Tuesday, July 22, 2014

a beautiful non-traditional flowerbed

I am passionate about urban living even though I do not consider my current living accommodations to be exactly urban.

I love cities.

I especially love when I see the creativity of urban dwellers to bring color and vegetation into their mostly greyish cement world. I am inspired as I observe how city folks utilize and maximize their small spaces.

I recently noticed a glorious burst of color on an early morning walk in my neighborhood.

 I thought this was such a clever way to use that thin strip of grass between the sidewalk and the street.

I felt like sitting down right there on the sidewalk to bask in the beautiful colors. Instead I snapped a few pictures.
It is just not true that you have to give up all love of gardening to live in the city. You only need to think outside of that 5 acre garden you have out in your back yard.
I'm still listening and learning and reading and full of lots of  crazy ideas when it comes to urban gardening.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Summer Snack

This summer with all the kids being home all day long and with all their hyper active activities it seems that I am CONSTANTLY either shopping for or preparing or serving food.

The latest big hit around here has been "chocolate-drizzled-frozen-banana-chips". I just made up that name, but I think it's a good name because it perfectly describes all that there is to describe about this particular snack.

This snack is very simple to prepare and  also promises to satisfy a growling stomach for at least 20 minutes.

This is how we prepare our "Chocolate-drizzled-frozen-banana-chips"

-slice bananas
-arrange on flat serving dish
-drizzle with chocolate (we use store bought chocolate syrup)
-pop into the freezer for about 1 hr.
-pop out of the freezer

*if you allow the bananas to completely thaw they will become a mush pile. They are at their best about 5 minutes after you take them from the freezer.

"YES!!!!!!! Snack time!!!!!!!!"

Chocolate Drizzled Frozen Banana Chips = happy smiles

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Summer Routines

Summer is here and speeding right along.

We're all fairly well adjusted to being together, all 6 of us, for every waking moment of every day.

We're enjoying the quieter mornings without the school rush.

Ittsy girl loves having the big siblings here to tote her around and push her on the swing.

It rewarding to see my older kids taking on more responsibilities around the house.

Our days and our routines are really going more smoothly than I expected. {thank you Jesus!}

Speaking of routines....

Am I the only one who begins each season with high hopes and cool charts and boatloads of fun ideas only to slowly lose steam with each passing day?

We're slacking on the chore chart a bit these days.

And the exercise routine has ramped itself down a little.

Actually, I'm not upset about where we are with our routines yet.

I think we've settled into a healthy and realistic version of my idealized routines. I am actually writing this post to prevent me (and the kids) from slumping into total laziness in the next 2 months. This really is a pep talk to myself.

Here's a peak into some of our daily routines:

Angeline (9), Nicholas (8) and Joshua (6) are taking turns with preparing and serving lunch.  This actually requires some fairly serious oversight from me most days. They are enjoying the process of choosing and preparing the menu. Our menus are very simple. Some of our mainstays are hot dogs, mini pizzas, mac and cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, apples, fresh veggies and pretzels. The kids love working with refrigerator biscuits and we've found many creative ways to use them.

Angeline (9) folds the laundry

Angeline, Nicholas and Josh each take turns babysitting Cassie for 20 min. at a time. They also take turns entertaining Christopher (3).

Angeline, Nicholas, Joshua are on a rotating schedule for kitchen duty. This basically includes setting the dinner table and helping with clean up afterwards.

Every afternoon I enforce a 1 hour quiet time. Acceptable quiet time activities include reading, drawing, listening to audio books and of course, sleeping.

Besides our quiet time, the rest of the afternoon is often spent playing with the neighbor kids  or general free time. Activities include anything from 10 kids splashing in a small wading pool to high intensity backyard baseball games. Life is never dull around here.

Here are some of our weekly routines:

Nicholas is in charge of lawn care. He does 95% of the mowing.

On Thursday we clean the upstairs. The children are responsible for cleaning their own bedrooms.

Angeline and Nicholas wash up the kitchen and dining room floors.

Nicholas empties the trash twice a week.

They all take turns vacuuming the carpet.

The boys clean up the garage and basement.

Angeline is responsible for cleaning out the van.
The boys weed and water the garden. (It is very small, but I still help them with it....mostly because I enjoy gardening)

We all exercise for a half hour (2x/ week) We have several local bike trails that we frequent often. Sometimes we simply traipse down to the vacant parking lot right near our house where we can bike, walk, board, blade etc.

We all look forward to library time once a week. Library time is much more enjoyable for me as mom since we decided to opt out of our local library's summer reading program this year. It's a great program, but it got to be a bit over the edge stressful for me to walk 4 different kids through the loops and stamps and prizes. I replaced the library's program with my own program this year. It's been a good and appropriate change for our family.

This all sounds nice and tidy as I read over our summer routines.

And I chuckle to myself.

Truth is...

The boys run away and hide when it comes time to clean the basement. Angeline tries to hurry through the laundry and sometimes I can't tell if it has been folded or not. My boys fight with the neighbor boys. I can't seem to get Cassie's nap time coordinated with the older kid's quiet time for the life in me. Sometimes dirty cereal bowls from breakfast are still on the table at lunch time. Sometimes the librarian has to help the 3 yr. old check out his books (Our librarians are the best!!) because I'm chasing after that fast moving 10 month old. Sometimes we get to the store and realize that the 8 (!!!!) year old forgot to wear shoes.  Sometimes there is NO peace and NO quiet and I feel like I'm going to go crazy.

Truth is, I love to break out of our routines and have fun on a fairly regular basis. Maybe I should add  unexpected fun into our list of daily routines.

These routines, practiced with flexibility, are what keep us sane in this household.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

CONSECRATED {Not a mite would I with hold}

Take my life and let it be
consecrated Lord to Thee
Take my moments and my days
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands and let them move
at the impulse of Thy love
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee
Take my voice and let me sing
Always only for my King
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee
Take my silver and my gold
Not a mite would I with hold
Take my intellect and use every power
as Thou shalt choose.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour
at Thy feet its treasures store
Take myself and I will be
ever ONLY ALL for THEE.
-frances r. havergal

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


After our long, harsh winter, we are basking.....

 in the baby leaves...
 blossoming trees...
pops of bright color....
 bare baby toes
 soft green grass...
 cold treats from the ice cream truck...

 awesome shades...
outdoor exercise...

planting seeds...

digging in dirt...


extended daylight hours for neighborhood parties...

 making ice cream....

It is so delightful.

Monday, May 19, 2014

A mother's prayer on the first day of summer break

 Thank you for this day.
 This first day of summer break...
 Thank you that my children are excited about spending the summer here at home with me.
 I ask for grace to enter into their excitement.
 Give me grace to celebrate these moments that we have to spend together.
 Please grant me grace to rise above my own laziness and selfishness.
 Please help me to give myself fully to my family.
 I ask  you for divinely inspired creativity for teaching them how to engage in good old fashion work and fun.
 Set a guard over my mouth, dear Jesus. Keep watch over the gates of my lips.
 I need your help to speak words that will bless and build up; words that will heal and not bruise.
 May your kingdom come, Your will be done in each of our hearts as we work and play and grow in your grace and knowledge this summer.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Mother's Day

I don't have many words right now. There are lots of good reads concerning the joy and trials of motherhood all over the internet this week. I have been digesting a few of them and ignoring most of them.

I get in these funks occasionally where I just get sick of all the complexities of life. I'm in one right now.

Maybe that's why I like the Kid president so much.

He tickles me.  And he makes me want to embrace the life that is in front of me to be lived today.

The Kid President is at least partially responsible for my card inspiration this year. I get tired of browsing stores for expensive cards that don't express my sentiments anyway.  I probably don't need to mention either that it is easier for me to handcraft a card at home while my kids are destroying the house than it is to have them destroy the drugstore by pulling half a million cards out of the rack.

This card is simple to make. I would've made a template for you, but I fear it would have been too imperfect for most of you. I don't like to measure or plan ahead, thus I deal with things like uneven letters.

turn the card backwards and it says 'wow'

The longer I am a mom the more admiration I feel for my own mom. She was not perfect. But I feel a huge 'wow' in my heart when I think about how she gave herself to being a mom and teacher (!!!) to seven of us. It was no small task or sacrifice. She must not have complained much because I never remember thinking that maybe she she was tired of serving us or that maybe she just needed to get away for awhile. Being a mom was her life and from my childish perspective- she loved it.

My Grandma is in the center and my mom is to her left. The other fine looking ladies are my aunts. Fantastic moms through and through and now all top notch Grandmas. Seriously, kids LOVE these ladies.

*edited to add my sister's comment because it is just so dead on right:
I'm pretty sure that aside from Jesus, any good in my mothering has been passed on by those Martin ladies. They are so like Jesus in the way that they show preference toward children. -jolynn
I can't think of moms that I admire without mentioning my sister (far left). She makes my mouth go "wow" too.

I feel immense gratitude to my grandma, my mom, my aunts, my sister for the beautiful example they have lived (and continue to live) of sacrificial, joy-filled mothering. I have concluded that they just didn't have the time to be selfish.  Their lives inspire and challenge me.