Turkey and Our Redneck Holiday

We’ve had an exciting few weeks here in Tennessee, busy as usual. 

A few weeks ago the girls and I took a mini vacation to Louiseville, KY where we met up with my sister and a family friend, Paula.  We had a great time shopping and dining at nice restaurants, which normally would have been a huge thrill for me, the foodie that I am, but being a few weeks pregnant made the joy diminish quite significantly.  The only thing I wanted to eat was turkey clubs.  I have no idea what that was all about but those sandwiches hit the spot. 

louisville2On our way!


louisville1Look Mya!!

louisville3Mabel and Aunt Greta

The day before Thanksgiving we (well I) had this brilliant idea about how quaint it would be to cut a Christmas tree down off of our own property, and we could save about 50 bucks.  Out we trekked on a beautiful, crisp morning to hack down the prized possession down by the pond.  We found the perfect tree, cut it down, hauled it up the hill and placed it in our house.  I took one look at it and hated it.  It was awful, it looked like the epitome of a redneck holiday.  I told my husband it was not something I could live with for 6 weeks and begged him to let me pick out another one, which he graciously agreed to because he loves me.

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IMG 8330 800x533The horribly, ugly, tree.  

Thanksgiving was also interesting this year.  I actually felt pretty decent on the big day and was able to whip up two pies, corn, potatoes and gravy, and rolls while Ryan dug the guts out of the turkey, basted it, and stuck it in the oven.  It was delicious.  The highlight of the holiday was having Ryan’s mom and step dad visit that evening and stay for a few days.  They enjoyed a reheated feast and spent overdue time with the grand kids (and the big kids) until Sat. 


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Saturday night Ryan and I ventured out for date night despite my incredibly queasy stomach.  We drove about an hour away to a tree farm, enjoyed hot chocolate which had an amazing ability to calm my queasiness, and found the perfect, expensive, beautiful tree.  The next day we turned on Christmas music, indulged in more of my new favorite food, hot chocolate, and decorated mostly the bottom of the tree.    

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IMG 8388 800x533Almost the finished product!

Just keep livin!!



Let Us Be Thankful

In the spirit of being completely haywire in my posts lately, a Halloween post on Monday, a month after the actual holiday, I thought I’d continue with what I’ve got going by posting a Thanksgiving post today, a week after the actual event occurred.  I had this list swirling about in my mind for a bit, specific things that I am thankful for right now, in this moment, where I am in life. 
1.    My husband.  I am thankful that I have a healthy spouse, especially throughout the pregnancy.  This is something most people take for granted until walking through pregnancy with an extremely ill spouse.  I do not take this very simple, yet extremely profound gift for granted, or for that matter the gift of a spouse to walk beside me on this journey. He has been my rock through these last few weeks, and I know that’s not necessarily the norm.   I warned him prior to the pregnancy that  I would not be a pleasant person for the first few months.  I do not glow during this blessed event, I do not smile very often during this time, in fact, I offer very little grace or elegance during these first few months, and he took it all in, agreed to the plan nonetheless, and has been nothing short of wonderful even going so far as to let me sleep in during the week while he gets up at 6:30, gets 5 children ready for school, changes a 9 year olds dirty diaper, and then drives them all 30 minutes to school.  I am thankful for this man who is laying down his life for me right now.
2.    Moments of Ick.  This has ironically been the easiest pregnancy of the five that I’ve had (funny after the spiel I just laid out concerning my lack of grace through it all, huh? )  I don’t know if it’s due to having a healthy husband this time around or having older, more self – sufficient children, or less stress, but I have had not only moments where I feel pretty good but entire days where I feel pretty decent.  Nothing sounds great to eat, I do have a constant ick in my mouth, and I’m always tired, but I’ve ironically learned to treasure those moments of extreme ick because they do give me a sense of peace that I am pregnant and hormonal. 
3.    Pandora.  This brings such a calm to my soul whether I’m listening to Christmas Carols while baking or Civil Wars Radio while resting, or intense, pump it out work out music while I’m walking, I’m thankful for the gift of music.
4.    The Sun.  I am thankful that I see the sun so often in Tennessee, a very different reality from the one I left in Michigan. 
5.    Friends, far and near.  I’m thankful for the new relationships I’m establishing here in Tennessee, and I’m thankful for my dear friends back in Michigan.  There is a sort of weeding process that occurs with a move and some of my former relationships have fallen by the wayside but some of them, interestingly enough, the move has only intensified our desire for companionship and conversations with one another.  For those of you, I am thankful.  You have kept me somewhat sane and grounded through the process. I’m thankful that our relationship has not only deepened but has actually prospered with the miles between us. 
6.    Chrissy, Luke’s dear friend and aid at school.   Chrissy, you have NO idea how much peace of mind you have brought to my life.  Your job in Luke’s classroom may seem insignificant to some but for me, knowing that Luke not only has his physical needs cared for on a daily basis but that you love him and care for him as if he were your own has made this whole transition to Tennessee 5 million times easier.  Thank you Chrissy, you have been such a blessing to me over the past few months. 
7.    Facebook – Although this modern invention often irritates me to no end, the constant drama posted and the obsessive compulsive nature of needing to know what’s going on with everyone at all times, I am especially thankful now that I’ve moved away from friends and family that I am able to connect with people on a consistent basis and that they are able to stay involved in our life to the extent that I allow it.
8.    My children, what a hodgepodge of personalities, gifts, struggles, and joys in these seven human beings.  I am thankful for them, what they bring to my life, but more so, I am thankful for how they are molding me, painfully often, to become more Christ like.  Through them I learn, literally, “more of you, less of me” more of them, more of HIM, less of me.  That’s the lesson the Master always seeks to impart, and he uses these 7 souls to constantly inscribe it upon my heart.
9.    My writing.  Writing enables me to think and expand my thoughts and determine how and why I feel about a certain issues.  Writing keeps me connected to humanity, it allows me a venue of exploration and dreaming, and it’s incredibly affordable therapy. 
10.    A Dream.  I’m thankful for the ability to dream.  I’m thankful for the dream Ryan and I have for our life and for our family.  “Without a dream the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18).   I’m thankful that God gives us dreams and then speaks to our hearts, softly and unpretentiously, guiding and directing us, providing  wisdom throughout it all, this life, our children, their pains, their joys, our livelihoods, he is faithful in revealing the next step at just the right time; He is faithful in nurturing the dream.  

Just keep livin!!

Nasty Pumpkins and Nasty People

We’ve had family in town over the past few days and honestly, my body has not moved from the couch very often as the first trimester icks have kicked in big time.  Ryan wrote this a few weeks ago and has graciously allowed me to use it today. I also love a sneak peek into his brain, I hope you do too. 

 Halloween has come and gone and cavities are being created from all of our children’s hard earned loot. Halloween is often a favorite of most children and candy is the #1 reason. For me, I hated dressing up but was happy to do whatever it took to collect sweets that were rare around my house as a child. The ritual of carving pumpkins was also part of my childhood and though I am not a big fan of it today, it has become a tradition of my children as well. The joy I had creating masterpiece scary faces as a child has been masked in adulthood with the daunting task of digging out ewey, gooey, cold pumpkin flesh so my children can do their best to fashion the same artful creations of their own. I don’t remember the mess that was left behind and the worst part of all as I found out last Halloween is they don’t last long. In Michigan last year, Jess took on the carving of pumpkins just a week or two before the big day. The result of 6 masterfully whittled orange designs quickly became slimy, moldy, stinky piles of mush within days. I as dad and the one unwilling to help with the carving, received the honor of disposing of the heaps. Rather than delicately gathering them into bags and throwing them in the trash, I lazily took a shovel and scraped them off the porch into the mulch slightly hidden by our bushes. As I was sitting in church today, for whatever reason, I remembered that day vividly as our preacher reminded us to reach out to the lost and plant seeds however we can. Jess and I agree that we should meet fellow sinners where they are and both abide by the quote “hate the sin but love the sinner.” I am guilty of avoiding people who don’t smell pleasant or look different or any number of reasons that don’t fit the “norm” in my eyes. They are just like the rotten pumpkins at times and it’s not fair that I think that way but it is human. But is it Christian? It is one thing to be turned off by someone’s presence, location or circumstances, but it is another to avoid that person because of it. Their sin just like mine is that ewey, gooey, cold flesh that our past is made up of. God can make beautiful creations out of our messy centers and nobody is excluded. As we prepared for our move to Tennessee, I was doing some much needed cleanup in our yard when I realized there was what seemed to be the largest weed I had ever seen that started in our bushes and stretched over the sidewalk and into the other side of our front porch. Not exactly what a potential buyer would appreciate in their future home. As I followed the vine from one end to the other, I realized it was a pumpkin vine and had several small green buds about to become next year’s lot of Halloween treats. Now, all I did was scrape it into the mulch and never thought of it again, a stinky heap of moldy mush. That mess produced several new pumpkins with no nurturing or attention but without knowing, I surrounded that pumpkin seed near plants that I did water and nurture. I planted a seed and didn’t even know it and even better, that seed produced several other pumpkins which in turn would produce even more the following year. That’s a long story for such a simple lesson, plant seeds every chance you get and let God do the rest. Who knows, maybe some simple yet kind act could produce a huge crop that you had very little to do with. That’s my 2 cents…

Just keep livin!!