Friday, January 30, 2015

IN THE FIGHT

This week has been a quiet one on the home front.  I didn't have any major projects or things that *had* to get done.  Though we did have the 100th day of school celebration to prepare for, Lily and I managed to keep things simple.  She loved her hat with 100 safety pins and her bag of buttons.  Like I said - very simple.

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Our life is balancing out in many ways.  The ship is beginning to right itself.  However, we realized that even on a ship that is sailing in mostly the right direction, life is still a fight.  We have to fight for an enjoyable marriage.  We have to fight to parent our children in a Godly way.  We have to fight for real friendships and community.  We have to fight for our right to party.

Okay - I probably got carried away there - but I do believe we have to fight for joy.  None of it comes naturally.  All of it seems continually under attack.  Does that sound dramatic to you?  I can tend towards the extreme end of most things.

But, God promises that in this world, we will have trouble.  He spells it out for us in John 16:33 - "In this world you will have trouble."  I think he probably needed to make it abundantly clear, because we so long for things to be simple and easy.  I want comfort - really, I do.  I want it bad.  Sometimes I want it more than God, but he gently (or forcibly) reminds me that in THIS world, I will have trouble.

The trouble will take all different shapes and come in various sizes and keep coming, like a never-ending parade.  Sometimes that parade will come by just one float at a time, and at other seasons, several marching bands of trouble may traipse through our life.  It is a fight to prioritize the things that really matter - the relationships and people that God has placed directly around me.

The last four months of 2014 were really challenging for John and I.  There were many good moments throughout, but there were a lot of bad ones as well.  It was one of the first times where I think we both thought to ourselves, "This is how couples grow apart."  "They" grow apart one bad day at a time, and all of the sudden "they" was turned into "us," and we had some choices to make.  We had to make time for hard conversations - the ones where both parties feel misunderstood and disappointed.  We had to make more time and mental space for one another.  We still have to - every day, and though some things get easier - it is still a fight.

We are at a stage of parenting right now where so many things feel like a fight.  The big girls have leveled out in so many ways, and I can see so much good on the horizon.  But, the twinsies are at a tough stage.  They've moved from precious babies to full-blown toddlers with opinions, and parenting them has turned from all physical activity to needing to use my actual brain to figure out what will work to cope with/handle different scenarios.  It's exhausting.  It's a fight.  They are busy little people all.the.time.

And when I think of friendships, I realize that no good friendship will be handed to me at this stage.  We are all so busy and fairly consumed with our families that taking time away feels monumental.  It is worth it, but it's a fight.  We have to dig deep and jump in quickly to get to the heart of what is going on.  As I breakfasted with two friends earlier this week, we realized that we were all drowning. It's so good to have friends to commiserate with, but it is hard to carve out the time.

I'm so thankful that John 16:33 continues.  After we are warned of the constant trouble, he says "But take heart!  I have overcome the world."  We are not in the fight alone.  Never.  Some days it will feel like it, but God has already overcome.  The fight is not our own, and Jesus has overcome the world.  I hope that you are fighting and relying on the strength of the Lord.  We all need it so desperately.

Monday, January 26, 2015

WEEKEND FUN

Ya'll - we are back in the land of the living.  This winter has been rough for sickness, and I am so thankful to be back in the swing of things today.  I know we aren't through it all yet, but it feels good to drop the babies off for therapy, go workout and go grocery shopping with just one child.  These are all such good things.

This weekend we took advantage of the beautiful weather and healthy bodies to enjoy a late afternoon trip to the zoo.  I love when January gives us these unexpected gifts.  Lily kept saying, "How can we go to the Zoo in the winter?"  And I just kept explaining that sometimes we get a brief reprieve from the cold and can enjoy time outdoors.

We spent a long time visiting the penguins and even got to watch them being fed.  This was our first trip to the zoo where the babies could actually identify that we were seeing animals, and they loved it.  They really are getting so much more fun all the time.

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Many of the animals were out enjoying the sun, just like I would do if I lived at the zoo.  I would lounge in the sun and roll around and wait to be fed.  Sounds pretty great, to be honest.

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(I have no idea how children fall into zoo exhibits.  I think parents should just pay much closer attention.  Have I mentioned lately that we are awesome parents?  It took me a minute to even realize Bella was climbing.)

We rounded out our visit by enjoying the playground, much to everyone's delight.

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I love family time.  Really, I do.  I'm so thankful for these moments, and I do not take them for granted - especially after the last several weeks of illness.

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This Monday is certainly a beautiful one where we live.  I'm hoping to soak up some sunshine while we can.

Friday, January 23, 2015

15 ON 22: A DAY IN THE {SICK} LIFE

Something that has come crashing home into my heart this week is how glad I am for our normal routine.  I was not made to spend every moment with my precious children.  I adore them, but the space that we end up getting most mornings is good for all of us.  That said, I decided to document a day the twins and I spent completely together - yesterday.

8:30ish: We returned home from dropping off big girls to school and Mother's Day Out.  They were pretty sweet through this outing.  It probably helped that I kept slipping them cereal bars.  William did flip out when he realized that he wasn't getting dropped off, and I wished he could understand how much I sympathized with that feeling.

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9:30ish:  I tackled random projects around the house - like gluing together broken piggy banks.  It is glued back together now.  It will never be the same, thanks to our "Bulla" in the china shop of life.

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10:15ish:  These two had been following me around looking for things to cry about.  The crying abated a bit with drinks, which I was very grateful for.  Sick toddler twins are just hard.  Fact.

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11:10ish:  I tried to squeeze in a very quick grocery store trip before picking up Bella.  As a general rule, I rarely shop with the babies in tow and this trip reminded me why.  I resorted to opening an unpurchased bag of Goldfish to feed to them so we could make it through without anymore meltdowns.

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12:00ish:  We ran through the CFA drive-thru for lunch, because the thought of "making" lunch at home seemed so overwhelming.  And it's a free lunch - so there's that.

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12:30ish:  Bella likes to mix up her meal options for CFA with one of her current favorites being a side salad.  She gives me the tomatoes, but other than that - she eats it up!

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1:00ish:  I do love cuddling this girl while we read before her "nap" time.  Only recently did I dispense with the ruse of "tucking her in," because we both know that she does no sleeping.

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2:00ish:  Here's a look at my Winter 2015 Uniform.  If I've got just about nothing going on (this entire week), this is my go to outfit.  A cozy tunic from Gap Body, black leggings and Uggs.  It is SO COMFORTABLE.  And cozy.  And did I mention comfortable?  The only draw back is that there is no pocket for me to carry my phone around in and listen to audiobooks.  I have actually considered sewing one in.

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3:15ish:  Biggest girl came home from school and immediately wanted a snack.  She has come home starving this week from boycotting her sandwiches, because they have Sunbutter instead of Wowbutter.  Kindergarten is so hard.

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4:00ish:  Lily's homework was to "produce" something, and we chose to do cookies, because everything was already out.  The girls had a lot of fun.  There were sprinkles everywhere, and Violet kept trying and succeeding at eating them.  

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5:00ish:  I worked on getting Taco Night ready to go.  I do love how colorful it was.

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6:00ish:  We had a friend over for dinner, and he definitely got some good cuddles from V.

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6:45ish:  Even when picking up dinner, this is what William looked like.  He and V spent much of the day tugging on my shirt and whining.

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8:30ish:  Kiddos all in bed, and it was time to work on cookies.

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10:00ish:  By this time, the cookies were all finished, and we were wrapping up our night of working and jamming to Pandora.

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I have enjoyed some of the slow pace of this week and been thankful for the extra cuddles, but I am so thankful that we normally have more going on.  We definitely need it - especially me.  Wednesday morning, I got an amazing text from a friend asking if she could come and help in anyway.  I immediately said YES, and she met me at my house.  She folded laundry and did anything else that she could to help all morning long.  It was such a neat gift from the Lord, and I am so thankful that she took the time and initiative to help us out.  I needed it!  I'm hoping this weekend brings some relief and healing!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH (& A FEW OTHER RECIPE LINKS)

I've been wanting to share this recipe since Tuesday of last week, but, other things have happened.  Mainly, my life have has been commandeered by having sick children and/or being sick myself.  Probably like many of you.  From what I understand, this winter has been particularly brutal - at least where we live.  Anyway, here's to the road to recovery being swift.  (Please, God.)

Earlier this month, I decided to try some new recipes.  I love trying new recipes and often do it as much as twice a week.  I've found a couple of new winter favorites that I will definitely return to.  First up - Roasted Butternut Squash.  I made this for our D-Group last week and everyone wanted the recipe - so yummy.

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I long ago realized that I am not going to become a famous food blogger or photographer, which makes a lot of sense.  So - that is a very unstyled, just re-heated look at this tasty treat of a meal.  To me, it still looks good and like something I would eat, even on my every day dishes that are nearing the 10 year mark.  I hope you agree.

I used this recipe and then tweaked it.  I used all of the things she suggested.  For my grain, I used quinoa for the first time ever, and it was delicious.  I knew that a lot of guys were going to be eating this, so I added cooked ground sausage.  When I mashed up the baked squash, I added an entire log of goat cheese, because how could we possibly go wrong with that?  I think the beauty of this recipe is that you can change it up based on what you have on hand or what sounds good.  It was a crowd pleaser and quite healthy as well.  Double bonus.

In recent weeks, I've also tried this Crock Pot recipe for beef and broccoli.  We all liked it - even the kiddos.  Next time I will probably use chicken, because John prefers it to red meat, but overall, it was a hit.

Also a major hit at our house - this Crock Pot Coconut Chicken Curry.  We really like curry, but I've never loved the hands-on nature of making it.  This fixes that problem and is really tasty!  I skipped the jalapeƱo and added cauliflower to ours at the end.  This curry thickens up quite nicely with the corn starch.  Serve over coconut rice with some Naan bread, and I felt like I was in Thailand.  Well, maybe not quite, but I did have vague recollections of our time there while eating this.

I hope this gives you some recipe inspiration!  Happy cooking.