Monday, April 30, 2012

A Happy Heart: Registration Day

This past week had many big and happy moments. 
One of my biggest moments was this.


On Friday I took Luke and registered him for Kindergarten.

It makes me so emotional just thinking about it. 

I still remember the moment I found out I was pregnant with him.
I remember feeling him move for the first time. It felt like a little frog was doing a little dance.
I remember seeing his cute little face on the ultrasound.
I still remember how it felt as he got bigger and would move around.
I remember wanting to hit someone if that epidural didn't happen soon.
And I remember the exact moment he was placed in my arms.

You can't explain those feelings.
They are so powerful and, to me, it was a sacred moment.
A moment shared between mother and son.

I remember lying on my bed with him and just staring at him.
I loved the way he smelled. I loved the way his little face felt next to mine.
I loved feeling his little heart beat.
I was amazed with every new accomplishment and development. 
Even the smallest things seemed huge to me. 

I remember when he started to recognize the people in his life.
I remember the first time he smiled at me.....and my heart melted.
And the first time he giggled was the BEST.

He has one of those laughs that is simply contagious.
It is the best giggle in the world.

I have watched him learn to crawl, to walk, to run, to climb and do his own little Star Wars Jedi moves.
I have listened to him struggle with this crazy English language, and have laughed as he has made up his own words.

I have watched my baby grow up into an amazing 5 year old boy.

And this boy has changed me.
From the moment I found out I was pregnant with him, I have never been the same.

I can honestly say I have enjoyed every moment spent with my little man.
He has been the very best little boy.
He is happy, lovable, gentle, forgiving and has such a kind heart.

I have spent almost every day with this little boy for over 5 years.
And the thought that this will all be changing soon is a pill that is almost too big to swallow.

I'm excited for him though.
I'm excited to watch him continue to grow, to develop and to have great experiences in his life.


So today, my soon-to-be kindergartner makes my heart really, really happy.
A little sad too.....
but mostly happy.

I love you Lukie-Poo.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Happy Heart: Let's Celebrate!

I love holidays.
I love any reason to celebrate ANYTHING.
It makes me so happy.

Recently I found the greatest thing! 
It's a dream for anyone who loves to celebrate.
It's a website that lists all the funny holidays you can celebrate with your family.

You can find it here.

I looked at it yesterday, and it was National Pig-in-a-Blanket Day.

HAHAHAHA!

How funny is that?

So, we had pigs-in-a-blanket for dinner.

And how can you eat pigs-in-a-blanket without looking like little piggies?



They are the best little sports around.
They all wrapped up in blankets and ate their dinner.


Oh.....so funny.


So, for anyone who's thinking I'm the ideal mother, just remember that I dressed my kids up as pigs, wrapped them in blankets and made them eat on the floor.....on paper plates. They DID have grapes though, so I'm not feeling so bad.

A model mother.

hahahaha!

If you're interested, tomorrow is:
Hug-a-Friend Day
National Pretzel Day
and 
Take Your Daughter to Work Day

Today, having new fun things to celebrate, makes my heart happy.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Happy Heart: A Clean Little Face

We have a new beauty consultant in our home right now. 

Her name is Ms. Hannah. 

She loves trying new things, and this week we have all been her guinea pigs.

And it has been quite fun being a guinea pig.

The other night Charity, Luke and Lucy got the spa facial treatment. They thought it was quite hilarious.
And I have to admit.....so did I.



Luke couldn't keep the cucumber on his face.
h.i.l.a.r.i.o.u.s.





Then Hannah made homemade pore strips. 
She got the recipe from here.
I'm always wary of homemade recipes, but this, 
ladies and gentlemen, is the REAL deal.
It worked so well, I thought I'd post it in case someone else wants a face that feels like a baby's soft little tush.

Here's what you will need.

 Pore Strip Ingredients:
1 Tablespoon Unflavored Gelatin
1 1/2 to 2 Tablespoons Milk

That's it!
So easy!


1. Measure 1 Tablespoon of unflavored gelatin into a disposable container.
2. Add 1-2 Tablespoons of milk into the gelatin.
3. Until it looks like this.
4. Mix it up, and be quick about it, until you get a chunky consistency. Add more milk if you're uncomfortable with the amount of chunk.

NEXT STEP.....VERY IMPORTANT
Microwave the gelatin mixture for about 10-15 seconds. It will get creamier in the microwave.

Don't forget to microwave it.
It will look like this.


After you microwave it, stir it well and start applying it IMMEDIATELY to your face. This stuff hardens up fast so you've got to act fast.

IMPORTANT FACT TO KNOW:
If you are attached to your eyebrows, DO NOT get this on them. 
You will be saying goodbye to them until they grow back! :)

You can put it all over your face, but if you have tender skin, I would suggest only the problem areas. 


 Let dry for 15+ minutes. When it says that it dries and gets hard, they aren't kidding. You'll know when it's done when you go to smile and it feels like your face is going to break!

We also learned the hard way that it really isn't a good idea to have a really hearty gut giggle while this goo is on your face.

Not. a. good. idea.

After it is completely dry, grab a spot and start peeling it off.

Ta-dahhhhh!

Clean, dirt-free, smooth-as-a-baby's-tush soft.

I don't know the last time my face was that clean.

Big Daddy and the boys are next.
.....they just don't know it yet.

hee hee hee.

Today, homemade pore strips make my heart happy.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Simply Sunday: A Happy Heart: A Child's Heart

I know I've said it before, but I love my Sundays. I've been thinking a lot today about the pressures of life. It's so easy to get lost in the day-to-day stresses of life, and I don't enjoy that. I believe that life is meant to be enjoyed, regardless of our age or circumstance. Yet, for some reason that's really hard to remember as adults.

I typically don't get out of bed every morning ready to party the day away. I get out of bed and deal with real life. Kids who are amazing.....but, they are real kids. A life that is wonderful.....but, it's the real deal with real stresses, just like everyone else. And everything else in between. I think I'm generally a happy person, so at the end of the day, I want to feel like I really enjoyed it. And on the not-so-enjoyable days, I want to feel like it was still worth it. I don't want to get so hardened by life that I don't feel those things any more. How do I do that? Well, my kids are my best reminders.

I looked out the window the other day and four of my cutie-cuties had created their own little world in the backyard. I watched them as they dragged logs over for their seats, they had made wands out of sticks and flowers, they created some makeshift cauldron which had some scary looking magical potion in it, all while enjoying their left-over Easter candy. They laughed and danced around the yard. They used 'magical powers' and had the time of their life.

I loved watching them.



It brought back memories of my own childhood. Then I started thinking of our other children. They are all clever kids and know how to entertain themselves. We don't have many fancy gadgets and gizmos in our house, and we don't typically go out to places for entertainment. They also know better than to tell me they are bored. All these things have made our kids good at entertaining themselves. They laugh with each other, they play with each other and they use their imagination. They are learning that life is what you make it. They are learning that no one is here to entertain them. They are learning to create their own happiness.

And I love that for them.

There is a childlike innocence you feel when you are around kids like that.


When I see them in action, it's a good reminder to hang onto that little part of me inside that still knows how to have fun. The part that knows how to create happiness and the part that can still enjoy life like I did as a child. It reminds me to not get lost in the seriousness of life, but to still make time to be silly, to laugh and to enjoy the fun little moments that make your heart happy.


I agree. 

I don't want to grow up completely.

I want to hang onto those childlike tendencies. I don't want to just live my life, but I want to love it.

Watching my kids play, hearing them laugh, seeing how they love their lives makes my heart happy today.

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Happy Heart: Precious Moments

There are moments I have as a mom that many would consider insignificant, yet somehow they feel like the most important moments in the world. 

That happened to me yesterday.

My sweet Hannah is home, and I can't even begin to say how much I love that one simple fact.

Anyone who knows us, knows how much I love her. She really is one of my best friends and it's been so fun to have her walk down the stairs every morning and be able to spend the day with her. I love that we are transitioning our relationship to an adult one. It's very strange how that happens when they become adults. But, it's SO MUCH FUN!! I love our conversations and literally could talk to her for hours. Well.....actually.....we DO! I am loving this little creature who has become this amazing young adult. I'm so proud of her. It's fun beyond words to see her figure out life and who she is. 

Right now, those moments seem so precious to me. 

Maybe it's because I know these moments are very temporary.
Maybe it's because I've been without her while she's been at school, and I know I'll be without her again.

Whatever the reason, they are priceless.

We sat yesterday and we talked.

We TALKED and TALKED.

We laughed. She made me cry. We enjoyed every moment.




As a mom, I know these moments are so precious.

And I'm very thankful for them. 

Today, these 'moments' make my heart very happy.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Happy Heart: A Happy Home

On her way home from college, Hannah drove through Laramie, Wyoming. She found the house I grew up in and took a picture for me. I've looked at it a couple of times since putting it on my computer. 


My mind goes all over the place when I look at it. 

My parents raised 10 lovely little kiddos in that house. Granted, it also has a basement, but even with a basement, it was not a big house.

But, it was our home.

And I loved it.

What I love more are the memories that come flooding back to my mind when I think about my life there. I look at the front yard and I remember countless summer days of weeding my mom's flower beds. Actually, they were the 'mounds', and I thought they were beautiful. I remember lying on the grass during the day and staring at the big blue sky and finding shapes and animals in the clouds. 

I look at the garage door and remember waking up really early and rushing to the garage to see if my dad was successful on his hunting trip. If he was, there would be a nasty carcas hanging in the garage. I don't remember ever really thinking it was gross. I just remember feeling really proud of my dad and excited that he got something!

I look at the gutters and remember floating anything and everything we could down them. We made boats out of leaves, twigs, etc. 

I see the front door and remember grabbing the screen door and yanking it open as I ran inside screaming at the top of my lungs, as my mom chased me with the hose. Surely I could outrun her. And I did. I made it safely inside. Only for my mom to open the door and squirt me anyway, breaking all the rules. Such a funny mom.

Just inside that front door was the piano. The piano that I dusted every week. The piano that I practiced on every week. It sat in the living room where my dad created his funny home movies. The living room where we watched Dukes of Hazard and Fantasy Island. The living room where I got my beautiful bleach bottle bride doll that my mom made for me one Christmas. I'd never seen anything more beautiful.

I see the parking spot on the left and I immediately see the blue and orange Volkswagon bugs that zipped in and out of that little space. And I remember snow storms that would blow snow drifts to the top of those cars.

I look at the yard and it seemed so much bigger back then. It looks so small now. We had water fights and snowball fights. We searched for bugs, we laughed and we played hard. I never remember it feeling small.

I look at the spot where the sidewalk out front meets the one that leads to the front door. I remember standing in that spot with a broken heart as I said goodbye to that little house when we moved to Seattle.

I look at this picture and I'm filled with gratitude for parents who turned this little house into a warm and loving home that always felt big enough.

It has made me think about our house here. 
Big Daddy built it, which makes it very special to me.
It wasn't built for nine kids, but in spite of being just a bit cozy, it's a wonderful home.

I can't tell you how much I love it.

Seeing this picture of my old home has turned my thoughts to my kids. I hear them in their bedrooms laughing with each other. I hear them chasing each other down the hall.  I watch the light fixture in the living room downstairs shake as the boys wrestle each other upstairs right above it. I watch them outside as they pull logs up to make seats and have a tea party. I watch as they climb the trees, and then sit up there and read. They are building their own memories. As they get older it's fun to listen to them as they laugh about things that have happened in this house over the years. Their memories are just as special to them as mine are to me. And I love that. 

When I look at the picture above, it really isn't all that impressive. It's not a big fancy house. It's not even that pretty to look at. But, in my mind, it is one the BEST houses around.

Anyone can have a house.
But, love is what turns it into a home.


I love the homes that I grew up in.
And I love the home I live in now. 
But what I love most is who I have had the blessing of sharing these homes with.

That will always make my heart happy.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Happy Heart: Literally

There are many things that make my heart happy.
And this is not one of them.....or is it?


Being the mom of many kiddos means many great things. But, it also comes with some challenges. Any mom knows that "ME" time is limited and very tricky to come by. There are a million and one reasons I could give you to not have "ME" time. From the minute my feet hit the floor in the morning, those million and one reasons begin. 

But, being a 43 year old mom of many, also makes me realize that I really want to be around when these darling, crazy kids all start having kids of their own. I want my heart to be happy and healthy.

Unfortunately, I really don't enjoy the process.

Please tell me someone can relate.

ugh.

Each morning, I think....."I need to exercise." 
And then the other half of my brain cheerfully says, "No you don't."

Then my brain shifts into "feed the beast" mode. 
And I want to eat......everything.

I'm fine when I'm not in exercise mode.
Then I don't want to eat breakfast.
But, when I'm in "you better be healthy or you will die" mode, I want to eat everything in sight.

ugh.....again.

And my battle begins.

The battle to keep my heart healthy and happy.

I watch Big Daddy do his P90X, and then I feel like a whimpy, out of shape mess.
So, I drag my resistant little heiny and get on the treadmill.
And the fun begins.

Surely, there's some inkling of an athlete in this body of mine.
Isn't there?

nope.

So I try to I fake it well.


so. true.

That is exactly what I feel.

The other day I was doin' my thang, and Lucy Lu-Lu started giggling. She said, "Mommy, you look funny." And I bet I did. This body was not given the gift of coordination and grace.

But, although I may not look like the sleek athlete that I'm sure is hiding in me, I'm doing it!

And THAT is a good thing!
And today, it makes my heart happy.

Literally.

So, for any of you struggling to enjoy this whole "take time for you and exercise your heiny off" thing, I feel your pain.....in every joint! HAHAHA! Seriously, I get it. I think we should just have a "those who don't enjoy the whole exercise thing and would rather just sit down and eat a big ol' piece of cake" group. For me, it's a battle I conquer a day at a time. I have some imperfect days, but the fact that I'm trying makes me feel really good.

Now, if I could only figure out how to really love it.

(a final UGH.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Happy Heart.....Life is Better With Friends

IT REALLY IS!!

I have always been blessed with wonderful friends! I'm not sure why, but I won't complain!

The funny thing about my friends is that they have never fallen into one category. I remember being very young and being taught by my very wise mom to be a friend to everyone. Every time I would complain to her about someone who hurt my feelings, or when I felt like I didn't have any friends, she would challenge me to find someone who might need ME to be a friend to THEM. Although I considered myself shy, (I know...I know...hard to believe), I tried so hard to get out of my comfort zone and reach out to people. 

I believe that when we reach out to someone and make a decision to be kind, we really are the ones who take home the greatest prize! 

As I was thinking about all my friends today, my mind went through so many happy memories. So many people have had a part in my life. And I am so thankful for each and every one.


That perfectly describes my friends. 
They really are the greatest people. 
And they have been the greatest friends.

I grew up very spoiled by having such a large, close family. They were my best friends. My sisters were the ones I always confided in. They were the first ones I shared things with. They were the ones I turned to if I was struggling. So, to be so far away from my family at this point in life, is a strange thing.  I have felt like a child again, and over the past 6 years, I have heard my mother's voice in the back of my head telling me to reach out to others. And it has been a great blessing.

As a mom, a wife, a juggler of many things, I believe it's so important to have good friends.
I don't care who you are, we all need them.

Being away from home is tough. It has been a really difficult transition. But, it has been SO GOOD for me. There are no parents or siblings who live 5 minutes away who will watch my kids. I can't just pop into my parents home in the middle of the day and eat lunch with my mom. I can't run errands with my sisters. I have had to literally open my life up to those around me. I have had to establish friends who have become my "go to" people, instead of my family. I have had to trust them enough to rely on them when I have struggled. All those things that were so natural with my family, I have had to transition over to my friends.

And my friends have been wonderful.
I feel like I have a large extended family.

These thoughts have also made me think about other friendships in my life. I have friends from many different parts of my life. And each one of them are unique to me. 

I'm really not sure why I have been blessed with such great friends. It makes me wonder how one person can be so very lucky. I have needed.....and loved every single one.

So, to all my friends.....

Thank You.

Thank you for loving me.
Thank you for seeing the good in me, and for helping me to see it too.
Thank you for always offering a listening ear.
Thank you for cheering me on.
Thank you for the sacrifices that have been made to help me when needed.
Thank you for the laughter.....and the tears.
Thank you for the most precious memories a person could want.
Thank you for being the kind of people who make me want to be better.
Thank you for being patient with me.
Thank you for overlooking my flaws.

In a nutshell.....
Thank you for being my friends.

Today, you all make my heart very happy.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Happy Heart: Simply Sunday: A Voice of Warning

We have a big round driveway in front of our home. With a big family, it's great to have many options for parking, and different options for getting in and out. 

I typically park in the middle of the round driveway, right in front of my house.

But, yesterday I pulled straight in, and decided not to pull in front of the house because I was in the shade and was planning on leaving again shortly. So, I put it in park and got ready to get out. But, then I had a random thought, "just pull up the rest of the way." Without even thinking about it, I turned the car back on and pulled up in front of the house and went inside.

A couple minutes later, there was a loud noise. When I walked by the window, I saw it.

A HUGE branch had broken off a large tree and had fallen right where my van had been previously parked.

When I went outside, I realized how big the branch was. The trees that line our property on both sides are enormous. I love them because they give us some great shade, but when the limbs come down, it's no laughing matter.

And this branch was no exception. I realized that if I had not listened and moved my van, it would have been crunched.....REALLY CRUNCHED.

(the picture really doesn't do it justice)

I was immediately filled with gratitude for numerous things.

One, a voice of warning that came.
Two, my immediate response to listen to that voice without hesitation. I'm grateful that I was taught by really wonderful parents that I should always listen when I get thoughts like that.
And three, the knowledge that someone greater was aware of us and our needs.

I'm so thankful for that small whispering voice that came.
Having a van that isn't crunched.....well, that makes my heart REALLY happy!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Happy Heart: Time is Going Fast


Well, it has been a busy week, with not enough time on some days to do everything I need to do. 
(All you moms know exactly what I'm talking about.)

The best part of my week was having Hannah come home from college. I also had a great conversation on the phone with Moses. It's strange to have kids grow up and leave home. When it happens, you realize that life as you've known it doesn't exist anymore. It changes. It's still wonderful, but it's different. I have so many precious memories of everyone at home, and I miss it.

I know that this is life. I know kids grow up. I know it's all part of the plan. But, that doesn't mean I have to like it.

Right? 

Having Hannah home again has been wonderful. She is different. She has actively been building her own separate life away from us. Same with Moses. I'm very proud of both of them and it's fun to see them becoming adults. As I have thought about both of them, many fun memories have been dancing around in my mind. I've thought a lot about those memories this week. Memories of life with everyone at home. And I've realized that those memories are the foundation of what our family will become. Those memories have become little treasures that mean everything to me. I have realized that life is going to continue to move forward. All of our kids will eventually grow and move on. And things will change. Those are things I am very excited about, but it also brings with it a measure of sadness. 

I wonder, did I appreciate it as much as I should have when they were all here?
Did I give them enough of "me"?
Am I taking time to enjoy the seven that are still home?

Life is so full of.....well, EVERYTHING.

There are schedules, appointments, cleaning, cooking, homework, projects, laundry, and daily stresses.

Sometimes I have to force myself to slow down, to take a breath and remember where my time is most valuable.
I read this quote the other day and I love it. It reminds me to slow down, to enjoy my family, to make time for the things that are most important and to have my priorities in order. It's going fast. And I don't want to miss a thing. 

It's not about all the grand gestures, fancy crafts, making sure they have the newest "toys", or the big elaborate parties I could throw for them. 
It's about the small and simple things.
It's about giving of my time, my love, my attention and my best efforts.

Time is going fast and I'm feeling more aware of that simple fact than I have in a while.
Today, the time I have with my family is feeling very precious. 
And the fact that I have that time with them makes my heart very happy. 

I plan on enjoying it.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Happy Heart: Bjorn

Remember my sister Britney?


One of the best things about my life is my family.
I truly believe that I have the greatest parents and the best siblings. 
I have been blessed way beyond what I probably deserve, and I am grateful every day for each one of them. I have such wonderful and happy memories of my family, and it's those memories that make me have a strong desire to create the same thing for our kids. 

I want them to be close to each other. I want them to stay close to each other. I want them to know that when it comes down to it, it's your family that matters most.

Onto Britney.

She's wonderful.

There are many words in the dictionary I could use to describe Britney. 
And then she would sit and argue with me on almost all of them.

(you know it's true Britney)

She is amazing to me. 

She is beautiful.....in every sense of the word.
She is talented.....beyond what's she'll ever be willing to admit to.
She's wise.....wiser than she thinks.
She's humble.....and I wish she could see herself through my eyes for just one day. She could then see how amazing the people around her think she is!
She's an incredible mother.....her kids are so very lucky.
She's creative.....and I pick her little creative brain often.

See? She's AMAZING!

And on top of all those things, 
she makes THE CUTEST KIDS EVER!

She has 5 darling kids.
I love them and miss them dearly. 
Having them so far away creates MUCH unhappiness in my heart. :(

Her newest little addition is the other half of my focus today.

This is Bjorn.


You have to admit, he is deliciously CUUUUTE!

Recently she shared some photos of Bjorn and all I could do was laugh. I got back on our family website yesterday and I just laughed some more. Every time she took a picture of him, he would make these funny faces.

The top middle one makes me have a hearty gut giggle E.V.E.R.Y. time I look at it!


H.I.L.A.R.I.O.U.S.

I'm grateful that I have so many incredible sisters.
I'm grateful for the relationship I have with each one of them.
Today, I'm grateful specifically for Britney and for the sweet relationship I have with her.

I'm especially grateful that I'm an auntie to so many cutie-cuties.
I love every single one of them.

But, today, sweet little, funny Bjorn makes my heart happy.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Happy Heart: Hannah's Sweet Surprise


OH HAPPY DAY!!

I can't tell you how happy my heart is right now. 
I woke up to the GREATEST surprise.....my sweet little Hannah sleeping on the couch! 



(Wahaaahaaa.....that darn flash!!)

She wasn't supposed to be home until later today, but decided to drive through the night!



There's something to be said about having your kids come back home.
In an instant that void is filled and all is right in the world.

 Like Lucy Lu-Lu says, "It the BEST DAY EBBER!"

And a great big thank you to this sweet little cutie.
Thank you Brock for driving my sweet Hannah home safely.


 Having Hannah here.....makes my heart oh so very happy.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Happy Heart: It's Up to Me!

Anyone who has ever had a toddler, KNOWS this face.


Accompanying this face was the phrase, "I can do it!"

Needless to say I was cleaning her ears out, so I had to decline.

But, this is a phrase I am hearing VERY often.

She wants to make her choices. She wants to try things. She is wanting to grab life and make it what she needs it to be. I love that my little Lucy Lu-Lu is becoming independent. It's sad knowing she's my last one, so I find myself savoring the little things that I can still do for her. 

I was talking to my sweet friend Kay the other day and she told me a quote that they say often in their family.



I LOVE IT.

It reminded me of my little independent Lucy, and I have had many thoughts.

If I am to be happy.....it's up to me.
If I am to accomplish good things in life.....it's up to me.
If I am to be a good person.....it's up to me.
If I am going to be content with life.....it's up to me.

My list could go on and on.

I love my life, but one of the things I love most about my life is that it's MINE. It really can be anything I want it to be. In spite of any challenge or hiccup, I can mold it and shape it however I like. It doesn't mean that is easy. But, the older I get, the more I learn that I have more control over things than I once realized. Even on days that are hard, I can still decide to find joy and to be grateful. Even if it's in small doses.

I am also learning that you can't blame others for your own unhappiness. I can't control anyone but me. My kids remind me of this awesome truth all the time. They are such great examples to me. They have all been through some hard things. They have each one had to make decisions at different times to find their own happiness in spite of challenges. They each have grabbed hold of their lives and they know that it is up to them to make it what they want. And they are off and running to create great lives for themselves. I'm so proud of them.

So, today, when I think about my life, my heart is happy.

So far it's a great life. 
And the rest will be so also.....
because it's completely up to me.

Just like Lucy Lu-Lu says, 
"I can do it!"

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Happy Heart: Yummy, yummy bread.


I will never be a 'food blogger'. 

I promise.

I don't think anyone is really interested
in recipes that all appeal to 9 children.

Most are boring, simple and not anything
I think anyone would be excited about.

BUT.....

I do love really yummy bread.

When I was growing up, my mom made homemade bread all the time. I don't remember having store bought bread very often. She would grind the wheat and then make bread in these huge soup cans. So our sandwiches were perfectly round. And oh so yummy. It made the best toast.

Well, not only am I NOT a food blogger, I am NOT a 'make-it-from-scratch' bread girl.

I wish I were.
But, my bum is probably very grateful that I'm not.

I do, however, love my bread machine. I'm not an adventurous bread machine girl. I love to find yummy recipes that we love, and I tend to stick with them.

Well, because this is such a quick, easy treat to make for your family, I thought I'd share it.
I've tried MANY bread machine recipes so far, and this one is my favorite.


Doesn't that look yummy? 
(OK, well, it looks a little funny, but it IS a bread machine.)

Oh.....if you could only smell it.

I thought maybe someone would want to make some yummy bread for Easter Sunday.

So, here's the recipe.

I have a 2 pound bread machine, but I'm also including the recipe for a 1 or 1 1/2 pound machine.

BUTTERMILK BREAD
For a TWO pound bread machine

1 1/2 c. + 2 TBL Cultured Buttermilk, 80 degrees F/27 degrees C
1/4 c. oil
1/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. baking soda
4 c. flour
2 1/4 tsp. Active Dry Yeast OR 1 1/2 tsp. Quick Rise Yeast

Put all the ingredients in your bread machine in the order of the recipe. After you put the flour in, make a small hole in the flour and put your yeast in it. 

Select your normal White Bread Cycle. I choose light crust, because anything else is too done. At least for my cute little bread machine.

For a 1 1/2 pound bread machine:
1 c. + 2 TBL Cultured Buttermilk, 80 degrees F/27 degrees C
3 TBL oil
3 TBL sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3 c. flour
2 tsp. Active Dry Yeast OR 1 1/2 tsp. Quick Rise Yeast

For a 1 pound bread machine:
3/4 c. + 2 TBL Cultured Buttermilk, 80 degrees F/27 degrees C
2 TBL oil
2 TBL sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. Active Dry Yeast OR 1 tsp. Quick Rise Yeast

THERE IT IS.
Simple. Easy. And very, very YUMMY.

I'm making more tomorrow.

Happy Easter everyone!
This yummy bread makes me happy.

'Lovely LIttle Things' Giveaway Winners!


The GIVEAWAY!!

I forgot to announce the winner!!

......it's all four of you who left comments!!

Woohoooooo!

I'm posting the pictures of the earrings you can choose from.

Rebecca already picked hers.

I will be sending the rest out this week. 
Just send me a message on Facebook or leave a comment here and let me know which pair you would like! 
(Don't worry if you pick the same pair as someone else.)




(I need your address Olivia.)
I have ones for everyone else! 

Keep doing your 'little things'.
It will make your heart happy.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Happy Heart: My little racer.


This is our sweetheart Zach. 


He is tenderhearted and is as good as gold. He is kind and gentle, yet he has such great strength in him. You would think that he would be timid, but he's quite the opposite. He's spunky and fun. He's adventurous and is willing to take on anything new.

Lately his new adventure has been running on the track team.
His older brothers run track, so he was very excited to follow in their footsteps.

Literally. 

He started going to practices, and at first was still excited. 

Then I started hearing comments as he discovered that being good in this sport was not going to come easily for him. 

But, he kept going to practices.

After weeks of practicing with his team, Zach was excited about his first track meet.
He had worked hard.
And he was ready.

Then came the race. 

He ran.
He ran hard.
But in spite of his efforts, he ended up coming in last. 

And our sweet little Zach faced a challenge that I don't think he was prepared for.

He felt very discouraged, embarrassed, and was surprised that had happened to him.

I felt so bad for him.
It was one of those things that I couldn't shield him from.
I wanted to.
But, this was something Zach was going to have to get through.

We had a conversation about how he was feeling. 
We talked about his discouragement and discussed different options.

And then Zach made a decision. 
He decided to keep trying.

And I was so proud of him.

So two days ago, was Zach's next track meet.

I watched him start the race, and anxiously watched as he started to run, saying a silent little prayer for him to be able to do his best.

I watched him run around the track and felt so proud of him as I watched him fight for his spot. 
He was not going to quit.

We screamed our crazy, loud heads off and I could tell he was giving it everything he could.


 As our sweet Zach crossed the finish line, I was so happy.

He had not quit.
He decided to keep trying.

And he came in.....right in the middle of the pack.

He was not first in line. 
But, he had done his best. 
He had improved a great deal, and I could see relief written all over his face.


Zach's example of determination and endurance makes me very proud of him.
It makes me want to try harder to keep working on things that are hard for me.

It fills me with admiration for the giant person that is stuck inside Zach's little 13 year old body.

Today, he makes my heart happy.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Happy Heart: Big Daddy defending his life

I know posts are more fun when there are pictures, but I just couldn't get a picture for this one!

Big Daddy is a lot of things. He's funny, he's tender-hearted, he's a hard worker, he's compassionate, and he's not afraid of handling tough icky things. He's a tough cookie. When I start worrying about the pressures of life, he always tells me, "Don't worry about it. I'll take care of it."

And somehow I always believe him. 

He's just wonderful.

One of my other favorite things about him?

He's easy to scare.
heeheeheeheeheeheehee
(evil, EVIL laugh)

Well, last night, as I went to bed, I headed for the bathroom to brush my teeth. But, alas, Big Daddy had beat me to it. 

So, I waited. 

But, I decided a sneak attack would be a fun way to wait.

HAHAHA! 
Oh...it makes me happy just thinking about it again.

So, I waited.
When he opened the door, I said, 'boo'.

Not "BOO!!!!!" or "BOO!",

Just 'boo'.

And the best thing about Big Daddy is that is all it takes.

And he JUMPS, gets this WILD look on his face, his fist raises and he comes at me, LITERALLY ready to defend his life.

Ahhh...HAHAHAHAHA!!

I wish I could paint a better mental picture of this. My new goal is to get a picture of this. It makes me laugh so hard. 

He's hilarious.

He makes me laugh.

And that makes my heart happy.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Happy Heart: My Friend Belinda

I've been thinking about certain people in my life who make my heart happy.

And I thought I would highlight some of them, mainly for the chance to document the impact they've had on my life.

Today I thought I'd share something about my friend Belinda.

This is her.
She is a wonderful mother, and a beautiful grandma.

She lives far away in Washington,
which DOES NOT make my heart happy.

Why DOES she make my heart happy? For many reasons.

Belinda is a friend who knows what it means to be a friend. 
She doesn't just talk the talk, but she walks the walk. 
And her walk is amazing! :)

There are many things that have anchored Belinda in my heart. From the first day I met her, she was full of questions in an effort to get to know me, but also in an effort to make me feel loved and welcome. She always seemed interested in my life, but the more I got to know her, I realized that she showed this interest to everyone. She knows how to make you feel loved, and she is willing to go out of her way to do so.

The most tender memories I have of Belinda are linked to the period of time when I went through my divorce. To say that period of time was difficult is an understatement. It was such a private pain that I went through, so I didn't want to talk to just anyone about it. But, because Belinda had made such a consistent effort to be a friend, she was one of very few I found safe to confide in. 

As a friend, she went above and beyond. It's moments like that when we see the true colors of those around us.
And her true colors were beautiful.

This weekend I heard a leader in my church say this:
"If you come upon a person who is drowning, would you ask if he needs help, or would it be better to just jump in and save him from the deepening waters? The offer, whilst well-meaning and often given, 'let me know if I can help' is really no help at all." - Ronald A. Rasband

And that is what Belinda did for me. She didn't ask. She just did it. She knew I would not ask for help, yet she knew that there were days that I was treading water just trying to survive. And she jumped in on a regular basis and saved me. She visited me, she took care of Keely, she sat (sometimes for long periods of time) and just listened, she held me and let me cry without having all the 'right' answers, she built me back up, she told me on a regular basis that I was strong enough to get through it and cheered me on as I tried. And sometimes in the middle of the tears, she somehow even managed to make me laugh.

She did more than offer help. She gave it.

So, although that was a very painful period of my life, it was touched by love and kindness in powerful ways.
Belinda is an example of the word 'charity'.
She saw a need, and she found a way to help.

Belinda makes my heart happy.
She has made my heart happy from the first day I met her.
And even though she is far away now, the very thought of her brings feelings of happiness and peace.

Thank you Belinda.
I haven't said that in a long time,
but I always feel it when I think of you.