Saturday, June 25, 2011

In One Year

Today, our baby is three months old!  I was thinking about how different life is now from one year ago.  Thanks to the lovely digital camera, it is so fun to look back over the year that brought us to this day!  Here's to the memories of a year that brought news of a new baby!

Last summer, our first baby turned 3!  We were busy with birthdays and summer fun.


The hot weather days filled our summer, and then we learned that baby number two was on the way!  It wasn't long after that school began again and life settled into a new routine.  The days grew a bit shorter and cooler.  We took a little trip to the mountains to enjoy the fall colors. I remember feeling the baby move for the first time on this trip.


It wasn't long after this, that we welcomed a sweet, little girl into our lives.  My brother and his wife had their first baby, Bailey.  She stole all of our hearts with her chubby cheeks and dark hair!

 The days kept passing, and soon it was time for costumes and candy!
We had so much fun trick or treating with our little lion.  I remember that night realizing that normal clothes were nearly a thing of the past.  I was still in my jeans, but they were being held together by a rubber band, and walking the neighborhood was quite the task! 

The days got really full.  It was nearing the holiday season.  This is when the crazy comes in for me.  Preparing for the school programs and getting ready to celebrate with my family. Many afternoons and evenings were spent at mom's recouping from the hectic days.  This particular day we were enjoying popcorn and taking it easy!


Before we knew it, Christmas decorations started making their appearance.  Holiday songs and twinkle lights were all around.  I remember bundling up my little man for his morning with Grandad and the Christmas parade. Oh- and we found out that another little boy would be joining our family!

It was time for programs.  Nearly six months pregnant, 300 children, and one helper to decorate made for a whirlwind couple of days.  I had 3 different programs and seemingly gazillions of bear masks. My elementary bear program made for some super cute photos.  Somehow, I manged not get any pictures of the middle school program.  The kids worked hard and did great. My little fella was sick as could be ...and he stood by my side the entire day. 


Soon after, we celebrated Christmas.  It was a sweet time for our little family.  We even got snow shortly after the holidays!
Birthday time again....for me.  Turning 31 and a little after school birthday surprise from my mom.  We had chocolate cake and presents.  It was so sweet!
Would you be my Valentine?
And baby just keeps growing....
Just about time!  Let's have a shower!
A couple weeks later, I was directing Spring programs hoping I wouldn't go into labor.  I managed to get through those, and days later we were at the hospital. 
A long day of induction without pain meds.  Ten hours of waiting and laboring...and waiting and laboring.  After a serious discussion from my doctor, we tried the epidural to see if it would let my body get the job done rather than the C section that was threatening.  It did the trick to kick things into high gear, but baby was too far in the birth canal to relieve pain.  Twelve total hours of labor, and 8 minutes of pushing....and Lincoln met the world!
One happy momma....


 One beautiful boy...


In one year, life changed forever.


I can only imagine the years to come. Happy three months little man. 
~ B Charmer~


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Blue Eyes


My little boy is growing too quickly. We recently cut his curls to accommodate the soaring Carolina temperatures. He looks so very different and grown up. He is a bundle of energy and always full of surprises. He recently finished his first T Ball season, and he officially has two little sweethearts as a result. He even asked one to hold his hand while he played second base. Somehow he was able to play ball and be Romeo at the same time. What will I ever do? These blues eyes have persuasive powers...
~ B Charmer


Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Love Story

I want to tell you a story of something special in my kitchen.  The story takes you all the way around the world to Russia and several years back in time....it is a story about napkins...sort of...

I was twenty and in my junior year of Bible College.  I was madly in love with two things. The first was a blonde headed boy from Alabama, and the second was blazing the trail in the world of foreign missions.  I had applied for a program through my school to spend my summer abroad as a missionary apprentice.   I was in the thick of my studies as a missionary degree candidate and had already spent time overseas.  When I applied, I had no idea where or what I might be chosen to do, or if I would even be chosen. 

I still remember the day the list was posted on the door in the Academic building.  There was my name next to the country of Russia.  I was sort of in shock.  The rest of the students were headed to lovely European or Asian cities.  I was headed to a very distant city that very few Americans had ever been to...period.  I was in LOVE with the idea!  What an adventure it would be.  Just me and another girl from school would make the journey and spend the entire summer season in Russia. 

My time there was spent working in a very remote camp setting every other week and in a city the opposite weeks.  In addition to my activities there, I was also working on my studies.  It was a full summer. My heart was being stretched in ways that I never thought possible. 

I quickly learned that women did not carry near the status that they did in the United States.  This was difficult to me.  I have never imagined myself a feminist in any way, but I was taken back a bit by the view of women in this culture.  You would have thought I was starting a revolution when I dared to take the row boat out myself on the lake one afternoon.  I needed a little change in scenery, so I asked my program partner to join me.  I went to the boat, got the oars, and proceeded to enter the water.  Oh my, it was an act of congress convincing the fellows that I was capable of rowing a boat.  I was sort of glad for the language barrier and I took off in spite of the obvious displeasure at the shoreline. 

That whole summer, I was faced with small instances where the internal question of submission kept repeating itself.  Could I be submissive?  Would I be submissive...even when it seemed ridiculous?  Could I really love people like I thought I could?  Could I love a people that seemed to have such low regard for women?  Could I be a missionary in such a setting, and if I couldn't then what in the world was I doing studying this in school period? 

At the end of my time there, I got to take a trip.  I was supposed to be traveling by train to Moscow with my partner and the missionary couple that were hosting us.  However, the missionaries were unable to travel due to some medical issue that arose suddenly.  My partner and I decided to take the journey anyway and we purchased the train tickets.

We spent two days traveling by rail non-stop.  It was a thousand-mile journey through Russian countryside.  The train car was tiny and very dated, but it was the ride of a lifetime.  When we arrived, we were overwhelmed by the vast amount of people and busyness in this enormous train station.  Finding our way and our guide was quite the obstacle. 

We had a guide for a few small hours, then we were left to visit the city on our own.  We spent most of our time trying to figure out where we were and how to get to our hotel!  We saw may sites and places but we had not found any place to shop for gifts to remember our time there.  Through an act of Divine Providence we were directed to an open-air market at the very tail-end of our journey. 

I can still remember the smells and the sounds. I was overwhelmed by the goods and the vendors.  I wanted to pick things that would means something to others and myself.  No magnets or thimbles would do...I wanted something that I would treasure for a lifetime. 

I rounded a corner, and I saw two women selling handmade items.  They had the most beautiful table linens.  They looked like the typical peasant Russian women.  While sitting in their booth, they were busy sewing.  I was struck.  I had to have something from them.  They represented something to me that day.  These women were using the fruit of their hands to make a living for their families.  They were in a smelly market full of bugs and unpleasant things, yet they seemed to be in their own world.  They were happy sewing away beautiful items.  I loved them and their smiles.  My heart softened and I knew that loving people meant something so much deeper than I ever imagined. It meant love had to be without condition...period. It meant finding contentment in wherever God placed me. 

I bought napkins.  They were perfectly pressed and tucked into a plastic bag.  They were lovely and I knew I would treasure them always.  They were my prized possession from Russia.  I had hopes of one day setting a large family table with them and telling their story for years to come.  However, they would teach me lessons years and years over.

When I left Russia, I knew my life had changed.  It wasn't long and school ended and I moved.  I found myself in a new place and without my boy from Alabama.  Homesick and heartbroken, I toted my lovely napkins with me during each move.  I entered a season of life that was difficult for me to understand.  I wasn't blazing any trails on the mission field, and I didn't know if I would ever find love again.  My situation was a result of choices made solely by me.  Decisions that were so hard to make, but seemed to be impressed upon me from my Maker.  My napkins stayed tucked away.  This wasn't how I envisioned my life. 

Time marched on, I married a sweet man, and we began a life together.  Still, I kept waiting for the day when I would be sent around the world to do something "great".  I kept the napkins safely in their package...hid in a cabinet never...ever...used.

I found these napkins some months ago.  At first they brought a bit of sadness...a reminder of dreams unfulfilled. Then, I remembered that moment I saw them in the market.  I could see those ladies faces and I recalled the lesson I learned that day.  True love has no conditions.  Loving God cannot have conditions just as loving others cannot.  The place in where I am should matter little in how I am spending my life.  I cannot wait for life to present perfect opportunities. 

The napkins are not stored away any longer.  They are ready for use on my kitchen shelf.  They were not made to be hidden away in some dark cabinet.  They are to be a part of lovely meals with others.  As I was placing them on the shelf, I felt a twinge in my heart.  The still, small voice of my Savior reminded me that my calling in life would never be wasted as long as I was loving others, for that is all that ever matters. 


If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.  If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud  or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.  1 Cor 13:1-7 NLT




Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ahh...Wow!

I recently wrote a post about "Good Things" in the middle of the night.  Today, I should write about Great Things!  I am bubbling over today. 

~Do you know that my baby has slept 9 hours a night EVERY night since we got past the breast milk issue?  He is so sweet and precious and goes to bed like a champ!  This is a GREAT thing!  I am so not used to this because his older brother still has sleep issues.  Getting good sleep is priceless for me and my whole family! 

~Another great thing...he is taking off-the-shelf formula like a pro!  I was worried that we would have issues finding a formula for him since he seemed to struggle with my milk, but no such worrying was necessary!  He is happy and putting on some chub!!  The doctor is thrilled with his progress!

~The tree is off the house!  Insurance is replacing our whole roof and the garage roof...which totally surprises me!  Our house has all the struggles that any old house has.  Just think 110 year old home...all the roofs it has ever had...and you get the picture of what we are dealing with.  Not only that, but they are going to replace the original wood shake shingles with new plywood.  So the whole top of our house is coming off!  We are talking major buckaroos...but our insurance is taking care of it.  I really had a peace about it from the get-go, but I had moments where fear crept in.  I knew we could never afford to do the roof our self.  I knew that the work that had to be done would go far beyond the work we are capable of doing.  When I was tempted to really worry, I gave it over to God and told Him to figure it out!  Boy...He sure did figure it out!  I was thinking about the song "Blessings"....the line that says "what if our blessings come through raindrops".  Well, this blessing came through rain and hail--literally!

~Friendship is sweet.  It has taken awhile, but God has sent some really sweet ladies my way.  They have rallied around me when I needed help with Lincoln.  I have piles of things loaned to me, formula coupons, and most recently a baby swing!  I am so thankful for this GREAT thing in my life. 

~Home.  It has been a journey making our town feel like home.  Lately, I have had such a sweet feeling as I go about daily life here.  It was so nice Saturday to take the boys to the park in the center of town for a movie under the stars.  Looking around the crowd and knowing people felt so nice.  Realizing how blessed we are to live here and be able to enjoy all our little city has to offer.  Things like walking to the open air market and knowing our Mayor.  Being able to enjoy Saturday summer nights watching family films outdoors and annual Blue Grass Festivals.  It is a sweet, little town. 

Wow..those are some GREAT things!  I wonder how many times I have looked at my circumstances and not seen clearly the blessings that were hiding behind the obvious.  May my eyes be ever open to see all the Great Things around me.  May my heart be tender towards others so that I can be a blessing to someone else like so many have been to me....

Ahh...wow...good day~

B Charmer 


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Survival Skills Revisited

I wrote this post some time ago...way before baby number 2...so I pulled it back out and tweaked it just a bit to fit the present day. 


The essentials necessary to survive the daily doings of motherhood!

1. A very user-friendly coffee pot~ one that can be operated with eyes mostly shut while a child is sitting on your foot and one is in your arms. This piece of equipment should not be hard to clean or maintain, and it should be ready for repeat performances throughout the day.

2. Flintstones Vitamins~ all the goods in a cute little character...and you can share with the child on your foot.

3. Magic Mascara that has the ability to hide the immense lack of sleep that you thought would end with infancy...This mascara has to be thick, smudge proof, and water-resistant. The thicker the mascara, the more it supports the eyelids...tooth pics are a little painful, and have no beauty additives.

4. Wonder Robe. This robe should be wearable in all seasons, at all times, and all occasions. It serves as an apron, a blanket, a bath towel, but mostly a reminder to shop for real clothes someday.

5.Lastly, but not leastly, a great husband. He must be patient and kind, love wonder robes and smeared mascara. He must know how to operate the coffee pot as well, even though he rarely drinks coffee. He must have the ability to step in a perform all duties while mom is out cold on the couch or soaking in the bath. He has to be able to see the beauty in the frazzled look and provide sweet, reassuring kisses that you are doing OK at this motherhood thing.

Here's to motherhood~ the good ~the bad~ and the crazy!

~B Charmer


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Wouldn't It Be Nice?

I haven't done a post like this for awhile...


Things I would love to add to my living room...(All items can be found at Ikea.com)

I would love to have this sofa...in white.  However, I know that it would be INSANE to even contemplate with a house full of boys, even with the washable cover!

I would also like to put this shelf in.  I have some coordinating shelves already, and would love to flank my fireplace wall with this one.
I would add some baskets, boxes, and lighting to it.  It would house more books, kids toys for playing with in the living room, and my office files.

I love white things, but I love them because they showcase other colors so well.  I would add these textiles to my room, as well.









Some nice, new art...
Some fun decor...


Wouldn't it be nice.....

~ B Charmer



Friday, June 10, 2011

My Favorite Recipe...Cafe Con Leche

I doubt it is a secret that I enjoy coffee.  I want to share with you my favorite way to enjoy this hot cup of yumminess...

This method of coffee-making is derived from the time my parents lived in Spain.  Therefore, we lovingly call it, Spanish Coffee.  It may not replicate this country's exact version, but it is what we (my family) have created to match closely. 
 
Stove Top Espresso Maker and Milk Frother


In order to experience this lovely treat, it is imperative to have an espresso maker.  We use a simple stove-top espresso maker that can be purchased at any store selling kitchen products.  You must also have a milk frother or whipper.  If you are close to an Ikea...they sell them for next to nothing in enormous quantities!  I would however make this one recommendation.  If you want to make stove-top espressos often, spend the little bit extra on a stainless steel maker.  It is only a few dollars more, but the taste is so much better than the cheaper models.  Also, the cheaper makers pit and stain quite easily and have to be replaced often.  The stainless versions last and last and last!

One really important factor in having a tasty drink is the coffee that is used.  The optimal way for me to make this is with coffee from Spain.  I depleted my supply that was stashed away in my freezer long ago, and have had to resort to finding a suitable grocery-store replacement.  Currently the coffee of choice is Folgers Black Silk, or I have used a blend from my local coffee shop and grounded it into espresso myself.  I do not grind the Black Silk.  I use it as is. 

Follow the directions for the stove-top maker...which is super simple.  Add water and add coffee...turn on stove, wait till it brews...Wa La!  While it is brewing, which takes no more than five minutes, it is time to work on the milk. Now we are a bit indulgent in this area.  We do about 2/3cup of  milk and 1/3 cup of  half and half.  It makes for a nicer froth and richer taste.  Make sure you put this in a microwave safe container and that you give yourself plenty of room in your container to froth the milk.  In a good microwave, this only needs zapped for about 1 minute and 20 seconds.  Sometimes, a skin will form on top after microwaving.  Simply take a spoon and skim the surface to remove.  Just make sure you check before frothing because it will stick to the whipper and be difficult to remove.  When it is time to froth, mix until soft peaks form in the milk foam.  This should only take 30 seconds or so.  You are not trying to make butter....so don't froth forever!  You will find the milk will only froth so much.  Ideally, when you are done, it will appear as if you have almost doubled the amount of milk. 

Now, the fun part!  Pick your favorite cup.  I do not recommend a mug, because you will not be drinking a ton of this.  It is pretty strong and is more of a cup kind of drink.  Us gals prefer the pretty stuff...

The next step is all about preference.  Depending on your taste, pour as much or as little of the espresso into the cup.  I generally take a half cup.  Then, I pour the milk to fill and spoon the froth on top!  If you like things sweet, by all means, add some sugar.  I would add this before adding the milk.  I take mine without sugar but it is fine to sweeten.  If you want this to taste like a coffee-shop coffee, you could add flavored syrup or anything you would normally add to your drink of choice.  I take mine as is...no extras.  
Now, find a cozy seat!  It is time to enjoy. It really is quite simple and the taste is so good!  Once you have done it a time or two, the whole process takes five minutes.  Most of that time is spent waiting on the coffee to brew!  Oh and yes, it looks as good as it tastes!


I hope you enjoy this treat sometime! 
~B Charmer


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