Monday, April 14, 2014

Warm Weather and Hats We Wear

 So I've had a lot of people wondering where I have been. I guess I can say "hibernating" and that just about covers it. Hibernating ... a time for being inside, ignoring the snow, layering as many layers of layers as you can on top of your body hoping that your extremities will make it till spring. Hibernating, pondering about life and how to improve "it." When I say "it" I really mean "me." That's where I've been for the most part - in my home, in my thoughts, in my kids, wrestling, struggling, loving - just being human. The end of winter always brings a lot of self reflection - spring brings new hopes and dreams and plans. The snow begins to melt and I start dreaming of trips to the garden center and blooming flowers, I dream of camping trips and long warm evenings - I dream of mornings OUTSIDE with my coffee, watching the birds ... instead of inside trying to shut out the winter. 

This past week has brought relief for me. Sunny days so sunny that I was able to hang out laundry (my preferred method.) We were able to take the kids for a walk and picnic, play outside in short sleeved shirts and bare feet - we filled up our bird feeder and watched the little brown sparrows stuff their faces until they had eaten every last seed. It took their small flock 2 days to empty the feeder - I'm not sure if we will be able to keep up with their high demand. They sure were precious though and I loved sitting on the porch swing, watching them fly back and forth to some unknown place, always bringing back a beak full of small tidbits, branches and ribbons and bit of shredded plastic. I watched a pair of robins have had it and after I realized they weren't killing each other but instead making babies, I smiled. Love can be ferocious but nature always astounds me at it's beauty and God's gorgeous creativity. I can't wait to hear the sound of little baby birds. 

The warm weather has brought new projects - Zac made me a bench and we are painting old filing cabinets to use for flower boxes - wait for it. :) 
 The warm weather has brought good news for us - the bank says we should be able to buy a home next summer so now we are in the process of needing to save and save in order to have a down payment. We have been driving around and looking at neighborhoods and having long conversations about what would be best for our kids and their needs - lots of privacy but not really any social outlets or nearby churches, or a good neighborhood close to rec centers but a big enough home for us to spread out? New dreams and many unanswered questions - fun yet a little terrifying. 

Warm weather and frozen bananas, cashew butter and almond milk with a drizzle of honey - perfect "ice cream." 

Warm weather and painted little toenails. This red is called "hot tamale" - Trinity and I picked it out. Tristan prefers the blacks and blues and greens - I enjoy the fact my little boy has good taste and likes to have color on his nails. Makes him look like even more of a superhero then he always is. 

Warm weather and getting to dress themselves - just when we stay at home. :) It's been so nice.
Yesterday it snowed - but today I have been just fine indoors because I think I was able to soak up enough vitamin D to satisfy my soul for at least a few days. 

The sun doesn't take away all of our challenges however. This month is autism awareness month and I took it upon myself to go ahead with the assessment process for our littlest little. Finn is so amazing in every way - awesome at communicating and funny funny funny - but Zac and I both feel that all is not well. So, this week I will take him for a two hour session on Wednesday and Thursday and a team of professionals will evaluate him and then we will get his diagnosis at the end of the month a couple days before his third birthday. We decided just to go ahead with the process now instead of wondering and waiting and then having to go through this next year when we are wanting to buy a home. To be honest, as I usually am, I was not okay with this for almost all of March. I was in the "depths of despair" as Anne would say. Most people do not get it and I often hear "but he is such a great little boy who cares if he is on the spectrum." Well, I care frankly. He is awesome and amazing and should function just fine in society, but it's still me and Zac putting on another hat that we weren't prepared to wear, it's still an added pressure - it's still a worry for our child and it's loss no matter how high functioning your child is. It's still hard. 
It's hard when for all of your baby's  short life you and your husband have watching him, and have said to eachother "oh, he's definitely totally fine, he's developing great." And then one day, subtly you notice little signs, the same signs you noticed the other two times before - and you push away the nagging fear and tell yourself that you are seeing things, that's you're being hypersensitive. One day, you wake up and rub your eyes and you know that what you saw was true, there's no more hiding or trying to believe it isn't true - then you have to work through accepting it and making the choice to actually voice "I think we may have a problem and we need to seek help." 

Our kids amaze us. They are smart and funny and have made so much progress - everyday is still pretty rough for us.  Okay, everyday is rough. Every single day also holds beauty and holds lessons and makes us pretty caring individuals - some days make us feel strong and some days makes our weaknesses pretty apparent.
 For all of March when I would jog I was angry - I'm so glad I could run and listen to music and just be angry during that run. I would cry while I ran and I would be sad - and I would run more and cry more and just feel so bothered and spinning and I knew it was going to be okay - even though at that moment ... it wasn't.
 Yesterday I ran, and I didn't cry ...and I was thankful and felt peace. In fact, I felt so much peace that at first I wasn't sure what the feeling was. But it was well - and I knew it was going to be okay. Zac and I are going to be awesome parents to intellectual Brady, to our beautiful Trinity, to our "heart on his sleeve" Tristan, and to our goofball Finn. We are going to be good partners to one another, we are going to have a strong marriage and we are going to serve others and we are going to be exactly who God created us to be. Right now, He wants us to be really awesome parents to four amazing kiddos. So, we take a deep breath, put on our hats - and we try. 
The warm weather helps. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

...on change and the same and love

We have goofy children. We have adorable big blue eyed children that do very naughty things but then look so cute that in the long just doesn't matter. They may dump all of my laundry on the floor, but then when they crawl into the dryer and peek out at me it's hard to be angry. Cute is cute - I can't be mad at cute. Well...hardly ever. Sometimes ,maybe. Definitely sometimes I can be angry at cute. But not normally. 

We have sun lovers - barefoot babies that enjoy the taste of summer even though it's still a long way off. Watermelon bought in February is not as good as watermelon bought in July - but it still feels the same when you hold it - the red is still vibrant and it's lovely to look at and dream of water fights and long picnics in the mountains. Plus, when God gives you a 65 degree day in the middle of winter (when it's going to snow just the very next day) - you do something extreme ... 

... like eat watermelon on the porch swing in February. 

I'm a furniture changer. Call it my it OCD - call it what you will but I change our furniture, re hang pictures, paint over old paintings and move rugs around from room to least, well...once a month? I love change and nothing else is changing - so my walls will look different. On that note, when we get ready to move from this rental I'm going to have to become the queen of patchwork (as in putty and paint.) I like my arrangements. 

I have never bought potpourri, and then I saw this lovely little box of green and seashells and wooden bits of something all mixed up (on clearance too) and I instantly became a potpourri lover. It's my vase of "welcoming the spring" and I love it. I like change - even in small quantities.  

I'm a thrift store shopper - I love my studded leather 20 dollar bench. Someday it will be in a mud room with hooks and nooks and rubber boots all around and it will feel very welcome. I bet you didn't know furniture has feelings did you? It does. 

My son is a map lover. He is a language learner and an app translator user and he is awesome. He also rips things - I took away his map and put it in my laundry room. He can still look at it and I can now not be angry as his cute clumsiness. I can't stand rips ... except if they are in a pair of jeans. If rips are in a pair of jeans I just about swoon they make me so happy. 

We bought chocolate chips for the first time in several months and I feel instantly wealthy. Need a snack kids? How about a few chocolate chips with those raisins? Should we bake some cookies? Yes?! What kind? Chocolate chip? Yes please. Oatmeal raisin? Okay ... but let's throw in some chocolate goodness too. Who knew happiness could be so cheap, yet so expensive? When the morsels are all used up I probably won't buy another bag. They are no good for us. 

My mother in law had a neck surgery ... and turned 65 (in that order.) We are going to say that the surgery wasn't because of old age because she wasn't officially retirement age when she went under. I'm glad she's 65 though because it's a change - and well, it's kind of a homey age.
 I found a watercolor tutorial that I wanted to try for her birthday gift. The only problem was that I didn't have any watercolors and had never painted with them before (except to help my kids fill in shapes and stuff.) So instead of coming up with a different plan I did the only sensible thing - I went to Hobby Lobby with my 40% off coupon, bought some watercolors, came home and followed the tutorial - had it framed and viola! We will call it art. 

That my friends is all I have to tell you. This was a rather disjointed post which completely represents my life - one day blue with depression where I think I could just chop all my hair off and sleep all day, the next day I'm so happy and full of joy and loveliness  I could cry (in a good smiley type of way).
 One day we are crafting, the next bored out of our skulls - one day snowed in and one day on a hike in short sleeves. One day we are eating smoothies and all things raw, three days later we order a pizza and call it dinner. One day my boys are spinning and spitting and screaming, the next they are cuddly and pleasant and full of bright thoughts and I feel blessed (i don't always feel blessed when they are screaming - that isn't cute at all.) 
One day I think I will never pursue art again, and then a few days later I have finished three paintings and made doll clothes for my daughter. One day I feel so deeply connected to my husband I could dance (barefoot of course) in a field of flowers and smoke something (yes, I said it...I could ) and sing love songs and fly with the birds - the very next day I may feel like setting his hair on fire (just a piece or two, not his whole gorgeous head.) This life is so full of change and learning and growing and hormones and stress and joy and life and death and flowers and poop. It's just full of a lot of everything. 
The one thing that doesn't change for me is what a friend I have in Jesus. All that life has brought Zac and I over the last few years has been challenging and it has really been easy to see the "bad." In my own life I am seeing how it has changed me - and the bad has helped me to be better because I finally have come to the place in my life where I know that I can't depend on anything or anyone except for my Friend. The bad was/is actually very good.
I have had a lot of discussions lately with people who don't believe in Christ and who keep making the statement to me "I can be good without God - why would you need Him to be different?" I say simply " I try to follow Him the best I can. I can be good...but I'm not GOOD. No one is. We can do good things but we aren't all good."
 Chocolate cake is good, mud isn't. You can cover the mud up with chocolate and it might look good, you may could use it FOR good (face mask anyone?) but it isn't actually totally good alone. I don't want to be alone anyways. I would rather follow someone who is completely Good and perfect in every way and learn from Him and be forgiven when I mess up.  
As a mom it's a huge comfort that He is with me when I'm lonely. He is with me when I'm in the kitchen making the 20th quesadilla of the day or slicing apples or sweeping the dirty floor for the 5th time. He is proud of me for taking care of my body and exercising , He delights in my creativity and is glad that I like to change around furniture or make my own toothpaste or whatever! He likes me a lot.  He is full of grace when I hurt my kids with unkind words and He prods me to say "I'm sorry" and then allows me to forgive myself for messing up - so I can start over and do it all over again and try to do better. This time, staying at home with my littles and my days always being different and at the same time EXACTLY the same (people depending on me for everything) He is there and He knows and He guides and He forgives and He loves. I wish every mom could know this kind of love. 

 Tomorrow we will eat more chocolate chips and try to be kind and play hard and work well - and continue being human and continue needing Him.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Several Things

Several Things....

...watching our lovely red Beta in his eco friendly tank (it grows wheat grass on the top) makes me smile. Little Magic Arp (named by brady...oh why oh why did I let him name the fish?! Oh yah, because I'm NOT a control freak...) has been a super pleasant addition to our family - who says you can't love a fish?!

...wealthy neighborhoods have the BEST thrift stores. This lovely coat steal for Trinity should keep her nice and warm this winter and next , normally retails at $80 and I got it for a mere $4.00. I get to brag about my savvy shopping and she get's to pretend to be French. Score.

...Zac came through with another one of his "sweet deals" (his words, not mine) and found Trinity the long awaited desk. Very mid-century ... organization is here at last.

...Brady is obsessed with silent movies and especially Charlie Chaplin. If you want to know anything about Charlie, just ask Brady. He's a fan. 

...Finn is still not potty trained even though he has been in undies for 2 weeks.
...Finn reminds us of a Viking
... he loves the snow

...we've been eating a lot of popcorn (not the microwaveable variety)

...Valentine's Day was a smashing success
...I made sugar cookies with coconut oil and they were pretty much DELICIOUS

...we've been enjoying school when we get around to it
... my kids are still learning lots even though we aren't doing a lot of school
... I'm not going to feel bad that I'm letting workbooks "slide"

... Trinity has an amazing dad that brings her flowers on special occasions
... if Trinity marries someone like her dad she will have a very happy life
... I forgot how good homemade french toast is
... french toast is better if you don't use whole grain sprouted bread. Oops.

... Valentine's breakfast is better if it's fancy

...instead of stockings how about paper bags for V day? 
... I may have gone a little bit overboard this year
... I love being cupid

... cookies make my children very happy
... I found adorable hats for the kids. Felt Mario and Luigi hats for the little boys

... and a Link hat for the big boy

... and a bonnet for Laura (errr....Trinity)

... it has been gloriously sunny these last 3 days.
... we had a fire outside tonight and sandwiches for dinner

... Finn loves to play in sunshine
... Finn loves to play while he is half naked
... Finn just loves to play
... Finn is a bug if ever there was a bug

... I'm going to become a workout queen
... I'm turning 30 this year 
... I'm going through some type of crisis (probably because I'm turning 30 and I'm officially almost the mother of children 3 and up)
... This too shall pass

... I have a very very blessed life

Friday, February 14, 2014

Finances on Friday

This is going to be a rather dull post I'm go along with a rather dull week

Yes the sun was shining and was gorgeous, but as long as there is snow on the ground I can't be bothered with the sun - it does nothing for me if I can't bask in it. It's like craving something (in my case Vitamin D) and everyday staring at this big bright tablet in the sky and knowing that I can't full absorb it. There you go - a tad bit of negativity to cheer you up. 
It is warming today, and my kids are out playing in the mud as I turn a blind eye and blog and bake sugar cookies. We are celebrating Valentine's Day tomorrow when the Father figure can join us, so my Love post will be a bit late. I am excited though to give each child their little bag of goodies and enjoy a gluten filled breakfast. 
For finances this week....nothing big to report except...
- that I just canceled our milk delivery service. It almost made me cry just because it has become one of my weekly routines...go out on Wednesday Mornings and check the box with the kids...but I know that we need to cut down on the dairy for the boys and in reality - I CAN find milk a bit cheaper even though it isn't the quality. It was an extra expense that we don't farewell country living in the city - you were delightful while you lasted. We will see if the change helps our little guys at all. 

- I made pine needle tea...completely free if you own a pine tree. If you have ever craved the taste of sap or wondered how beetles feel burrowing themselves in thick bark, this is the drink for you! Supposedly it's very high in vitamin REALLY I will be trying it again. I think that the taste is "acquired" so I'm going to try my best to "acquire" it. Anything for health...
- found a gift at the thrift store that doesn't look like it came from the thrift store
- we stocked up at Costco this week so it wasn't very budget friendly for the WEEK but it will be for the month (I think)
- got Starbucks with a gift card
- Zac brought us all smoothies home the other night for dinner with a Buy One Get One deal at Jamba Juice

- we've been having the kids use whatever is on hand for their many projects instead of lots of little runs to the dollar tree
- I did find some things for "school" at the dollar tree for Tristan but limited myself to 3 bucks :)

And, that's it. That's my rather dull financial post. So, I leave you to go rescue one of my children from my other child and hope you all have a lovely budget friendly Valentine's Day.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Tristan River

He's a mess.

He's one cool dude...he can save the world.

He's my third little ... he's a best friend....he's a knight in an elf's hat. 

He's a cuddle monkey, a quilt lover, a daddy's treasure. 

He's addicted to ice. He's a strawberry blond wonder. He's magical. 

He's a scientist, a discoverer. He's curious about the world around him.

He's learning to read and doing wonderfully. He sings beautifully even though he is challenged in speech. He is a miracle. 

He is crafty...he's in love with shapes and colors. Sound effects amaze him and he can reproduce most of them with his two little lips and his pink tongue. 

He's learning to use scissors and tries really hard even though fine motor skills are challenging. He doesn't quit. He is a hard worker. 
He is scared of loud noises...of unsmiling faces. He loves the words "I love you" and at night time says "a hug an a kiss fo twisty?" (a hug and a kiss for Tristy?) He is endearing. 

He is a big helper, he is brave...he's the apple of my eye. He is the essence of beauty. Tristan River is an angel and has captured my heart and everyone else's who is willing to spend a little extra time getting to know him. He is going to rock this world.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Finances on Friday

Here We Go Again...
 How I saved and spent our money this week...
For just the pure heck of it. 

- The kids and I made our big batch of laundry soap. This time around I had to buy the borax and washing soda which cost about 10 dollars total...I was able to make a five gallon bucket of laundry soap and I still will have enough washing soda and borax to make another 10 gallons. do the math - cheap cheap cheap!!! That should be enough for the entire year... depending on how dirty my kids get. 
- I slaved away at couponing this week and found several good deals on things we use. At check out I saved $32.00 bucks in coupons making our weekly groceries $80.00. Considering the fact that I don't have a garden or chickens that lay eggs or cows to slaughter (which I wouldn't anyways) I think that's a respectable total for a family of 6.
- I found sprouted organic bread on closeout for $2.19 a loaf so bought 5 loaves to shove in the freezer
- I found Applegate Farms (no preservatives, fillers, vegetarian grain fed, no antibiotic, gluten and casein free) hot dogs marked down to $2.20 a package so bought two for the freezer. I would like to interject here since many of my readers are new to  me blog.. my husband and I have two boys with autism so we are very selective in what we feed them ... mostly we live a preservative, food dye free life and I try to avoid gluten whenever possible. I'm vegetarian (I usually eat at least 75% raw ) and also can't eat legumes so meals can be challenging but we are managing just fine...especially when God give us little surprises like fun hot dogs for kids and sprouted bread and huge bags of Costco carrots ! I have given up some of my personal preferences ...mainly the amount of produce I eat...for the sake of the family budget. So far I'm still living.  
- I found a deal where I could buy 4 boxes of puff kleenexs and then there was a digital store coupon for them PLUS when I checked out they printed me off a $2.00 off my next shopping trip - bringing them down to .44 a box. 
- I found coffee creamer for my husband super duper cheap. Coffee cream is one thing I buy every week that is a pure luxury and full of high fructose corn syrup. The man has tried half and half with stevia, honey...lots of options and he still prefers his International Delight Hazelnut creamer - as hard as he works I think he deserves it. His high fructose consumption might shave a year off his life, but in the end...we will know he started his morning off comfortably and tastily. It's all good. (I may even indulge from time to time...shhhhhhh)

- we received our federal tax return this week and were able to pay off our smaller credit card completely and put a rather hefty chunk on our larger credit card.
- Zac called Comcast and tried to bring down our bill to no avail. So he canceled them and was able to get Century Link for half the price then what we usually pay a month AND they are sending us a prepaid Visa card for the same amount as the "hook up" fees.
- Found out that at the fire department there MIGHT be a test Zac can take where he can get a little extra every month because he speaks Spanish. We won't know about this until next month.

Now...for how we SPLURGED. 
Yes...I have to be honest so people actually know we are human.

The morning we went to get our groceries our car battery was the -7 degree weather. My poor Zac had to scrape ice and jump the car...we all loaded up and drove straight to Wal Mart (my least favorite store on earth) and was able to get us a new battery, then trade in the old for some cash back. So, unexpected expense. 
Next, I found a set of frames that I LOVED for our wedding pictures. It has been ten years and I still have no pictures for my walls, I have tried contacting our photographer at least 5 times to get prints to no avail. So, I made the choice to take out a few of our pictures from our, ahem...professional rather costly albumn, so I could have a couple pictures for my walls. All in all, I'm pleased with decision because I can actually enjoy seeing my pictures instead of them all being tucked away in a box under my bed. Back to the frames. I found exactly what I wanted...for full price. I'm generally a thrift store frame shopper...or at least a highly discounted frame shopper - but this time I threw caution to the wind and got exactly what I wanted. They are simple, rustic...and the mat looks like tweed or something. I love them. 
I took Trinity to Hobby Lobby for "girl time" and she found this adorable giraffe that she has been wanting for a couple of months. I had looked them up at Toys r Us and on Amazon and the going price was about $7.95. At Hobby Lobby they are $5.99 PLUS you can use your 40% off coupon. She was rather smiley all the way home...I mean, Binky Boos are all the rage now...or didn't you know?

For this week coming up...I'm afraid a toaster purchase will be in the near future as ours is now down to only one side working (makes a simple meal like ,toast, for a family of 6 ...a huge ordeal.) I think this time I'm going to do some wheelin' and dealin' and may invest in a nice 4 slot toaster. Tis a dream...we will see if it comes to fruition. 
ALSO, our coffee maker is blinking on and off. We have had it about 4 years and it's also just a simple brand (I think it cost about $20 dollars.) We will see if we can repair it, if not...more wheelin' and dealin'. 

How we saved and gave...

- we have a portion of Zac's pay check deposited into a savings account automatically
- gave to World Vision
- tithed to our church
- Zac was in a check out line at the thrift store and the lady in front of him was trying to pay for her total and came up short. Zac took over the bill and according to him all of the women looked at him with awe and said things like "now that's a nice man" and "wow...just wow." The total? It was $6.00. I have done this at the dollar tree from time to time...covered someone's measly $1.00 and people have looked absolutely shocked. I think it's just a teeny bit sad that giving little bits to help out another person or make them smile is kind of...not as common as it should be? We live in a world where no one blinks at buying a $3.00 cup of coffee but to give a buck to a lady needing a pregnancy test....or a pack of gum...or a pair of shoes at the thrift THAT'S a big deal. I am happy to know that I'm with a man who loves to make another's load lighter when he can. 

That's it folks....My open book financial status for the week.

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