thankful for...

Today (I actually wrote this Friday...) I was in the kitchen and Ivar asked me to come and play a game with him. I sat down by the fireplace and started to roll the dice when Elsie yelled at me from the steps. I had told her that I would play Princess Carousel with her, a game where we sit on the steps and look through the banister rails pretending we are princesses. On a carousel. At the same moment Rory turned his laptop towards me and wanted me to watch a video of black friday stampedes with people behaving poorly and then the baby started crying from her bouncy seat.

And in that moment I had all four of my family members needing my attention. All four of them were within my sight all vying for me in some way and instead of feeling bothered, it made me feel happy. Because it was good. It is good to feel needed. And it was good because none of their demands were actually that demanding. Playing and pretending and watching and holding are all needs that are easily met. So today being needed made me feel thankful.

Later on in the day that same being needed thing made me feel agitated. Which means it was a typical day with a good mix of challenge and blessing. But way more blessing. And for each one of these awesome people in my daily life who need me and want me, I am very, very grateful.

a little family update

This week Elsie has been very into playing Lake Geneva / Mount Carmel. It's a mix of both places where we pretend we're at Bible Camp, and mostly we pretend we're sleeping on a bunk bed and then wake up to a bell and put our swim suits on to build sand castles. (And she thinks her winter hat from when she was a baby fits her "just perfect!")

Ivar spent much of his week working odd jobs to earn money for Blade, a toy helicopter from a movie he likes. He had $6 from his birthday and needed $4 to have enough to get Blade. Last week he lamented, "I want quarters, I just don't want to clean things to get them!" But that's how it works. He stopped working jobs for a few days, but this week he found the fire in his belly again and after putting the silverware away lots of times, cleaning the living room and gathering sticks in a bucket for our fire place, he finally earned enough.

Harriet had some tummy issues this week that kept us up a lot. And then we both got colds which is a bummer. I thought many times about how I had written that she is an easy baby, and how the last week was anything but easy. Funny how that happens. But last night she skipped a feeding, sleeping from 10-4 and I am hoping and praying that this might just become a thing. (Though she has slept most of today with her stuffy nose, and I've let her because I want her to feel better, so we'll see how tonight goes...but maybe it's a thing!) (Nope. Not a thing. We were up a lot last night...she can't breathe through her nose and this is very frustrating for her...)

Rory spent the last few weeks working late into the night. His work is like ebbs and flows. And this season has proven to demand lots of hours. But he's been building a fire most days for us, which tends to keep everyone in a good mood.

And I have been reading books again, which feels so good. I read the three books I checked out at the library: Pioneer Woman's Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, her love story memoir where she writes a lot about her husband's large biceps. It was cute and funny. I read The Fringe Hours, which I didn't love. I thought I would, but there was much that was hard to relate to.  And I'm just wrapping up Scary Close, Donald Miller's latest book. And I'm loving this one. It's fast and full of stories and I always put the book down connecting his story to my own. I love that. 

So there's the update. Today we're starting to decorate the house for Christmas. I always have this hope to decorate in some orderly way where the house doesn't look like a bomb exploded after we get the boxes out of the garage. But my little elves are excited and even though I tried, I could not stop the christmas chaos from spreading all over every inch of my house. It will all find a home and hook, but until then my house looks more frenzied than festive. And it's okay. It is really okay. And I'll just keep telling that to myself until I actually feel okay about it...

neighborhood baby shower

Most of our neighbors have lived on this road for over three decades. We are the new kids on the block but have been welcomed in with love and kindness. This past Saturday our neighbor, Mary, hosted a baby shower for Harriet and nearly everyone on our road came for the brunch and gift opening. I was so grateful for this sweet time together. Harriet was showered with love and slept the whole time. (You can see her there on the couch in the forefront, being held by the woman who we bought our farm house a friend who lives in town.)

Mary made homemade caramel rolls, egg bake, cheesy potatoes, scones, banana bread coffee cake, pumpkin muffins, an almond pastry, fruit salad and punch. Everything was from scratch and I ate my heart out. And then she sent a box home with us full of the leftovers and I ate my heart out some more.

I left feeling so grateful that my kids have neighbors that love and care for them and will look out for us. There is a contentment found in knowing your community and investing in your neighbors that can't be beat and I believe it is how God intended it from the beginning.

picture update: from the camera

I have been trying to catch as much of our every day on camera as possible. Some of these made it onto instagram, but not all of them. This was from Tuesday, when Hattie started smiling and I wanted to capture her grin so badly. This was the first smile I got...obstructed by Elsie, holding my phone, taking a picture of her eye. Ha!

Lately our days consist of a whole lot of legos. We play and build all day long. Elsie was so proud when she made a lego pacifier! (Not for Harriet!) I figure we have 4-6 months before Harriet starts to crawl and put things in her mouth, so we'll play hard with the legos now.

 Oh sweetness. I am suddenly very sleepy.

Elsie always seems to be a little bit more interested in holding Harriet than Harriet is interested in being held by Elsie. In this shot, Elsie is putting a plastic ziplock on Harriet's head. We never walk away when they're having sister time.

I just found her this way! I believe she was telling me it was time to change her diaper.

More sister time...

And this happens too. Rory read my 6 week update and commented that he doesn't think Hattie is all that easy of a baby, as I had written. So to clarify: Hattie cries like all babies. But her needs can be met quickly. There is a reason for her crying. I consider that an easy baby. A hard baby would be one that cries for chunks of time and is inconsolable. That's a hard baby. Also, I am feeling good and upbeat. You never know what kind of postpartum mood you're going to be in after a baby. But this time around my mood is content and happy. Which colors how I see my baby too. So I still would call her an easy baby, but rest assured, she cries, she gets frustrated and she wakes up every two and a half to three hours each night with needs just like every other baby! And I am tuckered out! But I'm tuckered and happy. Which works for me.

lasagna soup

Monday my mother-in-law came to help me out and watch the kids, and it was awesome. The first thing I did was take a shower and put on a real outfit. Then I made a meal plan for the week...the first time I have done this since Harriet has arrived. I followed it up by making a grocery list and then I went grocery shopping by myself. It was a dreamy day.

I got home, put the groceries away and closer to suppertime I made this soup.

Yum. O. It is a keeper.

It was easy and fairly quick to make. It was delicious. And since I am one who typically doesn't enjoy coming up with suppertime ideas, I thought I'd pass it along to you.

Lasagna Soup
8 ounces elbows pasta (or any soup spoon size pasta)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound Italian sausage (found by the hamburger)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
2 teaspoons oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
6 cups chicken stock (I used 8 cups because that's two boxes)
1 (28-ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes (I used's what I had)
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
For the ricotta mixture
8 ounces ricotta (I used some cottage cheese too...)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Salt and Pepper, to taste

*Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium high heat. Add Italian sausage to the skillet and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the sausage as it cooks; drain excess fat. Add garlic, onion, oregano and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions have become translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in tomato paste until well combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chicken stock, diced tomatoes and bay leaves; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes.

*In a small bowl, combine ricotta, parmesan, salt and pepper, to taste; set aside. Cut the basil really thin, set aside.

*In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta one minute less than the package instructions say for al dente; strain and run under cold water, set aside. I never mix my noodles in with the whole batch of soup. They get too mushy. I assemble each bowl, adding noodles separately. It means I have the soup frozen right now without the noodles. I'll cook noodles when I pull out that tub of soup...

Assemble each bowl with the tomato soup, noodles and a small spoonful of the ricotta mixture (we got overzealous the first bowl and it was too rich!), some mozzarella and basil.

It's so good! Enjoy!