March 29, 2012

Spring Has Sprung

 I don't know about your neck of the woods, but here in NC, spring {finally} decided to show up.  We were  beginning to wonder since we went from winter to summer temps; but this week has been gorgeous and we have been outside every single day.
One of the things I am going to miss about this house is my Yoshino Cherry Tree (above).  She has graced the end of our driveway for many years.  She only shows off her flowers for two weeks in the spring, so I have to be intentional about enjoying her beauty.  Ah, that I would use that phrase about other areas in my life.

If you happen to live in a part of the country that isn't quite experiencing spring yet, let me share a picture so you won't be too jealous.
This is my driveway.  See those tire tracks and footprints?  That is through the nasty green pine pollen that graces our state for about 2 weeks in the spring.  As we drive down the highway, we can literally see green puffs/clouds blowing in front of us.  It does wonders for the sinuses. {gag}
This year we were blessed with several hard rain showers that washed the yellow dust away.

Someone recently asked me about our spring break.  
Typically we take a two week break/track-out in the spring.  This year our schedule got a little crazy so we are splitting it up.  Two days here, three days there, and hopefully a week in the mountains come April.  
I LOVE flexibility!!!
Yesterday my dear friend called and said, "want to go to the landfill?"
Well, who wouldn't??!!
(I'd follow her just about anywhere)
We loaded up the bikes and the kids and headed to the landfill.  Fortunately, it is now covered in green grass, has walking/bike trails, and a really neat playground.  Even the big kids couldn't resist the playground after our bike ride.  As we watched the young moms with toddlers, we both agreed that we LOVED that stage and we miss it, but God has given us a sense of contentment in the stage of life we are in now.   I wasn't sure I'd ever not feel a pang of sadness when I thought about being done with babies; but as we mulled it over, we agreed that our tired old bodies couldn't handle it we truly are content.
Dear Lord,  please don't get any wild ideas ;)

March 27, 2012

But Why??

This past Sunday I rode the elevator with someone who shared their disapproval of our choice to move to a farm.  "Why in the world would you ever choose to move away from your parents?"  How was I supposed to answer her question/accusation in 4.5 seconds?

Anytime someone does something out of the norm, there is likely to be naysayers and backlash.  Even when it comes from an inconsequential source, words can burn like a brand.
I have had to remind myself that those words usually sprout from a lack of understanding.  I'm a softy and I'll be the first to admit that I allow my feelings to get the best of me sometimes.  However, it is hard to be gracious when my family is the brunt of their need for self-approbation.  Someone recently said to my husband, "so you're going to move to the farm, homeschool, and live off the land. Ha!"   While it was a totally distorted statement, the underlying implication hurt.

I have had to do a lot of deep soul searching over the last 7 months.  Even though we don't feel the need to defend our decision (though some tried to make us feel that way), there is merit to explaining our choices.

1. Sometimes the BEST decisions are the HARDEST.  Yes, we have a wonderful situation living next door to my parents.  We'd love to pack up the two houses and move them both to the new piece of property.
It isn't about leaving them.  It's about making wise decisions for our own family.
2.  It's never too late to make wise financial decisions.  We made many stupid financial mistakes early on, and now we are paying for it.  Basically, we can't afford to live in the house we are in now.  We need to sell our home (ASAP) and use the equity we have in it to start fresh.
3. We know what we are getting ourselves into.   We already live 12 minutes from the nearest grocery store, so we're used to the drive.  Adding on 6 more minutes is totally worth it.
4. We are not rednecks.  I still like monograms, polka dots, and an evening out on the town.  Just because we are choosing a different lifestyle than most, doesn't mean we have a camouflage bedspread.
5. I am proud of my husband.  Even though we have made some mistakes along the way, he is willing to step up and do what is best for our family's wellbeing.  Blood, sweat, tears, and all!
6. What's wrong with what we are choosing?  We think it's pretty cool that our kids will know where an egg comes from, how to mow a couple of acres of grass, and all the other responsibility living on a farm will bring.
7. Homeschooling has nothing to do with it.  Just because we are currently homeschooling doesn't mean we want to isolate ourselves from society.  In fact, we've had more visitors to the farm in the last 6 weeks than we have in our own home.... and we LOVE it!
8. We are not Doomsday Preppers.  We leave that to the Nat Geo peeps.  Yes, I'd love to grow enough to share and put away for a rainy day.  I may even learn how to can beans!
9. We want to share with others.  We hope to share the fruits of our labor with our community.  We see our new farm as a place to bless others.  Hospitality is our love language and we can't wait to get started!
10. It's our life.  I don't judge my friends for living in a neighborhood (how ridiculous would that be?!)  This is the life WE are choosing.  It's radical.  It's different.  We love it!

To sum it up, we believe this is where the Lord has brought us.  We desire to honor Him with our decisions.  We give him the glory.  Who can argue with that??  :)

March 23, 2012

How Pinterest Makes Me Smarter

Unless you've been living under a rock (which is probably quite cozy, though lacking in decor), you've probably heard the buzz about Pinterest.  Maybe you've heard about it, but you haven't jumped on the bandwagon.  Like ANY area in life, we have to guard our hearts from allowing it to become too time consuming.  But, if you are willing to use self control (i.e. time management) it can be a wonderful tool.

Pinterest is a place to stick all of those great visual ideas in one spot that catch your eye while on the internet, without making a book out of your bookmarks.  I have my Pinterest boards divided into categories.  So many wonderful ideas to help me run my home more efficiently and beautifully are in a neat little space called a "board."  The pictures I am sharing today are from my "My Organized Life" board.

*Click on each picture to go to these great sources and find more brilliant ideas.
Some of the pictures I pin to my boards are self-explanitory.  

Others lead me to great sites with tons of smart ideas.
Some of my pins lead me to other "Pinners."  
(Click on this one ... it's brilliant!)

 More "why didn't I think of that?"

Other pins (found on Pinterest boards of friends that I follow) lead me to new friends and great blogs.
"How To Make Your Sink Shine" led me to a new bloggy friend yesterday.

Critics may say that Pinterest is a time waster and can cause discontentment.  I have found it to be a great resource for smart and beautiful ideas to flourish.  Where else would have I found out that a parmesan cheese lid will fit a Mason jar??  ;)
Happy Pinning!

March 22, 2012


My friend Meredith comes up with the best posts.  It's such a fun way to keep up with her since we live 1600 miles apart.  I thought I'd take her "currents" idea and share my own.
March Currents:
Current Indulgence: I got my hair cut on Tuesday.  I'm embarrassed to say that it has been since September.  Taking off 4 inches was so liberating!  ;)

Current Blessing: I returned home from "hairapy"  to find that my girls had cleaned the whole downstairs.  They played "sell this house."  #Whateverittakes

Current Books: Crazy Love by Francis Chan is thought provoking and causes me to really think about my perception of God.
The Hunger Games series because my daughter asked to read them.  
Pompeii by T.L. Higley.  Loved his Seven Wonders of the World series so I thought I'd give this one a try.  
Young Patriots read-aloud for our study on Colonial America.
 The Message because God's word is timeless and yet it is so refreshing to read it in the language I speak.
Current Foodavocados.  I love them sliced with salt.
Current Annoyance: basketball and diet chatter on Facebook.  I'm ready for more interesting stuff on my feed
Current Favorite: Scramble With Friends
It's like speed Boggle and Words With Friends wrapped up in one.
Current Outfit:  Jeans (because my pearly white legs are not ready to face the world) and a gauzy white shirt.
Current Love: Evening bike rides with the family

Current Need: Spring/summer shirts.  Seriously. in. need.
Oh, and white low socks.  Where do they go??
Current Playlist: It's my own little playlist entitled MELLOW.  It's a variety ranging from Alison Krauss to Sherwood to Adele to Jason Mraz and everything in between.
Current Toy:
My husband gave me an iPhone 4s for Christmas/Birthday/Valentines Day.  I didn't even think I needed one.  I have had so much fun with it.  It's the first smart phone I've ever owned and most days she is smarter than me.  She's cute, too, with her fashion forward grey/yellow ensemble.
Current Excitement: Once we sell our house, we are going to build a new home and, according to my husband, in record time.  Soooo I'm starting to pick out all the fun stuff now so we'll be ready.  Sinks, lights, doors, flooring, everything!
Current Color: green (lime, kiwi, grass, apple)
Current Accomplishment: I'm caught up on laundry for the next 37 minutes, including clean sheets.  Whoo hoo!

Do you share any of the same currents?

March 21, 2012

Family Photos

 A few weeks ago I announced that we were heading to the farm to take some family photos before the yellow wheat turned green.  As you can imagine I was named Blessed Mother and flowered with kisses, hugs, and chocolate.  Actually I named myself Queen and told them that they would have happy hearts and smiles to match; and that I get to choose everyone's clothing for the event.  A couple of girls -who shall remain nameless-  balked at first but then concurred that mom does still have a wee bit of fashion sense in her old bones.
I also reminded them (including the big man) that the better they smiled and enjoyed themselves, the faster the torture photo session would be over.
Does anyone else have to use threats/bribery for a family photo session??
Maybe it's because they are so used to me taking pictures of them without posing that they're spoiled.

We really did have a good time...  Mostly at mom's expense, but I'm willing to sacrifice for a good shot.  I wore myself OUT trying to be the stylist, photographer, and be in the picture.  There were several times that I didn't quite make it to my spot before my camera timer clicked.
Where's Mom??

Since I had to catch everyone with clean hair/teeth, I decided to break my photo rule about daylight and go right after church.  I should have followed the rule.  The sun cast funny shadows and made everyone squint.  Note to self: 2pm is NOT a good time to take outdoor photos unless it's overcast.

This ended up being my favorite family shot, but again, the shadows.  Oh well, even the Queen can't have it all.   ;)
PS.  The Queen also can't seem to stop her prince and princesses from growing.  Sniff sniff.

March 19, 2012

Happy Monday, Ya'll

Life's been busy around here.  
1. We have new babies
Ten baby ducks for my daughter's birthday present.  Her daddy gave her a giant bottle of ketchup, too, and she was tickled pink.  Isn't that what every 11 year old girl wants?  Sure do love that sweet thang!

2. We took a trip to the Farmers market on Saturday.  I love the colors of nature.
We ended up with some asparagus, potatoes, tomatoes, and onion.  It's ALMOST berry season!
Seeing fresh Hot Crossed Buns made me smile.

3. We've had an unseasonably warm March.  Winter, you did me wrong this year. It was warm enough for the kids to jump in the pool.  Even though they were shivering with blue lips, they lasted about 10 minutes and claimed "it wasn't that bad."  

4. Our baby ducks and chicks have made our house a popular place.  I've loved having so many friends (young and old) come by to visit.  Makes my heart glad!

5.  We stopped by my in-laws' home and I snapped this picture of one of their old barns.  Why are rusty tin roofs and weathered wood so soothing?  I often imagine what seasons of life these old barns have witnessed.
Looking forward to a great week!
Hugs !

March 16, 2012

Still Dreaming

This is part of a series.  Go here if you haven't read the beginning.
So we found a gorgeous piece of property, er, well it found us, in July.  We spent two weeks getting our house ready to put on the know, all the stuff that we should have done years ago.  We only had to do one big ticket item: putting tile in the master bath.  Cleaning out was the most time consuming part, but it sure felt good to purge!

My timeline and God's timeline look a little different.
I thought we'd put the house on the market in July, sell it by October and be moved into our new home by Christmas.  Perfection all wrapped up with a bow.

Fortunately, God can see the bigger picture.  The process of purchasing the land took MUCH longer than we anticipated.  On our way to Thanksgiving we got a phone call that the deal was off.  All the way to the mountains I did the UGLY cry.  There may have been some crossing of the arms and stomping of the foot, because I'm mature like that.  I had emotionally committed myself to that piece of property and it was gone.  Mercifully, God looks beyond my immature outbursts and miraculously, two days later we received a call that the deal was back on.  We finally closed on the land in mid-December.
If my "perfect plan" had worked out, we would have been homeless/desperate for several months.

I'm still waiting to see His plan.  It's in motion, but we're not there yet.  We had no showings of our current home from October to January.  It was disheartening to say the least.  Things have picked up and we are seeing lots more activity. Yay!  I still love this home, so it's hard not to take it personally when someone doesn't want it.  For months my prayer has been Lord, sell this house!  My selfish heart recently opened up and realized (once again) it's not just about me.  I have started praying for the family that will one day live here.  I am praying for them as they make this giant decision.  I want them to fall in love with this home.  I want them to be at peace about this beautiful place.   When we built this home, we wrote scripture on the studs before putting up the drywall.  We prayed that it would be a place that would be used to glorify Him.  That is still our prayer.

So would you join me in praying for the future owners of our home?  We know God's timing is perfect.  Yes, we are weary.  Yes, we are ready.

But we're still dreaming....

March 13, 2012

Where's Gretchen?

I really like to blog about 3-4 times a week. Not everyday, but enough to keep my mind clear and fingers nimble.  The last couple of weeks it has been more like the Where's Waldo game, trying to find times to write.  Here are my excuses in no particular order:

1. Life.  Life just gets busy sometimes.  Ya know?
2. Our house is on the market.  Need I say more?
3. Okay, I'll say a little more. :)  I keep a neat house, but we LIVE here.  It is hard to keep it pristine with 5 people and a dog living life to the fullest.  By fullest I mean muddy feet, dirty laundry, cereal bowls and toothpaste in the sink.  Add in the homeschool chaos and I go a little crazy sometimes.
4. Two weeks ago, my daughter cut her leg while playing in the yard.  Minor enough to forget to come to mom for a hug .  The fort they were building was beautiful but the the location was disastrous.  Hiding among the leaves and vines was poison ivy.  After a week her cut still wasn't healing, in fact it was growing.  When my mom (former nurse) showed alarm, I knew it was time to take her to the doctor.  After 2 different antibiotics, it was still nasty.  My poor sweet girl was covered from head to toe with poison bumps. The poison had gotten into her bloodstream and caused a ruckus.  We've pushed more medication in the last 2 weeks than I usually do in a year!  It is finally under control, but it was ROUGH and kept me surprisingly busy.
5. Spring.  Even though I LOVE winter, my blog always plays second fiddle to the gorgeous spring weather.

So there you have it.  Nothing dramatic.  Nothing crazy.   Sometimes I sit down to write and think, I don't have anything profound today.  They don't want to read about what color of socks I am wearing.
But you do come back and you always brighten my day.  I've missed you this past week.
I've challenged myself to take more pictures of daily life being lived and hope to share them with you.  But first, I promise to finish my "Dreaming" story.


March 6, 2012

Got Game?

I thought I'd take a break from "Dreamin" and talk real life.
Playing Battleship with my brother on the parquet floor sipping Koolaid is a favorite childhood memory.  Clue, Life, Candy Land, and Connect Four kept us busy for hours on cold winter evenings.  Anything but Monopoly.

The love of games has followed me into adulthood.  Our kids love playing too.  At least once a week we have family game night.  No tv.  No phones.  No electronics.  Just laughter and family time.  This is the stuff they'll remember forever.
Some of our favorites are Farkle, Blockus, Triominos, and Sequence.  I like word games, but I'm the only one, so I have to save those for more appreciative opponents. Thank goodness for the Words With Friends app.

A few weeks ago, my brother came for a visit.  With a big grin he said, "guess what I found in Mom and Dad's game closet .... Masterpiece!"  I had forgotten one of our childhood favorites!
Doesn't the box crack you up?  We had to look because the outfits were so funny: circa 1970, older than me.  It has been the game of choice since being unearthed.  My kids love it and my husband even requests it.  Know what I love?  It's like a mini Art History lesson each time we play.  Shhh, don't tell!

Did you play Clue as a child? My kids have the newer version, but I prefer the 1972 version.  I hear there's a newer kid-friendly version, but hey, what's the fun in a good murder-mystery when there's no murder??

Speaking of original versions, this may be my all-time favorite game:
Have you ever played Othello?  It is recommended for ages 8+ but my kids started playing around age 5.  It's timeless.  Er, well except for the gaudy candlestick on the box.  Makes me snicker.

So, I want to know...
1. What was your favorite childhood game?
2. What is your current favorite game?