Simplify

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A long time ago my mother-in-law gave me a little plaque that says, “simplify.”  It has held a lot of meaning for me through the years but recently that plaque has been catching my eye.  As I have been pondering on this, it seems like I have always just lived simply.  I haven’t wanted to do or have extravagant things, just have always longed for the basic things in life.  I grew up with the knowledge that our family didn’t have a lot of money and sometimes that was frustrating to me when I was comparing myself to others, but looking back I am grateful for the small and simple things in my life when I was growing up.  We would take turns going to my grandparent’s homes on Sundays after church and what sweet memories those are to me.  I loved going to their homes.  My Grandpa and Grandma on my dad’s side was always an adventure.  They had this amazing hanging bench swing in a gazebo in the back yard, so many wonderful memories there.  My Grandma and Grandpa on my mom’s side lived on a little farm in the middle of nowhere land, but it was always so much fun to go.  My Grandma would play cards with us almost every time we went and she would always make us think that we were going to win, BUT she always won and won BIG!  She was also an avid reader.  I loved looking at the books on her shelf and asking her what she was reading.  My mom in past years told me that I was a lot like my Grandma and I am so grateful for that.  Today some of my most prized possessions are some of my Grandma’s books that I have.  They are tender and sweet memories of my beloved Grandma.  I guess this is where my love of simple things comes from, the simple memories of my life that I treasure.

I know that my kids will not remember the “stuff” they get but the feeling that they had when they worked hard for something and the small memories.  I hope they remember all the silly tickle fights we have and the kissy hugs and long road trips to their Grandma’s and Grandpa’s homes.  When we were looking for a home, instead of a big house with all the room that we want for cheaper, we decided a smaller home closer to my husband’s work was more important.  Our home we live in is nothing fancy, but it FEELS like home and we love to have fun.  We don’t have any streaming video or cable or video gaming systems, we have PBS and we have each other.  Every night is a gift to spend together and it usually goes too fast, bedtime seems to come faster every night.  We don’t have money to have expensive clothes for any of us, but I am grateful for all the people in my life that have passed down clothes to us, what a blessing.  We don’t have a huge budget by any means but we have the basics and we choose to live simply and enjoy the small things.  I can’t imagine life without my amazing husband and my precious little ones, who are teaching me so much.  I am grateful for the memories of those that are not here physically, but who I can hear cheering me on, when I am feeling down.  I am grateful to live a simple, yet full life, where I can hopefully make a difference in a little way, just like my Grandma.

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Two relaxing things

Everyone has something that they love to do to just relax and let go right?  Well, I have two things.  #1 Reading…okay, you probably could figure that out, right?!  Who wouldn’t want to curl up with a good book and just read.  My only problem with reading lately is that I keep falling asleep.  I really want to read, I wait all day to read in the quiet, but I am just too tired!!  So I don’t get my full stress relief from reading.  It is sad.  But, I still love reading.  My wonderful hubby has a fun blog on creativity and he just blogged about what he likes to read.  You should check it out on this link. I am pretty much in line with him, I don’t read a ton of fiction and I really LOVE autobiographies/biographies.

Ready for #2??

I LOVE baking.  Seriously, that is one of the reasons that I love when it is cooler weather, it gives me a chance to bake.  I think it fulfills me in many ways.  It is relaxing to me, it makes me calm down and focus and take time for something.  It is a creative outlet for me.  That may sound funny, but baking really is a way for me to create something, to hold it in my hands.  It is something tangible that was created with love for others.  My favorite thing to bake is bread.  Come on, who doesn’t love a warm buttery roll or fresh bread.  Ah…I can smell it now.  And you know what the other great thing is…I get to eat something amazingly delicious! Another thing I love is that I can share it with others and it makes others happy.

A few weeks ago I tried out a new bread recipe…it was a mixed grain bread and it was so good.  The first loaf was gone in less than 15 minutes.  It made a lot of bread though and so I took some to a super nice couple that lives close to me.  Last year they brought us a WARM loaf of homemade bread so I thought it was a great time to pay it forward to them!  (Speaking of paying it forward…this is totally a side note.  I went to Dairy Queen to get a little treat for me and the hubby after the kids went to sleep and when I drove up to pay, the car in front of me had paid for my order.  I had always heard about things like that, but it never happened to me.  Well, I paid for the car behind me.  It was SO awesome!) For one of my sister-in-laws birthday I let her choose what treat she wanted and she chose cinnamon rolls.  I was so happy she did, because I LOVE cinnamon rolls (I made pumpkin cinnamon rolls) and I ate one too! YUM.   So bread, I love it.

I still have not been able to get my Grandma’s bread recipe exactly right.  It always makes good bread, but it is just not exactly like hers was.  She was a wheat bread pro.  I do not own a mixer so I make everything by hand (although my dream is to one day have a Bosch mixer with all the cool attachments :)). My grandma did it by hand, she must have just put more muscle into it or something.  Every time I pull out her recipe I have sweet memories.  I guess that is another reason I love baking and sharing with my kids.  My kids love to be my helpers, although sometimes mom just needs her baking time!  Some of my favorite breads are a rosemary flax bread, wheat bread, spinach barley bread, mixed grain bread, honey oat bread, and of course dinner rolls. I also love making different kinds of bread sticks, flat breads, hamburger buns, and we have homemade pizza every Friday.  I love experimenting with different grains and seeing if my family notices!  We can’t forget the treat side of baking though either!  I would still say that those pumpkin cinnamon rolls are my favorite to make, smell, and eat, but cookies and brownies they definitely count as baking in my mind!

The one thing that I am trying to figure out with baking though…well…I just really love food.  I enjoy making food and I enjoy eating it.  Some times I eat too much.  And that is when I have a love/hate relationship with my body.  I love what my body can do, I have put it through a lot, but you know what…it is not as young as it once was.  I am on the downward slide to 40 (don’t tell!) and I am not as spry as I would like. But, I am focusing on the relaxing qualities of baking.

So happy reading and happy baking.  I am currently reading a book called, “The Crucible of Doubt” and have another book on hold and I know what I am going to read after that.  Maybe I just need to bake something amazing and eat it while I am reading, then I can stay awake 🙂

Lately…

Lately, I haven’t felt much like writing.  When I started this blog I promised myself that I was not going to be one of THOSE people who started a blog and loved it for awhile and then left it. Also, my introvert has been coming out and saying that no one really cares and who knows how many people actually read this blog and why do I share things with people who don’t even know me.  I am not leaving…I have just decided that some things are more important that others.  I have found myself the last month reflecting on how important each day is and have been living in the moment, instead of always thinking ahead to what is coming.  I have done that for most of my life.  When this happens…I can’t wait until….I wish it was Saturday.  If I just keep looking toward the next thing, I am truly missing the journey of it all.  It has been amazing to just enjoy what is happening today, NOW, and watch my cute kids as they are learning and growing.

Some kid observations, if you don’t mind… First, my 4 year-old son. He is a constant question, he has questions about everything.  I am so grateful that his little brain is working, and learning, and growing, and sometimes it gets annoying to keep hearing questions but I have become more mindful of his questions and have started answering them truthfully and he is learning that mom AND dad don’t know everything!  Then we get to learn something new!  How fun!  He has also been learning sight words and has been reading.  It is amazing to see him connect all that he is learning and see him realize that HE CAN read!   He has been totally empowered by that!  He is a tender hearted, sweet,tickle lover, rule following and rule stretching kid and I sure love him!

Second, my 2 year-old.  She is such a girly girl.  My other daughter is not, but we are experiencing everything pink and princess.  Some days there are fights between her and her brother because he is calling her by her name and she insists that her name is “Princess Ana”.  She loves to wear a dress and will cry her eyes out if she doesn’t get to wear one . She decides what princess she is by how she wants her hair done.  Two braids or pig tails= Princess Ana, one braid with a beautiful bow=Queen Elsa, hair down=Rapunzel and on and on and she will tell you, “I am a beautiful princess”.  When I ask her if her bed is warm and snuggly, she always responds with “No, my bed is cute.”  She has been picking up on songs, and if she catches you at the piano, expect to stay there.  If she catches you on the couch by the library books, expect to stay there until all are read.  Her first question almost every morning is, “Will you read me a book?”  And if you think a 2 year-old can’t talk, well let me assure you, she can talk, a lot!  She is sweet, super cute, feisty, has her own opinion, and loves to eat condiments and I sure love her!

Lastly, my first born.  My 6 year old who will say, “I am almost 7!!!!!!!” She loves to read.  Over Christmas, Great-Grandma gave her an abridged version of “Anne of Green Gables”.  She has read the whole thing twice, so we decided to get the movie from the library.  I remember waiting for it to come on PBS when I was little and they always had to continue it the next day because it is so long.  Well, we finally got it from the library (we actually had to put it on hold because it was ALWAYS checked out) and started watching it this weekend.  She laughs and laughs and keeps saying, “I won’t tell you what happened next, because I don’t want to ruin it for you.”  I have forgot how great the movie is and it is way more funny now too!  She is learning so much at school and it was awesome to ask her a couple of days ago what the difference between a long “a” and a short “a” is and she totally knew the answer.  It made my English loving husband so proud!  She is sassy, has the greatest belly laugh in the world, is a thinker, creative, a bookworm, and tells me what to do some times, and I sure love her!

Lately I have just been enjoying life.  It has been great to also spend more time with my husband and to read.  Have I told you that I love reading, well I do.  So instead of day dreaming about a post to write, my mind has been busy with being in the present.

Keeping up with the reading habit

First of all, thank you to all of you who have reached out to me about concern for my daughter.  We have definitely felt your prayers this past week.  Some days are harder than others, but we are fighting the battle!  Thank you so, so much.  You don’t know how much it has meant to me!

When I was little I couldn’t get enough of reading.  I hid a flashlight in my bed, between the side of the bed frame and the mattress, and would get it out almost EVERY night and read.  Sometimes I would put a sheet over the top of me and let the flashlight light up my little cave.  Other times I would just bust out the flashlight and get to the task at hand.  I couldn’t tell you now what books I was reading but I can tell you how important reading was to me.  It kinda goes with out saying that it drove my mom crazy.  Many nights my reading party was interrupted by my mom.  She never took the flashlight away though, I always wondered why, but I think she was trying to tell me that she trusted me to do what I knew I should, and I usually did.

Fast forward to my life now, as a parent.  My six-year-old taught herself how to read when she was two.  It was a surprising revelation to learn that she could read.  We were at my mom and dad’s house and my mom had her old-school “Dick and Jane” books out.  My mom was a reading teacher in an elementary school, so naturally she got to work with said two-year old.  The only problem was, my mom didn’t have to do anything except point to the words and our daughter was reading.  I remember thinking, “what just happened?”  My husband got out his phone to capture the moment on camera and I just kinda of sat there stunned.  I remember my mom looking up at me with this look on her face which said it all…”You have no idea what you are in for.”  Well, she was right.

Guess what my sweet daughter figured out when she was four (way earlier that I thought of it)–night time reading parties.  She would get really clever with her use of a flashlight though, since she didn’t have access to them.  She would use her turtle nightlight (her name is Sprinkly), she would sit really close to the plugged in night light, and she would sneak things into her room that had some sort of light on them.  Sometimes it was just plain amusing and other times I was thinking, “now I know how my mom felt.”  Isn’t it funny how some things come back to bite you in the behind.

Mostly, I didn’t mind, until she started school and the next day it was obvious that she did not get enough sleep.  Part of the nightly bed time ritual now, is to check for books and make them unavailable until the next day.

I love that she loves to read.  I love to read.  Some days I long to sit down on the couch by her and we are each reading our separate books, but are together doing something that we both love.  She is definitely my daughter in that aspect.  I can usually tell when she has had a hard day at school or has had to be really social at school because at home she takes respite in getting lost in a book to recharge.  I love when she reads to her younger brother and sister and that her excitement for reading has them trying to aspire to learn.  We have lots of books in our house and the library is a common staple, reading together is a cherished time for every one.  My youngest loves for anyone to read to her.  Lately I have found her pulling off book after book from the book shelf “reading” in her own two-year old way.  I love to see the piles of books around her.  My little guy is learning sight words now and actually teaching someone how to read is new territory for us.  He is doing great for a four-year old and he gets so excited when he knows words and is “reading”.  Reading is an important skill.

In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “I cannot live without books.”

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