Monday, August 20, 2018

WELCOME BASKET | STRIPES + EUCALYPTUS




This post could easily be titled: "WHY WE DON'T THROW AWAY SCRAP FABRIC."

I'm so super excited that my Dad will be here with us for the week! He's helping my cousin move to Raleigh, so we were able to snag him for a few days of visiting and catching up.

Any time we have company from out of state, I like to put together a welcome basket for them - especially since they usually stay in a little cabin close to our house.  It's good to have a few "just in case" snacks for midnight emergencies ;) 

This project takes no special talent whatsoever, but here's a little peek at what I did. 


It started with this basket from Dollar General and a few leaves from the wreath in the kitchen. 

<I suppose tearing apart pre-made floral masterpieces from Target might seem a tad reckless, but...>


Then I went digging through my scrap fabric drawer and found some striped ribbon...it made my heart happy. I wanted to pair it with a brown paper bag...

Wouldn't you know it: I didn't have any small brown paper bags. I ended up cutting apart a giant Olive Garden bag from our last date night and glueing it back together. It ended up being the perfect cover for some M&M's that I wrapped in a party-favor bag.

<The newer, cuter Olive Garden bag is on the right hand side of the basket, peeking out of the tissue paper, below. >



That center, polka-dotted thingy is actually a packet of gum, wrapped in **drumroll** more scrap fabric. I left the bottom of the fabric-turned-wrapping-paper open, so the contents can slide out easily. <Otherwise you could spend quite a while trying to rip apart my glued-in seams. || Because I hate to sew || >

I also tucked in two weensy packs of peanut butter crackers and a little "So happy you've come to visit" sort of note, along with some more leaves from my kitchen wreath.

I love  projects that can bring a smile to someone, and make them feel cared for. Time and thought go a long way now days; people are hungry for an "I care" message that goes further than a quick note on a Facebook wall or a fast text from your iPhone. 

Time and Thought can change lives. Not even kidding.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

**VLOG | THE MIDNIGHT RIDE OF GRANDMA PRITCHARD




My Brother and Sister-in-love were here from Wichita Kansas for a little while, so we all got together to visit for awhile last Saturday night. We knew were in for an evening of too much sugar, lots of laughs and the groggy reality of "tomorrow morning" with too little sleep... but until we pulled up, we hadn't realized that Grandma and Grandpa had bought a golf cart. 

That ought not to mean much to normal grown-up people...but who said we ever grew up...? The kids were ecstatic and it didn't take long before Ethan had figured out how to turn a normal golf cart into THE SHINGLE HOLLOW EXPRESS. The roller coaster edition.

We scared Grandma to death. 

I couldn't help sharing this little clip. Lately I've been trying to save some of the sweetness of my babies being small ..so I've been putting together mini clips (or super short VLOGS) to freeze these times for later years.  This one isn't of the girls, but it's a gem. Click away and let me know what you think!






Tuesday, August 7, 2018

LOVE NOTES | BECAUSE HE ACTUALLY WANTS THEM



I was kind of annoyed, quite frankly. Ethan is a neat freak and and a lover of all things organized and optimally functional. Why did he have all these shreds of brown paper in the pocket of his lunch box? 

I shoo-ed Haven away from the clutter that she had just unearthed and started cleaning it all up, fairly bristling with the aggravation of another mess to handle. Number 1, 579 for that day, it would seem. 

And then, right before I dropped a whole handful of them into the garbage can, I saw what they were, and I stopped. 

For a while I had been putting Ethan's breakfasts into little brown lunch bags that I had found at the grocery store. Every morning I would scribble a little note on the bag for him to read while he was out. I always figured he threw them away - what else would he do with them? They were nothing to me, just a chance to make him smile when I wasn't there. 

 He's always so naturally tenacious and unstoppable. I could count on one hand the times when I'd seen him really "down." He's never stayed home "sick." There's no such thing as despair, or "I can't" with this guy... but still, something so small as a note in his lunch really meant something to him. 

My heart warmed as I realized that he had saved them all; every last one of those little nothings that, in my own mind, didn't really matter. 

When he came home and sat down to supper at our tiny kitchen table, I mentioned them to him. He looked surprised. "You didn't throw them away did you?!" I promised that I hadn't, after which he sheepishly admitted that he took them out and read them over to himself when work was difficult. 

We always talk about everything over that kitchen table. All of the days' frustrations and laughs are aired out, but in the moment, when the trouble times are happening or things are going wrong and I'm not there, I'm so grateful to know that he has something from me to remind him how much of a winner he is. 

It's really obvious, I guess, but that afternoon made me really see how much the little things matter in a marriage. A smooch at the door, a note in his lunch, the times I leave my phone at home on purpose to spend more time with him... that guy who is so capable and so muscled and so incredible in his own rite...needs those little loving things. Sappy loving things, even. Silly ones.

If you drop notes in your man's lunchbox: Guess what. It matters. If you lay out his towel and washcloth before his shower, it matters. When you prop your eyelids open at the end of the day to give him a back massage, it matters.

A woman has the chance to make her marriage magic if she wants to. I hear of some couples who really just "aren't affectionate" and wives who think their husbands really don't have that "romantic thing" figured out: but if you want to be loved, try being lovable. You might be surprised. 


Sunday, July 29, 2018

Covering the Essentials | Of Housekeeping With Small Children


#Confession: I hate schedules. Mom thrives on them. We're night-and-day different in that department. She's likened our relationship to the "Anne and Marilla" from Green Gables type. I needed her to give me a head start in the unsung degree of "PRACTICALITY" during my growing up years. I'm so thankful for all the hours she spent organizing the basement...and the kitchen...and our bedrooms together. It's really been helpful for me, now that I have my own house to keep!

So. Between my "Free Spirited" version of housekeeping and her "Scheduled" version of housekeeping, there should be some helpful suggestions for both personalities.

1. BARE BASICS FIRST

By order of importance, that looks like:

  • One chapter of Bible reading and at least ten minutes to pray
  • Getting dressed makes you feel productive and ready.
  • Keeping the house picked up and uncluttered (once before the kids get up, once again before nap time, again before Dad comes home, again before bed.)
  • Making the beds.
  • Next, the sink and toilet should be wiped down every morning.
  • Kitchen counters should be cleared and wiped after every meal and the floor swept.
  • Get something out of the freezer for supper.
  • Wash, dry and fold at least one load of laundry.
  • For fifteen minutes, (Seriously. Set a timer.)  run around dusting/sweeping/polishing whatever needs it. Hand the kids a feather duster and they'll be entertained while you do it!


TA-DA! That alone leaves anyone feeling fabulous and prepared for the day. Being honest though, sometimes, for my crew, we all get dressed, have breakfast, clean up the kitchen, pick everything up, start the laundry...and everything  else has to wait until nap time.

When you’re the only person taking care of that whole house (your kids aren’t big enough to help yet) don’t be discouraged if it’s not all done by 12:00. One thing at a time.


2. WHAT YOU LOVE SECOND

What makes the house feel clean and peaceful to you? Does your husband have anything he particularly likes to have kept up?

I can't stand gritty floors, for instance, while Ethan almost dies if there's dust underneath the bed. I keep the two of those as priorities, but they aren't as high on my morning list as the BARE BASICS, above. If they don't get done, I will be annoyed, but not distraught.

3. WEEKLY DEEP CLEANING

A few weeks ago Mom discovered another scheduling system. Surprisingly, She  and I BOTH love THIS LADY'S system of keeping your house in a constant state of deep cleaned-ness. Mom follows it to the T...I adapted my own version. If you want to do exactly what Mom does, sign up for the daily emails. They'll tell you specifically what to do each day.

I spend a week on each of the following rooms, from light fixture, through the drawers, down to the baseboards. Leave nothing out! Set the timer for 15 minutes while the kids are napping and go at it!

Kitchen
Living Room
Bathroom/Laundry Room
My Bedroom/Bathroom
Girls' Bedroom
Guest Bedroom

4. YOU DO YOU!

We housewives do these things to create and sustain a peaceful atmosphere. This list is what makes me and my family happy to be at home at the end of the day. You’re family might require more than that to feel comfortable and at peace, it may require less. You have to do some honest searching to decide which chores are too much and which ones need to be added to the morning list. You could even *gulp* ask your husband if you're brave.

 Do you have any tips or tricks to share?

Thursday, July 26, 2018

She's Two! | Fourth of July Sparkler


I would say "I can't believe she's two!?" but actually, I can. This child has enough spunk and tenacity for a five year old! She has a super sweet side too, of course; I usually wake up to her laughing with Hope or singing a song in her crib. Her head-long hugs melt my heart.

Making Chocolate Cake. She **might** have been sampling the frosting.


I tried to come up with a list of her favorite things to include in the party. She loves the park...and chocolate...and pretty clothes...her cousins...and what two year old doesn't like balloons?!

So we decided to have pizza and cake under the pavilion at her favorite park.

Or...we tried. Never have I ever seen such a crowd at the park. We ended up driving around in search of another one, eventually settling for a dirtier, less-up-to-date version - but it still had playground equipment, so... *TA DA!*


As you might guess, that made us pretty late getting there, so my decorating scheme was forced to simplify itself.  Ethan blew up balloons while I hastily taped them into centerpieces on the pastel table cloths. It was till birthday-ish.

Haven with her cousin Harrison, "blowing out candles."
Overall, I don't think Haven quite understood that all this was for HER but she still had a ton of fun. :) The cousins had a water balloon fight after supper was over, then we all piled back into the vehicles and drove to Grandma's front yard where the Shingle Hollow Fire Department performs it's annual fireworks show. (Ethan, His Brother and Brother In Law shoot of fireworks for the kids.) We are the fire department, and we are the neighbors, so we were having lots of (noisy) fun that night. lol

Or, most of us. Haven was all birthday-ed out, and fell asleep in the car. ;)


**LOOK HOW LEETLE.**

Happy Birthday sweet girl!




Monday, July 23, 2018

So what, exactly, is a successful day? | #MomLife


I have a mental list of what a "Successful Homemaker" should do in a day. It's a long list.

Never, ever do I actually finish that list in a day.

If you're honest, you probably don't either.

Looking back on all the times I've winked at the dirty floors and slipped under the covers instead, the heavy weight of wondering was always mixed with the aching heaviness of my eyelids. I have good days. There's a lot of good days, actually, but then there's the unexpected, unexplainable stuff that shows up and ruins everything. (E-v-e-r-y-t-h-a-n-g. )

**For instance: Yesterday, I fantasized all morning about getting to empty the trashcan.**

Falling asleep, hoping to have done enough, been enough to technically be "successful", my mind wanders back to the morning devotions that Mom always led before we started homeschool for the day.

She kept a handwritten paragraph in her Bible, on an index card. I can't quote it by heart, but we heard it often enough to remember the jist. "What great contentment I have, when I finally lay my head on the pillow at night and can honestly say from my heart; "Lord, I've done my best to make life a little better for my fellow men."

That's the measure. That's what she lives by.

Looking into the baby's eyes when she's crying and seeing more than "an interruption" is success. Giving full attention; a long hug; a soft answer - in the middle of the chaos - that's success.

Someday the floors will rot and need replacing.

Errands will always need to be run again.

Dust doesn't respect good intentions.

They don't hold success.

Small, soft hearts do.

Tender, young minds do.

The Bible says to "guide the house" - it's part of our commission as married women, (and shouldn't be taken lightly.) Making sure your house is a place of order and refuge is a big deal to God if He put it in His Bible: But it also says over and over to "Love one another" and "Train up a child in the way it should go." One of my favorite verses for those "Taking the trash out by the skin of my teeth" times is: "Let us not grow weary in well doing.."

In summary: Success is in giving out with grace, when it's not a good time to do it. Over and over...and over and over...

So tonight, if you tuck your littles in bed and feel the tracked-in grit under your bare feet...relax. Their happiness and security is more important. Someday you'll have all the time in the world to have all the "T's crossed." By then, you'll also be loving the benefits of investing in the happiness of your man and babies FIRST. Never underestimate the rewards of doing that.

**Ps. This was a requested post. Is there something that you would just LOVE to read a post about? Go ahead and leave me a comment.**



















Monday, July 16, 2018

DEAR BREASTFEEDING MOMMY | WHO CAN'T LOSE WEIGHT


Okay girls.

I’m so, so excited to finally be able to write this post. 

As a preamble, I have to first mention my epic fail of a weight loss journey after Haven’s pregnancy. I tried everything I could think of to get rid of those clinging postpartum pounds, but even though I worked out like a crazy woman, breastfed, ate almost nothing and researched constantly…nothing worked. 

During Hope’s pregnancy that knowledge niggled uncomfortably in the back of my mind. I’ve always dreamed of a big family (Like, I mean, a BIG one)…but I didn’t want to be “The big mama” by the time they’re all here either. The thought of that became a fear that nibbled at the excitement of my pregnancy and threatened me every time I looked in the mirror. 

WHAT IF NONE OF IT COMES OFF. EVER.

If you’re nodding your head and brushing away a tear, I’ll tell you right now: prayer is the best dispeller of fear. One day while I was praying, I promised that if God would show me how to get back to myself again, I would write a blog post about it in testament to His faithfulness in the little things. 

Here I am, to tell you He cares.



Waiting for Hope to come! (Swollen and feelin' big as a house.)
During Hope’s pregnancy I read THIS post that helped me tremendously. If you’re breastfeeding and struggling to lose weight, this is for you! They aren’t paying me anything to write this by the way, and actually, they don’t even know I exist (I’ve never commented on their site…which..I probably should, really. Comments are the food of Bloggers. **Yes, that was a hint.**)

Turns out that for a lucky few, weight just falls off and they actually get below pre-baby weight in good time. For others (particularly: dieting Mommas) their bodies cling to EVERY CALORIE possible perchance a famine should strike the land and there wouldn’t be enough fuel to feed the milk factory. (Has anybody else ever felt like a milk factory? Okay. Moving on.) 

They key to success for these ladies is actually to eat more. (SAPRISE!) When we eat exactly enough calories, our bodies realize that the imaginary famine isn’t a threat and will slowly release it’s hold on a little bit of weight at a time. (A pound or two a week.) 

If you click on the post that I linked, it will describe this process more in depth and also link you over to the calorie calculator that I used.

Counting calories is a pain; let’s just go ahead and get that out there. It stinks. But counting them anyway meant that I could look my very white, stretched-out self in the mirror and feel hope instead of complete frustration. 

I also discovered the KETO diet to be super effective for muscling through the plateus where I got stuck. The last ten pounds were pretty clingy, but a little determination and a whole lot of heavy whipping cream pulled me on to the finish line. (If that doesn’t make any sense, let me know in the comments and I’ll explain “KETO” in another post.)

By the time Hope turned six months old, all THIRTY POUNDS OF BABY WEIGHT was gone. These days, I’m slowly chipping away at what Haven left me. :D 




Wrapping it all up, I want to say that I’ve worked hard, but I really do attribute “my” success to the blessing of answered prayer. Never, ever underestimate the power of it, and the truth that no fear or concern is ever to little to bring to the altar. If you’re where I was six months ago, keep your chin up, pray without ceasing, and start tracking your calories, girl!