A Bushel of Brooks

A Bushel of Brooks
Us as we are ...

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sledding and Snow

Goodness! Yes, there is still quite a lot of snow on the ground outside = ) We didn't get to sledding, though, 'til yesterday.  On Friday, Eli took the boys in the backyard after he got home from work and played out there for awhile. They "sort of" worked on a snow fort, which the boys really wanted to build. But, a 3 and 5 year old have different ideas of how long it might take to build a snow fort. So, Reuben lasted maybe a little longer than 5 minutes? And about 15 minutes after he was snuggling with me, Jonah said to Eli outside: "Daddy, I have an idea. How about you finish the snow fort and I go inside?" Eli reminded him that it was about spending time together, so they both came inside to warm up = )

But yesterday afternoon, they headed with Eli over to my parents' house to sled. Matthias was napping, so I stayed home and swept/mopped, emailed, did laundry, etc. In quiet moments like that, I can accomplish a lot! They had a great time. A friend and his little boy joined them over there.

I remember sledding a lot during snow days when I was younger. We had lots of hills around our house. I don't really remember if my dad was out there a lot (since we could sled during the day when he was at work!), but he was excited to have the boys over to sled with them. Couldn't ask for a better Opa! He is always enthusiastic about spending time his grandkids.

Opa and Reuben getting settled and ready to go down the hill
Eli said the boys had a great time. Opa had a face mask that Reuben wore - which I think is why he lasted over an hour out there! His little cheeks never froze. I need to see if I can find one of those around! They sledded and sledded, and then threw snowballs off a ledge at trees and did all sorts of things that little boys love.

There goes Jonah!

Down the hill
And now? Some snow melted today as it got up to almost 50 degrees, but they are forecasting freezing rain tonight, and then snow starting tomorrow and going into Monday night - maybe another 5-12 inches! Yikes! On top of what we have, that would be HUGE! We will see. I don't mind the snow at all, actually, but I do mind being stuck at home too many days in a row! In one sense I am a homebody, but I have also learned to love being on the go at times as well. So, I am hoping that it is not as bad as they predict. Either way, we're stocked up with groceries and lots of craft supplies if need be! Our winter is different this year ...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Snow Day

I told someone yesterday, "I hope it snows enough that we're all stuck inside having a snow day tomorrow - and then it melts quickly so we can get back to getting out and about!"

Well, the first part came true! I woke up on my own at 5:40 this morning, and peeked out the window. Didn't see a thing. Hmmmmm, where was the hugely predicted snowfall? Looked back outside a few minutes after 6 am, and THERE IT WAS! Snow coming down, which only picked up in intensity within those next few hours. I don't know the current amount of snow we have here in inches right now, but I can tell it is a lot! At least 6-8, I am guessing. Eli spent a considerable amount of time shoveling the driveway this afternoon, and said at least 8 inches, he though. That man got two workouts today! He lifted weights this morning, and was probably shoveling at least for an hour. And we still have our enormous amounts of sidewalks along the front and side of our house to do tomorrow. Yikes.

So, we were snowed in. I'm sure if we really were desperate to get somewhere, we could have, but why? We hunkered inside the heated house (for which I many times thanked the Lord for today when I looked out at the coldness from my window) and had a family day.

It has been nice. Although at dinner time, Jonah asked "Where are we going to go today? I need to get out of this house!" Yes, we are used to being more on-the-go = ) But, for one day, we can stay inside. It was a treat to have Eli home for a day, with no appointments, no meetings, no work for either of us outside the home, save some emails and things to keep up on work details.


Made snow ice cream - of course!

Hid in pillow forts after being cold from eating snow ice cream ...

 Made Daddy super happy by baking some chocolate chip cookies ... he did, after all, freeze outside shoveling!
 Cause Mommy grief by repeatedly emptying the cabinets in which we need to replace the child-proof locks ... SIGH.

Ended the day with haircuts!
And drew lots of pictures, had a Bible lesson before bed, watched the boys' favorite movie "Milo and Otis", and got Eli's office somewhat de-cluttered and cleaned out! Score! Andddddd, I ironed clothes like there was no tomorrow, and got nearly my entire ironing pile done. THAT, my friends, is a huge accomplishment. And now, I hope to head to bed early, and although I am a bit bummed that the gym is closed in the morning because we do have some collective cabin fever, I'm grateful, oh, so grateful, for my family, my home, and the fullness in our day.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Full of ...

Stuff? That's what the last week has been. Full of LIFE! It has been a great past week, but it flew by! Eli was very busy putting on a youth conference with a team coming in from Atlanta that we were hosting, so he was working super long day, especially at the end of the week. I was working on some new classes and prep stuff for the gym ... AND we are starting to get our house ready to put on the market! Yay! Although we most likely are looking for a fixer-upper, we are hoping to have our home ready to list by the end of March, and start looking for something with a bit more space for this Bushel of Brooks family.

I am so, so excited! And looking around my house and trying not to feel so, so defeated. We have a lot of clutter, and a lot of "stuff" that has accumulated over the last eight years. = ( I have mentioned this before, and we have been getting bits done here and there, but nothing like what needs to be done for it to be "show ready". And there is baby stuff and toys everywhere. I will clean up the living room and dining area really well, and five minutes later, it looks like a tornado ripped through. Sigh. I know this is the reality of three small children and a busy life, but it is hard!

We have been taking loads to donate, loads to the trash, and the like. And we're now starting to pack up some unnecessary toys, books, etc, and packing them up to store at my parents' house for awhile to make the house a bit more open. And then we'll tackle the painting (oh my! All the painting!) and little repairs = ) End of March???? I'm hoping!

But, that's why I haven't had much to post. The boys have been their usual silly selves, and I've made a couple great recipes (revised of my Clif Bars, and a curry quinoa), but no pics have been taken, and I feel like I haven't had the time to even consider writing things down! Hopefully I'll get in a better swing of things over the next few days.

So, wink wink, if you know someone in the area who wants a sweet little starter home that has had lots of love and has an AWESOME backyard and deck, let us know! I'll work on getting my recipes down and some little boys updates on the way ...

Monday, February 11, 2013

Game Time

Hey Daddy! I can wear a hat like yours!
 As promised, a few sweet photos that Eli captured when he took the boys to his little sister's basketball game on Saturday. I am so, so glad he took the camera! It seems like we go "camera crazy" in November and December during holidays, and then slack off during January and February before we pick back during birthday and Easter season. But, my boys are still growing! And so I was grinning as I looked through the pictures he got

FOCUSED: Auntie Joy is such a good basketball player! (Look at that little double chin!)
The big boys found my mom at the game too! Treats with Oma!

My mom is a favorite ... they love to sit with her at church and wherever they find her!

Love this one of Eli's mom holding Matthias

Reuben peeking out from under some bleachers ... great hiding spot!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Plank Strength

I spent nine hours Saturday and eight hours today in a fitness certification training. For a core class. O.H. M.Y.

I love trainings, because not only do I leave educated, brain-brimming, but I leave reminded of why I love fitness and with my passion to share what functional strength can do to enhance life! That so many ailments can be resolved or bettered just with physical activity and increased strength! That fitness is fun, and I love how when I got home, my boys rolled out my mats and started doing pushups and sit ups and somersaults to "show Mommy" their workout moves! Although I still live with "Mommy tiredness" - I mean, I have three children. The odds are that someone wakes us up in the middle of the night. To actually get a straight night of sleep with the ages of our kids is not going to happen. And that's okay! But, I still feel pretty fabulous most days, and I feel even better when I take some time out of my day to move my body, to strengthen it, to challenge my heart/cardio, and sweat a bit!

Anyway, the training was awesome, as I knew it would be. I went through with several other ladies from my gym (including two of my bosses!) and not only challenged in coaching and many other ways to get out of our comfort zone, we were definitely challenged physically! The first day, we went through the 30 min core class in its entirety, held a three min plank, a one and one half min plank on each side, held a back extension for three minutes, and then did various other exercises to test our core strength. Whew. I woke up today, and was surprised that I wasn't too sore.

Nope. The soreness just set in all day long = ) And then we did the class two more times thru today, including some more drills, one that was a FIVE MINUTE PLANK. Five minutes! Now, the first time I heard this might happen, I thought, oh, I could probably do this, right? I consider myself fairly fit. But when I realized how challenging the three minute plank was the first day - ha! I knew I was in for a doozy and I was actually pretty scared.

I made it. I won't lie - a couple times I shifted my arms and moved my hips some. But I didn't drop to my knees. And by the end, my entire body was shaking. Sweaty. Tough, tough, tough. But, EVERY SINGLE person in that training successfully did it. Amazing.

I know that I'm going to wake up tomorrow and probably feel really sore right away. But, I'm kinda excited to see how sore I am! I'm weird like that = ) And because this program is so challenging, I'm stoked to share it with members at the gym, and to continue to strengthen my own core like never before. I've been practicing about two weeks now, and I already can feel some changes, which is awesome!

And I am so grateful to Eli for taking care of the boys for me to participate. He is one great Dad and Husband. I never worried for a minute that things would go well with the boys - and although it was the longest time I've been apart from Matthias during these long days, I felt so calm! They had lots of fun with Daddy, and I was happy to come into that front door this afternoon and be home with all my boys. He got some super cute pictures of them at Joy's basketball game on Saturday, which I'll post tomorrow - after I enjoy a night of sweet dreams.

***(if you want to know more about the class I trained for - look up Les Mills classes online)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Couch Time

We started attending a parenting group last week at our church: Growing Kids God's Way. I've happily admitted previous' posts that I do not pretend to be an expert in parenting. Ha! Hardly. My boys are five years old and down, and we have many more years ahead of parenting learning curves, challenges, and celebrations. But, Eli and I both want to be the best parents that we can be. To be intentional in raising our (currently) boys to be strong, kind, courteous, caring, God-fearing, manly little men. Big men, eventually. I feel that having three boys to raise is a huge responsibility - and it is not one I take lightly. I don't like to look around our culture and see absentee fathers, teenage boys who have no idea how to respect authority or how to treat women ... it is sobering indeed. And therefore, I look at my three boys, and although I know Eli and I will make many many mistakes along the road of being parents, we are intentional in learning how to parent better, how to raise our children as best we can, with wisdom from the best Father out there. But, I endeavor within my heart to raise men that I am proud to call my sons - I will always love them and be proud of them ... but years down the road to see them going further than Eli and I have gone ... what a dream!

Back to the class: 18 weeks of learning; 18 weeks of maybe changing thought processes and methods of training ... who knows all it will entail! Two down - 16 to go. But last night, the focus was on the solidity of the marriage relationship and the affect on your children. It was awesome. And I appreciated how it also spoke to single parents as well. I took away a lot from the video and discussion. AND, we are implementing a new "time" in our house. Couch time. A time where Eli and I sit on the couch, and for 5-15 minutes, have time for us to catch up, to talk - whatever! While the boys are right there. They can play on the floor, they can run around a bit, but give them a physical, tangible picture that Eli and I are solid. We care for each other. We are the beginning of the family unit, and they are welcomed in. That they can rest in the security of our marriage - that we have chosen each other, and no matter what life throws as a curveball, we continue to chose each other. They need never fear that we won't be together.

In the past, if we want a few quiet minutes, we'll let the boys watch a short tv show while we catch up after a long day, so this is changing that - I KNOW it will be a challenge with a busy baby, and a 5 year old what wants to be in the middle of e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. But I see the purpose behind it. And I am eager to implement it. I know I won't absorb all I need to know in the next 16 weeks, but I am excited to really see things from different perspectives - to work on not parenting on the fly but to think ahead, to train ahead of times of conflict and correction, and raise these little men.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Matthias - 9 months old

Bear with me for a baby post. A baby who is desperately trying to grow up too fast for this momma over here!

Matthias, you sweet little thing! How did you get to be nine months old? And already in the month of turning 10 month old ... yikes! You are outgrowing your carseat (it seems like this week I've already gotten several comments as I'm lugging you around in that thing of "oh my goodness! He has gotten so big! He was just a baby a while ago ...), and I can't believe that in two short months, I'll be thinking of how to celebrate your first birthday.

You are a little stinker, of course! Since you are now confident in pulling up and cruising along anything, you now consider your personal mission to empty all my shelves, cabinets, etc. My cookbooks keep somehow ending up in a pile on the kitchen floor, and the small cabinet in which we keep food in with the broken door has become your playground. Time to by the new one that we keep procrastinating on! I find boxes and cans and who-knows-what on the floor. The ENTIRE thing cleaned out. Sigh. Yes, for five minutes of fun for you, and then work for me! = ) Heh, I "thought" our house was decently baby-proof. You, on the other hand, are proving otherwise!

You also consider it your second mission to get into your brothers' room. No matter that all the other doors in the hallway might be open and fair game ... you want the room with the legos. The forbidden room. And when you see that door is opened or cracked, you grin like nothing else and crawl as FAST AS YOU CAN. You are often chased down the hall, dragged out of that room, called out after as you go go go "watch out! Matthias is coming!"

You are still our happy boy. You smile, you gurgle, you sort of say "More" when you want more bites in your chair at the table. We're working on Mama and Dada, which you mimic, but I doubt you are actually calling us by name quite yet. You like to smile at others, give high fives, and you are so close to clapping! Love it!

Yesterday you tried to take some steps on your own several times ... argh. Little boy - you are not ready yet! Get ready for more bruises, because you still need to stabilize a bit more. You already get more than your share of bumps on the head because you think you can go anywhere and stand anywhere. And you follow your Momma all over the house, pull up on her leg and raise your arms to be held. "Let me be a part of what you're doing, Mom!"

And food, oh dear, food. Do you have an appetite! You want to try everything that everything else eats, no matter what it is! When you see your brothers eat popsicles, you practically hyperventilate because you want one so bad! You love homemade teething biscuits, cereal bars, Puffs, Cheerios, yogurt, mashed potatoes, carrots, and mostly things that you can chew on - although you have no teeth. You turn your nose up at pureed baby food now - you're a big boy!

Matthias, Matthias, how we love you! Jonah and Reuben want to walk you all over the house, smother you with their love, and share their toys and food with you. The spring months are going to bring lots more firsts and fun with you!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Homemade Clif Bars!

Eli loves Clif Bars. I like them too, just fine, but we typically keep just a couple around the house for a quick grab-n-go for him. Especially on Sundays, which don't seem like the day that you want to get up early, but he tries to leave the house by 7:15 to get to church for pastors' meeting, so it always feels rushed, no matter what time he sets his alarm for. He'll grab his coffee and Clif bar and run out the door.

So, I've endeavored to find something homemade that could be a replacement. Not that it "really" matters, but because I like to try and make what I can, and I enjoy trying to new recipes! Why not? I actually started looking and searching under "breakfast cookie" to start and see what was out there. I know blogs upon blogs are doing breakfast cookies and what not ... so I knew there would be a wealth of recipes out there to peruse and think upon.

When I first read this one - I immediately knew this was one I wanted to try! It had ingredients that I had on hand (bonus!), and looked like it would turn out husband-approving. I made a couple tweaks, shaped them in bar shape, and they came out awesome! I made five from my recipe, but you could probably adjust your size and serving size accordingly ...

Homemade Clif Bars

1 c. oat flour (ground my oats in the little food processor - I didn't want big oats in there so Matthias could also enjoy, which he does!)
2/3 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. chocolate chips
1 tsp. baking powder
1/3 c. ground flax meal
2 T. pure maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 T. almond butter
2 T. canola oil
1/4 c. milk

*Combine all ingredients in ONE BOWL (yes- easy!) and mix until combined. You can add a little more milk if it seems to dry. Shape into bar shapes and place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-12 min. Not too long, or they will be dry.

I wrapped them up when cool, and they disappeared pretty quickly over the next few days. Matthias loved eating little chunks of them, and I was thrilled to see Eli take them for breakfasts a couple days. In fact, I need to send some to a friend, so I'll be making up another batch here shortly!