Wednesday, January 29, 2014

'Til My Sides Hurt: Man-child's Gonna Get Slapped One Day

Abiah has a tendency to say what is on his mind, and, without meaning to, sounding completely rude. Sometimes he thinks he's funny, but most of the time he just doesn't realize that he sounds like he's trying to be offensive.

I was talking to my parents about it and made the comment, "The kids gonna get beat up some day because he sounds so rude."

My dad, who is like Abiah's twin born 40 something years earlier, said, "No. I never got beat up. I knew enough not to say that kind of stuff to guys."

"I'm not talking about guys, Dad. He's gonna get slapped by some girl that he'll unknowingly offend!"

"Oh... Yeah... I think I got slapped a few times."


Here are a few gems, plus a few other funny things he's said lately.


I was lamenting to Abiah that Amelia had left her cream colored jacket outside and it was now all muddy.

He just looked at me with a blank stare and then said, "If I was a girl maybe I'd understand."


Around Christmas my parents caught the flu and were horribly sick for two weeks. Towards the end of their sickness we had an emergency with Jackson one evening and I needed them to rush over to watch the other kids while HH and I took him to the ER. Because of the situation my parents dropped everything and came right away. My mom, who is always done up, hadn't done her hair or make up because she'd been so sick. When they came in the house Abiah greeted them at the door. He looked at my mom and said, "Hmmmm, bad hair day?"


During our Christmas at home I made a huge platter of snacky foods for our meal. There was so much that we ended up eating it for a few days after, too. On day three of snacky foods for lunch, Abiah was doing the dishes while I was getting everything set out.

"We're eating that agian?"

"Yup. We need to eat it up."

Then he walked over to a pan of beans I had on the stove and peaked inside to see what was in there.

"Oh good. You're still cooking."

Now this comment was just a timing thing because I found out later that he was actually checking to see if I was still using the pot so he'd know if he had to wash it or not. So, I'll give him that one, but in the future someone else might not be so nice.


We were making a list of different flowers for school and I had listed some off for him and he repeated them, or what he heard, back to me, "Violets, lilacs, and cockroaches?"


While dictating to him his spelling words:

Me: Your next word is circumference.

Abiah: Sir Cumference? Do I even know him?


And a little note from me to the girls he'll meet in the future:

I try. I really do.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Homeschool Q&A: How long and Why

I am often asked by friends and acquaintances for help or advice on homeschooling. I love answering those kinds of questions and helping in anyway I can, but sometimes there isn't time to sit and have a lengthy conversation. So I thought I'd start blogging through questions and then I'll have this as a resource to point people to.


And here's where the disclaimer comes in.

Disclaimer: I am in no way the final authority on homeschooling, and I am well aware of that fact. I have opinions and ideas (some original, but most borrowed or adopted) and I love to share them, but I fully believe that you are the best judge of what your family's need are. I share with the idea that you will glean from me, as I have and do from others. I also share hoping for and expecting grace. Homeschooling isn't for everyone and I believe that and am okay with that. But, it is what my family does so I have ideas and thoughts about it.

The first few posts come from a list a friend sent me. She is in the beginning planning stages and has some questions. Since busy schedules are keeping us from a face-to-face conversation I thought I could type it out for her and also file it away for others.


Q: How long have you been homeschooling?

A: Well, the last job I had before HH and I got married was for a local company that supports homeschoolers through state testing, classes for students, help with special needs students, and tutoring. In order to fill out my schedule more I became a tutor. With the guidance of my boss, who has been working with homeschooling families since HH was in kindergarten (at least), I ended up with a full schedule of clients that I homeschooled for their parents. This was from 2001-2004.

Most of my students were ESL students who had a difficult time in the public system because of the language barrier and the lack of time for one-on-one instruction. I also had two girls with special needs that I met with three days a week for 3 hours each day. I would homeschool them and send them home with work for our off days. It wasn't typical homeschooling, but it served the need of the families and I really feel it gave me the confidence to homeschool my own kids.

Our kids have only ever been homeschooled. I started with Abiah when he was about 4. I only started that early because he was ready and interested. It wasn't much at first but it gave him a little something different to do during the day.

Q: Why did you decide to homeschool?

A: Well, for me, the answer to this has evolved. HH and I knew we wanted to homeschool our children before we were even married. It was something we had talked about and decided to do. I think in the beginning, though, it was more of what we knew. HH was only ever homeschooled and I had homeschooled 8th-12th grade and then was already homeschooling other kids. I don't know that there was a lot of depth or thought put into the decision. It's just what we wanted.

I learned quickly, though, that it wasn't enough of a reason. On the hard days I generally would end up in an internal rant that ultimately ended in me deciding it was all HH's fault; I homeschooled our kids because he made me.Totally not a fair conclusion, but Crazy Momma Internal Ranting rarely is.

A year ago this last fall I came to a breaking point. I shot off a text to my dear friend who I admire and who has gone before me a few years and I basically said "I can't do this anymore! I don't know how to school my child and get him to do his work! I've tried everything! He hates school and I know he could love it!"

She ever so gently responded, "Yes. He does hate it. I think you need to take a break and start over."

I knew she was right, but it hit me in the gut. Not because of her, but because I was lost. And starting over seemed daunting and how do you do that with a toddler and two crazy girls running around, all who want your attention too?!


The short story is that we took a week long break and I prayed and researched, spent time with my kids and talked to HH, and researched and talked to my friend. In the end I know the biggest change was what happened in my heart, but another part of the change was defining my vision for homeschooling our children. I still don't have an exact list, but during that time, and since, I have read and re-read many times over this post from Ann Voskamp. For me it was like reading what my heart wanted to say and wanted to want, but didn't know how.

Another reference for me was For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay. I had to take this one in slowly and I know I'll go back to it many times over. It is a beautiful breakdown of Charlotte Mason's educational theory. My ideas of what education should look like were challenged, as were the approaches I have taken with my children. It was a continuation of the gentle redirecting my heart and mind needed.


There were also a lot of little things. A blog post here. A conversation there. It all added up for me.

I have a long list of books to read to continue my own education on homeschooling and I'll share as I finish them.

So, after all of that back story, what I tell people now when they ask Why? is this:

I believe I am the best teacher for my children. I know them best and have the time to give attention to ALL their needs, not just their scholastic ones. Education is important to me, but to me education is also more than math facts, timelines, and proper grammar. When a struggle arises between teacher (me) and student I have the time to dive deeper and look for the heart behind the attitude or behavior.

I also have time to learn their strengths and weaknesses and I have the freedom to let them work at a pace that fits them. Traditional math didn't work for Abiah so we switched it up and he is thriving. Sometimes Abiah likes to walk while he practices memorization. Hazel likes to sit on top of the table while we work together. Both Hazel and Amelia prefer to be dressed as princesses while schooling.  And Jackson likes to climb things all day. 

Also, I don't homeschool because it is easy for me. I do it because I love to. I get comments all the time from other mom's about how I must be so much more patient because they could never do what I do. 

No. I'm super impatient. Every single day I fight impatience and selfishness. Occasionally I win, but mostly I don't and we do lots of apologizing. Homeschooling is just what I've chosen to do. Everybody's job drives them a little crazy even if it's their dream job, like mine. 

Also, I just really like being with my kids. The day-in-day-out is hard and raw, but it's the best thing I've ever done and it's the only thing I ever wanted to do. When Jackson was born I remember freaking out because I had 18 years left of homeschooling. It seemed like an eternity and I didn't know if I could make it that long. This last fall when he was potty trained I almost cried because I realized that I only have 16 more years of homeschooling left. Oh, the pendulum and how it doth swing.

Another reason for me is that I agree wholeheartedly with Ann Voskamp when she says, "We personally don’t believe that children are called to be kingdom warriors in the public school system because, in our humble, and very possibly misguided opinion, that doesn’t seem a level playing field. There are agendas operating there that may leave a child at a disadvantage. But do we need to walk with our children in the world with a vibrant, fearless faith that has full confidence in an all-powerful God? Yes!" 


I believe I read a post (that I can't find!) (Okay, here's one, but I don't think it's the original that I read, but you'll get the gist) from another homeschooling momma that likened her children unto tender young seedlings who need time to mature in the greenhouse until they are strong enough to withstand the weather and storms of the outside world. My hope is that we shelter our kids enough to hold onto their innocence, yet we are honest about real life and the real world enough so they make a smooth transition from our home to where ever they may end up. We talk about real things and we talk about a real God and his real love and real power.

I would add that I also think it would be cheating our kids to place them in an environment where they are basically raised by, and in turn raising, their peers.  Aside from the adult to child ratio in typical classroom settings being extremely low, the awake hours spent away from parents and family and with peers leaves the majority of influence up to the other children in the class.

And we pray it all comes out right in the end because, really, we all as parents are just doing what we feel is right for our children. A wise friend challenged my moping about past parental mistakes by asking, "Do you ever make a decision with the purpose to hurt or damage your child? No! You make all decisions believing that it is the best thing for them." And, it's true. That's what we're all after, right?

 So, for us, this is a part of why we homeschool. I hope this glimpse into our hearts as parents and educators of our babes encourages you whether you intend to homeschool or not. Like I said above, you are the best judge of what your family's needs are. God gave your children to you because he knew you were exactly the parent they needed. You are doing a great job.

Be blessed, ya'll!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Happy Monday, Ya'll

Our weekend started Thursday night as HH had taken it off to use up a holiday. HH and I had fabulous weekend plans that were altered Thursday night by a cold visiting our house. We didn't get as much date time in, but we still managed to have a restful weekend.

Friday was our busy day that turned into my busy day so that HH could stay home with the sick child. (My SIL had the three older kids.) In the morning I had a meeting with a friend, but the rest of my day was to be filled with shopping, shopping, and more shopping. As I got ready for the day I decided I'd wear my yoga pants to my friend's house since it was a cozy meeting.

When I checked myself in the mirror before I left I thought, "Man, I look confused. I'm all dressed nice...and then there's the yoga pants." Instead of embracing the shame of wearing my yoga pants outside of the house, I decided to name my outfit.

The Mommy Mullet

 Business on the top, Mommy on the bottom. (I'm still not good at taking my photos.)

Lesson here: Embrace the cozy and then give it a name. Happy Monday, Ya'll!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

'Til My Sides Hurt: The Telephone Guys

So, apparently our little phone company has switched to fiber-optics and they are making a slow move up our street to switch the houses one-by-one. I got a phone call yesterday morning and we set up a time for them to come make the switch. I was pretty excited because I had showered and was fully dressed...NOT in yoga pants. And that was before they had even called. Also the house was in decent order because we had a showing the previous night.

The two men showed up at the appointed time, which just happened to be when I was just finishing school with Hazel, Abiah was working on school in the other room, and Amelia and Jackson were napping. Perfect! They can get in, get it done, and there won't be too much chaos.

As I was talking to the Phone guys about the logistics of what they were doing, why, and where, I was vaguely aware of the fact that Hazel was running around behind the younger of the two guys. She was giggling and snickering, but she tends to do that when she's embarrassed and I just figured strangers = embarrassed. Nope.

Right as they walk out the door to begin their task, she starts after them and says something about the stickers. Thankfully she stopped when I called her, and even more thankfully, they didn't hear her.

She explains to me that while I was talking to the guys she snuck up behind "the little one", as she called him, and placed three small smiley face stickers on him. One on his back, one on his leg (calf), and one on his butt!!!

Oh. Don't worry. She assured me she didn't actually touch his butt. She just put the sticker on a fold of the fabric of his pants.


I couldn't help it. I laughed. And I couldn't stop. Especially when he'd come in the house and walk past us with three stickers stuck on his back side. Abiah was a fit of giggles too. It was quite ridiculous. And hilarious! Especially since she can be super shy. Girl sure knows how to pick her moments! And, boy, is she proud of herself.

Amelia stole my phone and there are tons of pictures of the two of them like this.

We were talking about it later in the evening with HH and I told him about Hazel reassuring me that she didn't actually touch his butt, just the fabric.

Me: "He was wearing Carrhart overall things over his clothes, so I'm sure he didn't feel it."

HH: "Were the quilted?"

Me: "Well...I didn't feel his clothing, so... I'm not sure."

HH: "Well, that's good to know."

Abiah: "Ask Hazel. She should know."

And then Abiah and I were back to fits of laughter.


Who says home schoolers are socially awkward? What!?!?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A little encouragement for the soul

The days have been busy and the nights not so restful. I'm a little weary yesterday and today. Here are a few things that are ministering to my heart today and I thought I'd share in the case that maybe you need a little encouragement too. Be blessed my friends!

A lovely post from Ann Voskamp.

And a prayer song to snuggle our hearts right next to our Father's.

What has been an encouragement to you this week?

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Monday List

1. All last week I had the hardest time waking up early. Except on Friday. Friday I had plans with my MIL to go to a sale at the consignment shop my mom and her friend own. It was a first come first served type of event so we needed to be there at opening or close to it to really get the good stuff. Which meant I had to get myself and four children, two of whom needed bathing, out the door by 8:30 so we could meet HH at his mom's house so he could watch the kids while the MIL and I went shopping.

2. It was a bag sale where you choose from certain racks and it's $10 for anything you can fit in one of their shopping bags. I got six pieces in my bag.

I scored this top. I took this picture yesterday before we went to church. P.S. I am not a fashion blogger and I have no idea how to take photos of myself in the mirror. It's hard work, Yo!

I also got these four tops and a long sweater for my SIL. It was a successful trip and I can't wait for the next bag sale. It was a two day sale and, let me tell you, it was so hard not to go back the second day to have a peek and the next batch of goodies. Abiah saw these laying on the floor and was all, "Ummm, why are there sweaters on the floor." Because your Mom is trying to be cool kid. That's why. Now go to bed.

3. I also purchased one item that wasn't part of the bag sale. It was on one of the window mannequins and I loved it before I even entered the store. The lovely shop girl (aka Mom) took it down for me and after trying it on I knew it was for me. I didn't know what HH would have to say about it, but I knew he wouldn't mind. When I asked him for probably the 50th time that night if he was okay with me buying it he said, "It's paid for itself" and then he gave me a "look". I think he likes it. :) Or he likes that I like it. Whatevs. He's hot and I got a new sweater/cardi thing.

New cardi/sweater thing! I wish I could honestly say that wearing this with my yoga pants was just for the picture, but I'd be lying. It's so comfy! I will say that I won't be wearing it with a cream colored tank in real life. I have a little bit of fashion sense.

4. HH and I went on a date! We visted a pub in Portland and then ended up at one my my favorite dessert places for sweets and coffee. Friday was a pretty great day.

5. After a late Friday we were violently woken up Saturday morning by Amelia stomping into our room declaring that Jackson was trying to climb out of his crib. Jackson was close on her heels exclaiming, "I  want tell you somsing, Momma! I want tell you somsing!" I groggily turned to HH and said, "We've entered a new level of H-E-Double Hockey stick." Hazel followed them into our room explaining that someone (cough, HH, cough) had left the railing down on the crib during a midnight "Take Jackson pee" run. HH and I let out a huge sigh of relief. This morning Jackson came down the stairs all by himself. The crib rail was up. He is no longer contained by his crib and there is only one booster seat he can't get out of. Conclusion: That kid is going to have to learn to sleep sitting up. That's the only way we'll get any rest, I'm thinking.

6. There's nothing worse than waiting all weekend to check the mail because you should be receiving a package in the mail, except checking the mail on Saturday and finding the yellow slip in your box that let's you know your package is indeed in the building. You just can't have it. And the only thing that's worse than that is running in Monday morning to get said package that you know is there only to realize that it's a Federal holiday and you still have to wait one more day. Hope deferred, ya'll. That's what it's all about.

I hope your weekend was fantastic and that you are ready for a new week of new mercies. Happy Monday!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Favorite Things Friday

Here are a few things that have made me smile this week. Enjoy and join in with a comment on some of your favorite things from this last week.

Krooked Kastle Krooked Kakes! You know you live in a Krooked house when all your cakes resemble the Leaning Tower of Pisa. This was the cake I made for our belated Christmas celebration with HH's family. It was a delightful weekend and a delicious cake!

One of my all time favorite people had a birthday this week. In all my 33 years of life I've never admired anyone more. We are more than sisters. We are Pin Dins.

One of my favorite meals I made this week and I couldn't even eat it on account of all the eggs in it. Frittatas have become a family favorite. Before I new I had an allergy to eggs I joined in the good eats. I still love making them for my family though. It's a perfect way to use up left over pasta or rice dishes. The funny thing about this particular frittata is that Jackson refused to eat the pasta for dinner the night before, but then he ate one and a half pieces of frittata and wanted more! Silly kid.

My parents and their housemates, who conveniently live five minutes away from me, were given an espresso/coffee maker that makes single cup servings and it is the most amazing machine ever! The other day, after dealing with a certain child's school related melt down, I called my mom at work and asked/begged for some left-over Christmas candy. "Yes! Of course! It's in the garage. And make yourself a cup of coffee while you're there." She speaks the best words.

While doing school with Abiah I hear Jackson say, "I sink I need help, Momma." Oh dear. He got stuck climbing up to get his sister's flashlight from off the top of the microwave. These kinds of things happen everyday.

My MIL saw these and thought of me. And then she thought of all the chipped bowls in my cupboard and decided I needed these. I love them! And the kids do too. Color makes everything better. And I got rid of five chips bowls and replaced them with eight shiny new ones!
And the grand finale is a video I took of Jackson guiding the Kitchen Aid as it mixed up our mashed potatoes. He is so helpful in the kitchen. And he's addicting. I love how hard he concentrates on getting his arm to move the right direction.

What are some of your favorites from this week?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

'Til My Sides Hurt

The kids are talking at the dinner table and this is the point of the conversation that I pick up on:

Hazel: Jesus and his elves made the world.

Abiah: Jesus doesn't have elves.

Amelia: God made Ho, Ho, Ho and his elves.

Abiah: Santa didn't make anything.

Hazel: Yes! Jesus!


Jackson climbs up on Abiah's bed and starts singing to him. "Hush little baby. Don't say word. Momm gonna buy you a diamond ring. If that diamond ring turn brass, Momma gonna buy you a Monkey Bird!"


Hazel is coloring her school work with a marker and begins to hold her nose. I'm leaning close to her so I can see what she is doing. She looks my way and says, "Do you know why I'm doing this?"

"No. Why?"

"Because. I farted."


Jackson, "Mom, can you make me a swanich?"


During our morning devotions we read about fear and asking Jesus to help us when we are afraid. After the reading I ask the kids, "Is there anything you are afraid of that you can ask Jesus to help you with?"

Amelia was the first to reply, "Ummmmmm, lions and tigers."


I was holding Jackson and I burped (thank you, Coke!). Jackson said, "That was burp! I love that burp! It was scusting!"


During morning devotions we were talking about keeping our eyes on Jesus.

Abiah said he didn't understand how we can keep our eyes on Jesus if we can't see him. I tried to explain that when we are tempted to sin or are scared we can choose to think about Jesus and let him help us. I said, "Keeping our eyes on Jesus means we can keep our heart focused on Jesus."

Abiah: "Oh. I didn't know my heart had eyes."

Jackson when counting anything: "One, two, free, four, six, seven, eight!"


Hazel was giving us a geography lesson during dinner one night. "Africa is a place where there's lots of zombies!"

#homeschoolingrocks ;)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Letting Them Love Me

A while back I posted on Facebook something along the lines of "I could really use a break , but I can't think of anyone one I'd rather go with than my kids." It was one of those "strong feelings + Facebook = post that's not exactly what I wanted to get across" situations.

There were quite a few comments of the "Oh! You're so sweet, but mommies need breaks" variety which I totally appreciated, but they left me feeling like I didn't really say what I wanted to. Like I wasn't able to fully put my feelings into words and so I was giving the wrong impression. So people misunderstood.

I don't know. What ever it was, it left me feeling like I needed to hash those feeling out.

I'm with my kids almost 24/7. We do pretty much everything together. And I love it. We are all human and far from perfect, but I love my little family and I love that I get to be with them all the time. But I find myself surprised that they want to be with me.

Though HH knows me better than anyone else, it's my kids who see the nastiest parts of me because they are with me the most. They also challenge me the most. Nothing else in my life has left me feeling so bare and raw like motherhood has. Daily I am faced with my weakness and imperfections. And my kids have a front row seat!

Recently, after almost a solid two weeks at home due to sickness, I was getting ready to leave for a few hours for my niece's birthday party. I was going alone and was looking forward to a little break and a time to revive and refresh. Conversations with adults! Right before I left the younger three kids started crying because I was going to be leaving. "You get to spend the whole evening with your daddy and you don't get to spend very much time with him. This is a treat!"

"But Mom," Amelia said, "We don't get to spend very much time with you either!"

Seriously?!?! While it made me giggle, it brought up the same question in my heart again. They want to be with me? Still?

I know I want to be with them. I adore them. But in the back of my mind I always think they're tired of me or don't want to be around me because I make so many mistakes. I yell too much and don't play games enough. I'm selfish and distracted. I have a hard time letting them help in the kitchen and I am the main rule enforcer. The list is truly endless.

But when I thought about it, most times when I desperately need/want to get away, it's because I'm feeling inadequate and frustrated with myself. But they aren't.And this catches me off guard.

What I'm surprised by is their ability to love me despite my weakness and failings. They love me so unconditionally. And they challenge me to love them back unconditionally. Sometimes it's hard not to take their tantrums and sassing personally, and I assume they would feel the same about my imperfections.

Just so you know, I'm not saying mommas and daddies don't need breaks. I'm just realizing in my own heart, for me, there are many times where the break that I think I need is really me running from my imperfections and my frustrations with myself. But because parenting is what is bringing those personal weaknesses to the forefront, I turn and blame my children.

What I think I meant to say in that original Facebook post is that I want to run towards my kids in my raw and bare moments. I want to accept their unconditional love and I want to return it. I want to embrace my weakness and trust that God will be my strength in those moments. I want my kids to see that. I don't want to be afraid of their love.

Parenting is so very hard and there is nothing that will truly "make you ready" for it. But maybe if we open ourselves to the love and grace our little's have for us it would be just a bit easier?

Dickens said, "It is not a slight thing when those so fresh from God love us." I think he is right. And I think they can teach us how to love better if we let them.

Friday, January 10, 2014

'Til My Sides Hurt: Jackson Funnies

Jackson and Amelia were arguing in their room after I had put them to bed. It was the typical "I'm the boss!" "No! I'm the boss!" argument.

Amelia came down in tears and I took her back upstairs to settle them both down. As I enter the room Jackson has started up at Amelia again. "I da boss!"

I sternly corrected him, "No, Jackson. Mommy is the boss and I told you to go to sleep."

He immediately started crying and said, "No I da boss. Not even Daddy. He a good guy an I a good guy but not even you."

Holding back laughter I ask, "Why am I the bad guy?"

Sister gives Jackson a pony tail.
"Because, you talk loudly to me!"


When coming out of the dark bedroom into the lit up hallway, Jackson exclaims, "It shinning out here!"


"Mom, my bed not made. It all crumbly."


He holds up his fists and says, "Look at my muscles!"

We, of course, tell him how big his muscles are and that he is such a strong boy.

Then, with fists still balled, he says, "I gonna punch you with my muscles."

Apparently he misunderstood what part of his body we were calling muscles, so I have HH show Jackson his bicep. "Jackson, feel this part. That's daddy's muscle."

Jackson, "It's weely squissy."

Doing his "school"

P.S. We also corrected the whole punching thing. That just wasn't the cute part.


While holding his pinky up for me to see:

"Mom! Look! I have a peekee! I weely peekee pwomise to not spit at her."

"Who aren't you going to spit at?"

"She. Hazo. I weely peekee pwomise to not spit at her."

His brother hung him here.


"Mom, I need a snissue for my nose."

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Chocolate Cake and Ramblings

This post may be a bit silly, but I feel a bit silly. It may be the chocolate cake that I'm about to tell you about. Or it may be that there's been to much serious pondering going on in my head and it needed a break. What ever the reason, here it is.

I've been on an egg free diet for four years this month and yesterday was the first time I thought about searching Pinterest for an eggless chocolate cake. I wish that this was a reflection of the level of my personal discipline, but it is not.

But enough about that. The thing is, I did search Pinterest for an eggless chocolate cake recipe. And I found one! And it's good!

I was looking for a recipe so I could make an egg free desert this weekend for our belated Christmas gathering with HH's family. When I found the recipe I was so excited about it's potential that, even though it was only and hour-and-a-half before the kid's bed-time, I bribed them with cake for breakfast if they would hurry into their jammies and sit down to let Netflix babysit them so I could make the cake. They were so excited. And unusually cooperative. When I served them their breakfast of chocolate cake this morning I encouraged (or made) them to sing, "Mommy's great! She gives us chocolate cake!"

Oddly enough, after eating the cake they all asked for eggs claiming they just needed some protein to go with their breakfast. My children are strange. And healthier than I am. Apparently I'm doing a good job at training them though!

This is the recipe.

(Note: I didn't try her frosting recipe. But the cake is good. Also, 180 degrees Celsius means 350 degrees Fahrenheit.)

I'm sure that part of my obsession with this cake is that fact that I have not had any chocolate cake in four years. But, growing up with a mom for a baker gives me (in my mind) a pretty good background in cake testing. Not that I'm bragging or anything, but I'm pretty much a professional. Except that I don't get paid. Wouldn't it be lovely to get paid to taste test cakes?!

Other things I loved about that cake: it was very moist and the texture was a lovely combination of dense and fluffy. It was denffy? Flunse?

But I really think my most favorite part of the cake it that it is supposedly an old recipe from war times when food was rationed. Thus, the egglessness. Chocolate cake and nostalgia all rolled up into one perfect package.

It may have had more of a nostalgic impact on me since I enjoyed my first piece whilst watching the first episode of the new seasons of Downton Abbey. It just felt right. I loved the episode, too. Although there were many memorable lines, my favorite was from Lady Grantham to Lord Grantham, "When you talk like that, I'm tempted to call nanny, and have you put to bed with no supper." She really makes the show.

The only downside of watching the premiere was getting to bed an hour later than I planned and needed to. I was a bit tired this morning and maybe a wee sluggish through out the day. But that may also have been from the chocolate cake I had for breakfast. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Recap of My 2013

I realize that this post is really more for me than anything, but I pushed the publish button just in case someone may be crazy enough to read it through and, if they were, I hope they were encouraged.

I read this post by Dave Ramsey this last week and showed it to HH because we had been discussing the "Why" of list making and setting goals. I love to. HH hates to. After he read it he turned to me and, with a laugh, said, "So basically, you should be rich and I should be poor?"

That wasn't exactly the point I was trying to get across, but whatever. I love to make lists and only recently have realized that making lists is like setting goals. For a few years I hated the idea of New Year's resolutions. They made me feel like a failure. In advance.

A few years ago, though, I changed my perspective and now, instead of seeing the list of things I failed to accomplish, I purpose to look at all I did accomplish that I probably wouldn't have without goals.

If you look at the list I wrote for last year I wouldn't blame you for assuming that I came up way short of my goal. But there is this part preceding the actual list. The part where I spilled my heart for the year on the page. When I read that today, after I had already written down my goals for 2014, I knew. I had reached my goals for 2013.

"Tomorrow is the start of a new year. In a way I look forward to the next 12 months. So much potential awaits in the white space that makes up 2013. But I'm also afraid that it will be another year that I disappoint myself. A year that I'll waste the white space and fail in so many other ways. It is disappointing to get to the end of another year and realize that my goals for the next year are no different than the previous because I failed to meet any of my goals. It's not that I haven't grown or changed. I can acknowledge that much. But I want more. I want to grow and succeed. I want this to be the last year that my weight is part of my yearly goal. I want to know more deeply who I am as defined by Christ. I don't need a different mission or an outlet. I want to be who I was created to be right where I am at. I love my husband and my kids. I love living for them. I want to be more settled into me as a wife and mom. I want to be a better friend and teacher to my kids. But I know I'll only find that in knowing who I am in Christ."

After this I wrote my goals.

My first written goal was to read through the Bible. I'm so proud of myself. I got half way through my reading plan. I've never read that much of the Bible in one year.

My second written goal was to FINALLY lose the weight I've been struggling with for too many years to count. I listed the actual numbers, something I won't do here. :) And if you looked at those numbers and then at my scale while I'm standing on it and saw that I only lost 10 pounds this last year, you'd probably raise an eye brow and tell me I have a pretty face. ;) But the true weight I lost was a weight in my heart. And I honestly can say I met my goal.

It's not that I needed for me to lose an allotted amount of weight last year. What I wanted was to find freedom from using food as a drug. I wanted to look into my heart and my past and take care of the wounds, release the bitterness, and forgive the offenses that I was holding onto and replaying over and over when I was down. All of those things always left me feeling a need to medicate or numb myself. It was more than I could take. And so I would eat. Some people drink. Some people smoke. Some use drugs. I ate.

It's not that I don't plan to loose any more weight. It's just that it's not just about the weight anymore. And I still struggle, but not like I used too. This last year I learned how to fight. I was encouraged by this quote from Joyce Meyers, "You are not fighting for victory. You are fighting FROM victory." My view has changed.

I wish I would have had the freedom to journey through it here with you all so maybe it wouldn't seem so random of me to say it now, but I just couldn't. Somethings are too personal and somethings are just hard for me to put into words. I will say I read/worked through the Lose It For Life book and journal and it was one of the main tools this year that helped me find freedom.

My other written goal for 2013 was to save a certain amount of money. That so didn't happen. But again, even though this year has been hard, I'm happy and excited about where HH and I are financially. Not because we have tons of money, but because it feels like we are finally working towards the same goal. (We wrote out a budget for January and are trying to stick to it like glue. Shhhhhh! Don't tell HH that we really made a list and goals! He may be tempted to burn it just for the sake of being right!)

As for the other desires I wrote down, even though I feel like I am failing in so many areas multiple times a day as a wife and mom, I am so proud of how far I have come. Maybe some of the change has come from realizing that every day doesn't have to look the same for us to be productive (list making/efficiency addict finds freedom!).

I know that a big change happened when I realized that I love my life. That may sound strange, but I think I was afraid of admitting that I love to homeschool and spend most of my time with my kids. I felt like I was supposed to want more. Not that I don't ever need a break, but I truly love what I do. I don't homeschool and stay at home with my kids out of fear or because it's easy or because my husband makes me (which is what I used to think :)) or even out of conviction. I do it because I want to. Because I love it. This is what I always wanted to do, and I am so glad I get to do what I love.

I just read this quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald and I think it really sums up what I accomplished in 2013:

"For what it's worth; it's never too late to be whoever you want to be. 
I hope you live a life you're proud of, and if you find that you're not, 
I hope you have the strength to start all over again."

I feel like I reach my ultimate goal of 2013. Knowing more deeply who I am in Christ. And really, that's the main purpose behind my goals for 2014.