A Bushel of Brooks

A Bushel of Brooks
Us as we are ...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sweet Things

All the males in my house have a fond taste for Nutella. Well, I should say that we all have one. I try to stay away from the jar, because what happens is I think: "I'll just have a taste". Can you really stop at one taste? I can have pretty strong willpower to resist food temptations ... but when that little jar is open, one taste always seems to turn into more = )

The boys would like to dip crackers into Nutella, but Eli and I have decided that we're cracking down on that snack request and that Nutella can be eaten on fruit or whole wheat bread. End of discussion.

But, my sister did bring me a jar of goodness this summer, and it happens to look like this:


Yep. Oh, I had seen these at the store, but hadn't bought one for myself. Yikes, it is good! So good, that I think I really shouldn't ever buy it for myself again. One bad hormonal day, and there might be a good chance half the jar would disappear! Truth be told, it was really really good. And I actually did enjoy it enough that I only had a little a day until the jar was gone ... because I didn't want the jar to be gone!

The little boys weren't even interested in it, but I did share with Eli, who really liked it as well. He would prefer to dip pretzels in it, but I would just like a little on a spoon. All.By.Itself.  YUM.

It seems ironic that I'm thinking and writing about this when I recently proposed to Eli that we take the entire month of September and try to eat zero refined sugars. Talk about a slam to my sweet tooth! He hasn't agreed yet, but is considering. Not that it really sounds fun or anything to me, but I like a challenge. And the month that all that Halloween candy starts making a serious appearance seems like a good month to do it. Our main freakout? Coffee creamer. We are addicted to our half-caf, homemade, cold-press coffee that we have every morning. And yes, I do enjoy my coffee with vanilla creamer. If I'm going to have one indulgence during a day, that is definitely on the list. So, we would have to figure something out with that. Honey in coffee? Haven't tried it before.

We'll see what he says *wink*, September is less than two weeks away, so we'll have to make our decision soon so we can plan, AND so I can go through the fridge and cabinets and rid them of things that won't be allowed. Why not? That's what I say!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Pokemon Cards

I'm not sure whether or not it is unfortunate or not yet, but a Pokemon craze has taken over our house. Last year sometime, a baby sitter gave the boys a big stack of Pokemon cards that she had from years ago. The boys enjoyed looking at them and stacking them in different piles, but it wasn't something that truly captured their attention.


Until now.

There were bigger boys coming to the gym in the mornings since school was out this summer, and some of them were quite into Pokemon cards. Therefore, I now have two boys who want to play with their cards all of the time too. = ) I have no real issues with Pokemon cards as they currently operate at our house. Our boys aren't allowed to watch the shows, but they "battle" with their cards and trade back and forth. As far as I can tell, their cards operate like their fighter guys.


My friend, Betty, from the gym, came over to help me unpack on moving day, and she saved me by taking Jonah to Wal-mart. I had promised him that we were get a binder and pages to keep his cards organized in, and with that week of packing, it just didn't happen. So, while I was making space for boxes due to arrive, she took him to Wal-mart and they got their pages and two binders. One happy happy little boy. She even bought him a new package of cards to share with Reuben.

We had packed their old cards for the time at my parents' house (at that time, it wasn't a big deal!), so for the last 4-6 weeks, the boys had been waiting for the storage unit to be unpacked the day we moved into the new house! As boxes came in, and got opened as the day went on, no Pokemon cards were to be found. Poor Jonah. It was nearly more than he could take. "Mom? Do you think they are in this box? Can I check this box?" And I, well, I was hoping that I didn't in some packing fit months ago, toss those cards!

Thankfully, about 7:30 that night, Eli's mom happened to open one random box, and there they were! The boys have been busy day and day with their cards, putting them in their binders, re-organizing them, finding the ones that they want to give away (I am so proud, because they decided on their own to give away about half of the cards that they have, because they have friends that don't have any), etc.

And of course, a few days later, I just had Jonah help me create a small binder for Matthias, because that 2 year old just wants to do whatever his big brothers are doing. Which means when they had their books out for the 20th time of the day, he was right in their business. Never mind. We'll give him some of his own = )


And so, whether or not it lasts for years I cannot know, but I'm hearing more about Pokemon and battles than I ever would have wanted!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

New House

We are finally in the "new house" as it has been affectionately called for the last three months! In! Amidst boxes and chaos and clutter and figuring-out-where-everything-goes, we are home. My goal is to unpack and find homes for things in at least 4-6 boxes a day. Why? Because if I look at everything at once, I get overwhelmed and start to freak out ... but if I decide this is my assignment for the day, I can do it.

The boys are happy. Matthias is having trouble going to sleep without Mommy sitting by him until the eyelids droop, but I remember having a week or two like that when we moved into my parents' house as well. Adjustment period. Our first night here, Reuben wrapped those arms around my neck, squeezed super hard, "Mommy! I am sooooooo sooooooo glad to be in the new house and sleeping here!" And Jonah slept about only six hours that night, because he kept coming into our room. Not scared, just unsure how he felt being in the new space.

The differences between boys.

I'm figuring how to creatively store towels without a linen closet, learn my way around in the dark (I walked right into a wall yesterday morning - my first super early work morning in this house), have peace with the piles of laundry growing around me as we still don't have the dryer hooked up yet, and remember it all DOESN'T HAVE TO BE COMPLETED IN A FEW DAYS. Um, yes, I have to remind myself of that daily, maybe hourly! Oh, I like things to be done, finished, arranged, ducks in order ... and it is not going to happen immediately. = ) Learn to let go.

Our goal is to get rid of 30% of all we own as we open boxes and re-arrange things. Why? Because we don't need so much "stuff". This all dates back to the Seven book I posted about months ago ... and realizing that the last thing we want is to instill in the boys that "things" are a focus for us. Hard to do in America when acquiring is a goal. More and better cars, nicer furniture, the newest electronics, and for my bushel ... POKEMON CARDS. More is not always better!!!!

So, we are sorting, thinking, and laying aside. Memories can still be kept even while giving away the item. How many cake pans do I really need? Are we every going to use that again? Is that item useful to the family or beautiful for the home? Or just a "thing"? It's a process. It also means that garage that I am so excited to park in someday will be filled for awhile with boxes and items as we prep for a garage sale that we will hopefully be ready for in early September.

But we are so glad to be here.

I can't wait to have people over into our space. Meetings, dinners, get-togethers, play-dates, wedding and/or baby showers for friends ... anything! And so I continue to delve into the boxes surrounding me, opening up the space to make this house a home, and a home full of welcome and hospitality.

Friday, August 8, 2014

New Beginnings

I'm surrounded by boxes and packing materials and clutter and insanity. That would be moving. I don't highly recommend moving twice within a three month period. Something about it makes the mother of the house feel like she is losing her mind and her energy ... thankfully, at some point it WILL END. We will be moved and settled and we won't have things in four different locations, right? Right.

And really, I should be packing, which feels like all I have been doing all week, except work. But the pregnant belly is protesting right now, which I think means sitdownandstopforaminute. Okay. I will. The new beginning, the new home, is just at our fingertips, although I think the boys aren't taking me seriously when I say "we're moving all this stuff tonight!" as they continue to get out more toys. Ah well. Trying!

As we prep for a new home, we're prepping for a new school year. I can't believe that Jonah will be in second grade! A box of fresh, new schoolbooks arrived yesterday. And of course, even though they are schoolbooks, the boys were excited. There is something fun about pages that haven't been written in, books that haven't even been cracked open by anyone else. They dove in, looking at everything!

I am so proud of my Reubs. Five years old and starting a first grade math book. I'm not worried about pushing through it fast, we will take our time and make sure that we get our concepts and have everything down. But, that kid loves numbers. Nearly everyday he is asking me some addition or subtraction problem that he is working on in his head. Just loves numbers!


He pulled out that new book and right away sat down at the table, finding pages, showing me what he would be working on in that big book! And then when Eli got home, he had to show Dad.

Our new Bible curriculum

I know that each year just ups the workload - for the boys AND for me! And so I enter the school year (which we will hopefully start in a couple weeks) knowing that I cannot do this alone, but really need the grace of God to be the mommy and the teacher for this bushel.

And so begins a weekend of newness. Our last night in Opa's house is tonight, and tomorrow we'll be sleeping on Sharon Drive!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Pets

It dawned on me the other day as I was driving with the boys, that we had promised them over a year ago, once we were in a new house, they could get a pet. Well, Elisa, moving into said new house in four short days!

I'm really hoping they don't quite connect the dots like the literal evening we move into the house and are starting getting ready for bed and everything. Maybe give me a couple days before saying; "Mommy??? Remember how you and Daddy promised us a pet in the new house?"

Although with Jonah, that would be a miracle. That boy does NOT forget.

With Reuben's allergies (and Eli's - for that matter!), cats and dogs are out of the question. Which, in our ideal world, we would have loved to have a dog for the boys to run around with. But not for the Bushel of Brooks. We have settled on a lizard, and I believe the boys are planning on a bearded dragon, specifically. I'm pretty sure every single one of them would love a snake, but at that, I draw the line! No snakes in my house. Lizards I do not have a problem with, snakes? Quite a large problem!

But, reality is sinking in. That means a tank. Supplies. Upkeep. Feeding. Cleaning. Etc. Responsibility is about to be taken on by all involved parties.

And so we'll get a lizard. And we'll play with other people's pets whenever we can! Eli's sister got three kittens, which Jonah and Matthias were delighted to play with when we were last at her house. And even Reuben warmed up to them. And since he normally displays fear with dogs and cats, we went ahead and let him hold the kittens and gave him a bath at home = )


Kittens are so darn cute. I would have probably given in and wanted to get one myself if it didn't make members of my brood sneeze incessantly. And Jonah is always up for playing with people's dogs whenever we're around families that have pets.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

July Reflections

Ummmmm, yikes. July is over. It suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks the other week that the boys will be starting school again in a short time. I know that summers always go fast ... but wow! I had to get my rear end in gear and finish ordering our school books so that at least once we are settled in the new house (less than one week!), we will actually have the school books to start in on.

The lazy days of summer had some times of laziness, to be sure, but with a big trip to California for family, Eli's big trip to South Africa, VBS, swim lessons, and etc., it still seemed that many of our days were full. I don't mind being busy, but July sure whizzed by.

We ended July with Eli's trip, and I must say, it wasn't the easiest. The first 4-5 days were the worst. We were all adjusting to not having Daddy around, and not being able to call him to say goodnight and check in. Once we got past those days, things seemed to calm down somewhat, and the boys had fewer meltdowns than we experienced in the beginning of the week. = ) But, there is just no replacement for Eli. Three boys need their Daddy, and he and I are such a team, that there was a definite gaping hole when he was gone like that. I put them to bed each night, put away any extraneous dishes and clothes, and then went straight to bed. Read my Bible (especially the Psalms), and went to sleep. Exhausted. I am so thankful that the Lord gave me good sleep while Eli was gone. I was worried I would have trouble sleeping, but aside from the bathroom runs - hello, squished pregnancy bladder! - I slept well nearly every night.

His trip was amazing. From a ministry perspective, his vision was refreshed and he is excited to see new things birthed at church. And hello! South Africa! He got to see some awesome things there, and connect with lots of my dad's relatives and get to know them. Pretty awesome time! Maybe someday we'll get to go back together.

My favorite little memory was the night before he was going to come home, and I was putting the boys to bed. We were talking about our favorite parts of that day, and things that we were looking forward to. And Reuben, his little innocent five year old voice perked up: "Mommy?? You know my favorite part of tomorrow???? When Daddy comes home! And we will be a WHOLE FAMILY again!"

His face was one big, happy grin. Just anticipating running into his daddy's arms.

We're prepped for a week of packing and moving ahead of us. Catching up for Eli at work as he gets back into the swing of things here and start making plans for fall events and retreats. And I think that each Brooks is super excited to for the "new house" to finally be our house by the end of the week! August, here we come!

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!