Do We Nourish Their Souls?

Over the last year, I feel like my baking and cooking skills have greatly improved. Not only do I create better tasting food, I also create healthier dishes for myself and my family. I have learned to bake using whole grain flour. I can sauté and fry using coconut oil. I can sneak veggies in the  most unsuspecting snack foods. I can spot GMO corn a  mile away. I can even read and understand most of the words on the list of ingredients. I feel like I’m doing pretty good!

Nourish their souls and not just their tummies...

My daughters’ and my husband’s health is of the utmost importance to me. I will do everything I can to keep their bodies nourished and healthy. It’s not always easy and is often time-consuming…not to mention energy-consuming! But, we mama’s do what we have to for our families.

You see, our kiddos will only eat a certain amount of food over the course of the day. Do I want my kids to be filled with food that has absolutely no nutritional value? Food that will make their mouth happy for the moment, but will eventually destroy them with their lack of nutrients? I only have a few opportunities to fill their little tummies with vitamins and minerals that will make them strong and healthy. And by-golly, if I can squeeze a carrot into a pancake, you bet your bottom dollar I will!

So last week, I really out-did myself. I rocked out a delicious, nutritious breakfast that my little ladies loved. Pancakes. Not just any pancakes. Whole-grain Buttermilk Oat Pancakes with home-made Praline Pecan Syrup. Not just healthy. Tasty! My picky two-year old devoured them. I felt great knowing that I made a breakfast that was not only thoroughly enjoyed by my little ladies, but also thoroughly nourishing to them. Ah! Success!

Sadly I made a massive mess of the kitchen. Cooking and clean-up took a pretty big chunk of time from my morning.  So when Little Miss says “Mommy, we forgot to read our verse.” I realized that I had become so involved in trying to find my kitchen beneath all the flour and dirty dishes, that I completely skipped our routine morning devotion! And she missed it. I’m so glad she missed it…and wanted it. I nourished their bodies that morning, but left their souls lacking.

I soon began noticing other missed opportunities. I was too busy sweeping the floors after lunch to stop and teach Little Miss what it means to be kind and loving to her little sister. I didn’t take a break from folding laundry to read the Noah’s Ark board book that Boo Bear brought me. I didn’t step away from the sink long enough to look my little toddler in the eyes and instruct her on the importance of obedience. I just sent her to her room. How many other opportunities have I been missing?

Often, I feel justified in my actions. After all, the chores need to be done. The house must be cleaned. The meals won’t cook themselves. These are all good things that I am doing. But are they always the best use of my time?

God has called me to care for our home to the best of my ability. But He has placed an even greater responsibility on my shoulders…instructing and nourishing the precious souls of these little babies! Their health is always before me, especially during this awful flu season. It’s easy to remember that their bodies need to be cared for and nourished. If I don’t take care of  their bodies, it shows…usually with a fever in the middle of the night.

Souls go un-seen and often forgotten. I don’t want to look and my grown children and realize, with regret in my heart, that my floors sparkled, but their hearts we not taught and instructed in the ways of the Creator. My prayer is that I would not see just what is in front of me, but that I would observe the un-seen. I want to nourish more than those little tummies. I want to nourish their souls with that daily bread we all need, the Word of God.

Feed yourself daily, so you have the strength and wisdom to feed them. No, we’re not talking pancakes anymore. No matter how full your day, take time for what matter most. I say that to you. I say that to me. We won’t regret it!

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Raising Little Helpers

Raising Little Helpers while doing everything else. jewelsintheroughblog

Psalms 127:4-5

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. 

Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

My arrows: Little Miss -2 and Baby Boo - 6months.

My arrows: Little Miss -2 and Baby Boo – 6months.

Two kiddos.  You wouldn’t think that caring for two kids would be that much more difficult than taking care of one. After all, it is just one more. Right? One more hand to hold. One more mouth to feed. One more boo boo to kiss. Piece of cake! Well come to find out…I was wrong! Yeah, real wrong! Let me just say kudos to all the mommies of huge families! If you have a quiver full of young arrows and your sanity, I tip my hat to you, Mama!

Just when I figured out life with baby #1, who has since turned into a rambunctious little toddler, God put in our care Baby #2. And boy do I love these girls! I love them all the way to the moon and back again! I would give anything to ensure they are taken care of. I would die protecting them. They are my world! But let’s face it, the best things in this life don’t come easy. I found that out the day my hubby went back to work leaving me outnumbered.

Little Miss was 20 months when we brought home Baby Boo. I love the fact that I get to mother two sisters who are close in age. I hope they will grow into good life-long friends.  But for the time being…

poopy diapers and potty training…

spit up and two year molars…

toddler defiance and sleepless nights…

picky eating and upset tummies…

a toddler who knows nothing beyond the life of an only child and a baby who needs nursing….

Why do they always wait until the exact same moment to cry? Aye!

Well, I thank the good Lord for my fellow mama friends…especially the ones who have children slightly older than mine and have “been there.”

Mama’s of small children always have their hands full. They are most often exhausted at the end of the day. I’m quite certain no single piece of advice will ever change that. It is the nature of this stage. However, there is one piece of advice that I did find to be quite helpful! Let me share it with you.

Care for your baby. Involve your toddler in everything!

This made all the difference in the world! New babies require lots of time! As do toddlers….especially when they are acting out because mama doesn’t have near as much time and attention to give. Don’t get me wrong. We are all still tired at the end of the day, but we are also a lot happier at the end of the day! Much less fussing! And I was pleasantly surprised to find all the ways Little Miss really could be helpful! Not to mention, all the things she was learning along the way. And I really enjoyed her company too!

Here are a few of the ways I found to get my little helper involved:

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In a perfect world I would make it out of bed before both my babies. Sleepless nights don’t always make that a reality. So while I am getting ready for the day, I let Little Miss get herself ready for the day. She will brush her hair. Splash her face with water. And sometimes getting ready involves her brushing teeth for 10 minutes. She loves it! She loves feeling like a big girl when she pulls her stool over to the sink and reaches her toothbrush and toothpaste all by herself. And yes, I let her brush as long as she wants. Buys me a little more time for putting myself together for day…and sometimes this even involves *gasp* make-up!

This is also teaching her that it is important to take good care of our bodies every day.

And then on to the chores.

Caring for several small children and thriving jewelsintheroughblog

I try to complete one load of laundry every morning. Wash. Dry. Fold. Put away. Laundry is for sure not in my top ten. So keeping the mountain from growing too big is important to me. I sort and Little Miss tosses into the water. She actually gets excited to come and help. Mostly because of her fascination with water. But nonetheless, she brings her own stool and everything!

She also likes to pull laundry out of the dryer. I can’t tell you how much I loved this help while being full-term and huge enough that bending over hurt!

I have attempted to teach her to fold some small things like dish clothes, but we’re not quite there yet. However sometimes while I fold laundry, she gets another job.

Caring for little ones and thriving. jewelsintheroughblog

In our tiny apartment, we store the toilet paper on a shelf above the washing machine.  So conveniently, I can fold towels and give her one roll of tp at a time to stock our bathroom…which is right around the corner. If I really want to keep her busy, I just keep giving her more and let her stack a little white tower!

Oh! And laundry wouldn’t be complete without putting it all away.

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I try to keep her clothes organized where I can easily find what I need. However, the bottom drawer is all jammies and tutus. So she puts these away without any assistance from mama. Again, to keep her busy, I will give her one pair at a time. Oh the day when she learns it’s more effective to take them all in one trip!

We also try to get the kitchen all cleaned up in the morning. I do as much as possible the night before. But there are always dishes to be put away and breakfast dishes to be washed. No dishwasher for us in our tiny spaces. Being the messy chef I am…I burn a substantial amount of my days calories washing dishes! I digress.

Anyway, my little helper likes to “wash” dishes too. And splash. And dump. And pour. Playing in the sink was never an option because I didn’t want to clean up all the puddles that would follow that fun. However, she likes to play in the sink so much, that she obeys when mama says not to dump the bowl of soapy water all over her head. She knows that her aquatic fun will come to an abrupt end if she doesn’t follow the simple rules.

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And this keeps her happy for quite a while!

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The most difficult time for us has been getting dinner on the table. Kiddos are getting bored, tired, and hungry. And mama can’t always drop what she’s doing to help the fussing stop. Yeah, some foods are so insensitive like that! Like the blackened garlic bread or the scalded cheese sauce. Ugh!

However, she rarely complains when she gets to join in the fun.

Here we are making chocolate oats for daddy. Most of this ended up in a certain little tummy. But’s oats! Most mama’s battle their kids to eat oats!

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Mmmmm. Tortillas! 
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Flour is the most fun!!!

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Oh! And sometimes we dress up to help bake!

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Sadly Little Miss doesn’t like being photographed! No warning next time.

Disclaimer: when a two year old assists with baking and cooking there will  be a mess. However the thirty minutes she was occupied and happy was well worth the extra five it took me to clean up the mess.

Then on to other tasks.

Little Miss doesn’t really enjoy drawing or coloring so much. However, when mama sits down to make a grocery list or work on the budget, she likes to work on hers too.

Caring for little ones and thriving.  jewelsintheroughblog

It’s good for her to see print on my list. She will sometimes try to make some of the letters on her own little grocery list!

And finally, she is learning to help take care of her little sister.

Caring for little ones and thriving.  jewelsintheroughblog

This is not her little sister. But while mama is busy taking care of  little sis, she cares for penguin. We talk about dirty diapers and hungry tummies. She is learning that babies have needs. She even tries to trouble shoot when her little sister is fussy. She likes to get her paci for her and bring her lovey. She will bring toys and even show sis her books.

These are just a few of the ways I have tried to involve Little Miss in all that I do. I love that she is learning and she is happy. When given the choice to work on chores with mama or play with her toys, she always chooses to work along side me. For her it is not work. And that inspires me! She is a great little companion.

So thanks to that amazing friend for such simple yet effective advice!

What are some ways you have found to involve your kiddos?

Pinterest, Perfection, and Pretty Things

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Little Miss asleep in my arms after about a minute and a half of rocking her. She asks for it by name “Mama, rock you?” Some days I find myself hurrying through her story and our sweet time in the rocking chair. Why? Because its nap time and I have a list a mile long of things to do. Make baby home-made baby wipes. Edit my latest batch of pictures.  Create “feely” letters for helping teaching the alphabet.  Hang that adorable wall sticker I bought on Amazon. Create cute menu-planning board to display in kitchen. AHHHHH!!!

No wonder I’m exhausted and cranky! Somewhere along the way, I started believing that every good idea was an idea that I needed to implement. My ambitious little self wants to do it all! But let’s face it…there will never be time for every idea I pin on pinterest. So for me, I must prioritize. The first step for me is taking a little vacation from all that inspiration. What begins as a fun way of seeing new possibilities quickly turns into a set of bars that keeps me trapped. Imprisoned until everything on my list is completed.

I don’t want to miss life because I’m too busy making things better.

Somehow I managed to survive before DIY organic mascara. And somehow I will continue to survive without it.

It all starts in my over-cluttered mind. I must first simplify in there so I can enjoy holding my ever-growing baby girls. I want to play and be silly. I want to cuddle and watch cartoons. I want to hear her breathe. I want to feel her tiny self relax when she falls asleep as we rock in her rocking chair. I want to savor every precious moment to the fullest. And I simply cannot do it with the guilt of my list nagging my mind.

So for now, pinterest, I must bid you farewell. I will rely on my own creativity more and your ideas less. I will limit myself to visiting you only on occasions and for short times. We are no longer best friends…only mere acquaintances. See you…sometime.

Loving on E


Just when I’m doing great and think I have it all together, the ground beneath me shifts sending me tumbling down to land flat on my face. *ouch*

I’m surprised how quickly my level of love can go from “Won’t take my eyes off you / Be still my heart / Want to squeeze your cheeks forever” to “Dear Lord, I can’t stand another 5 minutes!” Superficial! That is my love in a nutshell. It doesn’t always run so deep. My love alone is often based on feelings. How am I doing today? Am I being productive and checking off the bullet points on my list? Have I been a patient and loving mother to my children? Have I provided nutritious meals for my family (insert day-dream about blueberry muffins that I’ve been craving. Yum!) Is my house sparkling clean? Was I able to squeeze into those pre-baby jeans? Do I look like a hot momma for my hubster? Did I create that gourmet meal I pinned earlier in the week? On the days that I can confidently answer “yes” to all of those questions, I find that I have an abundance of love to share! I’m on top of the world and can do anything! It’s easy to love when things are going well and self-esteem is at an all time high. But what about the times I’m not doing so well?

Sadly, it is quite rare that I can answer all those questions affirmatively. Some mornings, it’s a real struggle to roll out of bed. And let me tell ya, my loving-kindness is in direct correlation to the number of hours I get to snooze. Being mom to a toddler and an 8 week old, I often wake up feeling like someone hit me with the grouchy stick. On those mornings, I start the day playing catch-up. By the time the hubby gets home, not only am I NOT looking like a hot momma, I’m cranky! My list went un-checked! There is crayon on the wall and an ocean of toys on the floor! Dinner is a pintrest post gone wrong! And the only muffins in the house are the muffin tops created by pre-baby jeans and a post baby momma! *Ugh*

We’ve all had those days where brushing our teeth before noon feels like a monumental accomplishment. And on those days, giving seems impossible.

Giving time.

Giving a listening ear.

Giving love.

How do I love my husband when I am spent and have nothing in me to give? How do I love my children when I am tired and grouchy and just want to run and hide behind a lonely bubble bath? How do I love others when I just don’t “feel” like it?

Thankfully real love is not just a feeling. Oh yes, love carries some pretty strong emotions, but any relationship based on butterflies tickling the tummy is doomed to fail. Real love runs so much deeper than a heart of emotion that changes with the wind.

So, if you are anything like me, you have days when you lift your sleepy head up off the pillow and wonder how you can give any love to your mate or fulfill your role as a loving parent when you feel so empty and incapable. Well, love, you can’t give away something you do not possess. When there is no love left and your tank is on E, you must be filled before you will be capable of giving. Learning to love is a life-long process in which we should always be moving forward. There is always room to grow. So far on my journey, I have learned a few things that fill my love tank and help me pass that love along even when I don’t feel like it.

  1. Have breakfast with God. First, I have learned that love ultimately comes from God. I cannot work it up on my own. I am able to love because He loved me first. My Bible reading plan landed me in I John this past week. If you have never read I John, you may want to take a peek at it! It’s 5 short chapters full of talk on love. I am very encouraged by it! I John 4:19 says “We love, because He first loved us.” So I try to make it a priority to get up a bit before the kiddos so I have a few minutes to sip some pumpkin spice hot tea and spend some time with God. Regular prayer and Bible reading really helps me to keep my head on straight and my priorities in line. Remember, God made you. God knows you better than anyone else. He alone is capable of meeting every need and filling your love tank. Your husband. Your bestie. Well-meaning as they are, they cannot meet your every need. Take time for God.
  2. Care for you. I’m also learning that it really is okay for moms to take some time for themselves. We often feel selfish for wanting that time, but the truth is we are much better mothers when we when take the time to care for ourselves. So call up grandma. Tell her you have graciously decided to offer her some quality time with those sweet babies. And then go. Go somewhere. Go anywhere. Do something nice for yourself! And do NOT feel guilty!
  3. Don’t be so hard on yourself. The days I have a hard time loving, are the days that I feel terrible about myself. I set the bar so impossibly high that I will never reach it. Then I smack myself around for being a failure. I get so focused on myself and my shortcomings that I cease to love those around me. I’m learning to let the little things go and not expect perfection from myself. Giving myself permission to be flawed does my heart good.
  4. Be loved! Don’t live your life in isolation. Life gets busy. Fast. Plan time to see friends. Take a date night with your spouse. Go visit your mom. See people. We need companionship. Encourage and be encouraged. No one person can complete you. Remember, that is God-thing. But He gives us people to love and be loved!
  5. Stop and Notice. Some days I become so engrossed in completing my own little to-do list, that my task becomes my priority. But are those cobwebs in the corner really more important than the tiny, smiling voice saying “Sit down, Mama”? When I take the time to see the things I love about the people around me, loving them becomes much easier. On the other hand, when I choose to only see the mess my kids are making or the muddy trail from my husbands boots, I sigh and feel a twinge of anger rise up in me. It’s in those moments that I must choose to see what I love. I love that my toddler is active and curious enough to be into everything! I love that my husband is motivated to get up hours before the sun to go to work so I can stay at home and be a wife and mommy. The list goes on forever! I must be sure to read from that list every day.

Don’t you sometimes wish there was an easy 5-step process for the hard things in life…like loving when you just don’t feel like it? Just remember, we will never love perfectly because we are imperfect people. Keep moving forward and keep growing! And if you have some suggestions of what helps you, I’d love to hear them!!!

Ten Things I Accomplished by Procastinating

It’s hard to fathom that it’s been almost a full year since my very first blog post! That is 365 days! You know, 12 months! Yeah, 4 whole seasons! Sounds like a vast amount of time. And to think that I was able to create one whole blog post in those 12 short months. *Contemplative sigh* Those sneaky little days do have a way of turning into years when we aren’t looking. Beware! Although, chances are, those years have already zoomed past you too.

A year ago I was so excited about starting a blog! I read and researched and learned all I could about blogging. I found some great blogs that I admired and set out to have a great blog of my own. But somehow I never made it past the first post. I had the best intentions of writing more, but I always put it off until later. Blogging seemed like a fun new little adventure. I am always up for learning something new. You see, I love to completely throw myself into whatever great hobby interests me at the moment. I’m a great starter…not always such a good finisher. I have boxes of un-used cake pans and half-crocheted baby blankets to prove it. I did finally sell all my jewelry making gadgets.

So why should this hobby be any different? So far my track record proves it is not any different. But Lord-willing that will change. I will change. I will stop making excuses, stop wasting time, stop procrastinating, and start fulfilling this little piece of my calling in life. And what is this calling? It is to teach others what I have learned. It is to encourage others through my failures. It is to inspire others through my victories. Since being a stay-at-home mama is my primary calling, I am excited to connect with others right here from the comfort of my tiny, cozy little apartment living room.

Since I have mastered the art of procrastination, I would like to present you with the top 10 things I have accomplished by procrastinating. Just think. You can too! And with no further ado…

1. Countless hours of Facebook and Pintrest viewing. This would not have been possible if I had put more time into finishing what I started. Hear me well. Facebook and Pintrest are fabulous for staying connected and inspired. But seriously, who has time for 600 best friends? I find the minutes quickly sneak past when I’m online.

2. One blog post. If I had continued what I started, in one year I could have written 52 blog posts. That’s 50 more than I have now. But there is no point in lamenting the past. We have to forgive our failures, learn from them, and look ahead.

3. Maintained an expansive list of “what if’s.” Over this past year, I have often thought about what my blog would look like. I’ve mauled over the things I would like to write about. I even have a folder full of pictures labeled “Blog Pics” on my computer. What if I really enjoy being a blogger? What if it was really successful? What if people are really reading it and being encouraged? My procrastination has allowed me to hold on to these questions a bit longer. By moving forward in this journey, I will soon be able to answer some of these questions.

4. Entertained fears. Being a blogger is a bit scary for multiple reasons. As a blogger, I will really put myself out there. I will open myself to a world of criticism from all who stumble upon my little piece of the world wide web. What if I can’t figure out how to edit a post? What if my blog is boring and people don’t like what I write? Worse yet, what if people don’t even read what I write? What if I give misinformation and someone gets really mad? This past year I harbored these fears. And by doing nothing, I have not been able to silence them. I choose to face those fears and not be deterred by them. I choose to prayerfully move forward in spite of them.

5. An image of perfection. Let me tell ya, the blog in my head is a work of art! It is absolutely perfect! The graphics are colorful and cheery. The little bar at the top has all these fun menu options. There are perfect (picture perfect, eh?) pictures to accompany every well scripted post. Some even have those educational videos like the ones on wikipedia. Of course the content is amazing and there are thousands of followers. I love my imaginary blog! And really, why mess up a perfectly good blog with reality? My little blog will never be perfect. I will no longer allow such a high and unattainable standard keep me from trying and doing the best I know how.

6. Kept some great secrets. How did I get so lucky to have so many talented people in my life? This past year I have had some great learning experiences from some very talented people. I’m thankful for the new skills I’ve learned. Some of these tips and tricks have really made my life easier. If I had been blogging this past year, I could have passed some of this ideas on to you, but I didn’t.  Sorry for that! But maybe I can keep you in suspense wondering what kind of secrets I know! Stay tuned. I will pass them on. *Big Grin*

7. Refrained from learning a new skill. There are two things in life that I do not like. I think it is also safe to say that the feeling is mutual and they do not like me either. Math. Computers. Thankfully, there are very few numbers involved in my blog! However, I have yet to find a way to avoid the computer while blogging. I do get a little sad when I think about how much I could have learned in the past year. But it is too late now. Here’s to 2014!

8. Avoided the success of accomplishing a goal. Sure there are other things that I accomplished over the past year, but it is safe to say that this blog is not the only thing I made excuses for not doing. Too often I am guilty of taking on more than I can handle and then doing nothing well. This year I am going to choose and set a few goals and map out a plan to see them through to completion. The old saying is true. If we fail to plan, we plan to fail.

9. Forfeited some serious  fun. Turns out I really enjoy writing! Who knew? I am having a blast putting together this post. I do think I could blog on if no one ever read my posts!

10. Avoided personal growth. So often when the new hobby offers a bit of a challenge, I tend to run to something easier. But when I look back at my personal accomplishments, I see more than just a walk in the park. I see hours of hard work and dedication. I see frustration. I see learning. I see growth. Avoiding the task because it might take some time and hard work will not yield personal growth. I don’t want to be that person. No more running for me! Unless of course it is through the park or on a tread-mill. In that case, count me in!

So what about you? Are there projects or goals that you’ve been putting off? We all have great intentions when we celebrate the New Year and all its potential. But so often we fall short of achieving those goals. Find a worthy goal. Set a plan. And stick to it. You will be glad you did. And maybe next January you won’t have a list like mine.