Monday, November 30, 2009


Grief and joy can co-exist.

I wouldn't have thought so before Olivia because, at least to me, they seem like polar opposites. But I have found, that even on the darkest day, there is joy to be found. At first, it was probably mostly grief with little bits of joy mixed in, but gradually the days have changed to not include so much grief. There is more joy now, with bits of grief scattered here and there.

The two lessons this teaches are these: just because I'm grieving does not mean that I never smile and just because I am smiling does not mean that I never grieve. I think most people probably realize the first to be true. If you've ever been to a funeral where you're remembering the loved one who has passed, and reminiscing about their antics or stubborn streak brings you to laughter, you'll know what I mean. I know that the second lesson might be a little trickier to understand as many people may see the smile and assume that I am 'over it' or that there are no longer tears lurking beneath or that I have moved on. Which isn't exactly true.

It's freeing for me to realize that the two, grief and joy, aren't mutually exclusive. I don't have to choose between them. I can have a sad day with smiles sprinkled in or I can have a great day with a sudden bout of tears.

And it seems that the one makes me truly appreciate the other.


Friday, November 27, 2009

A Thanksgiving Photo Timeline

 Wednesday, 8:16 pm
The turkey has been brined. I am looking mean and ready to break in my new kitchen shears by attacking preparing my turkey. This will be my first attempt at a high-heat butterflied roast turkey.

8: 57 pm
After fretting, chatting with a friend for a few minutes, lots of consulting with a cookbook (and Google), I finally was able to successfully hack out the turkey's backbone. Good Lord, what have I done? Now this gobbler goes back in the fridge, uncovered, so that the moisture from the brine can evaporate from the skin.

10:06 pm
Well, if my roasted turkey doesn't turn out and we end up ordering pizza at least the kids will have these cute little gobblers to play with. (I have Martha Stewart to thank for the template!)

Thanksgiving Day, 8:32 am
Roll out of bed. Since my high-heat turkey will only take about 2 hours, I don't have to worry about starting the oven at the crack of dawn. I spared you from having to see what I look like when I first wake-up.

10:45 am
Show Tatiana how to make pretty stamped napkin rings. I am intentionally trying to teach the girls how to 'practice hospitality' and am internally thanking myself for not planning a crazy-complicated menu.

10: 48 am
Sienna is given the task of counting out the silverware. I want to make even my small children feel like they are a part of hosting The Big Day.

11:06 am
Nice little napkin rings are complete!

11:28 am
Sienna is bored. I take out our Fun with Fingerprinting book to keep her entertained while I tidy the house.

12: 31 pm
Call Mom to see how her Thanksgiving Day is going. She nearly has a coronary when she hears that I haven't even turned on my oven yet. She says she's heard about this fandangled high-heat method on the radio. Well, if it was on the radio, then it must have some validity right? My confidence is boosted.

1:12 pm
Husband has me watch the intro and first 10 minutes of the movie Up, which he rented for the kids. After those first several scenes (if you've seen it, you'll know what I mean), I go and shut myself in the bathroom and have a good cry. I think to myself that at exactly this time last year, I was discovering that I was pregnant with Olivia and had cried on the very same bathroom floor. I contemplate just canceling my Thanksgiving dinner. But I dry my eyes and decide to forge ahead.

1:45 pm
Start the dough for World's Best Rolls. With a recipe name like that, I have pretty high expectations. The last time I tried a recipe that said "Best"-whatever, it did not live up to the promise. I hope this one will be different.

3:18 pm
My turkey goes in the oven 3 minutes late.

3:33 pm
Why do I feel like I am already behind my pre-planned timeline even though I've barely started cooking? I decide to move a little faster than I had planned. Good thing I have a lot of kitchen experience and many of my cooking skills can go on auto-pilot.

4:20 pm
Sienna is bored. Again. She decides to write out a dinner menu. So, in between mixing, measuring, recipe-checking, timeline consulting, and stirring, I am dictating words to her and pointing out which letters on her letter chart are for each word. Yes. Homeschooling to the core. Plus, I couldn't resist how cute she looked. First thing on her Thanksgiving menu? Hot dogs. Um, I don't think so, sweetie.

4:29 pm
My guests are on their way. Due to some family issues, we decided to keep things low-key and just invite a family of dear friends over for dinner. No turning back now!

4: 33 pm
My timer goes off. A fully-cooked turkey in just 80 minutes seems too good to be true. Will we be ordering pizza?

4:39 pm

4:56 pm
Guests arrive! I am busily attending to the stove & can't 'meet and greet' like I wanted to. Please know that I spent time today praying for you, my guests. I think that is more important than arranging the perfect centerpiece.

5:21 pm
I set out several side dishes and finish up the rest. I had to have Sweet Potato Casserole and Tatiana requested macaroni and cheese.

5:26 pm
I complete my Thanksgiving meal 4 minutes ahead of schedule. I really only spent about 2 1/2 hours cooking. Amazing.

5: 32 pm
My wonderful Husbands says grace. I get choked up. Despite the trials of this last year, we really do have a lot to be thankful for.

6:48 pm
We all ate at the same table. I love that. No 'kiddie table' here. The World's Best Rolls lived up their name. They were soooo yummy. My new simpler recipe for cranberry sauce was even good. I love when something done more simply is just as good as something complicated. We have tidied up, packed up leftovers, and moved into the family room so the kids can play and the adults can relax.

7:11 pm
What's that Sebastian? You don't want Thanksgiving to end? I guess he's too young to understand what I have been telling the kids all day, "Thanksgiving should be everyday". It's not just one day a year; we should strive daily to have thankful hearts.

7:25 pm
The kids are all in their jammies & have an impromptu 'build-your-own-sundae' for dessert.

7:51 pm
Even though she creates a small fuss, I take a picture with Stephanie anyways.

7:52 pm
The Husband (right) and the best man at our wedding (Stephanie's husband).

10:46 pm
The littlest boys are passed out and our guests get ready to leave. I almost thought it was gonna be a sleepover for a minute there! This little fella looks how I feel. Happy First Thanksgiving Davis!

10: 58 pm
I am lying in bed and trying to figure out the funny feeling that I have in my face. It finally occurs to me. My cheeks are sore from smiling and laughing so much. And that, my friends, hasn't happened in a really long time.

11: 06 pm
I drift off to sleep feeling happy that I decided not to cancel Thanksgiving afterall.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

We're Rich!

Almost 5-year old after sock sorting: Mom, we must be rich.

Me: Why do you say that?

5yo: Because "rich" is when you have a lot of something like money or, ya know, socks.

Me: (laughing) Yes, I guess it would seem that way!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Home Ec Breakfast

Our home economics lessons have included a simple introduction to nutrition, how to use a peeler (I also supplemented with some knife skills), and last Friday, our lesson was on using a toaster. I love how thorough the instructions are (i.e. don't forget to dry your hands after washing and count to twenty before removing the toast from the toaster). The featured recipe was for Cinnamon-Sugar Toast, which proved to be easy enough for my student to prepare and delicious enough for all the kids to enjoy!

In case you want your little ones to try this at home, it's as easy as mixing up some cinnamon sugar (about 1/4 c. and 1/2 t. cinnamon more or less) and spreading some butter on fresh toast. The lesson also has the parent checking the toaster settings, making sure the child has washed his/her hands before preparing the meal, counting to 20 before removing the toast, and waiting 5 minutes before putting the toaster away. This makes for an easy cooking lesson and a quick & tasty breakfast.

Do your kids spend a lot of time in the kitchen with you?

Thursday, November 19, 2009


At this time last year, I was planning & re-planning my Thanksgiving meal for 20 (plus). I was researching pretty details that would make my guests feel special. I created time-lines, critiqued recipes, crafted handmade invitations, and wrote out grocery lists. I posted about some top traditional recipes. I tried to ignore my husband's incessant teasing about thinking that I might be pregnant. As an almost afterthought, I purchased a pregnancy test along with all my Thanksgiving groceries.

It all seems like it was yesterday.

I feel like I have lost an entire year of my life. The last 365-ish days feel blurry, except for some details that just don't seem to fade. And as I sit at the same desk, in the same chair, typing away at the same keyboard to post on the same blog about the same holiday, things feel like anything but the same.

And so, even though we are planning on having a few guests here in just one week's time, I have planned not a single detail. Nothing. Nada. A stark and revealing contrast to just one year ago. And at times, when considering the current state of my life, I don't feel very thankful, which makes a holiday called 'Thanksgiving' seem...not appropriate. But God is gracious to continually point me towards small things to be thankful for. I guess, at the very least, I can be really thankful that I did so much research last year and posted on this very blog! I even saved all my Thanksgiving notes and plans into handy dandy Microsoft Word files, which I might add, I have never done in the past.

Thank God for planning ahead.

Even if I didn't know what I had coming.

How are your Thanksgiving plans coming along? Any great Thanksgiving websites/blog posts I should check out?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Looks Like Fall!

Took me long enough, eh? I just didn't feel like decorating, but after much pestering from my eldest daughter, we finally put up all our fall things. It really is my favorite season. We don't celebrate Halloween around these parts so I try to focus on pumpkins, leaves, and other 'harvest' decor for our home.

They probably won't be up for very long since Christmas is right around the corner. Eeeek!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What DOES he do, anyway?

Whenever someone asks what my husband 'does', as in, what job he holds, I laugh. We both do, actually. It happened again last night, as it is an inevitable question when meeting new people. I usually say, "That's a very good question." Maybe when the next person asks what he 'does', I should say, "Whatever it takes."

So, for any inquiring minds out there, I want to answer that question and also update our situation. The simple answer is that the Husband has his own business (corporation). The business would fall under the broad category of 'logistics'. That has included dump truck dispatching, dump truck driving, and most recently, heavy machinery staffing. He has also looked for side jobs, donated his plasma for money, and previously worked overnights for my step-dad driving a sweeper-truck. We have just been going where God directs and pleading that we would hear His voice, that He would make our paths straight, that we would plan, but that ultimately He would guide. It is a really rewarding, yet difficult place to be. The Husband has applied for 'regular' jobs both out of fear and out of faith. We continually ask ourselves the question, "Is having our own business what God wants for us right now?" And even though I dislike the answer many times, we have both felt Him repeatedly say 'Yes'.

Of course this all could change as He sees fit. I have learned to let go of the notion that if the Husband had a regular, full-time, ample money-making job, that my life would then be perfect. Easier? Maybe. We would have missed out on so much quality time together, especially in this last year, when He knew exactly what we needed. As of late, I tell the Husband that I wish we were independently wealthy so that we could just live life together on a daily basis. Because we just love being together. I am not a wife who is chronically annoyed from having her husband underfoot. I have adjusted to having him around and I love it.

All that to say that this last contract our business had (which was also our first BIG one) has just finished up and lo-and-behold, God has provided a temporary driving job for the Husband, which is to last for the next five weeks. He started on Monday! As I was talking to God & saying my 'Amens!' and 'Hallelujahs!', He impressed something specific on my heart: I should not feel relieved.


Not relieved.

Becuase if I really believe that 'it all comes from Him' then this temporary job is just another form of His provision. I shouldn't be trusting in the duration of the job, but in the One who supplied it. My faith should not be in the author of a paycheck, but in the Author of Life.

I do admit that I am breathing a little easier. I will miss not having Hubs around as much and having to manage the household and my three blessings mostly on my own. But I'm sure I'll get used to it. Those first few corkscrew turns and plummeting dives that this employment roller coaster has taken were totally unpleasant and downright scary. After being on this ride for some time though, I am learning that I am safe inside my coaster car and that I can trust the track.

Because as topsy-turvy as this track can be, I know the One who designed it.

More blessed than I deserve,

Monday, November 09, 2009

No-schooling Week!

We survived another 5 weeks of homeschooling and so, our reward? One week off! 

Highlights included:
* a morning of bowling using free bowling game coupons from specially marked boxes of Tony's pizza. I just paid for the girls' shoe rental and the nice man behind the counter let them bowl a second game for free! Praise God for small surprises.

* lunch with some friends after bowling, including some Corn Chowder from my freezer & store bought french bread

* two evenings of fires in our fireplace. Me knitting on the floor in front of the fireplace. The girls chillin'. The Husband playing his guitar. Our son pointing repeatedly to the fire. One night included Dad's famous special rap-song reading of Llama, Llama Red Pajama.

* Planning of the next 5 weeks of school. Planning math is the hardest part because of all the different workbooks & extra exercises that Tatiana needs to cement the skills. I am so excited to start our study of the 50 states & start filling up our U.S. Notebook.

* Organizing of our homeschooling cupboard and Sienna's school box. It was looking quite the mess! Buried in the piles, I found some Mad Libs Jr. that I can add to Tatiana's English lessons. Sweet. I had to actually write it into our lesson plans. I find that if it something isn't actually planned, it doesn't get done.

All tidied up!

* Pre-tracing some cutting & gluing activities for Sienna from Cut & Create for All Seasons.

Activities traced & ready to assemble.

* Drooling over the Book of Days at Blue Yonder Ranch. I could never get the Friday nature walks to gel into our routine. Maybe this is a solution? Fridays were supposed to be 'light schooling' days with nature walks and art lessons. The art lessons just weren't a good fit either. I am replacing them with weekly activities from Home Economics for Girls. I was able to purchase this book used for a song this last week and I can't wait to get it!
And th-th-th-that's all folks!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Future Executive

Busily at his desk.

Practicing writing memos?

Or love notes to his wife?

Judging from his attire, it was apparently 'casual Friday'.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Just In Case

It was a Thursday and my brother was visiting. He rarely ever visits. Holidays mostly. But he had some things to bring me on behalf of my grandma, so he was spending part of the morning with us. I put our homeschool lessons on hold, just so that we could visit and enjoy each other's company. My brother, like me, has had a rough year. We both were in need of our faith to be strengthened, I just never thought that the strength God would send was coming via the United States Postal Service.

I'm sure this story began several years ago, although I'm not exactly sure when. A young couple out West purchased a supplemental medical insurance policy. You know, just in case. {I don't think we ever plan on using just in case, do we?} Fast forward to this summer and you will find that their firstborn daughter was born too early. At a little over one pound, she spent many days in the NICU. And that just in case insurance policy came into effect. They actually were paid money for every day that their daughter spent in the hospital.

I had followed their journey through the NICU, encouraging them as I could. I don't actually remember who found who, but we stumbled upon each other, nonetheless. I now realize that it was God, writing our stories so that our chapters would overlap. My anonymous friend had wanted to do something with the extra funds they had accumulated from their daughter's hospital stay, she just didn't know who to give it to, until she read my recent post on my family's financial struggles and God spoke to her. She then asked if she could send me something.

Please God, let that something not be money. I mean, receiving graciously when you are in need is one thing. But money from a perfect stranger?

I steeled myself against the thought that maybe my friend would send me $25 or $50. I felt humbled at the mere thought. And then came that Thursday, I opened the package in front of my brother; a journal was inside. Phew. And then, there it was. A check, paper-clipped to the inside of the journal. As I quickly scanned it, I could see that the amount is was written for included a comma. What?! The actual amount really doesn't matter; suffice it say that it was for considerably more than the $25 I was feeling humbled about. I could not contain my shock and had to read the letter she had written out loud to my brother, the rest of the mail on the floor in the middle of my living room.

I am still shaking my head. 

The part that stands out is when she says that she thinks God gave my portion to her, so that she could deliver it to me and that she and her husband were faithful to do as God prompted them. At the end of the note, my brother pumps his fist in the air and declares, "See! God provides!" I'm not sure any eloquent explanation could say it any better than that.

Although I have said it on many occasions, both to myself and to others, that "It all belongs to and comes from Him", I fail to actually believe it sometimes. And so He chooses to use some amazing circumstances to remind me and hopefully, to remind anyone else who reads this. How intricate His plan is. How extraordinary it feels to be a part of His story. How it really does all come from Him.

How many of next month's bills will be paid because of an insurance policy that was purchased years ago, just in case.