Tuesday, July 17, 2012


When I go out in public with my three littles I inevitably hear the phrase, "you've got your hands full!" Occasionally it will be something else like "you're brave!" or "better you than me!" And while all of those statements might have some truth to them, this is what they sound like, "your children are a burden and you're an idiot."

"You've got your hands full!"

I seriously hear this every time I go out. But rather than take offense I usually reply with things like, "there's always room for more!" or "full of love!" or "that's a good thing!" and a new one, "my heart's fuller!"

Interestingly, I only seem to hear this from baby boomers to teens, and almost always females. Other large families (usually immigrants) and elderly ladies are the ones with the refreshingly welcomed words of encouragement. I don't blame anyone for saying this. Hey, I've probably said these things myself before having kids, especially three. I know it is one of those phrases that just seems like a good thing to say.

But now that you know how it sounds to the reciever, let me offer some alternatives. How about, "wow good job mom!" Or... really anything along those lines.

Because we do have our hands full as parents of several, that much is obvious. Cheering us on for our efforts of bravery go a long way and also teach our attentively listening and always observant children that they are not just a "handful" but have a great Mommy who is trying her best.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


A couple months ago we were in public (gasp!) and ran into another family with many youngins. Long story short, she took one look at P's smile and said, "oh, you know you're a third born don't you." Then pointed to her third born and said he gave her a 'run for her money'. A phrase I keep finding associated with third borns. P is six months old. He is already crawling. Already standing. Already cruising. What am I in for with this little guy? I'm thinking now is a good time to finally read up on birth order traits.

Friday, June 8, 2012


"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;"
2 Corinthians 4:7-9

As the construction surrounding our house continues it reminds me of this verse. As a wise friend of mine once said, "everything boils down to choice." That's what I think of when I come across this verse. Living the real life depiction of the first few minutes of the move UP has caused me to choose how I respond to it. When we found out the county had bought the land just after returning from Africa almost four years ago, we were suddenly faced with the possibility of losing our dream. We bought this house imagining we would always live here and one day pass the house on to our children. All renovations and design projects were put on hold as we awaited an offer. Four long years later we are obviously still here. And so is the new construction. Right up against our property.

It's been interesting having inmates casually walk beside and at times through our yard when working in the jail garden prior to construction taking place. And often finding discarded bags of belongings that had been torn open once an inmate was released and waiting to be picked up a block away or even right by our front yard. Yes, even now, when I'm walking with the littles around town, the prisoners and their guards make way for us, smile, and often say a little hello when they are out doing the yard work. 

Once the new construction began we also had some new neighbors. Bail bondsmen moved into the available commercial buildings near by. And by near by I mean next door and across the street. We've had two people just this week come to our house looking for bail bonds, and I actually considered making a deal with them.

There are also the construction workers who have filled the streets with their cars and trash and dirt that falls from their boots. It makes it difficult to pull out of our driveway when there are cars lined on the curb. I've pulled out blindly more than once. Thankfully to my advantage it is a sleepy town otherwise. But we do live on the main road leading into the courthouse from the bigger towns nearby.

All of this to say, we are constantly given an opportunity to respond. When the news reporters first came to our house looking for a good story, I'm sure they left disappointed when they found us to be non-confrontational towards the construction plans even facing the possibility of losing our home. And yet, we're still here. Strange.

People ask us all the time how we can stand the noise. How we can put up with the workers parking and trash and dirt that lines the once swept streets of our tiny town. 

We simply choose to see the positive. 

I often tell people it's just like living the real life version of the movie Up and that we just haven't taken off on our adventure yet. Also we have a fenced in back yard now that we didn't have to pay for or put up ourselves. Deer and rabbits have no way into our garden even with a fence that they could penetrate, because of the three or so story concrete wall behind it. We don't have as much sunlight for as long in our "courtyard" but the garden is still growing nicely. The noise gives us something to appreciate on nights and weekends when it is quiet enough to hear our wind chime. It hasn't been easy to respond this way, but we've seen the choice and learned to take the high road. Once I was so frustrated about having to turn around in our yard and still pull out into the road with my children not knowing what is coming that I entertained the idea of marching over to the office two doors down and giving them an earful.

That's when I remembered this: "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;" And I remember being in Africa and seeing the kind of makeshift homes some of the most beautiful people lived in at the biggest garbage dump I've ever seen. Or even the condition of some of the homes we delivered food to in our own town. We are blessed. And yet it could be gone in an instant just like our friends down the road who lost their home and all their possessions by fire (all creatures were safe and unharmed). Everything is temporal. And yet, we have a hope that is very much eternal. And there is where our real home awaits us. 

Nov 2010

May 2012

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


I made this bag, from plastic bags.

My neighbor was making these once when we went to visit. I was intrigued. When my cabinet became overrun with plastic bags I decided recycling them was just not good enough.

Made the plarn. Followed a pattern. Voila. Now my cabinet has less plastic bags and someone is going to recieve a fancy hand made with love gift from me. Well OK, not fancy but certainly made with love.

They could use it as a grocery bag (the irony!), or a garden tote which one could rinse off freshly picked produce right in the bag, or a beach bag, or whatever else. It's probably as pretty as a plastic grocery can be.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Things are becoming very repetitious and schedule oriented around here lately which is a welcomed good thing. In that, I've found myself saying these little one liners. I mentioned it to a friend and she threw some out too. It's like life rap or something. A rhyme that helps you understand/communicate a truth or such. Works great with littles! I noticed how much I do this after seeing a kid show where the songs and what limited dialog there is consists of little sing song rhymes much like the ones I say. Anyway, I'm sure if you're a mom or a teacher you have said these or something like them. Here are a few of said sayings.

If you don't obey, you don't play.

If you can't share it, you can't have it.

If you hit, you sit.

Sit down or get down.

And my friend's: when you're wired, you're tired.

I love these! This is just a small collection. Now that I'm documenting this I'm sure to find more and add them to my list. I am going to come up with a name for them, if there isn't one already - in which case, I'll learn it. Have a great day! Summer is approaching....

Monday, May 14, 2012


This blog is steadily becoming all about DIY! If you don't mind, I don't! Truth is, I'm just posting what I do. Guess I do a lot of DIY. I knew that. I've been this way a LOOOONG time.

So when I heard you could make your own laundry soap, for cheap, easily, I couldn't resist. I have tweaked the recipe out a bit over time. Between four kids, a full time mom (usually with some spit up, food, or poop on my shirt), and a hardworking carpenter we get our clothes DIRTY. So I've had to make this recipe more concentrated over time. You'll find gentler effective recipes out there but this one is ours and it works for us. We make this about every four months. So only three times a year! And when I did the math recently, it came out to costing less than $.07 per load. That's right folks! Saving a heap over here! We fill up a four gallon bucket we got from Lowes for under $5 and it lasts us four months. That's doing laundry 3-5 times a week. Not to mention the times we leave the laundry in the washer too long and it spoils so we have to wash again. (Annoying!) It doesn't take long to make and it's kinda neat saying you make your own laundry soap. So we'd like to share our recipe with you. Feel free to tweak as you please. You can find the ingredients at your local Harris Teeter as I did.

P.S. I did the math on this on the high end of everything. So if you buy the ingredients for cheaper and use less per load you will save even more.

This is the Fels Naptha being shredded up. I used a cheaper version once because I couldn't get this. It was not as effective nor as pleasantly fragranced. Won't do that again! May try Ivory next time if in a pinch. And I also make homemade bath soap, and will probably try that too. But since I have a load of this, I use it.

1/2 large bar Fels Naptha or 2 bars Ivory
1 cup Washing Soda
1 cup Borax

Grate soap and put in sauce pan with 12 cups water. Heat until soap melts. Add powders and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat. Pour 8 cups hot water into bucket. Add soap mix and stir. Add 2 1/2 gallons and 4 cups water and stir well. Let stand 24 hours. Stir. Use 1/2-1 cups per load.

BONUS! Homemade Fabric Softener:
6c water
3c white vinegar
2c hair conditioner

Mix well, don't shake. Use 1/2c per load as usual.

With all the money you save on these two items, you can change lives around the world by donating your savings here.


Thursday, May 10, 2012


Happy Birthday Darryl!!

We like to celebrate birthdays by treating the one celebrated with their favorite meal, and favorite cake, and special prayers and blessings.

This photo does no justice at all. So if this looks yummy, you still have no idea. 

Darryl's favorite cake just happens to be everyone's favorite also. A traditional Mexican dessert, Tres Leche (Three Milks) cake. Here is the recipe I got from my mom, who taught me to make this delish family fave. Both she and I have taken them as gifts to our favorite Mexican food providers with rave reviews. This year I also took one to some guys that Darryl has been working with who have been teaching him Spanish.  I was a bit nervous, but they loved it! It was and always is odd hearing your husband speak in another language to people and you have no idea what is going on and need him to also translate for you. Odd, but fascinating. It's like unlocking another person I didn't know who I was fortunate enough to marry. These friends, though, getting back to the cake, said they usually have some sort of topping on it like strawberries, pineapple, or pecans. And actually, pineapples and pecans together. Yum!


5 eggs, separated into yolks and whites
1 c white sugar, separated 3/4 and 1/4 cups
1/3 c whole milk
1tsp vanilla extract
1c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1pt whipping cream, separated 3/4 and 1/4 cups
1 can evaporated milk

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 9" spring-form pan with additional butter and flour. Beat yolks with 3/4 c sugar until light in color and double in volume. Stir in whole milk, vanilla, flour, and baking powder. In another bowl, beat egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually add remaining 1/4 c sugar and beat until firm but not dry. Fold whites into flour mixture. Pour into prepared pan, then place in oven and bake 45 minutes until golden and center is springy. Cool 10 minutes. Prick cake all over (I like to use a chop stick). To prepare milk syrup, combine sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and 1/4 c whipping cream. Slowly pour milk mixture over cake until absorbed. Cool cake completely and ice with whipped cream made from remaining container with 1/4 c sugar. Refrigerate until time to serve.

The milk syrup. I like to ask people to guess what three milks are involved in making a Three Milk Cake. 
I get a lot of funny looks and responses, seeing as how many people know I'm currently breastfeeding. 

This year the whole prayer and blessing thing slipped my mind seeing as how I had a whole day of cooking and I haven't done a real meal without help in over five months. Sorry babe! So here's a little love note to make up for it. 

You are such a blessing to us. You keep on growing deeper in the Lord and it shows through your character and demeanor. You are an inspiration to all of us and the children greatly look up to you as their hero. I'm blessed to have you as a husband and partner. And although you may think you aren't perfect, you strive to do better and are willing to try and learn new things and that alone brings you close enough for me. We all love you. We respect you. We thank you for working so hard and so long and so much to take care of us. We look forward to you coming home every day. Thanks for standing by me and supporting me and loving me. I'm still so in love and we've only just begun.

Meg and The Russell Sprouts

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


". . . of all the stories I've ever heard from all of the women who like to tell me about mothering, the one thing I have never, ever, EVER heard was, . . . 'I wish I could go back and hold him less,' or, 'I really wish I just would have let her cry.' No- it doesn't matter what type of parenting or discipline method they espouse- they always end with, 'It goes so fast. Enjoy just HOLDING them! I wish I could just rock them again.' Even on my toughest days, I make myself think- 'Someday, I'm going to wish these days were back.'" ~ mamaKristin via GCM

Taking some time to do just this. Will do some blogging later.
<3 Meg

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Today Haddie decided she wasn't going to take a nap. Which means the rest of the day is going to be challenging. So I might as well make the best of it and do a little cleaning during house quite time. I think I'll do the windows! Aw man, out of Windex. Running to the store with three littles is anything but quick and has to be worth my while. Clean windows are not high on the priority list.

Then I remembered my friend once told me a recipe for home made window cleaner. As much as I love the scent of Windex, I decided to give it a try. I am very much smitten with it and am therefore sharing it with all of you. I'm sure there are others out there, and I honestly haven't looked. So if you know of a good one you're welcome to share in the comments below.

2 Tbsp dish soap*
1 Tbsp rubbing alcohol**
2 drops food coloring of your choice (optional)

*My friend insisted Joy was the only one to use, but I used Meyers Basil because that's what I had. It worked fine and I LOVE the smell!
**I added this on my own after trying out the recipe with Meyers to see if it would be quicker to dry and thus less streak producing. Twas.

Not the best picture. It was hard to capture the sapphire color of my new cleaning product. 
As you can see I decided to change the name since I changed the contents. 
It seemed fitting.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Our walls are block. So Darryl literally has to get out the drill and masonry bit to put anything up on the walls. I used to decorate my walls extensively. Show flyers, remnants of my technicolor hair, zine cut outs, posters, and more lined my walls as a teenager.

Me on the left. Don't look too closely! ;)

My decor got more intricate and less dive bar-ish as I went into my twenties and moved around a bit. Taking down and replacing all those delicate decorations was less than appealing. Now in my thirties I have a different vision of decor and my taste has matured (slightly) and for the first time I'm using family photos to spruce the place up. The thing is, hanging anything is frightfully involved because of the house structure. What's a gal to do? I'm already feeling the painting bug again and some unfinished projects are beckoning. I need some ideas. Here are a few spots that need TLC.

I want to paint the little's room white eventually. But this corner needs something. Framed art, photos, a chalkboard, wire baskets. What do you think? I need some inspiration.

This is the biggest wall in the dining room. It is opposite lots of windows so people on the street will see it too. I want a buffet there one day perhaps. But the walls need some love. Ideas?

Friday, April 27, 2012


This is for my mom, who introduced me to Greek Yogurt. And for my dad, who taught me to be frugal. <3 

We love our yogurt around here. It is a daily staple. We eat it for breakfast, snacks, and as an ingredient in rice, oatmeal, or salad, you name it! And we like it plain. I could go on about the many health benefits, but if you're reading this, you probably know them already. Several years ago my mom got me into eating Greek yogurt with honey and figs. So good! We grew up with some Greek immigrant neighbors who had a restaurant in town and we ate there regularly when I was young (and then they retired). When I was a teenager I had some aversions to food which gave me ulcers and other digestive problems and as a result became a vegetarian. So I ate Greek food a LOT. It's a mystery to me now though, that I'm just recently discovering Greek YOGURT!

Well if you've had it before and know how it's creamy goodness is packed with protein and easily digested, you will also know the price tag. Ouch! For a growing family like ours who also have a teenage boy living with them, this item is unfortunately not on the priorities list. But one day I was remembering how I once packed a yogurt in that now teenager's lunch when he was a young lad. At the end of the day I asked him how it was and much to my disappointment he replied that he'd thrown it away because it had gone bad! How? I asked. It had water on top. Well, my friends this was a good teaching opportunity for the science of cooking and how yogurt is made. Long story short, if you allow yogurt to continue to strain, you get a thicker creamier yogurt. That in essence is what Greek yogurt is. Strained. So we just started straining our own. I'm going to show you how I did it, without to many instructions, because I am not a fan of very wordy tutorials. That being said, if you're an auditory learner, you may want to talk out loud to yourself about what is going on in the photos. If you or anyone has any further questions, please ask away in the comments section.

 The towel is clean I assure you, despite the many stains evident from much use. 
Our water is hard and it is impossible to get whites really white and bright. 
If you have a solution, I'm willing to hear! 

 3 hours.

 6 hours.

 We keep the whey and use it for fermenting foods, to cook pasta, or to put in stocks or soups. 


P.S. When I told Darryl I was doing a tutorial on this for the blog he included the helpful advice to simply put some Greece in it. Hope that makes someone laugh. It's a non-stop comedy routine around here.

Thursday, April 26, 2012



A letter to myself. Some things Darryl tells me that might also encourage others.

You may not be in the prayer meeting interceding for others with others.

You may not be out on the street preaching the gospel and seeing hearts and lives changed.

You might not get to go on an outreach and see healings and deliverances and salvations and other miracles.

You might even miss church. A lot. And struggle to have your daily devotional and prayer time.

But just remember, you are raising the nations.

You pray with your children and teach them how to intercede for others.

You preach the gospel to your children and teach them how to do likewise.

You make a special trip to the park a missions trip and pray for the sick and hurting. Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked.

You have a devotional and prayer time with your children and teach them how vital it is to their life in Christ. You are being church.

Love Always.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Best Brownies of My Life

When Darryl asks for brownies, I make it once again my quest to make the best ones ever. Recipe after recipe and tweak after yummy tweak I have eaten some tasty chocolately treats, but have sadly remained unsatisfied.

Until today!

Look how fudgey. Mmmm. 

I was going to just share the link, but I altered the recipe a bit and the original directions where weird and unnecessarily complicated. So I'm going to rewrite it and make it my own. Is that wrong? 

Just know that when you make these you will, along with an extra pound or two, probably get a cavity or diabetes. If you are still with us, then you must want these brownies as bad as we did! They're worth the risk, and if we can avoid making them often maybe we'll dodge the unwanted side effects as well.

Without further ado, here is the recipe.

1 ¼ sticks butter
1 ¼ cups sugar
2/3 cup  (heaping) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup (heaping) unsweetened SPECIAL DARK cocoa powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cold large eggs
1/2cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup walnut or pecan pieces (optional)

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease 8" square pan.

In a saucepan, melt butter on medium low heat. Add sugar and cocoa powder and mix well. While still warm (but not hot), remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Add eggs one at a time stirring vigorously after each one.

Add flour and stir until all mixed in. Beat vigorously for 40 strokes with wooden spoon. If you using nuts, fold them in. Spread evenly in pan (can also just add nuts on top at this point instead of mixing them in if desired).

Bake until toothpick comes out slightly moist with batter, around 20-25 minutes. However, for me this was 28 minutes because my oven usually takes slightly longer. Cool on rack for 10 minutes. Cut and dust with powdered sugar if you like. Enjoooooooooy! And thank me.

Close up of the swirly goodness. 

Dark and lovely. Had to use the nice(r) camera for this because the grainy phone camera would not do it justice.  Still not the best but you get the idea. 

I'll be having one of these today because due to too much coffee yesterday I was up late making brownies. And as a result was so tired the next day and didn't get a nap. Just because the littles could sense my tiredness and all took  their nap in intervals which meant I didn't get one. Oh well, thank goodness I have these gems on hand!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mommy Reads

This shelf provides so much for upon daily basis. Isn't it cute? It used to be a window. But when the house, which was built in the 40's, was added on to in the 60's, this window became a little bookshelf. On it we have (top to bottom) board books and knick knacks, mommy books, ultrasound pics and puzzles and CDs along side the much desired kewpie, baby and childrens books galore, empty shelf aka imagination station.

I keep the board books at the top an rotate them into the reachable book shelf because they take up so much room. Not entirely sure what is in that top basket. The kewpie is something I've had for years and years. The littles always want to get their hands (and mouths) on it which has resulted in some paint on the eyes coming off, so it's off limits and just to look at now. CDs are a few lullabies and Putumayo Children's collection and some things handed down from Jordan for when they are a bit older. But we usually listen to Lullaby or Toddler Radio in Pandora. I like vintage children's books so we have a lot of those mixed in with some other good books about nature and God and life lessons or art. Not a fan of Disney or TV characters so there aren't many of those aside from a couple Pooh and Veggie Tales stories. The bottom shelf used to house stuffed animals but I tired of cleaning those up and now it can transform into anything from a grill to a train station.

Let's go back to the mommy shelf. There are some great things up there. Alon side the journals use to write to my children's future selves are some good books. Here's my list:

The Baby Book by Sears*
Baby-Gami by Sarvady
Husband-Coached Childbirth by Bradley
The Vaccine Book by Sears
Breastfeeding Made Simple by Mohrbacher*
Twice Blessed by Leonard
Conception, Pregnancy And Birth by Stoppard
Mommy Diagnostics by Parker
The Sucessful Child by Sears
The Discipline Book by Sears
The Emotional Life of the Toddler by Lieberman
The No Cry Sleep Solution by Pantley
Raising Children Raising Ourselves by Aldort
Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by mcCutcheon*
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Gaskin*
How to Raise A Healthy Child In Spite if Your Doctor by Mendelsohn
(and a few name books)

*My recommended reading list for new moms. 

I've read through all the ones about birth, breastfeeding and health. The rest I've mostly skimmed and done selective reading. There are a few I'd like to add to hand down when my littles are parents. There's probably more great books out there too that I don't know about. There's not much room left though because I love the rocks someone made for us that hold them together. They remind me of The Rock that holds us together. That holds me together. My foundation.

This is what I'm reading right now. Also on the recommended reading list! It's SO good. It's written like a workshop. So you read a little, there are some fun cartoons to help you understand scenarios for using the techniques, and then some self work activities you can do with your partner, and homework. They suggest doing one chapter a week so you have time to practice and implement the new technique before moving on. Great stuff in here moms and dads! And any one really, this can be used in all relationships. We started using it with our oldest and have seen significant results just in the first week! And... he found the book and started reading it! So he's learning to do it too, which is really. truly. amazing. 

If you're like me and don't have much time to read, you can just look through the cartoons and get an idea of what the technique is so you can start to try it out. Easy. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

What Does She See?

As the second birthday of our first born daughter approaches the thoughts of raising her swarm my mind. How to nurture her, equip her, and encourage her, all the while allowing her to become herself. I think about this a lot actually. Of course I think about raising sons too, but right now I'm thinking about her.

Our dress wearing dirt dobber with a big personality and sense of humor. Tender and independent. Strong willed (a good thing) and affectionate. So many more words to describe her, she truly is something to behold. Sandwiched in between all these boys, our little girl is that and more. Amazing.

On the way to take the oldest to school and back I listen to a little radio. Today they were discussing raising daughters. This particular show was focused on the fathers influence, which I recognize greatly impacts a child, and especially a daughter. However, as a mother I want to share a few of my own thoughts that have come up lately. If a father influences what kind qualities a woman looks for in a man, a mother influences what kind of qualities a woman looks for in herself.

With our culture becoming ever so infatuated with image, I have been thinking a lot about how our little girl will see herself. Hearing the youth today talk about their own image has made me aware of my own perceptions, and as it were perceptions. Talking about body image is a long enough discussion, but I just want to point out one thing. Our daughters will view themselves not as we view them, but as we view ourselves. In other words, they will learn how to view themselves by observing the way we view ourselves. Just like with everything else a child does, they learn more by modeling than by instruction. The world creates a fairtale. Pretty pictures on a magazine, a dream on a movie screen, and a likeness for sale in a store. We've even discussed this with the oldest. The images you see are all advertisements. They want something from you, not something for you.

So with all that in mind, I'm taking a closer look at how I view myself. How I glance in the mirror or small comments I make. I've had a difficult time adjusting to my new mommy body. Who hasn't? And I've verbalized that. To my husband mostly. And that's what started this train of thought. If I say those things enough to him, he may start to see it and believe it too. So in turn, what will my daughter think of herself when she looks in the mirror? Of course she is beautiful. We want her to know that. But we want her to see it too. We want her to see that beauty is much more than appearance.

Top: Her little black tips at the ends of her long fine hair are what she started out in this world with.
Bottom: That personality.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Water Painting

Here's a quick, easy, and inexpensive activity we did that will be added to the weekly roster during these sunny spring days. Maybe too easy? But my littles love it and it keeps them busy for quite a while. It's raining today. We are so thankful for the rain because we have a garden that needs it. But we would much rather be outside doing something like this with water instead. It is sometimes a bittersweet welcoming the rain when it would put Darryl out of work. Anyway, Darryl and Jordan are on a school field trip to the capital. So I'm home with the babies winging it until my mom comes to the rescue. I can only handle so many on my own for so long! Sometimes it's just helpful to have someone else around to talk to. It also helps so your not always using the bathroom or taking a shower with an audience.

Water Painting
What you need: bowls, brushes, water, a porous area to get wet, littles.

Painting her nails.

Buttering biscuits.

The world is your oyster when you have a good imagination. I probably should have showcased a rainy day activity today. If you have one, or a great tip on a cheap and easy activity you like please share it with us in the comments below! We'd love to hear from you.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Having 3 Under 3

Before having kids I wasn't around them much. My firstborn was so interesting and enthralling and consumed my every thought and glance even from the moment we learned I was pregnant. Then before he was even a year and a half old we had a second baby. By the time she was a year and a half, we had a third. And two months later the firstborn turned 3. So I'm going to write a little about what it has been like having three children under the age of three. There is so much to say...

I often wonder what it might be like having multiples (twins, triplets, etc). Then I just imagine having two of any one of mine. It's not the same obviously, when the two, or in my case three, are all different ages and stages! But i hold my friends with twins in very high regard! Tonight I re-met a lady with four kids, the younger two being close in age to our 3 and 2 year olds. It was like watching myself in the mirror as she hushed and corralled her young ones in between broken conversation. It's like a friend of ours related to us, "after having the third baby it's like you might as well have had six." Wait. Did I say that already? Of course I did, right here. Oops! Just kept that in there so you know I happen to repeat myself. It's what I do all day so why not here too? :) So here is a little taste of what it's like baby bunching for us. P.S. I'm writing this for a friend who wanted to know. I figured someone else out there might too. Feel free to share your own experience in the comments below. I'd love to hear some similarities and\or differences!

Having one.
In general the firstborn is in a word, fun. Now, I say that not because the subsequent babies are not fun or not as fun, but when you have had more than one and you get through the rough part adjustment period, you look back at just having one and think, 'that was just fun!' Or to explain it in a different way, like a friend told me, you see mom's struggling with one kid and you think, they have no idea. But don't stop reading just yet if you're thinking of having more. :)
So with just one kid, as much as I can imagine since I only had one child for 16 months, the day can get almost boring. Not that I ever got bored but a mom once asked for some advice on some activities to do with her little one once because she was going crazy and was actually bored. I can see how that could happen. Although I actually enjoyed all the daily in and out activities and still do. I guess instead of feeling like I'm entertaining a child all day, I'm more involving them in my day and I in theirs. In her defense, I can see how having just one could feel boring when you're trying to fill it up with a bunch of 15 minute activities. When I take one on a Mommy Time Outing, it can seem rather quiet. But back to what I was sharing, daily routine things with one child. Bathing! Lots of toys, long time in the bath, very thorough cleaning. As far as feeding, I breastfeed through the second birthday, and exclusively up until about 8 months depending on the baby. But when I had just one baby I was so nervous about if he was gaining enough if he was getting enough nutrition, iron, vitamins, etc etc nonsense that I tried feeding him rice meal, oatmeal, all home made with vitamins added and went on to other things I found in baby food books. Not knowing that when babies grow teeth, they start to want to use them to chew food. And do so when they are ready. I made a lot and bought a lot of baby foods to try out with the first baby, but rarely used them and gave it up. Still have some frozen pear cubes in the freezer I made from a neighbor's pear tree! Also, when I cooked for everyone else I did a lot of organic, home made, from scratch, ethnic to southern cooking. Another thing we've done is co-sleeping. This is a post all in it's own and an interestingly touchy subject for some. So all opinions aside, we all slept through the night right from the beginning and had our ups and downs like anyone else but it worked for us. Our nap time and bed time schedule was flexible depending on when the baby was tired and his cycle of sleep. During the day we played and had lots of adventures both at home and anywhere we wanted to go. We did some cloth diapers and some EC and some organic disposables. We even flew on some planes! Three times in the first year! All in all it was such a great experience that we left caution to the wind and wound up expecting again by the time the first born was just starting to taste solids. Can't get pregnant while breastfeeding? I'm living proof debunking that old wives tale.

Having two.
two months were the most challenging. I describe having two as a balancing act. And it still is in a lot of ways. Learning to share your time, your attention, and respond to them at their level and their developmental stage while still being nurturing and meeting their base needs. This is when self care starts to slip ladies. ;) When you bathe one in a sink while the other plays in the tub after having been washed, dressing the littlest and then getting the other out, you can easily feel like you've had a bath yourself! But once they can bathe together it helps out a lot. For me this was at about 4-5 months. We still did baths every day because this little girl loved to get dirty! Still does. Dirt, food, whatever. Girl needs a bath. We didn't do purees with her because I just didn't want to clean it up, and thankfully she didn't want to eat it. She went straight to table food from my plate once she got some teeth. And for a while we all slept together, somehow. The older would rock and pat his toy cat while I did the same to the younger in the middle of the night at the beginning. It was very cute, and a very special memory of mine that I'll never have anywhere else but in my mind. Treasure. Then the two slept side by side and made even more fond memories for us. So cute to see them snuggle. In fact some of my most precious memories are when they are sleeping, and those are the moments when I just can not take pictures or videos. They wouldn't capture it anyway. And when we were not sleeping, of course I wasn't taking nearly the amount of photos and videos as I did with the first, but we played in between naps and sometimes had to put one down to soothe the other and so on. Key word here, balance. Changing two in diapers was less than appealing. At first I felt like that's all I did all day. This is when I have to take a step back and truly tip my hat to mamas of multiples. I don't know how you do it but good job Mama! Thinking about Octomom helped me gain perspective. Having to change bottoms so much ended the attempt at cloth and even the fancy organic disposables were looking bleak. The 20 minute drive to the special grocery store to get them wasn't too high on the priority list anymore. But we did manage to get out and do things, and even flew. Once. Cross country. Haven't flown since. It wasn't terrible though thank goodness. I can't imagine flying overseas like some friends of ours have. Again, hats off. Oh and if you have two little ones and you're planning a trip on a plane with them, just know that unless you buy a seat for one of them, you and whoever you're flying with to help you hold those precious babies, will have to be split up. They only have one extra oxygen mask per row. But if you're like me and you enjoy striking up conversation with perfect strangers, you're good. Someone may even offer to hold or pass your baby and help make the experience more enjoyable like ours was. Our outings weren't as frequent because now someone was always sleeping. But by the time this one was nine months, they were both taking one nap at the same time during the day. Which was a good thing too because not too long after that started I found out again that I was pregnant. So I needed that nap time too!

Having three.
Well, we're still adjusting. I thought it might take three months this go 'round. It took just a couple weeks for Darryl and I to get used to having another baby, but when you add just one person to a group, it changes the dynamic. So the littles are still adjusting, which in turn, means we're adjusting as a whole still. I believe this might take more time. Like I said having two requires a lot of balancing, having three requires a lot of juggling. Something is either getting thrown up in the air, not being held, or dropped. Not the babies though! Just situations. But we're also juggling affection and nurturing and so on. Maybe I should have mentioned in the Having Two section that part of balancing was learning to tandem breastfeed. Well thankfully the third is weaned and so I'm not having to juggle that too for goodness sakes. We dont' take as many baths as we did before and the ones we do have are not as thorough but we're thankful warm weather is coming and we plan to have lots of water play outside. :) And we do manage to get good and clean if we're going out in public. Our diet has suffered a bit, mostly on the quality side. I'm not cooking from scratch except on Saturday mornings when I make biscuits. We've been enjoying some doctored up frozen and dried foods though! And surprisingly our grocery bill has been going down. Everyone is sleeping nicely and in their own beds with the exception of the new addition. He sleeps really well, although it is a bit of a challenge to get him down for a nap when there are two other littles playing nearby. And by nearby I mean, on the bed. We don't leave the house as much but when we do I've noticed lately we get really dressed up. That's kind of funny to me. Or to the extreme opposite I found myself at a mall in my pajamas. You can get away with that in our small town, but when you go to a larger town to go shopping you need to get dressed. Note to self. Oh and forget the fancy disposable diapers. Even forget the hefty generic brands. I get our diapers online in bulk and save a ton. There are no traveling plans in our future. And we have made only a couple small trips within a 2 hour radius. Nothing more than an hour away without help though. So with all that said, if you know where we are.... you're welcome to visit! Looking back I think all this has made me prioritize better and become more laid back about things that don't matter. I wouldn't have it any other way, as tough as it is. And before having the third, I got some crazy good advice I'll have to share on another post, but that generally consisted of this: minimalize everything. Clothes, toys, meals, chores, instructions, corrections, outings, etc. And a routine is crucial. I thought I had one, until I needed one.

Well there you have it. A super dooper long post about mommy stuff. I'm always curious about other moms with lots of kids. How they do things, what their day is like, what are their struggles and victories. What they eat, how often they bathe, and what their routine is like. I never thought this would be something that would interest me, much less something I'd be sharing with the whole world via the interwebs. But here it is. If you have something to share, please do in the comments below. I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The parable of the grape vine.

In the same way art helps one see into the mind of the artist, so goes nature. The more I work in the garden, the more I understand The Gardener. We have several fruit and nut plants in our yard; there are two apple trees, one fig tree, two pecan trees, a blueberry bush, and two massive grape vines. Scuppernong. This is a little parable about that particular plant. With a little bit of literal application as well.

For years we have let the grape vines grow and grow on our trellis and we've seen some fruit here and there but it has been mostly small and hidden under the mess of unproductive and dead growth. One year we cut it back hard. It wept, literally, and we thought it might not survive. But to our joy it did! And had an amazing amount of new growth! But sadly, there was absolutely no fruit at all. The next year, though, there was fruit, and it was by far the biggest and best tasting we'd ever had! Happily enjoying the results of our efforts I took it upon myself to give another pruning because its recommended to do so yearly, in winter. However the task was daunting! There were vines everywhere! And they were all locked it to what looks like a giant bird's nest. So instead I took the lazy man's approach and trimmed up the edges off the ground so it would look nicer. Much to my dismay this did nothing but make the vines shorter until the new growth took over. The fruit was easier to reach but there was not more of it and it was not bigger. In fact, I believe this is when we started seeing ripe grapes disappear, most likey devoured by hungry birds.

Last year I decided to try something new. So I trained one vine on a pole and trimmed it's branches as per typical instructions for this growing style. Wow I had clusters of grapes for the first time ever! But much to our dismay, they were exposed and got eaten by something other than one of us (or else someone needs to fess up!). Today there was new growth and teeny tiny new grapes and I decided to prune even though it was risky. These branches with little grapes were more abundant with fruit and with greater foliage the further away from the vine they got. These would-be grapes don't always mature and rob the rest of the branch of nutrients. Off they came and into the fire pile. So although I lost a lot of possible fruit in the process, the vine will concentrate it's efforts on the branches that are closer to the vine. And will hopefully bring out more new growth on the vine, and ultimately, better quality fruit.

This is my life. Pruned and tended by The Gardner to encourage growth and bigger and better fruit. Right now I'm growing new branches and sealing the wounds of the winter's pruning.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Resurrection Day

This time of year is my favorite. Spring flowers, warmer weather, deep cleaning and reorganizing, and celebrations. Specifically, Passover and Easter. But it's not just Easter, I like the whole preparatory celebration of Lent and Good Friday leading up to Easter Sunday. I've often wondered why this isnt the greatest holiday of the year compared with Christmas. Yeah we wouldnt have Salvation had Jesus not been born, but remeber in the garden when Jesus was praying? He chose to die in our place and to be the ultimate expression of love. Had he been born and never chosen that, it wouldnt have mattered that he were born at all. So that got me thinking. Why not celebrate just that? I've not been a fan of Easter eggs and the hunts and things like that for a while now just because for me as a kid, that was way more appealing than the somber reflection on death and we want Easter to be a learning experience. That's why we don't do Easter bunnies or Santa claus or even tooth fairies. Not that there is anything necessarily wrong with those things or the people that take part in those activities. Hear me. Thats not it at all. We just want to do something different. If you're offended by this post just know that is not our intention. We just want to create a different experience for our family and share that experience with our readers who might be interested in doing the same thing.

Here are some things we have done, are doing, and plan to do in the coming years. Maybe it will inspire you. If there's an interesting and creative activity you do that isn't here, please let us know all about it!

For years we have just avoided the whole egg hunt chocolate bunny Easter basket frenzy and have just had family time and a big Sunday meal. Early on We had taken the oldest to some Easter activities and volunteered at a few community events. They made an impression on me and brought up a lot of childhood memories. And as I hear about my friend's kids missing out, or bringing home a great bounty, I remember why. No, not because I was scarred as a child for not having found many Easter eggs. Nor am I having remorse for having found far more than everyone else. But honestly it's because it taught me nothing about the sacrifice of Christ. Sure, there's lessons in there spinkled with the red jelly bean drops of blood and the peanut butter cross and the empty tomb of the chocolate bunny and the glorified body of the sparkly Peeps. It seems like the possibilities to start new fun and creative traditions are far an wide. And I love some of the ones I've been finding online that are centered more on teaching a lesson. Like these Ressurection Rolls. This is what we're doing this year. And maybe next year we'll make this garland. Last year we had a mini Seder we managed on our own. Although I'd rather take them to a Messianic community Seder in the future. On Sunday morning we'll have a sunrise service at our friend's farm.

Here's some pictures from last year of Zeke and Haddie's first chocolate experience!

And petting a lamb this year. 

And then when all the littles are settled down for the night we'll watch The Passion. Which is a tradition with the oldest. We started by watching the Jesus of Nazareth as a sort of marathon all weekend leading up to Sunday morning. The Gospel of John is another good one to watch during this time. And then follow with Paul the Apostle. I think next year we'll do more hands on in the days prior to the holiday. I'd like to make an Easter garden to have the whole week as an on going activity. One other idea I saw was the Ressurection Eggs. They tell have items inside that tell the story along with scripture. I like that, even if it is eggs. Maybe we could find something else to put the items in. Another of my favorite and perhaps most impacting actives is reading all four of the gospel accounts of His death, burial, and resurrection back to back. Finding new details I never noticed before and reflecting, often with great waves of emotion when I realize what my fate would be like without that sacrifice.