A Bushel of Brooks

A Bushel of Brooks
Us as we are ...

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Garden Bounty

I used to hate tomatoes.

Sure, I didn't mind ketchup and things made with tomato sauce ... but tomatoes themselves? Found their texture and their taste completely disgusting to me (lump that in with avocados as well). Fortunately, my tastes over the last years have changed - for both food items! I can now devour either one completely naked, with maybe some salt sprinkled over it. Or, I like tomatoes on sandwiches, fresh salsa, you name it!

And this year I'm especially grateful, as my father in law's garden is going crazy with tomatoes right now. They have harvested so many in the last three weeks! Several batches of salsa have been made, my mother-in-law has roasted and canned some, other family members have taken some home to eat, we're going to make and can tomato basil soup later this week ... and on and on it goes! Yesterday I took the boys over there, and Eli's sister braved the 100 degrees to go pick since his dad was out of town. She carried at least four flats in. So, that meant I got to bring a big bag home for my parents and I to eat! All the rain this summer has made those little big plants happy.

Seriously, since last Monday, I have had tomatoes every single day, and most of the time like this:

Sorry for bad lighting, I happen to live and cook in a basement right now = ) I've just been slicing them thick, sprinkling them with garlic salt and cheese, and putting those babies under the broiler for a few minutes. Yum yum good. It's fast, easy, and delicious. Too bad my boys are not brave enough to give it a try ... although I wouldn't have either when I was little!

I hope to have a small garden next year in the new house - mostly because the boys REALLY want one! But, I am so so thankful that this year I get to enjoy garden goodness anyway! A friend from the gym gave me basil - already chopped and frozen to use when needed - and I know there will be lots of potatoes headed my way as well from Eli's sister. It's a blessing!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Days Are Long

When we were in California a couple weeks ago, we were pulling into a driveway, and Jonah suddenly speaks up: "You know Mom? I heard someone say one time 'The days are long, but the years are short'. And you know what? That's how I feel. The days are long ... but the years are short."

Well, thank you, seven year old for that wisdom for the day! I just smiled, and agreed with him that, yes, that is sometimes how things can feel.

And truthfully, that is how I sometimes feel, especially this week. We sent Eli to South Africa on Sunday morning for 11 days. A really exciting trip for him, as we're looking towards some new programs launching at our church sometime in the future, but hey - the reality is I'm a mom with three little boys, five and a half months pregnant, and HECK NO! I don't want him to be gone nearly two weeks! I'm only near the end of the fourth day, and I feel weary. Weary of squabbles, weary of little boys really pushing their limits with me, and weary of not having Eli's strong and capable hands to looks towards each day.

And they miss him. Oh, they do. Even if they don't always voice it, I see it in their faces. Most times we've pulled into the driveway, Matthias chimes up "Daddy here???" And I have to say "No, Daddy is still on his trip." Jonah sits on the couch, "Can you just come snuggle with me, Mom?" And Reuben doesn't want to go to church for any activity whatsoever, "because it makes me sad that Dad isn't there with us".

And I'm so grateful that we're not alone. Still at Opa and Oma's house, who are being extra caring to me and the boys right now. But, I still just miss Eli.

Today, they wore themselves out: the bigger boys got to go to the pool for awhile with my mom, and I kept Matthias happy cooking taco meat for his dinner.

Always happy if Mom will let him cook with her!

That meant by 8pm, they could hardly get themselves into bed. Which means a good night sleep for everyone, hopefully. And I don't want to dread another day! I want to still find joy in the things that fill each day, whether normal activities or something special. So, we prayed tonight together that we would treat each other right, and we would enjoy the day the God gives us tomorrow = ) And I pray that my days don't feel long, but that they would be just right.

Monday, July 21, 2014

California - Part 2

Obviously, besides being the amazing family for 10 ten days, we got to enjoy gorgeous weather. Talk about 70 degrees being the high, sometimes sunny, sometimes cloudy, and always starting off with fog in the morning. There were enough warm days that we enjoyed some beach time in the sun, but the clouds gave us cover on some picnic days and on the day where we celebrated the big birthday for Eli's grandpa.

How can you not love that? Especially when you're leaving Kansas in July. Not that I mind hot weather. I love pool afternoons and summer clothes. But, I also happen to be pregnant and generating more body heat than normal. So, the boys, Eli, and I didn't mind packing our sweatshirts and having to use them! Although there were so many little kiddos around, we didn't take any really long hikes, we very much spent lots of time outdoors and time exploring the redwoods, big rocks, and the ocean!

How I wish that we could go back, even sooner than one year! If only flights were easier to afford = ) But, I am so so grateful that we were able to go this year and build and strengthen relationships with family that we love.

Down in Fern Canyon

Daddy with Matthias on his back - up on a rock!

All of us looking out from Wedding Rock out to the ocean

We love love LOVE Uncle Brian and Aunt Kaycie!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

California - Part 1

 There were so many memories made in California! I am grateful that especially Jonah and Reuben are old enough this trip to really remember their cousins and all the fun things that we did together! I think that although they loved going to the beaches and hiking around redwood trees, in reality, the best things that they (and we!) take away were just time with family. Time long overdue.

Eli and I both just enjoyed watching the three boys build relationships with so many cousins (and our cousins), aunts, uncles, etc. They were bonded by the end, and Jonah cried a few times during the many good-byes that had to be said. Eli and I enjoyed meeting our cousins' children that we haven't ever met, and re-connecting with everyone there that we love so much! Hopefully we don't have to wait five years again to go out and be with this part of the family = )

Spending time with cousins Tyler, Henry, and Peyton

At the beach! Not sunny and hot - rather chilly and cloudy, but makes for great sandcastles building time!

Love this guy = )

Jonah and Tyler - best cousin buddies

Don't mess with these boys!

Daddy and Matthias hiking in the redwoods
In front of a really big tree! My four guys

Cousins on the bridge together
I have some more pictures to post, but this was what I got together tonight. We didn't end up taking our nice and big camera, simply because with suitcases and backpacks, we couldn't handle anymore "cases" to deal with carrying through airports, never mind the three boys! So, we relied on our phones to capture memories with this time around. Thank goodness for that!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Starting vacation off!

We are here in Redwood country, aka Northern California and having the time of our lives! Every time we come here, it sooooo feels like a home away from home. We just fit right in and the boys are having a blast meeting and getting re-acquainted with cousins and aunts and uncles and all family members! It feels longer than three days here - which I think is a good thing :)

Each day has some kind of activity going on, where whoever is available can join in and caravan; whether to the beach, hiking, a house, or on some kind of adventure. The boys were all worn out enough for all three of them to take naps this afternoon, and I am sure it won't the be last afternoon that happens! I am working on getting some pictures to post of our days so far.

Friday, July 4, 2014


Tomorrow bright and early we're headed to California. To see pretty much all of Eli's extended family. We haven't made the trek in five years. We would love to go every single year, but kept putting it off: "we'll save more for next year ..." but next year would come and tickets would be high.

But at some point, you just have to bite the bullet. This year Eli's grandpa is turning 85 years old. So, once everyone arrives by next Thursday evening, there will be almost 50 of us! Wow!

We are excited!

The last time we rode a plane with Jonah and Reuben, it was five years ago back to the Redwoods area ...

Us in front of the big redwood tree that everyone always gets family pictures at!

My little Reubs!

'Lil Jonah on the airplane ...
So, we're ready to embark again. Maybe with a little more luggage, a lot more "here we go!" as we brave two flights and a four-five hour drive north from Sacramento, but a whole lotta little boy and big family excitement as we head out on our adventure!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Family Pictures

Any family pictures of the Bushel have been looooong overdue ... case in point: the picture at the top of the blog was one from when Matthias was three months old. Ummm, that was two YEARS ago! Yikes! So, I've been wanting some good ones, and the ones we took for our Christmas card didn't turn out the way I envisioned.

Finally, my mom just said, have Sarah come over and take pictures! I agreed. = ) Now we have some great ones to put up in the new house! Since we listed our house on the market in 2013, we haven't had any family pictures up on the walls. Can't wait to frame a bunch and make the new house "home"!

They were all so good it is hard to chose any favorites, but here are few ...
Mr. Brown Eyes!

My Three Boys

Finally! A family picture!

And us as we probably truly are = )

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

June Reflections

June came and went ... too fast! Isn't that the way summers always seem to go? I know that many families look forward to school starting and schedules back into a routine. And yes, there is some level of beauty in that - but for a homeschool mom, I can't say that I'm ready yet = ) In fact, we are relishing the summer. Splashing in the pool when we have gone, swim lessons for two big boys who are oh-so-brave in the water, lots of time reading books together, playing legos, planning for the new house. Nope, I am not in a hurry for any change yet.

We enjoy our days at my parents' house, although the boys ask daily about the new house and when we will get the keys and when we can move in. They have an anticipation within them to be back in our own space. I know it will be another transition to work though, but it makes my heart feel easier about taking on such another transition. They are looking forward to it. Matthias often tells me to "go get the key! get the key for the new house!".

I've made it to 21 weeks along in the pregnancy. Still some morning sickness each day, but seems to be lessening = ) Finally! I feel absolutely huge for this stage in my pregnancy. I know it is all relative, but when I compare the last three, this time the belly is popping out quicker. I eat as healthy as I can, and still working out daily, but the body is doing what it wants to do, I guess! It is ridiculous to complain about. I know that. But, for a fitness instructor, it IS hard to let go of my intensity and realize that I have to slow down a bit - otherwise I can't breathe!

We are prepping to head to California for a long-overdue trip to see all of Eli's extended family. I think there will be nearly 50 of us all together there! The boys haven't been on a plane since Jonah was two and Reuben was three months, so they are excited, and I'm ... well, I'm hoping all the plane rides and the subsequent drives up north to get to Northern California go well! We will have a great time when we're there.

As for me, I've been doing some meditating on the Psalms and seeking to just sit and hear the voice of the Lord for me. To be a tree planted deep, as described in the first one. I would rather not endure change: and this year has already had a lot of it, and has more to come! But, I know to weather any changes, my focus can't be on "getting through". One, I'll miss all the beauty of it, and two, I know that is just ducking my head down instead of keeping my focus on the Lord and seeing how it can change me to be more like Him. More patient. More loving. To produce more good fruit within me as I lean upon Him. I fail many times a day as I can let my "to-do's" capture my focus. I am thankful His kindness draws me back. The richness of the mercy of the Lord is truly amazing, and it is humbling to think on.

And so? The Brooks head forward into July. The boys are ready to light some fireworks (and Daddy is too!), and the Momma is needing a packing list completed so we can fly away into the grandeur of the redwoods. My heart is full.