Wednesday, September 5, 2012

How to have a Quick and Easy Spontaneous Picnic!

I *heart* picnics.  Late summer and...dare I say it--Autumn (it's on the way! I can feel it!) are perfect for picnics. There's just something about being outside in nature, enjoying a simple meal with family and friends that fills my heart with joy.  But at times they can be a little tough to pull off on a moment's notice--especially with little ones in tow.  So, here are a few tricks I've learned along the way in order to make picnics fast and easy!

1.  Keep a "picnic essentials" tote
 I try to always keep a tote bag of picnic essentials on hand, in order to keep packing to a minimum.   In my "essentials" tote I have stashed: 

--paper towels and napkins
--plastic utensils
 --juice boxes
-- apple sauce cups
-- dry treat of some sort (e.g. pretzels or goldfish)
--granola bars
 --paper plates
--wet wipes
--plastic bags (for easy garbage disposal!)
lunch made easy thanks to a little pre-packing!

2.  Keep a picnic blanket in your car
Another easy way to pull off a spontaneous picnic is to keep a picnic blanket in your car.  Even better if you happen to have a water-proof one! (If not, any blanket will do--just be careful to avoid wet spots on the ground when selecting your picnic spot!)
Blanket: check.  Nature journals: check.

3.  Have a "picnic activity" tote ready to go
I'm all about the pre-packed totes!  I just love having a few activities tucked away for the kids to do.  Our tote includes:

--a kite
--nature journals w/colored pencils
--pocket microscope
--balls, frisbee and other outdoor toys
--bug spray
--bug-examining apparatus (my boys love bugs!)
--print-outs of outdoor games (e.g. scavenger hunt check-lists)
colored pencils are always a hit!

"Something Round" Scavenger Hunt  items we found

4.  Keep your home stocked with simple picnic lunch essentials
We try to make sure we always have some PB&J fixin's on hand as well as cold cuts, veggies & fruit.  Not to worry--if your cupboards are bare, you can always run to a sandwich shop on the way!  We've stopped off at Subway en route to our picnic on more than one occasion!

5.  Bring extra clothes for kids!
There have been many times where my littles stepped into mud patches, got drenched at the beach, needed extra (or fewer!) layers when the weather changed, and even (oops!) had accidents.  Extra clothes are AWESOME to have in the car!

The boys rolling down a huge hill the day after it had rained--extra clothes to the rescue! :)

Water exploration... muddy pants practically guaranteed!

I hope these little tips I've learned along the way help you plan for some spontaneous picnic fun this Fall!  I've found these few simple steps really reduce the amount of time it takes to prepare what's needed for a day of outdoor fun.  If you have any other tips to share I'd love to hears yours!  Please share in the comments below with all of your tips and tricks! :)

Happy Fall! 

Raising Homemakers

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Apple Raisin Bars

Here in Connecticut apple season is just beginning.  Last week the kids and I headed to our local orchard to pick up a basket full of bright red, juicy, tart Polared Apples.  YUM!  Apples are one of my all-time favorite fruits to bake with--I wait alllllllllll year for apple season!  So, to kick off the season right I thought I'd share one of my family's favorite recipes:  Apple Raisin Bars.  These bars are a sweet-tart, chewy-yet-light texture that make for a great breakfast, dessert or anytime snack.  Although I've never tried them this way, I bet they'd  be divine with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top!  They're simple to make, which is a good thing because they go FAST in this house! :)  Here's how to make 'em:


--2 cups all-purpose flour
--2 teapsoons baking powder
--1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
--1/2 teaspoon salt
--2 cups packed light brown sugar
--2 eggs
--1 stick butter, softened
--1 teaspoon vanilla extract
--1 1/2 cups diced apples (I prefer firm tart varieties!)
--3/4 cup raisins (I love to use a mixture of craisins and raisins for extra tartness)


--Heat oven to 350.  Liberally coat a 9" x 13" baking dish with non-stick spray, set aside.

--In medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt, set aside.

--In large bowl blend together sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla with electric mixture on medium speed for about 3 minutes until smooth.

--Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour mixture.  Mix for 2 minutes, just until incorporated.  Stir in diced apples and raisins.  Spread into prepared pan.

--Bake at 350 for 35 minutes until top is golden brown and inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Cool completely before cutting into bars.  Enjoy!

If you give these a try let me know how you like them!  I hope you love them as much as we do! :)  

 *I originally found this recipe at:

Tempt my Tummy Tuesdays
Raising Homemakers

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Mid-August Daybook

Outside my window...
 ...enjoying a late-summer cooler morning with that teeny hint of change in the air.  That, and our for-sale sign swinging in the breeze reminding me that we haven't had ANY showings this week.  This whole house-selling business is tough!  At his rate we might be here for another year... *sigh*

I am thinking...

...about Autumn!  Those who know me best always tease me for "pushing the seasons"--thinking ahead to the next season while the current season is still in full swing.  It's true, it's just what I do. :)  But I tend to do this especially in the summertime when I'm sick of the heat and dreaming of my all-time favorite season--Fall!  I'm also looking ahead to Fall fun because I'm (thank you, Lord!) feeling much much better as my first trimester ends!

I am thankful...

...again, for feeling better!  Also thankful for fresh peaches, a fairly smooth start diving back into homeschooling, apple cider, all of our favorite clubs and activities starting up again soon.

In the kitchen...

...just this past week I've been getting my "kitchen mojo" back (again, see above with the feeling better!).  I've been looking through all of my recipe books, Pinterest and torn magazine must-try pages for some new ideas.  I want to get better about weekly meal planning now that I'm getting my energy back.  The poor kids have eaten more processed frozen yuck-o food in the past month than I care to admit and that will be coming to a screeching halt, I'm happy to say!

I am wearing..., still in my jammies. :) Most of my maternity shorts aren't the most comfortable (just that whole panel pressing on my belly making me feel a little queasy) so I've been super lazy about getting out of jammies until I absolutely have to!  That is very un-like me--I'm not usually a hang-out-at-home-in-my-jammies-person!  But if it keeps the queasies at bay, then I feel justified!

I am creating...
...lesson plans, lesson plans and more lesson plans.  Between my leadership roles in different groups and our at-home studies resuming I am in full-on planning mode!  It's fun though, I'm such a nerd at heart.  Not much crafting going on these days.  I tend to go in phases with crafting.  I'm definitely in a "crafty dry spell" right now.  Just too many other things going on right now, I think.

I am going... our local county fair this weekend--first fair of the fair season for us!  The kids are super excited to see pig races, ride filthy rides with sketchy safety standards and chow down candied apples.  Aaaaah, fairs.  Gotta love 'em!

I am wondering...
...if we'll sell our house this year.  It's been such a huge process to get the house ready to sell, keeping it clean for showings and re-arranging all of our homeschool organization to "hide" our supplies when we're not doing school work.  I have to say I'm not a huge fan of this "limbo living"-- of not being able to tape up the kids artwork on the walls, and having to be so militant about toy clean-up every night.  But it's a process and exercise in faith and trust, so I'm trying to just take it one day at a time.

I am reading...
...still chugging along in the Jesuit Guide to (almost) Everything and a few other stragglers I've mentioned in previous posts that I've yet to finish.  I didn't do as much reading over the summer as I normally would've because I was just so dang tired!  Going to bed at 8:45pm put a definite cramp in my evening reading routine!

I am learning...
...lots and lots about Europe in the 1500-1600s.  That's our area of study in homeschooling history right now and I just love brushing up on Queen Elizabeth, Mary Queen of Scots, Guy Fawkes and all of that good stuff.  The kids just adore history, so it'd definitely a favorite subject around here!  We're planning a huge trip to the library for more supplemental reading on this time period!

One of my favorite things...
...fresh produce from the local farmer's markets.  Oh, the corn, peaches, tomatoes, apples and squash!  So yummy!

A peek into my day... 
back to homeschool!

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Summer Update!

It's been ages since I've last posted, I know.  Every summer I plan to keep up on blogging and it just never ends up happening!  The combination of green luscious hazy lazy days and well...morning sickness just got the best of me yet again.  Yep, you read that right, I did say morning sickness--I'm expecting #4 this February!  It's been a bumpy summer (hehe, pardon the pun!) but also one of great memories.

So, in an attempt to catch you all up on what we've been doing for the past 2 months, I'll just list a few random highlights, both good and challenging:

1) We had a *wonderful* time in the Outer Banks!  We went in early June, so the weather wasn't excruciatingly hot, which was AWESOME.  It was 2 weeks of mini golf, swimming, day trips, beach breezes and delicious food!  Oh, and that's when I found out I was pregnant, too, which made the trip that much more memorable! 

the kids having fun at the beach

On a ride to the top of the mini golf course!
The boys got to take a great little science class at Jeanette Pier.  What a blast they had!
The kids got to be pirates for a day--a boat ride where they found buried treasure, drank "grog" (Mountain Dew!), had their faces painted and said "aaaarrrr" 'til their hearts were content!

2) We got home on a beach high, filled with dreams of what magic the summer would hold, bucket list written out and everything.  And then shortly thereafter morning sickness reared it's not-so-pretty head.  It was fierce.  I was tired.  And I forcibly traded my bucket list for a well...ahem, bucket. (Sorry, couldn't resist!)  I wish I could say I'm one of those stoic, suck-it-up-don't-let-it get-you-down kinds of people, but in all honesty, I kinda stink at suffering.  I feel sorry for myself.  I mope. When I'm feeling awful it ends up taking a ginormous toll on pretty much every aspect of my life.  The housework falls behind, the thought of throwing together some semblance of well-balanced meal 3 times a day feels gargantuan, and the only thing that brings comfort and relief at the end of the day is crawling into bed. So, all to say, July wasn't the most idyllic of months, but there were some bright spots amidst the mopes and heaves.  

3)  One of the aforementioned bright spots of July was our week at Cub Scout day camp!  I volunteered as a leader, which meant all 3 of the kids and I got to spend every day from 9-4:30 singing goofy songs, making s'mores, doing crafts and all of that other iconic campy goodness.  It was SO. MUCH. FUN.  Having never been a boy scout (or girl scout for that matter) growing up, this was a whole new world to me.  I just loved every minute of it--even though it was 100+ degrees on some of the days, there was a huge scary thunder storm knocking down a tree & making the kids scream with terror, and by the end of the week we all had more mosquito bites than fingers and toes!  Loved it.
My little Megan (on the far left, Adam next to her) at the archery range!


Luke (on the light grey shirt) had the lead in the skit performed at Family Night--proud mama moment! :)

A very hot, sweaty and tired Megan is still smiling--she loves her crafts!

Adam getting the opportunity to light a match--he loved it!

The kids wearing goofy hats made for "Crazy Hat Day!"

4)  My sweet, bright, Lego-loving, gentle-natured first born turned 7!  I know this sounds trite, but I honestly cannot believe how fast it goes. I'm awed and blessed to have the honor of raising such a wonderful little guy.  I love reflecting on how much he's grown and changed over the years, and on the man he is gradually becoming.  Each year it just gets better and better.  Ok, I'm literally tearing up right now as I type this (dang pregnancy hormones!) so I'll just leave it at that. :)

5)  On a much less sentimental and note, we went blueberry picking!  I know this seems perfectly ordinary, and barely even worth mentioning, but I *heart* blueberry picking.  There's a local farm a few towns over that feels like it never left the 1950s.  It's this sprawling peaceful utopia, complete with peepers, butterflies, song-birds and woods.  The employees just let you do your thing.  Have you ever been to a farm where the employees hover over you like you're some type of criminal plotting the first opportunity to--heaven forbid--leave your assigned row?  Well, this place is nothing like that.  You just grab a bucket and go.  It's like heaven on earth.  And the reason I'm so excited we went this year is that we missed it last year.  So...yay. :)

6)  I got to see my sweet little baby's heart beat.  There's just something so magical about seeing your little one on that screen for the first time.  All of the sickness, all of the worry and all of the fatigue just melts away as you stare in awe of that little miracle squirming around inside of you.  And it makes it all worth it.

So, as my first trimester draws to a close and I (hope to!) have more energy, we're planning on soaking up every last ray of sunshine that August brings!  Because before we know it, we'll be diving back into school books, co-ops, and apple-baked Fall goodness!

How has your summer been going?  Any highlights you'd like to share?  What are you hoping to squeeze in this August?

Friday, June 1, 2012

7 Quick Takes

1.  I watched the History channel's Hatfields & McCoys mini-series this past week.  Did anyone else tune in?  I really enjoyed it--makes for good food for thought.  I'm amazed by how hatred can brew and fester through multiple generations.  What started out as some bad feeling between 2 families turned into all-out war.  It reminded me of modern day gang mentality--how people can hate each other based on something so contrived as the name of the gang with which they're associated.  It's chilling to think of how we're able to dehumanize individuals like this--assigning value based solely on a name.  There are some definite lessons to be learned here on the necessity of forgiveness and the danger of assessing individuals based on superficial labels.  Good stuff to chew on!

2.  On a far less contemplative note, we've been loving the summer weather here!  We've washed off all the patio furniture, eaten outside, even busted out the sprinkler pad!  I'm always struck by how quickly it seems to change from Spring to summer! (Especially as homeschoolers since all core academics come to a screeching halt the moment the gorgeous 80 degree not-a-cloud-in-the-sky days arrive!  My justification for this is ehhh...who wants to sit at the table doing math when we could be having a picnic instead?! I'm teaching my kids awesome lessons in perseverance, I know! ;) Note to self: work on instilling perseverance, um...this Fall!

3.  My son, Luke, lost his first tooth yesterday!  This is a BIG DEAL in our house, since he's my oldest.  It's our very first tooth-losing experience in our household!  Since I can't seem to ever reign myself in and keep things simple I came up with this elaborate treasure hunt complete with cryptic clues leading to his hidden loot.  It started with a note under his pillow, had him searching all over the house, eventually leading to a concealed box stealthily lurking amidst our shoes. So much fun!  But now I've realized I've set the bar ridiculously high for future tooth-losing experiences!  And doing the math of 20 baby teeth times at least 3 kids...what have I done???  (Note to self: Explain to kids that the big hoopla is only for the FIRST lost tooth only!  Next time it's loose change under the pillow!!)

4.  More progress on the potty training front!  My daughter, Megan, has only had one accident in the past week and, as of yesterday, even pooped on the potty!  Success!!  It's a week of epic achievements in our house this week! (Yeah, I know--I probably need to get out more if I'm considering the normal bodily functions of my children "epic" in any way.  Duly noted.)

5.  Since we'll be on vacation the next couple of weeks I've made it my self-imposed challenge to try and use up every last shred of food in our house so as to avoid grocery shopping and the icky nastiness of the old food in the fridge upon our return!)  I've deluded myself into thinking I'm some hard core reality show contestant brilliantly concocting both delicious as well as nutritious meals for my children, but at this late stage in the game it's getting pretty thin on both the "delicious" and "nutritious." Last night it was frozen tortellini and stale raisins for dinner.  Yeah.  Absolutely 0 points for me on that one.  I think I'm definitely getting voted off by the tribal council this week!!

6.  I realized that I started out on a high note with these quick takes, actually saying something somewhat meaningful and contemplative and have subsequently trailed off into the completely inane.  Such is the way of my brain--I really only have one or two worthwhile things to say and then it's all downhill from there!  That's why I could never be one of those savvy whip-smart bloggers who cranks out something completely brilliant every single day.  About once every 2 weeks I'd have a really great post if I could manage it and the rest of the days would be a bunch of mindless drivel about summer wardrobe woes and the absolutely ordinary accomplishments of my children! :p

7.  Since we'll be away on vacation I won't be around these here parts too much over the next couple of weeks.  I'm hoping that will mean I might actually have 2 or...perhaps even 3 meaningful things to say upon my return! :)  And if not, you can at least expect 2 weeks worth of mindless drivel that's been compiling in my brain while I enjoy the fun and sun of the Outer Banks with my kiddos.  I know, I know, try to contain your enthusiasm for that.  If you're lucky I might even throw in a picture or two of my kids doing something really brilliantly innovative--like eating.  Or breathing.  Because, you know, they rock at those things and the world needs to know it. :)

Megan thoroughly enjoying the beach sand on our trip last summer. (Can't believe how much she's grown since last year!)

Have a great weekend everyone!

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Friday, May 25, 2012

7 Quick Takes

1.  I recently did some reading on the history of the Sign of the Cross and discovered that touching the left and right shoulders (as we pray 'Holy Spirit') represent the crucifixion (left=darkness) and resurrection (right= light, Christ seated at right hand) respectively.  As a "cradle Catholic" who has been making the Sign of the Cross for as long as I can remember, I feel really silly for never having known this!   I also read that beginning with 'The Father' on our forehead and lowering our hand to our breast as we say 'The Son' we physically represent the Father coming down for us--another thing I had never thought about!  And just to fully expose the extent of my cross-making ignorance--our 5 fingers facing upward represent the 5 wounds of Christ.  Again, had NO idea about that.  But this is totally awesome, and I will be thinking about this every time I make the sign of the cross in the future!  Color me informed. ;)

2.  Inspired by this (seemingly!) simple chore chart over at Everyday Snapshots, I am working on my own version to ruthlessly enforce in the name of free labor   err...encourage my children to use!  The trouble is that I am hopelessly inconsistent when it comes to enforcing chores on a regular basis, so I feel the need to come up with a monetary denomination per chore that will actually allow the kids to save up more than 20 cents per month!  My other problem is that some chores (e.g. vacuuming) seem much longer than others (e.g. making bed), so to give the same amount for all of these things seems a little unfair to me.  So, who knows--I'll give it a whirl and just see! (And yes, I'm realize I'm probably putting waaaay too much thought into this.  Such is the way of my brain.  If I haven't managed to reign in the over-thinking in my 34 years here, then I'm probably stuck with it for life.)

3.  I feel exceedingly blessed to have had 3 wonderfully amazing conversations with 3 of my most favorite people in the whole world all in the course of the same week!  This NEVER happens!  Just feeling all warm and huggy inside at the amazingness of that. :)  If you haven't seen an old friend in awhile go call them/email them/text them and figure out a time to hang out.  Right now.  You won't regret it!

(Yes, this flower picture really has absolutely nothing to do with the text above, but I just thought it was puurty.  And I was a tad proud of snapping it with my plain old no frills point and shoot! *patting self on back.*)

4.  I'm in desperate need of finding a good "de-frizzing" hair product (is "de-frizzing" even a word?  The spell check doesn't seem to think so and I don't blame it one bit!) after a solid week of humidity here in Connecticut.  My hair is a puffy, fluffy, scraggly poof-bomb (now I know 'poof-bomb' is NOT a word.  I'm just goin' with it anyway) of badness.  Help me, please!!  I'd love your recommendations for thin ultra-fine hair that, under normal circumstances is straight!  (And, if you can throw me a bone here, Mother Nature, and send a little dry weather my way, I sure wouldn't mind!)

(not even the slightest exaggeration here!)

5.  My husband won a contest at a local hotdog joint for free dinner for 2 at an upscale steak house this weekend.  Woohoo!  And yes, the irony of a restaurant offering a prize of dinner at a different restaurant was not lost on us!  So funny!  But, heck, I'd rather eat a big ol' juicy hunk of fillet over a hotdog any day, and apparently the owner of the hotdog joint would, too!  The even funnier thing about the prize is that we're having dinner WITH THE OWNER of the hotdog joint!  Ummmm, a little awkward considering that Kevin and I are both fairly introverted and not so great at making small talk, but hey...pass up free steak?  No way!!  (But I do hope there's a glass of wine included! LOL!)

 mmmmmmmmmmm, steak. :)

6.  As I've mentioned in the past I have a slight problem when it comes to finishing books before starting on new ones.  I just can't seem to control myself when it comes to the allure of a new title I'm dying to dive into.  I've made absolutely NO progress in this area, as I've now added 2 more books to the mix: The Five Love Languages of Children and The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything.  I think my night stand my up and go on strike if I don't stop heaping more and more books on it!  But on a positive note I'm enjoying both so far!

7.  I've (finally!) bitten the proverbial bullet and started potty training my daughter (she'll be 3 in the Fall and I try to make sure my kiddos are trained up before they hit the 3 mark if possible!).  It's day 4 and she's doing great so far.  She seems to really have gotten the hang of keeping her pull-up dry over the past 2 days.  (But no real success on the um, "other end" just yet.)  Can I possibly be so lucky as to train her in less than a week?!  I'm too scared to trust that that could possibly ever actually be true.  So I'm holding onto cautious optimism at this point.  But so far this is really. pretty. awesome.

So all in all it's been a good week (humidity and Medusa hair notwithstanding!)!  Hope all of your weekend wanderings are great!  Have a lovely Memorial Day weekend everybody!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Seeking the Infinite

We live in a society that tells us: "Go get it."  See something you like?  Go get it.  Want a shiny new bobble?  Get  it.  Slimmer body?  Eat this, do that--you've got it. But what society fails to mention, an inconvenient little caveat, is that none of these things brings lasting joy.  Sure, they may feel good for a while--give us a boost, some extra pep, a spring in our step.  But satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts?  Sorry, but--no.  I've been reading a wonderful book this Easter season called Easter Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections.  In it, a passage on the subject of desire states:

"The reality [is] that deep within we are seeking the infinite--that which lasts forever.  Much in our society today is focused on self-interest, encouraging us to do everything for our personal gain and satisfaction.  But part of us, deep inside, will never be completely satisfied with earthly things.... [Only Jesus] satisfies the deepest hungers of our hearts."  (emphasis added.)

This is so true.  When it comes right down to it, aren't we all, in the end, seeking the infinite?  Do those new shoes give you peace deep within your heart?  Does a snazzy career or shedding 20 pounds quiet the ugly, lost, hurting places deep within?  While they may lend some satisfaction and temporary distraction, they never truly satisfy.  Are these evil pursuits?  Certainly not.  We are all called to use our gifts, challenge ourselves and seek to enrich our lives.  But the danger lies in losing the balance between earthly desires and eternal ones.  Once we turn away from God, lost in pursuit of our earthly goals, we are headed into dangerous territory.

There was a time not too long ago that I had begun to lose my "heavenly focus."  So wrapped up in my own little world of earthly desire, I had completely placed my focus on...well, myself.  Rather than consulting God to set my path I got sucked into a world of external desires--longing for "stuff," acting out of pride, and thinking about all of my own wants, rather than focusing on how I might serve others.  Instead of seeing the beauty in all of the things in my present life I got stuck in a downward spiral of:

If only my house were bigger.

If only I had a maid to help with some of this mess.

If only my husband could pick up his dirty socks once in awhile.

If only I could magically press a magic "fast-forward to bed" button on my kids on the hard days.

If only, if only, if only...

Before I knew it, I found I was no longer satisfied with all of the extraordinary graces in my life.  Rather than "seeking the infinite" I was begrudging the present and dreaming of a non-existent future of what could be.  And if we don't get a grip on these desires, the longings just get bigger and hungrier until we reach a place of total dissatisfaction with the present.  We act out of self-interest to the point of even hurting others.  In our focus on what "could be" that we lose the beauty of what is.  And this line of selfish thought can become the devil's playground for a whole host of idols-- be it physical fitness, career aspirations, imbalanced time spent on hobbies, etc. The list goes on and on.

And the truth is, that many of the puffed-up dreams we chase are really just illusions, anyway.  It's easy to convince ourselves that our "rub a lamp and make a wish" life would fulfill our deepest longings, but in the attainment, the reality often falls short.  In an recent interview popular blogger Jennifer Fulwiler talked about her light bulb moment she when, at the pinnacle of her computer programming career, she thought (paraphrased) : "This is it?  This is the dream I chased?  This is really kind of...lame."  (Great interview, by-the-way!  I highly recommend watching!)  And if we, in our "light bulb moments" fail to pray for guidance, the illusions snowball.  And that is a sad place to be--trapped in an illusion. 

It is not in the attainment of personal pursuits that we are truly filled, but in the emptying of self.  We are called to die to self in order to be filled by Christ.  When we serve others in love, when we act on the whisperings of the Holy Spirit, our longing can truly be satisfied.  When we kneel at the foot of the cross in sincere humility, with soft supple hearts, it is only then that we can truly be nourished.  The Lord fills our gaps and empty places with abundance.  But He can only feed us if we acknowledge our hunger for Him.  We need to make space inside of us for Him to fill.

I was at the grocery store the other day and saw an old man struggling with his shopping list.  I was frazzled, just trying to hurry through the rest of the trip with my 3 kids in tow. The man looked troubled as we perused the cheese selections.  Admittedly, (not my finest moment!) I felt a little irritated he was taking up most of the aisle.  It was almost lunch time and this was the very last aisle of the store, so by this time the kids and I had had it.  The man looked at me and asked: "Do you see any more of the cheddar on sale?"  I knew he needed my help.  I felt so torn between my own desire (to be DONE with shopping!) and the nudging I felt to help.  So, I found the cheese he was looking for, and as it turned out, he had also lost his pen.  I paused for a moment holding my purse, knowing that only my favorite pen was inside.  I really didn't want to part with it.  But he needed it.  So, I gave him my pen.  Immediately after I felt so happy I had helped this man--he looked at me with such gratitude, and thanked me so heartily.  Truly, there was nothing better than that moment--of choosing someone else over my own stress and ridiculous pen-loving desire.  I can buy another silly pen, but I'll probably never get another chance to be a blessing to the old man on the cheese aisle.

So as you live through your weeks and months and years, go ahead and make your plans.  Make great resolutions, dream big, reach for the stars.  But all the while, ask the Lord to walk your path with you.  Include Him in those plans of yours, and thank Him for the gifts and graces along the way.  Dream big, but remain humble and open to the path He sets, enjoying the graces of each day.  And allow yourself to be amazed by what the Lord can do when you let Him take the lead.

Do you have any "If onlys" you need to let go of in order to seek the infinite?

Monday, May 14, 2012

One Thousand Gifts {part 21}

It's been awhile since I've posted my list of 1000 Gifts.  While I've been continuing to count in my journal at home, that pesky little thing called, oh...real life has been getting in the way of my blogging about it!  But I've missed the joy of typing all of these beautifully captured moments here, in word and picture.  So, with the profusion of Spring all around me, I continue making my way to 1000:

746.  basket of fuchsias outside my window, greeting me with bright burst of pink each morning

747.  evening of nachos and laughs with friends

748.  studying honeybees--such fascinating and vitally important creatures!

749.  MOPS tea--time of connection and community

750.  sounds of nature at dusk

751.  spotting Baltimore Orioles!

752.  stranger giving my kids food to feed birds at the park

753.  bullfrog's deep surprising croak

754.  warm banana bread with Trappist Plum jam

755.  candle-lit dinner at home with husband

756.  quick supper fixes after busy days outdoors!

757.  cat birds at the feeder

758.  blueberry blossom honey butter on crescents

759.  rainy day toys to liven up the "pre-dinner witching hour"

760.  stacks and stacks of children's books from bargain store!

762.  stranger who gave me a coupon--extra 30% off!

763.  giddy kids pouring over mountain of new books

764.  lunch with the kids at local "dive"--greasy hotdogs with pepper relish & chocolatey milkshakes

765.  listening to "Peter and the Wolf" with the kids

766.  shadow puppets

...more to come

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