All posts by Audra

Snacks and Post-Its!

“What’s for Snack?”

Isn’t Snack a funny word? Just writing it and saying it out loud sounds silly. But lets definitely get this straight: a Snack is a serious business! My children “snack” more than they “meal”…(see, that just sounds ridiculous). Snacks tide you over till the next meal, they energize kids to get back outside and play, they stop whining on a car ride, they distract small children when you need a quiet moment, so on and so on…THEY ARE VERY POWERFUL.

Throughout our week, family members trail back home at different increments in the afternoons as school buses drop off and boys get picked up. My two older ones love to arrive first to the kitchen and begin “the snack”. After several years of this constant question, I wised up this school year and devised a snack strategy! And for your viewing pleasure, I have visuals!! 

So here is my kitchen cabinet of Post-It notes. Somewhere between the third and fourth child, I resolved myself to the need of Post-Its if I was ever going to remember anything again. I use them ALL the time for everything. In the case of Snacks, this method works beautifully because I reuse them as needed. (And as you can also see, we don’t eat very healthy snacks always! I may need to revise that now that I’m looking at it!)

I usually pick the snack before they get home and lay it out on the counter with a note of what it is and how many they get if its something like cookies, brownies, etc… and if you don’t know about 3-2-1 Cake, let me enlighten you:  a simple, one-serving cake that a child can make in the microwave. You need 1 Cake Mix of choice and 1 Angel food Cake Mix combined together as the Dry Mix.       Independence abounds as a child scoops, stirs, zaps and eats! They can add chocolate chips, whip cream, syrup, whatever add-ins  of happiness to their cake too.

There is always a big bowl of Trail Mix available in the house also. It’s easy and great for a quick grab and go snack. I buy all the ingredients in bulk to save cost; then make my own variations of yum!

 

And the food pantry has an ever-changing assortment of granola bars, applesauce and such that get thrown in lunches, and are grabbed up right before adventures. 

Well,  we could all snack forever, but after a while one gets thirsty… so I want to remind you that if you didn’t read my post on Drink Stations , then its time for you to get on board! Seriously, this technique has saved me many runny noses, coughs and such.

Super easy: set up a station in your kitchen with coasters, tray, compartment boxes, etc. and put your family’s names on designated spaces. The rule: 1 cup per day. Wash them at night and let them pick a new cup the next day! Everyone knows where their drink is; no one drinks after another!! Germs are thwarted. Dishwasher is not exploding. This is a game changer for me.

Alrighty! Here’s to tasty snacking! And don’t forget the Post-Its! They sure come in handy.

 

 

What’s Your Weather Today?

I noticed this while driving down the street  one day and I bet you can relate:
Gray Day, Gray Skies, Driving a Gray Car, the streets are Gray, Weariness even feels like the Color. I looked down and I am wearing all Gray!! Did I fall into this day?!

Gray does not have to be bad.

There will always be a scattering of gray days for all of us. Wouldn’t the enemy love to take those gray days and pin us down, entangle us, or spiral us deeper and deeper into lost hope and despair…forlorn when the sunshine seems no more.  What if we look at those gray days not as a detriment to our living, but as an opportunity to get tighter to the Lord? To cling to Him on the gray, windy days, and then learn how to infuse color into them.  What if we take those gray days and ask the Lord to bubble up Joy from within us, and show us others that are immersed too deep in the gray day…

Gray days can teach us many things.

So here I am, driving the boys to school on another random gray day, and my nine-year old makes a statement that I think is quite profound: 

“No matter the weather, we get to choose the forecast of each day.”

I was speechless for a moment as I thought about those words. He threw them out so loosely, but I found myself grasping  for them to digest further. How many gray days of my life have I tossed to the side of the road trying just to get them over with?  My son’s statement snapped me back to a reality that each day is a precious gift; none are a waste. We might have to search a little more for the Joy in our gray days; but lessons taught to us like: perseverance, resilience, overcoming, speaking Life over a situation…all end up breaking through those gray days and eventually shine light onto them. We can take the darkest day, or the sunniest, and choose to fill it with the most potential possible for us and those around us. Attitude really is everything sometimes. Beautiful things can transpire out of the Gray. 
Gray will never probably be one of my favorite colors, but I’m learning the use of it when it shows up in the weather forecast now…

“So we do not lose heart… our inner self is being renewed day by day. For the light momentary affliction is preparing for us eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison , as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”   2 Corinthians 4: 16-18

 

Have A Favorite Things Party!!!

Happy Valentines Day!!!

I hope you’re eating dark chocolate and have a view of flowers today! And I hope you have opportunity to hug loved ones in your life and shower smiles wherever you are. Love is contagious.

But if your glum for some reason, then I have a great idea for you!! (Even if you’re not glum at all, this is a good idea!)

Plan a Favorite Things Party!

This is such a fun girl party to put together. It’s not complicated, and it’s really sweet to grab a friend and collaborate on the cuteness! I have hosted three so far… my dear friend, Shelley, has teamed up with me twice and we combined our friends list,  and my cousin Kate and I put one together for all the women in our family.

Okay, so the guest list can be any size of your choosing. You asked each guest to bring 5 of something that they love and use a lot! Put a cap on the price tag: we have told friends to spend no more than $30 total. It can be less if their favorite thing is cheaper. The idea is to share with each other the little things that we each love and use frequently. 

The part that makes this party so easy peasy is that you also ask each guest to bring either one of their fave appetizers OR desserts!! The hosts provide a salad to balance it all out, plus drinks! Not much kitchen involvement but all the benefits of yummy treats! It really is financially easy to host a Favorite Things Party, and your guests will come and go with 5 new Favorite Things at the end of the evening! Win-Win!!

When your guests arrive, have them write their name 5 times on slips of paper for the drawing. Then ask them to place their Favorite Things in a brown bag until the “reveal”.   It was fun to prep brown grocery bags with a cute saying on the front of each. Just staple a cute  paper to it.  (This doubles as their take-home bag for all the loot they will end up with!)

As the anticipation builds and the meal is winding down…a fun icebreaker intro into the “reveal” is to play a quick round of “favorite things”questions. The guests all receive a small tablet and pen to write with, and the hostess asks the questions: Fave color, fave  season, fave  hobby, fave superpower to have …  Everyone receives a piece of chocolate as we answer them together. 

The moment all have been waiting for has come! Each gal picks 5 names out of the bowl; making sure she doesn’t have her own or duplicates. One at a time, each guest will stand and share what her favorite thing is that she brought. A quick descriptive and where you can buy it and why she loves it so. The 5 names she drew are the proud recipients of the item. After all have had their turn, then trades are totally open depending on the friendliness of the crowd! 

Shelley put together an awesome playlist for our party by using the song, “These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things” and finding it in every possible genre of music you can imagine! It played as our background ambience. 

Kate and I put ribbons around all different shades of pink nail polish and set them on a silver platter for guests to pick from as a parting gift. 

Women brought everything from lotions and hand towels, to cozy socks and bath salts, to car fresheners and hot cocoa sets…oh the possibilities! 

 

Oh Happy Sweet Day To You!!!

 

My Warriors With Pool Noodles

 

A Back-pack, a Bull Whip, A Pool Noodle and a Sword is what I saw traveling down the street along with my boys each holding their “weapon” of choice… my Motley Crew has found contentment in a neighborhood strewn with boys to have outdoor adventures with.

Being a girl, my” outdoor adventures” at that age, consisted of laying on a blanket under a weeping willow tree and drawing and dreaming while sipping on lemonade; maybe a cart-wheel or two. However, with boys, I can assure you there are no parallels to be seen!

I love my current view and am soaking it up for the memory banks. I hear warrior cries, I see charging “knights”, I watch “battles and duels” unfold in the yard. I have lost many things in the kitchen for the cause of bartering and trading at their various posts that resemble an odd little village across the back yard.

It is a sweet spot for a boy to be carefree and able to let his imagination soar. And a band of brothers is that much richer for the opportunity to absorb all boyhood. I feel like a spectator, getting rare glimpses into this foreign territory to a girl. I recognize that I am only privy to it because I am “Mom”.  I have watched a few neighbor girls approach our lawn timidly, taking in the sights and then retreating home; can’t say I blame them, it is a lot to take in when boys are in adventure mode.

When Summer comes, I will have to buy new pool noodles because I have watched them slowly be grabbed one at a time and transformed into dueling sticks. We have no more duct-tape in the house because that is “boy glue” for everything! And with  Pinterest, they have figured out how to braid duct-tape and create bull-whips…

They have decided it is manly to down hot cocoa packets( dry!)  while they are in survival mode and traveling from camp to camp in the yard. Our printer is out of color toner but there are these amazing tribal flags waving on large sticks at the top of the tree fort. And the backdoor has a loud creak to it now because it has become a revolving door as they run in for bandanas, snacks, drinks, scissors(?!!), and such oddities. I had to ask them to return the PVC pipes from the garage that are actually part of the pool equipment!!

They are now saving allowance for PVC pipes…

This is a rich season for them in childhood, and also for me in parenthood. With them gaining more independence daily, I will still grab my laptop or project or book and sink in somewhere close where I can take in the sights of this wonderful childhood unfolding. If you are in this stretch of life too, you can relate. If this chunk of time has passed in your life, I would encourage you to journal your memories of it… there is so much that time will fade. But there are beautiful smiles in remembering;  and the details are the gems in your story.

The JOY of the Lord is your Strength!  Nehemiah 8:10

Waiting For The Fog To Lift

 

January always feels like a “do-over”  month to me.

New Years Resolutions run rampant and exercise plans loom everywhere! It can be a pressure-filled month to get things squared away. All the while, Christmas is being packed away and school times are resuming.  Just when our family had found a great rhythm of sleeping-in and perfecting how to chill… that alarm clock had to get involved again.
I tend to crave simplicity in January, too, as I clean up from the holidays. The impulse to organize and sort things begins stirring within me…(I’m trying to hold off till Spring!)
Ordinary Threads is about the many ways we layer a home, so I wanted to share a few of our January layers…  These help lift the fog that hovers over January,  while keeping the gems that linger from last month.
All the “togetherness” that happens during the holiday season spills into January for us. We grew accustomed to being with each other A LOT, and so we soak up the hush of winter with books and blankets intertwined on couches in coziness. I love love love this layer…this is how I get books read with my train of thought still intact. All of us in one space;  in quiet. hunkered down, (With 4 boys this is a big deal!)
For some reason, the whole family cooks together more this month too. I don’t have a reason for this, but I love it. Again, I think we just stay near to whatever activity is happening in the house. I’ll take the company and clean-up!!
We linger longer and laugh out loud more often. We snuggle and wrestle and give bear hugs at a whim; all that holiday love living on; Makes a Mom Heart so Happy. We aren’t feeling the tug of being outside yet that Spring will lure us to soon enough. Relishing the quiet and coziness all the while we can. The January layers are calm and reflective. They can seem foggy, but they are still rich in content if you let them be. Enjoy January!

 

He fashions our hearts individually; He considers all our works. Psalm 33:15

 

 

 

Layers Of Words

I love Layers. They enter in to everything in life. They are a stacking, a grouping, a pile of accumulated something… and yes, they can be messy more often than tidy; they can be bulky and not slimming or mainstreaming…they can take time to collect and then to sort.

Layers show up in cold seasons when our wardrobes mingle together till we get just the right cozy-factor we want. Layers pile up in warm-hunkerdown casseroles and soups as we crave the mixed aromas that bring fulfillment.

Layers are a gift in a friendship that has weathered through rough storms and is there to rejoice on the mountaintops with you. And Layers of memories can bring something sacred to the heart that nothing else understands. Layers are beautiful. 

God designed Layers to be peeled back too. If the layers become muddied, we can lift them and discard them till we reach the pure purpose again.

There is a woman who I have known that now is with the Lord, but I grew up in her presence. She was a remarkable woman and a treasured friend to my mother. She was intelligent and gifted academically, but more than that, she was a light. She extended her friendship to my mother in layers of Bible Studies that led to a beautiful ripple effect all the way to my life. When she knew her time was coming to a close, my mom found her one day at the book store with a full cart of books. When asked what she was doing, she plainly explained that she was finding all the books that had greatly affected her and influenced how she had walked through her life, so that she could give them to her adult children. The books, the words, the layers that she collected in her life that she wanted her children to know. Since she was not going to be able to share the layers piece by piece, she felt urgency to pile them together and have them ready.

This was impacting to my mother, and in turn, to my heart as well. I would so love to have that list of books she was collecting.. I admire her greatly, and I am thankful for her. As I read and collect my own layers of words that become part of my story, I have started to make a list of my own. One day, I can hand it to my children. Whether they read all my layers or not is neither here nor there…the importance is in the journey shared. Layers can show a timeline through the seasons of a life. Everyone piles on their own unique layers, but we are all influenced by the accumulation of others.  

Write down your layers; just food for thought.