. Not one complaint yet, I tell you.

You can also add different types of cheeses to the sauce, but I do have to caution you to avoid bleu cheese at ALL COSTS because your meal will taste like...and let's pretend I'm whispering this in your ear so as not to offend...vomit

I kid you not.

Happy Cooking!