Thursday, October 13, 2011

Remember, God Loves You!

I had been planning to get back on board in writing this week when yet another stomach bug struck!  Initially I thought it was just the nausea and vomiting that comes with being pregnant, but then I started getting chills and feverish and realized something more was going on.  Let's just say it has been a rough past few weeks.  Honestly, if I can accomplish one chore a day and feed the kids three "decent" meals, I feel satisfied that I have done the best I can.

Do you have days--maybe weeks--when you feel so overwhelmed with physical or mental sickness or exhaustion that you don't think you can make it through?  Do you worry that your children and husband will suffer irreparable damage from the lack of home cooked meals you are fixing or the amount of quality attention you are giving them?  Does it feel like sometimes that you will never have a clean house again because the energy just isn't there?  If so, I can totally relate and empathize. 

I have learned throughout these very long weeks not only the resiliency of children (yes, they can eat jarred spaghetti sauce and canned soup and survive), but also the blessing of family.  My mom has been up numerous times helping with the kids, fixing meals, running to the store when we were completely out of toilet paper, and just comforting me.  And my husband has been especially wonderful in not complaining that we are having salad and baked potatoes or Mexican for the umpteenth time because that is all that sounds good to me right now.  Plus, he lets me rest and cheers me up when I doubt for the millionth time how I'll be able to take care of three kids three and under, which makes me love him even more. 

We aren't guaranteed happiness on this earth.  There will be pain and sorrow and challenges because of the sin brought into this world through Adam and Eve.  Yet, in the midst of the trials you face, remember that God is always there.  It's so easy to get frustrated with God and wonder why He is bringing all this pain on you, but He never leaves you; He never forsakes you.  He loves you.
"The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
He delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

A righteous man may have many troubles,
but the Lord delivers him from them all;
He protects all his bones,
not one of them will be broken."

Psalm 34:17-20

 May God bless you and your families...


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Taking the Long View

As I reflect on events of the day, I am a little depressed by what did not get done.  Usually on Wednesdays I do a load of laundry and clean the bathroom, but the clothes are still sitting in the dryer and the toilet still needs scrubbing.  The long list of items on my to-do list remain unchecked.  What have I accomplished?

Before the girls woke up, I did my daily Bible study and prayed.  Then, after breakfast, we went for a walk at the park, but Daddy called and we met up with him at Panera for a second breakfast.  (You can't pass up on extra "Daddy time.")  Then, back at the house, while Cora, the youngest, napped, Kate, the oldest, and I went outside to play Hide & Seek, sweep the porch and sidewalk (she helped with her kiddie broom), and bounce the ball.  I made a pot of chili for supper and suggested having a picnic under the trees despite mosquitoes feasting on our flesh.  We also picked flowers for the house. 

Then, while Kate napped, Cora and I played outside in the rocks.  She loves putting the gravel into her bucket and then dumping it out--over and over again.  We also walked around the yard, climbed the slide, and she crawled around in the grass.   

Needless to say, I didn't get much house work done today.  But, you know, I am not too upset about it.  Yeah, I won't be voted "Housekeeper of the Year," but is that what I'm going for?  Sure I have very little visible to show for my day, but I spent time with the Lord, gave my undivided attention to each child, and prioritized people over chores. 
 I love Jean Fleming's A Mother's Heart: A Look at Values, Vision, and Character for the Christian Mother.  In it she says:
I must constantly remind myself that though the visible, tangible world is so insistent and clamorous in its demands, I must not let it badger me into spending my life unwisely.  The results of living by God's value system aren't immediately apparent like clean windows or a newly papered wall.  But years from now, by God's grace, my time with God and my children will produce results brighter than sparkling windows.  I must take the long view.  I must choose to do those things that will give satisfaction as I view my life as a whole, rather than measure satisfaction at the end of each day. (51) (emphasis mine)
My children will only be little for such a short time, but the house will always need cleaning.  There will always be tasks to complete, but my girls will only want to play with me for a few short years.  Take time today to spend with your children.  Be present: not just physically there, but involved and in tune with them.  Give them your undivided attention.  Read them a book.  Run outside and play.  Enjoy the short time you have with them, and thank God for the blessings of those little ones.  The dishes will still be there once they've gone to bed, and, if you're lucky--like me--maybe your husband will wash them for you!

Blessings to you! 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Our Baby's First Birthday & a Clown Cake

 Our baby girl turned one on Monday, and while, according to my husband at least, I make a big deal over holidays and birthdays, first and second birthdays are a bit low-key.  Still, I decided the night before to attempt a clown cake for little Cora Jane.  The clown cake is somewhat of a first birthday tradition in my family: my grandmother made it for many of my cousins' first birthdays, and my mom has made it for most, if not all, of the grandkids. Let's just say that I am not creative or artistic, but I was determined to create something fun for my little girl.

To make this clown cake, bake two 8- or 9-inch rounds (I used a Duncan Hines yellow cake mix).  After letting the cake cool, place one round in the center of a baking sheet or piece of cardboard.  Take the other cake round and cut off three sides, making a triangle.  That is the clown's hat.  Place it atop the head, and then cut out a circle from the remaining cake for the top of the clown's hat.  Cut the remaining cake into cubes, and place under and around the clown's head to make a ruffled top.

Then, whip up some icing (I made a vanilla buttercream) or buy a couple of tubs, and spread evenly over the top and sides of the cake, covering every inch with icing.  Yum!  As for decorating, do what moves you.  I used black decorating icing to outline the clown's features and red and green sugar sprinkles to accentuate the hat and top.  I used M&Ms for eyes and sour cherry drops for a nose and mouth.  I was afraid the cake looked too Christmas-y, so I added candy corns to the clown's top.  Voila!

But, more importantly than how the cake looked, it tasted delicious!  And the birthday girl couldn't get enough!

Do you make cut-out cakes for your kids?  If so, what have been your favorites?