Friday, February 25, 2011

Lots Going On

In my effort to be present in my day to day moments

I realized I needed to step back a little from feeling like

my blog was an assignment that had to be completed

like a deadline.

It was feeling like another thing I was staying up late

to finish and that was keeping me from being

present in the now. 

So I apologize for my absence.

But oh so much has been going on here.

Lots and lots of hammering and sawing.

Which means lots and lots of dust and messes.

And that has given me lots  of opportunities

to practice breathing and letting it roll off my shoulders.

Nothing seems to be where it should be

and there are workers coming and going.

We had our heat disconnected for several days

in the midst of a cold spell here in Southern California.

But it's all good.  

I just bundled up A LOT and wore my jacket all day long. 

And it has made me think a lot about the Compassion International

child we adopted from Guatemala.  

And how this is her reality all the time.  

We are so privileged and I count my blessings.

I will not complain.

The girls being goofy dressed up the lamb a neighbor gave us.

So here are some highlights from my absence here.

My sister visited from New York.

We celebrated her and her baby to be at a shower in Orange County with mostly friends from college.

I made a fun finger print tree wall hanging to represent the many
women showering her and her baby with love.  
She'll bring it with her to New York where more fingerprints
will be added and then it'll be a great addition to her nursery decor.

It was a night before the shower idea I got after stumbling upon this on etsy.  

It was too late for me to place an order

so I decided to try to make one out of cardstock.

We celebrated a friend at a girly princess tea party.
And had lots of Valentine's Day celebrations.  Gosh.. I've been away too long haven't I?
Audrey and I both got haircuts.  

I had to bring her with me and she was so excited about mommy's bangs (yes.. I finally got them again.. and am so glad I did) that she begged to get them too and to get short hair as well.

I didn't bring a camera because this was totally an on the spot decision.  But I'm so glad I had my phone.
I think the cut is perfect for her little spunky personality.  I love it! :)

And it led me to actually blow dry my girl's hair.  
Can you believe I actually never had.  Really, truly, never.  I had always let their hair air dry.  They absolutely loved it.  Ava thinks she's miss Rapunzel.  
And I love seeing them love on each other.
OH and I'm so so so excited.

Plans for one of these is in the works.  

I woke up one morning and though I was joking at first, I realized this really could happen.

And it is!

It has been a dream of mine to have a creative space that I could work in and be able to have

everything handy and organized.  I didn't think we had room.

But in doing the built in, it opened up the closet on the other side of the wall.  

Since they back up to one another we figured out we can salvage quite a bit of wasted space.

Oh I'm so excited about the possibilities

and the fact that I can go crazy creating and then shut

the doors when I'm not yet ready to put everything away.

Half the battle for me is not wanting to get everything out

and put it all away.  That alone can take so long I'll run

out of steam to create... I know you know what I mean. :)

We've also had lots of time to do this
Lots of mommy practicing saying no to commitments that take away from family time.
And lots more moments where I'm present.  Present.  

Gosh I forgot to tell you I planned for everyone at my sister's shower to bring a photo of them with their kids or with my sister to send her well wishes or advice for her new role as a mom.  I brought papers and embellishments and we created a book for her right there.  In doing my page for her, I was brought to tears.  
March 2002
December 2004
January 2007
I searched out photos of me with each of my newborn babies and I realized even though it wasn't that long ago those days feel so far away.  I did soak them in, but I also was very much in survival mode with each of them.  One had colic for eight months, two had food allergies, one had reflux, and with one life issues interrupted my newborn bliss.  Now I'm realizing just how fast that time really did speed by.  I know so often in the middle of it, it didn't feel like it.  And I loved having babies, so don't get me wrong.  If it was the Lord's will I'd probably have another if my health weren't compromised.  It all just made me so, so, so sentimental.  

Between saying goodbye to our beloved Bella and realizing I'm saying goodbye to the days of babyhood my husband said, "Maybe there's something the Lord wants you to learn from this." Instead of feeling sad over what is over, I can completely and whole-heartedly soak in today.  I know it's no coincidence that my word for the year, the theme throughout 1,000 gifts and the things life has thrown me so far this year are all echoing the same thing.  Slow down, and treasure today.

Instead of feeling sad over what is gone, what is fleeting, I can hold onto these moments and soak them in all the more strongly.  I know my kids will feel my presence more and I know I won't look back with any regrets. 

In theme with saying 'goodbye' I said goodbye to this today.  

It was a mural I did for my daughter's nursery
Side Note:  I found this chandelier on ebay for 50 dollars back then.  It was my first ebay purchase.  I was SO excited.

back in 2004 when I was pregnant with her.  The whole area by the ceiling and window suffered water damage and it was really unable to be salvaged.  I was surprisingly ok with saying goodbye to it.

I guess because it has been six years and now I get to work on making their room a big girl room.. maybe with a new mural one day.  

I discovered the color I had on the walls is no longer made by Martha Stewart.  I loved it.  It was called pale naples yellow.  I was going to just keep it the same, that's how much I loved it.  But today after finding out it's no longer made, I decided to change it up a bit.  

I guess the whole point of this post is just to say that we've had a lot going on around here.  In the midst of all of this we've had two kids sick off and on and managed to sqeeze in a work/date night because I was hired to cover the Battle: LA junket.  It was fun.  Not necessarily the kind of movie I would have paid to go see.  But I definitely was drawn into the storyline and it was nice to have my husband next to me to grab onto when it got scary.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!  I'm looking forward to having slow family mornings around here.  And I'm hoping to stay dry!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Lord Looks At Our Hearts

The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.
Man looks at the outward appearance, 
but the Lord looks at the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7

This has been my bible memory verse for my Community Bible Study this week.

In studying this part of Samuel I was led on a trail of verses to find the one the Lord was speaking to my heart for this part of the month's memory verse.

The first part of the month literally skipped away from me.
I was overwhelmed with the lupus symptoms returning and having a hard time holding a pen to write. I never came on here to type out a post for the first part of February's verse.

Here's a confession, I never actually chose one.

I never spent time to find the one that the Lord was speaking to me.

Which is ironic really because that is when I needed it the most.

But I will not beat myself up about this.  Today is a new start and what's most important is that my heart is centered on God.

We're studying the reign of Saul and his fall from grace from the Lord.  His heart wasn't right.  That's the most important thing the Lord asks from us.  That we will love him with all our heart, mind and soul.  From that all other commandments will flow.  It's easy to put everything in perspective and the right order when our heart is right with the Lord.

Oh to suffer the fate of Saul.  It would be horrifying.  To have the spirit of the Lord depart from you.  

I couldn't imagine.  But the Lord knew that his repentance was not heartfelt.

He sees our hearts.  

He knows are innermost thoughts.

I recognize that I need to feel that thirst for the Lord always. I feel it most when I am in a place of greatest struggle. It is my life-line. I know I'm not alone.  He is every believer's life line.  

But sometimes, in those smaller struggles, I forget to stop and be filled when  my mind starts spinning with how to balance everything. I don't know why I revert to this.  

But I'm making a conscious effort to seek Him first and foremost, 
in all things, in all ways.

Psalm 63 so beautifully captures this feeling...

"You, God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.

I have seen you in the sanctuary 
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me."

Psalm 63:1-8

As I began this post, I thought I was going to choose another verse, but Psalm 63:3-5 grabbed me and so that will be the meditations of my heart over the next two weeks.  And in memorizing it, I pray the scripture will be imprinted in my mind and heart to recall in the moments when I need to hear these exact words from the Lord.

"Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you."

Monday, February 14, 2011

Joys of Just Being

#74 Just being able to spend time with her alone.

#75 Just enjoying her painting and drawing.

#76 Just loving my kids.

#77 Just loving my husband.

#78 Just accepting love from all of them.

#79 Just baking.

#80 Just having a home to call my own.

#81 Just letting the messes go.

#82 Just letting the stresses wash away.

#83 Just letting Jesus heal me, mind and body.

#84 Just resting in Him.

#85 Just accepting what is, not what is not.

Happy Multitude Monday.

For more gratitude click on the link.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

"Recycled" Muffins & Valentine Fun

A dear friend of mine told me how not to waste all the pulp you get from juicing.

So today I gave it a go, making these uber healthy muffins.

I tried to be super stealth and not let anyone see the ingredients.

Because around here if they know what went in

they automatically say they don't like it.

But alas three out of four gave it rave reviews.

The littlest two liked them, especially with some butter 

(which by the way, kept on accidentally coming out looking like a heart... very apropos).

Daddy woofed down SIX of them.  But he said he was hungry.

The big boy of our family when asked if he liked them answered,

"They were great.  But that stuff inside made them gross."

I call that a mixed review. ;)

But never-the-less, they scooped them up and they're gone.

And they had a hearty, healthy, veggie filled, gluten-free breakfast. 

Here's the Recipe

Veggie Puree Muffin
1/2 cup Coconut Flour
1/4 tsp. Sea Salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
3 eggs
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
1 Tbsp. vanilla
3 cups veggie pulp
1 cup pineapple pieces
1 cup slivered almonds

Mix well.  
If using frozen pineapple bits, mix all other ingredients first, 
before folding in the pineapple.
Preheat oven to 350 and cook for 35 min. or until firm.
(let sit for awhile to firm up... I did find mine to be a little crumbly, 
but they were great on a plate with butter.  
I used cupcake wrappers when baking.
Oh and I substituted sunflower seeds for the almonds because it's what we had on hand.

Meanwhile... we're busy here finishing up Valentine's cards.

I scanned in the girl's drawings and we're attaching little rollo candies as the sun 

for Ava's kindergarten friends.
and little bug and butterfly stickers for Audrey's preschool friends.
Happy Sunday everyone!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Project Life Tuesday (a couple days late)

I just couldn't manage to get it done by Tuesday so I figure better late than never.

I'm really trying to keep up with this and am doing pretty well.  But it has meant I've just left my scrapbooking things out on the dining room table so I can do a little here and a little there.  I think it's just how it's going to be for awhile.

But the dining room is the least of my worries in terms of messes right now.

Remember I said I'd show you why I was on a deadline with emptying the gift closet...

Oh boy.  

I am having to majorly exercise letting it go for the next several weeks most likely.

The end result will be great.  It'll be awesome.  It's something I've wanted to do for the last nearly 12 years we've owned the house.

It's to get rid of the bar and funky tv set up in our family room.

The house was built in 1949 so when we got it there were tiny holes for the tv, stereo and speakers.  At first I had an armoire covering them holding our tv.  It was cute.  I was fine with it.  And I dealt with the bar.  I'm just not a bar girl.  I know lots of people like them, but I have never wanted one in the middle of my house.

But one day a few years ago I came home to find my armoire gone and a big screen hanging on the wall.  I'm also not a big screen girl.  To me bigger is not better.  I like discreet and honestly I hardly watch tv.  It's not that important to me.

So that funky movie theatre looking curtain (you can see behind this dancing collage) was my answer to hiding the strange box shaped holes that were now showing, that once housed the 1950's size tv.  

I made the best out of it... for the last eleven years.  Wow.  I can't believe it has been that long!

But we are finally embarking on turning this area into a built in for the tv and a library in the soffet area with a ladder.  We're really doing this.  It's both exciting and kind of scary to me.  

And this is what it's looking like right now.  Eeeek!!!

So now, onto my project life for last week....
In Audrey's preschool class the kids have been making their very own noah's ark, complete with animals they've voted on.  Audrey suggested a unicorn and it was the first one they made together using recycled materials.  She loves it!

Ava was working on her 100 days project.  She drew a giant heart & cut tissue paper squares to fill it in. She loved counting out the groups of ten and woke up early the next morning to finish the project.

This was captured with my cell phone.  Audrey loves to tell you, "come" and grabs your hand bringing you wherever she wants you to be.

At Ava's school they had some people visit with with baby goats.  One was only five days old.  They also brought all kinds of goat cheese for the kids to sample.  Yum!
Jackson won the Sportsmanship award at the monthly award ceremony.  Ava also got a 'caught being good' prize.  

Saturday was Miss Audrey's 4th birthday party at Lollipop Dreams.  I was so grateful to have it somewhere where they did all the work.  She had a blast & it was so fun watching her.  That last picture is of her hugging her best friend Ryan.

And on Sunday we had an early Valentines pizza/pajama party celebration with our friends Ashton and his mommy Kim.

For more inspiration, click the link to see other Project Life Tuesdays.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I'm {im}perfect

in so many ways.

This is going to be disjointed and sort of a rambling of the many ways 

my mind feels imperfect right now.

I had to dig this picture up after Hillary's post last week. 

This was on our mantle for awhile.  It makes me laugh every time I look at it.  

Audrey (the one in the middle... it just kills me).

It perfectly shows the imperfections of our family.

It reflects my son's rather annoying stage of making faces 

rather than smiling during photos.  

Do you know, not one of them knew what the other was doing. 

They didn't orchestrate this.  

That's what makes it all the more hysterical to me.

This was at the end of a rather long attempt to get a family photo for our 

Christmas card.

The picture actually just found me, as the frame fell off a shelf and onto my 

head with a ton of other things... (fun)

which caused me to get side-tracked and decide to write this post.

I get side-tracked easily.  

My son says it's what moms do best.

He's probably right.  

But in my mind it's called juggling.

And it's called trying to squeeze in a grown up conversation here or there.

So I get side tracked.

Really I'm cleaning out the nightmare of a closet where I keep wrapping paper 

and future gifts 

and an assortment of other "I don't know what to do with it" things.

But I'd much rather be creating

or sneaking away to write something here.

So this will be short and sweet.

And a glimpse into the imperfections here.

Oh the pictures will come for why I'm 

on a deadline to clean out this closet.

But I must not make this side-track any longer.

Soon.... I'll explain more.

In the meantime head over to capturing motherhood for more imperfections! :)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Choosing Joy

I'm steeped in reading "1,000 Gifts" and am brought to tears again and again.

I'm acknowledging how so much of my life has been getting through this and holding on until we can call this the past.  It makes me sad.

It makes me realize how much I need to stop.

Even today.

Even this week.

The pain in my hands and arms has risen to an all time high.

Compounded by the emotions of fear and anxiety over the fact that the lupus is back.

Heightened by worries brought to me from others.

I take it all in and I spin.

I try to make it better by thinking of options, thinking, thinking, thinking.

Don't get me wrong, I am praying, but I'm thinking too much.

I know this pattern in me.

It is so ingrained that even though in my heart I know it's wrong.

My head still tries to take over.

I have to force myself to calm.  To relax.  To rest in the Lord.

I'm accepting that right now He is calling me to slow down.  To stop.  To rely on others.

In counting my own 1,000 gifts, in seeing the Eucharisteo... the giving of thanks.... and in doing so I too can find joy in the midst of troubles.

I couldn't think of a better book for me right now.  I need to change my thinking in the way I need to breathe.

I thank you Ann for writing it and for leading so many of us to quiet ourselves in order to give thanks to the Lord.

I am thankful for.....

#55 Being forced to slow down, to do only what I can and to rest in knowing it's ok that I can do no more.

#56 The support and love of friends through prayers and physical help when I am literally weak.

#57 Eyes to see what is, not what is not.

#58 Growing confidence in my middle one

#59 The joy that comes from just loving my children, pure and simple.

#60 A jacuzzi that soothes my aching body

#61 A day to read and sleep while a friend picks up my kids

#62 The aching starting to fade and feeling a little more normal

#63 Dancing with my family despite the pain.. and in doing so finding some of it lifting

#64 Seeing my daughter (the one who can be so painfully shy in public) with her dad and the glow she gets when he spins and dips her

#65 Celebrating my baby turning 4

#66 Having it somewhere else so that when it was over I didn't have the clean up

#67 The regal way she carries herself, because she is a true princess

#68 An early Valentines pizza party with a dear friend and our kids

#69 Gluten free rice dough that made pizza yummy and healthy for me

#70 A sister who is expecting and the joys of all the preparations

#71 Making little changes in our home

#72 Knowing God is providing, always

#73 Finding peace again

I'll add more pictures as I'm able..because there are more to tell this story.
For more inspiration, head over to A Holy Experience...