Friday, April 27, 2012

friday faves :: peekboo!

one of my favorite things to do is sit down with my kids and watch videos of them when they were younger.  they could seriously do this for hours.  i just stumbled on this one when i was organizing in iphoto today.  a few things struck me...
1:: they were so darn cute!
2:: even though they are bigger now i can still see so much of their same personality and mannerisms from this video.  note that lucy is already trying to boss oliver around {by putting him in time-out} and oliver is already thinking that such attempts are funny.
3:: my back porch looks totally ghetto...don't you love the gigantic blow-up swimming pool propped up against the screen {i'm sure it was full of mold too}.
4:: being only 17 months apart these two will never know life without each other...i love that.
here they are now...
and then {2 years ago}...
:: happy weekend, friends ::
whether it's with a photo album or a computer full of old videos, or just your good ole memory...i hope you can find some moments to look back and smile

Thursday, April 26, 2012

fine

Some days writing is like trying to squeeze the tiniest drop of moisture from a dry sponge.  Other days, it washes over me.
                               
When I offered to write a guest post for Angie I was dripping.  I had been inspired by her kindred spirit for authentic “spill your guts” writing, and I couldn’t wait to contribute to the tapestry of beautiful truth she is weaving together on her blog.  And then I laid my fingers on the keyboard, and in an instant I was dry as a bone.  My old friend fear had stepped in.  It’s one thing to write on your own blog, on your own terms.  It’s another thing to have one shot at an audience you admire and want to connect with.  I feared I would fail her, fail you, and ultimately, fail myself.  And so I went seeking puddles to jump in.  This is where I landed…

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

applesauce revolution

As I sit here sipping my cup of decaffeinated green tea - this is what I’m wondering…
is anyone else frustrated with the treadmill of convenience that they are tied to…running tirelessly as we watch our health and our relationships suffer?

There are so many healthy changes that I want to make for my family.  Somehow I feel like the pace of our have-it-your-way-now culture makes it impossible.  
I’m trying to keep up…with what?  
The pace of life?  
Who exactly is dictating that anyway?  
I move through each day with this heavy weight of perceived expectation dragging me down.  Expectation that because of all my gadgets and technology and ‘conveniences’ I can get back to you ASAP and take care of that yesterday.  And it certainly doesn’t help that I pride myself on efficiency and work production…but at what cost? 

I'm dreaming of time to grow my own vegetables {or at least to go to the local farmers market and get something fresh}.   
I don’t want to feed my family take-out or a frozen pizza at least once a week because we ran out of time and that was more convenient.   
And here’s a silly little thing that has been haunting me – 
those prepackaged cups of applesauce 
How many dozens of those have i bought for my kids…the ones that will pile up in a landfill somewhere and probably have some additives or preservatives that will eventually give us cancer.  
I want to make my own applesauce.  
But then people think you’re crazy for making your own applesauce because ‘there are these cute, cheap, little prepackaged ones that you can just toss in their lunchboxes.’

ugghhh…the convenience is killing me…literally I think.
It’s probably giving me cancer.  
This is the thought cycle I get into and then I just get so overwhelmed that i throw my hands up in the air and get back to work on the latest deadline and stick a frozen pizza in the oven for dinner…

 recently watched Food matters…can you tell?

i know, i know…i shouldn’t believe everything that I see in a documentary.  I need to remember that the director is probably biased and didn’t completely show both sides of the story.  But this issue has been nagging at me for a while now.  I guess ultimately i just want to make well-informed and thoughtful decisions about what I put in my family’s bodies.  
The problem is…in the past few days alone I have spent hours doing research on such topics and I still have a million unanswered questions.  But I’d like to start somewhere…

so i’ll start with applesauce
{mmmmm - i wish you could smell my house right now!}

If you're interested, here's the recipe for starting your own applesauce revolution... 7 apples {it's important to choose a variety} - 2 golden delicious, 2 fuji, 1 gala, and 1 red delicious {peeled and sliced}
3/4 cup of water
1 tablespoon of sugar {optional}
a few sprinkles of cinnamon
:: Put it all in a pot, bring to a boil and then reduce to medium heat for 15-20 minutes until the apples are soft.  Use a fork {or one of those fancy potato mashers} to mush it all up to your desired conditions and...voila!  
I had a couple of tools that made life a bit easier {a peeler and an apple slicer} but you can get the job done with just a knife.  If you want to end up with virtually no waste at all you can actually make use of the leftover apple peels.

The total prep time was 15 minutes.  The total cooking time was 20 minutes {during which i wrote much of this post} so from start to finish you're looking at 35-40 minutes.  The total cost was about $7.  I know that I can reduce that a good bit by purchasing apples in bulk.  I just picked these up at the grocery store so I could go ahead and try it out.
The verdict?
i will definitely do it again...for 3 reasons...
:: i know exactly what is in this stuff and none of it is artificial {i even used organic apples}
:: i'm willing to trade a minimal use of time and money for less waste/better taste
:: it is so delicious {way better than those little plastic cups}...i'm trying to restrain myself from eating it all before the kids get home from preschool!

What kind of revolution do you need today?

Monday, April 23, 2012

where the blue ridge yawns its greatness...

i'm not gonna try to slide in a late 'friday faves' this week.  the good thing about my blog is that i'm the boss of it...and as the boss i decided to give myself a week off.  hope you don't mind.

but...in the spirit of 'friday faves' i wanted to share a quick post about one of my very favorite things...
clemson football

i'm that girl who totally abandons any air of lady-like restraint the moment i step through the gate to watch my tigers play. i paint tiger paws on my face and scream at the top of my lungs.  when the 4th quarter is nearing it's end and the score is close i can't sit down {and sometimes even bite my fingers...not a usual habit for me}.  and when our guys cross into the end zone to score i go crazy high fiving the people around me {whether i know them or not}.  
growing up i had the privilege of spending some time in my grandparents' box at the games.  it's great to have that pass that gets you up the elevator and into the air conditioning {or heat...if it's a chilly november}.  it's also pretty sweet to have unlimited homemade mac and cheese and chicken and sweet tea and brownies waiting on you at your seat in the sky.  a trip to the box was always fun...but give me the up-close-and-personal seats on the 50 yard line right behind the bench any time.  i'd always rather be right in the middle of the madness.  i have clemson roots that run deep...which is why this news made me grin from ear to ear.
if you've never been to the place where orange-clad athletes ceremoniously bound off of a bus at the top of a hill to rub a rock and, on the cue of a fired canon, run down that hill onto a gigantic tiger paw in the middle of more than 80,000 screaming fans...you've never experienced college football at it's best...you gotta get to death valley.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

herbie...and a little more about haiti...

this is herbie...
he was with us during our time in haiti a couple of weeks ago.  he is a haitian man in his mid-twenties with a wife and daughter.  his little girl is 4...just a few months older than my lucy.  she is precious, a glowing spirit...
...i want to take lucy to meet her.  as soon as i can get her grandparents past the fact that she wouldn't be able to ride in a carseat and would have to sleep under mosquito netting i'm booking her ticket.  i think they would have fun together.  


herbie speaks english and works for the mission as an interpreter when he's not in school.  he attends a local university where he is getting his degree in business.  he is a graduate of the school at MOH.  he is one of many children in his family...but the only one to graduate from high school and go on to university.  when i asked him why he said it was because he heard about MOH's school when he was a boy and decided he was going to go.  he was persistent and willing to walk the distance between his village and the school...day after day...year after year.  he also said that he was fortunate to have people who have helped to provide the money needed for his education.  he doesn't take that lightly.  


so - like me - herbie speaks english, is married, has a daughter, values education, wears jeans and tennis shoes, uses a cell phone...but when he took us to visit his village i realized how vastly different our lives really are. 


herbie lives in source matelas {pronounced 'sus matla'} - a village right up the road from MOH {which is located in titayen}.  his family and his wife's family are both from this village.  herbie lives in a little area behind this door with his wife, daughter, and several other members of his wife's family...
this is the structure that his in-laws lived in prior to the earthquake...it is not livable now...
the structures that his family are living in are made up of cardboard and tin and really whatever materials they can piece together for the time being.  herbie didn't complain about it...he only said that it does get really hot in there.  he said that as he gets money he is gradually working on the house for his family.  he is also working on a house for his mother who lives in another part of the village.


this is his beautiful family...
i love the contrast between his daughter's joyful grin-covered face and his wife's stoic stare.  many women in haiti walk around with this same expression on their faces.  when i asked one of the americans living there about this she said that she believes that as they grow up the women become hardened...they almost have to in order to survive.  that made me sad.  it also made me want to learn to speak haitian creole so that i could go back and have a conversation with stefanie {herbie's wife}.  i know she has a story and i know she probably has so much tucked away in her heart.  unfortunately i don't think they have rosetta stone for haitian creole.  but i'll find a way...


that's really what this whole partnership with MOH is all about.  our church plans to develop a long-term partnership in which we take 3 or 4 trips to haiti a year where we will spend time in a specific village.  i hope our village will be source matelas.  we've aleady begun to pave the way for relationships there.  can you imagine?  really knowing the families.  hearing their stories.  sharing our own.  walking through life together.  leveraging all the resources we have to empower them...and being completely changed ourselves in the process.


as part of this partnership we would also provide financial support for all the amazing work that MOH is doing in these villages.  i can honestly say that i have never worked with another organization with more integrity and clarity of vision than MOH.  they have stuck to the same mission they established 13 years ago and are truly transforming the poorest country in the western hemisphere - one life at a time.  one village at a time.  what a privilege to be a part of something so significant.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

keepin' it real

a while back i saw one of the pioneer woman's 'keepin' it real' posts that included a picture of what she swept off of her kitchen floor after neglecting housework for a week.  i love her for that.  i have also thought of her a hundred times since then as i've swept up my own floors and...this morning...as i cleaned out my minivan.  with all due respect P-Dub, you ain't got nothin' on me...


this pit of a vehicle was cleaned out less than a month ago and somehow it still looked like we'd been living out of it for a year.  the cool thing is...it only took me just under 21 minutes to clean it out.  

i know this because i made it through ingrid michaelson, kari jobe, the fray, adele, and mat kearney on my playlist.  


now...when i say 'clean' i don't mean 'detailed'.  i mean safe for my children to enter...no major ankle-twisting hazards or toxic mold growing on anything.


the stuff i pulled out of there was amazing...more than a dozen plastic easter eggs, a flat iron {man...i've been looking for that thing}, sippy cups {dear God - please don't let them be milk cups}, 14 used tissues, dried-up grape stems, chick-fil-a sauce...
and please note the run-away guacamole that probably would have exploded if i'd left it in there one more day...whew!  dodged a nasty bullet on that one!
i even found a little hidden art gallery lucy has been working on {i hate that you can't see the glitter pen in this pic...it's a lovely touch}.  mmm hmmm.  i'll be saving that clean-up for her.


i haven't forgotten about haiti.  i actually thought about it most of the time i cleaned my car...and everyday when i'm driving around town, or taking a shower, or going to bed at night...  there's much more to write.  let's see if i can get my act together by the end of the week and do that...



Friday, April 13, 2012

friday faves :: family fun days

most fridays it's me and the kids.  
end of the week...free of the preschool grind {i.e. nightly lunchbox packing, getting everyone up, dressed and fed by a set time...you know the drill...}.  
most weeks we take an 'adventure' and do something we've never done before {or something we've done and loved so much we just gotta do it one more time!}.  we usually sing our own rendition of that song from 'cat in the hat' as we load the car...
here we go, go, go, go...on an adventure!
the minivan is pulling away!
we have also recently started a new tradition of the 1-2-3 hand stack...and then...
TEAM MAXON! {hands in the air...you know...like a sports team would do}
we do that right as we are about to get out of the car and i have just reviewed the rules for having fun and not getting your behind drug back to the car for misbehavior.  the kids love it...joey is so afraid that we will actually do it in public when he is with us.


today our adventure was a new one...


if you live in charlotte please note that this is not the original discovery place {which, by the way, i went to for a lock-in sometime during my elementary years...yes - it's that old}.  this is a brand new spot just for little kids...and it's awesome.  we were there for almost 3 hours and still didn't get to do everything.


if you are in the charlotte area and have kids kindergarten and under...i definitely recommend it.  here's the deal...


there is a little snack bar area where you can purchase snacks and drinks...but no restaurant.  however...there is one of my favorite little dives right across the street {bonus!!}...perfect for lunch with the little ones...
i took a stroller in which ended up being a nice place to keep our jackets and bag but next time i will just take a little backpack with whatever we need {which is not much}...the stroller was a little tricky to maneuver around everywhere {and oliver kept pushing it into people}.


it's $8 per person to get in {kids under 1 are free}
the cost includes everything...which means they don't try to nickel and dime you for all kinds of stuff once you're inside.  there are puppets shows, dance parties, story times, monthly special events {today was painting outside in the garden and spring crafts}, and tons of different areas to explore...
 {water area was a favorite...}
 {...it required the tongue of concentration}
{lots of opportunities for creating}
{he actually played in here for 10 minutes before he realized it wouldn't go anywhere...it's a drive-up bank and lucy was on the other side playing the 'teller'...pretty cool}

check out the website for more details...and let me know where you think we should go for our next family fun day!  if i pick your idea you will win...ummm...let's see...
a custom art piece designed by my kids!!!
{we actually made these at DPK today}
...i may throw in a gift card too : )


:: happy weekend!! ::

Monday, April 9, 2012

the secrets of my success {today}

so...easter was crazy but amazing {as anyone who works for a church can attest to}.  after a whirlwind trip to haiti, coming back to a house that looked like...well - you know what my house can look like, and 2 days of last minute prep before the big day i can honestly say that i am wiped out.  i am already in my jammies battling the sniffles and seriously considering choosing my cozy bed over this laptop right now.


but...
of course i had something to share that just couldn't wait.


if you've spent any time on my blog you know that there are plenty of days that i feel like i've fallen short when it comes to mothering, wifing, friending...  in other words - it's no secret that i mess up in my relationships...a lot.  it's important to me to share how i grow through these struggles but it's also equally important for me to brag on myself encourage you on my good days.


today was a good day...despite the cards being stacked against me.
{not quite enough sleep, the hint of a cold coming on, aftermath of an international trip and one of my biggest work days of the year, mt. everest towering in my laundry room, kids at home all day...you get the picture}


here are my secrets of success for TODAY {i can't promise they'd work any other day}...


{1} gripping the grace of yesterday :: one of my precious kids at church gave this to me when she walked into the warehouse yesterday...
...i cried.  it was one of many 'break-your-heart-in-a-good-way' moments easter sunday gave me.  i contemplated writing an entire post about those moments but then i realized that i'm too tired.  anyway - the point is - i stepped into today still wearing the outpouring of love and joy that i was clothed in yesterday.  i want to spread that goodness forward as far as it will go.


{2} finding time for the people who matter most :: lately joey and i have been complaining that we don't get enough time together.  we actually like each other...a lot...so this is a problem.  inspired by some friends who get up every morning before the crack of dawn to spend some quiet time together, we decided to do the same.  i give total credit to joey on this one.  if he didn't turn on the light and elbow me at 5:30am i would not be this disciplined on my own.  this morning we had 30 whole minutes of sitting in bed and reading and praying and starting our day with the two most important relationships in our lives.


and i did it for my kids today too.  i had some things on my to-do list but with every single one i was mindful of them.  the day was about what we would do together.  a schedule dictated by me but including them.


the truth is...we always have time for what's important...but those minutes and hours can be tricky.  sometimes you have to dig around to find them.


{3} grocery shopping genius ::  i'm pretty sure that i could fill a football stadium with women who would rather get a root canal than go grocery shopping with their preschoolers. seriously...who wants to knowingly put themselves in a situation in which their child may attempt life-threatening moves in a rolling cart when their back is turned or risk hearing the shattering of glass followed by the blaring announcement 'we need clean-up on aisle 7'.   for this working mama whose husband is on the road a lot, shopping with kids is a necessary evil.  here's a little something that lucy and i tried today.  it worked so brilliantly that i am sure it was divinely inspired.  


she helped me make the list.  we created pictures for each item so that she would know what to look for.  she was in charge of carrying her list and pen around the grocery store.  every time we found an item oliver put it in the cart and she marked it off...like i said...brilliant.  we all actually enjoyed our visit to the store and i didn't feel like i was going to have a panic attack the whole time.  {the kids were also much more interested in 'helping' with dinner after being so involved in purchasing the ingredients.}


{4} creating something...anything ::  instagram is now available for droid...can i get an 'amen'?!?!  so now in addition to squeezing in a watercolor painting here and there, weaving a few words and wonder together, and doing projects with the kids...i can add photography to my list of creative outlets. 


please do this for yourself...somehow...some way...create.  there are no rules, just do it.  you won't believe the new life it will breathe into your soul.


may your week be full of  'good' days...
i leave you with my first few attempts at instagram...




Friday, April 6, 2012

friday faves :: haiti edition

we are back in the states...and not without an exciting departure story.  
we hit a mega traffic jam in port-au-prince on our way to catch our flight yesterday.  we were cutting it so close that we decided to grab our bags and hop out of the reliable old land cruiser about a half mile from the airport.  if you've been to haiti you know that it can be a bit risky maneuvering around crazy and unpredictable assertive haitian drivers {atari fans - think 'frogger'}...not to mention all the crowds of people asking for money.  fortunately i had a rolling 25 pound weapon {a.k.a. my carry-on} i could have used to hurl at someone if things got dicey.  the truth is - i really wasn't nervous at all...we have never found haiti to be a dangerous place, and...we had 'boss man' {as all the airport attendants called him} with us.  he led the way through the crowds and right to the front of the business class line {the same rules of american airports don't apply in haiti}.
otis 'boss man' garrison - vice president of MOH
{as photographed by jerry - an 11 year old haitian boy who loves the boss man}
so...after making it onto our flight out of PAP without any time to spare we got to miami where our lay-over turned out to be 7 hours instead of 4.  {i know...delays in miami?  shocking!}  we finally laid our heads down for 4 hours of sleep at 3:30 this morning.


i'm tired.
i'm glad to see my kids.
my mind and heart of full.


i'm also ready to go back.
and i want to take the kids with me next time.
and as soon as i get a decent night's rest and enjoy easter weekend i will start the process of pouring out the stories for you.


in the meantime here are a couple of my faves that i wanted to share.  first...my favorite place to shop in haiti...

in 2010 when a handful of haitian women amputees at MOH discovered sewing as a hobby, they had no idea of  the business endeavor they were embarking on.  
3 cords has now earned enough money for two buildings on the MOH campus and the haitian women who work there are having a hard time keeping up with all the orders they are receiving.  the last time i was in haiti i bought some super-cute headbands for me and lucy.  this time i got a precious little flower clip for lucy 
and the amazing bag that i am affectionately calling my 'chicken bag' {every farm girl needs one!}.  


this is rosenie...
...she made my chicken bag.


you would not believe the craftsmanship of these things.  definitely check out their website and consider purchasing something for yourself or as a gift {my birthday is coming up in may...hint hint}.  i love this little clutch...
...just sayin'.


and now i'd like to leave you with one of my all-time favorite 'laugh your butt off' videos.  the star is a little guy named 'stevenson' that we met on our first trip to haiti in 2010. 


the cool things is...all 'actors' you see in here are real-life amazing kids living in haiti {some of whom i will share stories about in the coming weeks}.  most of them are orphans we have met during our time at hope house.


it's all about the stevensons...enjoy...


{happy resurrection weekend!!}

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

why i go...

today i carried my journal with me in hopes of writing down some thoughts and ideas during our time at the mission and surrounding villages.  the only thing that made it in there was a recipe for rice and beans that one of the girls at the mission graciously gave me {we love us some haitian rice and beans}...
as i prepared for this trip i was excited about the possibility of blogging and sharing this journey with you.  but...
i also remembered that the last time that i was here i found it surprisingly difficult to write...i was awkward, fumbling...an unfamiliar feeling for me.


it's hard to put words to experiences that you don't really have words for.  there is a tension there.  i have a deep desire to capture what i am feeling...seeing...learning in this foreign land so that i might somehow communicate it to you.  it needs to be communicated...and yet it doesn't come easy.  
in the comfort of my home writing ebbs and flows so fluidly.  not here.  as i walk dusty garbage-lined roads i've never walked before and hear the dancing words from a language that i do not understand i am at a loss for ways to attach words to these experiences.  
it stretches me.  it challenges me.
and that's why i go...
because i believe there is as much work to be done in me as there is to be done in haiti.
i have begun to compile some stories that i plan to share with you once we return home.  my dear friend april is the gifted photographer we brought along to capture the visual images to go along with these stories.  
{that's her with pierre...when we visited a year and a half ago they didn't think that he would survive}
once she has edited the pics and passed them on to me i will load them right up along with the stories...i hope you will come back for that.  you won't believe the abundant life change and restoration that is taking place in this country.  i want to show it to you one story at a time.  


in the meantime...here are a few shots i have snapped here and there with my phone.  thanks for your grace as i fumble through all of this.
{one of my favorite things to eat in haiti - besides rice and beans - sweet, juicy mango}
{a young boy being fitted for a prosthetic leg...MOH has provided over 200 prosthetics since the earthquake}
{can you believe how tiny they make these things?}
{minette and i holding 4 month old twins in the orphanage...if you sent baby supplies with us - these are the precious recipients of your gifts!}
{the face of hope}