Monday, February 17, 2014

Love Remains

Our first Valentines as a family was nothing short of wonderful!

I wasn't expecting much of one since Heath was scheduled to work both Friday and Saturday night. 

To my surprise and delight, Thursday when he came home from work he handed me a bouquet gorgeous roses that faded from deep pink to delicate ballet slipper pink petals.  They were perfect for me.  He even arranged them in my favorite silver pitcher.   He also surprised me with chocolate covered strawberries and a special gift that I completely didn't expect at all!!!

Heath was dressed so handsome in a suit and tie already since he had a big presentation that day, so we decided to use a gift card we had to The Cheesecake Factory and all go for a family Valentines dinner!  I usually cook Italian for the two of us on Valentines Day, but this surprise of going out as a family sounded good to me!  We dressed up the children too, and they looked so sweet.  Yes, our daughter did wear shoes to the restaurant. ;)

We had a long wait there, but never worry, the kids danced enough in restaurant to entertain everybody around!! Especially Sissy, she really knows how to make new friends.  

She loves attention!!  What a little ham we've got on our hands. ;)

He is a little charmer to all the ladies with that precious grin.

I was so proud of my family!

We came home with two very sleepy children, which worked out perfectly for Heath and I to have our own date at home together... Sometimes those are the best kind!

I've decided to never write off any day, because you never know what blessings they will hold. :)

The next morning we set out the kid's little stuffed animals and chocolates, a card, and I decorated with hearts to make things a little extra special!  

Kylie just had to tromp around the house in my heels, from the night before.  

She loves shoes!

I made these yummy little strawberry wafer cookies-- that I happen to love-- extra special for Bubby's Valentines day party for his class.  They are just the sweetest little things!

Just dip half the cookie in white chocolate or bark (I used equal parts), then add your favorite sprinkles! I tinted some of the chocolate with a dab of red food coloring to make them pink.  This would be great with the chocolate ones, too.  Our son helped with some of the sprinkles, and he was so proud to bring them to school!

I'll be making them again, maybe with the little round pastel sprinkles for Easter.  Which will be here soon .....hopefully the snow will be gone by then!

It was a sweet day to share as a family!  Heath and I never put too much stock in the commercialism of Valentines Day, but why not make it extra special sometimes!?  

On Valentines, our family celebrates real, honest love, while the rest of the world may not!

Ann Voscamp just wrote on her blog, A Holy Experience, about this kind of love between a husband and wife.  (She always says everything just the way I want to but never could, so just go to her blog, and read her own words. :)

She talks about love--God's way, which is the truest form--not only changes us but changes with us.  

As life happens: children come along, sleep becomes altered by sweet little ones or work filled nights, schedules get crazy.

Sickness may arise, discouragement can creep in, and unexpected dissapointments cloud idealistic views.

A move, a promotion, ministry, a new church, a new family member or a long- time prayer gets answered miraculously.

Children grow up and move out, grandchildren come, routine changes course.

Life is so full of ups and downs and changes, it seems that change is the one and only constant!

The good news is that Christ IS love!  He is faithful, steadfast, unfailing, and a constant that we can hold onto like an anchor in whatever waters we're sailing.  When a marriage has Him as the center, and His love as the third cord, it will not easily be broken!  I know from experience, this is true!

Are we perfect or is our marriage always perfect?  Heavens, no.  But we make it a priority to be open with one another and always strive make things right.  The love we have makes it worth working everything out.

I love that my man is a true romantic!  I was drawn to that about him, as I am too!  He always has been a modern knight in shining armor to me, and truly goes out of his way to meet my needs.... But mostly it's the pure love we have for each other that draws me so intimately to him!  

On unromantic, ordinary, harried, no gift, dirty hair and left over meal kind of days, we can rest in our steadfast love that doesn't need pomp and circumstance to thrive.

I'll always try to honor what this scripture says about love.  This kind is the example of love our parents have given us and we admire!  This kind is worth celebrating!

"Love is patient.  Love is kind.  Love does not boast; it is not arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on it's own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices in truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.."
1 Corinthians 13:4-8

**I feel I need to add a disclaimer of sorts. No, we didn't name our children Sissy & Bubby!  We may be from the country, but didn't grow up under a rock, lol.  We're keeping their names private for now, on our blog. 


Saturday, February 1, 2014

God's Grace, Cookie Crumbs, & Cabin Fever

Hiya Folks!  My name is Leslie, if you've forgotten since we last talked (forever ago!).  :)

I've really missed writing here and catching you all up on our lives!  Blogging has become so easy and enjoyable to me now that I've done it for over 4 years now.  Mind you, it's only for pleasure and no profit as some beautiful and amazingly delicious looking blogs are, but nevertheless it's a creative outlet for me that I enjoy!  I wanted to start off this year--2014--more simply.  One of the easiest ways for me to do that is lift some of the pressure off myself to blog as often.  One of the awesome things about keeping this blog and The Cozy Little Kitchen, is that I have no obligation to write... Therefore all that I say is very truly from my heart! 

Why do I feel the need to relax?  Well, for one thing (if you want to know something brutally honest about me), I can almost be compulsive about things.  I really, REALLY strive to do all things diligently, thoroughly, faithfully and to completion, and if I don't I am disappointed with myself.  I'm still learning that it's impossible to do anything without my Lord to help, much less doing things perfectly!  I think once I moved out and married Heath, with our own place and all, I developed a (tiny) bit of perfectionism.  I'm not OCD at all, but I can have too high of expectations of myself.

I always have to clean up the kitchen perfectly every single night before sitting down to enjoy anything!  I like for all the pillows and throws to be just right on the couch before bed so I'll wake up to an aesthetically pleasing living room.  I usually always feel the need to fully put makeup on and fix hair to go out for errands.  I blame being a hairdresser, where that was literally part of my job description.   Please know these things are only me, not Heath!   He is amazing at never adding pressure to my load, but being a help and stress reliever when I try to do too much. I think he noticed my perfectionist tendencies even before I did!

Those examples are a just few things to give you an idea of how within 9 years of the same kind of routine I was able to --sometimes painstakingly-- accomplish almost any housework duty, work obligation, church responsibility, family- friend commitments, and personal goals that I made.  Almost, but of course not perfectly!  ;)

Enter 2 tiny, energetic, rambunctious, beautiful, loving children.  

Everything changes!!!

In order for my sanity to stay intact I have been asking God to help me "loosen up" on some of my high standards of cleanliness, appearance, and always naturally perky demeanor.  I have also had to ask and receive grace from Him for my stinky attitudes, pity parties, and less frequent Jesus quiet times, which is probably the answer.  

Now I need to ask you, my family and friends, for patience as I am not calling y'all nearly as often, not quick to reply to your texts, emails and messages, not as available for to you on your sad or sick days, or your showers and parties, and in general stammering just to get sentences out for lack of opportunities to talk with adults!  (I feel like a lame friend.)

I am having to accept that I am in a very fruitful season but also challenging season of life (with 2 growing little children and a busy hubby) that requires more patience, more need for grace, more of my attention and energy, and less cleanliness in general.  Ok, yes crumbs in the kid's car seat cup holders are going to happen, pillows will be scattered around the house like ants at a picnic, my hair will sport more buns and dry shampoo, and laundry will get piled up if nothing else but for the fact it's in the basement!  Thank you cards may be forgotten and volunteer opportunities will be passed up.  It's okay if I have to rely on breakfast bars some mornings or if the cookies we make aren't from scratch!

When we make and decorate cookies (embarrassingly) my tendency would be to make sure they don't make a mess, but they are 2 & 3!!! This is the only time in their lives when messes can me made and it's really okay.  It's part of the fun, and now that I expect that... I love it and have the best time getting sticky and messy myself!   They're challenging me to get back to my childhood days of my own messes in the kitchen in order to make delicious cookies with my loved ones!!

Life happens.  

Life is happening!!!  That's what I don't want to miss.

I don't want to miss the sweetness of my  daughter "makin" in her kitchen, tiny kisses on my leg, or funny moments when my son tries to make me laugh, because I'm constantly whirling around while trying to keep up with everything!  I think if I did, I would look back with so much regret and say how it's just not worth it!!!  I'm asking God for help as I continue to adjust to my new normal.  I LOVE being mommy but with it comes so many changes, and I want my life to flow with those.  I need to lean into the changes instead of resist.  I'm trusting God will help me re-balance my life to fit my family.  He did it once, and He'll do it again!!

This blog is such a blessing to me, just being able to share my heart across the miles!   I have had so many pics and heartfelt stories to share of the kids, but I can't blog about them all.  Luckily, if you're a non-blog world friend you see many on Facebook.  My posts may not be as frequent as I would like, because it's not worth making a blog happen if it means taking away the time I need with Heath after the kids go to bed or a nap when they're laying down to revive my body.  

I have to be okay with not doing it all, all of the time!!

With that being said, I also think a little less e-time will free me up to do what I've put on the back burner for a couple years.  Reading real books! :)
I've already finished my first book, Balancing It All by Candace Cameron Burre.  It was just what I needed to read!  Fantastic book about her life from the beginning to the present and her real life struggles with keeping a balance on priorities.  She certainly has a full plate, but God has given her wisdom to how to do life where it gives her joy and glorifies Him!

I'm starting to burn up the library with our kids, and in fact that's a goal of mine for this year.  Lots of library time!  I grew up there and we checked countless books out every week.  I want my kids to have those memories, too!  Right now, our daughter is really into Clifford's First Autumn and The Little Engine That Could's Valentines Day Surprise and Our son loves these two dinosaur books that's probably over his age, but are fascinating!  He is really into dinosaurs now, so we watched The Land Before Time (XIII) this week and they loved it!  I can't wait until they're old enough to appreciate history museums!  We'll have to visit Taylor in Chicago and go to the Fields!

Today I made chicken stock for the second time, and I'm loving it!!  I use what's left from rotisserie chickens I buy, add veggies, garlic, herbs and water to simmer for 4 hours.  The house simply smells amazing as it reduces down to flavorful stock.  Perfect for a pot of soup this week!  

The snow has been a constant almost the whole month of January, and I must say it was gorgeous!!!  We so much love to watch it fall and bundle up to play outside!  Sometimes it's hard for me to want to do all the bundling, layering, and getting outside (with empty bladders), but it's always fun and so worth it to play with the kids!  Heath and I usually make cocoa with marshmallows when we come in from playing on the cold snowy days!  I have to admit I almost got a serious case of cabin fever with as many single digit temps as we've had, but I've been trying to get more creative by building tents in the house, baking and decorating cookies together, and playing marching band, or hide and seek!

As January closed, I can't help but be excited to look forward as Heath will have a little more time at home this month and we'll be celebrating our baby girl's birthday!!  Good things are here and more to come thanks to my Redeemer.  I need Him to be any sort of mom and wife at all!!! 

Please stay warm out there and, oh,
Happy February!