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

Monday, September 25, 2017

These Happy Little Days

Now don't get me wrong. It's not all roses. Of course it isn't, we're human and nothing is perfect. In fact, there have been some extremely painful and just plain hard things to handle as a parent lately, and nothing brings you to your knees quite like those moments. But there has been a shift in my thinking, a new wave of gratitude you might say, which has allowed me to clearly see the blessings of the everyday. And I find myself thinking, a lot!, how much I adore this life of mine, of ours, and how I want to make the most out of every single day.

Of course, there's a kid coughing and sniffling on the couch in the other room, and another little one whining at my feet as I type. You know, life. And I'm going to treasure it all.

And I'm going to pray more. I'm not kidding! I need guidance and wisdom on the daily and I know Who is able to give it, only lots of times I don't seek after Him. I want that to change because the result is much more peace in doing what I can do, and leaving the rest to God.

Well anyhoo. Sometimes I find Levi and I matching, and I think it's just the sweetest thing. So of course it must be documented.

Even on mornings that aren't so smooth, there is always something sweet. Lately Levi is obsessed with carrying around his lovey, and he's been practicing taking more and more steps. It's just the two of us each morning now, and it's a sweet time.

He cracks me up. Here he is doing his baby yoga. I was doing dishes and just turned around to check on him (because it was quiet), and I see this. The other pose he often does is downward dog. :)

I'm just throwing this one in because I can't resist that tush.

Our Saturday mornings have been filled with Isabelle's field hockey games. This is all new to us, and it's been fun!

She's the one with the ball. And the guards on the outside of her socks. Yup.

It's fun bringing Ryder out with us, most of the time anyway.

Such a fun little evening!

I'm going to have write a post on just our trips to the library so I can have them all in one place. For starters, it's completely adorable! Secondly, I can't get enough of watching him toddle around and explore there.

We had a few minutes to kill on this day, so we stopped by the park on the way home. I was texting my husband something and when he answers, my phone quacks, and Levi heard it and knew it was Daddy, so he started smiling and waving. So funny. Also, I'm SO curious to see what his hair does in the coming months. It goes from golden blonde to dark blonde to strawberry blonde. And it has lots of wave and little curls coming in the back!

Looking back, I guess there were some rough patches when Levi would not go down for a nap. This happened at least three or four times in one week, but even still, I decided to sit in peace with my chai latte for a little me time. There was sewing I needed to do, housework and other things, but after regrouping and reflecting, I was ready for whatever came next. And thankfully, it was all sweetness from there on out. For a few days anyway, haha.

I made a deal with myself that I couldn't start decorating for fall until I'd caught up on orders and got certain areas of our home organized (all my stuff, ugh, so I couldn't even blame it on anyone else). So I got to work and then added some fall touches. I'm also channeling my inner minimalist these days, and I'm simply not interested in going overboard with decorations. 

Somehow fall and summer got mixed up because the past two days were hotter than any day in July or August. Go figure. This guy enjoyed his first smoothie in a glass, with help obviously, and we just enjoyed a mellow family weekend. The night before we'd visited with Bill's parents and extended family up from Pennsylvania, so that was really nice as well.

These two. All the heart eyes.

We ended the weekend just goofing around out back. Probably sounds totally lame, but it was honestly the most fun I've had playing with my kids in a long time. Everyone just sort of let down their guards and just enjoyed being in the moment, and it was so refreshing to my soul. I will remember that evening for a long, long time. We ended the night with take-out for dinner- hooray!!!-  and the first of what I hope are many Family Meetings. We read some scripture together, very low key, and then I wrote down everyone's activities, which I mostly know anyway, but it was super helpful to review them, and in front of everyone too, and then I prayed for us and for the week ahead. It was so simple and relatively small, but this has been a burden to me for some time, and I'm finding that a whole lot of smalls add up to something really meaningful.

This bright little bouquet made me smile. It's probably the last bunch I'll get, but they have grown so beautifully this year. I don't know how to harvest seed from them but I'm going to look it up and try- if you have any tips for me, please let me know!

Okay, I've just made some hot chai for sick Jonah and now Levi and I are heading to the grocery store. Hope you have a great day!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Levi Lately

This boy. He has stolen my heart in every way imaginable. I find myself lamenting often, "aw, last year at this time, he was such a little baby, and now he's such a big boy." I don't know why, but summer didn't have that affect on me the way fall is now. Last fall he was just five and six months old, a terrible (TERRIBLE!) sleeper/napper, but so sweet and wonderful. And this fall he just seems so big. Well he is big, on his way to a year and a half old. #holdme

But time doesn't stop, or even slow down. What a privilege for me to experience all these firsts again, and try to savor it all. I realized I hadn't been taking pictures with a "real" camera- phones are just so convenient!- so I'm sharing some of these taken with my Nikon. That will help limit the number of photos, too. I probably take thousands each month. And I don't regret it, either!

Levi now stands for long periods of time but still has not settled into walking. He much prefers to walk holding onto our fingers or simply scoot everywhere with his funny little foot/knee crawl. However, he mastered the steps out back a little bit ago, only he is obsessed with sitting on a step and bending down at the waist until his face is nearly level with the tread. He knows it scares me, so maybe that's what's so thrilling to him? Who knows. But he is quite the climber these days and I'm having a terrible time teaching him to only climb the bottom few stairs inside the house. Wooden stairs. Yikes. I haven't found a gate that works well and I have multiple heart attacks everyday.

I think he thinks that's funny, haha.

Rock obsessed

Evidence of a stair mishap right here. It was out front on granite steps. Yikes.

Levi is a pretty great eater, most of the time anyway. I've learned that he doesn't care much for lunch, which works out well because his nap is transitioning somewhat from early morning to midday. So around 1 or 1:30, we have a light "lunch." This day was a yummy grilled cheese sandwich, but normally it's something smaller.

He's going through a phase where he loathes sticky or crumbly things on his palms. Sometimes there's a bit of drama. :)

Levi is developing his silly side. He knows he's being clever and cute, and it's so fun to see him make connections with how his actions are making the people around him laugh. Here we are just playing around, probably before nap time. He grabs his lovey when he's getting tired. One of the best things I ever made right there, I should use this picture in the listing in my shop- look at the love on his sweet face for his little lovely!

Becoming quite transfixed with all things buttons and snaps. I adore his curiousness. And those tummy rolls. I'm dying.

Time for some games. How big is Levi?

And the itsy bitsy spider, his all time favorite.

What would you call his hair color? Sometimes it's quite blonde, other times it looks more strawberry blonde or even ginger. It's really filling in now with some wave and quite a few little curls on the ends. I can't wait to see what it becomes!

That face tells me play time is over, time for sleepies.

I'm going to have to do a post on just him sleeping because it makes me smile more than just about anything in the world. The way he pushes his little face up into the pillows and contorts that little body gets me every time. And this bottom's up pose is quite new. I'm so smitten. :)

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Easy Apple Crumble Pie Recipe

Nothing says Welcome Fall quite like homemade apple pie.
Unlike yesterday and today, we had been having perfect crisp, (light) sweater-weather days, so we celebrated by making the first apple pie of the season. Something I'm more than happy to do since I no longer loathe, or am terrified by, making my own pie crust. ;)

This time around, the hubs asked for a crumb topping. I was going to make more of a crisp topping, with oats, but then thought I'd try a more shortbread kind of crumble. Well let me tell you, it ended up being nearly impossible to resist sneaking bites
throughout the day. Starting maybe at breakfast. But what responsible adult would do that, so never mind. Nothing to report here.

I think this pie is also referred to as a Dutch pie, though I had no intention of adding raisins. Is that what makes it Dutch? No idea. But no matter what you call it, it's just plain yummy. The crumble topping is light but rich all at the same time.

Here's What You Need
6-8 medium to large sized apples (I used a combination of Mack & Granny Smith)
1 tsp Allspice
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Crumb Topping
1 cup flour (I use unbleached)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup loosely packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened

Here's What You Do
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Prepare pie crust - I use Ina Garten's and love it

While the dough is chilling, peel and slice your apples; add them to a large bowl. Add spices and sugar to apples, stirring lightly to coat. 

Once you've lined the pie plate with the crust, flute under the edges. Add the apples.

Using the same bowl, lightly blend together the flour and sugars; add butter and pinch together with you fingers. Don't over do it. Spread the topping mixture evenly over the apple slices. Bake for about 50 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream or cool with whipped cream. So, so good.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Catching Up...Labor Day Weekend and Our 20th Anniversary

Saturday was beautiful and sunny, the perfect day for a trail walk.

You'd think this was such a sweet, calm capture. Nope. She was ticked.
It was shortly after this that I made a declaration. Maybe it's not a good decision, maybe it is. But I made it anyway: I'm not bring the older kids on walks anymore. I need this time for me, a chance to rejuvenate if you will, and the complaining, fighting, and general stress that comes along with having them there is not worth it. It has the opposite effect of what I hope for every single time. And then what was supposed to be refreshing ends up sucking the very life out of me. I wish it weren't this way. well, that's a whole other post...

Sunday poured and poured all day long. Monday we decided to hit the road for something fun and somehow ended up at this joint. I explain a little below...guess I wrote that part first, ha ha.

So then Screechy McScreech started in. Bill walked around with him while we were waiting for our lunch. Fifteen minutes later, still waiting, I just scooped him up and brought him outside.
  Yeah, it looks all nice and serene. But the smell of manure was so thick in the air I nearly gagged. You could smell it from inside the restaurant, too. Which, by the way, was the most ridiculously overpriced place I've seen in a long, long time. I guess you can get away with that when you are literally in the middle of nowhere, and Google maps lead you astray with promises of waterfalls, so by the time you find this joint, you're relieved...until you walk inside, sit down and scan the menu.
Anyhoo. If I sound bitter, it's because, well, I guess I still am. A little.
There was a dairy barn at the end of this field, and another one across the street. I was so angry at this point. The waterfall we'd planned to go to couldn't be found (later Bill mentioned that one site said you couldn't access it because it "technically" is on private property. Well that might have been good to know from the start. Maybe? Yes. I think yes.)

We finished our sub-par sandwiches and hit the road again, still unsure of where we wanted to go at this point. My pity party game was still going strong, and while we were kind of near a mountain, I felt so out of sorts and tired I just didn't think I could do it. Lame, I know. I kept my comments to myself and just went along with it.

Wouldn't you know it was the very thing that changed everything around. 

I was a sweaty mess by the time we reached the top, but it was fun! And everyone enjoyed being outside and working hard at the goal of getting to the top.

Someone looks a bit unsure of this whole packpacking thing.

Oh, but Daddy bending over to tie a shoe brings out all the smiles! ha ha ha

If you know me in real life, you know what this does to me.

Monkey see, monkey do ;)

Sweaty, frizzy mess here!
Maybe this pic is at such a weird angle because my arm was too tired to raise it right? ha ha

 There were lots of other areas to walk around and see all the vistas, but I was holding Levi, who was pretty much done, done, and done at this point, so this is what I got. It really is beautiful anywhere you look.
This is Pack Monadnock by the way, so if you're in southern NH, you should visit!

We all made it in one piece!

I really missed Ethan. I know he isn't around as much between working, school, and his social life, and while I understand, it still stings. Things will never be the same, and I know that. It's just hard to accept at times.

We had told them we'd find a nearby Dunkin' for a little reward, and the boys came out of the store laughing their heads off. Apparently, the kid behind the counter gave Bill the senior discount. ha ha ha Hiking a mountain will do that to you. :)

Only later did I learn that he was being nice because Bill was a few cents short and didn't want to use a credit card. Twenty bucks won't get you very far when there are this many of you, plus that dumb lunch, but I didn't even care because it turned out to be such a fun day.

And THEN Bill took Jonah out to run some errands after he'd kissed Levi goodnight and I was feeding and rocking him, and when I came downstairs, Bill was holding the most beautiful bouquet and smiling. Ethan works with a woman who arranges flowers at the shop, and the two of them had been in cohorts all week long. The flowers were so, so pretty, but the idea that they had spent time picking them out and having them be made ahead of time just for me made me feel really special.

Bill was taking the next day off so we could spend it together, the day before our anniversary, and he wanted to be around to see me enjoy my flowers. :)

This post already feels too long, so I'll end here. Besides, the truth is, nearly every single plan we made to celebrate our anniversary fell through for one reason or another. And that's okay. That's just how life goes sometimes. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try again. I think many times we've felt crushed that something didn't happen, but then as time goes on, we never made it right. And then that disappointment took root and it became a bitter or sad regret. I won't ever regret putting our family's needs ahead of my own, and it just so happened that they needed All.The.Things over the past week or so, but we've committed to keep pursing those special dates that we had to put on hold, and now we have lots of things to look forward to.

Oops, it's later than I thought and hungry kids will be storming through any moment. Have a good day!
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