Life, Love, & Coffee.

cheerful heartHey there! It’s another unusually balmy January day in Iowa and we have tumbled headfirst into 2015 happy, healthy, and fully intact.

Can you believe it?

The holidays were busy. And beautiful. But also deeply contemplative. Deeply.

Do you ever just take a moment to pause? Or as in this case, a very long moment? The end of the year seemed to be an appropriate time to re-evaluate. To reflect. To adjust. There was something of a dissatisfaction. Some things in my life were just not working quite the way I wanted them to be. I needed time, good people, and some introspective moments spent lingering over a familiar cup of coffee. The withdrawal was cathartic and upon emergence I feel renewed, focused and expecting wonderful things for the coming year. Very good things, perhaps new and different things, are in the offing.

Anticipation is a lovely thing.

And while I plow ahead, I realize I have left ends untied… Chickens. The story is truncated and far from finished. So, I have aptly dubbed this week: Chicken Week. This will be a daily 5-part-series beginning with a recap from Part 1, originally posted last October. You can recap and refresh by reading that post here: For the Birds. Part 1

Check back each day this week to read more about the unbelievable chicken saga happening here at The Homestead. So cozy up in your favorite spot and don’t forget the coffee!

And just in case you missed it, Part 1 of the Chicken saga begins here:

For the Birds. Part 1

Love & Coffee!

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Throwback Thursday #1: Nice Things

Throwing it back on Thursday seems to be the thing now, so here it is, one my all-time favorite posts, albeit from 2011.  I really cannot read it or think about it without getting misty-eyed.  It is truly one of my most-loved.  I hope you like it, too.

Go here to check it out:  Nice Things.

Love & Coffee. 

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The Bad Thing About Butter

20140714_182051272_iOSIt is just so good!

I came of age in the eighties.  I grew up on aspartame, margarine, and imitation vanilla. I did not know any different. It was the way we did things.

There was no blog, Twitter feed, or Facebook meme to indicate otherwise.

But then.

Butter.

Homemade chocolate chip cookie dough with real butter. Real vanilla. Real chocolate.

What is that they say about raw eggs, salmonella, and violent illness? I must apologize that I cannot hear you for I am too busy licking every last morsel of decadent goodness off of the spoon.

Yes, this happened in my kitchen today. With caramel drizzle coffee. And I liked it.

And to the salmonella party-poopers (because I know that is exactly what some of you are thinking)…

nana boo boo.

Love & Coffee.

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Some days.

dandelionSome days just cannot be put into words. Some days the headlines are too wrenching, too blatant, too hard. I sip my coffee in my sweet little corner of the world and wonder…

how. can. this. be?

For while I continue my sipping on an unusually cool July evening, bathed in the glow of a dim porch light, with a loyal dog at my feet and fireflies entertaining in the yard, somewhere else, albeit far, far away, life is coming apart at the seams.

I study the tiger-lily filled mason jar on my patio table and the small blueish sidewalk-chalk footprints carelessly left by young, carefree spirits just hours prior and ponder whether such garish tales could possibly be true? It would be much easier to close my eyes, to forget, to pretend, but…

it. is. not. so.

I pray. And I sip. And I pray some more. I pray for peace. I pray for love. I pray for mercy.

And I hold my babies oh-so-close. Some days are just like this. (And some days, quite thankfully, are not.)

And tomorrow will come. And I will pray some more. And we will laugh and we will dance and make merry under the mulberry trees. And thank God that his mercies are new every morning.

Love & Coffee.

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The Real Maker

imgr01We were traveling home after a long day of errands and activities in town and as it often happens, The Man and I found ourselves with two separate vehicles there. The big girls routinely beg to ride in the car with Dad, and the littles settle in with me. Several times a week, this arrangement seems to happen and it is during these twenty minute drives home where Lovey and I chat.

 

So precious.

 

Even at four, (nearly five now) she fights to be heard amid a houseful of giggling girls. They all have so much to say. All. The. Time. Lovey seems to have only one volume level: Dora the Explorer. (If you are not familiar with Dora, she shouts everything she utters. Every. Word.)

 

It is during the oft-evening drives home through the Iowa country side that Lovey indulges me with stories, songs, and witticisms. She makes music of the happenings of the day and spins wild tales of adventure, mystery, and intrigue. When she has all of my attention (aside from the driving, of course) she gushes. And I revel in every delectable morsel.

 

My heart cannot help but smile.

 

It happened on one of these recent drives, that Lovey quite surprised me. Together, we were marveling at the first signs of spring: trees just barely greening, flowers springing, and the just barely detectable scent of freshly mowed grass. It was then, I took note of the remarkably, colorful sunset stretched out before me. It seemed it was a show just for us. Nearly speechless, I mused, “Oh, Lovey. Do you see the sunset? Isn’t God the most incredible of painters?”

 

“No, Mommy. He is not a painter at all. He’s the real Maker.”

 

Now, truly speechless, I took a moment to think on what she said. Of course! In her mind, a painter is merely a mimic, only able to create something already in existence. And Lovey’s understanding of her Creator, even at four, is much more complex than I could have realized before.

 

“Yes, yes, Lovey. You are exactly right. He IS the real Maker. Yes, indeed.”

 

Love & Coffee.

 

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Run, Run as Fast as You Can

Close-up of gingerbread man pastry cutter “Run!” they said.  “Don’t. Walk.  Run as fast as you can!” they told me.  Common sense (and the event rules) said otherwise, but I did it.  I listened to those teenagers and I ran as fast as I could towards the homemade slip and slide on the giant hill.  It was terrific for about half a second.  Before my feet shot upwards to the moon and the back of my head smacked the hard ground.  Very.  Hard.

I do not remember much about the rest of that long, awkward slide to the bottom of the hill.  When it was all said and done, I had a throbbing headache, a knot on my head roughly the size of Asia, and not a shred of dignity left.  I think it was what many Broken gingerbread man.would call a humbling experience.  And also an excellent reminder that I am not anywhere close to thirteen anymore.  This little shenanigan also earned me the distinction of having my very first (and hopefully last) concussion diagnosis.  From a homemade slip and slide.  At the urging of teenagers.  You might think this all happened when I was young and stupid, but unfortunately this was only last summer.  *sigh*

Sometimes you just have to throw caution to the wind and try something new.  And sometimes that is a very, very bad idea.  And sometimes it is very difficult to discern between the two.  As much as I like to paint myself conservative, I crave the thrill of doing something totally different.

Yesterday, Lovey was telling me her Bible story from her Sunday class.  It was Jonah and the Whale.  She recounted every minute detail, even commenting that Jonah should have paid more attention to his mother when he was growing up.  (Yes!)  Lovey is a fantastic storyteller and as she speaks, we banter.  I intermittently comment and she shoots back and it is always time well-spent.  At one point, I said, “Well, I sure hope a whale doesn’t come and swallow me!”  She was quick to respond with that sassy 4-year-old eye-roll, complete with hand gesture, “Mom.  We live in Iowa.  There is no ocean here.  Not even any water.  Besides you never even leave the house.  You will not get swallowed by a whale… ever!”

First things first.  I am pretty sure I leave the house a lot more than she realizes.   In fact, I feel like I am not here nearly enough.  (Seriously, the proof is in the size of my laundry pile.)  But she definitely got me thinking about the thrill of new adventures, accompanied by a little risk.  Perhaps it is time to try something newish…

Love & Coffee.

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Out of Touch

Phone. Abstract techno backgrounds for your designTwo.  Years.  (A very long time.)

For two years, I have endured having a mobile phone number that was formerly the number of a trucking company.  For two years, my phone rings at odd hours of the night and day only to find that on the other end of the line is a trucker wanting to give me his “load number” or asking for assistance of which I am in no possible way able to provide.

But all of that has suddenly changed.

I think The Man loves me.  He bought me a smart phone.  (He either finds me delightfully out-of-touch or they were on sale.  Probably the latter.)  It’s a very, very smart phone.  Is it embarrassing that I have been clinging to my trusty flip phone that takes me roughly 37 minutes to send just one text message?  I still kind of miss it.  It was familiar.  It was easy.  And it was well-loved.

I. Am. Not. Ready. For. This.

They say it will make me more connected, but sometimes I rather enjoy being disconnected.  I am simply not one to be “on call.”  There are just so many important things that I would rather be doing.  Coloring, playing dress-up, and bedtime stories will always trump a text message.  Every.  Time.  And when it’s time for family dinner (yes, we still do that nearly every night) all of those electronic devices are comfortably nestled far away from the table, leaving us focused on each other.  Real people.  Real faces.  It’s all real.  And amid the clanking of silverware, passing of butter, and spilling of milk, I find these sweet moments where we all share our daily adventures, challenges, victories, and always leave room for dessert.

It’s a beautiful way to live.

If you call, I may not answer.  If you text, I may not reply.  But rest assured, you may leave message and I promise I will get back to you… eventually.

P.S.  The sunrise is especially lovely this morning.

Love & Coffee.

If you liked this post,you might also enjoy The Quiet.

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Ticking Away.

The cuckoo strikes midnight, yet here I sit, sipping a cozy peppermint tea.  As I write, we are just barely emerging (mostly unscathed) from a six-day long skirmish with the dreaded stomach bug. 

All.  Six.  Of.  Us. 

To be perfectly honest, it was ghastly.  We never get sick.  I was unprepared. 

I got to do all those lovely “mom” things that no one in their right mind would ever do for another person, other than for the simple fact that they are for the ones they treasure most. 

I stroked feverish foreheads, poured extra rounds of ginger ale, and held back golden curls during the worst of it all.  I scrubbed carpets and rugs and did absolutely preposterous amounts of laundry.  The Man took care of me.  And I took care of him.  And somehow we all survived.

All.  Six.  Of.  Us.

We did not sleep much and watched entirely too much TV.  And there was so much time to cradle my sick, sleeping lovelies and think.

So.  Much.  Thinking.

Thoughts:

1.  Peanut is 9 1/2.  Which is over halfway to 18.  Which is when she will leave me to seek her fortune in this wild, wild world.  *sigh*  Am I doing enough to carve out the strong, courageous woman inside of her?  8 1/2 more years to get it right.  (Tissue, please.)  And cuddles.  I will hold her as long as she will let me and then some. 

2.  Ladybug loves to love.  She craves closeness.  She needs it.  Like oxygen.  Note to self: More cuddling.  No matter the pestilence, unrest, or tempers lost, at the end of the day… cuddles.

3.  Lovey needs me.  She is vivacious, cunning, and seemingly out-of-control, but ultimately, she is only four.  And I need her, too.  She makes me smile when I need it most.  Conclusion:  Cuddles. (If I can catch her).

4.  Cupcake is oh-so-squishy.  She giggles and squeals and claps with her feet.  She holds my heart and she is so cuddle-licious. 

My heart is happy.  My four ladies leave me little time for anything else but them, yet it seems I still can’t get enough.  I want to scoop them up in my arms and just hold them forever and a day. 

I am tempted to say that the break from full-throttle-life was oddly refreshing.  Almost cleansing.  There are many things left undone from such an extended quarantine, but alas it’s a fresh week.  And we are well. 

All.  Is.  Well.

Love & Coffee.

 

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A Morning Moment.

Nothing like watching a hazy, autumn sunrise from the window, swallowed up in a well-loved sweater with a steamy coffee settled between my fingers.  

I revel in the quiet.  But in just moments, this house will spring to life, bursting at the seams with much too much to do in one day.  

(Does anyone else ever look at their calendar and just want to cry?  And, by the way, where did October go?.)

But for now, for just a moment longer, it’s quiet.  And my coffee is still warm.  And the house is still sleeping.  And I will think on this…

 “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”  Phillipians 4.13 (NIV)


Love & Coffee.

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The Old-Fashioned Way.

I sauntered into the kitchen, intent on whipping up a batch of chocolate chip cookies.  I sneaked.  I was discrete.  But I got caught.  

“Mommy!  I want to help in the kitchen,” Lovey said.  She is my helper.  She is always there.  If I am in the kitchen, she is glued to me.  And most days, I don’t mind.  I welcome the company and the playful banter of my sweet Lovey.  But today, I just wanted… to be.  To think, uninterrupted.  To ponder, uninhibited.  

I tried to dissuade her.  

“I’m going to be very boring in here.  I am going to do dishes and not even turn on the radio.”  (Which was mostly the truth, because I still had a sink chock full of lunch dishes and random containers from my morning fridge-cleaning session.) 

She took the bait and decided just this once to go watch Max & Ruby.   

But then…

Ladybug appeared in the kitchen doorway.  “I want to do dishes.”  

Perhaps I had heard wrongly.  “I’m sorry, WHAT?”

“I want to do dishes.”

I have this weird control-freak thing, especially when it comes to my kitchen, however, I am trying really, really hard to just let go and let my girlies do more things. Even if they are done the wrong way at first.  Freedom to fail, right?

“Ummmm… okay.  Well, how about you rinse these off and arrange them in the dishwasher like so.”  This was also really hard for me, because I am notoriously particular about how things are arranged in the dishwasher.  

“No, Mom.  I want to do it the old-fashioned way.  You know, I just want to scrub them in the sink.”

“Wouldn’t you rather help me bake cookies?” I urged.  (So much for the just being thing.)

“Mom, don’t you just get a great feeling when you do things the old-fashioned way?  Like you baking cookies from scratch?  Or when you make laundry soap?  It’s like you really worked on it and made it special and it feels good, doesn’t it?  I just want to do that to the dishes.”

*crickets chirping*  (And seriously, there is a random cricket chirping in the far corner of the office as I write.)

“Okaaaayyy.  Well, here is the footstool.  And the rag.  And a little soap.  Have at it, Sweet Ladybug.”  

Suddenly, she had made perfect sense to me.  Because I do get that.  I still do all kinds of crazy things like write in a journal, keep a datebook, wear a watch, patch my jeans, and write hand-written thank you notes.  There is something inherently sacred in performing a simple task “the old-fashioned way” that seems to connect me to my childhood, my mother, my late grandmothers.  

And here I sit, enjoying the morning “the old-fashioned way.”  Sunrise and a steamy cup of joe.  


Love & Coffee.

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