Pink and blue.

   I've been missing seeing these little faces on this blog lately...but the snotty noses and piles of tissues and house of horrors that is our life today isn't exactly a pretty picture, so we'll throw back to these pictures I caught a while back that I couldn't share until now.

(Don't mind Jocelyn's outfit....we really pick our battles around here when it comes to clothes.....)

I'd never been able to tell Randy in a fun way that I was pregnant.
   When I found out with Jocelyn he was just in the other room and I just burst through the door and blurted it out in shock and excitement.  Then with Charlotte I made up a note that said, "Shhh, Big Sister sleeping" and taped it to Jocelyn's bedroom door, but the moment he came home from work he knew I was hiding something, so I just ended up telling him then.

So THIS time, I was determined we would at least have a little fun with it.

   The girls helped me make cupcakes and we decorated in pink and blue and I made a little card for him and then....we waited.

   Of course, they didn't actually know the reason behind it all.  I hadn't told them and wasn't planning to until it was safe to say, but we all know how that story turns out.

So we waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

   And of course, as fate would have it, this was a night he ended up having to work EXTRA late, and didn't come home until long after the girls were sleeping, and the clock neared midnight and my patience had worn THIN.  

   But the waiting was all made worth it and more at the look on his face as he read the words on that little card.......

We can hardly wait.



   I am sorry for all of the quiet around here lately....I really just cannot seem to get my act together these days.  This pregnancy is really taking it out of me this time.  Body, mind, emotions.

   And now the girls and I all have nasty colds, so that's a nice cherry on top right now, but honestly?  I am so thankful.  So desperately, gut-achingly thankful.  That even with the nausea, fatigue, and low blood sugar/pressure that leaves me icy cold all of the time....I am thankful.  Thankful for the life growing inside of me, and for the other precious lives in my care.  What a privilege.

Because we are not guaranteed that they always will be in our care, sick or well.
We are not guaranteed tomorrow.
We are not even guaranteed today.
And our entire lives could change in a moment.

   My dear sister-in-law Amy has already been through so much with losing her mother to cancer, and now, shortly after the anniversary of Lois' passing, Amy's sister Heidi has lost her 5-yr-old daughter.

  My heart is broken for them and all of their family as they must be just grasping for shafts of light through all of this darkness right now.  I truly cannot even begin to imagine.

   I was lying in the semi-darkness next to Randy the other morning as the sun rose and he said quietly, "I want to never forget that.  I want to never, ever forget that right now, some parents are waking up without their 5-yr-old daughter.  I think that will keep my problems in perspective."

And he couldn't be more right.

   What can I do but breathe thanks to Jesus for every day, every hour, every MOMENT that I am gifted with the ones that I love?

I think I'll start today, sick or not.



It takes a village.

   First of all, a huge THANK-YOU to all of the kind comments and words and love you all left us after our big announcement.  It always means so much to hear encouragement from people you care about as they share in your joy.  

It's sort of what this whole "village" thing is about.

    And speaking of that village, my mom left this morning after a week's visit with us and this is one of the only pictures I managed to get of her.  I did the absolute WORST job of getting my camera out, completely forgetting it on our trip to the coast and pulling other such super-blogger moves.  So this will have to suffice.  

I am wondering how we are going to survive without her.  

    When I mused that out loud she replied, "Just how you've been surviving all this time."  And to THAT I replied, "Yeah with a fridge that was in a state of national emergency and dirty windows and laundry piled in mountains around us and a garage that we could barely park in and a whole lot else."  

Which I suppose is surviving but certainly not thriving.

  I hope I never take for granted, even for a moment, family that will drop everything and help you.  We are blessed by wonderful family on both sides, and what a rich and precious gift that is.

   On one of the evenings my mom was here she let Randy and I go out for a date and we ended up at a coffee shop where I saw a couple with two little girls about our daughters' ages, and so I commented on them and the mom immediately asked me, "Where do you find babysitting?"

   I replied that they were staying with my mom, and she went on to say how difficult it is to find any babysitting and even when they can find someone through an online company, the rates are quite high.  Not to mention you don't even really KNOW those people.  They don't have family around, and there aren't really any options at their church and so they were left with pretty much nothing.

   A young woman sitting on the other side of the fireplace knitting fingerless gloves chimed in our conversation with, "We don't really have family as an option either.   Well, they don't live far away, but they are just not....well.....healthy enough to leave our children with."

   And she said it in an embarrassed sort of way with eye rolling and deep sighs that made it seem as if "health" was more of an addiction, or other issue that they were not comfortable with that was present, prohibiting them from being active in their grandchildren's lives.

It was all so very, very sad.

I felt so convicted.

  I love all of my family, both by blood and by marriage, but oftentimes I find myself bemoaning the fact that we don't live closer, or that we aren't closer relationally, or that we don't get together nearly as much as some other families.  And then I hear these women sharing about how they have NO one in their life to count on, NO ONE to surround them and support them in the raising of their children and the building of their home and I shudder to think that I could ever be anything less than grateful.

   There is a lot of turmoil going on right now for my mom with church issues, raising teenagers, and her job as an Amish midwife's assistant.  And if you choked on that last sentence, TRUST ME, it is another story (or multiple stories) for another time.

   There is much we don't agree on, and much we can't ever seem to understand each other about.  But she is still my Mom.  And I love her.  And I am desperately grateful, that she cares enough about us to take time from her busy life, and come visit.

   She always comes swooping in with elbows flying, dusting and sweeping and cleaning and showing love as she best knows how, Gifts of Service.  She takes the time to rescue the parts of my home and life that are falling into chaos, even when she is stretched thin herself.

And I hope one day to be that lifeline for my girls as well.


And then there were three.

   It's always hard to know how to start up again after a long absence from the keys....lately I have felt so distant, so distracted, and so disconnected from my writing, blog, or even my own thoughts for that matter it has been nearly impossible to think about catching up in this little space. 

But now I feel it is time. 

   Because I have something I really, really, want to share, and it is breaking past all of the writer's blockage erected mainly by my own piles of insecurity, and I'm tired of not writing because of me, because I really, truly, have something worth saying.

   June 2015 is quickly shaping up to be one of the best months of my life................

   Indeed, my friend, you counted THREE balloons in those pictures.  Three!  Soon I will be a mama (well I guess I sort of already am) to three precious little souls!  What a privilege!  What a gift! What a treasure.

    If I was surprised by the quickness of the first two, I was surprised by my intense desire to see that positive test with this one.  It didn't happen right away like the others, and I found myself thinking, dreaming, seeing, hearing and feeling BABIES everywhere.  I just so badly wanted another.

   I'll be honest, I have been sort of sicker than normal with this one, which of course is sending all sorts of images of a little boy dancing through my head, when really it could just be that I'm getting...well...older. 

   The yuckiness and fatigue and food aversion, and general crappy-state-of-being has done it's best to diminish my excitement, but let me tell you....I. Can. Not. WAIT.  We are so thrilled to be adding to our family, and we are so grateful to God for blessing us yet another time with this precious, precious gift of life!  Who are we that we should be entrusted to raise yet another soul?  I feel so grateful, so thankful, and so humbled. 

   So.  That explains some of the break.  I have felt the "pregnancy brain" fog roll in like usual and completely crowd my brain until the simplest of decisions loom up tall and impossible and everything in my life seems bigger and harder and crazier and just.....MORE.  The hormones, the estrogen, the emotions, the sickness, all smushing in there alongside the waves of joy, the tears of expectation, and the DESPERATE all just took me like a tidal wave this time. 

  Photography by Baker Photography and you can see more of our pictures on their website over here.

   And those moccasins?  I was shopping with my sis-in-law who spotted them and they were one of those "I'm not even pregnant but they are $8.95 and so I cannot pass these up and I'll just really hope I have a reason to use them someday!" buys, and now my heart does little flips whenever I see them.    
   Oh and then there was the secret-keeping.....quite possibly my LEAST favorite phase of the entire pregnancy.  I mean, first of all, it's just hard, am I right??!  You're bursting at the seams to tell everyone and anyone and you can tell NO one, at first.   And then you have to tell everyone in some kind of certain order, but your family and friends are far away, and you feel like sleeping 15 hours a day, and not making 1,500 phone calls.

   So then you hatch a plan to tell everyone in a special way, because somehow sidling up to them at the next family reunion and saying, "Hey, I'm preggers" just doesn't have a ring to it.

  So you plan outfits, and pray for nice weather, and plan a photo shoot, and decide to hand out pictures (that double as Thanksgiving/Christmas cards of course, we're not superhuman here) but then obviously, you have to tell your photographers.  So you do, which is no problem at all except that then your husband really wants to tell your 3 year-old daughter. 

So you give in.

   And you tell a toddler, who then proceeds to tell her Sunday school teacher, and cousins, and friends, and anyone she can really, before you've had a chance to tell ANYONE YET.  

   So all our well-laid plans worked about.....40% of the time, and I felt like I was just making everyone mad at me some way or another and it was so frustrating because I really was just trying my best to tell in a special way and I just felt like laying in bed ALL DAY EVERY DAY and figured my feeble efforts had to count for something, ya know? 

   ANYWAY.  I am thrilled and tickled and super, super jazzed that it is officially out of the bag, and the secrecy is over.  We are really, really excited about this little one, and I am so glad I can stop secret-guarding and just be happy again.  Just be excited, and thrilled, and giddy while dreaming of June, and holding a brand new little Smucker babe in my arms. 

   And now I have 1,735,462 more reasons to wish summer would hurry up and get here. 

10.30.2014's what's for dinner.


   If you remember from last week's pear post, I received a basket of pears from a friend and have been trying to use them all up before a single one spoils.

  Randy has been having to work late a lot lately, which every mother of small children knows is just a complete party.  And by "complete party" I mean the girls have discovered entire new LEVELS of naughtiness and this mama is usually ready to clock out by 3:00 pm.

But that's not what we're talking about today.

   When Randy IS working late and not going to be joining us for dinner, sometimes as a matter of survival, we cheer ourselves up by having a particularly girly supper, followed by popcorn and a chick flick.  Usually does the trick.

   So the other night we had breakfast for supper, which is certainly one of my FAVORITE meals to do, but not necessarily my husband's.  In an effort to use up more pears, I found this baked pear pancake on Pinterest via Bojon Gourmet, and had to give it a try.

Baked Pancake with Pear and Cardamom

Adapted from Local Flavors

Makes 4 servings

3 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 - 3 medium, buttery pears, ripe but firm, cut off the core and sliced 1/4 - 1/2" thick
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons sugar
powdered sugar for dusting (optional)
maple syrup for drizzling

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400ยบ. Place the butter in a 10" cast iron (or other oven proof) skillet and put in the oven to melt.

Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl, make a well, and add the eggs. Whisk to combine, adding the milk little by little until the batter is smooth. Whisk in the vanilla and about two-thirds of the melted butter. Set aside.

Heat the skillet with the remaining butter over a medium flame, and brush some of the butter around the rim of the skillet. Toss in the pears, cardamom, lemon juice and sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pears are tender and the sugars are beginning to caramelize, about 10 minutes.

Pour the batter into the hot pan over the pears and place in the oven. Bake until golden and dramatically puffed, as though trying to escape from the pan, about 25 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar and cut into wedges. Drizzle with maple syrup and serve immediately.

Leftovers, should there be any, reheat beautifully in a toaster oven in 5 or 10 minutes.

   I was quite surprised how simple and quick this recipe ended up being, and I even skipped the cardamom, because I didn't have it.  Pretty bold for it being part of the title and all, I know.  I just substituted cinnamon and nutmeg and I thought it turned out quite yummy.  But that's coming from me, and that's how I cook all the time.  Not too particular, nothing too fussy, just throw it all together and see how it turns out.

Pastry chefs everywhere are shedding a tear.

Hope you enjoy it!


The end of an era.

My children, at ages 2 and 3, have decided they are finished taking naps.
   I love blogging about topics like these because I feel like a plethora of napping wisdom and advice will coming flowing into the comment section after doing so (she says hopefully).

  I well remember a short time ago when both of my girls were consistently taking 2-3 hours naps DAILY and I would hear the woes and complaints of other mothers of nap-striking children and I just didn't get it.  Just MAKE them take a nap!  It can't be that hard!

Oh but was I in for a surprise.

  Turns out, you can't make children nap.  Nope.  You can do everything you need to do, (stories, milk, dim lighting, whatever) and they can still lay there wide awake babbling and talking to themselves for hours.  Hours!

   And believe me, I've tried the whole "quiet time" thing too.  But it seems it's never long enough, or even remotely restful enough for me to be hardly worth the trouble it takes to supervise.

   And so as you could imagine, right on cue with their recent nap aversion, enters my blog aversion.  I never really realized how DIRECTLY correlated my computer time was with nap time.  It's kind of like, during nap time or never.  And so no naps = no computer time.  Which = keeping up with online things MUCH less.  Which = to be feeling like I'm always falling behind and disappointing someone, or myself.  Which is a pretty crummy feeling.

   And no time to myself (or just blessed SILENCE) during the day = lack of desire to even talk on the phone, or do anything, really.  I feel like I never return any phone calls, or go many places, and I even put off grocery shopping until we're practically destitute before forcing myself out there.

  Basically, nap time was the key to my existence.  And now that I don't have it, I feel like I'm stumbling around all over again like the first few weeks with a brand new baby trying to figure out how to "re-enter" the world and dwell in this hemisphere of life in a somewhat normal way.


   So last week, to help pass along the never-ending day, we decided to go to the library and swing by the thrift store in town, both of which were CLOSED.  Epic fail.  So we swung by the coffee shop and used our stamp card to score a free chai latte and headed to the park so as to not count the trip a complete failure.

  And so once again, I'm sorry for the quiet around here lately, but sometimes this little place online sort of gets whatever is leftover, ya know?

And sometimes that's just not very much at all.


Move over banana bread, there's a new kid in town.

   Sometimes people disappoint me.  Sometimes they frustrate me, sometimes they bewilder me, and sometimes they completely misunderstand me.  But sometimes, people completely and totally AMAZE me.

  Take the time for instance when my friend, who has FIVE small children of her own, took the time to hand-weave me a beautiful basket and fill it full of farm fresh pears.   That's when a thank-you card just doesn't seem to cut it.

   So obviously I didn't want to let a single pear go to waste, but I also wasn't sure I wanted to can one. Single. More. Jar.  And so........baking with pears!  Seasonal, delicious, it warms up your house, makes everything smell like Heaven, and is just an all-around great idea.  So after a bit of Pinterest-browsing, I found a pear bread recipe that didn't seem too daunting or too unhealthy and I gave it a try.

  And boy I'm glad I did because this stuff will not last long around here!  Not only is it the perfect companion to a cup of coffee, but every once in a while I start to get a little burnt out on banana bread, and so this is a delightful (while every bit as sweet!) alternative.  Try it, you won't be disappointed.

RECIPE found via Chew Out Loud.
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup honey
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 TB vanilla extract
1 1/4 tsp table salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground allspice
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 TB ground flax meal (dry)
5 cups of very firm pears, peeled and diced
   Preheat oven to 350F, and grease one large loaf pan and line a muffin pan (or grease two loaf pans for two smaller loaves.)
   In a large bowl, combine brown sugar, olive oil, applesauce, and honey.  Stir together.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Stir to incorporate.
   In another large bowl, combine salt, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, allspice, all-purpose and wheat flours, and flax meal.  Mix dry ingredients well.  Gently fold honey mixture into dry ingredients, just until completely moistened.  Gently fold in pears, distributing evenly.  Pour batter into prepared loaf pan(s) and/or muffin tin.
   For single large loaf, filled almost to the top, bake 60 minutes or until toothpick comes out almost clean, with few moist crumbs attached.
   If splitting batter between two loaf pans, bake 45-50 minutes or until toothpick comes out with few moist crumbs attached.
   For muffins filled almost to the top, bake 20-23 minutes or until toothpick comes out with few moist crumbs attached.
(Makes one large 9×5 loaf + ten muffins, OR 2 smaller loaves)
   I made two loaves with this recipe and they were a good size.  Also, I didn't have allspice or flax meal on hand, and so I omitted those and it still turned out great.  But it would be nice to have the flax next time for that extra fiber.  Enjoy! 

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