Resisting the "Norm"

There are some seasons in life that are just plain busy.
We are preparing for Thanksgiving and Ella's sixth birthday. 
It is all so exciting and busy.
After that, it will be time for Christmas.

I am not ashamed to say it is one of my favorite times of year.
Not because of the presents.
But because it seems like most people have a joy that is sometimes missing the rest of the year.
Families come together and celebrate.

Sometimes, this special and sweet time can be difficult.
We always struggle with how much "stuff" our little ones accumulate from all of our gatherings.
It becomes quite overwhelming.
Pretty soon, it becomes what Christmas is known for.

We are slowly establishing what we want for our Christmas traditions.
We have never desired that it be about the presents.
We occasionally discuss gifts, but we talk about giving more times than not.
We talk about our Savior and his birth- what a great gift.

It's amazing how subltly the world creeps into our lives and steals away the good.
It slowly and intentionally makes Christmas about receiving and spending.
It becomes a gluttonous occasion, instead of a season to marvel at our Saving Grace. 
We are working on it... it is slow coming, but we are laying the framework that will
hopefully leave our kids with memories of giving and sharing.

There is a Calm, somewhere...


Sometimes it's quiet around here.
We spend our time watching The Wizard of Oz and eat sliced up pears.
There's a lot of crumbs on the floor and toys and crayons spilled everywhere.
And, with that, I don't have much time to sneak away and write.

I have been praying a lot.
Praying for our home and those who live in it.
Praying for our friends who are struggling,
and for family that needs the Lord to scoop them up.

We are preparing for family to come visit this weekend.
Mark will get to spend some time with his brother,
and the kids and I will hang out with my sister and the four girls that always tag along with her.
It will be time that is much needed and will leave me wishing they all lived closer.

 They will leave and life will get back into the busy rhythm that accompanies the holiday season.
It is going to be an exciting next month, or so, for us.
We have a lot going on- family time, musical tickets, birthday parties, Christmas parties-
you name it, we are probably doing it!

I'm soaking up the slowness before the chaos.


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When Will She Stop...

... growing up?
I love seeing her become her own little person, 
but the older she gets,
the harder it is for me to see her as the little baby I brought home six years ago.

The first six weeks were some of the worst.
Not because of her, but because I had no idea what I had got myself into.
She came and rocked my world- hard.

She was always very attached to me as a baby.
She rarely even ventured onto her daddy's lap until she was two years old.
It was always me and this girl- doing life together.

She grew in so many ways when her baby brother was thrown into the mix.
She loved on her daddy in a whole new way,
and became more independent of mommy.

Then, she became a big sister again.
This time, it was a little girl we brought home.
When I was pregnant she kept telling me it was a girl.
Then, when Guinnyth was born, I got a big I told you so.

She helps me in so many ways.
She constantly teaches me about Christ.
She is always talking about Him to her siblings.
Sometimes, in public, she will just start preaching the Word to random people.
It's a gift.
I want to hush her, but then I realize that God made her to glorify His name to all the nations.

She is loved beyond measure.
I had no idea what this one little girl would do to me.
How she would prepare me to love her brother and sister so much better than I could have had she not made me a mother in the first place.

It's always bitter-sweet to watch her grow.
It's exciting and new,
but it also erases a little of the past I had always wanted to hold onto.
The sweet coo-ing she made as a baby.
The way her rolls lined up behind her little hands.
The voice that God gave her that made me melt in my tracks when she spoke.

All those things are getting harder, and harder to remember.
Her baby voice is getting replaced by her almost six year old giggles.
And, when I think about it, I guess I'm okay with that.

A ballerina, A turkey, and A poodle

It is a fun evening to dress up and haul some major candy.
Aside from that, I feel like it is pretty much torture.
Obviously, Guinnyth agrees.

All the in and out of the car just isn't my thing.
Although, I do think my poodle was about the cutest thing I have ever seen.
Too bad I couldn't manage to get a good picture of the said poodle.

 Ella was our little ballerina.
She leaped and plied all across town in her toe slippers.
She kept asking people,
"What do you get when you cross a rooster and a poodle?"
"A cock-a-poodle-doo!"
Then, she laughed hysterically and marched to the next door.

Liam was our little turkey.
My kids always manage to pick costumes that have no pattern available,
leaving my mom to figure out how to make it.
Luckily, she is super talented and pulled it off beautifully.
That is one good-looking turkey.

 Then, there is this little nugget.
She was happy as a clam as long as I was holding her.
The moment I put her down, she was screaming up a storm.
I just know she is going to give me grief when she's 16 and looking back at pictures and there aren't any good ones of her.
It is her fault, really.  She won't let me put her down long enough to get a decent shot.
She's still about as cute as them come.  Even with the remains of tears in her eyes.

Now, onto the month of thanks.
Love it!


31 Days // Back to our Roots

Our roots are so far gone,
I am not sure how to even find them.

The discipline of my Nene and mother's generation are
so lost on me that I am not sure how to even return to it.

The gift of cooking from scratch while tending to the garden,
hanging out laundry, and mopping floors while on all fours
is only a story I remember being told about.

It seems like a full schedule of domestic labor would create confusion,
but I think it just might add simplicity.
Flour dusted on the counters and little people waiting at the oven with delight in their eyes.
Satisfaction that brings sweetness to a momma's heart.
The swollen cheeks, puffed up with a momma's hard work.
Seems simple enough to me.

31 Days // Memories on the Wall


My heart has changed.
I used to want to decorate my home with trinkets and perfect family pictures.
While those things are all very lovely,
it's not what my heart wants these days.

Memories up on the wall.
Passions captured on film and smiled over in the days to come.
Little hearts filled with joy as they 
run to repeat the memory over and over.

That is my desire,
to make our living a little sweeter.
To sweeten it with memories, not simple poses.

31 Days // Take It In

It goes by too fast.
The short amount of time we have to love on and influence them.
I have heard it many times,

"The days creep by, 
but the years, they fly."

It is so true.
And, if I am not careful, 
I miss all the sweetness tucked in between the creeping and flying.

There are special things happening right now.
Things that I am not sure how long they will last for.
How much longer will they play "mommy & daddy" together?
How much longer will my precious one snuggle with me before resting?
How much longer will my guy continue to say "noc-lears" for antlers?
How much longer will my first born twirl in the living room begging me to watch?

These things won't last forever.
Take it in.
Take it in.
It is the sweetness and simplicity of it all that makes it worth stopping for.

31 Days // Calming the Storm

we need to calm ourselves.
Attitudes are running rampant and we need to settle our souls a little bit.

It's the perfect way to bring everyone together,
snuggle in,
and get lost for a little while.

When I need to rest-
when the littles need to regroup-
when the house needs to quiet for a moment,

It offers time to giggle in unison when Llama's momma is in a tizzy.
 Or, hope when the Little Engine is puffing up the hill.
Or, worry when the little duck can't find his momma.
It brings us together and gives us a fresh start.


31 Days // Dance a Little Dance with Me

It's important that not everything be so serious all the time.
It's important that we all learn to relax and simply be.

We love music.
We love to sing in the car 
and I usually sing in the shower, accompanied by a sweet, guitar boy.
My kids have a cd player that they use to play all their 
songs on when they are playing in their rooms.

It's interesting how music can lighten the load of the day.
School is over and we pop in "Hide It in Your Heart."
Instantaneously, hands are being held, spinning in circles.
Little legs are bouncing up and down, trying not to loose balance and topple over.
Giggles begin and then, before we know it, we're all on the floor laughing about nothing.

It's funny...
how music seems to lighten the load.

31 Days // The Way to their Hearts

They find me... in the kitchen.
It is one of their favorite tasks to join in on.
It is simply part of our experience as a family.

Being in the kitchen together helps me to grow in patience 
when they spill the flour all over or splatter the batter on the floor. 
 Sometimes, there is the infamous, "Ugh..." that slips out.  
It might seem like including kids in the cooking process makes things complicated, not simple, 
but it is simple in the joy it brings about.

Without little bodies on my counter 
(now I have three little bodies that beg to encroach upon my territory), 
I would be alone. 
They would be off somewhere else, 
making a mess of toys or crayons.

The more I cook with my kids, the better it gets.  
They learn the rules, and the spills and splatters get less and less.
At this place in our lives, they know they are welcome on my counter any time.
It sprinkles a little sweetness on our mornings.

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31 Days // When the Lights Go Out

Starting the day with a clear mind and heart- free from the clutter from yesterday.
So sweet.

My last evening task, before soaking in the sweet faces of my little dreamers,
is to make sure my home is in order.
Nothing starts my day off worse than waking to a sink full of dishes, pillows on the floor surrounding the sofa, and clothes baskets full of wrinkled laundry.

There have been evenings that I didn't practice this principle, and instead of smiling at the little faces greeting me in the early morning, I was grumbling and shooing them away so I could tidy what was left from the last day's mess.

My rest is so much sweeter when I know I get to start the next day fresh and clean.
Not only does my heart need a new beginning, but my home needs a new beginning as well.
I love seeing toys around and knowing that I have six sets of hands that enjoy them,
but when I wake in the morning and prepare myself for the day ahead,
I need a clean slate- completely.

31 Days // Simple Routine

There is a sweet flow to our home.
I have written about it before.
Our mornings run like a well-oiled machine.

I have found through much trial and error, 
that life in our home thrives on order.
We all appreciate the small details of our day.

That doesn't mean that our routine isn't flexible.
We love swinging at the park or visiting friends on a whim.
But, we always come back to what feels right.

I love when there is chaos in my heart and the Lord brings order and calm to my heart with simple truths.
He hasn't left me.
He will lift my face to meet his gaze when it is time.
He will heal all wounds.
He is in control.

When there is chaos in our home, it is up to me to bring order back.
That might mean several days at home, getting that routine back in place.
I love how routine brings such simplicity to our lives.

31 Days // A Life Full of "No"

I can't quite explain how time works.
When I was younger, it felt as if time were never ending.
I could have a list of to-dos and I just knew I'd have oodles of time to complete my tasks.

As I mature, time matures with me.
It is clear that time certainly does end and that I don't possess an unlimited supply of time.
I choose to live my life as simply and sweet as I can.

I have mastered the art of saying, "No."
The only way I mastered that art is by having a history full of ,"Yeses," 
that robbed me of a life full of sweet simplicity.

I have come to realize that I don't have time to always say, "Yes."
I will, hopefully, have time for that in the distant future,
but for now... my life must be full of, "Nos."

Chaos can wait until a day when I don't have little eyes and hearts needing my attention.
That day will come quickly enough.  There isn't an endless supply of time.
My time will eventually run out.
I want it to be filled to the brim with kindness, gentleness, and patience-
those things that will surpass the hands of time.

31 Days // Morning Quiet Time

There is that sweet time.
Right before the house starts to stir and pitter-patters run about the halls.
The sun drips in through the windows and I prepare my heart for a full day.
A day bursting with endless chatter, crumbs, dirty faces, fresh air, and lots and lots of wet kisses.

-Wet kisses from little faces are the best kind.
They give without the expectation of receiving anything but reciprocated love.-

Quiet time.
A time to calm my mind and focus on my one goal for the day.
Hear me- One goal.
Lavishing love on my kids all to bring glory to the God who created such love.

To live simply and sweetly,
the goal of the day must be clear.
Whether your kids are with you all day, or whether they hail a bus bright and early,
the one main goal for each home should be to love without expectation.

So simple, yet at times, seemingly difficult.
That is why my best days always begin with quiet time.
Basking in the presence of the One who makes all things new.
The One who trains my mind and my heart to think and love in a way this world can't understand.

Simple and Sweet Living  Quiet Time

31 Days to Simple, Sweet Living

I decided to take a challenge.
Writing every day, for 31 days.

This will be somewhat difficult since I will be out of town later this month,
but I am not going to let that hinder me from putting my thoughts on paper
for the remaining days.

I am joining up with The Nester, and many other bloggers, to participate in this challenge.
It sounds so easy... blog for 31 days in a row about the same subject,
but I feel like it is going to prove difficult for me.

My topic is one that I feel I try to abide by most of the time.
Sweet and Simple living.

I don't like a chaotic life.
Some love the thrill of busyness and lots of to-dos,
but I sink like a rock when I have a calendar full of pen marks and highlighter scores.

I like to enjoy slow, quiet mornings with my kids.
Productive and soul thirst quenching afternoons,
and evenings filled with sweet giggles and lots of daddy time.

I want to capture little moments and dwell on them for a little while.
I like to savor the now and not wish for the future to come too soon.
It is simple.  It isn't glamorous.
It is about leaving the chaos behind and soaking in the sweetness of the day-to-day.

You can click the button on my sidebar for easy access to my 31-days series.

Links to the Series:
Day 1- Intro
Day 3- Routine
Day 8- Take It In
Day 11
Day 12
Day 13
Day 14
Day 15
Day 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19
Day 20
Day 21
Day 22
Day 23
Day 24
Day 25
Day 26
Day 27
Day 28
Day 29
Day 30
Day 31

I hope you enjoyed the Living Sweet and Simple Series!

Fall Frenzie Giveaway

It is Fall... finally! 
This is hands-down my favorite season (until spring rolls around).
I love the fashion, the weather, and the change of scenery.
I am so excited to be a part of a 

Fall Frenzie Giveaway!

I am partnering up with 18 other adorable bloggers... bring you an amazing giveaway to celebrate Fall! The best part of this giveaway? There are NINE amazing prizes which means there will be NINE winners which also means your chances are pretty dang good in winning one of them! The first prize will be a $300 VISA GIFT-CARD to use for whatever the heck you want (I know, awesome!), as well as these eight fantastic gifts...

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You want to enter? You can do so right here...
One of the nine winners will be chosen via Instagram as well. How you ask? Post about this giveaway using one of the pictures of the Fall loot above, and make sure you hashtag #fallgiveawaysarewhereitsat because that is how we will be choosing the winner.
May the luck be on your side!
Thank you to all of the sponsors and bloggers. You all rock.


Android Phone Photography

I don't want to come across as someone who actually knows what she's talking about when it comes to phone photography.
With that said, I wanted to share a few apps that I have really like when using my Galaxy.

So many of the "good" apps out there are for IPhone users only.
I always feel bummed when one of my favorite bloggers or instagramers would mention the app they used on a certain picture, and then I would discover it was for I-users only.
So, after a lot of trial and error, I landed on 3 android apps that I think are great at editing my smart phone pics.

1.  The first Android app that I love is SnapSeed.
It has a wide array of options when editing.
It does take a little tinkering to figure out how to use it and what your favorite settings are, 
but once you get it figured out, it does a great job.
Another bonus is that it is FREE!

2.  The second Android app that I like to use is PhotoGrid.
It has quite a few different variations when putting multiple pics together in a collage.
I like to edit my photos in Snapseed first and then upload them to Photogrid to make my collages.
It is FREE as well!

3.  The third Android app that I use is Retro Camera.
This allows me to put different filters on my pics to give them a vintage look.
I use this the least out of all three, but I still find a place to use it when I want a "worn" look to my pics.

Keep in mind that every person has certain preferences when it comes to their pictures.
If I am getting professional pictures taken, then I certainly want them to be crisp and sharp.
When I take pictures throughout the day, showing little snippets of what life is like for us, I prefer a rugged, grainy look.  If you notice the graininess... that is my personal preference, not the app creating that look.

I hope these few apps will help you fellow android users edit your phone pictures.
I use my phone so much when it comes to capturing my day, and it is nice to be able to edit and publish them straight from my phone.


Do you have an android app that you love when editing?
Share in the comments so others can, hopefully, find more apps to use!!!

Schooling with my Homies...

I have had several people ask about our curriculum and what our mornings are like during the school year, so I will try to get that blogged soon. 
Maybe a video of our morning showing clips here and there? Interested?
I am bad about having several posts one week, and then a major break the next.
Sorry about that... I am going to try and be more consistent when it comes to this space.

Liam has always wanted to be a part of our school morning.  It doesn't matter if I have activities or just paper with crayons... he wants to be involved. 

I have been sneaking into Baby G's room almost every morning to snap a picture of her in her sweet slumber.  What is better than watching your own babe sleeping?  Not much in my book.  Thankfully, she has been napping during most of our morning school time which helps out tremendously.

Lately, I have been indulging in Rudabegga's Cold Brew.
I don't like super sweet drinks.  I prefer black coffee, so this works perfectly for my taste buds.
It has flavor, but not sweetness.  

And, then there is this character.  Always keeping it real.  He loves his giraffe glasses.
I like them, too.


Would you be interested in a short video of our morning school time?  Yes? No?



It's sweet...
sharing my day with these three little people.

I leave in a few weeks to spend a brief amount of time with some of my girl friends from high school.
The friendship we all share is one of those that, even though we haven't talked in months,
when we get together we spend hours giggling and loving one another as if no time had separated us at all.
It is going to also be a time for us to relax and enjoy some peace and quiet.

I must say, even though I am super pumped to spend time with my gals, 
I have a crazy amount of anxiety about not being with my kiddos and my hubby.
Actually, very rarely do I feel like I need a break from my life.
I truly love the calling God has given me.

I am not going away because I feel like I need to "get away" from it all.
I am taking this trip because I feel like it is important to invest in friendships, as well as invest in family.
We are all scattered about these days, and this past year has been pretty hard on our friendship(s)- 
not seeing each other at all.

I have a tendency to put all my eggs in one basket.
To place all my stock in my family and the relationship(s) we have with each other.
Sometimes, it is important to place our focus elsewhere, for just a moment, and nurture other things.

I guess this is my way of giving myself permission to love and enjoy my girls.
Permission to not feel guilty leaving my day-to-day at home and letting someone else love on my kids.
Permission to relax and breath a little deeper...


When Your Heart Grows

When there is just one, it is pretty easy.
I'm not saying that I didn't have my struggles when all I wrangled was Ella.
But, when I just had one- I thought I knew it all.
I was quick to mentally correct the other mothers I would see "doing it all wrong."

As my family grows, I find more and more that mothering perfectly isn't attainable.
That my previous judgements of others were unwarranted.
They really are different- kids.
Methods have to change from child to child.
That means that there is a considerable amount of trial and error that takes place with the addition of each little one.
It has been a blessing to discover not one mother- not one- has it all figured out.
It is such a relief to know that I don't have to be perfect.
I get up and breath in each new morning and strive for simplicty and sweetness.

Little moments that help me make it to the next moment, to the next, to the next.
The best part is that there is perfection woven in amongst all the error.
Sometimes the perfection is now... sometimes it's in the next moment.
Either way, I just have to be patient and wait for it to come.