Getting Through the Blizzard

snowdayblizzard2016_13thumbsnowdayblizzard2016_15thumbsnowdayblizzard2016_6thumbsnowdayblizzard2016_5thumbsnowdayblizzard2016_3thumbsnowdayblizzard2016_2thumbsnowdayblizzard2016_12thumbsnowdayblizzard2016_8thumbJanuary and now February has brought us snow here in NJ.  Rob’s 33rd birthday was on the 24th and the day before we had a blizzard that left us with about two feet of snow.  We went out in it to play but it was so windy and cold that I kept shivering and wincing (you can see by the look on my face). The boys had so much fun in the snow.  It was still too soft for them to build a snowman though.  The following day was sunny and beautiful.

Are you going through a personal blizzard in your life?  Sometimes I get so upset or hurt that I feel as if everything is going against me.  I keep reading this passage to know that there is a calm and that I should not fear but trust that God will guide my way and help me when I go through struggles.

” ‘They set out,  and as they sailed he (Jesus) fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. And they went and woke him, saying, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’ And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm.  He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’ – Luke 8:23-25asnowdayblizzard2016_17thumb

Simple Living Stages

In my longing for minimalism and simple living in general, everyone has differing opinions on the subject and what it means for them, and that’s okay! Everyone is in a different stage.

My parents had this “century collection” of books.  Each one highlighted news, fads, and photos from each decade starting from the late 1800s and I loved it.  I used to have a habit of cutting things out of the books (which I should have asked to do first).  I remember the book on the 1960s and 1970s being the most cut-up.  Hippies.  Gypsies.  VW buses.  The idea of living on the road.  I was 7 when the fascination began.  My parents didn’t like that at all.  They had endured my liking small cabins and thought it was cute.   My mom calls me her “pioneer woman” almost every time I see her now.

Simple living is not just about me.
It is about everyone.
How am I helping others? How am I helping the environment?  How much am I wasting?  Is this made with slave labor? What can I do singularly and collectively with what I have and do? Does this benefit anyone in owning this? Will I even use this?

[picture of me in our living room taken by Rob who was sitting in one of the boys’ homeschooling desks editing a podcast he does with my brother and their friend]12303969_10153771549123464_4762885833095212899_o

Rob and I spent months downsizing our possessions last year and it was amazing.  Simple living to us is to minimize the amount of things we own to needs and things we use on a regular basis.  If we find something that doesn’t really need to be used, we easily either find an owner for it or donate it.  I have a quote I keep on my fridge (been there for about 6-7 years) that says, “The best thing to do with the best things in life is to give them away.” I found out it was said by the admirably selfless Dorothy Day and I completely agree with her sentiment.

We have talked often about owning a 400-800 sq. foot home (we are currently in a two family house with two bedrooms in our apartment area. . not sure how big it is, but it is considered rather small for a family of four in the US anyway).  We are still processing it all and don’t know how long it will take us to do it (the plan is to save once loans we have are paid off, which should only take another two years hopefully).  We show the boys what we find on the internet as inspiration and they seem to love the idea of living on a bus lately.  I think the only thing that might be a little difficult for me will be in spreading things out for my quilting (if we were in a bus anyway, I don’t think it would be a problem for a small home at all).  However, I know we’ll figure something out.  We are in the stage of life where we are dreaming, planning, and discussing ideas.  We figure we will live NOW as if to prepare for the next step so that there is little to do other than working on the home itself.

Through this goal, we have seen that there are a lot of opportunities that the MCC has through missional work around the country.  It would be wonderful to be able to travel and help people and have our children involved with it as they grow too.  We want to see the gospel lived out in how we live more noticeably and we feel that if we downgrade to living on a bus, we can be more available to missional work within our own country while helping those who do international missions (such as through GFA).

I Have Regrets but Move On

vanlife1I think it is wonderful how people can say, “Well, I have no regrets.”  I can’t say that at all.  I have a lot of regrets about choices I’ve made and things I’ve done and other times I am glad for the things I did because I learned from the mistakes I made.  I don’t think it is wrong to have regrets.  I think it is wrong if we dwell on them so much that they make us bitter and that we can’t stand up and move forward.

One of my biggest regrets is my wedding.  Not my marriage; my wedding.  The love I have for my husband is a million times more intense today than it was when I fell in love with him.  Getting married was one of the best things I have ever done.  I had originally planned as a child that I would marry in my parents’ large backyard.  I wanted to have a gazebo to stand in and have people do a pot luck dinner.  It was simple!  I had planned it so long that I had even told these plans to my 7th/8th grade in-school boyfriend when he asked if I ever thought about “our” wedding (which I don’t regret that relationship ending).

We were pre-engaged right at the beginning of my senior year of high school.  I was 17, he was 18, and it was September 8, 2001, We were only together a few weeks shy of a year. Rob declared his everlasting love for me while we sat on a rock under a shady tree at a Renaissance faire in NY.  He said he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me and wanted to marry me.  Rob thought we should have rings.  At the faire, we bought $10 sterling silver bands which we placed on our right ring fingers (he wears it now as a wedding band, though he had an heirloom band that is too large for his finger when we were actually married).  I loved this proposal, but am sad that I didn’t say I was engaged after this.  We said, “pre-engaged” when in actuality it was just that people would not understand a high school girl being engaged in sincerity.  I knew we had to wait until I was out of high school to get “actually” engaged, but looking back, that was dumb.  I remember a classmate proclaiming her excitement to others in gym class that I was engaged and how sweet that was.  I corrected her with, “Well, pre-engaged, actually,” and she said, “What the h— is that? You’re engaged!”

We “officially” got engaged September 16, 2002 in my bedroom after I got home from work and we were preparing to go out to dinner.  Rob couldn’t wait and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him while I was in stinky puppy vomit and diarrhea clothes.  Now, I tend to just say I was engaged in high school, because I was. We promised that we would one day marry one another and we did.  Rings were involved and all.

vanlife2 When I started to tell my mom my plans for our wedding, she said a potluck dinner didn’t sound good to her because people would have to do work.  She said, “I have to do too much if we have it in our yard.” I was really devastated about my dream of an outdoor wedding coming to a crash. I guess I still am – and I am getting through this and processing accepting it finally. I never got my dream to come true, and a wedding is supposed to be “the most important day of a girl’s life,” so I’ve been told.

My bridesmaids were either still in high school or were in college.  They argued about the look and color of the dresses I chose (and I gave them several options).  When I asked them to pay for their own dresses, they were mad at me (considering marriage was definitely far from their mindsets as it was, so they weren’t enthusiastic with me).  I had no one to help me or guide me in the planning at all.  It was frustrating and a waste of time and money honestly.  The minimalist inside of me was crying out to “simplify” the wedding. I cut out having a wedding party completely (and Rob did the same happily – less work for him).

I had told my mom shortly after I got engaged and while working on my plans that I wanted to elope and that Rob didn’t mind either way what to do as long as we could marry.  She was all, “No! You can’t elope! My friends and family members have to be there!” I argued several times with her about this.  I regret listening to her.  I know that sounds bad.  I regret not eloping.

Don’t let people try to control you or steer you from pursuing your goals and hopes.  In case you are wondering, my wedding was actually very similar to my parents’ wedding (so it wasn’t as if she was trying to live through me because it was too similar – though hers was nicer, fancier, and she is still friends with her maid of honor and all that).

vanlife3It is funny looking back 11.5 years after we got married and seeing where we are now.  My wedding wasn’t memorable and had a lot of sad and rough moments.  I am truly very thankful that I have no regrets about getting married. I am blessed and very thankful to have the man I have.  I cry a lot and hurt deeply for people when I find out a couple is getting divorced (I feel as if a major death has occurred when a marriage ends).

I find myself however often telling people, “I wish I got married at 18 instead of at 20.  I wish I eloped.”  Our engagement was so long because of wedding planning and saving.  I can’t go back to change it and that is okay.  I am glad the wedding only cost $7,000 for my parents, but I think it was still too much money and that I could have saved so much more with how I was planning things.

One of my high school friends got married last year and while she was engaged she told me that she wanted to elope out of state and I told her, “If that is what you want to do, go for it!”  She did and came back telling me how amazing everything was and all they did and saw.  I was so thrilled for her!

If I could go back in time, I would definitely have eloped and maybe have a small pot luck dinner reception later on.  I wouldn’t want anything elaborate at all.  I would live in a van or bus with my husband and travel a bit on a honeymoon and not live in my parents’ basement for the first year and a half of marriage like we did. I wouldn’t waste money as I did in those first few years.  I showed these photos included in this post to Rob today and said, “This is how we should have done it.”  He said, “We didn’t know about it back then.” He means “van life” working out.  It made me realize that the journey, in some of its annoyances, has brought us here now and we’ll take it as we can together.  We are now in control of our plans.  We don’t let people try to manipulate or sway us.  The journey is ours.

Photo Credit: 1 | 2 | 3

Movie Suggestion Post #108

Nancy Drew: Troubleshooter / Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase; 1939 (w/ Bonita Granville, Frankie Thomas, John Litel) – 3.5 stars – I have a great love for Nancy Drew movies (and games too).  I have yet to read any of the books and apologize that I have not (though I did read a couple Hardy Boys books as a child).  These films are a combo pack and are each short to watch.  The first one is about a man who is wanted for murder who has been a long time friend of Nancy’s father.  No way did he do the murder! Nancy Drew can solve this problem and gets herself in trouble as well as her crush/friend Ted.  The second film is about two elderly sisters who are going to lose their house due to certain situations.  Some people think they are going a little senile and Nancy Drew sees suspicion in the whole circumstance and wants to help these ladies keep their home!  Of course she gets all tangled up in a mess that Ted gets dragged into again.  What I really love about these films is that they are usually humorous and filled with sweetness.  I know that Bonita Granville who played Nancy Drew in all these films was very into trying to keep films clean and innocent and she plays her role so perfectly.
content: deceit, threats, kidnapping, guns shown, punching, flirtingnancydrewhidden nancydrew1Nadia; 1984 (w/ Talia Balsam, Joe Bennett, Jonathan Banks, Carrie Snodgress, Johann Carlo, Marcia Frederick) – 3.25 stars – When I was a little girl I remember this being put on TV.  I don’t remember anything but one very brief scene that stuck with me all these many years (I mean, I had to be 5 when I saw this back in the late 80s).  Thankfully I always remembered that it was about Nadia Comăneci , who is the Romanian Olympic gymnast who changed everything by getting the first perfect ten and who won the hearts of many in 1978.  I have wanted to re-watch this film since I first saw it, but could never find it.  When I did see it on an amazon listing on dvd, it was a few hundred bucks.  Finally I decided to see if Netflix had it, and it showed up! I was in shock! This is a hard to find film! I put it at the top of my que and saw it immediately and was not let down!  This covers a lot of the relationship that Nadia had with her coach Bela Károlyi who has now coached many Olympians as well as her own struggles and determination.  It also shows the friendship that developed between herself and Olympian Teodora Ungureanu (which still is strong).  This film pretty much ends when she is 18 though, so if you want to learn more about what her life is like now, this movie won’t cover it.  Definitely a fun watch if you are an Olympic junkie like me!
content: girls in gymnast outfits shown throughout, it seems at one point that teenagers are drinking in a social setting, a man who is a drunk is shown, people are shown smokingNadiamovie1984I decided to include a REAL Nadia Comăneci clip. ;)nadiaforreal

Premium Rush; 2012 (w/ Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dania Ramirez, Wolé Parks, Michael Shannon, Jamie Chung) – 3.75 stars – This movie was unique.  It was about a bicycle delivery company and specifically a guy who has to do a delivery for his girlfriend’s roommate.  The cops are somehow involved and the run seems suspicious.  There is a lot of action in this film and the plot was intense and exciting!  My husband and I really enjoyed this one!
content: girl bicyclists are wearing tank tops that show cleavage and they are sweaty so their shirts cling to their bodies, people drinking at a bar (not sure if they are drunk or not though they may be), smoking, kissing (in public), about two sexual comments made, name calling, there are a few accidents (traffic), blood is shown, there is shooting/gun violence, a woman is shown being strangled as a threat, an injured man is hurt more by another, there was a lot of bad language  (mainly loads of the “s” word, one “f” word as well as the finger gesture, the long “b” word, a couple uses of the short “b” word, some genital words used). premiumrushpic

The Sound of Music; 1965 (w/ Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Eleanor Parker, Richard Haydn, Peggy Wood, Charmian Carr, Nicholas Hammond, Heather Menzies-Urich, Duane Chase, Angela Cartwright, Debbie Turner, Kym Karath) – 5 stars – It has been about a decade since I last saw this film, so I figured it was time for me to watch it with my sons for the first time (which makes it my 300th time probably).  I have never reviewed this film on here, so here I go! Julie Andrews had the most amazing voice (I say had because she has issues with her voice now that she has complained about having pain with, and I know she is still alive, sillies).  The songs in this film are amazing.  I do not know the actual history fully of the Von Trapp family, so I feel badly if it was not accurate, since I am all about accuracy in stories, but obviously our favorite Austrian family decided to fight the system by running away from their occupied area of the Nazis even though they were well to do.  The seven children needed a governess and found one in a nun-in-training who was not very good at keeping her mouth shut and abiding by the convent’s rules.  She loves music and teaches them songs while also inspiring their father to get to know how children better!  I just always loved this film and am so glad the boys adored it and sat through the entire length without taking their eyes off the screen (it is a long movie for their ages).
content: guns shown (one shot out I believe), kissing, woman shown in a thick covering slip that is tight around her figure as she changes a dress, some cleavage shown, smoking, wine drinking (no drunkenness) soundofmusic2thesoundofmusic

Yearly Book Review #8

Past review posts: Year 1 (lost) |  Year 2 | Year 3 | Year 4 | Year 5 | Year 6 | Year 7 |

2015reads1. The Blood of Olympus (The Heroes of Olympus book #5) by Rick Riordan – 2.5 stars
2. The Evolution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer book #2) by Michelle Hodkin – 4 stars
3. The Naked Gospel: The Truth You May Never Hear in Church by Andrew Farley – 3 stars
4.  Sarah (Ellie’s People book #8) by Mary Christner Borntrager – 3 stars
5. Dreams of Joy (Shanghai Girls book #2) by Lisa See – 3.5 stars
6. Against the Death Penalty: Christian and Secular Arguments Against Capital Punishment by Gardner C. Hanks – 3 stars
7. The Journey (Guardians of Ga’Hoole book #2) by Kathryn Lasky – 3 stars
8. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey – 4 stars
9. Mandy (Ellie’s People book #9) by Mary Christner Borntrager – 3.5 stars
10. Awaiting the Dawn by Dorcas Hoover – 3.25 stars
11. Against the Wind: Finishing Well in a World of Compromise by K.P. Yohannan – 3 stars
12. My Amish Childhood: A True Story of Faith, Family, and the Simple Life by Jerry S. Eicher – 2 stars
13. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho – 3.5 stars
14. Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa by Melanie Dobson – 3.75 stars
15. Not Lost Forever: My Story of Survival by Carmina Salcido & Steve Jackson – 4 stars
16. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate – 3.5 stars
17. The Retribution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer book #3) by Michelle Hodkin- 2 stars
18. Ireland (Notes From a Spinning Planet book #1) by Melody Carlson – 3 stars
19. The Runaway King (The Ascendance Trilogy book #2) by Jennifer A. Nielsen – 3.5 stars
20. Uglies (Uglies book #1) by Scott Westerfeld – 3.75 stars
21. Zlata’s Diary: A Child’s Life in Wartime Sarajevo by Zlata Filipovic – 3 stars
22. Vultures and Butterflies: Living the Contradictions by Susan Classen – 3 stars
23. The Rescue (Guardians of Ga’Hoole book #3) by Kathryn Lasky – 3.25 stars
24. Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World by Shirley Hershey Showalter – 3 stars
25. Ender’s Game (The Ender Quintet book #1) by Orson Scott Card – 3.25 stars
26. Running for My Life: One Lost Boy’s Journey from the Killing Fields of Sudan to the Olympic Games by Lopez Lomong – 5 stars!!!!
27. The Story Girl (The Story Girl book #1) by L.M. Montgomery – 3 stars
28. The Shadow Throne (The Ascendance Trilogy book #3) by Jennifer A. Nielsen – 2.75 stars
29. Fire By Night (Refiner’s Fire book #2) by Lynn Austin – 3.5 stars
30. Red Rising (Red Rising Trilogy book #1) by Pierce Brown – 3 stars
31. Embracing Your Freedom: A Personal Experience of God’s Heart for Justice by Susie Larson – 3 stars
32. Lords of the Earth by Don Richardson – 4 stars
33. The Rules of Regret by Megan Squires – 4 stars
34. Love on a Dime (Ladies of Summerhill book #1) by Cara Lynn James – 3.25 stars
35. The Power of Blessing Your Children by Ruth Mary Swope – 3 stars
36. Deliver Me from Evil (Freedom book #1) by Kathi Macais – 3 stars
37. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher – 5 stars!!!!
38. Love Finds You in Martha’s Vineyard, MA by Melody Carlson – 2 stars
39. Annie (Ellie’s People book #10) by Mary Christner Borntrager – 4 stars
40. The Jungle Books (The Jungle Book books #1 and #2) by Rudyard Kipling – 2 stars
41. Nightmare Along the River Nile by S.E. Nelson – 2 stars
42. Pretties (Uglies book #2) by Scott Westerfield – 3 stars
43. Love on Assignment (Ladies of Summerhill book #2) by Cara Lynn James – 3 stars
44. A Kiss A Day: A Jewish Roots Devotional Commentary by Jamie Lash – 3 stars
45. Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles book #1) by Marissa Meyer – 4 stars
46. SOS: Save Our Sisters; An Action Guide for Helping Girls at Risk Worldwide by Deborah Meroff – 3 stars
47. Iraq: A Journey of Hope and Peace by Peggy Gish – 3 stars
48. By the Light of the Silvery Moon by Tricia Goyer – 3.5 stars
49. Girl Soldier: A Story of Hope for Northern Uganda’s Children by Faith J.H. McDonnell and Grace Akallo – 3.5 stars
50. Love Finds You in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania by Annalisa Daughety – 2 stars
51. Praying For Boys: Asking God for the Things They Need Most by Brooke McGlothlin – 2.25 stars
52. Refuse to Do Nothing: Finding Your Power to Abolish Modern-Day Slavery by Shayne Moore and Kimberly McOwen Yim – 3 stars
53. A Change of Allegiance by Dean Taylor – 3 stars
54. Specials (Uglies book #3) by Scott Westerfeld – 1.25 stars
55. Winters Awakening (Seasons of Sugarcreek book #1) by Shelley Shepherd Gray – 3.75 stars
56. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut – 1 star
57. Catching Jordan (Hundred Oaks book #1) by Miranda Kenneally – 2 stars
58. The Poor Will Be Glad: Joining the Revolution to Lift the World Out of Poverty by Peter Greer and Phil Smith – 2 stars
59. Extras (Uglies book #4) by Scott Westerfeld – 3 stars
60. A Light to My Path (Refiner’s Fire book #3) by Lynn Austin – 4 stars
61. Dirty Girls Come Clean by Crystal Renaud – 3.5 stars
62. Slave Girls by Wensley Clarkson – 3 stars
63.  Love Finds You in Sundance, Wyoming by Miralee Ferrel- 2.25 stars
64. The Siege (Guardians of Ga’Hoole book #4) by Kathryn Lasky –  3 stars
65. Lady in the Mist (Midwives book #1) by Laurie Alice Eakes – 3.25 stars
66. Letters From a Soviet Prison Camp by Mikhail Khorev – 4 stars
67. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – 4 stars
68. Bonnet Strings: An Amish Woman’s Ties to Two Worlds by Saloma Miller Furlong & David Furlong – 3.5 stars
69. Daughter of the Ganges: A Memoir by Asha Miro’ – 3 stars
70. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett – 4 stars
71. Touching Heaven: Real Stories of Children, Life, and Eternity by Leanne Hadley – 3.75 stars
72. The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare by M.G. Buehrlen – 4 stars
73. Peony in Love by Lisa See – 3.5 stars

Audio Books (I listen to them while I quilt)

2015listens1. Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola – 3 stars
2. The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson – 3 stars
3. I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai – 4 stars
4. The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns book #1) by Rae Carson – 3 stars
5. Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup – 4 stars
6. Pursuing Justice: The Call to Live and Die for Bigger Things by Ken Wytsma – 3 stars
7. Hidden Girl: The True Story of a Modern-Day Child Slave by Shyima Hall – 3 stars
8. The Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns book #2) by Rae Carson – 3 stars
9. Four: A Divergent Collection (Divergent books #0.1-0.4) by Veronica Roth – 2 stars
10. 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker – 3.5 stars
11. Every Bitter Thing is Sweet: Tasting the Goodness of God in All Things by Sara Hagerty – 3 stars
12. A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen – 3 stars
13. Fallen: Out of the Sex Industry & Into the Arms of the Savior by Annie Lobert – 4 stars

Small Practical “Resolutions” and How 2015 Went

Nearly a year ago I made a post called “5 Practical ‘Resolutions’ for This Year” in which I hoped to live out.

Some of the listed things I didn’t know if I’d be able to do in the year anyway.  I did finish 15 quilts this year and am working on the last one for family members right now, so that is the only goal that I really successfully accomplished.  I am not setting a goal of how many quilts to do this next year, but I’ll definitely work hard on many of them! I have so much fun quilting!

I did take my sons out for little dates here and there.  It wasn’t that often, but I did it!  I also went on a few walks too (wish it were more).  I especially liked the walks I took alone with Micah while Leto had his piano lessons.  He gets to have time alone with me which I know he enjoys as well as I.  We will be doing more walking in 2016.  We didn’t do the camping-out-thing this year, but we definitely have been planning on doing one for this coming summer!  It is funny that a year ago Rob wasn’t interested in the idea of camping and now he is all for it and wanting to explore the woods and live in a van, and all that fun stuff that I’d never believed he’d be into.  Therefore, since his mindset was changed, I feel as if my goal is going to become fulfilled and lived out!

Me from the summer (I don't own this outfit anymore, but I owned that skirt for 12 years & shirt for 3).
Me from the summer (I don’t own this outfit anymore, but I owned that skirt for 12 years & shirt for 3).

In looking back in this year, there were a lot of things that went on. 

-I regained friends that I thought were lost from my life and I lost friends I never thought I’d lose ever.  It taught me to be content with whoever God has put in my life and to be at peace when others leave.  I have become much more cautious with how attached I get to people though and how much I share about myself with them.

-I learned more about God than I ever had before and it truly cleared my head and eased my heart a lot.  It helped me.  I have seen a change in my own attitude and reactions because of how much ease He’s given me.  I’m still working on certain areas of my attitude but I feel I have become a bit more meek.

-I got along better with my parents this year and those I encounter due to my longing to be at peace with all and living out the fruits of the Spirit more.

-I became much more involved with Justice Network and Gospel For Asia and was blessed by those associated with them and enjoyed the many events I was involved with for both of these!  Meeting and conversing with people at conventions and events is always neat.  I am especially touched by the victims of human trafficking that I met and briefly talked to at a couple of these events.

-We simplified our lives much more than ever before, clearing out the majority of our possessions this year.  It took several months of work, but was fun.  We look forward to the next few years of our continued simplified lives.  Having less has brought more joy to me.  I hope to do more posts about this next year.  I really enjoy minimalism.

-The boys quit ballet after being involved for over two years.  I didn’t think it would happen.  I thought they would become professionals one day because they had expressed their dreams of having their own ballet school one day. It is funny how much better their lives actually are without ballet, and I didn’t think that would be as I cried when they stopped because I loved watching them.  I don’t want them to continue something if their heart isn’t in it.

-My body has felt so much better this year.  I’ve suffered from anemia and felt so much energy the last half of the year, that I stopped taking my needed vitamins and still felt great.  I don’t know if it was because I started to use essential oils in my cleaning supplies and as perfume and burned as fragrance, me eating more veggies this year, or if people’s prayers for me were answered or just a combination of the bunch of things in one, but I am so thankful about it!  I think I am ready to do more exercising in the next year because of it.

-I hardly took photographs this year at all.  It wasn’t intentional.  I was really down about how this was the third year I didn’t have my own camera since mine broke.  Since it broke I’ve been using Rob’s camera (though I have never liked Rob’s camera for a few reasons, but he never uses it so at least it has been used).  went to take a photo of Micah blowing out candles on his 7th birthday cake last week, and the camera wasn’t working correctly (wouldn’t focus or click to take it) and I missed the image completely, that I was really sad (and I didn’t have my phone on me to get one with that at least).  The image that I saw through the lens is in my head as I type this. He had such a big smile on his face! I feel really badly about missing capturing it so I can show it to him one day.  Therefore I plan on replacing Rob’s camera (he agreed) with one that I will be excited about using and on a regular basis. I want to photograph nature again like I used to always do more than anything before I started doing portraits.   I want to photograph my sons on adventures.  I also plan on taking black and white phone pictures for my instagram each day this coming year. Not sure if I’ll be able to do it, but It is something I’ll try out.  Doing these things means even more outdoor time! I like that idea a lot!Hanukkah2015_2thumb-I always hated when Rob would shave his head but now I am okay with it.  I always hated facial hair, but his beard is beautiful on him.  No matter how he looks I adore him so much and am severely attracted to him.  Come the end of January I’ll be able to say that I’ve known him for half of my life.

-My parents are aging and I am finding that I need to help them more than ever especially as my mom’s been ailing lately and had two surgeries this month.  I am learning how to care for them little by little now so that way it will be less stressful in the future.

-Motherhood is really hard. I am learning more and more about trying to not react so quickly to my sons’ failures of behavior.  I have a very hard time with disrespect though.  I am working on giving them more grace and trying to show more love than ever.

-My obsession with fair trade/sustainable/ethical items might sound crazy to a lot of people. Rob and I have become more strict about what we do buy when we do buy.  I like knowing that the pajamas I am wearing, the sweatshirt I am wearing, the chocolate I eat, the earphones I am using – that these things were not created in harmful conditions by those mistreated and under paid. I like that more companies are being caught for their slave labor and are being told to improve.  It is great!  It will be nice when every single item I own will be slave-free.  I hope to work towards that more this next year!

-I really love being an Anabaptist Christian.  I like our mindsets and way of living and how it seems so much more in line with Acts 2 and the Sermon on the Mount and Jesus’ life lived out more visibly.  Being a member of a Mennonite church in which we have attended for two years now has challenged me more to live as Christ and to be a light in the darkness while loving my neighbors as myself.  It is hard to describe how much confusion and pain I used to have beforehand.  I feel as if so much of that has been washed away and seriously handed to God to care for.  I see Him leading our family in an amazing direction!

The boys with their little cousin
The boys with their little cousin

My Mom is Linus with This Quilt

momanddadquilt8I wanted to make my parents a throw quilt.  My mom said she would be willing to pay for the fabric.  I went over to Connecting Threads and got a kit because it would cost less than if I bought the fabric individually.  I originally was going to make a quilt for them using reproduction fabric from the 1800s but it would cost triple the amount of money to do so.  With the kit, they sent all the fabric I needed and I’d just have to cut it all up and follow a pattern.  I liked that the fabric still resembled the late 1800s as I had intended for my parents.

I had so much fun doing this quilt because it was so different from the others I’ve done because it was all pieced at a sort of angle.  It was easy and I made it in a week.  There was so much extra fabric that I used it for the backing!

Once I gave it to my parents my mom claimed it for herself.  She seriously sometimes carries it around her home and has brought it with her to places to show off which is a little odd to me (as if I were 8 and she was showing a drawing I did or something).  I call her Linus now.  My dad tried to use it on his body and my mom was all, “This is mine!” . . . . .so now I have to make my dad his own throw quilt too since my mom won’t share. Silly old couple.  momanddadquilt2 momanddadquilt1momanddadquilt6momanddadquilt7 momanddadquilt4momanddadquilt9