A Bushel of Brooks

A Bushel of Brooks
Us as we are ...

Friday, February 28, 2014

February Reflections

I look back on this month, and boy, has it been intense. I felt like God promised us that this year would be a year we would look back on and see great growth - in our family, spiritually, etc. - but at the same time, it would be very challenging for us.

We embrace that ... but the honest truth is, we probably embrace it with a bit of "Oh Lord, help us!" I know to take that word and run with it will mean that we will face times that will not be easy by any stretch of the imagination, but will be for our very best.


I think that encompasses a great deal of this month.

We re-listed the house. The honest truth? We listed it hoping things might move more quickly. Timing seems right, and we were encouraged by several different people from different areas of our life that said now was a good time. But still, although we have had a few showings, nothing serious come of it yet. And it is so so hard not to feel really down.


We have a desire for a new ministry to be birthed - one that has been on our hearts for a long long time. But, the last two months were filled with waiting to see whether now was the time. Or more waiting.


And then by chance, my morning devotion time: I read a chapter on waiting today. = ) Not chance, really. And all things I knew, but it was a good kickinthepants for my attitude. Will I embrace this waiting period with grace? faith? a good attitude? looking to serve others while I wait? still looking to grow? Or will I become apathetic and frustrated? That is SO NOT what I want to be!

Eli and I were talking on Tuesday night, and both of us had been convicted by the Lord to really use however much longer we have in this home to make a difference. In our neighborhood. The honest truth is we never really have. We "know" our neighbors, but not well. We say hi, but we've never had them over for a meal. We've taken Christmas treats over the years, but have we ever offered to pray with them during a hard time? The reality is we haven't. It's a hard look in the mirror.

My tendency would be to beat myself up over this. And I can't go there. Grace.Faith.Good.Attitude.Hope. That must be what I embrace. Change. And so we have a barbeque planned with one household for the soonest warm weekend. And Eli is planning to invite our single older neighbor over for dinner in the next couple weeks. I so long for transformation in my life. I'm willing to embrace the conviction and repent, so that I can grow.

The waiting???

I can't say that it feels great at the time. But it serves a purpose - whether or not I can see that purpose myself. But Someone else sees the bigger picture and the greater purpose. And a life without faith challenges really isn't a Christian life, because isn't faith the integral piece? I still might have my moments when I want to complain, and actually do! Or let my tears get the better of me. Yup. But I'm looking for growth. And that means I won't hang out in the low moments, I will seek to lift my eyes up.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Monday Things

Sometimes, for me, Monday is more than welcomed. I know for most, Monday is the beginning of the work week, the daily grind. Sunday is given a sad farewell as everyone looks forward to earlier wake-up times and days filled with work and/or school plus running around more.

But for me, Monday is a beautiful day. It's like a reprieve in our home. Sunday is not a day off in our household. It is a work day for Eli - and although church is a wonderful thing and we enjoy going (I hate hate HATE to miss!), we tend to hit Sunday afternoon feeling pretty worn out. And there are usually some other events/meetings/work things thrown in on a Sunday for us. All.good.things. But still, makes for a day in which we're goinggoinggoing. Add to yesterday's Sunday a showing of the house - so happy to have one! - we I was ready to hit the sack by 8 o'clock! Oh, and add to that a fourth ear infection for Matthias since the beginning of January. = ( We were up a lot with him Saturday night, and I left church early to make a doctor run. Expensive appointment led to expensive antibiotics ... ugh. Sweet little boy! We have to get to spring and get past this so my littliest one can move on!

Ummmm, this room was SPOTLESS just 24 hours ago!
But Oh, Monday. Eli's day off. And yes, I always work at least one hour, but we don't have an early alarm clock. I always get to go grocery shopping with my dad, which is a tradition I treasure and enjoy. We didn't have any plans this evening, a first in the last five days, so we're hanging at home. Clearing off shelves, watching a nature show, playing Legos, and just enjoying time at home together.

This Monday was made even sweeter by a love note left by Eli ... just because
We've had our share of little-boy meltdowns, that is for sure. But, we've also had gems of moments ... Reuben just sitting in my lap for snuggles. Matthias leaning against Eli to have his head scratched! Jonah working on his beloved Rainbow Loom and becoming an expert direction-follower. Dusting the house - once again.

Big boys having Nerf wars? He'll find a spot with his favorite curious monkey
I find myself caught between two personalities. There are days when I need to get out of the house. Want to be around people ... feel crazy cabin fever! How I look forward to the gym, not just for my workout, but for my friends and girls there that are a daily blessing to me. But, I'm also just a homebody. I want time in my own home. No plans, no one else. Just me and all my boys - Eli included. I'll crave hours with no other interaction than that. Maybe that is how everyone else is too. And maybe that is just fine. And today??? Today I'm the homebody, and lovin' it = )

Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Breath of Fresh Air

And that's exactly what we have needed after big snowstorms and lots of melting snow. Warmer temps and the possibility of getting outside to play.

Yesterday and today the boys spent hours outside ... just playing in the backyard. They didn't tire of being back there - it felt so fun after many many days inside! Swinging, running, basketball, and going down the slide was re-discovered and the big smiles and laughter that kept floating inside was keeping me smiling.

While Eli played outside with the boys this morning I got house cleaning and laundry in swing before heading to a quick appointment at work. And then the bigger boys worked to help him clean up the yard later on.

I know that winter isn't over yet. But we had been having epic Nerf battles what felt like an hourly basis in this house. Mommy has been shot enough times this last week, and helped mediate quite a few injuries from others shooting too close. I was ready to let the energy be run outside the house. They just needed to run = )

Monday, February 17, 2014

Sweet Potato Carrot Fritters

We're working on expanding our dinners AND little boy palates over in this house. And working to continuously improve the quality of food that we're serving. More real food and less packaged food when possible.

So, I've looked for new ideas and different things that would seem to please all the people in this home - little to big. And stumbled upon this recipe for baked fritters that looked good (good as in little people could try them, and Eli would probably not turn his nose up either!). We're super into carrots over in this house right now, and so I figured that I could sub ingredients around a bit and be successful.

And we were! The boys tried them - weren't quite sold on them, but Eli and I both liked them. And I think with a little more effort, at least Reuben will eat them. Matthias kept calling them pizza while I was making it, so I was hoping that he would really dive in, but he was a bit suspicious once it was on his plate = ) Jonah and Matthias are notoriously picky ... and we're really hoping with A LOT of sticking to our guns over this next year, we'll see some improvement in this area.

Shredded up and ready to go!
Anyway, picky boys or not, it will still be a recipe that we make again in the Brooks Household! Mine didn't come up soggy at all, and I am thinking that it because of taking out the zucchini - which often has lots of moisture that comes out when cooking with it. I was definitely happy with the results.

Sweet Potato Carrot Fritters

1 large Sweet Potato - shredded
3-4 large Carrots - shredded
1/2 Russet Potato - shredded
1/4 c. flour
2 tsp. Chipotle Powder
1 tsp. Garlic Salt
3 T. Butter - melted
2 eggs

*Combine shredded potatoes and carrots in a large bowl with the flour. Whisk eggs into melted butter and then stir in spices. Gently mix egg mixture into veggies. Scoop into six large patties on parchment paper/foil/etc (greased if using foil) and flatten with a fork. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 min, flipping over halfway through. We served with spicy mustard as suggested by the original recipe, which was delicious!


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Rainbow Loom

Jonah really loves crafts. He got a bead kit for Christmas the he had been asking for - and loves to paint and do anything, well, crafty. And really, probably this is the case for most kids! But at the gym, many of the girls had been bringing in their "Rainbow Looms" to make rubber band bracelets, rings, etc etc. He was intrigued, but suddenly last week, when the elementary schools had days off and the bigger kids were at the gym with him, he decided that he really wanted a rainbow loom too.

Unbeknownst to him, I had been thinking about getting one for him. Both Eli and I remember those square looms with stretchy bands that kids made pot holders with when we were little. And similar things like that were always fun to work with - you actually produce something! And I was relieved when I had several moms tell me that the boys were all making them too. I got lots of stories of boys his age working on their bracelets and watching videos to find different weaves. Although we don't push typical boy/girl stereotypes too much, I also don't necessarily want Jonah walking into a situation in which he gets made fun of

... without at least a discussion on how to handle that.

But, thankfully, he isn't the only boy wanting a Rainbow Loom. = )

So, Oma helped get one on a day we were cleaning for an open house and loading everyone up to run to the hobby store (which can be a frightening place for me with three pairs of little boy hands!!!!) for the loom. That was three days ago.

Many bracelets later ... I think he made four or five just this morning before church - to give to his friends. And that's really why he even is making them. He loves to give them away and think of what colors his friends might like. And I enjoy seeing that part of him.

He gets to work on coordination, creativity, and all kinds of other spacial skills and what-not, while just having fun putting colors together and thinking about other people. Win-win situation!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Even though he is running to and fro, and starting to really chatter back and forth with us, Matthias still feels so much like my baby boy. Or, rather, maybe I hold to the "thought" that he is my baby boy! Because, truly, he isn't a baby anymore. He pulls out a work book when the boys pull out theirs, and says "sool!" quite loudly, so that he too, can have a pencil to work with. He tells me "not yet" quite seriously when he is finishing a project and not quite done.

Today, though, he was fighting the naptime. So, I grabbed his blankies and wrapped him up and just snuggled him in close. He fought it for a little bit, wrestling around. But, my arms and grasp were secure.

And then, suddenly, he relaxed. Realized that maybe, just maybe, this nap might be a good thing = ) And that my arms felt warm and comforting. And those brown eyes looked into mine, and he whispered "Hi Mom".

"Hi Buddy", I whispered back, before singing a song to him.

And as I was sitting there with him, I realized how much the Lord wants this with me. I get stressed, worried, anxious about things (will the house sell? Am I doing enough school with the boys? What if someone didn't get my text? goes on and on). And I wrestle against the peace that I desperately want. I want MY way ... or the way I perceive would be better.

When there are strong arms to carry me. A warm embrace to comfort me. A secure grip to hold my hand through the times that seem difficult or unknown.

And He just wants me to relax into His embrace ... into His way. Let His arms be my comfort, my rest. And I just sensed the whisper "Hi Elisa" as I relaxed into that moment, holding Matthias. And let my heart say back "Hi Daddy", to the One in whom I can entrust all things.

There are days in which my joy seems uncontainable. Days were my heart overflows with thanksgiving and gladness. And there are also days when I have relationship struggles, or little-boy struggles, or just might feel down. But I am reminded how it says in the Bible that He longs to gather us to Him, like a mother hen gathers her chicks.

Under the protective wings.

That sounds like exactly where I want to be - no matter what kind of day, good or bad. Gathered in. Held tight. And I am so glad that no matter how old I am, I can find rest and peace in the arms of my Father.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Snow Day

It started snowing early this morning and STILL GOING. I have no idea how much snow we currently have received, but it is a lot, and the boys were just looking out on the back deck, oohing and aahing over the piles and drifts outside. And musing if Matthias would get lost in it = )

Estimates ranged from 4-12 inches, and we're at least somewhere in that range! That meant Eli worked from home today, classes were canceled at the gym, schools and all kinds of places were closed around town ... and we went nowhere. That, in itself, is odd for the boys and I.

They are used to being home quite a bit, though, being homeschooled and all, so a snow day at home isn't quite as exciting as perhaps if they went to school all day normally. Instead, they wonder why we don't get to leave the house! And since we spent a great deal of time cleaning the house yesterday prepping for the meeting with the realtor, and then actually meeting with her, we didn't get much school done yesterday. Which meant our snow day included quite a bit of school.

Which, really? Although there were a few complaints, it actually kept them busy this morning, which was good, because by 4 o'clock this afternoon, the five of us were wondering what to do with each other! We pulled out the big tub of duplo blocks and got to building and knocking down.

It was a fun day, though. Once school got done, we got to enjoy time all together. Which is usually limited. The boys got to play board games with each other, and then convinced Eli to play chess and checkers with them:

Mommy wrestled with them on her bed, which was sooooooo much fun (!) they asked for a repeat later on in the day:

Eli pulled out our latte machine - which we haven't used in a long time! Yum. Made us warm drinks to sip on during the afternoon ...

We broke out our new crockpot to make dinner in (our old one bit the dust). And it was good!:

I had a helper in the kitchen, because what would a snow day be without homemade cinnamon rolls? Not quite right, that's what. Matthias is quite proud of his new stool-toting skills, and that little boy is getting into everything that we thought we out of his reach! He sees me working in the kitchen - trots down the hall and returns with the stool. Mommy's getting dressed??? No problem, grab the stool and get into her dresser drawers. I'm having trouble finding places I can keep things safe.

We are so blessed. Although yes we had our stir-crazy moments, to be able to spend the day together as a family just hardly happens. We normally get snippets here and there, and we're trying to catch everyone up on details during those times. This day was just play day.

Sunday, February 2, 2014


My boys are waaaaay into eagles and hawks and all things big and birdy and fierce. Constant talk about red-tailed hawks, bald eagles, size comparisons, you-name-it. Jonah's last nature center homeschool class was completely on eagles, which he really liked, and they got to walk down to Mary's Lake and see some flying around, as well as some hawks. Pretty cool stuff for that first grader!

I have been helping teach the 3rd-6th grade homeschool co-op class in January. Our lesson plans centered on Kansas, since January is the birthday month of the state of Kansas = ) And one of the crafts I pulled in was a bald eagle magnet. I know they're not really the state bird or anything, but they are quite a few of them around this time of year, so it fit in just fine.

Jonah and Reuben were super excited because I had leftover craft supplies, and since crafts are really not my strong point (hey! we're flying along in reading and math ... crafting? not so much), we got to cut, glue, stick together and talk about eagles for half an hour straight. Huge success in this little house.

Right now they are on the side of our fridge - which Eli pointed out to me that they are going to have to be "moved" because tomorrow the sign goes back up in front of the house. Another topic for another day (a day that I need much more emotional stamina than I have left today in my tank), so I'm not sure yet where I can save this feathery friends. Jonah wants to take one of his to his nature center teachers the next time he has class, so the trick is to put it somewhere safe, but not so safe that I can't remember the location. We'll see how that goes.

It was fun. And it was good reminder to me that sitting at the table and doing a craft with the boys is a pretty fun little moment in time with them - and I need to fit a few more of those moments into the spring semester.