Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Oct. 5 - Canvases, and Acrylics, and Elephants - Oh My!

 I got it in my head that we should do an art project together this afternoon as a family.  I had gotten the idea somewhere of cutting a shape out of paper, taping it to a canvas, and letting your kiddo paint like crazy all over it.  Then, when you peel the shape off, there is the white shape left behind.  Well, it started out all fine and dandy, but there is a reason you don't usually let an obstinate almost two year old use acrylic paints.....or maybe even paints at all.  Griffin has been going through a...."difficult" phase lately, and we got about halfway through the project before it became a total fiasco [think acrylic paint in hair, screaming "no", beating on the canvas, chewing on the paint-covered brush, multiple crying fits, etc.]  Ah, well.  I do know better.  It's a lesson learned pretty early on in motherhood:  Don't set your mind on having anything done a certain way or done at all.  Especially don't expect things to go smoothly, without trial.  It just doesn't happen much, and I need to learn to let go of words like "easy" and "smooth" because I just end up getting frustrated when I go into things with those expectations.  Anyway, I can't say we got a ton of enjoyment out of the actual project, but I love how it turned out!  We decided on an elephant for the shape.
 After Griffin had had his way with the paints, I filled in some of the blank spaces.  Once it had dried, it was time to peel off the elephant.
 Clearly, Mr. Elephant needed a bit  He was looking slightly amorphous.
 So, obviously, I made a cup of tea first.  Then, I sat down with the white paint to clarify things a bit.
 Cranky toddler in bed, happy apple cinnamon tea mama with said cranky toddler's work.
Motherhood ain't pretty some days.  Some days it doesn't look too hot on me.  When I look at this painting, there's no delusion...It wasn't pretty painting it together with my son.  Smudging, hitting, drooling, kicking, yelling, crying, flailing.  But the paint dried, and I came back over the rough edges to smooth them, filled in the empty spaces, and completing what we started together.  Isn't that motherhood, in a nutshell?  I think we are quite the unruly toddlers in how we act in life, toward others and toward God sometimes.  I'm so thankful that I have a Father who comes back over the rough edges to smooth them, who fills in the empty spaces, and who completes what He started in me.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Oct. 4 - Stew, Please

I have been craving me some stew lately, probably because of the shift in weather, and I came across this recipe in Rachael Ray's EveryDay magazine.  It was in the section of "Easy to Freeze $10 Dinners."  Yes, please.  Of course, my photo of the finished stew cannot hold a candle to the photo in her magazine, but I digress.  The recipe is for "Sausage and Lentil Stew," and boy is it fabulous, filling, and perfect for fall.  It says it serves 4, but only if she's talking about 4 giants or something.  It probably makes more like 8 servings.  Oh, and can we talk briefly about this adorable pot?  I found this in a set of 3 (small saucepan, medium saucepan, and this large soup pot) with lids (thrifters, you will know how amazing that is!) at a thrift store in Michigan.  Come to find out this brand is virtually impossible to find (can't find a single one on Ebay, if that tells you anything) and is super high quality [read: expensive]. They're enamel over steel, weigh a TON, and cook beautifully.  Have I mentioned how much I love thrifting?  Anyway, here is the recipe for this lovely aforementioned stew:

2 T EVOO (I used coconut oil)
1 lb. sweet italian sausage, crumbled
1 onion, chopped (about 1 1/4 c.)
1 large carrot, chopped (about 1 c.) (I used 4 carrots to get this much)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 T. chopped fresh rosemary
8 oz. brown lentils, rinsed
4 c. reduced sodium chicken broth
1 head escarole, coarsely chopped
Salt & Pepper
Parmesan cheese to garnish (optional, but delish)

1.  In a large dutch oven (I used a regular ol' soup pot), heat EVOO over med/high heat.  Add sausage and cook until browned; transfer to bowl using slotted spoon.
2.  Add onion and carrot to pot and cook until slightly softened (3-4 min.).  Stir in garlic and rosemary and cook 1 min.  Add lentils, broth, and 3 c. water.  Bring to boil, lower heat, and simmer until lentils are tender (25-30 min.).
3.  Stir in escarole and sausage, cover and cook until escarole is wilted and sausage is heated through (3-4 min.).  Season with salt and pepper.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Oct. 3 - Tea and a Robe

I don't think I've posted a picture of just me, all by my lonesome, on this photo-a-day venture, and I doing it.  Well, I'll just have to get over it because it's the only picture I took today!  The weather has cooled substantially (I'm talking it went from 90º during the day to 45º at night!), and I've been craving the smells, tastes, and sights of autumn.  It has gotten so chilly at night that it became quite necessary to bundle up in my fluffy, cozy robe (which I pretty much wear 90% of the time in winter) and enjoy hot beverage after hot beverage.  Since caffeine is pretty much a no-no for me (it's an anxiety trigger), I've been drinking a LOT of herbal tea.  Can't wait to get my hands on some cinnamon apple tea a.s.a.p.  Annnnnd a little secret, just between you and I...I've been indulging in a small cup of half-caf. coffee with pumpkin spice creamer here and there.  Bliss.  I love fall and have fully concluded that it's my favorite season.  Robes, hot tea, sweaters, moccasin boots, smells of cinnamon, spices, and fires in the air, changing leaves, getting chilly enough to want to get cozy, crisp breezes, warm blankets, new episodes of my favorite t.v. shows, the South Carolina State Fair, dressing my already quite adorable son up in a costume that somehow make him even more adorable, feeling like it is again acceptable to light a candle in my home (in the sickening heat of the summer, it's just.....wrong somehow).  Ahhh, autumn-I welcome you with open arms.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Oct. 2 - Beautiful Sunday

It's next to impossible to get a family picture.  All attempts today failed miserably.  So, we settled for some halfway decent mother/son, father/son pictures.  You've got to take what you can get.  Griffin looked so adorable in his outfit for church that I just could not let the day pass without pictures of him in it.  He looked like a little lumberjack in his flannel, plaid button-down, corduroys, and little boots.  Today was just as beautiful as yesterday, and the heat must come on tonight (it's supposed to get down to 45º!).

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Oct. 1 - Meeting of the Olivers

Our friends, Kenny and Shari, recently had their second child and named him "Oliver!"  Big Oliver and little Oliver have met before, but I got some cute shots of them together this morning.  It was such a gorgeous day...the kind that only come around a few times a year.  Clear blue skies, 65 degrees, soft breeze, first smells of Fall in the air...ahhhh.  It was lovely.  Griffin and I started out the day walking to some yard sales where we scored a ton of great finds (including an end table, tons of books and clothes, toys, etc. etc.) for $10!  I haven't gone yard/garage saling in the south, and I'm so glad I finally did.  We stopped by my friend Anna's house and hung out for a bit.  Oliver came to get us, and we spent a lazy afternoon together with the windows open and pumpkin spice creamer for our coffee.  Tonight, Anna and I went to get cookout food, and we had a cookout over at her and John's house with their son, Sully.  What a wonderful, beautiful, so good, very nice day! 

It was the kind of day where you are enjoying it so very much that you don't want it to end.  We only get a handful of days like this a year.  I just could not absorb enough of it all....I'm feeling healthy and happy, energized and revitalized; I am thankful and content, friends surrounding me; I can go to yard sales and be around a bunch of strangers and not feel a twinge of anxiety; I feel so, so much better in every area of my life, and I think I can actually say that I'm "on the other side" of the anxiety and depression of this spring/summer.  I realized this morning that the weather today would not have been so completely enjoyable unless there had been about 2 weeks of steamy, hot, rainy days before this.  It's always the deluges in life that make you appreciate the sun, the heat that makes you appreciate the cold, the suffering that makes you appreciate the relief.  I'm so thankful to the Lord today for the suffering that He has used to change my life, to give me new eyes to see His goodness and love, to bring about a greater appreciation for His gifts.  I'm not perfect, and I may have more issues with anxiety in the future; but I'm not going to fear that possibility because I know that my God will use it for good in my life and for His purposes.  It will not be in vain, if I must go through it again, and He will be with me as He always, always is.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Sept. 30 - Slide

This picture is from Asher's 3rd birthday party, which was a while back, but I just had to use this shot.  I love how he absolutely refused to let go of Buzz or Bullseye to go down the slide.  Hahahah.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sept. 29 - A Morning with Owen

Griffin's friend, Owen, spent the morning with us, kicking back and watching "The Street" (Sesame Street, that is) and going on a nice walk with Cheerios and drinks.  I must say, pushing two toddlers uphill is a much more difficult challenge than just one.  I definitely got my workout in for the day! 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sept. 27 - Best Burger Ever

Last week, I accidentally made the best burger I have ever eaten in my life....seriously.  And I live in a city with a burger joint featured on famous Food Network shows; its burgers are good, but not this good.  Of course, I had to try and reenact that wonderful accident A.S.A.P.  Tonight was the night, and Oliver and I agreed it was a success!  So, without further ado, here is the recipe for the best burger ever:
(I'm estimating here...never actually measured anything)
1 lb. ground beef
1 egg
about 1/2 c. Italian bread crumbs
about 1 T. Worcestershire sauce
about 1/4-1/2 c. mustard based BBQ sauce (the gold colored kind)
2 t. minced garlic
some seasoned salt, black pepper, and Italian seasoning
half of a small tub of feta cheese
Mix everything but the meat and feta in a bowl.  Put in the meat and mix well with hands.  Add in the feta.  Makes 4 patties.  I suppose you can grill these, but they don't hold together very well.  What I do is cook them in a non-stick skillet on the stove.  Annnnd voila!  Enjoy.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sept. 25 - Jesus Clouds

This was God's sky tonight, after a day of strange downpours and an evening of odd light.  I stepped outside after putting Griffin to bed because I noticed that the outdoors were glowing heavily with yellowish-pink.  I had never seen anything like it, so I grabbed my camera, thinking to myself, "How do I capture this glow?"  And then, I stepped outside and saw it...  The sky was absolutely striking, and it made me think of Christ coming back, for some reason.  I suppose it just seems (in my finite mind) like the kind of breathtaking, dramatic clouds I imagine he will ride in on, the kind of clouds that would be appropriate for the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, the kind of clouds that bring one to a halt and demand a sort of awe and respect, the kind of clouds that could bear the One to whom "every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess the Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."  (Philippians 2:10-11)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sept. 24 - Race Car PJs

Forgive the horrible photo quality.  These were just taken with my point-and-shoot, and there is something wrong with the flash.  Anyway, I had to capture the moment tonight.  Griffin has been peeing or pooping (or both...) out of his diaper every single night for weeks now.  We've found the most absorbent diaper to be Target's Up & Up brand, but not even a size 6 can contain this heavy wetting boy's nighttime.  In an effort to save money lately, I've switched him back to cloth diapers during the day.  So, tonight, I tried a new contraption on him that involved 2 cotton prefold diapers, 1 Fuzzibunz insert, and 1 BumGenius insert all under an XL diaper cover.  And enormous that Griffin could barely walk in it!  Over all of that, I put on his new Gymboree race car pajamas, which I recently found at a thrift store.  Can you believe they are 5T?!  My boy is a monster-a cute, cuddly monster that I just absolutely adore.  I'm happy to say that this diaper contraption did, in fact, work.  Unfortunately, I have to use so many diapers that I don't know if it's feasible for me to do this every night without having to wash diapers wayyy too often.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Sept. 23 - Park with Gigi

Griffin has started saying "Gigi!"  The only problem is that I'm pretty sure he is calling both Oliver's mom and Oliver's dad "Gigi."  This might get confusing :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sept. 22 - Toy Story Fanatic

This shot is from the day of Sully's birthday party, which also happened to be a day that Oliver's parents were able to come visit for the afternoon!  The Woody hat and Toy Story book were both party favors from the birthday boy...How great is that?!  Of course, this book is officially his favorite, and he wears his hat around the house constantly.  It's adorable. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sept. 21 - The Elusive Mom/Son Shot

I've been trying, to no avail, to capture the elusive quality mother/son shot.  This is the best I could come up with today.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sept. 20 - Rejected Bunnies

Hello, picky toddler years!  I think Griffin has refused to eat anything but fruit, pb&j, cheerios, and oatmeal in past few days.  Mostly, he's been a great eater, but it's getting tougher and tougher to get him to eat even his favorite meals.  He even turns his nose up at his favorite snacks lately!  Hence these little rejected bunny grahams.  I mean, what kid rejects bunny grahams?!  We always point out the bunny's nose, ears, eyes, mouth, feet, and tail...It's tradition.  I guess not even fun snacks are enough to entice him!  Even though I'm starting to face the difficulties of the toddler years, I am discovering that he just keeps getting more and more fun.  I love this stage, in spite of all it's challenges.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sept. 18 - Pure Joy in Motion

Sullivan has both Buzz Lightyear and Woody in full size, and Griffin is always in 7th heaven when he can play with them.  This picture is from Sully's birthday party yesterday.  Isn't he just the picture of pure joy in motion.  A lot of my pictures of him these days are literally a blur of motion.  He's certainly all boy all the time.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sept. 17 - Sully is 2!

Asher, Sullivan, Hudson, Griffin, Owen

Griffin's friend, Sullivan, had his 2nd birthday party today!  It was a blast, complete with a Toy Story theme, pinata, and chocolate cupcakes.  Here are all the kids, minus the two infants, Oliver and Emerson.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sept. 16 - Unmerited Flowers

Between finishing college, my anxiety troubles, and financial strain, there were enough reasons not to plant flowers this year.  But to my great surprise, some flowers sprouted up all on their own in one of the planters!  They have been so pretty all summer and have done quite well, in spite of my complete neglect.  As I walked by them today, I thought how wonderful it was that God had them just sprout on up without me doing anything to make that happen.  And then I realized how God has been making things grow all over my life lately, quite apart from my own strength or works.  Back in January, I had gotten pretty convicted about how I used my time.  So, I went wacko, making weekly, daily, hourly schedules, a huge home management binder with cleaning lists, daily tasks, blah blah blah.  I even [daily moment of humbling just ahead, folks...] laminated little index cards containing the schedule (cleaning, devotions, cooking, exercise, Griffin stuff, etc.), one for each day of the week.  Yes, I did that.  Yes, I still have them.  Anywho...moving right along then...  I got so focused on work, work, work, do everything right, don't mess up, do this, do that, and I totally missed the forest for the trees.  God was prompting me to give my time to Him, not give my time to everything else.  Sure, the schedules and lists were intended to help me be a good steward of the time God has given me, but it ended up being a task-master, rather than a help.  The reality was, I was trying to change and do on my own, out of my own strength.  This past spring/summer has been a painful season of refining, a season where I was brought so low that anything that has grown in me has been completely, 100% from the hand of God.  And I know that because I was incapable.  Even though I've recovered so much, I know that I am still incapable, that I must continue to surrender myself, my time, my body, my mind, etc. to the Lord if any real growth/change/renewal is going to take place.  So, I took a picture today of that little pot of flowers.  I did nothing to make them grow, yet there they are, beautiful.  Thank you, Lord, for making beautiful things grow in our lives, especially when we're suffering.  Thank you that this has nothing to do with our merit and that we have only to surrender to you, accepting your love. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sept. 15 - Life Lines

I've always had a crease between my eyebrows when I squint, frown, etc., but I noticed today that it is now there permanently.  This was inevitable, seeing as how everyone on my dad's side of the family have it, but I suppose I thought I had a few more years left before it came to set up camp for good.  This past year (or should I say 5 years?!) has been so challenging and forehead-crease-inducing.  I see that crease in the mirror and think about all the life that has been lived, all the exams, papers, sleepless nights, financial and anxiety issues, relationship struggles, first-time motherhood, etc. that has taken place over the past 5 years.  I am so thankful to be able to say that the Lord has brought us through it all, and we are changed because of it all.  Just like freckles form from time spent in the sun, wrinkles and creases form due to age, time, life lived as we navigate the day-to-day obstacles.  Life is hard, and it leaves marks.  The more experience you have, the more marks you will gain.  I will think of my perma-crease as I do my stretch marks from Griffin...battle scars.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sept. 14 - Bedtime

When Oliver is home for Griffin's bedtime, he likes to do Griffin's bedtime routine...bath, reading, bed.  I love watching them read together in the fading light.  That's what I tried to capture here - the calm and peace just before bed, the way that the hustle and bustle, the stress and busyness of the day fade away.  I sort of think of it as the finish line of my day, the point of the day where the waves are smoothed over, leaving a glassy, still surface...and we can all take a deep breath. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sept. 13 - The Details

Still, to this day, when I see my dad, he takes his glasses off, holds my hand in his, and studies it.  I used to think this was weird...definitely sweet and heart-warming, but a bit weird.  Then, I became a parent, and I began to study the little details of my child.  The way his cheeks droop when he looks down, the way his big toenail grows and how his toes curl all funny when he squats, the way his big lip tucks up under his top lip when he closes his mouth (and that's a big when...boy lets his mouth hang open 99% of the time...hence the drool), the way his hair falls on his forehead, the way his head smells like his baby soap.  I study him every day, and am amazed at how he's grown, changed, morphing from a newborn to a baby, a baby to a toddler right in front of my eyes.  I know this is what my dad is doing, 27 years later, with me, his baby girl.  And I know, Lord willing, I'll be doing the same in 27 years...Looking to see how my baby boy has changed since I last saw him, looking to see how he hasn't changed since he was small.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sept. 12 - Child's Play

I've decided that sticking to the "one" in "one photo a day" was sooooo 6 months ago.  In other news, isn't my boy the cutest?  Seriously considering entering him in some cute baby/kid contest.  If he didn't win, it would only be due to obvious lack of taste (or possible vision impairment) in the judges. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sept. 11 - Papa in the Park

With Oliver's work schedule as crazy as it's been lately, it's been difficult to get much family time together.  When we do, it's extra special and so...comforting to be all together.  I am so thankful for Oliver's hard work and dedication to providing for our family, even in the midst of this difficult transition season of our lives.  So, we had some family play time in the park this afternoon, and a little boy shared one of his light sabers with Griffin.  Of course, this weapon was an instant hit with Griffin.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Sept. 10 - Asher's 3!

My friend, Kristin, was the first of us girls to have a baby, and it seems like it was just a few months ago that I cried as I saw pictures of him for the first time.  I simply cannot believe that he was born 3 years ago already.  They've recently moved back to Columbia, and we all got together for his birthday party this morning.  Owen and Sullivan turn 2 this month as well, which is a big reminder for me that my boy is also almost 2!  As I watched them eat their cupcakes today (some, like Asher, ate slowly and carefully...others, like Griffin, shoveled the entire cupcake down in 2.5 seconds), I reflected on how much life has changed for all of us parents in the past few years.  I hear people talk about how hard the transition is from one to two kids, from three to four kids, from single to married...but there is just absolutely nothing as crazy as transitioning from zero to one child.  I am convinced.  Ask me again after we have our second or third...I might be wrong, but I highly, highly doubt it.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sept. 9 - Village Perks

Yes, we live in a trailer park.  But you know what?  There are some major benefits of living in our trailer park.  I doubt I will ever live in a community quite like this again.  I don't mean to be pessimistic, but it's a sad reality that most neighborhoods aren't what they used to be.  Neighbors largely stay to themselves, and stay-at-home moms are becoming more of an exception than the rule.  My entire neighborhood (called The Village) is composed of married Christians affiliated with CIU (the Christian college Oliver and I went to), and it is filled to the brim with wonderful, believing stay-at-home moms.  What an amazing place to live!  Thanks for having us over for blueberry and pumpkin muffins this morning, Cora!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sept. 8 - Park Time

Griffin knows that park time is after walk time, and he anticipates it eagerly.  In order to get a decent amount of walking in, I have to go up and down my street several times, thereby passing the park a good 6+ times.  My poor child...Each time we pass it, he points and asks, "Park?  Park?"  And I say, "Not yet, honey.  Just a little while longer."  Usually there will be at least one other little friend for him to play with.  Today, there was quite the tribe, and it's just so, so good for him.  He's needed this regular interaction with other kids for a long time, and I'm thrilled that he's finally getting it.  We're working on sharing, not throwing dirt/sand, taking turns, not hitting, and obeying mama in the midst of a bunch of other kids/people.  I've been hearing from the people in the nursery at church that he is getting much better with being left there during the service, and I think this socialization throughout the week is what's making the difference.  (He was perfectly fine with nursery until about 16 months or so when he started to notice us leaving and break down into a tizzy.  Since then, the nursery workers have had to hold him, read to him, and give him one-on-one attention the entire time, or else he would lose it.  I was baffled because he had never been that way and wasn't sure what was causing it.  Either he's outgrowing that phase or he is learning how to play with other children independent from Oliver and I.  Either way, we are glad!)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sept. 7 - Morning Walkers

This morning, I thought to bring my camera with me and actually take a picture of us ladies walking together!  Mornings with these ladies have been such an wonderful blessing to me, and God is definitely using them, our walks, our talks, our kids playing together, etc. to minister to my heart.  It's been fantastic.  From left to right:  Cassie with Gabriella, Trish with Haddon, Griffin by his lonesome (someone had to take the picture!), Cora with Kyri, and Courtney with Aiden.  We don't all make it out together most days, which is why I had to capture the moment today!  Several other ladies join us with their little ones from time to time as well.  We are blessed!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sept. 4 - Holding Hands

Sweetie pie Kyri has been trying to get Griffin to hold her hand for weeks (she is just so social and adorable!).  Up until today, Griffin has either pulled his hand away or pushed her hand away.  He's also spurned her hugs and any other physical contact.  Such.a.boy.  But something changed.  The first thing he did when we saw Cora and Kyri was to reach out his hand for hers!  Then, they just sat there, holding hands for quite a long time as we ran to get our cameras!