The soundtrack of my childhood…

My dad and I dancing together at a wedding.

Whenever Jude hears a beat, he can’t help but start moving and grooving! It is the cutest thing to watch his head bobbing and arms swaying. Lately, I’ve been turning on some music just for the sake of taking 20 minutes and picking Jude up and dancing with him. He loves it.

I’m a quiet person, and you will have a hard time getting me out on a dance floor. But seeing Jude’s unabashed love for music brings me right back to my childhood. Awhile back, Derek and I watched all my old home videos, and there is tape after tape of my sister and me whirling around our living room and dancing, often joined by my dad.

Music is a huge part of my memories as a little girl. And not the cheesy “kid music” (although I’m sure we listened to some). No, what I remember is my dad’s sharing with us his love and taste in music, which we in turn grew to love as well. Every song holds a story and brings me back in time when I hear it.

Sunshine on my Shoulders reminds me of my dad at breakfast, making chocolate chip pancakes and singing his own words to the classic John Denver tune. “Oatmeal in my belly makes me happy, grapefruit in my eye makes me cry…”

Elton John comes on the radio and I’m a kid again, with sandy knees in the backseat of our van (you know, the dinosaur with curtains and a ladder on the back), windows down, driving home from a day at the lake, and my dad pumps the song up as loud as the speakers will handle.

After dinner, he would sometimes put on an Irish Jig (loudly again), and let us go wild when we were supposed to be clearing the table. In later years, we eventually had to stop because our dog would get so wound up, running around and barking at her family that had suddenly gone crazy.

A sure sign of spring is when my dad would hear the frogs singing, and would spot a red-winged blackbird. Then it was time to break out some Moody Blues to celebrate the season to brush away the cobwebs from our windows.

Then there was the just plain old fun and catchy song, Sunflower. It would get stuck in your head for days. My little brother enjoyed playing along to that one on his toy banjo, along with Rhinestone Cowboy.

Once, I was working on a school project about Van Gogh. My assignment was to write a letter to Van Gogh, and when I was telling my dad about it, he immediately unearthed a dusty cassette tape. He sat me down to listen to Vincent’s Song with him, and it captured my imagination.

Growing up, we loved to hate Van Morrison, but now I find myself enjoying the nostalgia of his unique sound and songwriting ability.

Sometimes I will be at the grocery store late at night and hear Marc Cohn’s voice come crooning over the speakers. We know all the words to Blue Suede Shoes and my dad would often describe someone as “a man with a plan and a pocket comb.”

The haunting beauty of uilleann pipes is breathtaking. Dad used to play Magh Seola, and it would make my stomach tie up in knots. Years later, I chose that song to walk down the aisle at my wedding.

He had a song for each of us that he would play over and over and dance with us when we were newborns struggling to go down for the night. Mine was The Last Waltz by Engelbert Humperdinck. Sing by the Carpenters for Allison. Elton John’s Daniel’s Song for Trevor, and Jesus King of Angels by Fernando Ortega for Evan.

Music is such a powerful emotional and bonding tool. It has the uncanny ability to bring you back in time in such a vivid way, and remind you of feelings that have been long forgotten. I’m thankful for the sweet memories with my dad and the unique soundtrack my childhood had.

Taking the time to share something you enjoy together with your child is a precious gift that communicates love and creates bonds that last a lifetime. It doesn’t have to be music–it could be anything at all. Showing enthusiasm over something you can love together is so meaningful. Even if it’s something you may not be interested in, but your child is, you may learn to love it too.

That’s my goal with these little dance parties with Jude. Someday he may not want to dance with his mom anymore, but I know from experience that those memories are never really forgotten.

Linking up at Casey Leigh. 

A birthday party for our little man

Okay, so I am finally getting around to posting some pictures from Jude’s first birthday party! Lets start it off with one of his adorable little gap tooth smile. IMG_0818

The decor colors were bright primary colors. A friend made this cute banner with her Cricut machine, using kraft paper and colored cardstock.
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Just so you know, I did not plan to match the high chair to the decorations! That was a happy accident. I bought a huge roll of kraft paper (at Home Depot for $10). It covered all the tables and I have a lot left over. I’m so glad I decided to go this route. The ease of just throwing it away afterwards was great, but it looks much better than plastic tablecloths in my opinion. I found the roll of happy birthday wrapping paper at Target and cut it into strips for table runners, to add color. The centerpieces are jars of crayons, tied with red ribbons. Simple, colorful, and fun. A spur of the moment purchase was the tissue paper circle confetti and I LOVE the way it looked, especially against the kraft paper. IMG_0774 IMG_0775

The menu was baked potatoes and chili with all the toppings, and salad. It was great for a crowd, filling, and yummy. My sister baked all these yummy cupcakes. We set them all out in holders, and just wrapped an empty box with kraft paper to serve as a “cake pedestal.” IMG_0783

Drinks station. Our church bought a collection of old shutters last summer and they have come in handy with many decorating scenarios! I love how bright and colorful the kraft paper and streamers look, and it was affordable and pretty easy. IMG_0779 IMG_0996 Got some chalkboard inspiration and drew this up last minute, with Jude asleep on my back in the Ergo. Please tell me you get the if you “mustache’”thing…all the boys were like “whaa? a mustache?”

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Grandma Deanna and the birthday boy :)IMG_0984 IMG_0998

This pinwheel was in one of his gifts. He immediately grabbed it and was fascinated! For some reason, he always tries to touch spinning things with his nose. IMG_0826

He was getting pretty tired, and there were a lot of people, so he was a little mad about me putting him in the high chair for cake. You can kind of see how his eyes are red from crying. IMG_0858 IMG_0859

He wasn’t too sure about this cake thing…he poked at it and ate maybe a bite, but wasn’t too excited. Oh well, give it another year and I’m sure he’ll be into it!IMG_0862

Another little “J” man getting baby snuggles from his mama and my sister-in-law. IMG_0895 IMG_0959

He was very interested in trying out his new toys, and so were his friends! This elephant toy is a favorite right now. IMG_0934

Taking it all in…he didn’t know what to play with first!IMG_0948

Love this picture…as always, I got busy and didn’t end up getting pictures of Jude with many of his guests, unfortunately, but I’m thankful for these pictures with my parents! We had a great time with all of our family and friends celebrating Jude’s first year! IMG_1025 (1) IMG_1030Thanks to my father-in-law for taking all the pictures!

Spicy Sesame Noodles

IMG_1221This is a meal that I make when I’m running behind and need something super easy. The great thing is that is uses mostly pantry items or things we often have on hand. You can eat it right away, but I think the leftovers are even better, especially cold. I may or may not have had a bowl for breakfast before! If you have leftover shredded chicken that makes a great addition.

Spicy Thai Noodles

1/2 pound spaghetti
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha
1 tablespoon rice vinegar (or lime juice)
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons peanut butter
Chopped green onions, shredded carrots, chopped peanuts, chopped cilantro for toppings

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the spaghetti according to package directions. Heat oil, sriracha, vinegar, honey, soy sauce, and peanut butter in a small saucepan, whisking until smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste. Drain the noodles and return them to the pot or to a large bowl. Toss the noodles with the oil mixture and tops with green onions, carrots, peanut and cilantro. Can be served warm, room temperature, or cold.

Joining in the Capture Your Journey Link-Up, Raising Homemaker’s Link-Up and Growing Homemaker’s Link-Up

This Week’s Miscellany: Vol. 3

This week’s update is all about cars…on Wednesday, Derek left for work in our “ghetto car.” It’s been a blessing and kept us going down the road, but it’s not anything pretty to look at.

Well, as he got on the expressway, the hood flew up and smashed into the windshield, cracking it very badly. Thankfully, he was able to keep control and get off the highway and home without incident. But obviously, it wasn’t drivable any more.

Our van has been sitting in our parking lot for a couple weeks with starter issues. We needed a working vehicle ASAP so Derek took the day off of work, and we got our van towed and repaired, with a lot of help from my mother-in-law. Thankfully, we had just gotten our tax return and the expense wasn’t as much as we thought it might be.

The car is now bungee-corded (is that a term?) and looking more worse for wear than ever, parked at my in-laws. And our van is back in business! I forgot how nice it is to have that van. It is so much easier to get Jude in and out, and has so much more room for all the stuff we bring around with us. It drives smoother and I feel extremely high off the ground compared to the car!

A successful target run! Gotta use up those Christmas gift cards.

In other news, Derek’s brother is getting married this May, and wedding plans are picking up speed. I’ve got a few projects on my plate that will probably make an appearance on the blog later on. It’s going to be pretty busy, but it is fun to get creative and exciting to celebrate such a long-awaited event! The wedding colors are navy, mint, blush and silver—I love it!

Our delicious Sunday dinner of guinness beef stew.

Derek joined a 24/7 gym just five minutes from our house. He’s been wanting to get fit and make healthier habits, and having invested money into a well-equipped, nice place to go has been great in motivating him. My brother is making workouts for him, and he’s planning on three workouts per week. He’s stuck with it and made it happen even with our crazy week and vehicle troubles!

a short, but much needed coffee and conversation date after a day of car troubles

I will admit to feeling entirely too cooped up in the apartment lately. Jude has been very clinging and it’s been difficult to get much of anything done, which is very overwhelming for me. Part of the problem is that Derek works second shift, and so our mornings are often just showering and getting lunch on the table. By then it’s time for him to leave for work. Which leaves me feeling like I hardly get a break or quality family time. But good news—it looks like he will be moving to first shift after about 5-6 weeks. Fingers crossed! He would have an early morning but be home at 4, which is amazing.

We had cabin fever so Jude tried out the indoor sandbox he got for his birthday. He was fascinated, and it surprisingly wasn’t very messy with a little supervision!

I’m writing this Saturday night at Tim Hortons, while Derek is out with a friend and Jude is hanging out with the grandparents. Blogging has become my alone-time to recharge, and it has been honestly so good for me. I’m already noticing more about our week with this regular miscellany feature, and I know I’ll be glad to look back and have things recorded about what our life is like, that I would never remember otherwise.

Weekend Links:

I took a Myer-Briggs type personality quiz and got ISFJ. I was really surprised at how accurate the description of my personality type was–this is me to a tee. Derek got ENFP, and that was pretty spot on as well.

This is the Bible Study that I am going to work my way through this month

This video was challenging and encouraging to me. It’s so easy to lose sight of the bottom line, but Kirk Cameron sums up the main goals in how to raise your kids in godliness.

This looks like a delicious and easy weeknight meal that needs to go on my menu soon.

Speaking of menu planning, check out this pretty printable!

This family has lost everything to black mold. Reading their story broke my heart. Their suffering is so acute but their hope in the Lord is so inspiring, reminding me of Job. Please remember them in your prayers.

A Bible Study in 1 John

Devotional time has always been a struggle for me because 1)  I can’t decide where to start and 2)  I want more than just a surface skimming, but don’t know how to break it down 3) I often let the busyness of life push the Source of Life to the bottom of my to-do list. And I rarely ever get to the bottom of my to-do list.

This year, I am determined  to learn to better meditate on Scripture, and to study it deeper. With a one-year old, it is a rare moment that I have to myself, so I don’t have time for elaborate studies.

Enter Pam Forster, one of the founders of Doorposts, a small business that creates great resources for Biblical training in the family. She is a seasoned mom who has raised six kids, and really knows how hard it is to prioritize Bible study as a mom of little ones.

She’s taken the guesswork and the intimidation out of devotional time with her series of Bible Studies for Busy, Busy Mamas. I have never actually been through one of her studies yet, but after looking it over, I think it’s a great place to start accomplishing my goal. I’m of course just going to stick with the mama’s part of the study, but there is suggestions in how to go through it with your children as well.

1 John is a book that I have started over and over and never really studied past the first chapter. In the month of March, Pam is going to lead us through the third chapter of 1 John with a daily blog post. I’m really looking forward to this, and am blogging about it to give me some extra accountability. Knowing that someone might be reading about how it went at the end of the month will hopefully help give me a little push when I’m tempted to fall behind. If anyone wants to join in and do the study as well, let me know! I’m sure it will be rewarding for more than just busy mamas!

This Week’s Miscellany Vol. 2

It’s been a long week.

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Monday, Jude and I woke up with a cold, so things have been fairly unproductive around here. Lots of naps, and sitting on the couch with Jude asleep on me while I fiddled around and redesigned the blog. Derek’s been working overtime a lot so it was long days just the two of us.

While I’ve gotten over it by now, Jude is still so congested and it’s no fun, poor guy. Sleeping is hard, with a lot of coughing. And he gags a lot and we have piles of laundry to do since he’s spit up on so many clothes. It’s been testing my patience and making me feel sorry for him at the same time. He’s been taking a hot shower with Daddy in the morning and absolutely loves it. The steam gives him some relief from congestion and relaxes him. It’s so cute to watch. Jude rests his head on Derek’s shoulder and lets the warm water run all over his back. He closes his eyes and goes “ahh…ahh…ahh” This morning he actually drifted off to sleep for a minute, and I startled him when I came back into the bathroom.

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enjoying a steamy sauna

I had a post about Jude’s birthday sitting half written on my laptop since Thursday night, but each time I sat down to write, within 5 minutes Jude would cough himself awake and start crying and want me to hold him. So my post about motherhood never got written, because I was too busy, well, being a mom. By now, the desire to finish has gotten overwhelmed with the business of being needed.

On Friday, we celebrated Jude’s birthday. We took him out for a short little lunch at Applebee’s down the road, and he flirted with the waitress and whenever anyone walked by he would reach out like he wanted them to pick him up. The staff sang to him and he just took it all in, staring at everyone with a stunned expression. I expected him to at least clap with everyone, but he was too busy thinking about what all these weird people were doing.

Reading a birthday card

Reading a birthday card

We spent our Saturday off together, lunching at Jimmy Johns, and having a good conversation about in-season tomatoes, marriage, and Roman Catholicism. It was a nice family date, and Jude did great until until he gagged on his snot and threw up everywhere. After we got him cleaned up, Derek waited in the parking lot to let him sleep in the carseat and I made a grocery run into Kroger. Our fridge/pantry has been desperately empty. I don’t think I’ve ever run out of onions before, but I did this week. My menu for three days consisted of soup for lunch and two soft boiled eggs for dinner. We are back in business now, stocked up with a chicken to roast, plenty of cilantro, and coffee. You know, the basics.

I’m worn out and a little emotionally drained. Finally sitting down and reflecting on the week for a few minutes alone has already recharged my batteries a bit. I’m looking forward to a fresh week, with new energy, and getting back into the swing of things. Time out of routine can be nice but it eventually makes me want to get up and do something!

Have a wonderful Lord’s Day tomorrow, friends.

Weekend Links:  

I teared up at this video, it was so beautiful and touching.

Have you ever complained that vegetables are bland and flavorless? Then this article is for you. One of our favorite meals is asparagus, sautéed with olive oil and garlic and red pepper flakes, tossed with pasta. Simple can sometimes be best.

I posted this on Facebook earlier. It’s about a counter-cultural attitude of respect towards men. Here’s a quote I love, love, love: “Often, people will say that a husband should only be respected if he “earns” it. This attitude is precisely the problem. A wife ought to respect her husband because he is her husband, just as he ought to love and honor her because she is his wife. Your husband might “deserve” it when you mock him, berate him, belittle him, and nag him, but you don’t marry someone in order to give them what they deserve. In marriage, you give them what you’ve promised them, even when they aren’t holding up their end of the bargain.”

This Modern Seinfeld twitter feed cracks me up! Kramer hosts a “non-recorded” podcast. K:”It’s just like a podcast, but no microphones.” J:”So a conversation?” K:”You don’t get it Jerry!” 

Speaking of birthdays, wouldn’t this be such a sweet little tradition to start?

Reflecting on Jude’s birth this week, the transition of becoming a new mom is fresh on my mind. Wondering what you can do for a new mom you know? This is a great list of suggestions.

I would like to sit here for a long time, in short sleeves, chatting with friends and eating massive amounts of this deliciousness. I’m so ready for warm weather and sunshine.

If this home and this home had a baby, I’m not quite sure what it would look like, but I think it’d be pretty darn near perfect.

A few changes around here…

Totally unrelated picture of Jude's adorable face.

Totally unrelated picture of Jude’s adorable face.

As you can tell, the blog got a little face lift! I was feeling the need for a simpler design and more whitespace. Maybe it goes hand in hand with feeling cooped up with this ever-accumulating snow, giving me the urge to purge and declutter everything.

I updated my about page as well, since it was written before Jude was born, over a year ago!

I also decided to make a Facebook page, to keep my personal account separate from the blog. You can like The Ervin Family on Facebook here.

Well, that’s enough work for one day! I’m brainstorming post ideas and hope to write more regularly around here so I thought a few changes were in order.