Two Years ago

Two years ago,  yesterday actually, our daughter Lily was born. I didn’t forget about her yesterday, I remembered her birth, but I didn’t write about it. I didn’t write about it because I couldn’t put it all in to words. How much she meant means to us, how much it still hurts sometimes to think of her death. I spent this weekend writing an article (out in December) about the hope I have in relation to the birth of a baby. It was a tough article to write. So I was spent.
It’s been interesting for me working again in L&D. My perspective has changed from when I was here before. I still enjoy it, but I’m even more in awe of the miracle birth is than I was years ago. The lives of Knox and Lily have made me so very thankful for every birth that happens. I was in a room last week and it was all I could do to keep from grinning like a big dumb idiot because I was just so happy for the parents that they were getting to welcome their baby. I mean seriously happy, elated, for two strangers that they were completely in love with their new little one. It’s caught me off guard.
I found myself working yesterday on her birthday. I thought about her a lot and what we were doing two years ago, waiting for her to be born. And when I came home, I snuggled my baby Zeb. As I breathed deep on the top of his head I thanked God for his safe birth just over a year ago. I thanked God for the perspective and the growth, as difficult and painful as it was, that He’s given me because of Lily’s birth. I’m thankful for the opportunity it’s given me to care for others.
Two years ago, we said hello and goodbye on the same day. We held her for the first time and the last time. We didn’t forget, we won’t ever forget. But we are thankful for her and the way she touched our lives and taught us much about the treasure of life.

Disappointed

I was so close to a dream this week I could taste it. I’m a dreamer by nature so it’s not hard for me to get caught up in the planning and visioning of what could be if only…
I’m usually pretty guarded though. I’ve learned that dreamers sometimes get disappointed (okay a lot of times). I’ve learned to temper my dreaming. Keep it far off in the distance and not let it run too wild.
But this one…this one was so close. I imagined what if, I imagined our family there…growing up…growing old. It took off before I could reign it in. And I let it. I let it carry me over the possibilities.
And I crashed today. Hard.
It’s been tough for me to not throw a temper tantrum, and honestly I have. I’ve been near in tears numerous times. I’ve struggled against spewing dreadful things at my family so instead I’ve been quiet and sullen. Short with my words for fear anger and disappointment would spill over or worse yet…I’d end up in a puddle if years like a two year old.
Sometimes dreams are fun, sometimes they happen, and sometimes they don’t happen. For me, today it’s a bitter pill to swallow. And I am disappointed.
 

Finding the Joy — What's new

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve had lots on my mind and I’ve sat down to write many times, but the words just don’t come or a baby wakes up or I get completely distracted talking to my husband. I’ve yet to perfect the art of writing during the day when I’m in the midst of schooling, playing and caring for the boys. I just haven’t been able to do it. So for now, it’s a fly by update to let you know how I’ve been “Finding the Joy” lately. (Remember that New Year’s post?)
1. It’s warming up! We’ve been so thankful for some nice days lately to be able to go outside and stretch a bit. It’s been warm enough to even have school outside a few days. As a side note, I completely underestimated how distracting the trash truck might be. The boys got up every 30 seconds to see if they were coming to get our trash.

School outside

2. I’ve learned to Find the Joy with messes. Let’s face it boys (well kids in general) make messes. I’ve had to learn to let go a little and allow them to experience the mess and delight in it.
Craft time

Crayons!

Soap Making with soap berries

3. We’ve been studying Medieval times with the older boys. So I’ve Found the Joy in sword fights, Knights, castles and teaching boys how to be men.
Sword fighting

Scooter jousting

Chocolate castle

4. We discovered food allergies. Okay, so there isn’t much Joy to find in having to rid our entire house of peanut butter (a staple in this house). In fact, it was really really scary. But I am so thankful that we have the ability to pay for the life saving medicine we need in case he has another reaction. I’m also really thankful that his first reaction wasn’t worse.
Scary stuff

5. We’ve had some great times with the cousins and grandparents. We have been finding the Joy in being closer to family.
Caterpillars came!


6. I’m teaching myself to crochet. Seriously, moms often feel like they wash, dry, teach, fold, cook, clean, rinse and repeat every.single.day. It feels like you never get anything done. So, I decided I needed to learn to do something that meets two criteria. First, it must be able to be picked up and put down relatively quickly without having to start over again. Second, it has to stay done. I needed to be able to have a project and have it stay done, like forever (or at least for a while). I really enjoy sewing but I can’t get fabric and a machine out very quickly and I don’t have room to leave it up…so that’s out. And hello! Pins + crawling baby = bad news. So, crochet it is. I’m making of list of “stay done” things I’d like to learn. Next on the list embroidery and guitar.
And now just a few pictures of the last few months. I *hope* to post more often. In fact, in my brain I’m working on a series…called “Feeding the crew”.
He loves to wear Daddy's flannel

Zeb discovered the dishwasher.

Play dough... Please don't eat it!

Don’t forget to Find the Joy!

Five Minute Friday — Small

On Friday’s we silence the inner critic. The loudest of all naysayers. And on Fridays we remind ourselves that The Word is for us and loves us and welcomes us.
So come and write with us. Together. On one word for five minutes. Here are all the details. And then link up your post or leave it in the comments. But remember, the one must rule here is that you visit the person who linked up before you and encourage them in their writing.
That’s it. The gift of encouragement – pass it on.
Today the word is the one that’s been beating hard in my heat the last couple of weeks.
Today the writing prompt is SMALL.
I have struggled with feeling small lately. Like my days and activities are small compared to everyone else’s.
See, I used to be somebody. I was present when babies were born for hundreds of families. I taught mommies how to swaddle their babies, I calmed fears and coached labors.
I taught future nurses how to be nurses. I taught them how to care for people, how to recognize symptoms and intervene. I drew concept maps, graded care plans and shaped futures.
These days I teach ABCs and numbers. Some days I feel like I’m failing. We’re still working on telling the difference between green and blue. I make peanut butter and jelly, paper plate face masks and shape play dough.
And some days I wonder if it all matters. I feel small.
You see, I’ve bought in to the expectation that I have to do something the world deems worthwhile to be important. And the world does not value motherhood. So I feel small.
I have a Masters degree. It allows me to teach some from home and for that I am thankful. But when I tell people I’m a stay at home, homeschooling mother, most of the time I qualify it by adding the fact that I’m a nurse too…and I teach nurses (not just my children).
We worked for years for me to be able to stay home. It was our goal…it’s what we were working for. And I remember what it was like to go out the front door everyday.
I remember the struggle of leaving sick babies on snowy days to go to clinical. I remember driving away with little noses pressed to the window waving good bye to mommy and crying as I drove to work. I remember putting on the brave face and teaching those nurses.
And now here we are.
I am home, and grateful but some days I still feel small.
 

New Recipe Monday — Baked Oatmeal

I’ve been struggling lately with breakfast. The boys go through so much cereal it’s crazy and let’s face it…it’s not like store bought cereal is that healthy for them. I need something quick and easy for them in the mornings. Something that doesn’t take a lot of brain power on my part because I am not a morning person and it takes me a bit to fire on all cylinders first thing. I tried this recipe for baked oatmeal this morning. The boys gobbled it up!
Baked Oatmeal:
Ingredients

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar + 2 tablespoons for top
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup raspberries (I used thawed frozen blackberries).
  • 1/3 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I didn’t add these, but I will next time)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons buttermelted
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • ripe bananapeeled, 1/2-inch slices (I omitted this too)

1. Preheat oven to 375°F and generously spray the inside of a 9×13 pan.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, half the berries and half the chocolate. (Save the other half of berries and chocolate for the top of the oatmeal). In another large bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, butter, and vanilla extract.
3. Add the oat mixture to prepared baking dish. Arrange the remaining berries and chocolate on top. Add the banana slices to the top then pour the milk mixture over everything. Gently shake the baking dish to help the milk mixture go throughout the oats.
4. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until the top is nicely golden brown and the milk mixture has set. For an extra tasty top, sprinkle a tablespoon or so of extra brown sugar. You can place brown sugar on top before baking or add when casserole is finished baking and broil for a couple of minutes.
5. After it has cooled, cover with plastic wrap and store in fridge. When ready for breakfast, heat in microwave for 1-3 minutes, or until warmed through.
So in looking back over the recipe this morning, I realized I completely forgot the butter. Oops. It tasted okay without it. I had some blackberries I picked up at a local market last week so I used those. I think it would be good with strawberries, peaches, raspberries etc. I didn’t use the banana because they’re really not my favorite although the boys thought they would have been good too, so I’ll probably just add them to half the pan next time.
We sprinkled ours with a bit of cinnamon and sugar before serving. The best thing I liked about this dish is that I baked it last night and we heated it up this morning. It was super easy, warm and very tasty!
 

(This recipe was adapted from allingoodtasteblog.wordpress.com)

 

Find the Joy — Week 1

So about a week ago I shared my goal for this year. In 2014 I want to Find the Joy.
I have prayed each morning for God to help me Find the Joy in each day. And I’ve had a week…with some great days and some not so great days. It’s been a tough week.
It started with me getting sick. I mean sick….with influenza. Fever, cough, achy feeling yucky. And of course it was right after my dearest husband had to go back to work after break. So last Thursday I drug myself out of bed…barely and tried to make some semblance of the day. I felt like I’d been hit by a truck, backed over and then hit again. As I’m laying in the recliner with half an eye on the baby and the big boys watching TV (I totally admit to TV time when mom is sick)…I remember my goal…Find the Joy. Seriously? What joy is there in being sick? In feeling so exhausted and rotten that you’re not sure how you’re going to make it? This was going to be way harder than I thought.
But then lunch happened.
We’d joined my brother’s family for supper the night before and my sister in law sent home leftovers! They might have been hotdogs and brats, but they were easy to heat up…throw a piece of fruit and some carrots and we’ve got a meal with minimal effort. That was my joy. Easy lunch…blessed by leftovers. For me that day, it was something simple, something I would have overlooked before. My joy for day 1 was hotdogs.
Friday brought a broken fever and a bit more energy (which means I totally over did it that morning). Thankfully my in-laws were willing to pick up the big boys and watch them in the afternoon for me so I could get some rest. And my afternoon was filled with things like this…

And so it goes. I’ve been purposefully finding my joy each day. Little things and big things (like having a warm home on very very cold nights).

And then my morning started this morning at 5am…with my son next to my bed…”Mommy, I don’t feel good” New sheets, a drink and emergency barf bowl just in case, along with a 3 year old brother who woke up in the process and said sickie 5 year old all cuddled in bed together. As I snuggled with them…exhausted before the day even started…I sighed heavy…Find the Joy.

And I did. Fitful sleep for another hour or so. While he dozed on the other side of the bed his hand reached….searched under the blankets for mine. I lay there with his palm resting in mine and I found Joy knowing mine was the hand he was looking for. Even in his early morning fever stupor he searched me out. And I thanked God for the blessings cuddled around me and sleeping in the next room. The blessing of children and family.

And I rested.

Raising boys — Resources

If you’d have told me when we first got married I’d have 5 boys…I would have laughed in your face! When we got married we knew we wanted to have a big family but I though surely I’d have a girl in there some where!
So here I am…mom to 5 boys who are 11, 9, 5, 3 and 9 months. And I love it! *Almost* every single minute of it. (Remember that Finding Joy post?) I can’t tell you how many times people comment about our brood of boys…either they are completely shocked that anyone would intentionally have FIVE children! Or they’re shocked that I’m still sane after having 5 boys (and you should see the looks I get when I tell them I’m homeschool them!)

Honestly, I think it can be super overwhelming to be a parent whether you have girls, boys or a mix of both. I am so thankful for other parents who offer insights, share lessons learned and in general give parenting “hacks” we can all benefit from. I want to share a few resources we’ve found helpful along our way.
One of my favorite books is Raising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys By Hal and Melanie Young.

Hal and Melanie are the parents of 7 children, 6 of those are boys! I’ve had the privilege of hearing them speak at several homeschool conferences and I’m always encouraged by them. The book is entertaining and full of practical tips from dealing with bickering and fighting to how they handle guns and playful wrestling.
Something I’m learning as my boys get older is that sometimes they can be a bit angry. Anger is something one of my boys really struggles with. He comes by it honestly. He’s a son of Adam so struggles with sin as we all do. And his mom and dad have both been known to lose their temper more often than we’d like to admit. The Heart of Anger by Lou Priolo has been our go-to book when it comes to this issue in our home. I’m only about half way through but it’s challenged me and given me practical wisdom for dealing with this issue.

Another great book by Lou Priolo is Teach them Diligently: How to Use the Scriptures in Child Training


I didn’t grow up in a home where scripture was woven into our daily conversations or lessons being taught so it’s been a challenge for me to figure out just how this looks in practice. This book helps formulate that picture for me and while it’s still a work in progress in my life, it’s helped me implement scripture in to daily lessons.
For some comedic relief I’ve really enjoyed Boys Will Be Joys by Dave Meurer.
There are days when stuff happens here at home and I can only shake my head. Sometimes I don’t think anyone will believe the craziness that’s gone on here. Like the night we found gum in a belly button or the fact that one of my children often forgets to take off his pajamas before getting dressed in the morning. Boys will be Joys had me in stitches one minute and in tears the next. He gives a few pointers along the way but mostly it reminded me that even with all the craziness that goes on…boys are delightful and bring so much joy to our family.
Trust me, I by no means have this whole thing figured out but I’ve learned a few things and I’ll be sharing those in the coming weeks, but these books have been a good start when it comes to resources for just what to do with these creatures we call sons. Do you have some resources you’ve found helpful in your parenting journey?
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Find the Joy

It’s a new year…we have all of 2014 bare in front of us, with all the hopes and dreams we carry laid out…waiting.
Most people have a list of things they want to accomplish in the New Year. The optimism of the fresh year makes us silly with goal making. We feel as though standing on this cusp of fresh starts we can do anything. Our lifelong “to do” list is suddenly attainable. And for some it might be, but truthfully…I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who has actually kept their resolution for the year. Including myself.
I’m a dreamer by nature so the New Year is kind of exciting to me. I like to dream about what the next 365 days will hold for me and my family. On this first day…I’ve often made a list a mile long of all the things that seem so possible. And I dream. BIG.
And then at some point during the year, sometimes before the first week of the New Year is over, I get a reality check. One of my kids barfs on the floor, we get a bill in the mail and I remember I’m no Cinderella.
I’ve been tempted this week to make my list. To do my dreaming. But this year I haven’t really. Sure, I have my secret Pinterest boards that guard my dreams, but those things aren’t making it on my list. Instead…I have one thing. One mantra this year. One goal. One prayer.
Find the Joy
That’s it. To Find the Joy.
In the mundane. In the piles of laundry, the routine of everyday life. In the moments that pass by each day un-noticed and underappreciated.
I want to Find the Joy in the minutes, hours, days and weeks that make up my year.
I stop sometimes and realize that my life is flying by, my boys are growing quickly and it hits me that I’ve wasted time. I’ve wasted time wishing them out of diapers, wishing them to sleep through the night. I wasted time on Facebook reading about someone else’s life in the virtual world. I’ve wasted time complaining, worrying, yelling and trying to control what happens to me. And for the most part…I don’t get to. I’ve spent so much time looking at what’s wrong, what (and who) needs to change that I forget to Find the Joy in my day.
So that is my goal for this year. To Find the Joy in watching my children grow and learn (even when it’s messy, trying and not how I would have done it in the first place). I want to Find the Joy in my small house instead of complaining about the drafty windows and the lack of space. I want to Find the Joy in the midst of trials, when I’m grasping for direction and answers…I want to find it tucked there in the middle of the ashes and junk. That little nugget that reminds me God’s hand is in it all. He is in control and He is the source of all my Joy.
Find the Joy
 
Psalm 118:24
This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
 
 

What do you want?

I posed this question to my readers on Facebook this last week but remembered some of you dear friends aren’t on Facebook. So I’ll ask you here too…
What do you want to hear about this year? I’m doing some blog planning this week and want to write about things that interest you.
What do you struggle with? What do you enjoy? What challenges you and makes you think?
Please don’t think I have it all figured out…believe me, I’m far from having it all bundled in a neat tidy package. But we have something to learn from one another. We’re in this together.
So I’m asking, dear readers…what do you want to read about this year? Feel free to leave a comment here or drop me an email at fillingquiver@gmail.com.
I look forward to 2014 with you!
Blessings,

Erin

New Recipe Monday — Snickerdoodle bread

It’s Christmas baking time at our house. I tried this recipe out last year and it was a hit!
Here is the recipe I used (with tweaks).
SNICKERDOODLE BREAD
INGREDIENTS
· 2 1/2 cups flour
· 2 tsp. baking powder
· 1/2 tsp. salt
· 2 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
· 1 cup butter softened
· 2 cups sugar
· 3 eggs
· 1 tsp. vanilla
· 3/4 cup sour cream
· 1 pkg. Hershey’s Cinnamon Chips
· 3 TB sugar
· 3 tsp. cinnamon
INSTRUCTIONS
1. Cream butter, sugar, salt and cinnamon until fluffy. Add eggs and mix well.
2. Add vanilla and sour cream and mix well.
3. Mix flour and baking powder in a separate bowl. Add to wet ingredients and mix until all combined.
4. Add cinnamon chips and stir into batter. Set aside.
5. Spoon batter into 4 mini loaf pans until about 2/3 full. I made it in 2 regular loaf pans and baked for about 50 minutes.
6. Mix 3 T. sugar and 3 t. cinnamon in a bowl and sprinkle over the batter in each loaf pan.
7. Bake at 350 for 35-38 minutes. Let cool at least 10 minutes before removing from pan.
This bread was way tasty! Cinnamon chips though are a seasonal item and usually only available at Christmas time. You can buy them online here
and make the cake during the rest of the year, something I totally plan on doing.