Tuesday, September 29, 2009

more random autumn love

Fall has found it's way into our home. We have been taking weekly walks through leaf strewn parks and we seem to always return from those walks with pockets full of leaves and pine cones. I love it. One of my very favorite things is opening a book full of pressed leaves. I especially love the forgotten leaves that fall onto your lap later. I love the earthy scent of nature goods left about the house. I love the reds and oranges. The fleece and flannels being dragged out of the closet. Have I told you that I live for fall?

"The lanes were very lovely in the autumn...spendthrift gold and glory of the year end...earth scents and the sky winds and all the magic of the countryside which is ordained for the healing of the soul."
-Monica Baldwin, I Leap Over the Wall

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Favorites

Who doesn't love the sight of a shabby, hole filled blanket? Or a slightly over loved stuffed animal? I do. A well worn lovey is a beautiful thing. I love that a soft blanket or a teddy can instantly soothe hurts and calm fears. Sometimes, I want to be an old worn bear. Just think of all of the love poured into that bear. I'd take a little shabbiness for a little of that love.
We have some very worn loveys around here. I love that when I pick them up they smell like my children. (Most of the time. Sometimes they just smell like they need a bath.) Here are some of our favorite overly loved blankets and toys.

This is the blue dog and a very soft army blanket. On most Saturday mornings you can find Chris wrapped up in this blanket watching cartoons. Chris is very sentimental. I think the main reason that this blanket has become a favorite is because it's from Grandma White (his great grandmother). He doesn't get to see her much and it reminds him of her. The blue dog has a back story as well. I have a baby picture of Chris with the blue dog. I believe it used to smell like vanilla. Nine years later it does not. I've tried to put it away a few times now, but I gave up. It seems this blue dog has a permanent place on his bed. I love being reminded that in all of his "coolness" he's not so big that he won't tuck a little blue dog under his pillow at night. Shhh! Don't tell his friends.

This is Jack. Jack's been around for awhile. He rotates on and off of Analiese's bed. It's actually hard to choose just one stuffed animal that's her favorite. She's very attached to them all. Jack made the blog today because he happened to be holding the blanket. This soft pink blanket is the real lovey. It's been around since she was a baby. She's gets in a mild panic when we can't find it at bedtime. This blanket has been mended many times and it still has its fair share of holes. It has been left in the tree house and rained on. It has gone on many trips. It has been to the hospital too many times in six years. And it comforts my tender hearted little girl. I'd say it's a very good lovey indeed.

But there is no lovey in the world as worn and cherished as Sicily's bunny. Oh, the bunny. I think that in a fire this is what I would run in and save (after the kids, of course). Though I don't think I would have to. This bunny has an invisible sting attaching it to Sicily's hand. It used to be pink. Now it's a nice shade of off white dirty. When I check on her at night it's usually over her head. Sometimes when she sneaks into bed with us I wake up with it over my head. I've decided to stop thinking about what kind of germs this thing is carrying. For the first three years the bunny didn't leave her sight. This past year I've found that during the day the bunny has spent increasingly more time on her bed. My little girl is growing up. She's even tried to go to sleep with other stuffed animals, but she always makes her way down the hall within a few minutes asking me to find her bunny. Shabby little bunny. It makes me happy.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Family Ache

I have an ache for family. Not just blood family, friend family too. That happens sometimes when it's been far too long since I've seen them, hugged them. It creeps up on me and becomes so strong that I get just about crazy enough to pack us all up and make the 14 hour drive home. In fact, when the kids were younger that's exactly what I did. Now we have school and other activities to consider. Spontaneity throws a wrench in our gears. So I just let the crazy thought pass and bide my time until the next appropriate travel time. This ache hits me randomly. Often it catches me off guard.
This time I know what spurred it. One of my favorite bloggers, Amber from The Run-a-Muck, challenged her readers to have a sister party. A party to reconnect with all of the wonderful women in your life. You know, the ones that support you, love you, and aren't afraid to tell you that you look bad in that dress. Sometimes as moms we let those relationships go by the wayside a bit. So having a party to pour into one another is a great idea. Except for the fact that when I think about who I would invite to such a party my mind bounces from coast to coast and everywhere in between. I can count on one hand the number of those ladies that are in this little town with me (one, maybe two). It makes me a little sad and it makes me ache. There are times when I wonder if we should have moved back home. Closer to, well, anyone we knew. (It's not just me. As I write this Steven is moping behind me because he wants to be a Bikes, Blues, and BBQ with Sean right now.)
It's hard for me to make close friendships. I'm not that giddy personality that can find a new best friend in a matter of minutes. And I don't want a lot of acquaintances. I don't feel the need to surround myself with people. I like having a few close relationships but I do feel the need to surround myself with those people. I need community, a deep, understanding community. While I love my blogs, and I'm not opposed to phone calls, sometimes you need the physical in person hug of a sister. So, how do you stay close to the people in your life that live far away? How do you still the ache of missing them? Well, how do you?

Monday, September 21, 2009

weekend milestone

We made it to the top of Crowder Mountain! We've been several times since moving here but we've always turned around after a little bit. Little legs can only go so far. But yesterday those little legs made it all the way to the pinnacle. There was much huffing and puffing I assure you, but that was just me. The higher we got the smaller Sicily looked. Sometimes when she's scrapping with the other two I forget how old she really is. But her four year old little body seemed very small as she pulled herself up that mountain.
Analiese is our wanderer. She sang and collected and stopped to look at small creatures proving that slow and steady can make it up a mountain too.

Chris is a like a billy goat. He just sort of bounded up the mountain with seemingly little effort. He wasn't even winded when we got to the pinnacle. My boy is very much at home sitting on rocks in the woods.

It was a big day for our little family. The reward was beautiful.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Muddled Reflections...Autumn, our story begins

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns." - George Eliot

I love autumn. I love the cinnamon smells and the coolness of the air. I love the first day that I get to pull out a sweater. I love the apple picking and the pumpkin picking. I love the sound of leaves crunching underneath. I love the independence in a small patch of vibrant orange or yellow breaking out of the green. I love the scarlet red maple. I love the hot ciders and the family gatherings. I love the remembering. I love how a breeze or a smell can bring back a boy with a shock of red hair. I love how that same boy, now a man, feels it too and pulls me in a little closer. Fall gives us a chance. Fall is ours. Fall lets us remember and forget. Piles of leaves remind us of a forehead kiss on an old porch swing. Of romantic gestures and stolen kisses. Of a boy and girl. Of "I love you" and marriage talk only weeks after that old porch swing kiss. Of holding and hiding away and baby making. Of hands held and stone chapel picnics. The leaves fall and they bring the remembering. It's the remembering that does it, that pushes us on, that allows us to forgive. The remembering that I love this man.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I can become very domestic when challenged. I rise to the occasion quite well. Because the truth is I work best with very little. I truly crave a very simple life. I'm the one that actually wants my house to smell like fresh baked bread, our clothes to be line dried, and to spend the day loving on a house full of children. I often think that when the dust of this year has cleared we will be better off. We tried the partner track/suburb thing for a while. It's just not who we are. I know that it seems convenient to say that in light of how things have worked out but I think I can safely say that our HOA president would agree that we don't quite fit the suburb mold. (We never quite got the hang of a perfectly manicured yard.) What mold do we fit then? Well, that's a post for another day. Enough of that.
For now, back to my overly domestic ways. It works out very well for my family. Our house is spotless, I've made multiple loaves of fresh bread, a roast, eggplant lasagna, soups, and there is enough food in our freezer to survive a few winters. My sewing machine has been earning its keep as well. I went back to those sheets and made two Twirly Skirts for my little princesses. I made them longer than the pattern so that they would make good fall/winter skirts. They'll go well with some nice wool tights I think. I had to be careful not to make them so long that they didn't twirl, thus losing their purpose. They have been little girl approved as super twirly.

I also decided to make some new tutus for them as well. (Our's were looking a little rough and ragged.) I pulled it off for about $3 a piece and though at times I felt like I was drowning in a sea of tuelle, they were one of the easiest projects I've ever done.

In case you think I've been a sewing sexist, stay tuned; I'm currently working on a messenger bag for Chris. Now I'm off. I have soup to make.

Monday, September 14, 2009


As you know we spent a good deal of our weekend at our wonderful church. But we spent the other half of our weekend at the Greek festival! It was so much fun. It was much more relaxed than last weekends festival. We met some wonderfully nice people. One lady gave the girls a free Frappe just for being cute. I had to have one too of course.

As the girls enjoyed our Frappes we wandered around the market, listening to good music, checking out some cool belly dancer skirts, and finally landed on a face painting booth close enough to watch the dancers.

The festival is hosted each year by Trinity Orthodox Church. We had to tour the church. It was beautiful. My pictures don't do it justice. The entire room was murals and stained glass. Colors everywhere and full of Jesus stories. I could have stayed for hours just taking it all in. Alas three small children have a much shorter limit for art gazing.

But the real reason anyone goes to the Greek festival is the food. Oh, the food.

Spanakopita, lamb, Dolmada, and so much more, plus the pastries. Oh, the pastries alone are reason to go. Lip licking, honey dripping goodness. Cookies as big as your head. We took home way too much yummy goodness. I'm pretty sure I have now eaten an entire box of Baklava by myself and I'm working my way through a box of Flogeres. And I have absolutely no regrets about that.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Tonight was a big night. In all of the turmoil of this year, one very important thing was somewhat overlooked. At the beginning of this year, Chris made the decision to become a Christian. It was a very joyous moment for our family. Tonight he was baptized as a sign of that decision. I was one proud mama. My boy, I love him. And I pray that Chris will know of God's great love and faithfulness and that he will love others deeply because of the great love he has been shown by his Savior.

This may not be the baptism style that some of you grew up with, so welcome to baptism Elevation style - quick and loud and a true celebration!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Favorites...

I thought I would let some recent pictures of Sicily help me with Friday Favorites this week. That girl is dangerously cute. And she knows it, which might be more dangerous!

Around here we judge our days by how many episodes of Curious George we watch. Every day is a one episode day. In fact it throws us off if we don't start the day with George. Two episode days usually mean that mama used George as a snooze button. Three George days mean that our afternoons are starting to unravel. But a four George day, well, those are the popcorn for dinner in front of the tv days. I love George because even my oldest will sit down and laugh at George's antics. That means that a moment of chaos can be stilled for a moment of peace. And I won't lie, I have been known to laugh out loud during an episode. We all love George. My curious little monkey is an especially big fan. She sleeps with a George toy, dresses up like George, and I read a lot of Curious George before bedtime.

Another favorite around here that is Handipoints. Handipoints is a website where parents can build responsiblity charts for their kids. The kids build points by doing chores or having good behavior. As the parent you can set a certain point goal and when the kids reach the goal they get a treat. All of that is great and has really helped with chores around here. But the real bonus is Handiland. When you sign up each kid gets a cat. As they earn their points they also get bonus points that they can spend on their Handiland cat. Then they can go to Handiland and play games, dress up their cat, and meet other "cool cats". It's safe, fun, and adds a little extra incentive to chores. My kids are more excited about the bonus points than their real points. We love Handiland. Although, now that all three kids want on the computer I've had to assign computer time (including time for myself or I don't get to use the computer!). Sicily is a little computer savant. She quickly picked up using the mouse and getting around the internet. She's a smart one!

This picture doesn't have a favorite attached unless you count sleep as a favorite. (I do, by the way.) It was just too sweet not to share. The older two start school at 7:20. This puts us getting up at 6:30. Most days Sicily sleeps in, but occasionally she'll get woken up. This is one of those days and after a few minutes she was falling asleep in her cereal bowl! I put her back to bed and she slept for another hour. Sweet Sicily.

Monday, September 7, 2009

pretty cupcakes

So one of my awesome sisters (I have two awesome sisters, you know) sent me a little package the other day. Inside was a book about cupcakes, which I was eager to get into, and two bottles of blue nail polish, which just made me laugh out loud. Good sisters know when you need to laugh out loud. Well, that night I gave myself a much needed pedicure and read about cupcakes. There are so many cute ideas in this book, but I landed on a butterfly one to be my first challenge. Because you know a book about desserts wasn't going to sit in my kitchen unused for very long, I made them for a party this weekend. They were a big hit and tasted pretty yummy too! Good sisters know when you need to make something chocolaty and yummy. Good sisters also know when you need to talk and how to make you forget about things you don't want to think about. My other awesome sister spent two hours on the phone the other day doing just that. Maybe I can distract Steven from the phone bill with another batch of cupcakes.

Speed Racers

We all got up this morning at the crack of dawn to watch the boys run a race. Steven ran the Matthews Labor Day 5K and he did very well. He started the race with 270 racers and finished 20th at 20 min. 48 sec. He was pleased with his time but is now more determined than ever to get better and kill the next one. Chris ran the Mile Fun Run. He finished 3rd place in his age group and 4th over all at 6 min. 25 sec. He was racing against adults and teenagers. The boy is fast! I'm so very proud of my runners! They both did a great job.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Matthews Alive Festival

Every year our little Matthews town holds a festival called Matthews Alive. It's like a small scale fair. I love it! I love the music and screams of the rides. I love the smell of fried everything. Ice cream dripping from chins and sleepy kids clutching daddy won stuffed animals. I love the booths of free pencils, plastic cups, and balloons. And huge cups of lemonade. The carousel and the tea cups. I am a total fair junkie. There is even a parade thrown in complete with fire trucks and marching bands. Oh, you can get wonderfully lost in it all. We certainly did.

The girls and I love the carousel.

Corn dog and ice cream break

This ride is where Chris spent most of his time. He's moved on to the big kid rides. A girl riding before him actually threw up. Of course, he thought that made the ride even cooler.

parade watching

and the sleepy walk home

Thursday, September 3, 2009


I just had to share this. These are the names of the kids in Analiese's class this year:

Aireyuanna, Analiese, Anastasia, Andrew, Ariana, Brandon, Chase, Cile, Darrian, David, Finn, Gracyn, Isabella, Jai, Jessica, Luke, Olivia, Samuel, Sebine, Shelby, Torri

Poor teacher! My grandparents had such a hard time when we named the girls. Analiese Cosette and Sicily Nicolle were not easy for them to remember. Maybe they were right and we've all gotten a little out of control. Granted, some of those are easy, but I'm sure Ms. Craig would love to have a few more common names. Can you imagine trying to remember all of those names, much less spell them all correctly? I now feel badly for correcting the way she pronounced Analiese; she had enough on her plate!

Me Art

Quality supplies make a world of difference in art. This spring I was finally able to purchase a wonderful set of Prisma colored pencils. Ohhhh, they've been wonderful! They're so smooth and I've really enjoyed playing with them. These are the two pieces I like best from my "play time". (I think I need a vacation. Beach thoughts are starting to take over.)
And I know her cheeks look big. I was following a picture and I measured many times. She just has wonderfully fat little baby cheeks. I could have adjusted it, but I love those cheeks. They're perfect for kissing.