Wednesday, May 25, 2011

When Friends Touch Your Soul

I've been thinking lately about the things that are important to me, and one of those is friendships. Especially those friendships that span across your life time; those friends that know you like no other. The friends that will have memories of you that help fill in your own memory bank with things you may have forgotten. I have a friend like that. I call her my "soul sister". My relationship with Samantha spans just shy of 35 years .... once I did the math, I was in awe of how long we've been friends. We just got together over Easter when I was "home" visiting my dad. We had a wonderful time hanging out with my son and took a short walk in a nature center. This is a friendship where I get filled up every time we're together, through her tenderhearted warmth and laughter.

Fun things I remember ...
Sitting next to each other as Ms. Ourada read to us James and the Giant Peach in our 2nd grade class.

Going to camp together in Girl Scouts and taking part in our makeshift beauty pageant.

Lots and lots of sleepovers where we watched scary movies which we probably had no business watching alone (and then sneaking up into the old attic to scare each other).

Writing and passing notes back and forth in Jr. High to each other. I would address her as "Sambotray" and sign my name "Traysambo" combining our names.

Hanging out at track meets together in high school and being silly on the bus rides home.

Going out on the town together every weekend after rekindling our relationship after college. Being out together the night she met the man who became her husband.

And doing the reading at her wedding taking home a centerpiece which is now my 11-year-old African violet (above).

I am so blessed to have a dear friend like this in my life, I just had to share it and celebrate her!

I love you Sam!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

What My Child is Reading

One of J's favorite activities is reading books and I absolutely love cuddling him on my lap and reading. I like to link up to What My Child Is Reading blog link-up. Not only is it a great way to record the wonderful books we've read, but I've found so many new good book ideas by visiting each week. Click on the button below to see what others have been reading!

Corduroy Lost and Found by B.G. Hennessy
We found a new Corduroy book and like this one just as well as the others. In the story, it's Lisa's birthday and Corduroy is beside himself that he doesn't have a gift for her. He goes on a journey early in the morning while still dark and ends up getting lost. He's found by a kind man running the neighborhood newstand and have a happy birthday reunion. Very sweet story.

The Dinosaur Who Lost His Roar by Russell Punter
My son is really into dinosaurs and this one was fun for him. Sid is a dinosaur that likes to have fun. One of the things he most likes is scaring his other dinosaur friends (Spike, Ross and Ollie) with his loud roar. He ends up losing his roar with a soar throat and once recovered, wants to apologize to his friends only to find them missing. He then saves them from being eaten by a giant T-Rex by using his giant roar to scare him away.

Mama Panya's Pancakes, a Village Tale from Kenya by Mary Chamberlin
This is a book that J liked and I fell in love with. I love sharing books with J that expand his knowledge of other cultures. The pictures are wonderful illustrations showing village life in Kenya. Another part I like is the end of the book which has several pages of detail about Kenya. For example, one section describes life in Kenya and another section has descriptions of the insect, animals and plants with their swahili names. In the story, Mama takes her son Adika to market and he guesses that she's going to make pancakes. Adika is so excited that he invites everyone they run into that they know. Mama is concerned about how she'll feed everyone, yet Adika isn't worried. In the end, each guest shows up bringing something wonderful to add to the meal and they eat and enjoy the time together.

Mary Manatee, A Tale of Sea Cows by Suzanne Tate
J has been interested in manatees lately and I found a couple good books like this one. This book tells the story of Mary and her baby Mikey. She is a 1000-pound manatee teaching her baby how to eat water plants and avoid dangers like boats. One day, the calf got closed behind a gate in the water and separated from his mom. It ends with the humans helping set him free and he happily returns to his mom having learned a big lesson.

Oliver's Vegetables by Vivian French
This was a fun book to encourage J to eat more vegetables. (He sometimes needs a little help to eat enough of them.) In this story, Oliver spends a week at his grandparents house who have
a wonderful garden. At home, Oliver will only eat french fries, but his grandfather challenges him to identify the potatoes in the garden and he can eat them. But he has to eat what he finds. He ends up finding carrots, spinach, rhubarb (yum), cabbage, beets, peas until he finally finds the potatoes. On his last night there, he finally enjoys some french fries.

Otter Play by Nancy Luenn
J liked to read this one a lot. He loved the otter story. As the story unfolds about a little otter family, it mirrors a little boy and his family. The boy wakes up and streches, and the otters wake up and stretch. The otters slide down into the water, and the little boy slides into the water in a boat with his parents. As his parents fish, he watches the little otters fishing. He eats his apple as the otters eat the fish they caught. When the day is over, the otters crawl back into their burrow and the boy crawls into his tent with his parents. I love otters.

A Pony Named Peanut by Sindy McKay
J picked this book out by himself, and although it looks like a grade school book he really liked the story. The story is written in the format of a young girl's journal. She spends the summer with her Aunt Molly out in the country instead of with her Aunt Rachel in the city. She has a very pouty attitude in the beginning which slowly turns around when her Uncle gets a new pony from the shelter. He has her care for the pony and she grows to love him. I love this part of the book, since I love horses myself and she learns everything from hoof cleaning to lunging to mucking stalls. The best part is when she finally gets over her fear and learns to ride him. She ends up having a lovely summer.

Thanks for visiting!

Here are links to a couple other fun book reading link ups:

As an affiliate of Amazon, I will receive a small commission for any books purchased from the links in the widget above!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

This Wondrous Mess

I get a daily email from Ann Voskamp's wonderful blog, A Holy Experience. She was sharing about feeling like a messed up mother and yet she writes how she sees in a moment how beautiful all of life really is. She says, "I haven’t got anything together and I can stop looking for some hidden door that’s going to someday open up to my real, perfect life and I can stop waiting and I can start laughing praise, because this wondrous mess, this is it."

This quote really echoes what I'm feeling right now. Harried. Seems like I've just been on the go without slowing down and to boot I've got a strained lower back. It seems to abate at night, but throughout the day it aches just bending over to pick something up or moving around. And because I can't slow down yet with another busy week that started Monday, the ache gets a little worse. And the attitude gets a little worse. Less patience, less desire to pick up around the house, less desire to say kind words.

I am so grateful for the Lord's grace which causes me to slow down, even if it is only a few moments, and reflect. I see that this mess is a beautiful life because He is the life giver. I have so many things on my to-do list right now, and I am letting that be okay. Letting it be okay for example that I started "31 days to clean" on May 2nd and only got day 1 completed so far ;) Letting it be okay that I was feeling elated when my son went down for an early nap, thinking I may even have 3 hours of time alone, only to realize he wasn't sleeping and a half hour into his nap was begging me to get him. I could hear his pleas through the closed door, "Mommy can you hear me? Mommy come get me. It's a beautiful day outside. Let's go in the pool." I was just tickled and ended up using that 3 hours just enjoying playing in the sprinkler and the wading pool on an unseasonably warm, 86-degree Spring day. I have lovely memories from today now that I will carry with me because I'm trying to slow down in the right places. The bills will get paid and the nonessential mail will pile up, yet through the Lord's grace I am finding ways to savor the special time of "now" with my so-quickly-growing little boy. And I'm finding I like this wondrous mess.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tiny Talk Tuesday

**J is 35 months old**

Tiny Talk Tuesday is a way to share the fun and interesting things our kids are saying. I love joining up for this blog carnival at Not Before 7. Click her button above to see what kind of Tiny Talk has been overhead in the homes of others!

One morning after waking up, J was hugging his stuffed animals; Henry the Polar Bear, his teddy bear named Teddy and his little turtle. He was trying to come up with a name for the turtle and he couldn't think of anything. All of a sudden, he looked so sad like he was going to cry. I said, "What's wrong, honey?" He said, "I'm sad, mommy. My turtle doesn't have a name." After a bit he asked, "Will you help me name him?" So I suggested we call him Shelly, since he lives in his shell. He seemed content with that.

We were watching a Land Before Time DVD while on Easter vacation at my dad's house. The dinosaurs were running away from lava that was rising up the mountain side. One of the dinosaurs asked the pteranodon to go fly to the dinosaur parents to get help and J said, "They need their cell phones mommy." I said, "Tell me more." He said, "If they had their cell phones they could call anyone they wanted!"

Monday, May 2, 2011

31 Days to Clean Challenge

Homemakers Challenge - 31 Days to Clean

I found and downloaded what looks to be a wonderful e-book, 31 Days to Clean (having a Martha house the Mary way) by Sarah Mae (only $4.99). Now, to make this happen in my home, I'm joining the 31 day challenge with other homemakers across the globe for support and encouragement.

It was about 4 years ago that I went through the book A Woman After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George. I was in a bible study with many older women, most who were grandmothers. It was before I had my son, and there were wonderful chapters on creating a God-centered home. It was wonderful to start building this foundation before my son came. Here are the chapters on managing your home from her book:

A Heart That Makes a House a Home

A Heart That Watches Over the Home

A Heart That Creates Order from Chaos

A Heart that Weaves a Tapestry of Beauty

It was incredibly inspiring but it's been a long time since I visited something like this. I want to look deeper into how I am managing my home. I had a pretty good cleaning schedule I had been keeping most weeks for the past year, but lately I've lost a bit of my motivation. I don't have the same spirit I once did. I'm finding myself cutting corners and trying to avoid housework rather than embracing it as something I'm doing to honor the Lord. I want to breathe life back into the things I do around the house, to realize that in all things, whether big or small, I can live out his word like Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.

I look forward to posting weekly about this as I start the challenge this week.

In case you are interested in downloading the book and doing the challenge yourself, here are the instructions for the challenge:

  1. Read the chapters each day that week. Highlight, take notes, do what you have to do to engage the material. Don’t just read it. Really allow it to change you. Journal, pray, look up scriptures.
  2. Write a post (or more, if you like) sharing your most challenging chapter for that week and give us a personal glimpse as to why you struggle in this area. Don’t worry! We all have an area of struggle, so we will all be sharing! Share what you need that could help you in that area. I will be posting a struggle, but also some extra solutions to accompany what Sarah Mae has offered. If you feel compelled, why not also share something that comes easily for you? Perhaps you could offer tips to others who may be struggling?
  3. Use the button in your post so that others can find their way back in case they would like to join us. The more the merrier! I have changed the code so it brings you to the list of “31 Days to Clean” posts. You can find the button in my sidebar.
  4. Link up your post(s) on Friday, beginning May 6th . It doesn’t matter what day you choose to write your post, you can still link it up on Friday.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Returning Refreshed

We had a really nice Easter vacation spending time with my dad "Boppy" and step mom, "Mimi" (what the kids call them). It was so nice to go back "home" to Illinois, to the suburb of Chicago (Palos Park) where I grew up. It is so peaceful, an area filled with forest preserves and lots and lots of old, old trees. My favorite are the old oak trees scattered throughout.

The days went by fast, but they were well spent. Easter dinner with the extended family was just lovely as my southern step-mom created an authentic Southern Easter dinner and J had a blast playing with all his cousins. I made a couple of my recipes during the week, Tray Baked Chicken and Papa's Goulash which my dad and Debbie (and J) really enjoyed. I was able to catch up with a couple of my good friends from childhood and they got to spend some time with J.

I would have to say that my most favorite part of the trip was my daily walks while J was napping. I was able to leave the house while Boppy and Mimi kept watch. I spent time just drinking in the beauty of the Lord's creation as I explored the familiar area. Taking time to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells drew me closer to God. I took time just gazing in front of the pond that is down the road where a pair of geese have made their home. I loved just listening to the birds and watching the trees sway in the breeze. A couple of my walks were 30 minutes and a couple over 45 minutes. Each walk enabled me to spend quality time in prayer and communion with the Lord out in nature. It was very sweet. It also brought back so many memories of riding my bike up and down the roads and running all over the neighborhood. The houses themselves have changed so much. On each street, several of the old houses have been torn down and immense homes have taken their place. Some look like castles, some look like mountain lodges.

During my walks, it was a treat to see a flock of migrating warblers. They let me come incredibly close and I knew they had to be some type of warbler by their mix of yellow, gray and white colors. After searching the internet, I discovered they were yellow-rumped warblers (first picture). I really enjoyed watching the birds throughout the week, and saw another bird, the white crowned sparrow (second picture), which stopped over at my dad's house. I also enjoyed hearing the birds. The call of the woodpecker, the songs of the robin and the cardinal, the noisy call of the blue jay. My dad's porch was a great place for watching and listening to the birds. It was such a blessing to me.

Another favorite from the week was spending lots of time with J reading books. I didn't have my computer with me and we watched very little TV, so we had lots of time together. I took some time to go through our old kids books in the dank, musty basement and my dad let me take several of them home. They were a wonderful discovery for J, who spent literally hours with me each day, just having me read them to him. He loved this finger play book (picture above) and after having me read it several times, he enjoyed doing the finger play on his own. Frog and Toad are a new favorite.

One of our final treats was making a trip to our little town's ice cream parlor, The Plush Horse, which has been around since 1937. They have a life sized white stuffed horse inside and J was just thrilled to see it. He picked his seat at the cutest little tiny kids table. It was fun taking him to a place his mom used to visit often as a kid. The ice cream is just delicious.

We had plenty of unpacking and settling in to do once we got home, but it's good to be home after having a nice little vacation away.