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Keenly

This morning I told Handsome, “Just yesterday, we started this month, and now it’s the 11th – almost halfway done!  How does that happen?”

He looked at me straight-faced and replied, “Well, ten days passed.”

But I’m sure they didn’t; I’m sure I just blinked.

Is that what they mean when they say that time flies when you are having fun?

In this season, I’m grateful:

517.  I’ve learned to knit, something that I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember.

518.  I am so grateful to have something that I enjoy doing

519. . . . and it’s portable, so I can do it while I wait for the kids to do their activities!

520.  I’m enjoying finding yarn and patterns and putting them together to make masterpieces.

521.  Enjoying something.

522.  Oldest daughter is also learning to knit,

523.  and it’s so fun to have a shared hobby – another point of connection.

524.  After a long season of feeling “dry,” I am encouraged again.

525.  God shows grace in the funniest places, a basket full of yarn and sticks among them.

526.  The same oldest is currently sitting here next to me singing “Take this world and give me Jesus . . . ,” compliments of Building 429, while she does her math.

527.  She just wants to be in the same room as me.

528.  This parenting journey is so full of amazements

529.  and so much grace.

530.  I am keenly aware that is it all flying by too quickly!

I have mentally titled this the “Summer of Nothing.”  This happened long ago, but I have maintained my stance . . . which is the unusual part in that I almost always end up planning a bunch of stuff at the last minute then wondering how it is that I’m not getting anything done.  I did have things planned for this summer – play dates for the kids, time at the pool, lots of reading, time to be bored, and a few projects – but my real goals were to 1.) spend time with friends and 2.) get caught up on a few of the projects that have been sitting undone at our house.  I have simplified everything – food prep, cleaning routines (still getting the house clean – just not as clean as usual maybe), piano lessons, sports, blogging, and most everything that I have figured out a way to simplify.

It has been good.  The kids are fit and happy.  We all feel connected.  Our home is peaceful.  Our schedule is not chaotic, and it’s been months since I’ve said, “Ok, we’re going to have to eat in a hurry, so we can dash out the door!”

There will be a season when we pick it all back up and hurry about, but today I’m so very, very thankful for:

516.  teaching Dimples to tie a bow – unhurried

517.  playing Dutch Blitz over and over . . . and over

518.  reading with my kids – for fun

519.  sorting out the mess on my desk

520.  reading the pile of books that has been sitting at the end of my bed, waiting, for way too long

521.  capitalizing on curiosity (We’ve been reading all about bats – not because we have to do “science,” rather because the kids WANTED to.)

522.  learning new games

523.  trying new recipes

524.  enjoying slow the chores that are often burdensome hurried

525.  watching every video that the shuttle crew has posted and savoring the lasts

526.  standing for way to long after all the other parents left to watch my oldest sit atop a horse

527.  enjoying stuff again

528.  smiling – for no reason at all

529.  nights out with Handsome

530.  taking time to mentor

531.  and be mentored

532. catching up on scrapbooks

533.  chronicling family laughter

534.  working out

535.  praying long

I’m pretty sure that I’m maxed out this week . . . but I will be following along here:
Compassion-International-Philippines-2011Will you come along too?

Every Compassion trip that I have followed has been an amazing story . . . no, amazing stories, but even better every Compassion trip that I have followed has changed me, made me want to be more of Jesus’ hands and feet to those in foreign lands and in my neighborhood, made me inspect my own priorities, made me long for the end of poverty, and made me aware of what I can do to change the world (and not just through Compassion, though I do firmly believe that is a great place to start)!

Was thinking about this list in the car the other day.  Please, please add to it!

1.  Eat rice and beans (or rice and vegetables or just rice . . . ) one day a week and give the saved money to a food bank.

2.  Tithe

3.  Thirty Days of Nothing (A few years ago, several bloggers committed to spend thirty days buying only what was really, really needed for their family to survive.  The extra they donated.)

4.  Donate your change.  We don’t use cash much, but we have to sometimes.  We could save the change in the jar and save it then donate it when it was a sizable sum.

5.  Have a garage sale.  Give the money made.

6.  Budget it.  Decide to give, put it in your budget, and give first.

7.  Serve an elderly neighbor by doing yard work or making meals or spending time visiting with him.

8.  Smile at folks.

What are some ways that you try to bless those around you . . . or those a world away?

So my sister is much younger than I am, and she is just starting out on this baby-journey.

A bunch of us threw a shower for her last night.  I was in charge of two things:

centerpieces

(just one of eight that I threw together using vases and bowls we already had – going for the eclectic look)

and desserts:

(the dessert table – thanks to my cool friend who let me borrow the tied stands!)

(vanilla bean cupcake with cream cheese icing – I love me some cream cheese icing!)

(lemonade cupcakes with lemon glaze)

(triple chocolate cupcakes with dark chocolate ganache)

(sugar cookies – birds and flowers)

It was so much fun – all the baking and making . . . and truth be told my amazing-baker sister did help (yes, with her OWN shower!)  The vanilla bean cake recipe was a new one for me, but it was wonderful – super moist and yummy!  It was my first time using a real vanilla bean, and it was so fun . . . after I stopped being scared that I was going to do it wrong.

I got the lemonade cupcake recipe out of a Better Homes & Gardens Cupcake magazine that my mom bought before the shower; the glaze was simply juice from three organic lemons mixed with enough powdered sugar  to make it thick but not so thick that I couldn’t spoon it over the cupcakes.

The triple chocolate cupcakes were a disaster!  I made chocolate cake batter, added dark chocolate chips, then put them into special baking cups that don’t need a muffin pan.  They were a little shorter, so the cakes turned out shorter.  All went beautifully until I pulled them out of the oven and set them on the table to cool.  There they pulled away from the edge of the cupcake papers and shriveled to these mini-puck-looking shapes.  It was horrible!  Eventually, we came up with the idea of pulling them out of their original cups, placing them into the white papers and using the ganache as planned.  I think they turned out okay in the end, but I sure was sad about saying good-bye to my original vision!

While the taste of the lemonade cupcakes was my favorite flavor, the sugar cookies were my favorite thing to look at!  I have been looking for a sturdy sugar cookie recipe for years and years; when I found this one, I also found an icing recipe that I like better than the typical royal icing!  Talk about a score!  This is the second time I’ve used these recipes, and I just love working with the dough and the icing.  So. much. fun!

Baking

I spent a good deal of time last week baking (more on that tomorrow); it’s something I love to do!  This week’s list comes from various adventures in my kitchen.  And yes, I am concerned that so many of the things I am thankful for revolve around food and eating . . . but what’s a girl to do!

I am thankful for:

501.  juice from organic lemons mixed with powdered sugar to make a glaze

502.  the way egg whites whip up and stand tall

503. warm cream + dark chocolate = ganache

504. the feel of sugar cookie dough as I roll it out on my counter

505. icing that dries and allows me to transport sugar cookies easily

506. tiny vanilla beans with so much flavor

507. the many uses of that expensive vanilla bean

508. cream cheese icing

509. ingredients mixed into dough and placed into a pan . . . baked to yield English muffin bread

510. my red mixer

511. the bendy metal spatula that I inherited from my mother’s mother’s kitchen and is now my favorite way to spread icing

512. edible glitter

513. white gel food color – it’s cool!

514. cute cupcake wrappers

515. butter (I should maybe list this a few times, I am so thankful for it!)

Familiarity

This weekend Handsome took our oldest to riding lessons (riding horses, that is).  When he got home, he told me that while sitting near the hay in the barn he realized that the smell of hay in the barn is one of the smells that just makes him feel “at home.”  Later this weekend, I was making our guest bed, pulled out a quilt that was my grandma’s, and had that same feeling of being “at home.”

In this fast-paced, ever-changing, military-moving life of mine, I am grateful for the few things that do stay the same.  Today, I am thankful for:

481.  smells that take me back to home

482.  cotton quilts, washed many times, to softest perfection

483.  the taste of homemade ice cream

484.  the smell of our home after being away for a while

485.  the feel of my favorite jeans

486.  homemade strawberry shortcake – one thing that hasn’t changed since my childhood!

487.  hay in the barn

488.  the grass greens every spring and the trees sprout new life – reminding me again that though the seasons change, much is the same

489.  Pachelbel’s Canon in D, to which my bridesmaids walked down the isle

490.  lying next to Handsome at the finish of the day

491.  sun-warmed strawberries on my lips

492. Handsome’s voice

493.  children, snuggled next to me (even if their bodies do keep betraying me by getting bigger and bigger!)

494.  the sound of the kids laughing, as Daddy tickles them in the next room

495.  scrapbook pages, now almost ten years old, of my first newborn (thankful that I had the energy and time to put those together)

496.  Romans 8:28, long my favorite verse and proven over and over again

497.  prayers whispered in the shower, the one quiet place in my day

498.  the feel of my wedding band as it slides over my finger

499.  the opportunity to raise my children (at least for a while) in the place where I was raised

500.  the comforting hand of God, the same yesterday, today, and forever

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