Sunday, May 27, 2012

Be Still

Currently, the commotion around here is more than I like when I write, but appropriate for a small house with five children (my niece, Ellie spent the weekend with us). The good thing, though is that I usually have mulled everything over enough that I think I can get it down.

Writing helps me organize my thoughts. I've found it essential to making anything of what is in my head. Sometimes it is in a journal or a word document or a note to someone- or in blog form.

Today, with plenty of interruptions, I will get them down in abbreviated form as a result of thoughts that came in silence. God has given me big dreams with adequate talents. Anything lacking is made up for with dependence on his powerful plan.

We celebrated Pentecost today, which was a nice addition to my thoughts. Which is, in a nutshell, that whenever God reveals something to me in His silent voice, it is quiet in my physical surroundings and in my thoughts. Be still and know that I am God. I thank God for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

So my challenge for this month (a month long goal for myself because most of it will not be spent in my own home) is to create a relaxing place to be still. I'll probably have more than one to accommodate different situations.

I love my deck as the sun is coming up in the morning before the household awakes. Couple that with a cup of coffee and I have a great start. It would be even better if I could get in a walk around the block...

We've moved our room to the basement, which I plan to make into a little studio for Sook and I- a place of refuge, probably a quiet time after lunch.

Every one's favorite spot in the house is on the couch in the living room. This is best for me right after the kids go to bed- so I'm available if they need me prior to falling asleep. Right now my living room is jumbled- very lived in but not so relaxing.

In a lifestyle filled with noise, activity, and interruptions, Mamas need quiet time. In a world where there is too much to do and too little time, quiet must be coveted, even fought for. More is accomplished, visions are created, prayers are said, and purposes revealed. The soul, mind, body, and spirit will be blessed. And a happy mama= a happy family.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Strawberry Lemonade

Lemonade is to summertime as hot chocolate is to winter...and it's lemonade time again!

I discovered a lemonade recipe last summer on that can be found here. But, of course, I can't leave it alone.

My older girls are at a point where they are trusted to cook, and enjoy it most of the time (we need to work on the cleaning up part!), and I love incorporating our learning in cooking- because cooking is fascinating and is done daily. So, this month strawberry lemonade has become a weekly routine for us.

This is what you need:

1-3/4 cups sugar
8 cups water
5 or six ripe strawberries, tops cut off
1-1/2 cups lemon juice
large pitcher

1. Combine sugar and one cup water in a small saucepan. Heat stove to medium-high and boil in order to dissolve sugar.
We are creating a solution by combining two substances: 1)water (solvent), 2) sugar (solute). They start out as very different in taste and appearance, but as they mix together, they become one homogeneous mixture. If you like, carefully spoon out a small portion and let it cool to observe this mixture.
Sugar dissolves faster when the temperature is hot and when you stir the solution.
2. When the sugar is dissolved, turn heat to medium-low and add the strawberries to the solution. Let simmer for about five minutes, allowing strawberries to become tender.

You will notice that the clear solution will turn pink or red. You can help extract the coloring from the strawberries by taking the tip of a beater or a potato masher and mashing them. When you are satisfied with the color of solution, turn off the stove, remove from burner, and let cool.

My favorite part about this experiment is to learn ways to naturally color food. This is typically healthier, but it also is informative for young chefs, and it helps us understand how foods were colored before we started using artificial colorings. 
3. While the solution is cooling, cut lemons in half and squeeze out the lemon juice. It took us approximately six lemons to make 1-1/2 cups juice. How many tablespoons of juice is that per lemon? If you do not have fresh lemons, bottled lemon juice will work fine. Also, lime juice can be substituted.

 4. In a large pitcher or jar, pour lemon juice and 7 cups water. Try tasting this mixture before adding the sugar solution. What does it taste like?

5. Strain the sugar/strawberry solution so to remove strawberries and seeds.

6. Add to the lemon juice mixture. How has the appearance and taste changed? What color is the drink? Why do you think it has turned this color?

Here are some more observation questions:
Lemonade is typically a mixture of sweet and sour. What part of your tongue can taste these tastes?
What other foods could you use to color lemonade?
Do you like the lemonade with strawberries, or would you rather leave them out next time?
Is there anything else that you would do differently?
Look at the sauce pan after it has cooled. Do you notice anything on the sides? Why do you think that happens?

We like the solid form of lemonade- so we pour some into ice cube trays and make lemonade pops. Can you think of any other way to serve this drink?

After it's all said and's here to enjoy! Here's to a great summer!

Sunday, May 20, 2012


The subject of health comes up often... in my professional and personal life. Everyone has an opinion and no one seems to agree completely. Anything and everything will kill you, and if you do one thing in the name of health, in 5 years they'll tell you it's fatal.

But it is important. And tricky.

Here's a thought:

My observations tell me that different people all over the world have different lifestyles and diets and most of them (that are adequately fed) are more healthy than Americans. Yet, Americans seem to think they can fix the health problem. They (and in "they", I mean "we") study and write articles and spend billions on doctor bills and meds that have horrible side effects and work so hard to pay the fees and dig for all the information that terrifies us about our environment and food and lack of exercise.....

and we end up with more doctor bills and meds and fears than in the first place. But at least we think we are smart.

There is a huge food industry. There is a big exercise industry. Some the products out there are great. Some are impossible. Some are simply not for me. Some are a scam.

But may I submit the suggestion that relaxing can be free, and that might be the thing we need to eliminate hundreds of diagnosis.

Note: I did not spend millions of dollars doing a study on this. Or any formal study at all.

I am not undermining the importance of exercise (which can be relaxing, by the way), and I am striving to eat as many whole foods as possible, but what I am saying is that the discussion of removing different types of stress is not as prevalent as what pill will fix what ailment. I believe that this should be the first step to a healthier lifestyle, and that diet and exercise should not contribute to our stress.

You may have heard someone say, "Worrying is a sin". Well, there are many verses in the Bible that speak on trusting and do not worry and have faith and pray. I also think that what we perceive as "knowledge" can become a god to us, (more important that God himself) which is clearly not God's plan. I believe God's instructions are there for our well being, so, with this in mind, and for the love of all the happy 90 something's out there....

here are a few ides to relax:
  • Pay attention to yourself. What are some things that cause anxiety, tension, anger, or fear? Are they things that can be eliminated? For instance, if you are tense after watching the news, maybe you can stop watching it. I don't watch the news anymore, and I shut off the computer if I am having a sensitive day.
  • Think about what you enjoy! Is it something you can incorporate into your day? Yes, it should be a priority, reasonably speaking.
  • FORGIVE. God loves us and takes care of us (and has forgiven us), so there is no need to hold on to unforgiveness. Your body will thank you.
  • Laugh daily.
  • STOP finding out what is wrong with everyone else. Find and work with the positives in each person and every situation. By doing this, you may even assist in improving someone else's perspective.
  • Give out a whole lot of grace.
  • Listen to relaxing sounds.
  • Volunteer. I know there is a study out there proving the health benefits to this somewhere. Plus millions of testimonies.
  • Cut out complaining altogether. As well as the need to be right all the time. Once and a while someone will say to me, "you are so fortunate that your life is not filled with drama...or, you don't have as many problems..." My first reaction is to go down the list of difficult people and situations I encounter regularly, but that just stirs up negative emotions, fears, worries, and anger. The reason someone seems as though they don't have problems is due to the way they handle them, not the lack of them.
  • In general, a good attitude can fix the majority of problems. Take the responsibility for your attitude and don't blame a bad one on anything outside of yourself.
  • Smile often. Sing. Dance if you like to.
  • Exalt God over your problems. They are no big deal to Him, and He loves you!
  • Enjoy nature. The other day, I picked the buds off my mother's mums. Yes, in May. Gardening is so relaxing to me, but I got a kick out of this chore because this is who I saw:

A teeny praying mantis, jumping from leaf to leaf. He let me study him for a long time, turning his head all around and observing me and the rest of this big world.
  • Don't miss the little things. Or great big things we look right past, like the sunset. We have a wealth of natural resources available, but sometimes ignore them, while starving for wondrous things that delight the soul.
  • Take a walk or jog.
  • And, if you are willing to spend a few bucks, get a massage, go on vacation, or a drive, or maid service.
These things may sound cliche, but I think they are worth it. And I believe possible. But we need to protect our relaxing, cherish our silence, and value refreshment without being selfish.

It takes some work to relax, or in other words, "labor to rest".....and put energy into your constructive, unique purpose!

When I practice these things, I my troubles fade and depression dissolves. My body is refreshed. The joy of the Lord is my strength.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Dining Entertainment

I have so many exciting blog posts in my head. However, they take more time and energy than I have when I finally get to sit down.

So this must suffice for today...

I grew up in a bug killing family. A bug inside was as good as dead- and maybe even outside.  Somehow I'm raising a bug-loving family. This was purely unintentional, but I kinda like it.

We found two spiders inside today, both very small and harmless. One was spinning a web from my dining table to a stand, located precisely in our walking path to the kitchen. Without thinking, I picked up two ends of it's beginning tread and ushered it outdoors.

The other was in our centerpiece of air plants. At first, anyway..then it traveled over to Savannah who was elated to find such a guest. Max pretty much will get excited over whatever everybody else is excited about. Savannah studied the spider's anatomy carefully and was very concerned about the spider's well being. Max backed away and then asked if he should kiss it.

Killing it would have been much less exciting.

We love bugs.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Art of Motherhood

There were three things running through my brain this last week.

1. Everything is better when you can tune out people that are non-factors in any given situation and just do what is right for you. No comparing, no nonsense advice listening, no trying to fit in, and no acceptance of condemnation.

2. I can't remember the second.

3. Everything can become a form of art. We are individually artworks of God in every sense of ourselves, and we can in turn create fabulous and unique.....anything we choose. Homes, families, meals, gardens, ministries, careers, friendships, and more. I am even loving laundry this week (blog post to be written).

Motherhood, for me, has been a co-work-of-art between God and myself. He started it, and He got me to a place of realization that I have choices and freedoms to make this work for me. This gift, though not the most important, is worth more than anything I could have earned without the nuisance and responsibility of children.

This mother's day, I reflected on the wealth of blessings I have as a result of four crazy kids. I'd like to share them with you.

The first thing I learned when I had my fussy 4.5 pound Savannah was the meaning of sacrifice. I no longer had the choice to sleep in, I couldn't fit in my pretty clothes, and started to lose control of my ideals. I need this lesson badly, and got it in the very best way (and maybe only way) I would have ever learned it. Out of necessity.

Sacrificial living and giving is probably the most beautiful thing to me now. I'll take the worn sweat pants of a blessed mama, you can have the.....whatever it is everyone is wearing now days. Take that for individuality.

Seeing how flawed my own children are, yet feeling such intense love and grace for them, gives me a glimpse of the love and grace God and my own parents gave (and continue to give) me. It has given me thanksgiving and humility, which paves the pathway for God to work in my life in a very effective way. God can't do so much with pride.

After many tears and fears of not meeting my own expectations and completely shattering my ideals, after fights and sleepless nights filled with scheming and reviewing and game-planning, one must get up, dust themselves off, and laugh hysterically. A sense of humor improves artistic expression.

An appreciation...and sometimes an incredible need is developed for more seasoned mothers. I cherish the ones that are a part of my life. My own mother has obviously had a tremendous impact on me as my very own example, but she also studied childhood development for her career precisely when I needed that guidance- and she was in a position to influence me positively right then and there. She continues to be a constant support for my sibling and myself.

My grandmother, whom I missed very much this weekend, was the one person I can say had joy for me. Almost giddy, child-like joy at times. I didn't always appreciate that when she was alive, but I am still receiving her blessings and learning from our times together. I wish so much she could hold my children now and I could see her eyes twinkle as she'd watch them play. However, I have full confidence that she is spending plenty of time with Max's twin, who did not survive the pregnancy, in heaven. THAT makes me smile.

Even though I don't have a grandmother, I was blessed to spend time this weekend with my good friend's grandmother, who has the same twinkle in her eye for my children as Grandma Friday did for me. I get that now. People like that are truly hidden gems. What a blessing.

And other family that lovingly share their mother-in-law, for starters. Aunts and great aunts and aunts that aren't really aunts, all individual works of art that God uses to shape me.

I am also blessed to have mentors from church. One of them recently encouraged me to have one clean room in the house, so that if everything else is a disaster, I can at least go into that one room for refuge. Well, Janet, my refuge room is currently my hallway bathroom. It's the only one the kids willingly and consistently help me keep clean. At least there is one! 

In my situation, motherhood is not without the influence of a man. One whose input has revealed my shortcomings, then in his unique wisdom, shows me a better way. For one, he has taught me patience, and also shown me there are some things just not worth worrying about. His laid-back manner gives me peace...well, it did once I realized that it was wisdom and not stupidity. Or maybe God just know the personality I needed to counter mine- to balance us out.

Good friends are priceless, and I find the need to hold on to them, and and realize that finding new ones is not as easy as it once was.

Irony. Motherhood is full of irony. Maybe it's just because "everyone" has told us what is important and we study and learn and become scholars in what "everyone" else says....and motherhood presents a complete opposite perspective. I've learned I just can't be happy holding on to my past intelligence while making it in motherhood. It's a whole new game. Sometimes there is humor in that, too.

The word "busy" takes on a new meaning. And, I've found that when your goals are properly set, you just don't have time for silly gossip or dwelling on what your kid did to embarrass you last week. You forgive because you don't have time to stew over a comment made six months ago. You are forced to move on, because life is moving on and no one is waiting for your time out. Your priorities must be made and YOU are not on the top of the list. However, you will be taken care of properly when your faith is truly in God.

Faith is no longer an option for me, it is essential for my visions and goals because they are incredibly bigger than myself. Countless things have fallen into place because they just had to. I can't mother without faith in God and the help of the Holy Spirit.

And with all these things in place and probably more that I can't think of at the moment, I humbly take in all the blessings of lessons learned and people and....oh, yeah. My kids! And I reject condemnations and ridiculous words spoken over us....and THEN I have freedoms to create an environment of love and productivity and influence lives profoundly. The possibilities are endless. Joy abounds. 

Motherhood has given me the inspiration to create, to have something to write about, to laugh about, to connect with others, and to love the little things.

This artwork continues to come together in an intricate testimony, hopefully reflecting what the love of Christ truly can do.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


1. Yesterday is on the top 20 list of the worst days ever. If you don't count the sixth grade. However, I had too many people wishing me a great day today to let the awfulness linger.

2. I went to work today again. I'll be going all week long. I have always loved my work, but this time around I find myself missing my kids when I am there.

3. When I got home, there was a note for me to get my  best dress on. Savannah always has a plan. I didn't really want to change, but I loved how excited she was to surprise me.

4. After my dress was on, she took me to her "beauty spa" (basement bathroom). She got out a large cotton ball, told me that I would look good with purple make up on, dipped the cotton in the purple, and gently rubbed it on my cheek. She was so proud. I looked abused.

5. Sook took them to get a balloon and cake while I was at work. Maybe that sounds minor, but not too many guys would take the kids out to the store just to get a balloon and cake. I love that guy.

6. Another one of their fab presents was about 25 drawings, all folded and taped very securely. Savannah helped me unwrap them.

7. I have had some great birthdays, but no one has ever been this excited to treat me. Well, except my sister. Anyways, my kids really do love me.

8. We ordered a giant Venus fly trap online. Savannah and I hardly can wait.

9. Summer said that we should celebrate my birthday all week long. She also asked if I would get mad if she served me cake.

 10. Max kept singing, "happy birthday, happy birthday, happy birthday" when he was eating  the pink lemonade pops we had made. Without pants on.

 11. I love poppies and I love to paint. I have to share just because doing this brought me so much joy the other night (at 2am).

12. If I do paint, it has to take less than a few hours and be done at ridiculous times.

13. My house that I am going to build someday has a studio in a sun room.
 12. Watercolor is so much fun!

13. I didn't cook today. I'm not even sure what everyone had. (Besides the cake). I'm sure they found something.

14. I received my "essential oils starter kit" today. What a wonderful surprise!

15. The kids got the bathroom floor all dirty, so I got to make a floor cleaning solution using my oils!

16. I also scrubbed the entire kitchen floor and even moved the refrigerator. My house smells like grapefruit.

17. I am thankful for my old linoleum floor....I am thankful for my old linoleum floor..

18. I decided that I would rather spend money on a vacation than a floor.. if I have to choose.

19. Vacations are better than ovens and dishwashers, too.

20.This little guys almost always makes me smile.
21. Yes, I know how stupid this is, to let him count eggs on my grey carpet. But really my carpet shouldn't be grey, yet it is. So who really cares? My son actually wants to count eggs on the carpet!

22. Then Summer cooked them for him. I guess that is what they ate.

23. Baths. A good time to clean the tub, or so they say.

24. Sook came home in between jobs and ate leftovers in the kitchen with me.

25. He talked about boxing. He also asked how my work was.

26. Marriage is sometimes enjoying boring things together.
27. I love origami pots. Morning Glories. I think the pots are on Pinterest.

28. I can't believe it... I can't wait to clean something else.
29. Cake, cake, cake.
30. This is me, unashamidly taking a picture of myself at 35. Someday I'll want to remember what I looked like at 35.

31. This is what I look like on a typical day in my mommy clothes.

32. I have very few pictures of myself. I have been trying to do a better job of having a few since the kids may want some one day, or so that my great grand children will know I have not always had white hair and a face full of wrinkles.

33. Oh, alright. This is what I really look like.
34. A few wrinkles, blemishes, and stained teeth. I have four kids for goodness sakes!
35. Finding Legos lying around is very annoying... unless they are happy Legos, like this structure. Evidence of constructive play makes me a happy mama. I am blessed... even on days after really bad days. Even with grey carpet that should be white, even with old linoleum floors, even when my birthday gift is 25 drawings on paper that I bought, along with the  roll full of tape. Even though I had to work and my biggest excitement was mixing up floor cleaner with new essential oils. Even though my age is starting to show.

I am blessed.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

10 Things

Some most days at home I am always doing something but feel like I have accomplished nothing.

Like today. I went to work, got home around 3, did a few dishes, changed a diaper, provided a snack, cleaned up the snack, checked fb, washed a few more dishes, turned on dishwasher, checked on the kids outside, wiped down the counter in the bathroom (finally)... all while on the phone. Somehow, after all that I feel like I had been slacking.

So I decided that whenever I needed a sense of accomplishment, I'd do 10 things.

Do you want to try? This is so fun. OK, here are the rules:

  • Do 10 things. It does not matter if they are 10 big things or 10 little things or a mixture. Just make sure you count 10 things.
  • If someone interrupts you, that's okay. Your 10 things will still be waiting.
  • It's also okay to get the kids to help.
  • (This is the most important one) When you have done 10 things, stop. Relax or do something you enjoy.
  • Start over whenever you want. But if you do 10 things a day or 10 things an hour, celebrate your 10 things, and know that you have accomplished something beside wiping runny noses and kissing ouchies.

Here is my list tonight:

1. Clean mail off my kitchen island.
2. Clean counter space #1.
3. Wash out water bottles.
4. Fill/ Start dishwasher.
5. Make smoothies to freeze overnight.
6. Clean counter space #2.
7. Take out recycling.
8. Put away books that were sitting on a chair.
9. Get coffee ready/set delay timer for the morning.
10. Pay some bills.

Now I can go to bed in peace.


I heard someone recently say that we need to know the meaning of our names, because our names are not accidents. This does not surprise me because name choosing seems sacred or spiritual to me. God made us.... maybe he chose our names, too like others we read about in the Bible.

I looked mine up in several different places. You know, after years of trying to fit in and hundreds of failed expectations and so much confusion about what we are and why we are here, this exercise might teach you something about yourself... assuming we are on the same page:)


This one I've never seen before: light skinned. It gave me chills because I am the light skinned one in our family.

The typical answer: wanderer. I've never connected with this before, but now that I am trying to find meaning to my name, I get it. First of all my mind wanders constantly. Some people call this a disorder. I'd like to think it's my own beautiful mind. Not the smartest or most efficient, but it's mine.

One meaning of the word "wanderer" is: to move about in an irregular course; meander. I just have my own way. A little slower but oh, so meaningful. I may see things others don't. I may take on a different perspective, but it is not necessarily wrong. I was born a wanderer. This is how I am supposed to be!

And finally: friend. I gather that this is a literary meaning from Peter Pan. This tells me something of a calling, because I wouldn't say that friendship is my best quality. However, it's a challenge I'm willing to accept.

We have done similar exercises with my children as well. I want them to know themselves and appreciate what they are, not based on fitting in, but based on their beautiful uniquenesses.

As for my husband, Sook, the words I've found are "rock", "light" (this is actually for a Korean girl's name), and he reports that his name is "cooked" or "mature". This has changed how I view him as well.... mature and rock. Someone trustworthy and able.

I must say this again, MY husband is trustworthy and able. Add to that God's wisdom and strength, and I've got it pretty darn good!

Next week I'll be 35. It has taken this long to understand that God didn't mess up when He made me. And I have a feeling that this will change some things in my life. Taking seriously the things I enjoy. Rejecting criticism. Loving a God who looks at me and loves me for being me.

But I also am more determined to assist my children in finding the picture that God sees in them. I hope it won't take 35 years to see the joy in it.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


These are the things that are exciting to me these days:

I have spent an absurd amount of time on little corners of my house and yard. A quick glance at a happy space motivates me to move on and do more.

And a little space at a time turns into a bigger space....and hope abounds.

I have returned to the envelope system. Somehow we got out of the habit a few years ago, but paying with cash and using a budget gives me so much more peace about money. I take out cash at the beginning of the week, use a zero balance budget, and sometimes have money to spare. I can see it all on paper, and that almost makes me giddy.

I love my curriculum, but it is like a checklist that I think I need to cross everything off of. Now that we are at the end of the year, I have less on the checklist to complete. When I do not have one, there is little tension and more student lead learning, which is so much more fun for them. This is when I feel like I'm tricking them into learning.

At the arboretum the other day, there was a "Monet Garden". The girls asked about Monet, who happens to be my all time favorite painter. I have a Renoir painting of Monet painting in a garden hanging in my bedroom

Max thinks it's a picture of Uncle Gib.

So we looked up paintings by Monet and discussed impressionists. And everyone decided they wanted to be an artist, except Brooke who insisted she would be a babysitter. Ironically, Brooke is an artist, no doubt.... and then the converstation created three very confused girls because of all the things they wanted to be. So I showed them Leonardo Di Vinci, who was a scientist, inventor, math genius, artist, writer, and more. 

And now Savannah is a mad scientist and artist. (She's not sold on the math part yet.)

I'm pumped about our learing for the summer.

The chores that I have assigned to the girls are everyday routine chores- cleaning up after each meal, folding and putting away laundry, and a 10 minute pick up time. I also have extra chores that are different every day. On Mondays we focus on the kitchen, Tuesdays: bedrooms, Wednesdays: bathrooms, Thursdays: living room and car, Fridays: garage and basement. These chores attribute to my sanity and teach them responsibility and money management. I use Financial Peace Junior and pay them a quarter for each chore they complete to my satisfaction. They are saving up for tablets.

When I was younger and had only a little money to feed my plant addiction, I purchased perennials that would spread. And they have. So now I am able to divide my plants and purchase less. I have also had wonderful friends that generously divided their plants and shared with me! Now I think that is the mark of a good person (that and someone who offers to watch the kids while you can get away for a few hours). If you want to be a good friend, share plants. Unless your friend doesn't love plants. Anyway, I am blessed with a yard full of plants that I love because they are beautiful and because they remind me of my friends.

But I have purchased a few more because I can't help it.

I feel blessed today. I am blessed.