Thursday, May 22, 2014

Half price !!

For all you mocc lovers....

... Hello Moccs is hosting a special Memorial Weekend sale at noon PST today ... 50% off all moccs !!! (*except florals)

After a month of wear - on the playground, at church, at the store - Lily's moccs have held up fabulously. And she LOVES wearing them - every time I go to put them on her she grins and yells, "MOCCS !"

All styles except florals will be available for this special sale... don't miss out, as the discount will only be available for an hour or so.

Happy shopping !!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

just a mom

This post is going to go a little deep.

If you're not into "deep" this weekend, feel free to scroll through the photos and ignore my ramblings :)

Actually, I'll keep the ramblings short, but the sentiment strong.

I am blessed...  and proud ... to be "just a mom."

This past week gave me an opportunity to consider - make that reconsider - my vocation in life. A casual comment made to one of my children in conversation provoked some soul searching on my part. I'm not going to go into details, lest the person who made the comment some day stumble upon my blog. I really don't think the comment they made was out of malice. I really believe that the thinking behind their comment was perhaps just an indication of how society views the role of being a stay-at-home mom, and not their personal bias against my occupation. I think the mentality that "choosing to be a mom is not a worthy or honorable life goal" comes from just a few short decades of women in the work force, versus thousands of years of women viewing this profession as just that : a profession. Perhaps underpaid and short on vacation time, but a profession nonetheless.

And whatever others may say about my life... I do get to enjoy this :

... she stayed in her jammies for half the day. She curled up on my lap for an hour after breakfast because she felt like it. There was no job for me to rush off to - she was my job. She wasn't feeling well for the better part of last week, and so I put off laundry and housework and every other thing I could, and I focused on the need : being her mom.

And I also get to be there for this :

... he decided that the night before he turned a year old would be a great time to learn how to stand alone, without pulling himself up on anything. And then he decided to perfect this milestone by repeating it a hundred times a day for the past five days. He throws his tiny hands in the air and gazes around the room with the proudest little look on his face to see if anyone is there and noticing -    and I am.

 I am there for his first tooth breaking through, and for those first wobbly steps. I'm there to put him down for his nap and there when he wakes up. I am there to clap my hands wildly when he performs the simplest little feat, and I'm there for the big ones too.

I don't have initials after my name that I've earned with a college degree, but I do wear my title proudly ... and with twenty six years spent learning in the classroom of life ... I'm a mom.

And as such, I get to enjoy a thousand little moments every day, ones that don't cost a penny but pay immeasurably in dividends of joy...

I'm a mom.

I don't earn a paycheck and I probably never will. Consequently we don't :

*own a custom home
* drive a luxury car
* go on umpteen vacations a year
* shop at expensive department stores
* dine out on a regular basis

... and the list goes on.

Do we go without many times, because of the choices I've made to be "just a mom" ? Without a doubt. But the benefits far outweigh the sacrifices, in my mind... and I know my husband and children would agree.  I know, because they tell me all the time.

I do not judge the choices others have made to do something different than what I've done. Pursue a career, work part time, work from home, or even choose not to have children at all - your life is not my business, and it isn't my place to decide what's best for you.

And I know there are those who have no choice to make - life and circumstances prevent them from being a mom at home, and honestly, my hat is off to those who juggle it all. If I spend the better part of my day trying to fit it all in and I never leave the house- I can't imagine what a load they bear.

This post isn't about a right or wrong way to live, or a judgment on those whose paths are different than mine.

If anything, this is a post for those of you just setting out in life, who might be considering becoming "just a mom."

And what I really want to say is this ... you have so much to look forward to.

There will be times of soul searching and introspection for sure. Times when others question your seemingly careless decision to pursue your dreams ... to stay at home.  Sometimes you'll glance across the road at someone else's castle and realize that there is often a price to pay for choosing to live on one income. But remember this too ...

And also this ...  a friend (thank you, Allison) sent this to me right before Mother's Day, and it fits so nicely with this post that I'm including it here .

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have a job to do...

... happy weekend !  xo

Friday, May 16, 2014

celebrating noah

Can you believe we are halfway through May already ? And at the end of next month we'll be halfway through the year ? Time needs to slow down already.

Because how is it that my eighth baby just turned double digits ???

It just doesn't seem possible. In my mind, Noah should have just turned five. Six at most. But ten ???

I don't know how that happened. I just blinked and a decade slipped by.

I remember when I was ten... I was still young enough to lie awake every night the week before my birthday, dreaming of the presents I would get. Each day leading up to my birthday seemed to craaawwwwlll by, and as the big day approached my excitement levels were through the roof.

That's pretty much how things felt around here during the last week of April. I think Noah reminded us every day for two weeks how close his tenth birthday was. "NINE more days, Mama !" he would proudly proclaim, and then , "EIGHT AND A HALF more days!!" and so on until May 5th finally got here. He told me for weeks that all he wanted for his birthday was a bike and a nerf gun.

He told me that probably a hundred times a day for at least 30 days.

And then sometime between the day before his birthday and the evening of his tenth birthday, he forgot that he asked for a bike.

He opened sour skittles and new basketball shoes and an airplane book and a nerf gun and an action figure and some gummy worms ... and he was as happy as could be.

He squeezed his nerf gun and thanked us profusely, he hugged Grammi and thanked her for the cool book, and while he was doing so, Jonathan quietly wheeled the birthday bike in.

Noah turned around and ...

... so yeah, he was pretty happy.

He kept saying, "I totally forgot I asked for a bike !" over and over, and that mile wide grin never left his face.

Yay for Craigslist and yay for a daddy who drove to Vancouver to make it all happen. (And yay for big sissy Kenzie who needed to be dropped off at the airport, totally validating the two hour drive ;))

The next set of pictures was actually taken the day before Noah's birthday. When we asked him what kind of party he wanted, he said he just wanted ALL of his family there - meaning Jason and Naomi and the kids, and Josiah and Monique and Macie, and Mackenzie and Grammi and the rest of us. It took a small miracle to make that happen ... but between work schedules and sick kids and pre-planned trips, we somehow managed to all get together on Sunday after church.

Noah's requested birthday meal was stir-fry and wontons ... and a gummy worm cake.

I'm so proud of this boy. So blessed that at ten years old, his idea of the ultimate birthday party is being surrounded by his family, enjoying an afternoon together, and calling it good.

And if he gets a bike thrown in with all of that, it's the icing on the cake.

Happy birthday, Noah Stephen . You're the sweetest ten year old we know. xo

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

this fabulous season ahead

It's Tuesday, the day after my last baby turned one. I was all prepared to be teary eyed and emotional for that momentous occasion, but life would not slow down for half a second to allow it. And that's probably a good thing... I have been dreading the feeling of "this is the LAST ---" fill-in-the-blank for the past few weeks. I organized Hayden's tub of clothes the other day and gulped back sobs - "this is the LAST time I will put away newborn clothes" - but then someone yelled from downstairs that Lily was having a meltdown and needed me, and the tears were kept at bay. My typically spunky four year old has been under the weather for a week, along with several siblings and myself, and life has consisted of endless nose wiping, appropriate-aged tylenol dosing, and lots and lots of snuggling and soothing. No time for contemplating seasons of life like child-bearing, that are suddenly changing and probably won't return.

So while I quickly shift topics here, lest I dissolve into a puddle of snot and tears on the keyboard, I will talk about this fabulous season ...

The thing about seasons is - I love each one of them. And depending on which season we are currently enjoying, I will always have a different answer for "what's your favorite one ?" .

If it's summer time, you can bet your bottom dollar I will say summer is my favorite. Cool sticky popsicles on a hot summer day, playing in the pool, driving to the beach, late summer nights when the sun doesn't set til ten, picnics on blankets at the park, endless evenings grilling hamburgers and hot dogs and vegetable shish-kabobs, bike rides and long walks and watermelon and corn on the cob and blackberries and peaches and running in the sprinkler and fourth of July fireworks and CAMPING !!! and s'mores and a million other things to enjoy - I love summer.

And I could say the same about fall, because when September rolls around, fall is my absolute favorite season. The changing leaves, the crisp cool nights, apple pies and pumpkin pies and cozy sweaters and woolly scarves, trick-or-treating and trips to the pumpkin patch, delicious soups simmering all day, Thanksgiving and family and roasted turkey and caramel apples and candy corn and GOURDS (for the love of gourds !!) and anything and everything to do with autumn - I love it all.

But come December I am completely renouncing my love for anything autumnal ... because winter is my favorite. Snowflakes and snowmen and bright cheery fires in the fireplace (is anyone else humming Olaf's song right about now ??) and mittens and crocheted caps, warm casseroles at the end of a blustery day, gingerbread and candy canes and hot cocoa, Christmas bazaars and Bing Crosby and holly and wreaths, singing carols around the piano and singing them again at church, jingle bells and sleigh rides and presents underneath the tree, stringing popcorn and decorating cookies and celebrating the birth of our incredible Savior, Christmas crackers and New Years resolutions and dark cold mornings under heavy colorful quilts, doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles...  well anyhow, you get the point. I love winter.

And then we get to spring...

... bright blue skies and big fluffy clouds and orchards and wild honey and bright red tomatoes and flowers and birds singing and bulbs bursting and longer days and warm breezes and kites flying and picnics and bike rides and baby lambs and roses and daffodils and STRAWBERRIES and dining al fresco and evening walks and lemonade stands and sleeping with the windows open and star gazing and dandelions and lawn mowers humming once again and Jim's Fruit Stand.

Yes, you read that right. Jim's Fruit Stand.

Corvallis's best kept little secret - or at least someone was keeping it from me all these years. Because until just a few weeks ago I was (tragically) buying either cruddy produce that had a shelf life of 1.5 days at best, or spending a fortune on the natural grocers store, where a large family could go broke on asparagus alone.

And then Sam decided to try to earn Jim's business (my husband does credit card processing if you're interested) and the clouds parted and the heavens opened, and lo and behold there was fruit. And vegetables. All organic and grown locally and priced lower than any store in town. 

Hello, spring.

Apparently the woman who runs Jim's goes to town once a week and checks all the produce prices at our stores... and then goes back to their place and marks everything lower.

Sam explained all of this to me a few weeks ago, and for some reason it took me that long to go check things out. After stocking our fridge full of fresh avocados, apples, tomatoes, carrots, beets, lettuce, and red potatoes ($3.50 for a fifteen pound bag !!!) and then enjoying all of that yumminess for the past week - at a fraction of the cost of organic produce in town - I can confidently say we are hooked.

And Belinda, if you're reading this, thank you for letting our small gaggle of children run happily through your aisles for half an hour. Miss Lily, especially- I'm pretty sure she ate 27 pretzels in the taste testing room....and probably double dipped each time.

Actually I think that's a lollipop she's holding in the photo above. So if the sweet onion pesto sample bowl tasted a little bit like sour raspberry after we left... blame it on my tenth child. The one with the sassy swing to her braids , who was cheerfully touching every bless-ed piece of produce in the store.

I gave each of my kids $1.50 in quarters- change I've been pilfering from Sam's pockets over the course of several months for such a time as this. I told them to pick whatever their little hearts desired - a juicy plum, a succulent box of strawberries, a tasty peach. The sky was the limit.

They scoured the aisles and searched each bin for that perfect piece of goodness... at one point Jackson came up to me with the sweetest look on his face, his dimple etched deeply in his freckle-splattered face. "Mama," he pleaded up at me, batting those mile-long eyelashes, "may we have a bit more change from the change jar in the van ? Please ??"

I should have suspected something when I noticed that dimple, but I was still drooling over a crate of avocados, imagining the wonderful guacamole that it would yield that afternoon. "Sure, sweetie," I smiled, and turned back to my bounty.

Five minutes later I saw six happy Ricelets devouring what looked to be ten pounds of GUMMI BEARS at the rate of thirteen per minute.

Jim aint no dummy. I think what he makes per gummy bear more than makes up for any loss on beets and asparagus, and if I heard correctly, my kids plopped down $18.50 in hard earned quarters for that bag of ... sugar.

One of my little angels tried to say something about them being "fruit colored" ... I guess I should have specified that their treats were to be healthy and organic before I doled out the cash.

Oh well, at least they saved a little leftover for this...


So anyway.... we had fun. And at least one little person made a smart choice when it came to picking out his prize....

Grammi and I were pleased us punch with our choices as well... we spent the afternoon baking beets and carrots and mashing avocados for guac, and for dinner I served a pile of homemade potato salad alongside our sandwiches. Yum.


.. .and now I am back home to finish this post ~ we just returned from our littlest one's first birthday party at the park and I am pooped. I'm not ashamed to admit that this old mom just doesn't have enough party in her to last past ten o'clock these days, and it's almost that time now.

I had a nice long paragraph in mind that was going to tie all the thoughts in this post together with a big lovely bow ... something along the lines of "life has its seasons too".... but I'll make it quick, as I'm fading fast.

There is a time for everything in life. A time to bear children and watch them grow, a time for first birthdays and first steps and first teeth... and a time for lasts as well. But just like the seasons of the year, each one of life's seasons hold treasures for us to enjoy... each season uniquely different and beautiful in its time.

I've lived through many seasons in my forty-six years and cherished them all - and I can't help but smile at the thought of the season that lies before me, the one that is yet to be explored : this fabulous season ahead.

God bless, and good night :)

Monday, May 12, 2014


Happy first birthday to this sweet little guy...

... we say it every single baby, and it's always true: we've never loved a baby as much as you :)

We love you, Hayden Patrick !!!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

this glorious calling

Tomorrow is one of my favorite days of the year... Mother's Day.

This time last year - the day before Mother's Day - I was about to do my very favorite thing in life : give birth.

My water broke on the morning of May 11th, but Hayden decided to wait a full 24 hours to make his entrance into the world... or maybe God delayed his arrival, because He knows how much Mother's Day means to me. Whatever the reason for a prolonged labor and delivery, I did receive this little gift from Heaven on my favorite day of the year...

Eleven children later, birth never loses its beauty to me. There is a palpable grace in the air when my babies arrive- I always wonder if our room is filled with hidden angels, ushering in our little one with silent smiles and offering praise to God for the miracle of life.

I don't take lightly this gift of motherhood.

And as a mama who has given birth in my twenties, thirties, and now twice in my forties... I realize what an amazing role I've been handed throughout my life.

I distinctly remember the day I became a mother, 26 years ago last March.

I remember staring down in wonder at my sweet baby boy, exhausted and thrilled and awestruck that this little person came from inside of me.

I was so grateful and so in love...but I remember too, that feeling of being completely overwhelmed at the responsibility represented in that little bundle lying in my arms. Having babysat so many little ones for half of my life, it instantly dawned on me that nobody was going to fill in any gaps from here on out. If I didn't bathe my baby - or change him, or feed him or clothe him - nobody else was going to do it for me. He wasn't going home at the end of the day to be cared for, and returned to me in the morning, freshly changed and ready for the day. The magnitude of that level of care pressed down on me, causing me to pray harder and longer and more fervently than I had ever prayed before in my twenty short years  : I was responsible for a human life. I might get a lot of things wrong in the future, might fail in a million areas, but this one had no room for errors. This one I had to get right.

But you know what I've realized over the years?

I can fail.

I can mess things up : speak too harshly, remind too loudly, cry too often, praise too rarely...

I might forget a tooth under the pillow (or two, or three !!), burn a dinner, buy the wrong birthday gift, embarrass my kids in front of their friends ...

There will be times when I totally drop the ball and give into self-indulgence, ignoring a request for mommy-daughter time because I'm too tired to think straight and just want to curl up in bed with a good book...

Other times I might lie awake in bed remembering all the careless words spoken, all the "why-didn't-I-just-take-the-time-to-listen-instead-of-lecture" moments, chastising myself until I fall into a restless sleep...

There may be countless phone calls to a worn-out husband, begging him to "tell me what to do with this child, because he's driving me CRAZY!" and then hanging up and starting over again...

Oh yes, I can fail, and fail big time.

But I've also found that there is grace.

We falter and we fail as mamas, we learn from our mistakes and then we make new ones and learn from those as well.

We have days when we try so hard and go to sleep at night wondering if it's all worth it, and if anyone even notices all the little sacrifices we make.

We have moments of questioning it all, and questioning ourselves in the process, ten, fifteen, a hundred times a day.

We have seasons- sometimes prolonged seasons - when we want to throw in the towel and go back to the time when life was simpler, and the greatness of our lives was not measured in spilled milk and dirty diapers and forgotten teeth under the pillow...

But we find grace.

We find grace in our times of trouble, and we realize that in our weakness, God's strength is made perfect.

We learn to rely on His help and His ability to grow and nurture and heal - both us and our children.

We fall down and we pick ourselves back up again, and we realize that tomorrow is a new day, and although we may do this a thousand times in a life time- this failing and learning and leaning into God - that of all living creatures we are blessed ...

.... because we are mothers.

We aren't perfect, we aren't saints, but we love and we are loved...

... and this is enough.

Happy Mother's Day to all those who have entered into this glorious calling ....