Thursday, May 31, 2012

My Favorite Babysitter: Skype

What's a momma to do when Bible study is in 45 minutes, the kitchen is a wreck, the cookies are burning, and you've got a teething baby who cries every time you put her down?

Time to call in reinforcements!  A high chair, a computer, and a Grammy on Skype is all it takes to make my girl smile like this:

Listening to my mom sing to Kayleigh and make her laugh with glee makes me so thankful that even when she can't be here holding Kayleigh, she can still be with us through Skype and turn my sad little baby into one happy girl.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Dear Soldiers

Dear Soldiers,

This year, more than ever, I want to thank you for protecting our future.

You see, it means more to me now that my sweet little girl is in this world.

I want to thank you for all that you sacrifice, all that you miss, all that you have to endure.

It's so easy to take our life here in the United States for granted, if we've never known anything else.  I know that you will never take it for granted again.  You know too much.  Whether you're still in the service, or out of it, life will never be the same for you.  But I thank you for protecting it for the rest of us.  For beautiful little hearts like these:

This little girl is going to be raised with a love for her country and gratitude towards those who have preserved it for her--prepared it for her.  She is going to learn to sing our anthem, delight in filling care packages for soldiers, and lisp prayers for them each night.

Thank you for protecting our future.  Thank you for protecting my little girl.

May God bless those who protect our country!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Lemon Lavender Pound Cake

Every year, Handsome Man and I go to the lavender festival near his mom's house.  It's one of my favorite traditions!

 I love the scent of lavender, I love the way it looks, and I love, love, love it when people incorporate it into food.

(We took these maternity pictures last year when I was 6 months pregnant with Kayleigh)

For the past few years, I have tried to plant culinary lavender in our yard so that I could collect it and use it in recipes.  It turns out that I'm apparently too sympathetic for these drought-resistant flowers and always end up drowning them.  After a few failures, Jesse lovingly bought me this tin of culinary lavender last year.  He joked that he was probably saving us money by just buying the tin!

I love it!  
It's perfect for making tea, scenting a room, or making this amazing lemon lavender pound cake.  If there isn't a lavender festival in your area, look for culinary lavender online (this beautiful 1/2 pound of organic culinary lavender from Layla was the best deal I found) or grow it if you're better at resisting the desire to drown water it than I am!

Lemon Lavender Pound Cake  

1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp dried lavender
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3 eggs
zest of one lemon
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2--3/4 cup buttermilk

1.  Create lavender sugar in a food processor by mixing the sugar and lavender on high until it is very fine

2. Cream together butter and lavender sugar until light and fluffy, using a mixer with the paddle attachment.

3.  Add eggs, one at a time.

4.  Add lemon zest and vanilla

5.   Sift together the dry ingredients and add alternately with the buttermilk.

6. Pour into a prepared loaf pan and bake at 350* for 45-60 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted into the middle and come out clean.

7.  Let this beauty cool completely before cutting and enjoying.

This is my go-to ladies' tea/bridal shower/brunch recipe, and it is always well-received!  Let me know if you give it a try!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Worth Sharing: Isaac's Live Lip-Dub Proposal

Have you seen this yet?  I was floored.

My handsome man and I just watched it together, and I'm totally going to watch it three more times before going to bed!

Two days ago, actor Isaac Lamb surprised his girlfriend by having her sit in the back of a Honda CRV while 60 of their closest friends and family participated in his proposal by lip-dubbing Bruno Mars' "Marry You" while the car slowly cruised around the neighborhood.

I love the creativity of this, and that this guy got so many of their friends involved in this proposal.  Even friends who live out of town were able to be part of it with videos played on laptops.  How cool is that?!?

I am someone who will watch any proposal video you put in front of me.  I love living that happy moment with every couple.  But this one takes the cake, guys!

Will you let me in on your love story?  How did your significant other propose to you?

The Best Entertainment is Free

Handsome Man and I often joke that now that Kayleigh is in our life, we don't need a tv any more.  That little curly girl is entertainment enough!

But what's even more entertaining than our sweet girl?  Watching her interact with her BFF, Little Miss Emily of Finding Hope.

Emily came over to play the other day while her mommy went to a meeting.  Jesse had just come home from Costco, and there was a large, flat mushroom box left empty after he unpacked all of our new goodies.  What's the best way to make use of a big box like that?  Stick two little girls in it and watch their sweet faces as you push them around on the carpet in their new "car!"

How cute are they?!?

Also, believe it or not, Kayse and I did not call each other up to coordinate their cute pink/green stripe outfits.  Isn't it funny how that turns out?

I'm so glad these two cuties are such good friends!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Growing Morning

This morning did not go as planned.

What Jesse and I had looked forward to as a morning spent together searching for a new computer for me turned into a morning of unexpected hiccups.  The property manager called to tell us that the repairmen we had requested two weeks ago would be arriving today sometime between 9am and 2pm.  Suddenly, our computer shopping time was taken away from us, the printer refused to print out the pages we needed, and somehow, instead of banding together against these seemingly annoying-but-harmless inconveniences, we let them reduce us to two selfish people overwhelmed by the things not going our way.

How does this happen?

I'm feeling especially convicted about my attitude right now.  Yes, it's very frustrating to be at home all day in  a house where the floor doesn't meet the bathtub and you can't shower without the risk of mold growing underneath, or where the counter tile hasn't been laid yet so the contents of your bathroom have been in boxes for the past two weeks, or where something's wrong with the ventilation system in your laundry room so that even if you run the dryer 4 times, the clothes still come out damp.  It's stressful, frustrating, and a little too out-of-my-hands for this control freak.  But that doesn't mean that I should lose it at the thought of going one more day without a computer.

I've been studying Proverbs 31 through Good Morning Girls, and through my time in the Word this morning after Jesse left, I realized with disappointment that I have not lived up to being a Proverbs 31 woman this week.  I have let the state of our home overpower my desire to be a loving and selfless wife, and have instead allowed it to fuel my selfishness and make demands of my Handsome Man that are too much for him on top of everything at his new job.

She will do him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
Proverbs 31:12

All the days.  That means I don't get to take good attitude timeouts when things don't go my way.  I can't flip out over the fact that there are no pictures hung up on the walls and oh-my-gosh-we've-lived-here-for-two-weeks-already.

She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
Proverbs 31:26

Ouch.  I have allowed the circumstances around us to take every word of kindness off of my tongue this week.  I have whined, badgered, and complained.  There is no wisdom in that, and definitely no love.

No, things didn't go as I had planned this morning.  But God had a different plan for me today.  Instead of getting what I wanted, God showed me that I wasn't doing what He wanted me to do.

Jesse left me this morning with a kiss, and the gift of his computer for the day.  He loves me enough to lay down what he needs to satisfy my selfish desires.  A man like that is a gift from God, and worth learning every difficult lesson for!

Thanks, God, for making me grow this morning.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Thanks for being part of the Happy Homemaker Community!

I'm pretty much giddy to be back to blogging.  I've missed all of you!
I love the sweet comments you leave for me, and how you've invested in the life of my family.  I'm grateful for you!

I realized this morning, why am I keeping this wonderful community a secret?  Why am I not sharing with everyone how awesome you all are?  So, I'm thinking...will you join me in a community link up?  I would love for all of you to get to know each other too, and help support each other's blogs and Facebook fan pages.    I realized that there are many of you who have fan pages that I don't even know about!

Will you link up with me?  Please share your blog page and/or fan page below.  Let's support each other!

I set this linky up as a blog hop, so if you want to share it on your page, just copy/paste the code.  The more, the merrier!

Mother's Day

My first Mother's Day was kind of eclipsed by the fact that we moved the day before.  We were exhausted, spent the morning doing a mad-dash as we raced around the house looking for two matching shoes or a dress shirt that hadn't been wrinkled in the move.

Then, we jumped in the car and raced to church, and got there 10 minutes late.

But who needs a day on a calendar to be thankful?

I didn't get to see my mom on Mother's Day.  We both spent the day worshiping at the churches where our husbands work.  But that doesn't mean that I'm any less appreciative.  What an amazing woman she is!  I'm so thankful for the way that she raised me, the way that she got down on the floor and had tea parties with me, the way that she lovingly showed me how to love those in need, to sew a straight seam, to give a public speech without my trembling knees drowning out my words, to serve alongside my husband, and for the way she encourages me often about the way I am raising Kayleigh.

I'm also thankful for my mother-in-love.  I'm thankful for the incredible man she raised single-handedly, for the way she enjoys having me as a daughter, for our similar interests in our Irish heritage, our love for crafting, sushi, oldies, and cooking.  For the way she delights in my little girl, for the way I know that she will drop anything to come when we need her.

This year, I'm most thankful for this sweet girl.

My precious little curly-girl who giggles at the sight of roses and always puts her hand on me whenever we're within touching distance.  This baby who has given me insight into God's love...because how can anyone love someone more than I love my sweet little sunshine?

Just thinking about her makes my heart swell with love.

Thank You, God, for this precious gift who has transformed me from just being a daughter to being a daughter and a mom!

This little girl makes everything in life more beautiful.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Settling In

Look who I just unpacked!

Haha...she looks as exhausted and wild-eyed as I feel.  
(But she totally loved being in that box.  Weirdo.)

We're here!
And as difficult as I thought moving was last year when I was's just about the same with a 7.5 month old.  It's hard to find time to pack between naps and feedings, it's hard to have free hands AND keep your baby out of the things you're trying to box up, it's hard to get all of the hard work done while still making sure that your child knows that she is your number one priority.

Settling in is such an amazing feeling.  Even though this home is still smaller than our first, it's still a huge step up from where we just were.  Everything has a place again instead of being crammed wherever it would fit.  I'll tell you, not having to go upstairs to get the waffle iron out of the hall closet on a Saturday morning is going to be a huge perk!

Speaking of stairs, I'm certainly not going to miss the spiral staircase of doom:
(I'm also really thankful that we'll never have to try to squeeze a queen-size box spring up OR down it ever again!)

Who puts concrete and wrought iron stairs in the middle of a living room?  I can understand the aesthetic of spiral stairs, but concrete steps and my sweet girl's head were not a match made in heaven.

She is more than happy with her new situation in life


The living room was finally unpacked yesterday to the point where I could vacuum the floor and set her free.  She was so excited!  For the last two months, she's been teasing us with her little rocking-on-all-fours bit and making me nervous that she'd learn how to crawl before we moved away from the danger in our living room.  I kept begging her, "Please wait to learn to crawl until we live in our new apartment!"

And like the precious girl she is, she listened to me!  On Saturday night, once all of our {AMAZING} friends had left and we were on our own inside of our new home, we set Kayleigh down, and off she went! 
Just like that.  I was amazed.
Now she zooms from one side of our living room to the other.  Just because she can.  And she's SO stinkin' proud of herself!

That's my girl!

So, here we are.  Life is looking up!  School is over, the move is over, the unpacking is still happening, but I'm very excited.  I'm ready for family to be the center of my attention.  I'm ready to get back to blogging.  I'm ready to enjoy every bit of this wonderful little life God has given me.  

Thanks to so many of you for leaving sweet comments and words of encouragement on my last post!  I love hearing from you, and knowing that so many of you were thinking of me really made my day.

Here's to more days of blogging, connecting, and keeping in touch!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Life Right Now


Remember me?

Yes, I'm still alive.

What a crazy few months it's been!

I'm sorry that I've been absent for so much of it.  I was so proud of myself back in January and February for blogging nearly every day, inviting guest bloggers, hosting giveaways, and starting the new tradition on a monthly Pinterest Party.

And then my two work-from-home jobs got the better of me.  And my baby became mobile.  And my husband got a new job.  And I'm moving in two days.

But you know what?  I finished teaching last Friday.  Hooray!  It was an awesome-scary-exhilarating-fulfilling 2 quarters of teaching online college level ESL Writing, but summer has officially begun, and I'm so excited!  I haven't really let myself believe it yet, because I still have to pack this apartment up and move to another one in the next few days, but after that...there will be peace.  And blogging.  And new organization.  And life.

I'm so thankful that God provided ways for me to stay home and still be able to help our little family out financially.  But it exhausted me.  I had 20 college students who were each required to send me a 1-2 page essay every day, which meant that I had 100 essays a week to correct.  All while trying to keep my little mover away from the spiral staircase of doom (guess why we're moving?!?)

I'm so excited about our new place.  It has an open floor plan that means Kayleigh will actually have more than a 4'x5' space to move around in (which WON'T be the high-traffic path through the middle of the apartment), an actual kitchen with enough cupboards and counter space for this crafty/cookin' momma, a gated-in front yard AND a backyard/patio for Kayleigh to enjoy the outdoors, a garage instead of a carport (no more munching up the sides of both of our cars!), the first dishwasher I'll have ever had in my adult life, central AC which I have learned is a MUST for out here, and my very favorite part, a laundry room with a washer and dryer!

After 8 months of living in this apartment, I am ready to cry with tears of joy.  No more coin-op laundry.  No more having to Moby my baby up to be able to wash her burp cloths.  No more waiting until evening for Jesse to be home to do the laundry because I can't leave Kayleigh alone in the apartment to switch loads over.  YAY!!!

We're thankful for the time we've had in this apartment.  It was the cheapest that we could find at the time, and the only one with a month-to-month lease (which we knew we needed because we weren't sure if we'd have to be moving out of state for Jesse to find a job).  Now that he has a job, we know that we can sign a lease for a year.  And happily!  Even though his job is 30 minutes away from where we'll be living, we mutually agreed that this is where we want to live.  I have two momma friends within walking distance, many of our old church friends live within 10 minutes from here, and it's all too wonderful to give up.  We're so thankful that even though Jesse has a new job, we don't have to give up any of the dear friendships we've made here!

Next week is pretty much looking like heaven.  We'll be in our new place, I'll get to do one of my favorite things (unpacking and reorganizing--woohoo!!!) and after that, the main things on my daily list will be:

1) Sharing my day and heart with my loves (God, Jesse, Kayleigh, family, friends)
2) Helping Kayleigh explore the world around her (including books, games, songs, and adventures)
3) Keeping house
4) Blogging!

I think that's a list I can keep up with.

And I can't wait to begin!