family life · kids · story telling

THIS is my Motherhood

This is my Motherhood
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I saw this picture on Facebook in October. It has really stuck with me. In fact, every time I read it, I feel like the breath has been knocked from my lungs. The days are long.. they are SOO long. The years just keep flying by. I just looked at baby pictures of my girls. How did they become 7, 6, and 3 so fast?

I follow a lady named Ralphie on Instagram. GO FOLLOWER HER. She did an #Iamthiskindofmom hashtag where moms shared what their STRENGTHS are. Too often we focus on our shortcomings as mothers, which I believe robs us of a lot of the joy in motherhood. I often think about how I am not a patient enough mom. I’m not creative enough. I’m not fun enough. Her movement shifted my thinking. What kind of mom am I? That is the only way to not miss out on your children’s childhood; and your own motherhood. Focus on the good.

It is absolutely insane to think that my motherhood only has approx. 11 years left for Chloe. In 11 years (or more) she could be moving out of our house and starting her own life. ELEVEN YEARS. Seven years have gone by in the blink of an eye. I know I have fallen short in SO MANY areas. I have messed up and have regrets. But there is a lot that I hope my kids remember.

I AM the kind of mother who loves having my kids join me in the kitchen. I love baking with them and teaching them the life skills of preparing a meal. I am the kind of mother who tells my kids “the best chefs are the messiest chefs” so that they don’t feel bad about making a mess.. or me making a mess.

I am the kind of mother whose kids ask for their vitamins and probiotics daily. I teach them the best ways to take care of their bodies; because they only get this one.

I am the kind of mother who spreads paper, markers, stickers, etc. all over the table and lets her kids be creative. There is always a massive mess to clean up afterwards, but I love seeing what my girls create with some paper scraps.

I am also the kind of mom who teaches her kids to clean up after themselves. It’s important that they learn they are not “cleaning up for mom”, but they are cleaning up for themselves. We are a family unit, and everyone needs to do their part in order for us to function.

I am the kind of mom who lets her kids play in the tub until they look like raisins.

I am the kind of mom who gets festive like crazy for all of the Holidays. Food must be festive. Decorations must be festive. Colors must be festive. I’m completely bananas about any holiday.

I am the kind of mom who lets my kids get dirty. They can play in the dirt and throw leaves in their hair. The can jump in puddles and play hard. They learn best that way. Sensory play is my favorite.

 

We, as mothers (and fathers also), need to slow down. We need to realize that this is our one shot with our kids. What kind of parent are you? Make a list of all of your good traits. Don’t focus on your shortcomings. Focus on ALL of the good that you do!

 

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family life · kids · story telling

Harper Says

This little stinker is so full of funny words, phrases, and actions. She’s always saying or doing something silly and fills our home with loads of laughter.. and frustration.

 

The other day, Scott  had drawn a heart on me. I asked her who did it.
H: “I dunno”
Me: “Did Rocci do it?” (FYI: Rocci is our puppy)
H: “No, him don’t have hands!”

We are in the potty training trenches… candy is our bribery.
H: *sits on potty* ” Me go pee and me get CANDY!!!

She has been singing Elsa’s “Let it Go” at super speed.
“Let it go let it go can’t hold anymoooore”

Me: Harper, I love you.
H: I like you.

Again, potty training… She walks around with a bare booty most of the time. Rocci sniffs her rear with his cold, wet nose.
H “EW YUCKY DOG!”

After Mom had her knee surgery, Harper used her cane as a microphone singing “Sussa weens sussa weens” (super wings super wings)

Pointing to my belly “Mommy, you big”
Me “Yeah?”
H “Yeah. And Daddy big.”
Me “Is your belly big?”
H “No. It wittwe.”

As soon as she refuses allllll the food at any meal.
“Me want chiiiiiips.”

Good thing she is so snuggly and cute. 😉 She’s ornery as can be, but I am so thankful to have this girl in my life!

family life · holiday · story telling

Thanksgiving Recap

Isn’t Thanksgiving food just beautiful? I love making things from scratch. To me, it is really satisfying to see it all come together.

The day before Thanksgiving, I made a giant cinnamon roll for breakfast. (100% a tube of cinnamon rolls) The girls freaked out. I achieved cool-mom status for the first time ever probably. I put frosting on it and cut it like a pie. Sprinkles had to be added, of course. They gobbled the whole thing up leaving their poor cool-mom to starve. 😉

Cut to Thanksgiving, and all of its beautiful food. I didn’t get many pictures on that day. Scott and I really tried to soak in the goodness of having family around us… plus it was bananas. I took a few pictures while I was cooking. Cranberries are a beautiful color. They were frosted by the sugar and it looked like a Christmas decoration. They were SO tart, but yummy.

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My mom came over the day before, and we made pies together. She also helped me get sweet potato casserole assembled since I had never made it by myself. Mom made a really pretty apple pie that was equally as delicious. I also baked the rolls and heated them up on Thanksgiving so the butter would melt on them. (Note: this WILL dry your rolls out, even if you cover them in foil. Bummer.)

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This Thanksgiving was so bittersweet. It was our first big holiday without Jim. I think we all felt the hole where someone was missing. It was very sweet to be surrounded by all of our family that was in town. I really am thankful that God brought us back for this time. Everyone signed our Thanksgiving tablecloth with what they are thankful for this year. (Except Josh. Get your butt back here.) I think I will probably cry every year that I bring it out since it is so full of memories.

 

I also have to share this. When my mom came to make pies, she also brought a little something for the big girls. She made a carseat poncho for Harper, which we love. Chloe and Addi were jealous that they couldn’t wear a poncho.. which made me laugh. My mom, being who she is, quickly whipped up two more ponchos for the big girls. They were so thrilled, and it’s really cute to see them running around in them.

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Little stinkers.

 

I hope that you had a really blessed Thanksgiving.

encouragement · family life · ministry

Six Days

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We are just 6 days from uncharted territory. We surrendered our lives to Jesus as teenagers, and have lived in surrender ever since.

Scott and I have been serving in full-time ministry since he graduated from college 8 years ago. Every day of the last 8 years I have been “youth pastor’s wife” or “ministry wife”. (Yes, I know ministry is wherever you are and whatever you are doing.)

Sunday is our last day on staff at CCC. Any time God has called us away from a church, He has always opened a door just in time for us to go from one to the next. That has not been the case this round.

This is completely new. I feel like a huge chunk of my identity is being stripped away from me. It’s painful and feels a little scary. It could be months or years before God decides to open another door.

This whole ministry journey has been a roller coaster. It is painful. People say hurtful things. People gossip. You live your life in a fishbowl and any tiny slip up in your life can be blown out of proportion. You can be betrayed by someone that you thought loved you.

On the flip side, people also love on you and pray for you when you are hurting. When your entire family is sick and you feel like you can’t do it anymore, people bring food to your home. You get to see people come to know Christ. You see people declare that they are going to give up their drug addiction. We have seen teenagers go from Jr. High personalities to mature young adults sold out for Jesus. You see lives completely changed and transformed- and THAT is why we continue doing ministry! It is an honor to be used by God in this way.

We are in a painful season of this journey. We are being put through the fire for refinement. How I react is an example to my children as to how you go through trials in your life. I have to show them that God will carry us through. I also can show them that emotions are ok. It is okay to cry when you are hurting. What we do with our emotions is what matters.

I listened to this song yesterday and sobbed.

“As I walk this great unknown
questions come and questions go
Was there purpose for the pain?
Did I cry these tears in vain?

I don’t want to live in fear
I want to trust that you are near
Trust your grace can be seen
In both triumph and tragedy”

Scott has started applying for local jobs outside of ministry and my heart hurts for him.

We are trying to figure out the logistics of being able to find jobs to pay bills while also still being able to candidate at churches whenever opportunities arise; all with one car. We are doing exactly what God wants us doing at this time; even if it is not at all what we want.

We trust God through everything, but that does not mean that it won’t be painful or hard. God never promised us an easy life, He only said that we would never be forsaken.

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5

 

 

 

allergies · family life · natural living · recommendations · Uncategorized

Seventh Generation and Earth Month

Since becoming a mother, I have done my research on what chemicals that I bring into my home; from food to cleaning products.

Did you know that the air INSIDE of your home is 2-5X more polluted than the air outside of your home! That’s scary to think about; especially in the winter when you are shut inside of your home for so long. Since this is Earth Month (Earth Day is the 22nd!) I thought it was a great time to share about my favorite brand–

Seventh Generation

Their brand is environmentally responsible and is true to their word.

diapers // wipes // diaper cream // laundry detergent // bathroom cleaner // dishwasher soap // dish soap

You can download an app called Think Dirty if you have a smart phone. It allows you to scan products in the grocery store and find out what they rate. 10 is incredibly toxic, so the lower the number the better. I am so thankful for this app because it allowed me to discover just how bad some of the so-called clean brands really are. Seventh Generation has passed the test!

I joined Seventh Generation’s Generation Good and have enjoyed getting tips on cleaning up my home even more; along with learning more about the importance of doing so. I enjoy being part of a community that has some of the same concerns and passions as I do.

Their diapers are made from sustainably sourced materials, which I think is great. We cloth diaper most of the time, but do use disposables at night, when we are out and about, and when we travel. Their diapers used to just be brown, but they have recently added these fun prints. (You can learn more about WHY here.) Their wipes are so thick and get the job done; every mother’s dream! Plus, they don’t irritate my extremely sensitive daughter’s skin. Win-win!

Their cleaning products actually WORK! For a long time, I was left disappointed by how poorly natural products performed. Then, I tried Seventh Generation and was hooked.

Seventh Generation products are easy to find in stores, but they are also available on Amazon, which I love. If you have prime, you can subscribe and save even more. They don’t even know I exist, aside from being a part of generation good, so this is not paid. I genuinely love the brand and their products. Everything I have linked to is something that I have tried and loved. I would never recommend a product that I don’t absolutely love! 

Have you ever tried Seventh Generation products? If not, what are you waiting for?

 

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family life · relationship · Uncategorized

Date Night- what?!

Oh, date night. I love you.

Date night was the best. My mother-in-law watched the girls for Scott and I so that we could go out to dinner together. We went to a local place where the atmosphere is super cool, the food is so good, and you leave feeling completely stuffed.

Scott got a gigantic catfish sandwich that was really good, and I got a huge open-faced green chile burger. I was born in New Mexico.. my blood type may be green chile. (J/K it’s coffee) They make everything fresh; even their french fries. We were completely stuffed but still ordered a warm chocolate espresso brownie with vanilla ice cream on top.

We walked around downtown for a little while to offset everything we ate before heading home. The weather was beautiful. It was glorious. No one stole my food. I did share my food with Scott because I wanted to try his, too. But, nobody was throwing food at me. No one threw a fit. We didn’t have to scarf our food down to finish before someone had a meltdown. Parents, you know what I’m talking about!

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I also was reminded just how much I love this man that I get to do life with. We still have fun together. We still love each other. We are still Scott and Ashley, husband and wife, apart from just mom and dad. It was nice to take off our parental hats for the evening and just be us.

I am so thankful for my mom-in-law for giving us this opportunity, and for SO many other things. We get to do it again this Friday so that we can go watch some of our high school kids in their musical. Their musical just so happens to be HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL. I am geeking out and want to sit in the front row so that I can sing and dance along. I will control myself.. I think..

The girls and I are making peasant bread today with plans of making this depression era bread later in the week. It is supposed to be rainy/stormy all week, so what better way to pass the time than make loads of bread? haha!

Happy Monday, friends!! I hope that you had a wonderful weekend!!

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family life · kids · Uncategorized

Happy Spring

Oooorrrrr Summer..

It is currently 84 degrees and the temperature keeps climbing.

We are soaking up as much sunscreen covered sunshine as we can. Everyone is covered in dirt and enjoying quiet time now.

We went to visit Scott’s parents yesterday so that Scott could help set some things up for them. The girls love their dog, Sierra. She is such a sweet girl. Harper wasn’t too sure what to think of her at first, but was hugging her by the time we were leaving. haha! 

Papa even took the girls for a ride on his golf cart, which is always a favorite activity of theirs. I love that his purple golf cart has traveled all across the country with them. lol

We also made a trip down to Whole Foods. I had some coupons for a free product that is only sold at Whole Foods in our area. We also stocked up on some sale produce. I love looking in my fridge and seeing all of this goodness. This is probably the best part of Spring/Summer.. sunshine and fresh fruits!!! 

I really cannot wait to plant a garden of my own. In our area, the end of March/early April are the best times to plant; or so I have read. I have some seeds that I will plant, and have a flat of veggies/herbs that I am going to do some container gardening with. We will see if I have a green thumb. I sure hope so!

I am loving all of the spring colors that have been popping up in the stores. I can’t believe that Easter is less than a month away. We are getting all geared up at church for the egg hunt and our incredible Easter service. I just love this time of year.

 

I hope that you are having a wonderful first day of Spring; and that you are at least getting a glimpse of warmer temperatures wherever you are.

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family life · relationship · Uncategorized

To My Valentine

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Sometimes we get so caught up in the day to day that we forget to really see each other. We are drowning in laundry, dishes, meals, errands, schedules.. you name it.. Last night, I stopped and really looked at you and my heart skipped a beat. You still take my breath away after all of these years. I can’t believe that God has given you to me.

We have spent the past (almost) fourteen years together. We have seen each other through the hard years of high school. The even harder years of college. We had a beautiful wedding. We have brought three beautiful girls into the world. We have mourned the loss of a child that we never got to meet. We have been through the loss of jobs; wondering how we will ever be able to afford the groceries we need to feed our family or make ends meet. We have been on trips to many beautiful states. We have celebrated together. We have cried together. We have fought together. We have eaten a lot of ice cream together.

You have supported me through it all. You have been a shoulder to cry on when hard diagnosis came, when difficult news came, and when life just got too hard. You pull me out of darkness that I let myself get sucked into. You don’t ever give up on me. You make me laugh. You remind me that life isn’t always fair, but God is always good. You dream beside me. You take care of me.

I am so deeply and incredibly thankful for you. I am blessed and honored to be your wife.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

 

family life · kids · recipes · Uncategorized

Gluten Free/Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Who doesn’t love chocolate chip cookies?! I love them. I also love oatmeal raisin cookies. Just kidding. I hate raisins. I love oatmeal, however, so I decided to marry the two and see how it went. YUM!

Here is the recipe:

2 1/2 C All Purpose GF flour (I used this brand– this recipe is adapted from the back of the package)
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
16 TBSP Vegan Butter (I used earth balance sticks)
1/2 C white sugar
1 C packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla (make sure its GF)
2 flax eggs (I use this brand– 1 TBSP flax + 3 TBSP water= 1 egg)
2 cups GF/DF chocolate chips (This is the only brand I have found.)
1 cup GF oats

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. While your oven preheats, cream your butter, sugars, and vanilla. Once creamy, beat in your flax eggs. Slowly add in your dry ingredients (except for chocolate chips and oatmeal). Once this is incorporated well, add in your chocolate chips and oats. Mix until everything is completely incorporated.

Drop your cookies 1 TBSP at a time (Get one of these and you will not regret it!). Bake for approx. 12 minutes until the edges start to brown.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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This cookies could definitely be made without the oats if you are not an oatmeal fan, I just really like the texture. You can also use regular butter and 2 eggs, but they obviously would not be vegan.

I already am eating way too many of these cookies, and all three of my girls are big fans! Let me know if you make these!

I love incorporating baking into our homeschool day. Our kitchen gets extra messy with three little bakers, but I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

My brother-in-law lives in another country. He said that the women there do not let their children cook with them because it is too messy. I was a little shocked by that, because I grew up helping my mom in the kitchen, but I am finding that it is more common.

How is it in your house? Do you prefer to do it all yourself? Do you have a crazy messy kitchen?

baby · family life · kids · natural living · recommendations · Uncategorized

5 Sustainable Baby/Toddler Options

My passion for sustainability started at a strange time. After Scott and I first got married, I was taking Interior Design classes at Missouri State University. (HIGHLY recommend them, if that is your passion.) I remember a professor saying that part of being a designer was being responsibility. Re-using furniture and decor whenever possible; or repurposing it. Another thing she mentioned was starting off using things that were made to last. It really struck a chord with me, and I was hooked.

For some reason, you tend to get laughed out of town for being a “tree hugger”. As a Christian, did God not call us to be good stewards? Wouldn’t that include this beautiful earth that he created for us to care for and enjoy? (Here is a good list to help answer that.)

If we make wise decisions from the beginning, we will waste so much less money and resources.

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Pura Insulated Bottle– These bottles are so great!! They are made from stainless steel, so you don’t have to worry about the chemicals in plastic. It does have a hefty price tag, but you can replace the nipple with a soft sippy tip, a straw, and a flip top. It lasts FOREVER and grows with your child. If you have multiples, or just want some extra padding, you can purchase silicone sleeves to customize your bottle/cup some more.

Re-Play Recyled– This brand has EVERYTHING! Sippy cups, plates, bowls, flatware, you name it. There is even more than I realized! I have these snack containers and love them. It’s nice to stack a snack for each girl when we all go out, or just have individual snacks during the rare one on one outing. You can read more about their company here.

Cloth Diapers– Cloth diapering is not only earth friendly, but SO budget friendly. I was really intimidated by the idea of cloth diapering, but now I wish I had done it sooner. Don’t let it be intimidating. I love my bum-genius diapers the most, but I also have Alva baby and really like them also. (Babies R Us usually has coupons for Bum Genius.) You can check out my pinterest board if you need some information to help you get started, because it can certainly be overwhelming in the beginning. (My younger sister even made her own wipes, so you can even go as far as that!)

Green Toys– I love this brand! Everything is so cute and well-made. The toys are made from 100% recycled plastic, which is awesome. (Image source) You can see more about how they make their products here.

Refillable Baby Food Pouches– These are amazing! I own a different brand, but the zipper is extremely difficult to zip. These have really good reviews, plus there are lots of others out there. I loved making my own baby food. I knew exactly what was going into it, it was a huge money saver, and I could make a wider variety for my babies to try. I still fill these pouches with applesauce for outings, and they come in very handy when a stomach bug has invaded your home and no one has the strength to sit up.

Another great tip is to buy quality. I have said this before, so I may sound like a broken record. Buy items that will last. Check re-sale shops and B/S/T pages on Facebook and you can find quality items at a much lower price. You don’t HAVE TO pay full price. Check for deals! Amazon sometimes has products that have been opened before for significantly cheaper, even though they are still in perfect condition. That is how we got our high chair for such a steal!!

I have loved this journey of finding sustainability; especially as a family of five. If we can reduce our footprint, even by a fraction, then I will be pleased.

What are some things that I could add to this list?