April 11, 2013

  • Skies of Parchment.

    {This blog has moved to Skies of Parchment.}

     

    It’s the new name.
    The new address, the place this blog is moving to.

    The move is something I’ve contemplated for a while.
    Several years actually.
    But if I moved I wanted it to be a God-thing.
    Yep, I think God cares about blogging. :)

    So, I waited.
    Until it was the right time.
    The right name.

    I had a looooooong list of names.
    All the ones I first thought of were taken.
    Well, I guess I could have added “blogblog” on the end, but who wants to do that?

    So I waited some more.

    I often write of finding beauty in little places,
    simple beauty, not extravagant beauty,
    and of simply enjoying the day.

    Maybe something like “Oh Happy Day!” I wondered?
    But no, it just didn’t fit.

    I love happy days,
    I try to make my days happy, but…

    There are too many days that aren’t happy,
    as in top-of-the-world happy.
    There is always joy to be found, sometimes with great effort, but mere happiness?

    There is too much pain in the world,
    in my world,
    to have a glib Pollyann-happy-face.
    [although there is much to be learn from her, I do think].

    One evening I was singing to my restless son before bed.
    I love to sing hymns to him, among the sweet nursery songs.
    I was thinking of my beloved friend, Ruth, and how she loved the song
    “The Love of God” and so I sang it to him.

    The song has incredible word pictures, speaking of the vastness of God’s love.
    That even if the ocean were ink and the skies of parchment and every man a scribe God’s love could never be fully explained.

    And that was it:
    Skies of Parchment.

    More than simply recording a happy day, or taking pictures of pretty little things,
    I blog to record the faithfulness and love of my Lord.

    Life isn’t always easy. It’s not always happy.
    There is pain.
    There is death, and loss, and heartache, in many fronts.

    And yet, through it all, God is faithful.
    He is good.
    He can be trusted.
    He never makes mistakes.

    Skies of Parchment.
    Declaring His faithfulness and love.

    I don’t have ”plans” for my new blog.
    It will be a lot of the same – posting when I am able to without burning dinner or neglecting laundry for too many days. :)  
    There is no big show or new blingy features or anything like that.
    Just a new location.
    That’s all. :)

    I invite you to join me over at skiesofparchment.com.

    ~clarita

    p.s. for those who said they wanted to follow the new blog but didn’t know how,
    there is a ‘subscribe’ box there which will send new posts to your email address, if you like.

     

April 3, 2013

  • Hello Spring!

     

     

    It’s Springtime!

    There are few other seasons so looked forward to here in the south,
    maybe with the exception of Autumn.

    There is such a freshness, a newness, to life.

    I love the signs of spring outside and around our little cottage…

    // kitchen mantel, with prism reflection //

    I love the Holy Week, the Easter celebration…
    I’m in awe of all the Jesus Christ has done.
    What a precious Savior!
    And everything we are and have is not too much to offer Him.
    Nothing could be too much, in light of all HE is and what HE has done.

    I’m pondering this quote from Randy Alcorn:

    Holiness was once a central component of following Christ.
    But for many today, the Christian life is little more
    than a celebration of cheap grace and pseudo-liberty,

    with a high tolerance for sin.”

    And this one, by Kevin DeYoung:

    Worldliness is whatever makes sin look normal
    and righteousness look strange.”

    I’m reading a book by DeYoung,
    with the thought of holiness being not a legalistic endevour,
    but a grateful response to a Holy, Precious Savior.
    It’s moving…

    // a few hours of solo time //

    // the little raised bed garden //

    There is such a feeling of life in the air,
    a feeling of hope.

    There is such inspiration, such motivation.
    Spring cleaning & Mrs. Meyers may be in full swing one of these days!

    Spring also means some changes to this blog.
    After much deliberation, The Cottage at 341 South will be moving!

    It’s an exciting change, and a bit of sadness too.
    I’m not embarrassed of xanga – it was one of THE very first blogging avenues created,
    and I have so enjoyed writing here.

    But there are some changes that I would like to make that aren’t possible with xanga.

    One is that I do not want to be associated with adult content sites, of which xanga is,
    and although my personal site has nothing to do with it, I do not want any association.
    The new little spot allows nothing of the sort and has a record of cleanness.

    Secondly, if I blog a bit anyway, I want the ability to create a space as I desire.
    This particular location doesn’t give me much option.

    Sooo, there is a move! A new address!

    I’m kind of funny about new things.

    A new journal takes me a long time to get used to; it feels like I have to make a new friend.
    I know, wierd.

    New draperies, or new slipcovers for my living area…
    Do I like it? Do I not like it?
    It takes me a while to know.

    And then there are other new things.
    To where the newness is welcoming and cozy,
    to where the newness isn’t as big a deal as the atmosphere.

    That’s what I’m hoping will be with the new blog.
    A bit of something new,
    a lot of something familiar.
    Just a little spot in this vast blog world.

    Those who have read this [small, irregular] blog – thank you!

    This began as a place for family to keep up with our lives far away,
    and it has grown a bit from that.

    Those who read and comment – I loved loved meeting new friends, and hope it continues!
    It’s not so much the comments themselves, but the feeling of friendship and community that they give that I have loved here.
    And I really hope that continues!

    Those who read without commenting – that’s so okay, because this is a public spot and you are under no obligation to comment. ;)

    But you all have made this such a fun, enjoyable, happy place for me.
    To my friends who still blog here ~ don’t worry, I’ll still keep up with you! :)

    So hopefully within the next few weeks the move will be official.
    For now, just trying to finish up the painting and decorating at the new place and will post that address.
    {yes, i’ve been remodeling too long! :) }

     

    To one and all ~ Happy Springtime!

    ~ clarita

     

     

March 21, 2013

March 13, 2013

  • Holding Tighter.

     

    There are some moments in life when your breath is taken away by the sheer beauty of it.
    The little taste of heaven.
    The feeling that earth is as it should be.

    And there are other moments when it’s the sheer pain of life that takes your breath away.
    That phone call, hearing words that make your heart pound with fear.
    That bit of news that you think just can’t be true.
    Most of us have had those moments.

    I’ve had both.
    And it’s so strange how the two can run side by side.
    I don’t understand it. At all.

    This week my heart has been torn for my friend,
    for her precious baby girl that she will not watch grow up.
    The grief of seeing her bury her dreams as well as her baby.

    It’s in moments like those when it’s so perfectly clear:
    We were not meant for this world.

    This grief, this pain, this suffering –
    this is not as it was intended to be.
    We were made for another World.
    A World where we ache when someone goes first, leaving us, but where we want to go too.

    I’ve just been thinking about that a lot lately,
    about our Real Home.
    I don’t think it’s ever seemed so real, at this very moment, as it does now.
    This life really is just a shadow in comparison.

    Until then, it seems that I cannot love my little family too much.
    I cannot get enough of my little son, who steals more of my heart every day.
    I can’t hug my girls enough, or give enough of kisses on their soft cheeks.
    I can’t spend enough time with my husband.

    This moment. This sacred moment.
    What a treasure you are.

      
     

    ~clarita

     

March 5, 2013

  • Three Kids and a Mom [on vacation]

     

    Once upon a time, there was a girl.
    Actually, a mom.
    A mom and her three  little kiddos.

    Uh, yes, three kiddos. One didn’t make it on the picture.

    And she had a friend.
    A very dear friend, whom she had made so many memories with in Pennsylvania and Ohio and all across Asia.
    This same friend invited her to Florida for several days.

    The mom deliberated.
    It sure sounded fun.
    This friend is so dear indeed.
    And there was a new baby girl to meet.

    But it was 6 hours away. One way.
    With three kids.  Because it didn’t work for Husband to go.
    Would it be brave or crazy?

    There was much deliberation.
    But then she decided:
    it was waaaay too much fun to say no.

    So they went.
    And they picked up the mom’s sister on the way, which also added to the off-the-charts fun factor.

     

    They stayed at a house with the friend, her friend’s mom, her friend’s mother-in-law, her friend’s sister-in-laws and baby.
    It was such great times.
    There was always a party.
    Even for the kids.

     

    They got to meet this adorably beautiful little girl, who has so much personality for a three-month-old person.
    And the time with the baby’s mother was just so amazing.
    Real friendships just are so precious.

    There were a few moments of stress for the mom,
    including one morning when all her kiddos awoke at 7am to a house that was planning to sleep in.

    She had to send up an SOS to the Lord to calm her soul,
    and help her with a vacation that was more like a superfunsuperbusytime than rest and relaxing.
    Kids sort of make that change, and she wasn’t quite prepared.

    But after that one morning, it was really great.

    There was her grandmother to visit, Grandma Susan, as the kiddos call her, about fifteen minutes away.
    [and no, I'm no towering giant. my dear grandma is not quite 5 feet. :) ]


    There were oceans to visit.
    Or, I suppose it was actually the Gulf.

    [pre-ocean anticipation]

      
     

     

    There was a fabulous kids’ paradise to spend the day at.
    The kids and the mom were even brave enough to touch the snakes and gators.

     

    There was an auntie who loved her nieces and nephew so very much, and was a great help to the mom.

    And a mom/daughter picture that hasn’t happened for a very long time.

    There were jungle trails to walk, with popcorn in hand, of course.
    What else would you eat while walking a jungle trail?

     

    And there were flamingos to feed that made the oldest daughter simply leap with excitement.

    The happiness factor brought sisterly hugs to pictures with not even a hint from mom.

     

    There was a favorite little breakfast joint to eat one morning. Er, two mornings.

    And ice cream. They couldn’t forget the ice cream.
    It was a daily necessity, from anywhere and everywhere.

    This was probably the favorite place.

    It was a pretty big WOW of their vacation.


    And then, despite the attempts to lengthen the days and the desires to the kiddos to “let’s MOVE here!”
    it was time to return home to their very own little cottage.

    The sister’s husband came to have a romantic weekend getaway with his bride.

    And the three kiddos and a mom made their way back home.
    The first three hours was a dream.
    It really was amazing. Sleeping children, singing children.
    It was too good to be true.

    At hour three, we ran into a problem:
    the interstate was closed. Closed closed CLOSED.
    There was a massive detour which would take hours longer.

    The mother, who had been deliberating whether to call herself ‘brave’ or ‘crazy’ decided on crazy. :)

    A stop at Walmart to buy movies (hey, movies are cheaper than a hotel!)
     a stop at McD’s for Happy Meals (gotta keep up the morale with new toys)
    and a few years, I mean tears, later,
    they all arrived back home safely.

    The six hours home only took nine.
    Yes, nine.
    She felt like a rag doll when she got home.

    It was a delicious vacation, there in Florida.
    It was worth every minute of that nine hour trip home alone.

    But three kids and a mom [on vacation] later, they’re happy to be back home with the Daddy of the family.

    And they all lived happily [ever after]……. :)

     

     

February 25, 2013

  • Ten Favorite Things.

     

    1. {Bed-head and a daddy who loves her}

     

    2. {Sorry games on Sunday nights. }

    It’s becoming tradition.



    3. {Giveaway}

    Some of you were asking what all was included in the giveaway package.
    At the time, I didn’t know. :)
    I took a few pictures before the package was sent out.

     

    4. {Food Food Food!}

    {Quiche}

    Tomato, Feta, & Spinach Quiche, to be exact.
     All credit goes to my friend Rochelle, who made it, and I declared it THE best quiche I’ve ever had.

    I’ve only made it like, three times, within the past week.
    I must remember not to over-do it.

     

    {Crusty Bread}

    All credit goes to my friend Shelly, who served it to me in the first place.
    Making bread sort of scares me, so it took me a few months to muster up the courage to try it.
    And when I did, I made this recipe 4 times within a week. :)
    Twice for other people, I have to add that in.

    I’m having great fun cooking these days. Which is saying a lot! :)

     

    {Coffee with Whip}
    It takes a home-brew to a whole new level. It’s the little things.

    5. {New light}

    For the kitchen.
    Free. Which is always better than cheap.
    A bit of a spray paint job over the hunter green, and now it’s a silver.
    Almost exactly as i wanted, but just didn’t want to buy.
    I love my husband’s remodel jobs. :)

    6. {First Blossoms}

    Simple things delight me.
    Especially when they smell divine.

     

    7. {Spring-ish Winter-ish Mantel}

    chalkboard sign inspired by Pinterest

     

    8. {Baby Gifts}

    Not for me, for my friends.
    The swaddling blankets are my fave,
    I make the burp cloths and diaper clutch for My Faire Lady.

    9. {Blanket and Mattress Forts}

    It makes a disaster, this is true.
    But their imaginations can go for it all day long, and it’s worth it.
    For a day. :)

     

    10. {My little son, at 9 months}

     

     

    Sometimes blogging seems so… trivial and shallow.
    After my friend Ruth died, I wondered if I could ever blog again.
    How could life ever be the same, when part of me died too?

    And the answer, I’m finding, is that life will not ever be the same.
    The pain of losing such a treasured friend will always be there.

    And yet the legacy of her life, the way in which she lived,
    continues to inspire me.

    I want to live, and live well.
    I want to treasure my days,
    to love my family and friends,
    to not take a single minute for granted.

    And surprisingly, my little blog has been one way for me to do that.
    To stop and remember the things that are precious and good,
    to honor my God,
    to give thanks for the things I’ve been given,
    this life I’ve been given,
    even when I ache daily with the loss of Ruth.

    I find it’s often those little things in a week that make it special.
    That phone call, that rainy day at home,
    that special little comment from your daughter,
    that late-night talk with your husband…

    What’s made it special for you?

    ~ clarita

     

February 18, 2013

  • Making: Saints and Pink Cupcakes.

     

    “Significance is found in giving your life away, not in selfishly trying to find personal happiness.”
    [G. T
    homas]

     I prayed.
    That God would help this Valentine’s Day to not be about me and my expectations,
    where a date would have been my ideal,
    but about my precious little family, my husband and children, and helping them to have the best time ever.

    And you know?
    It was one of the best family times we have EVER had.
    Ever.

    Romantic?
    Well, not in the gushy sense of the word, no.

    But love?
    Yes, LOVE.
    The enjoyment of one another, the gift of being family.

    Pink Cupcake Day.

    We have this tradition of cupcake baking baking on Valentine’s Day.
    It started 2-3 years ago, it’s easy, and it’s so fun!
    We kind of even started calling the holiday Pink Cupcake Day.

    I mean, with darling matching aprons from my sister, how could it not be fun?

    This is my kind of baking with kids. :)

     

    [that little icing tube on the far left? it's amazing. it'll make you look like Bakerella.]

     And because I know that French parents allow their children to help with adult-ish things…

    … but French children probably don’t lick the batter…

     

    Let me just interject in the middle here… that baking with children is the makings of sainthood.
    And shows you how far you have to go!
    I say that not mockingly, but seriously.

    The day we were baking, all three of us in a little crowded space, I smiled to myself because it was a dream come true.
    This day of doing fun things with my daughters, involving them in what I was doing, making memories, creating traditions…
    It was just good and wonderful.

    And then there is the side of reality.
    Where there are umpteen “Uh-oh, Mommy!” “Oh nooo!” “Sorry, Mom!”
    for the spinkles that spilled, for the mixer cord that got in the batter, for the hands that were covered in sticky mess, for the floor that was a disaster, for…..

    And the challenge really is to live in the mess of reality but with the heart of the dream coming true.

    It’s almost crazy how tiny little people can make you realize how much you like to control your life,
    or how you want everything perfect. 
    It shows ugly things about yourself.
    And how all they care about is whether you loved them and showed them Jesus,
    not whether what you did was pinterest-worthy.

    To not end the baking day in frustration because of the mEsS!!! that was created.
    To not talk sharply because they weren’t being careful.
    But to stay calm when it’s disaster.
    To say, “It’s okay” and mean it when yet another something spills.
    To be able to laugh and enjoy them, even in the middle of the mess…

    It wasn’t perfect.
    I wasn’t perfect.
    They weren’t perfect.
    But it was such a wonderful day.
    And I was happily exhausted by the end of it all. :)


    A very proud and messy Olivia holds the finished cupcakes.

    Hudson’s job was just to look cute, which he is kinda good at. And then he had a bath in the sink while we baked.

     

     While the cupcakes were cooling, we took a few pictures in the back yard.

     

     

     

      

    And on Happy Heart Day itself, I had planned to take the kids to the Big City.
    Because we live in a small town, there are perks and disadvantages.
    One disadvantage is that our options are limited for activities and experiences.

    The Big City is really quite a big deal.
    It’s like Country Mouse meets City Mouse.
    My kids do not even know what a mall is. No kidding!
    We live an hour from the nearest Starbucks.
    I love city.
    My husband loves country. ;)

    So the plans were to take the kids to THE most darling little cupcake shop ever,
    then to ride a little train and some fun kid stuff AT THE MALL and head home.

    Husband caught wind and thought it sounded too fun to not be involved, so we made it a family evening instead of a mom/kid day trip.

    [yes, i desperately need a tan! :) ]

    Introducing: Gigi’s Cupcakes.

    Home of the $3 over-sized cupcakes, totally worth their money. :)

      

     

    Part way through the day I exclaimed to Zoe, “Isn’t this the MOST FUN DAY EVER?!”
    I was having SO much fun.
    And she looked at me, raised her eyebrows and said, “You’re funny.”
    And it tripped me out that my own little daughter thought my excitement was a little over-the-top.
    Whaaat?!

    And then a trip to the carousel and little train…
    (we made proper introductions: “Yes, children. This is called a mall!”)

    Blurry pictures but showing the happy faces.

      

    And thus ended the holiday, with a tired baby, happy kidders, and a couple more in love after seven years of marriage than ever before!

    The pleasure-seeker is not the pleasure-finder;
    those who are the happiest men who think least about happiness.”
    [J.C. Sharp]

    ~clarita

     

February 13, 2013

February 8, 2013

January 31, 2013

  • There’s a Boy in the House.

    [ 6 months ]

     

     

    [ eight months ]

     

    And we have a winner for the stationery giveaway!
    It was so so fun to read all the comments and hear of from every single one of you!
    112 comments means there are a lot of people who still like an old fashioned letter. I love it! :)
    I think almost everyone that commented I thought, “Oooo, I hope SHE wins!”
    and then at the end I was feeling bad that there was only one winner!
    There were some really neat stories too, I love reading every one!

    I used random.org to choose a winning number…
    My heart was pounding as I entered the number,
    the number 70 popped up,
    and the winner is Laura K.!

    Congratulations, Laura! :)
    I can’t wait to collect the supplies and send you a package!

     

    ______________________________________________________________

    So it’s been a week of being hit with some kind of bug around here. Again.
    Some big-time immune boosters are on the way,
    something is wrong with the picture when mom gets sick more the kids.

    There is nothing that makes me want to cry, “MAAAMA!!!!!”
    more then when I’m sick, and especially now that I have kids.
    I feel like curling up in a fetal position and shedding some tears about it sometimes.
    It. is. rough.
    There are many things hard about being many miles and states away from my mother.
    Being sick is one of those hard things! 

    But we’ll be okay.
    This is a week of a lot of ibuprofen for me and a lot of cereal-eating for the kids. 
    Next week they’ll have a balanced diet again!
    The house looks like a wind storm blew through.
    Next week we’ll clean it.
    This week we’re all living in pajamas.
    Next week we’ll get dressed. :)

    A few things of gratitude today….

    …. my husband arranging work so he can be home a bit this week so I can rest
    … a sister-in-law who brought delicious soup and muffins on my sickest day
    … a messy house. It shows there is much life here. :)

    _________________________________________________________________

    Little Man is passing legal boundaries in growth and cuteness factors.
    [I can say that, right? Everyone knows moms are prejudiced anyway.]
    It nearly makes me cry when I see him next to a newborn and realize how BIG he is.
    I wish the baby stage would last longer! With full sleeping nights, of course. :)

    But he is SO fun right now too, that every stage seems like the best.

    These are a few pictures from the last few months,
    from 6 months to 8 months.


    Stats at 8 months:

    … sits alone well
    … scoots backwards :)
    … 22 pounds
    … sprouted 4 teeth
    … has no idea that there is a mode of transportation called “crawling”
    … says “da-da”. Yep, he’s a Daddy’s Boy, for sure.
    … does his own version of the sign language “please”
    … eats, eats, EATS. Seriously, it’s frightening.
    He may or may not eat about a quarter of our weekly grocery budget. Not even joking. There is nothing that he doesn’t like.

    … is beginning to fight sleep. FIGHT it. He knows he’ll miss action with his sisters.
    So even if he hasn’t slept allll day, he sits up in bed, stick a leg out the side and gets stuck and hollaaaaars.
    Repeat and repeat. He’s a little stinker.

    … starting to have his own little personality shine out of the cracks, er, rolls. It’s really cute.
    He is a sweetie with a stubborn streak. :)

    Somehow we missed the memo that babies should be born with hair.
    But it’s okay. We love them anyway, bald, hair, however they come. They are loved!

    typical Hudson face…

    another typical face, without the leaf in the mouth.

    His daddy hopes he’ll like football. None of this silly hipster moustache stuff his mommy really likes.


     

    The Olivia Relationship.

    This is something that really needs to be addressed, it is a point of grave concern.
    The relationship between these two is definitely one of love, much love, yes.
    But perhaps love that doesn’t know it’s power?
    Perhaps ‘painful love’ would be accurate.

    You would think when one loves another, there would be nothing like
    ear pinching
    arm squeezing
    knocking over
    neck pulling
    arm yanking
    stuff going on.

    But that’s just it: there is much of it!
    Daily we speak of the benefits of gentle  love,
    for then love will be reciprocated,
    instead of the baby turning away with a frightened look on his face when she comes around.
    It’s true.
    It’s also true there are times he physically tries to restrain her.
    It’s further true there are times he seems overjoyed to see her.
    Namely, when he doesn’t want to sleep and she sneaks by his bedside.

    I say he will grow to be either a very very patient man
    or an angry man. :)

    The truth is: Olivia absolutely ADORES him.
    Her dramatic personality just has to learn when the other person in the relationship doesn’t quite feel the love. :)

    But she does make him laugh harder than anyone else on the planet can.
    Sometimes he will almost be gasping for air, he laughs that hard at her.
    I’ve never heard a baby laugh so hard.
    What can I say? I laugh at her too. She really is pretty funny.

    Take One: the squeeze

    Take Two: the fall

    Take Three: the evidence that there ARE some very precious moments too. :)

    What a precious life this is!

    Have a great weekend, friends!
    ~clarita