Monday, August 22, 2016

in the kitchen together



In all honesty, I'm a true procrastinator at heart. I work much better, much more efficiently when I have a clear and looming deadline. I'm the type of person that finds setting a timer for thirty minutes helps me to stay more focused on tasks and chores because I push myself to work hard to get as much done as I can in that short period of time. It's the way God wired me, I suppose. Sometimes it drives Brad a little crazy, but I always get things done and get them done well. And the looming deadline invigorates me a bit and pushes me to do my best.

However, this procrastination also carries over into the kitchen and meal-making. I would get an "F" in meal-planning if I was graded. Oh gosh. And this is the one area where I find my procrastinating spirit to lead to a bit of stress. All I can say is thank goodness for the auto defrost option on my microwave! 

So one of my goals this coming fall (and coming school year) is to start meal-planning again. I have always enjoyed the mental freedom that has come from having a plan when it comes to meals. I suppose I just haven't disciplined myself enough to actually make it a habit. However, it's such a WONDERFUL feeling at 4:00 p.m. on a weekday to know that dinner is already planned and probably already started or even in the crock pot almost ready to be eaten. 

My kids, at ages 13 and 10, love to cook and bake. It's something that they've always seen me do, and I've let them have reigns in the kitchen since an early age. In my mind, it's one of the most important life skills I can pass on to my kids ~ the skill of feeding oneself. And not only feeding oneself, but feeding oneself good, wholesome, home-cooked meals. 

My problem as a kitchen procrastinator, though, is that when I've waited until the last possible minute to start a dinner that I'm not even sure what it's going to be, I don't have the patience for the kids in the kitchen with me. I want to get in there, have all the room to move around, and crank out whatever I'm making. And sometimes I don't even know what I'm making until it hits the kitchen table and is done. 

But, I'm totally robbing my kids and myself of some special, very productive time together as well as some really awesome learning experiences approaching meal-time this way. And it's all because I'm too lazy to do a little planning ahead of time. 

This past Saturday, Ian and I went to the garden together and picked a bunch of veggies to use to make dinner. The kids and I then husked the corn together and spent an hour chopping, mixing, sauteing, and prepping our dinner. When we pulled the stuffed green peppers out of the oven two hours later, there was a great satisfaction felt around the table that night. We had worked together from start to finish. And on top of that, most of the food was from our garden. 

I was reflecting on this later that evening. We had so much fun together. The kids kept saying how much they loved cooking with me and how they want to do it more often. And, I really do swear, that food tasted so much better knowing that we made it together. 

So this is one of my goals this new school year. I'm going to work on disciplining myself to meal-plan again, and I'm going to work more group cooking sessions into our schedule. Not only does this enable some really great quality time with my kids, but it's also equipping them for their future when they leave home.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

an essay on home




I love home. 

What does home mean to me? What image do I conjure up in my mind when I think of home? 

I imagine a cozy, quaint place that is warm, beautiful but simple. A place where love flows freely. A place where words of encouragement are spoken and life is breathed into those who enter. 

I imagine a place where the dwellers feel free to be themselves. Guards can be dropped. Feet can be kicked back. Weary bodies can toss themselves onto the sofa and cozy up under a well-worn quilt. 

A place where laughter is real. Where learning happens all of the time. Where good thoughts are shared and discussed. Where life is lived fully and where joy prevails.

This is what I strive for, this is what I want for our home. And me, as a wife and mother, well, I have such an awesome opportunity to influence the atmosphere of our home. This is my office. This is my place of work. This is my opportunity to shine as I foster an environment that encourages growth physically, mentally, and spiritually for my family and all who visit. 

What an awesome privilege that is! 

So instead of complaining about the never-ending laundry, I need to thank God for the healthy bodies that wear all of that clothing.

Instead of dreading washing the dishes again, I need to praise God for the food He has so graciously and extravagantly provided. The food that fills those plates three times a day, that fills our bellies full. 

And the messes that scatter so easily around the house? Oh those can test me. But those little messes were made by the ones that are dearest to my heart. I want to be thankful that I have these beautiful children who are healthy enough to be up and making messes. And I need to be thankful that I have the opportunity to teach my children to be responsible, clean-up after themselves, and contribute to our home's well-being. 

I enjoy home. I enjoy keeping my home. I used to think that it was sinful to want a beautiful home (note that I do not mean large, filled with extravagant things, or magazine-worthy) for my family. But I now realize that God put that creative desire within me, that love for beauty, the attention to the aesthetics. God made me that way. And, of course, I could use those desires in sinful ways, but I can also choose to embrace them and make my home a dwelling that quenches the thirst of dry souls, that replenishes the spiritual tanks of those who enter, that inspires others to seek the beautiful and simple things of God. 

I am so thankful that God has enabled me to be a keeper of my home. I am thankful that He has shown me the importance of making our home a shelter to my family and others.

Lord, open my eyes up to the great privilege You have blessed me with to be a keeper of our home. Thank you for our home. Thank you for those that fill it. May it be used for Your glory, and may all who enter feel surrounded by Your love and grace.

Monday, August 8, 2016

change



The kitchen is progressing. It's almost done. I think. There seem to be so many little things that need done. In my mind's eye, however, all that is left is some caulking, touch-up painting, and then the shelves need hung. But Brad can probably think of more little things that need to be finished before we can actually wrap the project up. He's a perfectionist like that.

This summer's home renovation project has translated into a sorely neglected garden and low motivation to even keep up with it and the preserving. Such a shame. I feel like I used to have so much more energy to do multiple things at one time.

School. UGH! It's coming. We won't officially start until after our vacation in September, but we've already logged some of our days with camps and field trips and impromptu learning sessions. My goal is to get all of the curriculum figured out this week and order everything. I want to have it all organized and ready to go before we leave for vacation so that we'll be able to get started as soon as we get home.

Change. There seems to be a lot of change for our family in the weeks and months ahead. I feel as if it could easily be our theme word for this year, if we were to have one. It's exciting and yet slightly anxiety-provoking all at once. I'm trying to look at it as an adventure in which to fully exercise faith in God. Yep. That's what I'm doing.

Friday, July 22, 2016

in the thick of home improvement



I am having so much fun updating our house. Lately, I've been a little mentally stressed. Not because of all of the work. Work doesn't scare me. It's the lack of a proper kitchen since our current remodel is the kitchen. Everything is kind of scattered about, so when I need a mixing spoon or a knife or a bowl or this or that, I have to search for it. Thankfully our home is small and I've just kind of shifted everything into the living room and onto the kitchen table. But still. I guess I didn't realize how much my life revolves around my kitchen until it was in a state of disarray. I've heard others speak of this when they've done a kitchen remodel.

However, it will be fabulous when it's finished. It will be a kitchen that is still tiny, but so very much me. Butcher block. White cabinets. Open shelving. I'm going for cozy and quaint, which is what I pretty much go for in all of my decorating. 

But mixed in with all of that remodeling goodness, we've had quite a busy summer. We visited our best friends in Charleston, SC. We had one of my oldest friends from childhood and her daughter (who also happens to be Lily's age) come stay with us for a while. We have had cake decorating class and electronics class. And then there is the gardening and animal care that is part of our everyday life. Oh, and we became the owner of kittens. Two of them. 

What a full summer we've had so far.