As another page turns and I celebrate my 31st birthday, I decided to tell you about 31 Simple Things That Make Me Smile:
1. Cloth napkins (they’re all we use)
2. Ryah’s morning breath
3. The first baby plant that pokes through in the springtime soil
4. Will’s one-liners (I’ve been told more than once that I should write a book of the things he says!)
5. The way Ryah has her eyes closed in most pictures
6. A new episode of Downton Abbey
7. Fresh sheets
8. Brown eggs
10. Hanging clothes on the clothesline
11. The crust of a loaf of bread, fresh out of the oven
12. Dark chocolate
14. Izzy’s silky ears
15. The color robins egg blue
16. Chai tea
17. Freshly mopped floors
18. Morning light
20. The smell of the library
21. The mug Naomi and Brian made me for my birthday last year
22. The crunchy sound of walking on snow
23. The funny blue sink, toilet, and tub in our upstairs bathroom
24. Squirrels flicking their tails
25. Belly buttons
27. Anything with Will Farrell on Saturday Night Live (my favorite skit is Celebrity Jeopardy!)
Photo Credit: Saturday Night Live
28. The smell of leaves freshly fallen
30. Having a friend drop by unexpectedly
31. Running a length of thick yarn through my fingers
What are some of your favorite things?
It’s true that the simplest items make the best play things.
A few weeks ago, the kids and I went for a walk and stopped into a Starbucks for hot chocolate. The barista was an elderly gentleman, who was especially kind to the kids, taking time to really talk to them and hear what they had to say about everything. He told us of his grandson, living in another state, and how much he enjoys getting to spend time with him when he’s able.
When our drinks were ready, he brought them to our table (which was a pleasant surprise!). Then he returned a moment later with an entire sleeve of the sample-sized holiday cups. He said they were getting rid of them because clearly the holidays were over. He said to William, “I bet you can think up something really great to do with these cups.”
That was all the inspiration William needed. He quickly set to work creating a pyramid:
Later, on our walk, he laid a cup on the sidewalk, and he and Ryah chased it as the wind nudged it along.
For the next several days, the kids built all sorts of towers and pyramids. They played house and used them as their dishes. They filled them with coins. I was amazed how long they stayed interested in a sleeve of paper cups. In fact, they continued playing with them until all the cups were smashed, torn, or lost.
I’m so thankful for the kindness of the gentleman at Starbucks, and I was thrilled to watch my children use their imaginations with something so simple.
What simple things do your children enjoy playing with?
One of my fears with my children was that the space between their ages would make it difficult or impossible for them to have close relationships. My own relationship with my little sister growing up was probably my most precious relationship during my growing up years. I cried several times when it seemed like the 5.5 years between Naomi and Will, and the nearly 4 years between Will and Ryah would be an impassable canyon.
But then, their relationships blossomed naturally. Apart from the usual sibling skirmishes, my children actually get along beautifully. They love each other, and genuinely enjoy spending special time together. It’s been such a blessing to see the special ways they connect. Their connections are very different from my sister and me, since we were just 2.5 years apart. Instead, I find that my older kids enjoy reliving their favorite memories with their younger siblings, and the younger ones are open to trying new things with the help of a big brother or sister.
One example of that is when Naomi has given some of her old favorite toys to her little sister. Recently, we pulled out a photo album of when Naomi was three years old, and this is what we found:
This immediately sent us running to pull out the exact same jammies and of course the beloved princess couch. We all laughed in amazement at how similar Ryah and Naomi looked! Ryah could not be convinced that the above picture was Naomi. She repeatedly insisted, “No! That Ryah!”
We quickly decided to stage the same photo with the little sister.
Then we all got a HUGE laugh when 11-year old Naomi jumped on the couch in the same position.
I’m so glad my children didn’t live up to my fears. I love their special relationships and love for one another.
My favorite restaurant in our entire city is a little Creole cafe called Lucile’s. Situated snugly in a tiny yellow house, you feel like you are sitting down in a Louisiana mama’s kitchen as she piles your plate high with butter biscuits and grits, and squeezes fresh orange juice just for you.
I always request to be taken to Lucille’s for breakfast on my birthday!
One of my favorite dishes to get there is called Hank’s Eggs. Brian loves it too, so we recently did a little R&D to develop our own recipe. It’s not exactly like Lucille’s, but we love it just the same!
1/4 cup milk
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 bell pepper, diced
1 Tbsp. Adobo seasoning
2 Tbsp. oil
1 can diced tomatoes
1 avocado, diced
1. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs and milk. Heat a large skillet. Scramble eggs. Set aside.
2. In another large skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add potatoes, onion, and bell pepper. Add Adobo seasoning. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender.
3. Reduce heat to medium low. Add diced tomatoes. Cook until heated throughout. Turn off heat and stir in eggs.
4. Crumble bacon on top. Serve immediately with avocado sliced on top. If you really want to have the full Lucille’s experience, make some butter biscuits, strong coffee, and fresh squeezed orange juice to go alongside. Enjoy!
As spring unfolds around us, many days find us with our doors and windows flung wide to welcome in the fresh air. All the newness around us stirs many of us to clean a little deeper and even to purge some of our unnecessary items in order to enjoy a cleaner, more simplified home life.
If this sounds like you, I wanted to let you know that my entire Combat Clutter series is still available here on The HomeStyle. Combat Clutter is a series which targets one specific area of the house per post. Instead of trying to clean or organize your entire house in one day, Combat Clutter gives you a step by step plan to help you rid yourself of unnecessary stuff.
If you need additional inspiration to get organized this spring, I highly recommend the book Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider. This was one of the most helpful and motivational books I’ve ever read on home management, simplistic living, and organization.
What is your Spring Cleaning plan (or hopeful plan) for this year?
One of my favorite places in Nicaragua was the bathroom.
No wait! Don’t leave – I promise this isn’t going to be gross.
Throughout the trip, many of us on the team opened our hearts up to what God wanted to grow and heal and change in us. It was beautiful to watch as God would bring each of us to the point of realizing our deep need for more of him. When that happened, tears often spilled. We gathered around one another and prayed. We drew closer to the face of God, hand in hand.
And for some reason this almost always happened in the girls’ bathroom.
Now I’m not going to make any jokes about God really moving in the bathroom. I’m not here to say that the ground may or may not have been more holy in there.
All I am saying is that we prayed a lot while in Nicaragua. And a striking amount of that prayer happened between shower stalls, toilets, and toothbrushes. Coincide? You decide.
So why am I writing this post, you may ask? As silly as our Bathroom Prayer Room was, it was a reminder that God is always at work, anywhere we go. He is always wanting to talk with us and to be known more by us. Let’s never confine him to “religious” places or activities. When we allow ourselves to see God’s hand on everyday things, I think that we will see his hand on everything.
Naomi and I recently started a very special tradition that I am excited to see where it goes.
I bought her a small spiral-bound notebook. I left it on her pillow one afternoon with a note on the first page, which read:
Happy Valentine’s Day! I bought this journal for us to use together. My hope is that we can write back and forth in it about anything and everything. There are no rules with this journal. We can write about whatever we want. We can write as often as we want. I look forward to sharing this with you!
Since then, Naomi and I have been leaving it in one another’s rooms every few days.
Sometimes I leave her an open ended question.
She has been reading through Proverbs lately, and she often leaves me a verse that caught her attention.
Once we daydreamed together about our dream vacation.
Today I wrote down one of my favorite memories of her.
We have used it for apology notes and notes of encouragement.
I started this tradition, because I have noticed that sometimes it’s easier for Naomi to write about her thoughts and feelings than to express them verbally. My hope is that this will be a great way for us to deepen our relationship and to enjoy each other even more fully.
What special ways do you connect with and communicate with your children?
We’ve been making an effort around the Meyer household lately to have a greater percentage of our daily food intake be vegetables. Some of the new veggie recipes I’ve tried have not gone over so well. Ahem.
But others like this Hearty Vegetable Stew have gotten rave reviews! Naomi even went back for seconds folks. Seconds!!!!
I’ve not tried this recipe in the crock pot yet, but when I do I’ll let you know how it turns out. Maybe we can add it to the list of 19 Crock Pot Recipes.
3-4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 medium bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 Tbsp. oil
1 16-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 6-oz. jar tomato paste
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 can vegetable broth
3 cups water
1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium high heat. Cook the onions, peppers, and garlic. Continue cooking, stirring frequently for about 2-3 minutes.
2. Pour the broth and water into the pot. Add the potatoes and carrots. Bring to a boil.
3. Add the tomatoes, spices, salt and pepper. Simmer for 30-40 min. Serve warm with toasted tortillas or homemade bread.
So, I don’t typically do a lot of holiday-related crafts with my kids. Not because I don’t want to, but because frankly I forget. (I’m honestly not sure how that’s possible when the last several weeks Pinterest has been blowing up with red, white, pink, and hearts out the wazoo.)
However, I do tend to realize the morning of the holiday that I really would like to commemorate the day in some crafty way with my kidlets. It is in that moment that I typically scan through my mental file of easy-to-pull-off crafts and find one that can be adapted for the holiday at hand.
Here’s one of those ideas. Last summer I posted a series of 101 Ideas for Bored Kids. One idea that jumped out today was Idea #64: Make a clay handprint. I thought, Hello, I’ve got kids, they’ve got hands, I love my kids, I love their hands. Valentine’s Day is about love. Bam.
And thus we took a common craft, threw some pink food coloring in and called it a Valentine’s Day craft.
Just like that.
What crafts have you adapted for a holiday or theme in the past?
My kids are artists – way more so than I am. They spend hours each week creating masterpieces – from painting to drawing to coloring to molding with Play-Doh, these kids are constantly churning out beautiful creations.
I love all of them, and it melts my heart when they bring one to me and say, “Mommy, I made this for you!” (Seriously, is there anything more precious than the first time your baby draws a heart for you??)
The problem comes in, though, in the fact that I have three artists. If each of them creates 3 masterpieces per week (which is a low estimate) that means I end up displaying and/or storing…
9 masterpieces each week…
36 masterpieces each month…
468 masterpieces each year…
25,272 masterpieces by the time they all graduate from high school!
(Assuming, of course that they continue this rate throughout the teenage years…. yeah right. )
Of course those numbers are silly, and naturally I don’t keep every scribble my children create. But if you’re a parent you know what I mean. These projects are precious, and you feel guilty throwing any of them away, but seriously, are we really going to keep all of them?
Enter a handy little app called Artkive.
Photo credit: Artkive
It’s a free app you can download to your iPhone or iPad. Once downloaded, you can set up a profile for each of your children. As they present you with their creations, you snap a quick photo and pin it under their name. There is an easy menu of options you can tag in the photo too, including date created, child’s age, title of the project, and any other notes about the project or how it was made.
Photo Credit: Artkive
After adding the project photo to the correct kid, you can also choose to share it with anyone you choose, but unless you share it, it will be kept private on your phone.
Finally, there is an option to print some of your child’s creations in a hardback book. Check out the Artkive website for their printing options. I havent tried this option yet, but I’ve been keeping a collection of Will’s projects from kindergarten, and I am hoping to make one specifically of his Kindergarten year.
Have you tried Artkive? What did you think of it?