happy friday!

And that's a wrap! Tree Tapping-Evaporating-Finishing and Canning Season is over! And we have the Maple Syrup to prove it. Isn't that glorious? I can't get enough of these pictures...the rainbow of syrup all tapped from the same trees is mesmerizing to me.  Really beautiful. The temperature when you collect the sap has a lot to do with the color, as well as the rate of the boil. And it all tastes incredible. There is so much to learn!

Well, I'm here to write a review of our week, but there is not a whole lot to report. This week was an awesome, normal, regular week. Even tonight I started with Ivar at dinner, "hey, hey what do you say, what was your favorite part of the day today, Ivar?" And he thought for a long time and said, "not really any one part. It was just a normal day." And it was! Homeschool, lots of legos, Hattie drawing with chalk on the wall (so grateful it was chalk!) and frozen pizza for dinner. Not much to report.

But that's a good life too, isn't it? Don't need too much drama. Don't need too much busy and frantic. Don't need too much disruption to the normal routine. I like our life so much. We've got glorious maple syrup to show for it, and we have finally finished the trim in the living room so I can paint it all white tomorrow. So other than a trip to the library with friends (complete with a stop to the cupcake shop) and the implementation of daily chores for the big kids, our week has been pretty routine.

Have a happy weekend!

a family seder

Doesn't everyone in the picture look just riveted by what I am saying?!! Thankfully I didn't talk too long and then Derrick took the floor!

So three years ago I attended my first Seder Meal at the church we were attending. It was led by Pastor Derrick, who walked us through a traditional Jewish Passover feast, while pointing out how Jesus fulfilled various parts of the meal.

To say that it added depth and meaning to my Easter feels too small. It is amazing, isn't it, how the huge Christian stories can begin to wash over us a normal. "Oh yes, this is the part where he rises from the grave..." What?!! How does this happen? How do the stories become so familiar that they loose their weight and impact on our lives? But it happens. And this Seder Meal three years ago woke me up again and I remember being profoundly moved that Easter, knowing all of the Jewish traditions and customs and background surrounding the history of Jesus' death and resurrection.

I have attended the last two years as well, and each time thought it would be so cool to host one of these meals at my house, with Derrick teaching, just like he does at the church. As it worked out, Sara was leading worship at their church and we were able to team up church with the meal at Art House North.

The kicker is that it is long. Like three hours long. But you are eating basically the whole time and there are just lots of parts of the meal and there is a lot to teach on each part. But each time more and more is illuminated, and I love that feeling.

If you ever have the opportunity to attend something like this, I highly recommend it. He is leading the meal again in our town on the night of Palm Sunday and if you'd like to come, drop me a line and I can send you the details.

Springtime picture books!

I am so excited just to pass this resource along!

I love our library, and the kids love it too. We go to Lego Time when we can and our library has a really huge creative play area where they can play store, kitchen, mailman, and ice cream shop.

My trouble is in picking out good books. The kids usually pick them out (lots of disney-character books), and I usually discover what we checked out when we get home. And let me tell you, there are some duds out there.

This is why I was so excited to find Read-Aloud Revival! Because not only does she have a book list of her all-time favorite books per age, she also sends out a book list each month with THE BEST picture books to read during that month. She is Christian and notates when a book has a Christian message. And the other books are just good, wholesome, awesome, beautiful books with uplifting and good messages.

Her April book list just came out and the books are all about gardening, Easter, baby animals and the change from winter to summer... SPRING!

I print the list out, sit down with my computer and open our library website. Then I select to search from All Libraries and reserve each book I can find. This month I was able to reserve 24 out of her 28 recommended springtime books. (None of which were at my actual library, but will come from other libraries in southern Minnesota.) And they look stunning. I can't wait for them to arrive!

So go check out Read-Aloud Revival and sign up for her emails so you start receiving her book lists. These are the stories we want our kids to read!

I'm 36!

I have written about this before, but I still champion this idea so I'm going to write about it again. A few years ago I took Rory off the hook for my birthday. I have high expectations for my birthday and was always hoping that maybe he could magically read my mind when March 18th came around. As it turns out, he could not read my mind. But I could! So I started planning my own special day from start to finish.

I recommend this SO MUCH. Because I know I'm not alone in this. I know too many stories of the big day ending in disappointment and tears. But I really believe your birthday is your responsibility when you become an adult. It just is. So whether I am turning 36 or 66 or 96, I will continue to plan my day. It's not my husband's job, not my children's, not my friend's. It's mine. And you know what? All my expectations are met when I plan the day.
So Saturday was my big day, and I was ready for it. Friday night I cleaned the kitchen and hung my own pennants. I set the table for a fun brunch party with my family, bought my own coffee cake and woke up early to meet a bunch of girlfriends for a birthday breakfast. I invited every one of them and told them not to bring a gift or a card, but to just pay for their own pancakes. I love beginning the day with friends. It's good to feel loved by girlfriends at the start of the day!

When I got home the kids were ecstatic to give me their cards and to have coffee cake (which, I can't actually eat because of my no-grain eating plan...but I bought the cake mostly for them because it is very important to have your kid's buy in for your big day!)

But in a crazy surprise Rory had spent the morning making me a very complicated Paleo Chocolate Pie! Now here is an added bonus to letting your husband off of the birthday hook: anything he does is genuinely appreciated because it is bonus! And not done out of birthday obligation. I was so surprised and impressed. We had this chocolate pie a few weeks ago with friends and I loved every crumb. It is coconut cream, dates and melted chocolate (and other things) on a walnut crust. I told Rory that I would have been really intimidated to attempt that recipe and he said, "oh, I was."
I spent the afternoon making special foods for a Seder meal we had the next day (that I'll write about tomorrow.) And that was a great task too: to try a whole bunch of new recipes. I really enjoyed playing in the kitchen all afternoon. At 3:00 we dropped the kids off at my friend Allyson's house and she watched them for four hours. I'll return the favor on her birthday in two weeks. Genius! And we lined it up, because we are adults!

Rory and I went to a coffee shop and talked for a few hours and then out to dinner. And it was so great. I told him on the drive to pick up the kids, "I love time with you. I love when we get to finish a conversation." And it's so true. Our communication can be so fragmented and interrupted with so many vying for our attention. The joy of our date night was really getting to talk.

We picked the kids up, put them to bed and then watched a documentary on Sugar while eating the incredible chocolate pie. Perfect. 

in this season of life...

I thought of this post tonight while I took a hot bath and it made me laugh a bit and want to document this slice of life.

In this season of life we are playing Uno all. the. time. Ivar and Elsie love it. Hattie loves to grab cards close to the edge of the table. I enjoy the quick games and can't believe how long the long games can be!

In this season of life everything is about being fair. Raisins are counted. Cheerios are counted. Mothers are losing their mind. Two halves are measured against the other. Apple sauce levels are scrutinized. You would think these children were starving. You'd think this mom was unskilled at cutting things fairly. You'd think there was a shortage of cheerios.

In this season of life there is always dried toothpaste on the bathroom counter.

In this season of life Elsie changes her outfits four times a day. I once explained to her that only the dirty outfits need to go in the laundry basket, and eventually I figured out that those outfits are actually all dirty. Elsie wins for most laundry every single week.

In this season of life our couches are taken apart daily for forts and every blanket, chair and table are utilized to make large, amazing, precarious structures.

In this season of life we have spaghetti once a week because everyone cheers when I tell them that spaghetti is the plan for dinner.

In this season of life our toilet paper is either in a pile under the dispenser or piled back on the dispenser after someone found it unrolled on the floor.

In this season of life we all watch Rory leave in the morning and wave to him from window #1, and quickly move to window #2 and #3 as he drives down the road. He is well loved.

The thing that made me laugh about this list, as I thought about it in the tub, is that we will likely be in this season for the next many years! Baby #4 is starting this whole train from the beginning, and I guess I just see a lot more Uno, forts, spaghetti, dried toothpaste, unrolled toilet paper and dirty laundry in my future!