Tuesday, December 6

blah diddy blah blah blah

Ever feel like you're talking, and all that your kids hear is noise? Or that you've said the same thing a kajillion times and they just can't seem to remember.

I do.

And I don't have any answers. So, if you have some suggestions on how to motivate kids to listen, really listen - I'm all ears.

I've been learning a lot about how selfish I am lately - how much I want approval and love and cooperation from those three little people I serve, how much it bothers me when I don't get it. (and How stupid that sounds to say out loud.) How thankless it is to be a mom at this stage. It makes me a lot more thankful for my own mom. A lot.

It also gives me a perspective on my relationship with my own Heavenly Father that I wasn't expecting - especially when it comes to trivial thank you's. We've been having our kids say thank you before they can be excused at a meal. It's kind of ironic that the way they thank me after a meal is often the same way I thank God FOR my meal. And let me tell you, there are days that the thank you is heartfelt and sweet, and there are days that thank you is as careless as can be. I prefer the first.

Yep, motherhood is so much more than I expected, and in some ways, so much less. I DO love my kids, so much, and I'm grateful that God has seen fit to have me be the one to teach them about Him, about life, and about what it means to love others. What a heavy, heavy responsibility. What a loving God, and what a vast storehouse of His grace is there for me. Every day.

Friday, November 18

One of many

Joy To World Religious Christmas Card
Create from the Heart: photo Christmas cards from Shutterfly .
View the entire collection of cards.

Tuesday, November 15


People keep asking me how we're adjusting, and let me tell you, my answer is this:

Better than I expected!

Cadence is a super relaxed baby. She sleeps a lot during the day still - and when she's not sleeping, she is very happy to hang out in her swing, kick her legs around while lying on the floor, work on her rolling over skills, and smile at anyone who is within her sight. She's really really awesome. It helps that she has two brothers who adore her, of course.

When we had Aaron, I thought he was pretty laid back, a good baby.

Then Evan came and I thought, "wow, good thing Aaron came first!" Evan was a dream baby who blew away my concept of laid back.

Now Cadence! WOW! Am I ever blessed.

On the other hand, we still have rough days - take yesterday, for example. A mess up at the bank (their fault), followed by a 3-kid trip to Meijer (which went very well!) followed by a miserable loading-of-the-van experience in the parking lot and some cutting words from a no-doubt-well-meaning stranger. Then we had a whine-all-the-way home trip, which wore the nerves right out of me. Cadence was crying at that point because she'd been awake for an hour with no food. When we finally made it into our house, I had a screaming hungry baby, and whining, complaining, temper-tantrum throwing children screaming their lunchtime demands at their mother. Top this off with an entire collection of family toothbrushes shoved down the sink drain by a curious three year old?

When I opened my mouth to respond, it was not my finest moment. Not by a long shot.

So when I caught a whiff of this article on a friend's facebook page during (attempted) nap time, I read it eagerly. Some very good reminders, some interesting thoughts, and you know what? I am so SO glad that I have God to help me through those rough days. I'm sure he used that friend's timely post to help give me some extra coping tools.

In the midst of it, of course, all I could think about was throwing in the towel, calling Michael and telling him the kids would be listed on Craigslist when he got home. (I jest. Maybe.) But I do have an anchor, a rock, and even though at the end of yesterday I was D.O.N.E., God quietly reminded me of His mercies, new every morning, and His grace, sufficient for each day. His grace, extended in forgiveness when I fail. Miserably.

Today has been infinitely better. I'm so glad bad days are most often followed by good. I am so glad I have a Savior, a shelter, and a God who cares about me, my small children, and our terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad days.

Friday, November 11

Triple Date Day

In honor of the second-to-last triple date day I ever have a chance of seeing, three new things for our family:

1. We just took an extended-weekend family vacation. Photos here. We had an awesome time just relaxing and making memories and will be forever grateful to Tiffany for letting us borrow her rental for the weekend.

2. Aaron can now tie his shoes with no help. When that kid sets his mind to something, it gets done.

3. Cadence has been doing great, sleeping through the night, smiling, growing faster than any other Muth prior. I'm going to have to break out the 3-6 month clothes before I know it.

And, Happy 11th anniversary to K & J. Hope you do something fun. Because this date is certainly fun. 11-11-11.

Friday, November 4

Gluten Free Morning Muffins

These muffins are an adaption of a recipe from the Bob's Red Mill website, adapted because of what I had and did not have on hand. I've made them twice in as many weeks, so you know the whole family loves them! They keep at room temperature much better than most GF items, although I did throw them in the freezer after 3 days.

1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup ground almonds (I put almonds in the blender until they were ground but still a little chunky)
1 cup gluten free oat flour (GF oats in the blender again)
3/4 cup flaxseed meal
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped nuts (I omitted these; unsweetened coconut would also be fabulous, or use sweetened and reduce or omit the sugar)
1 1/2 cups finely shredded carrots
2 apples, peeled & shredded
3/4 cup milk (the first time I made these it needed a little more)
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350* and combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the carrots and apples to the dry mix. Combine milk, eggs, and vanilla, then add to the dry ingredients and stir until moistened. If needed, gradually add small amounts of milk until the batter looks like muffins.

Line a muffin pan with paper cups, spoon the mixture into the cups and bake 15-20 minutes until tops are slightly browned and spring back when tapped lightly. 15-24 muffins depending on ingredients added (size of the apples, whether or not you add nuts, etc). Today I made 12 muffins and poured the rest into a loaf pan.


Thursday, October 20

recent happenings

Today I finished up the pie filling. Grand total, 35 jars. 1 did not seal (awwww...) and 2 have gone away already to new homes.

I still need to do up some more applesauce, and meanwhile we need to eat squash so there's room on this shelf.

Aaron is becoming a champion gum-bubble blower. Here's a 2-for-one.

Evan still hates wearing pants. Here, he demonstrates how versatile his pants can be. He wishes it was still summer.

Cadence models her hat from the fabulous Aunt Rosemary. We've gotten so many compliments on this hat, and the matching blanket. We LOVE IT!!! I'm going to be so sad when she outgrows it.

And here, Cadence's newest skill - smiling. So sweet. Love this girl!!

Monday, September 12

the story

Cadence arrived on Labor Day, but she had us thinking she would be coming for an entire week before she actually got here. I was having 2-3 hour segments of contractions that would come 5-7 minutes apart and of course those would get my hopes up that that day would be the day. But apparently, not. My uterus was playing a cruel joke, ha ha.

So Labor Day morning, I woke up around 6 with some different feeling contractions, but followed the advice of my midwife and said, "ha, whatever!" and decided to get up and dressed and see if they stopped. I remembered that we were out of the boys' favorite cereal and a few other things so I told Michael I was going to run to Kroger and try to make it back before they woke up.

I got to Kroger with my short list and during the time I was in the store I had seven more contractions. Yep, time to get home. I added some greek yogurt to my cart for some protein loading for me and headed home. On the way home I called mom & dad (again) and told them with slightly more certainty that this was the day, and I just wanted to make sure they were up and awake. (it was 7:30) I told them I'd call when they needed to come.

Got home, told Michael I was going to eat some breakfast and take a shower to see if my contractions would let up and then would call Kelly (my midwife) to tell her (again) that I thought it might be for real this time.

I didn't make it out of the shower before I was calling for Michael to call Kelly! The contractions were speeding up fast and I didn't know how long it would take for this birth! He also tried to reach mom & dad but they were already on their way! We prayed with the boys and let them know that we thought God might let our baby be born that day. Kelly arrived at our house around 9 with her assistant, and my dad took the boys to play for awhile while we waited.

The labor itself was pretty good - I felt more aware of my surroundings and the people that were there this time - with Evan I felt like I dove into the "zone" and barely noticed anyone. This time I had a nice break between contractions and was able to talk a little more. I did have several times when I felt like I was going to pass out and had to lie down - NOT a fun thing to do in labor - I don't know how anyone does it, honestly. The midwife checked my blood pressure and baby's heartrate (both were great) and made me eat. We still don't know exactly why all that was going on but she thinks maybe due to the lie of the baby? We do agree that the whole sit up, lie down, sit up process really slowed things down.

I finally felt well enough to get back to the birthing stool and about 15 minutes later, Cadence was born! We could not believe - and still cannot believe - that we have a daughter. Aaron is thrilled - "Oh, I was HOPING for a sister!" and Evan thinks his new sister is fantastic. They both are overjoyed with the bits of pink, purple, and flowery clothing coming into our house. And also the hair bows. They love that there are hair bows. Michael is still pinching himself. He knows he is in big trouble.

About her name - I've loved it pretty much always. The word cadence has a great set of meanings that appeals to me in my poetic sense. My favorite definition is #5. When we were expecting Aaron, we picked out this name, thinking that if we had a girl her name would signify the momentary end of our section/phrase of married couple to married couple with kiddo, and now it is a sweet meaning to signify the momentary end of our run with boy children.

Anywhoo, that's probably TMI for those of you reading this. Or you're rolling your eyes, at any rate. The definitions are:

1. rhythmic flow of a sequence of sounds or words: the cadence of language.

2. (in free verse) a rhythmic pattern that is nonmetrically structured.

3. the beat, rate, or measure of any rhythmic movement: The chorus line danced in rapid cadence.

4. the flow or rhythm of events, especially the pattern in which something is experienced: the frenetic cadence of modern life.

5. Music . a sequence of notes or chords that indicates the momentary or complete end of a composition, section, phrase, etc.

And Abigail means "my father's joy" and it is a great name. If I didn't have that rule about most popular names being out, Abigail would probably have been her first name. But I love it as a middle name too.

So that's the story! Home birth is awesome! My all time favorite part is being able to sleep in my OWN bed that first night and not hear beeping all.night.long. Well, that, and all the germs in the house are mine and my family's and not some random stranger's. I like that part too.

The whole transition is pretty rough from having a 3 & 5 year old to adding in a newborn. After 3 nights with less sleep than I ever thought possible, I am not going to lie, I felt overwhelmed, emotional, and weak. I am sure those feelings will continue, but as God's grace prevails, we are making it. And getting a little more sleep, too. God is good, and His mercies are new, every morning.

And the support of friends & family is amazing too! Today, for example, my neighbor volunteered to keep the older boys for a couple hours so I could take a nap. BLESSED NEIGHBOR! They have 2 boys too and I guess the kids all had a blast together. We talked afterward about swapping shopping days. Yes, please. Another friend took them for a couple hours on Friday so Michael and I could sleep some more. Mom & dad have been helping whenever they can. I've had a couple of yummy meals delivered, and there are bags of baby girl clothes starting to accumulate in my living room. God knows, He provides!

Monday, September 5

Labor Day Fun

Well, part of it is fun. We have a daughter! Cadence Abigail Muth arrived this afternoon at 1:06pm, a gracious gift from God! We are so humbled and blessed to have had a second successful home birth, and are praising the LORD for what HE accomplished today!

Welcome, sweet daughter!

Sunday, September 4


Michael reminded me that I hadn't posted any pictures on the blog of my bassinet makeover. I was wanting to try something other than our pack n play this time around - I was actually thinking a Moses basket, but then I got this bassinet at a garage sale for $5 (!!!) and decided to give it a makeover. The ruffles wouldn't have mattered to our baby, but I do prefer the more streamlined look! All these little projects are helping the time go by!

I froze 1/2 bushel of peaches this week and am beginning to wish I had more - those bags in the freezer look too few and too lonely - so I'm trying to decide if it's worth the risk of the baby coming before I can get to them to go get another 1/2 bushel. They are soooooo good!

Michael is playing cowboys with the kiddos while I type this. They have hats and scarfs on from the Imagination Box that Aaron got for his birthday and are giddy-upping around the house, and it's adorable. Michael's doing his best to wear out the kids despite the fact that he has hurt his foot somehow - the arch is so sore he's been using crutches. He thinks he tore a tendon or something in there. Hopefully the crutches will help his foot heal all by itself.

Aaron is getting anxious for the baby to arrive, telling Michael the other night, "Dad, we have been waiting for EV er for the baby!" and Evan just keeps talking to my belly and telling the baby to come out, and that he loves him/her, and a few other things.

Today Aaron came out of the bathroom and said, "Mom, I cleaned the bathroom sink for ya so you don't have to bonk your belly on it!" And proceeded to tell me all the parts of the sink he'd remembered to clean. Such a sweetie - most of the time!

Thursday, September 1

waiting, and laughing.

Today, Aaron was helping me put his and Evan's dirty clothes in the washing machine, and I was telling him what a great job he was doing and thanking him for being such a good helper.

He, matter-of-factly, replied, "Well, I learned it from you, mom. You're a born natural teacher!"

It's so fun to have a five year old. The three year old is pretty adorable too. And this baby, well, we can't wait to meet this child!

Tuesday, August 23

We're Jamming.

I'd forgotten how fast and easy jam making was, until yesterday. I put a couple hours in and made a few batches of jam. Now, the label on the pectin says not to double the batches, but I did with the blueberry and strawberry, and everything jelled just fine. The four little jars are sweet cherry jam, which I'd never made before. All the batches were made with no sugar needed pectin and I greatly reduced the sugar content. I think it makes the cooked jam taste more like the original fruit to omit some sugar.

Now, granted, I had all the fruit ready to go - the strawberries were cleaned and frozen a month or so ago - I seriously lacked energy to do anything with them, plus we had no sugar (or fruit juice concentrate) which always puts a damper on jam making!

The cherries were salvaged from sure spoilage and frozen 2 weeks ago and the blueberries - I'm surprised they lasted - had been in a stock pot in our fridge for about 3 weeks. I had to sort through them again and wash them but they were champs. I think I lost about 25 berries total, which I can handle!

So, now I have all these jars of yummy jam to eat and share with neighbors. Two houses on our street have been purchase in the last month or so and I'm very excited about meeting the new families and saying "welcome to the neighborhood" with a jar of jam.

The best part? The only thing I paid for was the blueberries, new lids, and sugar. I already had or was given everything else. WOO HOO!

Monday, August 22

Homemade Electrolyte Drink

So I've been a little dehydrated lately, evidenced by my swollen ankles...and although I love Recharge, it's not exactly reasonably priced on Amazon at the moment, nor is it available locally to me (since Kroger quit carrying it). So I got out my old "recipe" and tweaked it further.

1 quart Juicy Juice Kiwi-Strawberry (we had this on hand but any juice would work)
2 quarts water
1/4 tsp real salt
1/4 tsp 100% stevia extract

and, tada! a tasty, hydrating, electrolyte-replacing beverage that is easier to come by, and slightly more effective for this pregnant lady than plain water.

BTW, I did a nutritional analysis on my recipe and compared it to Recharge.

My recipe, per 8oz:
Calories - 40
Sodium - 54mg
Potassium - 76.8mg
Carbohydrate - 10g
Sugar 8.7g
Vitamin C - 40% RDA
trace amts of other minerals

Recharge, Orange, per 8 oz:
Calories - 70
Sodium - 25mg
Potassium - 60mg
Carbohydrate - 18g
Sugar -17g
Vitamin A - 30% RDA
Vitamin C - 6% RDA

Friday, August 19

just like the boy scouts.

So, Evan surprised us by coming early - at our garage sale, as you know. We were throwing baby clothes in the washing machine while I was in labor - they came out of the dryer just-in-the-nick-of-time and Michael made a run to Walgreens for the home birth supplies when I was finally convinced it was really labor. We were definitely unprepared.

This time is different. I'm more prepared, so I'll probably be pregnant until September 20. Ha ha.

Freezer cooking is well underway! Here are some meals I am making:

Marinated Chicken - so easy! I just trimmed up the chicken and threw it in the bag with the marinade mix. We can either grill it or bake it later. Flavors: Cilantro-Lime (olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, salt, pepper), Savory Marinade (it's a new and different combo I've never tried before),
Italian (with homemade italian dressing, yum)

Chicken and Rosemary Roasted Vegetables (er, minus the rosemary, which is not my favorite flavor. The veggie blend has potatoes, sweet potatoes, zucchini, carrots, and onions in there with chunks of chicken, olive oil, and some seasonings)

Chicken Leg Quarters - these were 59cents/lb this week so I bought the ten pound bag to divide up with salt, pepper, olive oil - or some italian seasonings - and they'll be set to thaw and throw in a pan. yay.
Pre-seasoned burger patties (to grill!)

And the stuff that actually requires me to cook it before freezing:
Chicken taco filling (cooks in the crock pot - tomorrow's job for crock pot #1)
Shredded pork for BBQ pork sandwiches (in the crock pot #1 now!)
Shredded Qdoba-style pork (in the crock pot #2!)
Pre-cooked meatballs (yay, shortcut!)
Pre-cooked taco meat
Filling for stuffed bell peppers that we are sure to keep getting via our CSA
Minestrone soup - lots of veggies!
Possibly some chicken/rice soup - we shall see!

And some sides:
Brown rice
White rice
Cheesy potatoes
Cilantro-lime rice
Possibly some pre-made mashed potatoes - we shall see on this one, too.

I also bought some zip n steam bags for veggies we'll get in our CSA boxes - have you tried zip n steam bags? They are so, so cool. I almost always pack fresh veggies in them when I take a meal to someone - they go in the microwave and presto! Plus, I don't have to worry about keeping veggies hot for whomever is infirmed.

I'm about halfway done with today's work. I have been taking lots of breaks. That, and the beef isn't quite thawed yet. (here it is, thawing in our utility sink with my shortcut potatoes) Hopefully I can finish up tomorrow and we'll be set for a month- if I can keep out of the freezer until the baby actually comes, that is. I'm excited to report that I spent under $150 on the stuff I needed to make all those meals - yay! That includes two jumbo packs of paper plates and some extra foil pans and freezer bags, along with some extra pantry/ staple items (bread for the freezer, etc) but if you divide it out, it is a little over $3 for each main course for 40 days. Better than paying takeout prices for sure. Of course, the beef (and some ground pork) was all in my freezer, so it probably does come out to more than that per meal, although I do have extras of certain things I bought. Most of the veggies are from the CSA, which I also get for free from the farmer for making the trip and bringing in business for him.

In other news, I finally renewed my driver's license today. And, I've been having more Braxton Hicks contractions than usual, along with increased discomfort. I'm not totally disappointed with that. But like I said, I'm more prepared, so...

I might get those 3 varieties of jam made yet!

Wednesday, August 17


1. Aaron turned 5 two weeks ago. Evan turned 3 Monday. Last night at dinner, Aaron asked whose birthday was next, and whilst I was racking my brain to see which family member's birthday was next, Michael said, "our new baby" and I about spit out my water. Oh, yeah, that is coming up soon, isn't it?!

2. Saturday will mark 37 weeks of pregnancy. On that note, I've never felt "READY!" to have a pregnancy be over. I've always felt that gestation was the easiest time to be a parent. This time is much different, just the way I'm carrying this baby. Lots of pain and discomfort, but it will be worth it. And, I now have cankles. So come Saturday, I will be delivering (heh, heh) an eviction notice to the child within.

3. I am now taking guesses for birth date, size, and gender of our baby. The winner will get something. My due date is 9/10/11.

4. I love summer produce, but right now it is overtaking my kitchen and my life. I have 3 kinds of jam to make, this week. I can't find my jam jars, despite my empty garage. I was going to cook up a storm this week and next to fill the freezer with precooked meals for post-baby family nourishment, but it's full of berries to make jam. And the clutter around here is getting worse, not better. I need a personal assistant.

5. The TV Karts at Meijer are SO not worth the extra $1. It ended up that I paid more for a headache that could have been avoided by just getting a normal cart. The spelling error should have tipped me off. Someday I will learn. At least the $1 goes to a good cause.

6. Michael and I had a great weekend away last weekend. We were going to go up north but decided to go shop at IKEA instead. We slept, we ate out, we shopped. We slept IN until 9:40. Now that was bliss. And then we shopped again and just enjoyed not having to think about nap time or sippy cups or potty stops for 24 hours. Thanks, mom & dad. It was so nice to get away.

7. Speaking of potty stops, it's Evan's turn to potty train. Oh, dear. He's got it about 2/3 of the time. When I remember to remind him. Oh, dear.

That's it. Now, please excuse me. I have some nesting to do.

Thursday, August 11

Giveaway Winner!

My Happy Birthday giveaway ended this past Monday, but in the excitement of Michael's sister visiting and the activities we did this week, I neglected to post the winner!

Random.org selected comment #22 - Rachel! Hurray! Congratulations!

And thanks, everybody, for all the birthday wishes and delicious ice cream flavor ideas. YUMMY!

My favorite, by the way, is a local flavor called Spring Break - it's toasted coconut in coconut ice cream with thin chocolate pieces sprinkled throughout. It is delicious!! And it just so happens to be what is pictured above - an entire "cake" made just for me, of ice cream only, my lucky day.

I do have to be honest - when it comes to ice cream, I'm pretty much up to trying anything.

Tuesday, August 2


It's my birthday. I'm 32 today. And for the last couple of years I've made a huge hairy deal about it, written a oft-drafted post, given away virtual cake, and done a real life giveaway.

This year, I'm exhausted. I stayed up a little too late a couple nights in a row, and I'm pregnant, and it's humid. So, no great creative post. However, if you want to, you can scoop a bowl of ice cream and eat it in my honor. I will take your extra calories, if you feel the need to bestow them on me.

But, still, I can't resist doing a giveaway.

The only thing is, I'm a sucker for surprises. So, I'm not telling you what the little birthday package is this year, in honor of the unknown-on-purpose gender of our new little addition coming very soon.

I will give hints:
1. there will be something Pampered Chef in there. of course.
2. there may or may not be some reading material involved.
3. there may or may not be something delicious included.
4. you will like it.
5. if you don't, you will be able to give it to someone who does.

And now, in order to be entered to win my annual birthday giveaway, you must first have a US mailing address. Then, you must do a happy birthday song and dance. I will go with the honor system on this one, unless you feel this simply will not do and just have to set up a video chat.

Then post a comment here (on the blog, not just on FB) telling me your favorite ice cream flavor(s) and how many scoops you typically eat. I know, they seem unrelated, the task and the comment.

I can be random like that.

Giveaway ends next Tuesday!

Monday, July 25

in conclusion...

A few months ago I started reading Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel. I finished it yesterday, and it is really, really good. Really. As I finished the last chapter, my extra pregnancy hormones and God's goodness mixed together for a flood of tears. Here's the excerpt that opened the floodgates.

[God] chose you to assist Him in a miracle. He gave you children and then said, "Now go, and give these precious lives meaning." It's a mandate that comes with a great reward if you succeed, but a heavy price if you fail.

This is where many parents panic. When they realize that their job is to raise up children to love and serve God, they wonder how on earth they will do that.

The answer isn't on earth. It's found in heaven. It's sitting on an eternal throne. he has many names, but among my favorites is "The God of Grace." You wonder, How am I to raise up children to love and serve God? The answer is actually not that difficult. You simply need to treat your children the way God treats you.

He does it in His grace.

And here's the good part. If the only thing you get right as parents is His grace, everything else will be just fine.

SO...pick up a copy of this book. Buy, borrow, beg, whatever you need to do, just get a copy of the book. And read it. And prepare to have your perspective changed. It's a really good one.

Friday, July 22

what would you do...

If you're a mom, please weigh in on this - what would you do if you had a day to spend by yourself? As in no kids, no spouse, just you. And a $50 spending ceiling.

I'd love to hear your answers!

Tuesday, June 14

God Provides. Again.

So, as it turns out, our old van sold today, at the exact price we were asking. When you add that price to the settlement from Michael's Jeep rear ending...wait, I didn't mention that?


Michael had a fender bender and the back hatch doesn't open, the hitch got bent down - anyway - the Jeep was considered a total loss BUT our insurance company took a fraction off and let us keep the very driveable Jeep. So we got a settlement. (the body shop can fix the hatch, they say, for less than $100 in a non-beautiful way.)

So when you add the price of the settlement to the price we got today from the Dodge minivan: it totals exactly what we paid for our new minivan.

The happy dance is most definitely called for. We are praising God for His many blessings.

Thursday, June 9

God Provides.

About 3 months ago, we called off our search for a minivan. Yesterday, we found the "perfect" van, unexpectedly, but not by accident. We drove about 45 minutes to see it, as the ad on Craigslist (photo from the ad) only had an address, no phone number and no response to the email I'd sent.

We went using our recently refreshed Dave Ramsey deal making skills, particularly the power of cash, the skill to shut up (and listen) and the ability to walk away. We had a set price, which was $800 below the asking price, and we had the cash in hand (nerve wracking, to say the least, carrying around that much cash). And the whole way there I was coaching myself not to get too attached so that I wouldn't be disappointed to walk away - I knew there was only a very slim chance our offer would be accepted. And I was praying, too, that God would make it very clear to us whether we should purchase a van.

But really, it was worth the risk of that drive. The worst that could happen is that we'd get there and turn around and re-deposit the money in our savings account.

Much to our amazement, they took our offer and threw in a couple of cupcakes for the boys from their son's 12th birthday party. And now we are the owners, for better or for worse, of a one-owner (it had 2 miles on it when they bought it), very clean 2003 Chevy Venture with 8 passenger seating, AWD, and some other nifty features, including a working air conditioner for our sticky summer days. A definite bonus blessing. We paid about 2500 less than the private party blue book value. God is gracious to us. We are praising HIM for this blessing, and pray that we can use what He has provided to honor Him and serve others!

Wednesday, June 8

my little sweaties

It's summertime, or at least it feels that way. My little guys are growing up - they're becoming very independent, interactive, verbal. It's wonderful. And terrifying. Am I ready to basically start over with a newborn? Not really, but I do love that baby stage too.

Both kids have been coming up with adorable things that are just out of the blue, Aaron especially.

He's been trying to quantify his love for us - saying things like, "I love you taller than the house" etc. Well, the other night he said, as he was squeezing me tight, "Mom, guess how much I love you?" I, expecting to hear some off the wall comparison, was not ready to hear, "As much as my heart can hold!!!" And cue the tears. *SIGH* I love being a mom.

Then, a couple days ago, when we were riding in the van and listening to a tape of kids' songs, Aaron said, "Hey mom, can I have some rock-a-roll music?" Knowing how crazy my kids can be I just said, "what? what is that?" He came back with, "You know, when the guys bang on the drums really hard and play guitar like this (demonstration) and move their heads like this (headbanging demo) and it's really loud?" We haven't had ANY music discussions with our kids, I'm pretty sure he's never seen anything like that on TV and he hasn't been to any concerts - I have no idea where he came up with all the details but I was laughing pretty hard about that.

I told him that mommy didn't like crazy music because the people seem like they are out of control. But I did eject the tape and turn on my favorite local station, featuring easy listening oldie-type music, and John Denver was playing - "Sunshine on My Shoulders" that seemed to do the trick for him. Ha ha.

Next time, Evan stories. I can definitely tell that he's almost 3.

Tuesday, June 7

Cheese Cake (not that kind)

Michael had a birthday, yesterday. And as he could live forever never tasting another dessert (WEIRDO!), for the past couple of years, I've tried to come up with a celebratory substitute.

This year, it was a cheese-cake. Cheese, olives, bacon, cream cheese. That's it. It was appreciated. Happy 31st to my fantastic husband!! (we also had homemade maple ice cream, which was sweet, for the rest of us, ha ha!)

By the way, the statement that he is fantastic is quite possibly the understatement of the millennium. I am a very blessed woman.

Sunday, May 29

Evan Sings

If you have the PBS kids show "The Cat in the Hat" fans in your house, you might recognize this catchy tune

Monday, May 23

ups and downs

So, I'm 24 weeks pregnant, and I am so grateful for a healthy pregnancy thus far. God is gracious, and my ultrasound last week showed perfect progress on track with my due date of September 10, and a beautiful, healthy baby (gender is, happily, unknown). We are so blessed.

But isn't it just like us to get frustrated in the midst of blessing?? I am starting to once again be frustrated by my maternity clothes. Anyone figured out a solution?? If someone could start a company with cute and appropriate maternity clothes, I would be so happy! (oh, did I mention inexpensive??)

Pants/Shorts: I have some jeans with a full, very stretchy, panel. They do stay up at first, but once I've had them on for a few hours, I feel them losing their staying power. Plus, that stretchy panel is HOT! The underbelly styles seem to creep down, too. I have this step-step-tug gait that is *just* as appealing as the late pregnancy waddle! And I need to find some shorts, pronto! I've been pregnant for 3 summers and still no shorts? EEK!

Shirts seem to be cut to show more than I've ever been comfortable showing - which would be fine if I didn't mind wearing 2 shirts but summers are sticky enough and sometimes it's just too hot!

A lot of the clothes this season are made from jersey - the clingiest fabric ever! Now why would someone want to wear clingy fabric when crazy things are happening to create bulges where none were there before? And who decided a stretchy band on the bottom of the shirts, under the belly, would be a good idea?

My solution so far is to wear more sundresses, and I do have a couple of skirts that are just stretchy regular sizes that seem to work well. The downside to this is figuring out how to play with and chase 2 active preschoolers and retain some level of modesty!

When I was pregnant with Evan I got so annoyed that I got out my sewing machine. And then proceeded to make a tent - ha! The pattern looked so cute and easy - but the result? um, not so much!!

I've had the best result shopping at garage sales and thrift stores, and even the "regular" clothes section for loose fitting tops and altering as needed. I know what I need to do is have a garage sale, sell a bunch of what I already own that I'm not wearing or that only "kinda" works, and shell out the extra for some basics. Then, just do more laundry. Or maybe I'll try sewing a tent again - I'll just grab some super cool and breezy cotton and make some of those mumu-style stuff our moms wore. I really think they were onto something.

Wednesday, May 18

quick and powerful

I'm continuing my reading in John 12

41Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. 42Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

I'm not so very different from the Pharisees. God, help me love YOU, and be more concerned with Your glory than my own.

This song I learned at camp years ago keeps running through my head:

You are beautiful beyond description
Too marvelous for words
Too wonderful of comprehension
Like nothing ever seen or heard
Who can grasp Your infinite wisdom
Who can fathom the depth of Your love
You are beautiful beyond description
Majesty enthroned above

And I stand, I stand in awe of You
I stand, I stand in awe of You
Holy God to whom all praise is due
I stand in awe of You.

copyright Hillsong United

Monday, May 16

lessons from Lazarus

OK, I know I'm still relatively young, but...how is it possible that I've been learning about the Bible for YEARS (at home, in Sunday School, Christian School, Bible College) and just now read the verses following Mary's annointing of Jesus' feet shortly after Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead?

John 12:9-11
9When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, 11because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.

My (husband's) ESV study Bible had an interesting note on v10: "When the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death, it betrayed an astounding refusal to allow their beliefs to be changed by undeniable facts. They would rather destroy the evidence than change their minds. This is not rational behavior, but sin produces irrational action."

Sin produces irrational action. I'd say. When we are unwilling to admit that we're wrong, when we look facts in the face and choose to come to the opposite conclusion, it is indeed astounding.

I was struck with the fact that these chief priests were willing to take a life in order to remove the evidence that Jesus had performed an unbelievable miracle in raising Lazarus from the dead. Prior to Jesus, I imagine that these religious leaders taught about life being a gift from God, about murder being wrong - but when Someone dared to cross their traditions and beliefs, instead of facing the facts that Jesus might possibly be Messiah, they compromised in a big way with a plot on Lazarus - who wasn't "at fault" for Jesus' miracle at all - just a happy recipient!

So what truths do I ignore in the face of undeniable facts? Is there something - anything I hold more dearly than the truth? Do I hold "convictions" that are merely tradition? Do I value anything more than God's Truth and God's people? I hope not - I pray not! But if chief priests can plot murder when faced with uncomfortable truth, I certainly am more than capable of sinning along the same lines.

It's been good for me to ponder.

Sunday, May 15


So I had a hankering (hee hee) for some pudding the other night. I had extra milk from the farm and needed to use it up. And I wanted vanilla pudding. And so I went to my friend allrecipes for some help.

Found a 7-minute pudding recipe but it used the microwave, which sounded like a disaster waiting to happen. I could envision little chunks of scrambled eggs in my pudding. So I used the ingredient list and the suggestion of a commenter to dump all ingredients in the blender and blend for 1 minute, then heat over medium heat until thick. It worked beautifully and tasted fantastic. Yay for easy!

1/4 cup sugar
2 T cornstarch
2 egg yolks
2 cups milk
2 T butter
1 tsp vanilla (I may have added more...)

Blend 1 minute in the blender then heat over medium heat until thick. I whisked continually. ENJOY!

Thursday, May 12


Something fabulous happened after church last night.

We got a wedding present.

One of dad's cousins came to our wedding, 8 years ago come December. We were so glad she could join us. And we certainly did not notice that she didn't bring a gift!

Anyway, through a slightly bizarre and still somewhat obscure (to my knowledge) set of events, this beautiful quilt was gifted to us. She did a beautiful job of applique and I just love the variety of colorful fabrics.

And really - this is the perfect time for wedding gifts - when the originals are starting to show their age!

Happy Wedding to us!

Wednesday, May 11

a little difference

Please check out the new button on my sidebar to see how your small donation could make a huge difference in the lives of expectant women in developing nations. My brother Nate worked with YWAM for awhile - this is a great opportunity! Check it out!

Tuesday, May 10


I'm halfway through Grace Based Parenting, by Tim Kimmel. I can't keep quiet any more - this book is awesome. I love the Biblical perspective on grace - love it.

I agree with the author that too often our understanding of grace stops with the saving grace provided by Christ on the cross - we forget that we need grace to live, grow, and be. Here are several of my favorite quotes so far:

"The most distinguishing part of the Christian faith is grace - that wonderful gift offered by God to undeserving people like you and me that makes us fall in love with the Savior. Grace is what attracts us to Him and what confirms His love for us over and over. God's grace has the power to transform the most hardened, indifferent soul into a person spilling over with kindness. If God our heavenly Father is the perfect Father, and the primary way that He deals with us as humans is through the power of His grace, it stands to reason that grace forms the best template for bringing out the best in our children."

"...raising [sic] safe Christian kids is a spiritual disaster in the making. Your effort will produce shallow faith and wimpy believers. Kids raised [sic] in an environment that stresses safety are on track to be evangelical pushovers. They will end up either overly critical...or naive about the world system...Safe Christianity is an oxymoron, like "jumbo shrimp." Living your life sold out for Jesus Christ has never been a way to enjoy a safe life. It may be a way to enjoy a good life, but not a safe one. That's because Jesus isn't safe, but He is always good."

"I didn't want my children to grow up in a home where they felt that God's pleasure was determined by their behavior. Nor did I want them to feel that there was no latitude in how they lived out the different nuances of their personalities...We just didn't want arbitrary boundaries based on unsubstantiated Christian opinion. We wanted to rely on the boundaries the Bible clearly drew and then trust God to help us make balanced decisions when faced with the usual "stuff" that hits parents. I realize that many will want to criticize the basic tenets of grace-based parenting because it knocks the props out from underneath the teachings that say you can raise [sic] great Christian kids by simply putting them in the right environment and programming the right information into their heads. You can't."

"Grace based parenting works from the inside out. Fear based parenting works from the outside in. That's why I think so many of the superficial measuring rods of fear based parenting are so foolish - even destructive to our children's relationship with God (ie, how many verses they've memorized, how conservatively they dress, the fact that they listen to only Christian music, etc.)...As our children grow and mature in their relationship with Christ, things they need to adjust will happen far more easily when they are prompted by God's Spirit rather than coerced by their parents."

You know what? This is the first parenting book that hasn't sent up any major red flags for me. A lot of times parenting literature is WAY too crazy one way or the other. You know, let your kids out of the house in the morning and they'll come home when they are ready - OR - lock your kids in the basement and they'll have great character. You know?

And yes, I'm only halfway through - so take my glowing review with a pinch of salt - but for me, this is a much needed shot in the arm - a reminder of the perspective I need to have when dealing with my precious kiddos.

God loves me, despite my many shortcomings. He deals with me graciously, tenderly bringing me along. I'm sure there are many times I would have rolled my eyes at me, at my self-righteous attempts to "please" Him, at my audacious sinful behavior. But God continues to extend His grace. His love for me never changes - ever. He loves me equally when I'm pouty and selfish as when I'm sitting in church or worshiping Him with a full heart.

So. Why do I get so frustrated with my kids after God has dealt so graciously with me? Well, I'm human, and God is not. I fail, God does not. That's the bottom line. But I'm certainly not going to give up - I'm going to ask God for more grace. Wow. I'm unworthy of that. Just thinking about the stark contrast between my indescribably GOOD God and me totally blows my mind.

I kind of think that's the point.

Monday, May 9

kindergarten begins

Today is the first official day of kindergarten for Aaron. I finished my lesson plan for this week and we started right in. We're using Singapore Math - Earlybird Kindergarten Mathematics (supplemented as needed) and continuing on with the Hooked on Phonics program I already have (supplemented as needed also). There will be science lessons from this website (gotta love premade lesson plans) as well as normal supplementation from life, and the answers to questions that Aaron asks constantly. Love this boy! Art, music, and Bible will also be a part of our days. At this point I'm shooting for 3 days/week of regular academic stuff and two days for the hands on and field trip type learning.

Why start now? Well, Aaron has been begging for school since Christmas time, and we've been doing HOP since then, off and on, but nothing formal enough for me to feel like we could call it "school." For starters, we desperately need more structure in our days or the housework and playing and errands and reading books and watching PBS and free play and sibling battles and unexpected cleanups and art projects and...well, the day, overtakes us and it's past noon before I know it. Writing down school plans and checking that off along with being consistent to make my regular checklist *should* help.

Also, we have a little someone coming in September, when other kids are typically starting school. There is no way I want to think about carting Aaron to school - ACK! And I don't think a new baby and a new schedule at the same time would be a great idea. So, now is the time. We might break from September through December, or I might just keep going so, you know, Aaron can graduate when he's 14 and be done with grad school at 20. JUST KIDDING.

Anyone else schooling through the summer months?

Wednesday, May 4

starting the journey - traditional foods

About a year ago, a friend of mine was working her Pampered Chef table at our local Taste of Home Cooking Show and was providentially placed next to an Amish farmer who was advertising CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares for the season. She thought it sounded like something I'd be interested in, so she grabbed a couple of flyers. The rest is history. A history that I've been starting to blog and running out of time - so here's a short, very condensed version.

As I was filling out the forms, writing my letter (that I had to send in the mail - gasp! that took some getting used to!) and recruiting people to join the group to cut down on the gas costs, I noticed some fine print on the bottom of the page - "herd shares are available for those interested in raw milk, butter, and cream." Being the curious person that I am, I sat down at the computer to search for the answers to my sudden questions - what is a herd share, why do you need one and what is the benefit of raw milk? To make a very long story somewhat shorter, I found the Real Milk website, and through the farmer, was introduced to our local chapter leader for the Weston A Price Foundation. I honestly had no idea what I was getting myself into.

I picked up produce share boxes for the rest of the summer, and as summer wore on, tried raw dairy and came off again at the recommendation of my nutritionist - my system wasn't ready for dairy of ANY kind yet - and then went back on. By the end of the summer, I was bringing back herd shares for 6 families. We'd purchased pastured fryer chickens from the farm, I was getting soy-free pastured eggs, farm fresh butter, and we were looking at making some changes in our diet. Since then, the route has grown. There are 20 families in our group, and I bring back herd shares each week. Raw dairy has been awesome for us.

We've also switched to a more traditional diet in some other ways - adding in traditional fats like butter, olive and coconut oil, taking out most other vegetable oils like corn and canola. *Trying* to cut out refined sugar and a lot of things we'd been eating that are in packages. Eating more meat products (yes, I said more) that are pasture raised, antibiotic free, fed things they were created to be fed. Fruits and vegetables that are local when possible, organic or pesticide free when possible. In other words, more traditional.

We are still on the journey - the BEGINNING of the journey. A friend and I were recently chatting about how food preferences can quickly get out of hand - and become an idol in your heart. She mentioned that when God provides something for her family, she is learning that it is pride for her to turn that down or throw it out because it doesn't meet her high standards of acceptable food. I can see her point, especially after my interactions with some super food snobs. :-) Balance is key, right?

In fact, while you will find large tubs of several kinds of coconut oil at our house, raw milk in our fridge and pastured beef in the freezer, you'll also find some tortilla chips and processed american cheese, coffeemate in the fridge door, boxed cereal in our pantry and mini snickers bars stuck way up in the back of the top shelf. I made gluten free pasta last night from a box. And added pastured ground beef. Irony, yes. Progress? Also yes.

This summer I am hoping to try a few new things - like making homemade lacto-fermented pickles (again) and cutting out even more of our processed go-to items. I'm really wanting to try sourdough bread (hoping gluten is soon a GO for me) and I'm definitely looking forward to our produce shares starting up again. We all do better when fresh veggies are delivered to our door - a new box each week to hurry and use up.

If you are interested in learning more about how traditional eating can benefit you, here are a few links to get you started.

Fat Head (a good place to start - some very good animations about cholesterol and diabetes)
Why Butter is Better (and there are more great articles on this site)
Real Milk (keep clicking the links down the left sidebar to learn more)

I'm quite sure that more of you are also on this journey, and have more great resources also - please feel free to share your experiences and resources in the comment section. I will remove nasty comments so - fair warning! :-)

Monday, April 18

at belly level

I came down the hall Saturday morning, still in my pj's, and Aaron looked up to say good morning and did a double take. "Whoa, mom! Your belly is SO BIG!" Ha, thanks Aaron - it's only going to get bigger. I imagine things look different when your eyes are right at belly level.

Later that day, Aaron got to feel the baby move - it was so fun! I think having a 4 year old during a pregnancy is a ton of fun - it's a different perspective than having just a 2 year old! Evan is excited too - his favorite thing is to "tickle the baby" which gets old, but it's fun to see that mischievous grin.

Sunday morning, I was having some pretty intense contraction-like pains, so I called the midwife. (I didn't want to - she was getting her family ready to head out the door to church!) She ended up coming over to check everyone out. She thought they are probably Braxton-Hicks contractions, which are good and normal, but I need to work on drinking a lot more, and I need to set up an appointment with the doctor just to touch base with him in case things go haywire, and also to set up my ultrasound. My midwife was concerned that the BH were painful. I do remember this type of pain with Evan, but not until about 30 weeks.

So anyway, yesterday I was 19 weeks pregnant, and I'm measuring at 21, which I guess is pretty typical for 3rd babies. Everything else looked great. This little one is moving around like crazy! I can't believe I'm almost at the halfway point!!

Tuesday, March 29

the new face of clean

The photo on the left is me, about two months ago, vvvery tired, nauseous, and fatter. I also have peely, dry skin. The photo on the right is me, today. While the most obvious difference to me is the weight loss, the hair is different, too. And I'm wearing makeup in the right photo.

Yes, I've lost 17 lbs since getting pregnant. This happens to me. I'm not sure why, it just does. No need to be jealous. Hang on, once the baby is born and starts nursing, I'll start gaining. This is how whacked out my body is.

But this post is really about my skin, and my new facial cleansing method. I've noticed a vast improvement in my skin and just have to share. I've been using the Oil Cleansing Method, or OCM, for a little over a week now. I could NOT be happier. I have been using straight coconut oil, though - I don't have castor oil and olive oil is a little strong in odor. Plus, I found out later that coconut oil has some very good for your skin properties.

My skin is usually very dry, and when I use coconut oil to wash my face at night, my skin is hydrated and soft for 24 hours. It also does an awesome job removing makeup! Honestly, my skin is really, really different. I've noticed that some of the tiny lines around my eyes are disappearing. I don't really mind the lines - it means I've been smiling! But at the same time, I like to look as young as I feel.

So thanks to my friend Rebekah for bringing this new cleansing method to my attention - I definitely recommend giving it a try for a week or so and seeing how it works for you! Let me know if you try it!!

Monday, March 28

The purposeful no

I've been pondering this concept lately - saying no in order to say yes. Personally, I hate disappointing people, so "no" isn't something I take lightly. However, sometimes saying no now means more yes-saying later. This is how it has been looking for us lately.

1. Saying no to more involvement with projects/service/programs at church.

I realized this with clarity at the end of last summer - one particular incident made me realize that I was so busy doing that I wasn't seeing needs when I was at church or with church family - and that is not what I wanted at ALL. I want to see and meet needs, so that might mean keeping my schedule somewhat open so that I can be available when I'm needed. This might not apply to everyone - I'm sure tons of you can multitask and still be human, with fully functioning brains. That's awesome. My brain tends to be task-oriented. So, we've found a good level of involvement for us and while we do say yes to occasional one-time things, we've decided this year to say no to new ongoing commitments. God has really allowed us to see the benefits of this plan.

2. Saying no to spending now even if the finances are there.

We've been looking for 8 passenger minivans so that we can have 3 kids in easily accessible car seats plus 2 comfortable adults as passengers. (our current rear bench seat will not accommodate 3 car seats) We have a good chunk in our savings set aside for that purpose. However, we don't actually need a new minivan right now - ours is old and sort of decrepit, but it's running fine for the time being. And instead of clearing out that portion of savings immediately, we are able to wait until either the current vehicle gives up the ghost or we find the perfect used van for the best price. Who knows? Maybe God has a different plan for those funds? Maybe His provision of a vehicle is going to look different than we think!? We want to be free to say yes at the right time.

3. Say no to comparing and guilt trips.

This one is hard for me - on the outside, I want to appear as if I don't care at all what people think of me, but that is simply untrue. Every time I think about comparing myself - "oh I'm not as thin, as organized, as creative, as energetic, as good of a mom, wife, housekeeper, as nice, as talented, etc" I've been really trying to make an effort to remind myself of what I know to be true about God and the fact that He made me just the way He wanted me to be. And I don't have to be someone else. So instead of focusing on others, I'm really working at focusing on God and meditating on the woman He wants me to be. That's a big enough job without comparison to others and guilt trips. God's grace is sufficient for my struggles and my failures, and He is gracious to give me days of successes too.

Anything you've been saying no to lately in order to say yes?

Wednesday, March 2

more or less

Thanks so much for your words of congratulations and your excitement for us! We are thrilled to be welcoming another Muth. I'm due September 10, so I'm 12 weeks along, and still feeling very tired and constantly nauseous. God's grace and Michael's support have gotten me through the worst of it, I HOPE!

The plan for now is to pursue a second home birth but again do ob co-care. I just have to get my rear in gear and actually call the doc and get an appointment. It will be minimum co-care, with an ultrasound to check out all the internals and make sure there is not an obvious reason to give birth at the hospital.

Aaron is convinced we are having a girl, and he wants to name her. Huh. Interesting. (Not gonna happen) He says he knows that God decides what we are having and he will be okay with whatever we get. But he still thinks it will be a sister. Evan doesn't really seem to get it, but we have 6 months. Ha!

People have been wishing a girl child upon me and I will tell you that I am equally terrified of having 3 boys as I am of having a girl added to our family. I'm sure this has something to do with #3 being the first situation where we are officially outnumbered. I'm hoping it will help that the kids will be a little older (5 and 3).

Tuesday, January 25


Here's my newest project - turning my scraps of fabric into a usable item instead of sitting in the closet in bins. I have a little bit done so far and already I am thinking I would rather just use squares. Ha! My attention span is so short. I also need to round up more of my scraps. I'm toying with the idea of putting together sections like this and then cutting them into uniform blocks so that it's a little more manageable, and putting a border between the blocks.

This all started with me trying to figure out how to reuse a mattress pad. The elastic sides came off and the top is still in great condition, so I cut off the stretchy parts and it's sitting in a basket just waiting for new life. I figure it will be a nice big blanket to use on a twin size bed, or to snuggle under with a book on a rainy day (in my dreams).

I'm blogging about it for accountability purposes. Ha!

Anybody ever made a crazy quilt before? Or any kind of quilt?

Tuesday, January 18

microwave love

So, I haven't mentioned anything about my new microwave that I can remember, but it's times like this, times when I spilled a full travel mug of fresh-brewed chai tea between the glass panels of my 3-month-old oven and taking it apart myself to clean it voids the warranty and the jury is still out on what it will cost us to get that done by a licensed technician, times like THAT...

Well times like that make me thankful for my microwave. Which is also a convection oven. So I can make dinner or a loaf of gluten free banana bread without blinking.

Worth the investment. And as a bonus, it gave us this awesome bump out feature in our kitchen and looks like a built in, even though it is the most massive countertop microwave I have ever owned. Custom cabinets are not overrated.

Yep, cookie houses on top of the fridge, waiting for the cookie house fairy to whisk them away in the night. Because I managed to convince the kiddos that they are only for decorations. How mean of a mom am I?

SO thankful for this bonus of a gift from God, totally unnecessary, but ever so nice.

Friday, January 7

Home Reserve postscript

Sandy from Home Reserve read my blog, and sent me these, which arrived today.

Covers for the storage lids. No more wood showing, no more splinter scares when I use the storage bins. And when I emailed to thank her that I didn't have to make an effort to get these covered, she said I could use the extra time to take a power nap. HA!

So now my gripes are very few.

And the "pro" list on the Home Reserve customer service side are growing rapidly. Talk about service!

Thanks, Home Reserve!!

Wednesday, January 5

Home Reserve (Part 3)

OK, thank you for your patience! This is the last installment!! See the little wooden box over to the left? That is an arm frame. A dense foam piece goes on top and then you have to wrestle the fabric on. It gets your blood pumping, and I do not recommend doing that part alone OR with curious, energetic children around. Definitely not with both variables.

The chair frame is pretty obvious, it's right in the center of the photo. The foam and pillows come all vacuumed into these giant plastic bags and expands as soon as you open the box. Pretty funny.

The third picture is a top-down view of the seat part of the sections, before the storage bin top is put on. It's a pretty good size storage area, would be good for a blanket or some reading material.

You can see, if you compare photos, that the fabric has come down over the top of the frame like a pillowcase. You can also see the arm piece has been connected to the seat part. That happens with bolts and wing nuts. Very easy to reconfigure.

The picture was taken right before we bolted the two sectional pieces together to make the loveseat.

The fourth picture is of Michael stuffing the fiberfill pillow for the back of the seat into the fabric case. Those were much easier than the seat pieces - fiberfill is easier to manipulate than dense foam.

Speaking of dense foam, we both like a firmer seat on our couch, so the Home Reserve dense seats are perfect for us. We love the firmness. It's not so firm you feel like you are sitting on styrofoam, but it doesn't swallow you whole like some of the couches at the furniture stores. The company website says the seats will loosen up with time, but I kinda hope not. And if it someday happens that the foam loosens too much, we can just order new seat cushions.

The final photo is the finished product - and my little thumb sucker. I like how you can see in that picture that the fabric has a variegated brown color. I really ended up liking how it looks.

We have another love seat that is the same length - 56 inches - but this one is so much more efficient with seating - 44 inches of space for sitting. I have even been able to steal little power naps on it a time or two with my head on the armrest and my knees bent.

As far as final verdict, we will definitely be getting more pieces from Home Reserve to either make a sectional or at the very least, a longer couch. The quality is as good as it gets in this price range, id not better, and while I am not against all outsourced goods, it is so nice to know that this is a US company.

And I'm confident that I can get ahold of them if something goes wrong. They have a 5 year guarantee on the frame pieces, so if anything breaks they will send us a new one. So maybe in 5 years we will be in the market for a new seating situation, who knows, really.

I do have a couple of small gripes. Very small. One is that the ottoman is a little higher than the one I am used to. It;s not that bad, but I like an ottoman to be 1-2 inches lower than the couch. it's the same height.

I also wish that the seat bottoms (storage bin covers) were actually covered with something so they weren't exposed wood stuff, but I have a sewing machine, and I know how to use it. I may rig something up to make it "prettier" when the kids take the cushions off for fort building.

The other gripe is that the furniture slides super easily on our flooring, which would not be as much of an issue with carpet or if I didn't have crazy children.

See? I told you. Very small gripes. My only other wish is that I had another section so I could stretch out a little better when I get the urge to take a 10 minute nap when the kids are sleeping! We are very happy with our purchase! Now we just have to wait and see how it lasts, and I will keep you posted on that. Oh, by the way, this is the Laney Style in La Paz Coffee, and it is a right sectional arm piece hooked to a left sectional arm piece (for future flexibility) and a (stand alone) modular ottoman.

One more thing, in case you were wondering. I was not paid to write this review.

**Note** as of August 2016, we still have this loveseat and ottoman. The loveseat is now seeing considerably less traffic in our daughter's room and holding up quite well. We love the storage! 

Home Reserve (Part 2)

We had ordered some fabric swatches from Home Reserve - my stipulation was that it either had to be machine washable, or wipeable. Lucky for me they have both options. We are nice boring people when it comes to furniture colors so our swatches were all solid brown. But you certainly don't have to be boring, and you can change your mind in the first 30 days, so we decided to go with LaPaz coffee, which is a bonded leather, and hope for the best.

The boxes arrived in good time, (the company is based in Ft. Wayne, IN) and were so well organized, with easy-to-follow instructions and cool expandy foam and pillows. The wood parts were very clearly marked - the numbers are actually routered into the piece itself. There is very little chance of getting confused.

Michael was home on vacation, so when the Fed Ex truck pulled up we were both almost giddy with anticipation.

Yes, we are total nerds.

See those little T-shaped things? Those are the key to the whole design - without them, says Michael, the boards wouldn't hold the screws.

The instructions say you only need a screwdriver to put the furniture together, but we both agreed it would take years. A drill is a good idea.

We started with the ottoman, and even with children underfoot, it went pretty quickly. The fabric is a VERY tight fit, so when we went to put the board under the foam part of the top, we had to adjust it and remove it and try again. but then, when we were all done, we had a very nice ottoman. With storage inside.

In fact, ALL the furniture has storage inside, so along with being a smaller furniture piece, it is a multi-tasker. BONUS! None of the storage bins are hinged, so it is not as easy as it could be to use the storage, in fact, ours is empty now, but I'm sure as the years go by we will find the perfect use.

So here is Michael working hard, and the next post will be after pictures and my review. I promise. I am having difficulty adding them to this post for some reason.

Monday, January 3

Home Reserve (Part 1)

We have a slightly smallish living room, and up to this point we'd furnished it with a long green couch and a short brown loveseat with a rocker off to the side, plus a self-crafted ottoman that will never win any prizes for beauty. We would switch up the layout here and there but something is always a little off.

We had shopped for couches and sectionals at furniture stores in the area, but the stuff that was available made us cringe. The quality in our price range was pretty bad, the comfort level was bad, and the look? EW. I have a thing against microfiber. Even if we went up a couple notches in the "how much money to pay for a couch without cringing" scale, it wasn't much better. We just wanted a sleek, shortish, non-overstuffed and easy-clean couch in a neutral color. And we didn't want to have to save for 35 years to get it.

"Craigslist!" is what you are all shouting, right? Well, let me tell you about Craigslist around here. Selling, we have great success. Buying, not so much. People want hundreds of dollars for a "Real Nice Couch" which turns out to be an orange and olive floral beauty with "pet stains". Thrift stores are not much better for furniture around here. I'm not sure where all the good used furniture goes.

So awhile back, I asked if any of you had any experience with Home Reserve and no one really had. So Michael and I were still doing the routine of adding a bunch of pieces to our shopping cart, agonizing over the whole thing, and canceling out of the shopping page. We're indecisive like that.

Then we put our big couch on Craigslist, deciding that if it sold, we'd put that money toward the purchase of some pieces from Home Reserve. Guess what? It sold, immediately. So after much speculation, Michael came up with the great plan to purchase a left arm sectional piece, a right arm sectional piece and an ottoman. That way we'd have a loveseat and ottoman now, and if we liked it, we could fill in the middle sections (a corner and two armless chairs) to make a sectional later. Michael is brilliant, I tell you.

And I have already written too long. More later!