It Was a Long January

Can we really be 9 days into February? January was SO long, and now I blink and February is almost 1/3 over!

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(cozy fire in the fireplace)

Just a recap of January- we were sick most of the month. We started with the stomach flu which lasted less than 24 hours- but the weakness and tiredness hung on for days. Right on the heels of that came a virus that apparently was the kind that last 2-3 weeks. I can handle a bit of a cold, but having fever day after day is depressing. We barely had a social life for a month because someone was almost always sick. Today was the first all of us went to church together all year!

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(emily and her elizabeth doll in their matching clothes. i know the doll is blurry, but i love emmy’s smile and little braids!)

In the middle of this, I did get a few things done here at home. I knotted and bound a large blanket and got caught up on scrapbooking- I was almost a year behind- and made 3 dresses for a wedding. I guess it was almost 4 if you count a trial one I got mostly made to try a new pattern. So it’s not like nothing got done- there were a some days I felt fine but I was stuck at home with sick children, so what better time to get caught up on projects?

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Kendall’s brother Ryan was getting married in Georgia on February 1. When we first got sick the beginning of January, I was just glad that we’d for sure be in good health by then, but a few days before it was time to leave, I was losing faith in that. Kierra and I still were miserable with fever, and it didn’t seem to be getting better. One night I asked people on Facebook to pray for us- and many people did. The next afternoon, Kierra woke up from her nap saying she felt good- and she truly acted so much better. It took another day until my fever broke, but just in time, I was feeling good again.

I absolutely believe in the power of prayer, especially intercessory prayer. I think it’s important to have your own private prayer life, and there is power in that, but sometimes it seems that no matter how much you pray about something, nothing changes. But something especially divine can happen when you humble yourself, admit that you can’t do it on your own, and ask others to pray with you.

The instance that makes the biggest impression on me is when I was pregnant with Emily. We had lost Lauren to stillbirth at 37 weeks the year before with no warning, no known reason. Of course, it is natural to be apprehensive with subsequent pregnancies, but for the most part, I was dealing okay with it during the day. Nighttime was another story. Night after night I would have bad dreams about losing my baby in one way or the other. These dreams really upset me, but no matter how much I prayed, the nightmares continued and seriously disturbed my peace of heart, not to mention my sleep.

Finally I told a group of ladies in Sunday school what was going on, and asked them to please pray for me. I never had those nightmares again. Without those to plague me, I was able to have a measure of peace. It wasn’t that I never worried again, but it wasn’t consuming me anymore.

Kendall had a similar experience when he asked some men to pray for him a number of months after Lauren’s death when he was stuck in grief and couldn’t seem to get out of the rut he was in. He feels that was a real turning point in the grief process.

And I truly believe without our friends praying for us the other week, we wouldn’t have been feeling well for the wedding. Skeptics can write my experiences off as coincidence or mind over matter, but the fact is, I am a very cynical person by nature. Faith and trust don’t come easily for me. Sometimes I get to thinking too much and my mind gets in the way. I start questioning God and His goodness and power, but in my heart, I know He is who He says He is. There are so many things that I can’t explain, even to my satisfaction, there is so much about Him I do not know or understand. I still struggle with some things, but I know He is God and that some day we will understand Him and what He has allowed into our lives.

Anyhow, we got to the end of January with much better health than we’d had most of the month, and were able to truly enjoy our time away.

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(the crazy ones i love)

Another notable thing about January was that it was CRAZY cold! Maybe I have been living under a rock, but I never knew that schools cancel for the cold in these parts. You always get some snow days every year, but I never heard of canceling for the cold. Some schools around here apparently had quite a few cancellations for extreme temperatures. I do understand it, though. Sure, it wasn’t any colder than it gets in Minnesota or Montana or Alberta, but we just aren’t used to dressing for this kind of weather, for one. I suppose it’s a little like when Atlanta gets a skiff of snow. They aren’t equipped to deal with snow and we’re just not equipped to deal with this sort of cold. I had a very thick winter coat that I bought a number of years ago and wore once or twice. A thin coat has always sufficed. I got rid of it this summer, and guess what- my thin coat isn’t cutting it!! I have wished for that thick coat more than once this winter- the few times that we’ve been well enough to venture out! I keep hoping the cold spell is almost over so I don’t have to break down and buy a thick coat I probably won’t wear for 10 years!

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(snow rollers- Facebook was abuzz about these the other week. we only had a few, but nearby, there were more. some places had larger ones- big snowballs that no person made! http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-snow-rollers-bizzare-winter-storm-20140128,0,238995.story#axzz2ssHc5PSk. sorry about the messy link- i can’t seem to figure out how to do it right, but it’s interesting that it’s rare enough that LA Times has an article on it!)

But… I can’t complain about the cold too much since I got to be inside where it’s warm. After Kendall got some firewood for our woodburner a few weeks ago, I haven’t been cold as long as I stay inside. Also, along with the extreme cold, we’ve had more sunshine than we normally do in the winter. And honestly, that helps my mood- or it does whenever I am not sick! Last year we had rain or snow every day in January, and we rarely saw the sun. So… I guess we can’t have sunshine and warmth in the winter here!

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(one of emily’s favorite things to do is to bring us more coffee. i always hold my breath, but usually she does okay!)

The last day of January found us traveling the many, many hours to warm, sunny Georgia. Well… it wasn’t exactly sunny most of the time, and not as warm as I was hoping, but it was warmER, so that counts! Next time I will tell you a little about the wedding and my impression of Georgia!

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we had a lot of traffic in Atlanta on a Friday afternoon! but hey, at least there was no snow there anymore to cause chaos like earlier in the week!

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i just love city skylines. something about it just speaks to me. they do not call Kendall’s name, though, so we do well to make an occasional venture into a city. like VERY occasional!!

(the pictures are all from Kendall’s phone, hence the quality. my camera took a January break, but it was fun to look back at the pictures on his phone. Even though the quality isn’t the greatest, i look at them and smile because they are so real life!)

How was your January?
Have you experienced the power of people praying for you?

A Simple Christmas

It was one of the best Christmases ever, if not The Best. It wasn’t that anything spectacular happened. It was a relatively low key month. I don’t go crazy with baking cookies and putting up Christmas décor or anything like that because…well, it could drive me crazy! If I know that baking 49 different kinds of cookies is going to end up with me in a bad mood, feeling stressed, and yelling at my girls, then why bother? It’s not like we need more sugar at this time of the year! The same goes for those other things. I considered an advent activity, but after thinking it over, it seemed like something that would end up being overwhelming, so I decided not to. Maybe next year.

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What made this Christmas good was not because of all the amazing, heart-warming things we did, but just a deep sense that life is good, that we are blessed. 2013 brought some difficult decisions and changes, but for some reason, I look back and call it the best year we’ve had in a long time.

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It’s just so good to enjoy the small things of life. After Lauren was stillborn over 4 years ago, it was really rough for awhile. There were months of deep grief. After Emily was born, I thought things would be better, and they were for awhile, but then came months and months of hormonal problems and depression and high stress which was likely exacerbated by Emily being a high maintenance baby and toddler. A lot of the next couple years are a rather dark blur. There were plenty of good times to be sure, but it just felt like I was living under a dark cloud.

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It’s so much better now. Supplements and changing my diet helped a lot, I think. I lost 30 pounds this year, and while I was hoping for more, I am glad for the positive benefits that have accompanied that. I haven’t been exercising faithfully for too long, and I know if I am going to make it through another grey winter, I am going to need to find a way to get motivated. I trained for and ran in a 5k this year, and while I am NOT a fast runner, I found running to be amazing for my mood. It’s hard to do in the winter, though. I don’t have a good place to run right now, but I do miss it. I hope I can get back to it in the spring and maybe make another 5k one of my goals… as well as crushing my previous time!!

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I didn’t set out to write about diet and exercise. Most of the time I don’t even want to think of it! I have gotten so lazy lately and my diet is far from being on track. I have to break my sugar habit again now, because of all the holiday treats! Anyway, my point is that overall, I feel so much better than I did for so long, mentally and physically. I can tell that it’s winter, though. I always feel worse in the winter.

So yes, our simple Christmas was perfect. We got together with Kendall’s family at a cabin in November, and we were at my brother’s place last weekend with my family minus the sister in Belize who we really missed. We opened our gifts on Christmas eve while enjoying the warm fireplace, and then had the ones of Kendall’s family that were around and not working for lunch on Christmas day, which netted a few more presents, much to the delight of our girls. We have one more family gathering next week and that’s it for the holidays.

I am looking forward to the year ahead. I haven’t made any official New Year’s resolutions, at least not yet, but I would like to make a few this year that I can work toward. I don’t make absolutes like “I won’t eat any junk food for a year” or “I will not lose my temper in 2014” but I want to make progress in areas like that. I find that when I make small goals to meet on the way to an ultimate goal (such as weight loss) I feel motivated when I reach the small goal to keep going toward the next one.

I will leave you with a few Christmas pictures.

I bought a gingerbread house kit because there was no way I was gonna make one from scratch. It actually tasted good, but I wasn’t fond of the candy included… or my gingerbread decorating skills. Oh wait! I could just say the girls put it together by themselves, and that’s why it’s not perfect. Yes, that’s the story I will go with! {cough, cough!} Oh well, they were happy!

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These girls are only 3 months apart. They had a lot of fun together. 100_8370

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Christmas eve… I found the camera out in the cold vehicle, so it didn’t cooperate very well for picture taking. Not that it ever cooperates that well. I would buy a new camera if I wasn’t so confused about what to buy for what I want. There are too many options!

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We got a Bible for Emily. She was beyond thrilled. That was easily her favorite gift. The second best was a knock-off Doc McStuffin-ish coloring book!100_8405

Christmas day they got almost more gifts than they did Christmas eve from us. It doesn’t take much to make them happy, so they were thrilled. I think they got way more than enough!!

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And that pretty much wraps up the year for us.  Only 5 more days left until a brand new year. I am looking forward to it!

Just Another Day in Paradise!

It’s a rainy day here. I took Emily to the library for story time this morning. She loves it, and it makes her feel like SUCH a big girl to do what she always saw Kierra doing. They are supposed to be 3, and she’s still 2 for a couple of weeks, but they said it was okay. I tried to make sure they know that if she gets to be too much, I will understand and stop bringing her. They say she’s okay- although not as well-behave as Kierra was! Kierra feels a little left out since she is too old, but she is a million times easier to keep happier in that 45-55 minutes than Emily was!

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I was finally able to sit down this afternoon and feel good about it! My house is clean and neat, and there is nothing pressing to be doing. I am sure it won’t last long- in fact, I need to go get supper cooking so we can be ready to leave the house in a couple of hours. But even having 30 minutes when I feel caught up feels great!

We had a long weekend visiting our friends in MO last week. It was so GOOD to see them! Kierra was so happy to be back with her best friend that’s she missed so much, and they played until they were too tired to play anymore- and then they’d soon find more energy to do things together again!

This morning was a BAD morning. By the time I got to the library at 10, I was exhausted. Then when we went to leave, Emily raced out the door ahead of us into a parking lot full of moms ready to leave with th eir kids. I was so scared, mortified, and furious! She knows better! She totally got that I was upset with her, but she seemed to think I was most upset that she ran through a water puddle and got her shoes all wet. She really doesn’t seem to have any impulse control some days.

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Anyway, I remember thinking somewhere in there that SOMEHOW I had to get back control of my day. Kierra hadn’t started school for the day, and I hadn’t accomplished anything. And somehow, we were able to turn the day around and Kierra got her school work done, I got the house all straightened up and cleaned up, and now I just feel better about life. When a day starts out so rough, sometimes it’s easy to give up and let it spiral out of control, and it feels so good to have made the choice to make it a good day in spite of it all and actually succeeded in that. Sometimes I forget that I DO have a say in how my life goes, and there ARE things to do to make us all happier and calmer. Circumstances do not have to dictate my mood!

And that’s all… for today. My break time is over!

Monday in Pictures

The weather is almost perfect today- except when the clouds are covering the sun. My idea of paradise on earth would be temperatures in the 70’s all year round. There’s no need to point out the flaws in that scenario or how much I would miss the seasons or anything like that. Let me have my dream of perfection to hold to! 

It’s Monday.  I used to do my laundry on Tuesdays (and one other day of the week), but lately I have been doing it some Mondays. Today is laundry day.  Kierra has school today. I always have a plenty of things to pick up around the house on Mondays. It seems we take Sunday as a day of rest and a license to not pick up after ourselves. Oh, who am I kidding?  I am the one that picks up after myself and pretty much everyone else around here. And since we usually go flying out the door without a lot of time to spare on Sunday mornings, we leave a tornado of clothes and towels on the floor and unmade beds and toothpaste on the counter in our wake.  In the afternoon, if we are home, everyone else usually takes a nap. I usually don’t, but why would I pick up things when everyone else is sleeping? That’s my quiet time! And it’s actually fairly rare that we are home all afternoon and evening, so that adds to the lack of time to keep up with everything and everybody.  I actually don’t mind too much- it’s kind of fun to get everything put back in its place on a Monday morning.

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I am thinking a towel shower would be a good idea for tenth anniversaries. Most of our towels are falling apart. The ends have mostly came off, leaving them way too short. They work, but they aren’t ideal and a lot of them won’t last a whole lot longer. We’ve been married 9 years, hence my idea that a towel shower would be nice next year. LOL!

Today  is also the day that I needed to go out to the garden to pick whatever produce is ready. There wasn’t that much, so it’s not overwhelming, but it should give us a good meal this evening.  It’s so wet this year that it’s impossible to till the garden at all, and the weeds grow like crazy.I guess I could pull every weed in our large garden by hand, but that would be an enormous amount of work. Keeping the rows free of weeds is hard enough, let alone pulling them all between the rows. And even then, the ground is often so muddy I have to be careful where I walk. Let’s just say that there is no way I could win a neat, weed-free garden award this year!! 

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A not-so-pretty cabbage that I think can be salvaged for Kai Si Ming from the Trim Healthy Mama book. It’s hamburger and cabbage cooked with spices and while it’s not pretty, it’s always better than it looks and better than I remembered. I am not a huge fan of cabbage, if you can’t tell.

So I think we’ll have Kai Si Ming with fresh broccoli and green beans this evening.

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I am not getting a lot of beans this year. I only canned once, and since then, I’ve gotten just barely enough for a meal twice a week. My beans were damaged by late frost, and apparently never fully recovered. I should have replanted, I suppose. We actually eat green beans fairly frequently. The girls don’t profess to love them, but they eat them fairly readily.

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I am collecting cucumbers to make Claussen pickles. Last year I canned pickles and had THESE in the refrigerator. We went though quite a few quarts of these in a really short time. The only thing I didn’t like was that in my pickling spice, there were some whole cloves, and I didn’t care for that flavor. Other than that, they were divine. We ate them like candy for snacks!! I want to do as many this year as I think my refrigerator can hold while leaving room for other things. If I had a spare refrigerator, I would fill half of it with these Claussen knockoff pickles! The other pickles that I canned have hardly been touched. 

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I have a number of plants LOADED with these garden salsa peppers and no idea how to use many of them. I will use a few in canning, but I don’t know what else to do with them. My jalapeno peppers frosted in a late frost, and I could find any more at the greenhouse so I chose these. Then one plant of jalapenos survived so those will get priority.

And then since we have pictures of imperfect produce that hasn’t been cleaned yet, I give you pictures of some girls who seem just about perfect to me- you know, when they aren’t making me pull my hair out!

 

 

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Emily loves her cats and sneaks them inside whenever she can.

 

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Kierra was complaining about school this morning and how her fingers hurt too much to write, blah blah blah. Someone had a big day yesterday and didn’t have enough rest. I am proud of her though. We got home at 5 something yesterday afternoon, having been gone all day, and then she and I went on a bike ride. I don’t know the exact mileage, but it had to be at least 7 miles total. She was sure she was going to die when we were about a mile from home. But when we got home, she was so happy with her accomplishment that she forgot how hard it was. She just learned to ride this spring, and we hadn’t done much riding most of the summer because of the heat, so I think she’s doing great! It’s fun to have someone to be active with, too!

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This morning I had Emily put uncooked macaroni in a mini cupcake pan. It actually kept her happy for awhile, but after a certain point, it became something to haul all over the house, so I will have to sweep it up when she’s not around. 

Emily is a busy little girl challenges me only a million times a day, more or less. But she is so loving and affectionate. She gives hugs and kisses freely. She learned the song “Baby Mine” recently and wants me to sing it to her, and then gets all lovey and cuddly. 100_7568b      

And outside, there are flowers. I don’t plant a lot, but I am glad for the ones we do have. Actually, my girls picked these out, otherwise we might not have any! 

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We pruned our grapevines down to almost nothing this year. They weren’t bearing  fruit to speak of anymore, so we had nothing to lose, even though we don’t know much about growing fruit. For the longest time, everything looked dead, but now there is the most prolific growth. There aren’t any grapes though. Maybe next year. I am sure I could find several spiritual lessons to draw from that, but I will spare you!

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Changes, Beginnings, and a Quick Trip

Last Friday, we all made a long one day trip to Missouri to pick up something for Kendall. Almost 1400 miles, almost 24 hours, and a flat tire later, we made it back home.  We were all very tired, but still mostly sane. The girls did better than I expected, really. That’s a lot of sitting in one day!

My girls don’t always get along very well. Actually, to be honest, they usually don’t get along very well. Not right now, anyhow.  But sometimes they are nice to each other, pick flowers in the hot Missouri sun together, and even hold hands or play happily together. They love each other more than they want to admit, and can’t live without the other one very long!

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These first pictures were taken while we waited on Kendall to get his stuff loaded.  We were bored and taking pictures. Who knew you could snap photos through the headrest of your seat?!

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The other week, we started school again. It’s early, but Kierra needed more to do. Emily isn’t being very gracious about it. I think she is jealous- we went through the same thing last year for awhile. We haven’t gotten a full week in yet, but that’s okay- part of the benefit of starting early is being able to be very flexible when other things come up, like 24 hour trips to MO!  Today was Kierra’s 7th day of first grade.  She is enjoying it, I think, although it’s a little different than kindergarten.

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She hasn’t mastered writing neatly yet, but I can tell a vast improvement even since the end of kindergarten.  She is starting to write notes- I find them here and there, and it makes me smile. Yesterday she wrote a note to give to her best friend at church “I love Rachel. I will miss you when you go to Missouri. It will be a sad day. Love, Kierra” or something like that. I can’t remember exactly how she ended it. Of course I had to help her spell Missouri and another word or two.

I am dreading the day Rachel moves away. They have been best friends ever since they were born, almost. Kierra has already cried her heart out about it  more than once, but when it actually happens in the near future, she is going to be inconsolable, I think.  I probably will join her, though. It’s SO hard to see such good friends move so far away! We will still be friends, but it won’t be the same!

Change is a part of life, though. We have to be willing to let go of what’s in the past to make room for the things in the present and future.  People come and go.  Things happen that change us forever.  We make changes that aren’t easy because it’s the right thing to do… it’s life, whether we like it or not!

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