Friday, December 30, 2011

Learning curve

Here is one thing I have learned this week:

Doing the wash is a misnomer.  Don't even say that.  Refuse to be misled.  What we must say, here in the land of many children and activities, is, we are doing the LAUNDRY.  I know it seems like an insignificant difference, but I have learned you must never, never, never wash and dry more than you are willing to fold and put away.  Do not be tempted into a sense of false accomplishment by washing and drying that overloaded dirty clothes pile.  If you do, this is what might happen... is so worth it!  

Off to do a month's worth of cooking...have I mentioned how fantastic it was to have frozen meals?  Freakin'!

{this moment}

From Soule Mama

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Day Three

This year we did not open presents on Christmas day.  Looking at that sentence and thinking about all of the radical things people have done over the years to take a stand for faith, it seems like a very, very small step.  Luke and I have talked about celebrating Christmas separately from presents for years, and this year we finally did it.

We told the kids that we would not be getting presents on Christmas, but we would have a birthday cake. (We told them that the wise men were bringing presents on Epiphany)  (Turns out they don't care so much when as that they do indeed get to open presents)  Christmas morning we ate breakfast, dressed the kids for church, had naps, opened stockings (ok...I just couldn't wait for everything...babysteps), and played and ate with family.

To be honest, it was more of a change than I expected.  I didn't exactly want to open presents, it just felt different.  Unfortunately I did not feel like I was communing with God all day, but I could feel my spirit quiet a little.  It was a gentle day.  A day that I could feel my family around me.  A sweet, hopeful day.

So, I would say that I liked it.  It will take some work to shift my focus totally away from myself, but I liked it.  Also, when we got up on Monday morning and opened presents, I felt like Christmas was still here.  And on day three as we ate left-overs and enjoyed Christmas a little more I would have to say I am still liking it--this season of celebration.


Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Can you feel it?

I have never been so deliberate about dwelling in Advent before moving onto Christmas.  I have always gotten caught up in gifts and travel.  BUT...we aren't going anywhere and I am not even shopping until after Christmas.

It feels really nice.  I am excited about the gift of Christ and also extraordinarily excited about celebrating with my family.  I hope that you are also getting merry.  I hope you give your loved ones an extra squeeze, let your children be just a little extra wild (do you remember how exciting Christmas was), and reach out to those who are hurting this year.

If you are hurting this year, I hope that you also reach out.  In a perfect world we would all understand each other and know how to help, but the reality is we all just do our best which can be pretty disappointing.  So, if something is keeping you from celebrating, reach out.  Ask for help, offer forgiveness, find love.

Happy Advent!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

In Motion

Got cleared by my midwife as "fully recovered."  That means I can "resume" my normal activity level.  Darn.  Clearly I should have played up this recovery a bit more.  Oh well...back to the grind!

Confession: I hate exercising.  I even hate going for a walk.  Now, I enjoying walking, but I hate leaving my house for the express purpose of coming back the long way.  I love walking with my kids to the "secret spot," hiking someplace amazing or push mowing the lawn, but destinationless walking/running makes me fussy.  It proves to me that we suffer from an activity imbalance.

Back when I was a practicing RN, I gave a few seminars on nutrition.  My favorite illustration is to have everyone divide the food they like to eat into four groups: high energy-high nutrient (peanut butter), high energy-low nutrient (candy), low energy-high nutrient (spinach), low energy-low nutrient (cucumbers).  Energy is defined as calories and nutrients as protein, vitamins, soluble fiber etc.  Make sure what you are eating comes largely from the high nutrient categories and replace normal high energy-low nutrient snacks with high energy-high nutrient snacks.  THEN adjust your activity level to achieve your desired weight.

Now, let's talk for a minute about real food.  There's lots of information about real food out there right now, but I want to put in my two cents.  American eaters have chosen quantity over taste.  We eat bland, corn-laden, sweet food and LOTS of it.  Real food has more taste, natural nutrients and is satisfying in smaller amounts.  So, I have been slowly replacing what I can with a real version.  It's a struggle even for me.  I like sweet, bland, corny food.

So, wish me luck.  I am officially chasing my body down one adventure at a time.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Advent 4

Wow!  Advent four.  The fourth Sunday of Advent.  The time of preparation is almost over.  Mary is MISERABLE (terrified, tired, sick of the stupid donkey).  The parties and pageants and festivities are almost over.  Wait? What?

People, why do we celebrate Christmas before Christmas?  I saw someone giving twelve days of Christmas gifts on the days leading up to Christmas.  Ack!  The twelve days of Christmas are the days between Christmas and Epiphany when we celebrate Christmas (she says sadly).

Ok, Advent lovers meeting adjourned.

During this season of preparation I have refused to shop, wrap or run.  I am determined to make Advent a season of preparation, but...some things just have to be done.  Like make yummy treats.  Let's call them Advent treats.

Ok, ground rules aside, this year for Advent I made these:

They look yummy, right?  Well, they were.  But the original recipe left out the salt.  When I tasted these healthy snacks (they are almonds, so they are healthy).  I was disappointed.  Isn't that sad!  Mostly since I gave them away as gifts.  They weren't bad, but they weren't great.  You could walk by them without undue temptation.  Not what you are looking for in an Advent treat.  So, I added just a little sea salt.  Unfortunately, I am a genius.  They are now satisfactorily tempting.

Just a little salt.

You know, Jesus once called us the salt of the world.  Could it be that the Kingdom of God brings flavor to this world?  Jesus said he came to bring us abundant life.  Abundance and flavor.  Now those are vivid words.  It does not evoke parents shushing their children and polite nods.  I think of radical love.  Stopping and noticing.  Seeing.  Sharing.  Whirling, uncensored joy.  Unguarded.  Unjaded.


May the birth of the Christ bring you abundance and flavor and may you overflow into the world.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Part of me is a little self conscious about writing a mommy blog (fb, twitter), I mean do I think it is reasonable to plaster my life in people's faces (apparently)?  BUT, one incredible thing about all this media is, even mommies have a voice.  Maybe not a voice that is heard above the clamor of culture, but still a little, tiny voice.  One that says, some are trying to be still.  Some still care.

I get really down about my ability to touch others because I feel that most of my time is spent cleaning sippy cups and washing clothes.  But this week someone took time out of their day to send me a text that simply thanked me for being nice.  I haven't texted her back yet because I don't know how to say thank you.  I often don't do things because I feel they aren't big enough, but even a little text touch my heart profoundly.

So, when you are feeling like you do not have an impact on anything but your septic tank, remember the little things really do matter.  Maybe a text seems like a small thing, but it might just be the smile in someone's day.

During Advent we tell the story of John the Baptist.  The voice crying out in the desert.  JoB said that the Kingdom of God was near.  I wonder if we will ever stop living like Jesus is coming...later, and remember that the baby came, lived, died and IS resurrected so that the Kingdom could be  I am so glad that I live in a kingdom where the little people have a voice and your best (small) effort is blessed by a very powerful and gracious God.

Friday, December 16, 2011

{this moment}


{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cleaning out

We are taking advantage of this warm weather to get a few things ready for spring.  We are finally tossing our pumpkins.  Collecting all of the chicken litter and goat droppings and kitchen scraps we can to renew this beautiful dirt.  I am so thankful for how it nourishes my family.

Laine has his own plot this year.  I hope to incorporate some math and science in its cultivation, but mostly I just love watching him dig in the dirt.

Sunny, happy, busy days.  Wears a kid out!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Broke down and got some professional help with my leaves.  Actually, just decided it was dumb to pay for hay when there is no garden to chase them out of.  Plus free fertilizer!  Eat up goats!

Also, I need to wash my windows.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Advent 3

I am an Advent snob.  I like Advent music separate from Christmas music.  I like Advent thoughts separate from Christmas thoughts.  But I am not opposed to Christmas cookies anytime!

Those are Luke's favorite Christmas cookies, Cran-Orange Icebox Cookies.  He gets his favorite because I like them too AND they are stinking easy/fast to make.  The tea is Lemon Lift because it reminds me of a dear, dear friend with whom I would love to be sitting this afternoon.

So in celebration of the third week of Advent, Luke got some new Advent ties (made by his gorgeous and talented wife) which he received as he was walking into last night's Lessons and Carols service (so he didn't get to wear them).  Bummer.  But, I did get them done.  

This week is about joy.  The pink candle.  I know the whole holiday season is about being happy and celebrating, but I think joy is different.  Joy is deeper than being happy.  Luke preached on Mary's Magnificat yesterday.  Mary understood joy. She chose to sing.  She was a social outcast and her very life depended on the mercy of her fiancee.  She chose to sing.  She was a child who was to give birth to a child who was to bring a Gospel of Children.  And she chose to sing.  A shred of good news brought to the poor, the unnoticed, the unwed mothers, the adulterers, and the children.  If you want to see joy--real joy--spend time with children.  Jesus said that the Kingdom of God belongs to children, and wise, experienced, knowledgeable adults must become like children to enter into this Kingdom.  What does that mean?

Every once in a while life overcomes me and the tears come.  Sometimes those moments happen during the day which means my kids see their mother turn into a puddle.  Laine immediately stops what he is doing and puts his face right in mine, puts his small hands on my weakened shoulders and says, "Mommy, what's wrong?"  He stops everything to care.  Then he offers me something deeply personal as an article of comfort.  Sometimes it is a hug.  Sometimes a toy.  Once, a piggy (back) ride (giggle).  What matters is that he truly cares about me.  Kids get it.  Life is about loving each other.  Of course they mostly love themselves, but when it matters, they really get it.  

The Kingdom of God is not about not loving yourself, it is about finding deep joy in God's love and allowing that love to flow to others.  When God brings hurt to our attention, we must welcome them into the Kingdom through love.  There is not one person who does not receive God's love.  Children do not come into the world with emotional baggage.  They do not respect status or success.  They love with arms wide open.  

Saturday, December 10, 2011


It rained here all week, so we decided to head down the Greenville, SC to The Children's Museum of the Upstate.  I love how intently my kids explore this place.  But to tell you the truth, I wear out pretty fast chasing that little tiny.

Then there is this face.  He is SOOOO intense.  He takes after his dad, and we are trying to figure out how to help him channel the intensity of being a first child of two first children.  

Why do you really NEED three shopping carts?  Not sure, but he did.

Those are all the apples.  She got them all.  And she wasn't going to share.  Then she demonstrated how close to nap time it really was by then ramming her cart into the walls.

Friday, December 9, 2011

{this moment}


{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

My kitchen...I love thee!

First, I want to do this.  I won't.  Promise.  Well, at least not this year.  But I am Evernoting it.

Second, I am loving my kitchen's new sheen.  Jean Hanson over at has this nifty little series of emails/blog posts that slowly help you get your feet under you in your chosen area.  I chose "Nest."  I have been looking for something that will get me motivated and organized with the cleaning and the laundry.  Cleaning and organization are not a problem for me.  I have had to limit myself to vacuuming once a day.

My kryptonite is putting things away.  If I get a pen out to scribble a note, it could be two weeks before I even notice the darn thing to put it away.  This used to be annoying, now it is practically devastating especially if that pen is a Sharpie.  Let's not talk about scissors.  They have legs--I swear.

But several years ago I found  She is a bit more than I need, but certainly gave me some tools to stop my cycle of messiness and guilt.  She was able to teach me to do what my mom had been telling me to do for as long as I remember: "finish a job."  I don't always do it, but I do try and know how.  I had a piano professor once tell me that great performers don't always make good teachers.  My parents have a natural ability to be sterilely tidy.  They used to routinely wash the garage floor.  I feel good if I can walk on the floor in our garage.  So, I drove my mom to distraction, but I swear, I didn't know how to keep my things neat.  Well, that is what I am sticking with.

Flylady and I parted ways because she is kinda gorges your inbox.  Also, I got a little overwhelmed by the structure.  I just don't quite need all the tools she offers.

And then there was the shoe issue.  She preaches that you have to wear lace up shoes.  Well, some of my cutest shoes don't lace up.  And. I. Love. Shoes.  And I am bothered by non-compliance.  So, that was the end of my Flylady era.

So, I am exploring  I will let you know how it goes, but so far I am loving it.  Actually, I just followed one email and cleaned up My Space and it has infected the rest of my kitchen.

And, since my space is also my baking island, fun-mom made an unscheduled appearance today.  We made a version of Cheerios Jumbo Breakfast Cookies and I didn't have to spend thirty minutes cleaning the counters!

Sunshine in the Rain

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mommy, are you mad at me?

Laine has taken to asking if I am mad at him.  He does it because his mom is struggling to keep the happy face in place.

I hope you have a vision of the perfect moment in your mind.  Not so you can be frustrated, but so you have something to strive for.  One of the reasons I read blogs like Soule Mama is because she helps me remember that sometimes you just have to talk yourself into living above your current level of stress.  I am pretty sure sometimes she has five unfolded loads of laundry waiting to be dealt with, but she still lets her kids put up their own Christmas trees.

I believe in the power of words.  I believe that you can speak positively or negatively into the lives around you, and I also believe you can do the same for your own life.  So, sometimes I show our best moments around here to show how I want to be.  How I want to treat my children. So that when it has been raining for two days straight and my kids have taken to bashing into the walls and pulverizing chalk on the porch, and mommy's face is fussy; I can take a deep breath and remember that I want to play with my kids.  I want to see the joy on their faces when they see their chalk foot prints on the floor.  I want to BE with them.  That is why I do what I do.

My agenda can be forsaken for another day.  The stupid clothes are at least CLEAN.

The truth is, I about mailed Laine somewhere today.  He was wild.

Still, he made me laugh so hard I almost (victory) peed my pants.

Laine (being held up in the air by Luke): Put me down you merr-rohn.
Andrea: *snort* Honey, we really can't say merr-rohn.
Luke: How 'bout I tickle you, merr-rohn!

For all of you who just became horrified, it is a quote from Toy Story 2.  Maybe we should put that one up for a while.

Let's just say, it was a tough day to be a princess.

Monday, December 5, 2011

My space

This is my place.  My office.  My space.   Just joined Habit Hacker.  She suggested that I have a place that I start cleaning to promote that feeling of peace.  You least My Place is clean.  So, I am compliant.  Here is my place, and it is clean.  For now.

Yes, I know it is a corner of my kitchen, but it is still my spot.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Advent two

Today in our Sunday school class we talked about Advent (naturally) and we began to talk about how the Kingdom of God is like that moment in a novel when you realize that the protagonist is special.  He or she has an appointed task that they struggle to realize is their destiny, but when they do amazing things start to happen.  Well, the Kingdom of God is like that.  It is like a special power that begins to flow from Christ through you to the world when you accept the mantle of being an heir of God with Christ.  Cool, huh!

So I asked my class (the "kids" as Laine calls them) what special powers people would have in the Kingdom of God.  They are supposed to get back to me next week.  Healing and strength were already suggested.

As an unashamed lover of fantasy, I am thrilled by the image of the Kingdom of God being a fuller, richer  more abundant life here on earth.  One where we are part of something bigger and what we do matters.  So, my question to you is, what special power would/do you have in God's Kingdom?  Now, I do not like SiFi, so put all those weird ideas about laser shooters and mind rays out of your head.  I am talking about things that are possible, like healing, loving, noticing the poor, visiting the sick, touching the lepers.

Leave a comment below.

How does God use you in the Kingdom?

The making of a cookie