I think tomorrow to surprise the girls we are going to do one of their most favorite things... PAINT! I saw this art project idea HERE at Pink and Green Mama's blog. I love this idea. I've always been a huge fan of Georgia O' Keefe and her love for all things flowers! What better time of year to learn to paint flowers than summertime, right? Now, I am just hoping the sunshine will hold out so we can do our painting out in the garden. I think that would be much more fun, don't you?!
Do you ever wake up plain old happy? More aware of the little things... This morning as I awoke, I was overwhelmed with this sense of gratefulness. I am just so happy for this life that God has given me. My blessings overflowing. I am more than thankful for this!
I am loved, saved, and forgiven, by Jesus. Each and everyday is new, full of fresh possibilities! I have an amazing husband, who is my partner in this life. I am so lucky for that. I have two amazing little girls, who bring me more joy than I ever knew existed. I live in my dream home... it wraps it arms around me and gives me comfort. I have wonderful, involved, and supportive parents. An extended family that are my roots as well as my wings. Friends who love me. Chance and opportunity to be and do what ever I want each day.
I am just so happily grateful for my life. I am grateful even for the chaos, the craziness, and the stresses. God is so good. The sun is shining down on us today, what will we make of it?
I would absolutely adore to own this! You can buy it HERE..
My ALL TIME FAVORITE hymn to sing, or listen to in the entire world is "His Eye Is On The Sparrow". This song has deep meaning for me. It speaks to me, soothes me, inspires me, delights me, enriches me, nourishes me, and feeds my soul. The words to this hymn, is a song that I sing in my heart each and every day. I am so Glad that Jesus loves me, even though I am only his little sparrow.
Why should I feel discouraged, Why should the shadows come, Why should my heart be lonely, And long for heav'n and home, When Jesus is my portion, My constant Friend is He; His eye is on the sparrow, And I know He watches me.
I sing because I'm happy, I sing because I'm free; For His eye is on the sparrow, And I know He watches me.
"Let not your heart be troubled, "His tender word I hear, And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears, Tho' by the path He leadeth, But one step I may see; His eye is on the sparrow, And I know He watches me.
Whenever I am tempted, Whenever clouds arise, When song gives place to sighing, When hope within me dies, I draw the closer to Him; From care He sets me free; His eye is on the sparrow, And I know... He watches me.
No matter what my mood; happy, sad, lonely, joyful, prayerful, peaceful, anxious, or upset. This beautiful song of praise fills me up!
I love the fact that with this recipe you could easily adapt it to fit your family... just like she did by substituting the dried fruit for chocolate chips! I am going to make these with organic ingredients as a substitute for buying store bought organic granola bars. (they are pricey and my kids can eat a ton of them!) So, I am keeping my fingers crossed that my kiddo's love this recipe! I'll let you know how it goes!
OATMEAL BARS 4 cup dry oats 1 1/2 cups flour (I used all whole wheat) 1 c. brown sugar (I used regular cause thats all we had) 1 tsp cinnamon 1/2 tsp salt 3/4 cup applesauce (you could use 1 cup applesauce and omit the oil, I'm pretty sure) 1/4 cup oil 4 eggs 1 1/2 cups dried fruit (raisins, craisins, dried cherries, etc) (we used chocolate chips instead of dried fruit for added sweetness and since my kids hate dried fruit LOL)
Mix dry ingredients. Whisk the eggs, applesauce and oil together, add to dry. Spread in a 13X9 greased pan and bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until lightly brown.
I have a question... and my question is this. Is there any such thing as a perfect balance? In this day and age as women, we are supposed to "have it all". Careers, Children, Marriages, Friendships, Sense of self, Homes, Faith, Activities... you name it, we supposed to have it, and balance it. Are there any of you out there reading this that ever feel like this is an unrealistic goal to achieve?
For me, when I devote myself totally and truly to my work, I feel as though I am failing as a mother. When I devote myself to being the kind of mom I desire to be, I can't help but feel I am letting my business, and my partner (my mom) suffer. When I am trying to balance all of the above items... work, kids, husband, friends, self, home, faith, family, and activities, I always seem to fall a little short in some area. It's as if it's an impossible goal that I am chasing.
Where do you begin to find this balance, so that you don't fail one thing or the other? How do you figure out which voice to listen to? You know the voices I'm talking about right? The voices around you, inside of you, and beside you if you will. How do you get rid of the voices of guilt? How do you get the right kind of balance, since obviously there is no such thing as a perfect balance? Or is there even such a thing as "balance" or did Webster's Dictionary just make that word up?
Summer is officially here. Thankfully, finally, the sunshine is here too! I just hope it's here to stay. After the wettest Spring in the NW in over 50 years, I think that all the Oregonians I know are more than ready, and thankful, for some much needed sunshine! So, open your windows, paint your toe nails, sip a cup of sun tea or lemonade, and savor the beginnings of Summer! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh.
We had a great time Saturday celebrating Bella's seventh Birthday with big ol' pony party!!! Complete with cowgirl grub, playing horseshoes, bobbing for apples, stick pony races, a cowboy boot pinata, giant horsey cupcakes, and lot's of party like celebration... I think Bella as well as all the other kiddos had a great time! I know I did... I got dared to "show" the kids how to bob for apples. Showed them! Don't dare a cowgirl's mother! :O) My prayers were answered and the rain held off, we even saw the sun. So, all and all... I think turning seven turned out to be a great time for all involved! But, boy this cowgirl's mama is tired! Night ya'll!
On June 20th, at 4:51 am, seven years ago, I became a mother. It was the day my life changed forever. My heart grew in size. I knew the purist form of falling in love. The nurse laid her on my chest, I looked into her eyes, and she in mine, and from that moment on she has been my girl.
She is my sweet, timid, humble, kind, stubborn,shy, loving, emotional, sensitive, amazing little girl. She's funny. She's quick. She's matter of fact, and to the point. She's creative... imaginative...smart, cuddley, and soft hearted. She is beautiful, just like her name says, on the inside and the out.
I am in disbelief that seven years have flown by me. But, in a way I cannot fathom or imagine what my life, let alone a day, would be like with out her in it.
She's not a baby, not a little child, anymore... no she is a girl, with a great big world ahead, and I am so thrilled to watch her flourish and bloom as she grows. Can't wait to celebrate each Birthday as they come along, and savor each step along the path of growing up!
So to you my sweet, beautiful, Bella girl, I love you more than the sun and the moon, and all the stars that shine in the sky. I hope all your dreams come true. Today, and everyday! Thank you for choosing me to have the honor of being your mother! Happy Birthday B!
Seriously. This just can't be. As I was waking up this morning I thought to myself, Ahhhh Saturday. I love Saturday. Then, reality hit. No, stupid lady, the week just started... What a dope. But, even now, it's 10 til 5 in the evening, and I still don't have a clue what day it is, what time it is, or what the heck I'm doing. Why? Why, am I so disoriented? I need to be on my "A" game this week. There's a lot to do. Bella's B-day party Saturday. Stick Ponies to make. Cupcakes to bake. Groceries to buy. Favors to craft. Father's Day, Bella, and my Brother's B-day's are Sunday... do I have a plan, No.
Do, you know why I don't have a plan? Cause I'm walking around here like it's a lazy Saturday, and I have nothing to do. Seriously, I think somethings wrong with me... Either that, or I just plain can't get all bothered by little details... ha ha yeah, that's it! :)
I don't know, maybe it's because school is finally over tomorrow, and my brain thinks it summer vacation. Hmmmm. I don't know. But, I do hope I wake up with a little more piss and vinegar in me tomorrow, or we may be in BIG trouble when it actually is Saturday!
So, we've been eating totally organically/sustainably/locally for about 6 months now. Through this journey of really committing to this new lifestyle, we've had to try a lot of different brands/foods/kinds of things to figure out what we like, and more importantly what my kids will not only eat, but get excited enough about to give a thumbs up to!
I'm not sure how many of you out there reading this care about any of this... but I thought I would share a few of the things (brands/foods/kinds) that we have found to be kid approved!
These are my kids favorite snacks... They love them. They come in a big variety pack we buy at Costco. 4 different flavors... Meritt loves the coclate (yes coclate, not chocolate) bunnies!
It's hard to keep kids hydrated this time of year, when it gets warm. Especially when we are all on the go so much. My kids are great water drinkers, but sometimes it's fun to have something else. These honest kids juice drinks are great! They are organic and they have about half the sugar as regular kids drinks. Best part: kids love them!
Okay, so this one was our biggest battle in our house. We have been (me the most) long time lovers of the "blue box" Mac and Cheese. You know the kind I'm talking about. My kids actually like this Annie's brand better, and with a little bit of tweaking to the instructions on the box.... I am happy to say there won't be anymore of that other "blue box" Mac and Cheese in our house again!
Those of you out there that are locales will know about Tillamook cheese. Located just west of us on the coast. Tillamook cheese is a long time favorite in our house! Love their cheese, yogurt, and ice cream1 Best of all, it's fun to go to Tillamook and tour the cheese factory where our cheese is made, and while you're there you might as well enjoy an ice cream cone!
So, I have to admit right off the bat, Organic Milk is EXPENSIVE. But, it is so worth it, especially if your kids love milk like mine do! This is the absolute best milk I have ever drinken. (I promise!) In fact it's so good we go through it like it's going out of style at our house!
You were probably raised on some kind of sugary filled peanut butter - like most of us were. (I know I was) This switch took me a little while... although my kids and hubby loved this stuff right off the bat! Few ingredients, low sugar, basically ground up peanuts... I am pretty sure that's what we should have been eating all along! :) Doesn't quite taste like what you are used to, but once you get used to it, it's really good!
Yum, Dave's Killer Bread. So, good... So good for you! Try this if you haven't. Filled to the brim with good for you organic whole grains, the taste and texture are amazing. My kids go through a loaf every few days. Crazy!
Baked goods has been a HARD one. Have you ever looked at the ingredients in most cake/brownie/muffin mixes. They are awful. Tons of stuff that we shouldn't be eating. Lots of man made, genetically engineered, crap. But, let's face it, not many of us have time to bake from scratch all the time... but who can live without any sweets??? Not I, said the fly. My kids love to help bake with these easy mixes. Best part... they only have good ingredients (not claiming they are totally healthy or will make you thin) but they are made with whole ingredients that don't fill you up with stuff that shouldn't be inside of you.
There you have it. Some of the yummy stuff that our pantry and fridge is always filled with. Stuff that I know my kids will not only eat, but be healthier because of. Go try some and let me know what you think!!!
It is no secret that I had a bit of a rough week... It's okay. That's life. Sometime that's how life rolls. But, today is a new day. I am thankful for that!
It's Saturday. The house is already a buzz with happy sounds! Today will be the Northwest's first day above 75, since last year sometime. I am so glad for that, there are no words to describe it. I look forward to a day of gardening and enjoying the sunshine with my family. I have a lot to do today to get ready for Miss Bella's Birthday party next Saturday. So, I hope it's a very productive day!!!
Sometimes there's nothing better for the soul than to spend a day out in God's green earth. Sometimes there's nothing better for little children than to play outside for endless hours, to work off all of their "energies"!
I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Soak up the sunshine if you can, and remember today is a new day full of endless possibilities, if we chose to find them!
Sorry folks, I need to vent. My girl Meritt has tested me to no end today. Okay, maybe the last three days?! Want to hear how my morning started??? Pretty normally actually. Woke Up, got Bella ready for school, ate some oatmeal, drank my big "good morning" mug full of hot steamy coffee... Matt was going in late this morning to work due to having to work late, so after we got Bella off to school we were visiting. We asked Meritt to go play. She went up stairs. There were a few thuds and thunks from upstairs. I called up the stairs and said "Meritt, what are you doing?" She called down that she was "playing with the hoseys". Woo Hoo... Quiet to enjoy my coffee. visit with my honey, and ease into the day. WRONG.
A few minutes later here comes Meritt downstairs covered in paint. I said "Meritt Rose, what have you done?" She replied... "Me paintin the hoseys" Where were you painting Meritt??? "Bell-ya's Room" Meritt you know we don't paint upstairs do we? "No, we paint at the table" Right, so why did you paint upstairs in Bella's room? "Me don't know" "Me like it" Did you get paint on anything you weren't supposed to? "Yup" What? "I don't know how to say it" Where did you paint at in Bella's room, the desk... "No, Bell-ya's rug"
I'm thinking that after last weeks green crayon in the dryer with my cream colored slipcovers, and the paint I have been cleaning off of Bella's Wool rug... I should seriously consider going into some kind of stain removal business.
Three is hard. It doesn't end there though. Later in the day, while at the shop working with a sales rep in the back room, guess what girl, while pretending to ride "hoseys" knocked over a whole rounder of clothing?
Yup, you guessed correctly it was Meritt. It didn't get much better after that. Sorry to say. Good thing I love her. Because otherwise... God help her, she would be sent far far away.
I'm tired. Feeling a bit beat down. It's exhausting to take her anywhere, with anybody, ever... But, it's far too depressing to stay home all the time, so I just keep pressing on. I told my friend today, that God doesn't give us more than we can handle. That's true right?
When I have shared with people the changes that my family has chose to make about going organic. The no. 1 thing I hear is how expensive it is, and how hard it is to go organic. While I do agree, that the cost is definitely higher and it is a bit more time consuming than eating main stream foods... I still think it is so important. So, I went looking for an article to explain some of the more important foods and facts to focus on, even if you just want to get your feet wet with this lifestyle!
Organic foods do more than help keep toxins out of our soil, water, and air. They also keep dangerous toxins out of your family’s bodies and help keep farmers (and farmers children) safe which yes is better for everyone’s health in spite of recent news that claims otherwise. Organics better support a local economy and are a good purchase because you’re showing companies and the government where your Eco-priorities stand. Lastly, if more people purchase organics prices will go down (simple supply and demand) so your purchase can help other families to be able to afford organics.
That said, right now, organic versions of foods do tend to be priced somewhat higher than conventional, so if you only have so and so dollars set aside in your budget for organics, you may as well put those dollars to the best possible use. Following is a handy list of the foods you should always try to buy organic before others…
Veggies & Fruits — in any form (canned, jarred, fresh, frozen, dehydrated, etc.)
When buying produce I tend to go by the Dirty Dozen list first. The Dirty Dozen list is made up of produce that has the largest concentrated amounts of pesticides. The current Dirty Dozen includes…
Peaches (worst) Apples Sweet Bell Peppers Celery Nectarines Strawberries Cherries Kale Lettuce Imported Grapes Carrots Pears Other produce consider buying organic at all times include…
Edamame (soy beans) + soy milk + soy formula + tofu Potatoes — all colors and varieties (including frozen like Tatar tots or french fries). Spinach Lemons, oranges, and limes or other citrus when used for zest
Dairy products + eggs:
Dairy products and eggs contain large amounts of growth hormones. Also, organic versions of dairy and eggs are more beneficial for your health. I always buy organic milk because my son drinks a lot of it. I also try to always buy organic cheese, milk, and yogurt, because Cedar also eats a lot of these items. I’m more flexible on items like butter, cream cheese, and ice cream because we don’t consume as much of it, although when I find a decent priced organic alternative I will buy it. Note: before you buy organic dairy read – choosing sustainable dairy and can you trust organic dairy products?
Meat and poultry:
There are pesticides found in meats and poultry because cows and other animals eat feed grown in heavy toxic chemicals, but the main reason that studies and most experts say you should buy organic meat is because of the dangers of hormones, antibiotics and additives. To avoid both pesticides and unnatural additives, you should always buy organic meats and poultry. That said, organic meats are super expensive, so another option is to simply eat less meat which is more healthy anyhow. Note though, if you exchange meat for soy based products, you should buy those in organic form too, because soy is a high pesticide offender.
Baby food: Infants and young children are far more susceptible to the dangers of pesticides than adults. Every bite of food your baby has should be organic – and honestly, since they eat small amounts, this is an affordable area, especially if you make your own homemade organic baby food – bonus, it’s VERY easy to make homemade baby food, I promise.
Grains: According to Safe Food, grains (along with animal products and wine) show the most pesticide residue of all food products. However, other studies show that whole grain breads have more pesticides than white because whole wheat bread, “Uses the entire kernel, so can contain more pesticides than white bread, which is made using only the inside of the kernel.” (Source – pdf). Another study shows that bread is a top kid affecting food, because little ones tend to eat a lot of it. Quite a few pesticides are found in rice (a grass not grain, but here we’ll call it a grain) and rice products. Pasta, another grain, picks up its own fair share of pesticides.
Basically, grains is one of those categories where you should buy organic of any item you eat a lot of whenever possible. The good news is that organic rice, pasta, and grains are actually not much more expensive that their conventional counterparts – especially if you purchase them from the bulk section of your grocery store. Bread is the one exception here, and usually runs considerably higher cost for organic, but you can still afford it if you get a natural store name brand, i.e. Whole Foods brand or Trader Joes.
In a nutshell:
It’s a lot to digest but really, you don’t want your kids eating pesticides. Studies show that feeding children organics does result in extremely smaller amounts of toxins and other nasty junk in their bodies. Also, I know it can seem overwhelming, because organics can cost more, but with budget changes you can afford it. Soon, some tips on how to make those budget changes so that your family can afford organic foods.
Today as Bella and I were walking down the isle of our church (Matt was taking Meritt to Sunday school)... we saw four familiar faces. A girl Bella goes to school with, and her family. We said hello, as it was the first time we'd seen them there, and that we were glad to see their faces.
Pretty soon, our friend Lila came to say hello. She whispered in my ear "did you see who's setting behind you?" I smiled and said yes, she whispered back "she said Bella invited them this week". Tears welled up in both Lila and My eyes. You see the two of us have been trying hard, for several years, to see if we could persuade Bella to try out Sunday school for her age group. She always says "NO"! She hasn't wanted any part of Sunday school, or getting involved in any of the classes since she was basically being taken to the nursery way back when. It's been an ongoing struggle. We've gently given up... still asking, but not pushing. She enjoys church. She just prefers it when she is sat right beside me.
I can't help but wonder if she wouldn't get more and learn more if she was in an age appropriate setting. For a long time, I almost let the battle get the better of me. Recently, I've just been praying about it. Hoping that God knows far better than I do how to get her heart led in his direction.
When our pastor asked everyone to turn around and say hello, we went right over to our school friends to welcome them. Bella's friend's mom said, you know Bella invited us??! I said, I heard that, and I am so glad you came! She said, we asked where she went to church and she proudly let us know, when, where, and how!
I guess you just never know do you?... Sometimes quietness and shyness doesn't equal closed ears or a closed heart. Maybe it just means when your quiet you have a gift to listen better?! All I know is that I couldn't be prouder of my quiet little girl. My heart is full. I am thankful, because God is so good!
I'm Mandy. Mama, Wife, Daughter, Sister, Friend, Lover of God... Each day is a journey. Life is an adventure. At this point in my life, I try to go one day at a time, enjoying the moment I'm in, because today is a gift that will be gone tomorrow. I hope this can be a place to share the joy that can be found in everyday simpleness, watching kids grow, enjoying those you love, and this crazy little thing called life!