Friday, June 25, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 10)

--- 1 ---

I mentioned in my last Quick Takes edition that I had purchased a shark steam mop and that I would report back on my thoughts about it after using it. Well, I love it! It easily cut my mopping time down to a third of what it previously took me with a mop and bucket of soapy water. It was fast, cleaned thoroughly (even those mystery spots that just spontaneously appear on the floor in the areas of the house where the kids typically are) and my floor both felt and looked clean when I was finished. It's way better then a mop and bucket or a swiffer in my opinion. Plus I love that it requires no cleaning products or disposable pads; I just throw the washable pads in the washing machine when I'm done!

--- 2 ---

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Aren't these the cutest tomatoes? They are from our garden and are supposed to be cherry tomatoes, but they are more like the size of blueberries. They are tasty little suckers but it takes at least a half dozen of them just to make one mouthful!

--- 3 ---

Last Friday we hosted a small group of people who are all on the Core Team of a marriage ministry at church. We served coffee cake with fresh berries and some wine. It was a nice evening in good company with fruitful discussion for our ministry.

But, (there's always a "but") it took me all week to prepare for it. I admit that I am not a natural housekeeper but having four young kids in the house all day certainly complicates the process. I did finally get the entire house spic and span, but it was at the cost of many other things. Because we were cleaning we did not go to the library or the park, we didn't do our read alouds, the kids math workbooks and journals were untouched, the laundry piled ever higher and higher, I didn't get my allergy shots and I was a grumpy, stressed-out mess.

I have officially proven to myself that I can't do it all. We can either have a clean house or a house with happy, enriched, healthy kids and mommy. I choose the later, but I sure wish I could have both!

--- 4 ---

Here is what we made from our bounty of blackberries:


Blackberry Jelly. It was the first time I ever made jelly on my own and it was quite a success!

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Blackberry Crisp. This was Eric's Father's Day treat. It was absolutely scrumptious with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

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Purple blackberry juice stained hands. It's not a good idea to make blackberry jelly on the same day that you have scheduled for family portraits. My skin and nails were a mess! I think I scrubbed them clean enough to not show in the pictures, but I won't know for sure until I see the proofs!

--- 5 ---

Clara's baptism is this coming Saturday. I'm so excited to be welcoming my little girl into the Mystical Body of Christ! Will you please pray for her on her special day?

--- 6 ---

Jonathan's 8th birthday was last March and by far the best gift he got was a Rubik's cube. Eric's been slowly teaching him how to solve it and this week he finally solved the entire thing all by himself. He and Eric have had so much fun talking algorithms and strategies (yes, we are a family of nerds!), racing each other to see who is fastest and coming up with special patterns. That was definitely the best $10 we've ever spent!

--- 7 ---

The most prolific bed in our vegetable garden this year is not one that we planted; it's our compost pile where we throw all our kitchen and yard scraps.

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We have volunteer tomatoes, potatoes and cucumbers; a mystery vine turned out to be watermelon and just this morning we picked a cantaloupe. Each piece of fruit that we pick is like a wonderful little gift from God since we did absolutely nothing to cultivate it. We just get to reap the harvest!

Be sure to check out more Quick Takes at Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Blackberry picking

Why didn't we do this along time ago?

Growing up in dry West Texas, I only read about people going berry picking in books. The climate simply was not hospitable to berries of any kind. I do remember one time when I was little and we helped my grandmother pick prickly pear fruit for making jelly, but that's a very different experience. We had to use long tongs to pick the fruit to avoid getting stabbed by thorns!

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So when we decided to go blackberry picking Saturday morning, it was like a fairytale for me. Even the intense Southeast Texas heat couldn't dampen my spirits! If it hadn't been so hot for the kids, I could have spent hours there just snacking on berries and snapping pictures.

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Though we're nearing the end of blackberry season, the bushes were still loaded with plenty of fruit for little fingers to pluck.

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Clara hung out in the shade of her stroller.

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Even though you can't see her face in this photo, you can tell she is awake and happy because her feet are up in the air. The only time those feet stop moving is when she is asleep!

Jonathan and Elizabeth were on a mission to find the biggest berries.

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Look how big and plump some of them got! Can you say, "Yum!"?

The rows of blackberry bushes were edged with huge beds of gorgeous zinnias. Apparently butterflies love zinnias as much as I do because there were dozens of them flitting about. Photographer heaven!

A beautiful day

We ended up picking about 15 pounds of berries which we ate fresh, froze, and made into a blackberry crisp and blackberry jam. We're going to be enjoying these berries for a long time to come!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Elizabeth's Secret

Elizabeth has a secret.

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And, she's having a hard time keeping it.

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The problem is...

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her mouth gives her away.

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Because, every time she smiles...

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the whole world can see that she lost a tooth!

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Sickroom reflections

The past few days have been doozies. Vomiting, fevers, little sleep. Poor Jonathan definitely got the worst of it. Not only could he not keep anything down, but he also had a high fever. Normally a dose of Tylenol would have fixed up the whole fever issue, but he couldn't even keep a dose of medicine down. So we had to resort to a more basic approach to nursing him: lukewarm baths and cool compresses. For hours I stayed by his side and bathed his feverish head.

The worst part of the illness, though, was not the fever, but the dehydration. Jonathan was so extremely thirsty, but he just couldn't keep anything down. We were giving him a mere teaspoon of Pedialyte at a time, hoping and praying that he wouldn't immediately vomit it back up, but having little success. He continued to get sick, over and over again.

Jonathan has always been a pretty tough kid, even as a baby. If he ever falls, gets bit by fire ants, or gets a cut or scratch, he rarely cries or complains. But, during this illness he was sobbing, uncontrollably at times, begging to be able to drink and quench his thirst.

"I'm so thirsty, Mommy! Can I please have just one big gulp. Please?!"

It broke my heart when I had to deny him such a basic want. No - not a want - a need. His body needed water, was desperate for water. Water would keep him hydrated, eliminate his thirst, help his body fight this horrible virus and probably help reduce his fever. Yet, I had to deny him. At that moment too much water would have been poison to his body, causing him to get sick once again and lose more water than he would have been able to consume.

"You must be patient, Jonathan. You have to wait and take it slowly. I know it hurts. I know you're thirsty. But, you must wait."

As I sat their caring for my very sick child, I was struck with a realization, one that I have to write about so I can remember it and recall it in times of future need.

How often do we cry out in prayer to God asking him for some basic need, not a "want" or a "like" but a real need, and God seems to say "no"?

"But, Lord," we argue, "I really need this. It's a good thing, basic to my survival, a true need. Why would you deny me? I need it. I need it now. Why must I wait?"

But, God knows all and knows what is truly best for us, what will, in the end, lead us to heaven. He denies us out of love for us. Just as I had to deny Jonathan a simple drink of water, God must, out of love for us, deny us things, even if by nature they are good and necessary. He can see pitfalls in our requests that we cannot. He possesses knowledge and wisdom that we do not. So, he denies us. And, I'm sure it is just as hard for him to say "no" at times to our requests as it was for me to deny Jonathan that refreshing drink of water.

Thankfully, after many hours, Jonathan was able to keep a teaspoon of water down, and then another. Finally, we risked giving him a dose of Tylenol. It stayed down! He was able to drink more, his fever broke and he was finally able to sleep. The next day he continued to improve until he was able to eat and drink again like a normal, healthy 8 year-old boy. I let him gulp all the water he wanted!

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Photo credit: Elizabeth

Our times of need are temporary as well, a mere season that will soon pass away. And as soon as the danger is gone, God will provide for us and, most likely, in an abundance that matches His great love for us.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A small prayer request *updated*

Update -
Thank you so much for all your prayers! Clara ran a fever all day and was fussy but she never once got sick to her stomach. After how sick my oldest two got with this same bug, I call that a definite miracle! I had so many fears about her getting sick and not a single one came true. Thank you, thank you for the prayers!


We've had a stomach virus going through our house this week. Both Jonathan and Elizabeth have succumbed to it and Jonathan was really, really sick for a while. We've tried so hard to protect Clara from it, but she started getting sick this morning. Will you please pray for her that her illness is mild and brief? Both Gustin and Elizabeth got stomach viruses as infants and got so ill that they had to be hospitalized. I'm really worried that Clara will get really sick, too. Thank you so much for any prayers you can send our way!

And, I can't write a post without including a picture, so here's a shot of our cute Little Bug from a couple of days ago.

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

When frugality becomes foolishess

Clara has been growing like a weed and she is about out of her size 2 diapers. Though they seem big enough when I put them on her, their inability to provide the appropriate amount of containment suggests otherwise. Lately, if Clara dirties her diaper while I am holding her, it usually means that both she and I will require a change of clothes.

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But, I persist on putting her in size 2 diapers. Why? Because I recently bought a gigantic box of them and I can't stand the idea of letting them go to waste. I paid for them so I want to use every single one of them!

As I was changing my clothes the other day after another Clara blow out, I laughed at myself at how absurd I was being. All of this inconvenience and mess over probably less than $10 worth of diapers. Was it really worth it? No, of course not. But did this realization change anything? Nope.

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But, today I finally called "uncle". Clara filled her diaper to overflowing at the orthodontist while still sitting in her carseat. Her clothes and the carseat were completely soiled, I hadn't brought a change of clothes for her with me and, of course, the bathroom did not have a changing table. It took at least 15 minutes for me to clean up her, me and the carseat and she had to spend the rest of the appointment only wearing a diaper. I had to suppress my desire to explain to every new person that walked into the door that I am normally in the habit of actually dressing my children when they are out in public.

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So, no more forcing Clara into too small diapers! It's high time I recognize when my being frugal is just being plain cheap.

Does anyone else have stories of when your frugality got the better of you?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

It's time for a Clara picture update!

She's 5 months old now! She's rolling all over and sucking on her toes and laughing and squealing and bringing so much joy into our lives!

Here's our little Clara Bug a.k.a. Little Bug or The Bug.

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I love this shot with Eric holding her feet! It's something he does all the time and it's so sweet to capture one of those everyday moments in a photo.

Safe in Daddy's hands

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I can't get enough of the toes!

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Friday, June 4, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 9)

--- 1 ---

Tuesday was the official first day of summer for my kids and we are definitely going through some adjustments to new schedules and routines. It's already hot!, hot!, hot! here in Texas and we have to limit outside time to first thing in the morning before it gets too sweltering. Anyone have any good indoor activity ideas?

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--- 2 ---

For the Memorial Day weekend we spent a relaxing few days at Eric's parents house. One of the highlights of the weekend was going swimming in the Cowhouse Creek. Central Texas has had some nice rain lately, so there was plenty of water for splashing in in the creek. What a great way to spend the day!

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Cowhouse creek

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--- 3 ---

Hallie Lord featured some headbands/coverings in one of her Fashion Friday posts several months ago that I have fallen in love with. Check out Garland's of Grace's website for beautiful, feminine head coverings. I love mine and I'm thinking about ordering a few more and just wanted to share!

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--- 4 ---

Elizabeth's 6th birthday is in less than a month and there is only one thing that I have planned for sure - she will not be having a cake. Instead I will be trying my hands at Bakerella's cake pops. You really must check them out! They are too cute for words and her step-by-step instructions make it look easy (we'll see if that's the reality, though!). Elizabeth picked out these adorable Hello Kitty cake pops. But, I might chicken out and stick with these simpler but just as cute cupcake pops.

--- 5 ---

My current favorite Gustinism: Dat's disdusting! (That's disgusting!)

Cracks me up every time!

--- 6 ---

I just received in the mail my new shark steam mop. I've seen it recommended in several different places in the blogosphere and I really hope it's as easy to use and effective as it seems. I also hope having it will mean that my floors actually get a proper mopping more often then once every six months or so (embarrassing but true!). I'll be sure to report back on it after I've given it a test run!

--- 7 ---

Yesterday Elizabeth came up to me and said, "Some people think the rosary is boring, but I love it. Can we pray it right now?"

Oh! Melt my heart! I sure do love this almost 6 year old!

By the way, we did pray it right then. We did one decade and we did her favorite mystery - the Agony in the Garden. This girl never ceases to surprise me!

Be sure to check out more Quick Takes at Conversion Diary!