Sunday, September 30, 2012

My 31 Days Project

This October I'm accepting a challenge to blog everyday.  Every.Single.Day.  

The Nesting Place blog always does a series in October and posts about it everyday.  I love reading it!  She blogs around a simple theme of home decor, then choses a topic to talk about for 31 straight days.  She's invited others to do the same.  Unlike everyone else who is taking the challenge, I will not be sticking to a theme.  I thought about making a blanket theme that would cover everything, but everything started to feel forced.  

Starting with the first goal to blog everyday will be a challenge in itself.  I adore the art of combing thoughts with words and photographs, so I'm excited to be intentional about my posts.  

Thank you for reading.  

This Week's Menu

Every Sunday, I post my weekly menus on my blog.  It's a good idea for several reasons.  First, I often forget what I've planned.  Second, it serves as a good record and reminder of what we eat.  Third, as I've recently realized, I make healthier choices when planning because I know it will be published.  Fourth, I figured if I have a hard time coming up with the menu, then others do too, and this might help.

Here's what we're eating:

Brown butter tortellini with sauteed spinach
White chicken chili
Shrimp bisque, spinach salad
Tilapia, bacon brussel sprouts, butternut squash and cauliflower puree

Friday, September 28, 2012

Sinking In

With some treats in my bag, I sat on the creek bed with my two little children.  I was overwhelmed by the scene that I was in, because this is a beautiful season of my life.  It is not lost on me how wonderful this time is.  I'm blessed it and I'm feeling it.  

Even though I was robbed of a beautiful day just two days ago by nagging clutter, it's today that I'm celebrating the fullness my heart feels.  I'm not going to remember cleaning.  Instead I'm going to remember these sweet little adventures.  

I dressed Fern in Carhartt overalls, which have proven to be the best thing for her when we crawl around outside, and Burl got to wear his biiiig boots.  I sat there with her and we watched Burl play in the shallow creek.  It was a little thing to do this Friday morning, but it felt so big.

There were tears in my throat while I sat there, and they're here again.  This is sweet, and I'm still amazed by this season of my life.  We had one hour by that creek, and it was a full hour where my reality sunk deeper in my heart.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Tidy Dysfunction

Yesterday was one of those days when I was feeling overwhelmed by the unfinished projects around the house.  Instead of worrying about the big projects, I was overwhelmed by the little things.  The things out of place that stay there too long until they become permanent fixtures...those things are the bane of my existence.  I literally hate those things.  The stack of magazines on the floor.  The Christmas presents on the dining room table.  The few things set out to return to people.  Ugh.  That stuff just drives me up the wall!  Yesterday it was the loose cable wires around my computer.  

We have one of those old desktop computers with 32908523 cords and that were just sitting under the desk, tucked "away." The cable cord wasn't properly attached to the modem, so it fell out frequently, sending no-internet mayhem through the house.  

Enough was enough and I was becoming crazy.  When the kids were napping, I used my precious baby-free-time to conquer the cords, or at least clean them.  I posted about it on Facebook right before I did it and that seemed to really help.  I asked for advice and well-wishes.  My friends were kind, gracious, humorous, and very helpful.

I decided that the dirty floors and cords were at war and robbing me of the play-day-at-home that I envisioned.  I wanted to play with the kids and enjoy the peace of no constraints on our schedules, but how can one have said peace when there is vital work to do?  I felt a pull and a nudge to calm my heart with prayer and maybe some time reading my Bible, but the opportunity to clean and bring order seemed like a better route.  

I started cleaning.  Vacuum.  Dusting Rag.  Me on the floor underneath the desk.  Someone suggested black flexi conduit, and I loved that idea.  When the kids woke, I threw them in the car and made a dash for Home Depot.  I had a long conversation with an employee trying to explain something technical with my simple laywoman terms. I bought a drainage tube for the what one uses on the exterior of houses with the gutters.  It was white.  Color me elated!!!

I got home and wrapped things up.  The After Picture, The Result, was thrilling.  I felt so good.  Finally, at the almost end of the day, I could relax.  I talked to John about it later, because it kind of felt wrong.  "I want to be a person who can have peace without having things in order, but I want things in order."  It hit's just like drug addiction.  I needed that order.  I needed to clean one thing.  Tackle one obstacle.  Just one hit of cleaning and I could keep functioning.  Hi, my name is Meg and I have a tidy addiction.  

The drainage tube turned cord corral was genius.  It's a great idea and it highly beats the zips ties that I tried.  That's not the moral to this story.  Actually there is no moral.  Just a confession.  Just me trying to find a balance of nice home and nice-enough-focus-on-real-life homes.  But, seriously, it's great to have the desk looking nicer.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Our First Family Camping Trip

Everyone has gone to bed and I'm by myself.  I'm all wired on post-camping mayhem.  Now that we are home, we're looking back at the trip with rose colored glasses.

John said it perfectly, "if Fern would have slept, then this trip would have been perfect."  Yes, indeed.  However, she did not.  She did this sleep for an hour-cry for 20 minutes combo that threw us for a loop.  Our kids sleep soundly in their own beds at night, so if they're off the slightest, then we lose our minds and have no sense of reason.  By 12:15 am, John offered this suggestion: "you could drive her home and come back in the morning."  That's what we did.  We pulled the camping stuff out of the car that he would need, buckled her in, and I drove over an hour to get home.  We slept for five hours, and we drove right back to get the boys.  It made sense at the time, but looking back I was very sad to leave John and Burl at the campsite without a car.  Luckily, our campsite neighbors were very kind and showed the two boys a little grace.  

Here's the glossy recap:

We arrived to our campsite in late afternoon.  The weather was perfect, we had energy, and we found a campsite that was close to the falls and a set of swings.  We set up the tent, then John took Burl for long hike while I put Fern down for her second nap.  She slept great.  I enjoyed some time to myself to read (this amazing book), started a fire, got dinner set, then woke Fern up for some playtime on the picnic blanket.

At this point, things felt magical.  We did it.  We put in the effort and energy to pull off this trip.  Our kids love being outside, so it was great to give them all this time to soak it in.  We were still a little jittery at this point.  Fern kept putting rocks in her mouth, and if Burl walked within three feet of the fire we all over him.  

The boys returned and we started making dinner.  Hot dogs. Chips. Fruit.  Out of everything Burl got to do on this trip, he will tell anyone that the fire and hot dogs were his favorite parts.  He had a runny nose and was coughing a lot, but he never complained.  He just went on like life was normal.  Fern did great as well.  After dinner, we played with them like we always do.  Instead of our den at home, we were playing at camp.  We could hardly believe it-this was gold!  

Bedtime was a little crazy.  Burl kept getting out of his sleeping bag and either running and screaming at us or jumping in Fern's pack-n-play with her.  It lasted maybe 20 minutes.  Like I said before, our kids are great sleepers, so when they have the slightest bit of trouble we feel a little crazy.  Eventually, they fell asleep.  I made John and I some excellent smores and we enjoyed time talking by the fire.

I have to mention one of the highlights of our trip: our neighbors.  I'm a people watcher, so when  a group of ten ethnic men pulled up by us, I knew I was going to have a hard time staring.  They cooked a great spread, smoked hookah, put up the biggest tent I've seen that was shaped like a plus sign, sang nightly prayers, and played this tiny drum thing. One does not expect to see those things in a Tennessee State Park, so I was all eyes.  

Eventually we got sleepy, I got my fill of culture, and we decided to go to bed.  This is when things went south with Fern.  At 12:26, I pulled out of our campsite and headed for home.  I wanted to return quickly to check on my other baby, Burl, so we left our house at 7 am to head back to the campsite.  The drive was amazing.  I barely function that early, so seeing a sunrise is simply incredible.  I somewhat safely took pictures while at some stop signs or while driving.  I know, I know....but just enjoy them.

We arrived back just in time for breakfast.  We were all tired, but we were all together and that is what I wanted.  We ate our sausage and biscuits, then tried to salvage what we could out of this trip.  A family hike and playing in the cascades proved to be sleepy fun for us all.

At the cascades, John held a very sleepy and snuggly Fern, while I took Burl on a short adventure.  It started by letting him put his feet in the water, but that seemed too tempting to a toddler.  He wanted to climb around so bad, and I eventually remembered what it is to be a kid and want to get into stuff.  We rolled up our pants, got a little wet, and climbed around a tame creek and throwing rocks.

We {barely} rallied the troops for a group picture.  We scored on stranger-take-our-picture person by finding a lady who took several different angles and even got low to get a cool angle. Well done, stranger lady!  

Looking back at the experience, I realize I'm tired and I'm about to head to bed.  I'm so glad that we did this, and we plan to try it again.  Somewhere between wild success and epic failure, is a place called a good learning experience.  That's what we're labeling this one.  A Good Learning Experience.  We foresee many more great trips like these, but with better sleep!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

This Week's Menu

Well, we did it.  We took our little babies camping.  John and I just unpacked everything and put it away.  We talked about our highs and lows of the trip.  We talked about how we are going to need to change up the food, because hot dogs and chips are not the best meal.  Unless you're Burl. Then he'll tell you it was his second favorite thing about camping.  (First being the fire.)  I'm super exhausted and still and little stunned by it all.  There will be a full post about it soon.

Until then, here is some healthier things we'll be eating this week.

Lemony chicken noodle soup
Chinese BBQ pork, asian cole slaw, brown rice
Red beans and rice, based on this recipe
Sauteed shrimp, carrots and couscous, sauteed spinach

Saturday, September 22, 2012


Brunch with girlfriends is the best way to kick off this weekend.


Thanks, Patty!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Our Cloth Napkins

There are three types of people in this world: 
1. Paper napkin people.
2. Cloth napkin people.
3. Napkin? Huh? people.  

I'm #2.  Our entire house are 2's.  It's been that way for years now.  My dad has always been a cloth-over-paper kind of guy, so I guess my roots start there.  But, that's not where my passion comes from.  When I was first married, I worked at a local home decor store.  She got the best napkins there and I was always the first to see them.  The owner let me have everything at cost, so I was getting a great deal.  Occasionally, I would get some for the house.  Next thing I knew, I had a pretty solid collection.  I mainly had white, but added some soft blues and soft pinks in there.  I even found great ones at Walmart!

Fast forward 9 years, two house, and two kids later and they have become a regular part of our lives.  Every meal we're grabbing napkins for each person.  They sit in our laps and wipe mouths and clothes as the babies feed themselves, then at the end of the meal, they serve as towels to wipe down our sticky surfaces.  We go through several a day.  

We have two stashes: stained and very stained.  The stained are the nice ones for company, which is less a term and more a number.  If we have enough people over, we eat our meals in the dining room where the stained nice ones are.  If we have one person over, we stay in the kitchen in the pop up table and get them from the cubbie.

The benefits of cloth napkins are that they cut down on the cost of napkins/paper towels, they cut down on waste, and they add a special touch to sitting down to a meal (my favorite reason).  They are so a part of our lives, that Burl is quick to run for a napkin if he's playing "eat" in his room or spilled some milk or is helping us if we spill something.  

Obviously by the pictures, I don't iron them.  (Confession: I used to iron back in those newlywed days. Ha!)  In one of the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks, she says that ironing napkins take away from that natural, casual look.  Since I adore natural and casual look and don't have time for formalities, un-ironed napkins are the name of my game. 

 Also, they are inexpensive for just a few.  Sometimes I'll add 2-4 into my grocery shopping when I'm at Walmart. It takes the sting out of buying several at one time.  I've even been known to ask for them as presents...I'm addicted to napkins!  Switching from #1 to #2 people has been a pleasant little switch for us.  

What about you?  1,2, or 3 people?  Wouldn't it be nice to have a little stash of napkins?  Check Walmart, Kmart, Target.  They all have cute ones, and can be found at great prices on clearance!  Happy wiping. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Sunday Night Adventure

Yesterday, late afternoon, the four of us sat in the den with nothing but energy and free time on our hands.  John and I were both itching for one last weekend-excursion.  He made the suggestion, "let's go get ice cream."  I said, "What?  Before dinner?  Sounds good to me, let's go to the park too."  Just like that we had one last weekend-opportunity to go for some fun.

As much as we love unscheduled time at home, playing on the floor with the kids, sometimes we have the itch to get out and go.  If that itch is on a Sunday night, then we embrace it.  There is something special about a Sunday night outing.  

The weekend was good and we had some low key family times.  Then, Sunday night hit and we know that the week is going to be here soon and John's going to miss a lot of the action because he's at work.  With the desire to have one last little memory, we are launched into an easy evening of enjoying being together, doing something fun.

The family picture that would have been cute if the kids weren't upset and the picture was centered.

When we grabbed our ice cream and hit the park, we were joined by 100 other people who wanted one-last-go of the weekend.  The park we went to is wildly popular, so it added fuel to our happy-go-lucky fire.  Everyone is out and playing and enjoying friends or family with a beautiful setting and a slightly sticky evening.  We see them with their laughter, energy, and ease, and we feed off of it.  Whether it's a bbq, a walk, tag football, a climbing wall, or playing in the fountain, we're all enjoying the last drops of the weekend.

Being together is the name of the game for everyone there.  Some as friends, some as families, some as groups, and some as dates.  Any way it is, we know that being together is sweet and always meant to be savored.

John and I are still trying to grasp the sweet reality that we have been blessed with each other and our children, Burl and Fern.  On these simple little outings where we take turns running with Burl, playing in the grass with Fern, taking pictures of it all, we get overwhelmed by the simplicity of this joyful life.

He's convinced that to run, he has to be sweaty and take his shirt off like John. 

This Monday, where John is off to work and I get to stay home with the kids, I feel full of gratitude.  That little Sunday evening adventure served us well.  It filled our memory-cup and is running over to today.  As I type this, I look at the clock.  I can't wait for John to come home and we're reunited again.  

Whether we go out for ice cream or stay home and play on the floor, we'll be together and that is wonderful for me.