New Shelves

A couple of weeks ago I decided we needed more organization and display space in our “office” area and so I went to the hardware store for supplies.

A few rough boards and a few coats of paint later. . .

Much better!

Someday I hope we’ll have an actual office instead of having to use the corner of our bedroom, but since this is the space what we have to work with now, at least it’s not such a messy eye-sore anymore.

One pre-baby project done, way more to go!! Hoping this “nesting” instinct keeps up!

Thanksgiving Thanks

With less than three weeks until my due date, we kept our Thanksgiving really casual with just our little family of soon-to-be-six. Jared and I attempted to sleep in (meaning we didn’t set the alarm) but awoke much earlier than desired under a giggling dogpile of children who had helped themselves to a box of Chex and were ready to play.

We cooked a frozen pizza for lunch, watched Netflix movies, and put together a new-to-us ( $60 flea market score!) set of bunk beds for the girls before making a pumpkin pie, whipping up some instant mashed potatoes, and heating a frozen chicken & stuffing casserole for Thanksgiving dinner.  

 

Initially I was pretty pouty about the whole plan, whining that it just didn’t feel like Thanksgiving without a glutenous turkey dinner with family and friends and stuffing our faces with way too much pie before a long afternoon nap. But my husband is wise and good at bringing me back to reality at times I need it and this year–with this gigantic pregnant belly and extended family 2,000 miles away–a casual Thanksgiving was best.

Some things I was especially thankful for this weekend:

  • Children who’ve learned how to get their own bowls of breakfast cereal (oh how I hope that doesn’t mean I’m becoming a “stay-in-bed mom!”)
  • A full freezer
  • A handy husband (the flea market bunks were ugly, but with a good sanding and a few coats of paint they’re looking awesome!)
  • A comfy couch (the only way I can sleep these last pregnant days)
  • Peppermint ice cream
  • Continued Etsy sales and faithful blog readers
  • Serity’s easy transition from the crib to her new “big girl bed”
  • Late November rain (versus snow)
  • Six-year-old love notes
I hope YOU had a great Thanksgiving weekend too!

Southern Hospitality

Sometimes I get a bit too ambitious, I think (and I’m sure my husband thinks that’s the understatement of the year). This was one of those days when I decided that I desperately needed some shelves for organizing my workspace, and so at 35 weeks pregnant (and looking like I’m ready to explode) I hauled my three kids to the hardware store for some lumber so I could build those shelves. I know. When I write it out it doesn’t sound very logical to me either.

I usually try to avoid taking all the kids shopping with me. I’ve learned how to handle it, and they are generally pretty good, it’s just not a battle I really love to pick if I can help it. In any case, like I said, I was feeling ambitious and didn’t want to wait until Jared got home from work, so I loaded everyone up for the hardware store, chose out some wood planks, screws, and brackets, and only had one major child meltdown. I felt quite accomplished!

Then it was out to the van to load the kids and the boards when a teenager, about 14, with the most heartbreaking southern drawl approached.

Ma’am, can I help you with those?

Since I seem to think I’m superwoman I did wonder for a half-second what I needed help with. Ha. Then remembering my pregnant belly looks like it will explode at any moment, that I still had kids to buckle, and that the boards were probably heavier than I should be lifting right now, I graciously accepted.

It took him a third of the time it would have taken me to maneuver the wood into the back of the van, and probably spared me a few Braxton Hicks. When the job was done, the young man went back to the vehicle next to me, put his iPod earplugs back in, and continued to wait for his mom or dad inside the store. No else was around, no parent told him to help, no girls were nearby to impress, no payment was expected. Just good ol’ fashioned southern hospitality. As I left the parking lot I was overcome with emotional gratitude and wanted to hug his mom.

{My shelf building helper}

Every day as I wade through power struggles, whining, and tantrums, I know in the back of my mind that the principles I’m teaching my kids are right. Some principles are easy to teach. Like, as much as my kids hate doing their chores or eating broccoli at dinner, I know clean or healthy habits will help them later in their life and so we give them responsibilities, and require bites of everything at every meal.

But then there are principles like being honest, kind, and helpful that have grayer lines for me. I can explain these principles, I can be a consistent example exercising them myself, but it seems only time and prayer and trust will truly tell if I’ve done my part.

Some teenage boy’s mom did do her part as an intentional parent. Who knows if she’ll ever know the act of service or the effect her son had on me. But the example of that boy gives me hope that the hard parenting work we’re putting in now does pay off and I pray my own goofy, belching, nosepicking, stinky-sock, six-year-old son (and daughters!) will grow up to be as mature.

Fresh Bread

I come from a family of bread bakers. Fresh dinner rolls are a given when visiting my grandma, and some of my best childhood memories are of eating a thick slice of my mom’s hot-from-the-oven wheat bread slathered with butter and homemade jam.

Making homemade bread has intimidated me though, mostly because of the time involved, and so my version of “fresh bread” with dinner has been to pop a can of refrigerated crescent rolls. Until recently.

A couple of years ago my husband’s job transplanted us to the mid-west–2,000 miles from our west coast hometowns and this year my little family will be making own Thanksgiving traditions. While I know no one will complain if refrigerated crescent rolls accompany our turkey dinner, blame it on those pregnancy hormones–I’m feeling homesick for grandma’s Thanksgiving cooking. And so with the holidays soon approaching, and missing my grandma’s hot dinner rolls, I decided to conquer my breadmaking fear.

This is a basic dinner roll (although probably the best I’ve ever had!) which I’ve adapted to easily to store the dough in the freezer until you’re ready to bake. For an extremely busy mom, it makes fresh bread for dinner a delicious possibility because all I have to do is grab some frozen balls from the freezer in the morning, let them thaw and rise on the counter all day, and then pop in the oven just before we eat–about the same amount of time it takes to open and bake a can of crescent rolls. And believe me, these rolls are better any day. In fact, my husband and kids have been asking for them almost every night lately!

Come visit me at Once a Month Mom for the recipe! So, so good.

 

Working Through It

Around here, naptime, after bedtime, and every spare second in between has been filled with “manufacturing” as Jared calls it. Yes, the Heartsy/Etsy sale went well, for which I am humbled and grateful for.

I wish I could say the hard work and money earned from the promotion was going toward something fun like Christmas surprises, or maybe a new laptop, but in reality, it’s going toward bills.

The bill this money is going toward is kind of exciting though.

Two years ago we found ourselves sleeping in the hospital for a few extra days when our baby girl decided to come a bit too early.

Then exactly a year later, we were back–celebrating her birthday in the hospital again, this time with an infection.

She’s a totally healthy, very active, chatterbox two-year-old now, so no worries there and we’re of course grateful for the medical care our daughter received.

But once her health was taken care of, it was time to start thinking about the medical bills. Insurance did cover most of it, thankfully, but we’ve been plugging along with our part and I was so excited to be able to call the last collector yesterday and tell them I was ready to pay the rest in full.

So as I’m assembling felt story sets, giving my printer a workout, and making multiple trips to the post office, my heart is full of gratitude and I want to thank you for supporting my art and thank you for helping me support my little family.

We still have way too much debt, but having one major bill paid off is motivating, and I know that if we stay (as Dave Ramsey says) “gazelle intense,” we’ll continue to work through it.