Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

And to all a good night!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Complaining about complaining

This probably won't be a very uplifting post.  It might sting a little.  But I'm not going to apologize for it.  I just feel very convicted about this!

I was cruising Facebook the other day.  Of course, at this time of year lots of people have LOTS of things to do.  There are parties to go to, things to bake, presents to buy, decorations to put up, etc.  It seemed like EVERYONE was complaining about all of this!  Ok, so I'm not going to minimize the stress of the holidays.  It can be a lot.  Especially if you have company coming in town.  But come on people.  Get a grip!

You are complaining about wrapping gifts?  You have gifts to wrap!
You are complaining about baking you have to do?  You have food to eat!
You are complaining about driving to relatives or them driving to you?  You have family!
You are complaining about decorating?  What is the point, if you can't enjoy it!
You are complaining about being stuck in traffic?  You have a car!

It's a good thing Christ didn't complain on the way to being born or on the way to the cross?  I mean, can you imagine.  "I'm sorry.  I just can't carry this burden for the whole world.  You all are just gonna have to be perfect to get to heaven."

Now, I don't want to sound like I don't ever complain.  Heck, I'm complaining in this post for goodness sake!  I've complained this week about the amount of laundry that I've had to do lately.  (And that's just for starters.)

But I'm challenging you to STOP yourself.  Be grateful!  Enjoy this time of year!

*stepping down from soapbox*

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Quick Kitchen/Cooking Tip

I bet lots of you are cooking more than you normally do!  I've had the baking bug lately.  It's helping me deal with stress!  And I have goodies to give out.  Of course with all this cooking, I'm using my slow cooker too!  Some of my slow cooker recipes are flops, but my husband really liked this next recipe.  I made the Breakfast Risotto from A Year of Slow Cooking.  I wasn't sure about it at first, but he really like it!  My daughter ate it, but my son didn't.  I really liked the idea of a breakfast slow cooker recipe because my husband gets up before me. This way I was getting him a hot breakfast on a cold morning WHILE I was still in bed.  YIPPEE!

Now, here is my clean-up tip.  Many times when using a slow cooker you get a rim of burnt food around the edges and sometimes on the bottom.  I didn't want to stand and scrub the pot so I filled it with water, added some soap, put it back in the cooker on high.  I let it 'cook' for an hour or so.  Then I turned it off and let it cool before rinsing it out in the sink. Washing it this way took no time and was so much easier than scrubbing it.

When you are cooking or baking a lot, do you have any tips to make things easier?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I'm dreaming of a frugal Christmas

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day about low or no cost Christmas presents for our children.  I know for many of us our Christmas budgets have been slashed.  Maybe you have had an employment change, unexpected medical bills, a car that needed emergency repairs. All of these things can really damage whatever money you might have saved for Christmas.  I challenge you to realize that this is an opportunity to make Christmas what you want it to be!  No more excess, no more credit card bill in January, and no more guilt!

I thought I'd share a couple super frugal and easy ideas for you.  This first idea is actually from one of the first craft blogs I ever read.  You can make your little girl some pretend make-up.  See the tutorial at Not So Idle Hands.  Do you remember the plastic make-up we had years ago?  It was fake and therefor didn't break out skin, stain clothes, or get everywhere!  I actually did this for my little girl several months ago.  You use nail polish and old make-up containers.  There are two things I changed from the tutorial. First, I did not find it necessary to fill up the container.  Now, it does shrink, but I was fine if it wasn't flush with the top.  It smells, but DO NOT close the lid to contain the smell.  it will chemically burn the plastic lid.  Yuck!  But once it dries the smell goes away.

This second idea came from a rainy day activity at home.  We made Laminated Masks.  I was looking for a Batman picture for my son to color.  I stumbled across a Batman mask.  I printed it out and he colored it in.  Then I laminated it.  I do not have a laminating machine but you can use an iron instead.  This ehow tutorial shows you how to do it.  I used a manila office folder as the pouch.  You can get the laminating plastic at an office store but ebay is a much cheaper alternative.  I bought a huge lot of several sizes for less than $10.00.  Then I punched holes in the sides and threaded elastic through it.  Instant mask.  For Christmas I printed out animal faces, circus masks, Spiderman, etc.  I colored them in myself but you could make these up as mask kits for the kiddos!  I can't wait to see what they think of them!

I'd love to hear your super FRUGAL ideas!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Thankful Blues

I know this time of year can be a sad one for many people.  Maybe you have lost someone in the past year and are starting a series of firsts without them.  Maybe you didn't have great and happy childhood memories at the holidays.  Maybe life is and will be  just plain hard right now, economically, spiritually, or relationally.

I'm having one of those 'hard day'.  A blue day, if you will.  Now, I could list the 10 reasons why I'm 'blue' but I don't think that would do anyone any good.  So I decided to sit down and come up with 10 things I am thankful for.  Maybe by the end of the list, I'll be less blue.

1. My grandmother's gingersnap cookie recipe.  I have it on a 3 x 5 card in her handwriting and her vague directions (moderate over, 3-4 cups flour).  I love these cookies and they make the house smell grand!

2. My son's ability to be away from me.  He's driving with my parents to his great uncles today.  He's so excited!  Isn't missing me a bit!  I'm glad the kiddo has some wings and will be making great memories.

3. My country.  No matter what side of the political aisle you sit on, the United States is a great country!  I love the freedom we have and that we have men and women that willingly sign up to protect this great land!

4. PBS.  You know, my kids just love all the shows.  I'm glad to know there is something commercial free out there that helps them learn!  Mr. Roger's was the turtles favorite.  The monkey is watching (interestingly enough) Curious George.

5. My health.  After my recent scare, I'm blessed to be in good health!

6. My van.  Yes, it's 7 years old.  But I just feel grateful for having transportation, especially on a rainy evening.

7.  My church.  We've been going there for almost 11 years.  There is so much growth going on there that you can't stand still in your faith.

8.  My husband.  I love that we can talk about anything.  I love that he knows my friends and cares about them.  I am thankful that we have learned how to hang on in the tough times so that we can enjoy the good ones (which show up in the tough times too!)

9.  My daughter.  She really is a little monkey and just amazes me.  She is extraordinary to me!  She's a good little helper and loves everyone she meets!

10.  My God.  That even on days like today, when I feel blue, he's still here with me.  Every step of the way.

Ok, I feel better now!

Friday, November 19, 2010

There are only 3 possibilities

Some of my facebook friends (and real life ones) know part of this story.  Two weeks ago, I had one of those really tiring Mondays.  I was just plain beat.  I had no real reason to be tired (other than being a full time wife, mother, daughter, and friend).  The next day I felt fine.  On Wednesday night I started having eye pain and double vision.  I went to the eye doctor on Thursday.  He wouldn't let me leave until he found a specialist that would see me THAT DAY.  A neuro-opthomologist.  I didn't even know there was such a thing.  An hour later I was in this new doctor's office going through an intensive eye exam.  The second one of the day.  This doctor, in his oh-so-lacking bedside manner says, "Worst case scenario, you have an aneurysm."

I looked at him and said, "Hmmh, really?"  I'm not sure I can explain my reaction other than God was giving me peace.  The doctor went on to explain that I may also have inflammation of the eye muscles in my eye because of whatever infection I had on Monday that had me feeling poorly.  We decided to wait a day on the MRI because I didn't have many aneurysm symptoms.  He did give me his cell number and I left with a Rx for a strong anti-inflammatory drug and an appointment for the next day.

That night as I tucked my children in bed and kissed my husband goodnight, I knew that there were 3 possibilities for me.  (These are from Beth Moore's Daniel Bible Study.)
1. God would deliver me from this tragedy.
2. God would deliver me through this tragedy.
3. God would deliver me straight into Jesus's arms.

And I really was ok with any of those options.  My husband and I prayed (with tears running down our faces) and I went to sleep.  I know it was the peace of God that surpasses all understanding that let me sleep that night.  It was that same peace that helped me lie in bed the next morning praying for my sweet friend who was in surgery.  And it is that peace that I want to live the rest of my days with!

P.S.  My eye is MUCH better and the doctor feels like this is a one time occurance.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


I always have a growing list of projects that I would like to try.  There are such amazing bloggers out there who take WONDERFUL pictures and tutorials.  I thought I'd show you a list of things I'd like to tackle, soon!

1. Mobile Ironing Board - I am blessed enough to have my own craft room.  Of course with two little ones, I can go weeks without entering the room.  Of course since the ironing board is in that room, that should tell you how much laundry I do!  But this ironing board is so neat!  Since I'm reworking my craft room so it has more sewing space, this would be perfect!

2. Child's Apron  I can't seem to get the picture to link over but this is the cutest little apron and tutorial.  It's called a Montessori Apron because it is designed for the child to be able to put on THEMSELVES!  Brillant!

3.  Pillowcases for Charity  I love this idea!  It's a tutorial and information on an organization that gives fun pillowcases to sick children in hospitals.  If you ever wanted to try sewing, this would be a great project!

4. Zig Zag Fabric Boxes  These little fabric boxes are just neat.  It's amazing that they are sewn together this way.  I love any type of container and I think this would be a fun storage option.

5. Sewing table  And of course I'm going to need a new piece of furniture to add to my office/craft/sewing machine.  If you have ever looked at the specialty sewing furniture you know it is expensive!  Something like this plan would cost at least $600!  I will use it mostly for a cutting table and for a place to put that cute portable ironing board above.
Do you have any projects that you want to tackle of the web?  I'd love to see them!  Link away!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The never ending squirrel saga

Tonight after a full day of Halloween activities I was attacked in my own home by HAMMY!  Yes, you read that right, 3 days after we thought the thing was gone it was still in my house!  I was putting up a bag when it tried to attack me.  It didn't break any skin, probably because it was so dehydrated.  I SCREAMED (again) and grabbed the kids and ran out of the house.  I was on the phone with my mom and I think she thought we had an intruder because I was screaming and crying.  So then my daughter was screaming and crying.  My son was laughing.  I told her to send my dad over NOW!  My husband puts on a football helmet, grabs a tennis racket, and a broom and goes to find it.  It was still in the same place.  He and dad got it in a bucket and took it outside.  These are officially my least favorite animal that God created.  I mean really.  They are just rats that live in trees.  The sad thing is that we brought my parents' springer spaniel over to sniff around to see if he could find it the other day.  Useless dog.  My dad wants to know when I'll stop calling my 75 year old father to help with these things.  Um, when he is dead.

I have nothing 'spiritual' to add to this.  The end.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Do not grow weary

Well, I did it!  I ran my first 5K in 13 years.  Back in 1997 I ran one when I lived in Memphis.  I don't remember my time, but my goal for that was to run the whole way.  I had trained some, but not consistently.  This time, I had trained.  I could have used about another 4 weeks but I ran out of time.  My longest run before the race was 2 1/2 miles with an 11:30 minute mile pace.  My goal this time was to beat my age in time (36 1/2).  At one point I thought I might puke.  I thought, there is no way I will beat my age.  I did!  I don't have my official time but I think I came in around 34 minutes!  I got to tell you though, I deserve NO praise for this one.  I had such a great cheering squad.  You can see them below:

The handsome guy is my husband and he has his arm around my gorgeous friend 'T'.  I'm in the black jacket and the young girl is my friend T's daughter, 'S'.  S was my inspiration for starting this whole race.  She started running this summer with her mom.  Neither T or S were runners.  Not even close.  They weren't even walkers!  ;)  My husband has been running for 2 years and I kept thinking that all the people in my life were going to be runners but me!  So I started.  Slowly.  Very slowly.  At first I felt like I was going to have to walk the whole race.  And these races aren't cheap.  I wanted it to count.

That's actually become a motto of mine.  I want my life to count!  I want to be like Isaiah 40:31:
"but those who hope in the LORD 
will renew their strength. 
They will soar on wings like eagles; 
they will run and not grow weary, 
they will walk and not be faint."

At mile 2 1/2 I was feeling pretty faint and definitely weary.  I remember praying, "God if I get through this, it's all because of you."  I just didn't have it in me.  At all!  Oh, how that's true about so many things.  We try to do something all on our own.  If we would just realize early on, at the starting line, that our God is there to help us, and even carry us, then the race would be so much easier!  Run on my friends!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

There's a Snake in my Boot!

If you've seen the "Toy Story" movies, then you are most likely familiar with the phrase "There's a snake in my boot."  We have the little Woody toy where you pull the string and he says about 5 different things, this being one of them.  That phrase has been in my head this entire day because of what I ended up posting on facebook:
"There's a squirrel in my kitchen!"  Yes, seriously.  There was a squirrel in my kitchen this morning!

When I posted it, I didn't think people would take me seriously.  But they did!  People offered traps, pellet guns, a house to stay at, and other amusing wildlife stories.  Now, I am not an especially 'prissy girl'.  I've been known to get under a car and try to figure out what that noise is.  I've hung half way out a window while painting it.  I'll take a plunger to a majorly stopped up toilet in a heartbeat.  But this morning, as I ran down the stairs in my robe to put my daughter's leotard in the dryer, I became a prissy and sissy little girl.  I rounded the corner in the kitchen to get to the laundry room and right in the middle of my kitchen floor is this squirrel.  I screamed.  No I didn't scream, I SCREAMED.  Turned around and ran back up the stairs.  The squirrel's reaction was just as bad.  You know the squirrel Hammy from the movie "Over the Hedge"?  There is a reason that they created him so crazy.  My kitchen squirrel was JUST like that.  He was flying all over the place.  So what does any self-respecting stay at home mom do?  Call her daddy!  Of course, he took a good 10 minutes to come over.  Then we couldn't find the little bugger.

While I waited for my dad to go get his two have-a-heart traps, I was doing the laundry.  Very gingerly, in case Hammy decided to make an appearance.  As I open up the dryer a brown shoe falls out.  A toddler's brown shoe looks a lot like a squirrel.  Yep, I screamed.  So dad comes over to set the traps.  As we are walking back out, he says, "There it is!"  Yep, I SCREAMED again!  Of course, dad was just giving me a hard time.  I wanted to hit him!  I think my heart really skipped a beat or three.  The best part was hearing how hard my dad laughed at me being scarred.  I've never heard him laugh that hard!

You know, this hasn't been the best day.  It really hasn't been the worst either.  I do know it's the day the Lord has made and I'm going to rejoice.  Or at least have a good laugh.  Oh, and by the way.  I still think the squirrel is in the house.  I'll keep you updated!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Vomit Comet

Did my title catch your attention?  I'll try not to be too graphic.  If you are a mom, then this will not phase you.  If you are a dad, this will not phase you.  If you are not a parent, you may want to read with caution.  I have trained my son well.  If he wakes up in the middle of the night, he knows to go to his dad's side of the bed.  Lest you think poorly of me, my daughter comes to my side of the bed.  Sometimes I hear my son come in, but most of the time I don't.  EXCEPT when you here these words "I've got diarrhea!"  Straight up out of the bed I hop and usher him to his bathroom.  It's there that I realize, he had vomited, not had diarrhea.   What a relief right?  (If you aren't a parent, then you are thinking, 'how is that a relief?')  That day had been my son's 7th birthday party.  I think he had a little too much chocolate and excitement.  When you have kids, you just have to deal with the bodily fluids.  It's a fact.  How you deal, is another story.

In Beth Moore's "Daniel" bible study she says she would wake her girls up in the morning by saying "This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!"  Now, I'm not a morning person, so I don't see myself doing that.  But what I DID find myself doing while I was starting at "The Vomit Comet" was singing.  I started singing, "This is the day, this is the day, that the Lord has made, that the Lord has made.  I will rejoice, I will rejoice, and be glad in it, and be glad in it!"  My husband is laughing at me and I start smiling.  I mean really.  It is kind of funny that this party that my son planned for a year ended with a 3am linen change and shower.  As I'm remaking his bed I start praying, "Thank you that my son has a second set of clean sheets, thank you that he has a bed to sleep in, thank you that he woke us up!"  By this point, I'm not mad, I'm not frustrated, I'm joyful!

Praise God that I did this one right (I do so many wrong).  Is there a situation that you can praise Him for bringing into your life right now?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Don't be scared

Six weeks ago, God decided to get rid of every excuse I had to NOT do a Beth Moore Bible study.  I had no choice.  Several friends signed me up before I could have time to say no.  I'm glad they did.  Although it wasn't easy to start because I had to watch the first video (to catch up) by myself.  I sat before my computer thinking of 12 reasons why I could not do the study.  I wasn't smart enough to do it.  I wasn't going to have the time.  I mean, Beth gives you HOMEWORK!  I haven't done homework in 14 years.  The house wasn't quiet enough.  The house was too quiet.  I was scared.  I mean you HEAR about Beth Moore Bible studies.  You hear how great they are.  How meaningful they can be.  You hear about how much time they take.  But I was scared.  I know that fear came from the enemy himself.  Satan wants to come and steal ANYTHING joyous from us.  He doesn't want us to know the truth.  I had to pray a lot that first video to get through it.  It wasn't hard.  I just had Satan on my shoulder whispering that I couldn't do it.  I did get through it.  At the other side of the first week, I remember thinking that Satan really did lie.  It wasn't an easy study but it wasn't that hard.  I got through the first week.  Now I'm in week 6 of 'Daniel'.  It is changing my life!

Now, do you let excuses keep you from what God can do in your life if you just do it?  Well, no excuses, there is a free, yes I said FREE, Beth Moore simulcast download on "Jeremiah: Eat, Pray, Love".
I'm not sure how long it will be up there as a free download, so go get it!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

It is finished...

I think I know how Michael Angelo felt when he finished the Sistine Chapel.  I have FINISHED the 15 windows!  Oh my word!  I can't believe I just got to type that.  It seemed at the beginning of the project that we would NEVER finish!  (I'll stop using exclamation points now, but just know that I am screaming happy inside.)  We did stumble onto one really rotten window.  We thought it would have to be replaced at the lovely cost of $2,000 (it's a fancy type window).  We found someone to fix it instead, so technically I only painted 14 windows.  It took us almost 2 months to do.  Of course, we could only work on the weekends because we needed the kiddos to be busy.  We saved (not counting the cost of a new window) about $800.  I did not factor in Saturday and Sunday night meals eaten out because we were too tired to cook and clean up.  I figured that counted as family time together since the children were ignored.  

I learned a lot through the process.  I'm a pretty handy person and can fix a lot of things.  In almost every project, I learn something new.  It's how I really started with all of this home fix-it stuff.  In my first condo I tried to fix the bathroom faucet.  I ended up breaking it.  Then I got to learn how to install a brand new bathroom faucet.  So, what was a yucky situation, became the start of a home repair adventure.  

The best thing I learned is that large tasks that seem overwhelming truly can be conquered when broken down into smaller ones.  I could have NEVER gotten all 15 windows done in one weekend.  Or one week for that matter.  I learned that painting two windows in a weekend was very doable.  It didn't take our entire weekend.  It did take effort and planning.  And good weather.  Some things were in our control.  Other things were not.  We just had to keep plugging along at it.  Run if you will.  Isaiah 40:31 (NIV) says, "but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

That's what we had to do to finish this.  It's what we have to do with anything in life.  Marital problems?  Run and do not grow weary.  Discipline issues with your kids?  Run and do not grow weary.  The Lord will renew your strength.  Illness?  Pray, seek care, and run.  Financial issues?  Do not grow weary.  Do not be faint.

Of course, all of this is hard.  Sometimes VERY hard.  But I know that when you take everything to God, ask for his help (even in painting windows) he will take us up on his wings and let us soar like an eagle.  

God bless each of you and have a WONDERFUL week!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Disappointment Revealed

I am humbled that anyone actually takes the time to read my blog!  Thank you for stopping by and I pray that you glean something worthwhile!  I hope that you can make your own silk purse today!

I don't usually write about things that God is showing me immediately.  It takes me awhile to process it and figure out how to express it so that (hopefully) it makes sense.  A couple of weeks ago (DURING my I'm not going to yell experiment) I had something really disappointing happen.  I can't go into the details but I'll try to make you understand what I was feeling.  I had made a decision.  I was in the position to make the decision.  I did not overstep my bounds.  Several people had a problem with my decision. Not just a problem-they were offended! ACK!  That was definitely not my intent.  I was crushed.  I went to my room and just bawled.  I felt like I failed. This is were Satan attacks us: at our low points.  I then started spiraling to the point of thinking that everything I did in life was a failure.  I WAS a failure.  My sweet husband gave me room.  He left me alone.  He knew I was upset.  I NEEDED to cry.  I still felt bad but I did feel like I had let it out.  I still questioned why God let this happen.  I had stepped out in a leadership position and was squashed.  Why would He allow that to happen?  Oh, he answered alright.

I went down stairs and the kiddos were eating ice cream.  All of a sudden my son got up, laid on the floor, and wouldn't move.  He wouldn't tell us what was wrong.  He started crying.  Not just crying, but bawling.  Just like his momma had done upstairs.  After about 15 minutes I got him to sit in my lap and I just held him.  After about another 15 minutes he was calm enough for us to talk.  Now the turtle boy does not tell me much of what is going on.  I have to dig like I'm searching for buried treasure.  Some paths lead nowhere.  I asked if it was about his friend at school (who was having surgery)?  Nope.  I asked if he was mad at someone?  Nope.  Was he sick?  Nope.  ARGH!  What is wrong!  Now remember, I am in my no yelling phase.  Finally, I asked if he thought I was going to get mad.  He said yes!  Ahhhh!  Ok, so with some promises of not getting mad, he finally told me.  He was disappointed that he had his ice cream in a bowl.  He remembered when he finished it that we had cones and he REALLY wanted ice cream in a cone.  Seriously?  Is that what this last half hour has been about?

So it wasn't until the next day that I put the two together (I hope by reading this, you already have!)  I was at my Bible study discussing it with one of the moms.  She suggested during our 10 minute journaling time, that I write about it.  So that's what I did.  And then THAT'S when God answered.  He very succinctly told me, that my son felt the disappointment of the ice cream as much as I had felt the disappointment of  being chastised for a decision.  Neither episode was earth shattering.  I wasn't going to die because of the decision I made.  My son was going to live if he didn't have his ice cream in a cone.  It really didn't matter in the scheme of what God wants for either of us.  It really opened my eyes to how my son feels.  When he feels something, he feels it BIG!  BIG happy, BIG sad, BIG disappointment.  There isn't little anything in my family (except for my feet!)  But the best part of this was that I realized, for both my son and myself, that God was WITH us in the disappointment.  He didn't leave and go on a vacation.  He didn't say that our disappointment didn't matter.  He was with us, holding us, just as I had my little boy.  Know that he his holding you today.  No matter the struggle or the trial.  He is.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

My family circus

People questioned me about how kids almost 5 years apart could ever be friends or bond.  I could blog about it.  But I thought I would show you instead.  This IS my family! (I know it's hard to read, but click on the picture to make it larger!)

Saturday, September 18, 2010


I have a tendency to be a 'little' hot tempered.  Ok, a lot.  I'm constantly working on it.  Some days are good.  Some days are bad.  I'm human.  And since I'm a mom, that means that my kids get the wrath.  On Monday we had an especially hard day with my son at occupational therapy.  I just felt defeated.  I didn't lose my temper.  But I also didn't know what else to do.  I went to my Bible study that night.  Our 'leader' spoke about our words.  Specifically about gossip, but also about the power of our words.  On the way home that night, through my tears I decided I needed to stop yelling at my son.  So I made the commitment that I would do this for one week.  I prayed to God for help.  Because, if you're a mom, you know you are gonna need help on this one!

Well, it's day 6.  It's been an interesting week.  Of course the weekend is not yet over.  The weekend is always the hardest part because there is so much less structure.  I've done really well and haven't yelled.  Now, I could sit here and tell you that I did this all on my own.  And that would be a lie.  First of all I prayed.  I prayed for help when I made the commitment.  I prayed for help when I started hearing my blood boil.  I asked friends to pray.  I asked God for wisdom in the middle of my kids meltdowns.  I know the only reason I was successful with this is that it was not about me.  It was about what I felt God wanted me to do.  And about my kids.  I'm sure I will slip up (feel free to hold me accountable) but this has been a worthwhile endeavor.  There are a few tricks that I learned though.  He is what I observed:

1. When you yell, your kids don't hear you.  When you whisper, they do.  Picture this:  I'm in the car with 2 year old monkey and 6.9 year old turtle.  They are yelling.  Not at each other.  And not mad.  They are just playing around.  But of course I CANNOT concentrate on driving!  I start to yell.  Then I remember that I'm not supposed to.  So I start saying, in a calm manner, "Please use your inside voice."  Of course NO ONE can hear me over the screaming.  So I just repeat it.  Again.  And again.  And then it worked!  Yes, I could have yelled once.  But speaking calmly four times did not raise my blood pressure.

2.  If I let my children go at their pace some of the time, I don't have a need to yell.  It's tempting to tell, and then yell, at my son to set the table 12 times because he's not doing it fast enough.  But if I tell him once and I see him moving in that direction, then I don't need to tell him again.  It was amazing how much my kids DO obey me.  I just needed to be patient for the follow-through.

3.  One way I could yell less, was to say yes more.  Can we play outside?   Yes.  Can we squirt shaving cream all over your legs while you are sitting in the driveway?  Yes.  Can we have waffles for dinner?  Yes.  I found that when I said yes more often, the no's were respected more.  I realized I needed to lower my expectations a little as well as be softer to my kids.

4.  I listened.  I realized that I do not listen to my kids.  This is especially true when I think I know what they want.  I cut them off (to tell them no).  So when I started listening to the whole sentence and let them complete their thoughts, they were less frustrated.  The less frustrated they were, the calmer I was.

We were not without meltdowns.  I'll probably write about an especially interesting one later.  But I didn't have a meltdown.  I did find myself having to stop and breathe, a lot.  I believe that I did a good bit of repair on my relationships with my kids this week.  My son even asked me to play with him today!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Weekly Purse-Remembering

I haven't done a weekly purse in awhile!  It's not that I haven't had sow's ears to turn into silk purses.  I just forgot.  Plain and simple.  I tend to forget a lot of things lately.  I'm generally an organized person.  But as the family has grown, so has the list of things to do.  I'm going to try today to remember.  I'm going to remember 9/11/2001.  Remember how horrible that day was.  But also remember how it could have been so much worse.  There are so many stories of people who were late that day, who missed their plane, or who were sick.  So many stories of how God spared so many people.  I'm going to remember those heroes that took down a plane from hitting the White House.  Those heroes that went INTO the fire!  God bless them all!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

From the inside out...

I hope everyone had a good Labor Day.  Ours was relaxing, tiring, and productive all rolled into one!  I've been remiss at posting because I have been doing so many projects around the house at once.  If you have every tackled any larger home improvement project (which, really, is anything more than changing a light bulb) then you know that one project evolves into MANY more. 

As you may remember from my 15 windows post, we are in the process of painting all of our windows.  When I say we, I really mean me.  But it takes both of us because someone has to watch the children!  We painted #1-#10 without a problem.  Then came #11.  I knew we would need to do a little work on it.  I knew there was some water damage but I really thought I could fix it.  I mean, I've installed a dishwasher for goodness sakes!  How difficult can a little rot be?  Famous last words...  I started digging around and quickly realized that this was more than I could tackle.  The roof outside this window is about 8 inches wide.  Not a lot of room to work with, but I managed to pry one piece of trim off.  See, it really looked like there was only a small area that had been damaged.  But as I looked further I found that the problem was at the very top of the window and was dripping down.  One problem was causing many. 

Isn't that like our lives?  If we let something bad sneak into our lives, it will eat at us from the inside out.  It may look like a small problem, or even just a cosmetic problem.  We think, it's just a 'small sin'.  Nobody's perfect.  Romans 12:1 says "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship." 

Are we living to please God?  Are we living to please ourselves?  Are we offering ourselves as a pleasing sacrifice to Him?  If we ignore the problems that we have, just like our window, we will have major rot ahead.  Rip out the old.  Expose it to the Light of the World. He is the Great Restorer!

Friday, September 3, 2010

From Laughter to Tears

In my previous life I worked in fund-raising for a small southern liberal arts women's college.  It was hard work but the thing that I absolutely loved the MOST was getting to know the students.  They were about 10 years younger than I was and had such interesting lives.  Most of my interaction with them was in the dining hall (the food was actually pretty decent).  There was a set of twins that would sit with me and my coworkers.  They were hilarious.  I'm talking fall down laughter that makes you pee in your pants funny.  They were from this small town in the south and had a hard life that they learned to laugh at.  Fast forward 8 years...

I reconnected with one of the twins, Erin, because she worked for a non-profit agency that I needed information from.  Through the modern marvel of facebook and email we became 'electronic' friends.  She has a love for God and family that is infectious!  And she's still funny!  But here come the tears.  About 15 months ago, her husband was diagnosed with a very rare form of sinus cancer.  You may have seen her blog on my side bar called Cancer 2.0.  It is a heartbreaking read.  Her husband has been through a lot and the latest 'news' is NOT very good.  They are choosing to fight this, not only for themselves but for their 2 1/2 year old daughter.  Cancer is such a dreaded disease that just makes me so angry.  I've lost a sister, two uncles, and an aunt-in-law to this stupid disease.

This has been so heavy on my heart.  I've cried.  I've asked God to give me Erin's tears so she can find strength.  I have a favor to ask you, my readers.  Will you add this sweet family to your prayers?  I believe in the power of prayer.  I know God can heal him.  I don't know if he will choose to.  That's His will.  Pass this family on to anyone that you know that is a prayer warrior.  I want God to know that they are loved as a family in Christ!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Just a little paper

I am NO greenie.  I mean, I want to be.  It just doesn't happen.  Our town got rid of their recycling program.  Both my kids wore disposable diapers.  I don't hesitate to throw things away.  I tell you all this because we really don't use paper towels or paper napkins at our house.  It wasn't a conscious decision at first.  It evolved over time.  And in truth, it's a BIG money saver.  I still  buy the occasional roll of paper towels for the windows but I may get some micro cloths and get rid of those too!  Here's how we started:

1. When my first was born I started a rag drawer in the kitchen.  It was a place that I put old towels, washcloths, and dishrags that had seen better days.  We used this for yucky cleanups that took more than a few paper towels.
2. As the kids got older (and messier) we started using these rags to wipe up sticky hands and faces.  I just threw them in a bucket near the wash and washed them all together.  I would keep my eyes out for cheap washcloths to add to the stash or even my hubbie's old t shirts.  We still had the trusty paper towels out on the counter.  And we still used paper napkins.
3. Last summer, when we were in a very tight budget, if it wasn't a necessity, we didn't buy it.  I realized that unless I could get paper napkins for free with a coupon, it wasn't worth the money.  I had some cloth napkins from my mom and we just started to use those.  I showed my son where they were and he gets them out for dinner.  I don't do anything special to clean them.  I'm not even picky about folding them.  I guess if we had company I might iron them. I have some paper napkins in the closet.  For a rainy day, I guess.
4. Next, I put the paper towels away.  They are in the laundry closet.  Out of site out of mind.  Everyone in the house knows where the rag drawer is (even the two year old) and because they can reach it, they can clean up their own messes.
5.  I recently made some more napkins and even send a cloth one (out of blue stripped flannel) in my son's lunch to school.
The green check are out of a homespun fabric.  I used my serger and for about $6.00 in fabric made about 48 napkins.  That's enough that when they get worn, they will go to the rag drawer and if I don't get around to the wash, we'll still have plenty.  I made these smaller than the commercial size napkins because, really, how big does a napkin need to be?!?!  Even if you don't sew, I'm sure you can pick up some cotton napkins for a good price.  I like cotton because it absorbs better.

I know.  Many of you are saying "I can't add one more thing to my laundry pile!"  I think if I decided to go paper-free all at once, I would have agreed.  Starting with just a small area has really helped. 

I would love to know if you do this, or even if you start, what you think!  If you have questions about it, let me have 'em.  If you're really interested I might even give away a set of the green check napkins.

Stationery Winner!

Well for those that entered the contest, you had pretty good odds to win.  The winner (using random number generator) is #1, Patty, who said "oooo...I would love to win some enclosure cards. I like the bright dots and stripes gift cards.".  I'm sure she'll enjoy them.  For those that didn't win, make sure to visit The Note Card Lady.  Use code DLH2010 for 10% off!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Stretching ourselves

About a month ago, I decided that I would start running.  I've run before but it's been awhile.  I became motivated because I have a husband that runs and now a good friend and daughter started running.  I was beginning to feel left in their dust.  So I started to train using an app on my iphone called Couch to 5K.  The concept is that you can run a 5K race in 9 weeks training time.  It's going to take me longer.  I'm doing each week twice because I want to make sure I don't injure my knees.

I have a friend from high school who said she would run with me.  It wasn't until we started running that I remembered that she ran track in high school.  And she has legs that are 6 feet long!  Seriously!  What was I thinking!  I definitely felt like I got in a really good run because I was having to stretch myself.  I actually thought I could feel like my legs were longer.  I mean they would have to be to keep up with her, right?  If it were only that easy!

So I started thinking about how we should stretch ourselves.  We should reach beyond what we are.  We should no longer accept the excuses that we tell ourselves or that Satan whispers to us.  You know what they are.  Satan likes to tell us we are too stupid, or too fat, or too ugly, or a bad mom, or a bad wife, or we come from the wrong kind of background.  The list goes on.  John 10:10 says "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."  Some versions say so that you can have life more ABUNDANTLY.  I like that!  I want life that is abundant and full.  And so does God.  Philippians 3:14 says "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."  God accepts us where we are but wants so much more for us.  He wants us to ask him but he also wants us to do the work.

I'm stretching myself to run but I'm also stretching myself here on this blog.  I won't let Satan tell me that I don't matter.  That I'm too weak or too old.  That I can't make a difference.  I will give it to God and ask that he use it how he sees best and in his time!

I'd love to hear how you are stretching yourself!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Project Fun-Spontaneous!

I introduced Project Fun last week.  After I wrote the post, I felt like I didn't give many ideas for things to do that are truly fun but don't cost anything.  Well, leave it to the kiddos to come up with something.  The turtle and the monkey were playing with balloons (supervised of course).  We were pumping them up, tossing them around, and looking at the different sizes.  This wasn't what I would call "Project Fun" material, but little did I know.  The turtle brought me a little tiny balloon and asked what it was.  I said I thought it was a water balloon.  So hubbie filled one up and showed him how it worked (outside).  He also availed him of stories of water balloon fights he had as a kid.  So the turtle comes inside, looks at me, and says, "Can we have a water balloon fight?"

Here is what goes through my mommy mind:
It's late.  You've already had baths.  You're in your PJ's.  I don't want to.

Something inside of me said yes.  We all put on our crocks and headed outside.  Here is a picture of the before:
Notice the bowl full of balloons!

Here is the after:

No, you aren't seeing things.  Those are the balloon scraps in the bowl, and we are all COMPLETELY dry!  It was the driest water balloon fight in history.  Every single balloon bounced off the person/target and then proceeded to explode on the ground.  I have to think that was God's way of rewarding me for instilling a little fun into the kiddos evening!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Counting Joy

You can now go directly to this blog via  I feel like Pinocchio when he became 'real'.

The other week when I posted Mommy Meltdown I had some interesting emails and comments in response to it.  Seems like some people in my life think I have it "all together" and were surprised that I had a meltdown.  I started thinking about how others see me and how we see others.  Maybe I'm not transparent enough.  Aren't we as Christians supposed to let others know we struggle so that they will see our strength in Christ, and not ourselves?

We really don't know what goes on in another's life unless we "walk in their moccasins."  It is impossible to know their every feeling and every struggle.  And let's face it; we all have struggles.  Scripture says we WILL struggle.  Psalm 40:12 says "For trouble without number surround me..."  It doesn't say every once in a while I'll have a bad day.  Troubles surround?  Yuck!  Psalm 90:10 says, "The years of our life are seventy,or even by reason of strength eighty;yet their span is but toil and trouble..."  It doesn't say, we'll only have struggles for one day or if we are a bad mom or a bad wife or overweight or poor or tired.  If you ever think that the writers of the Bible had it all together, just read the book of Ecclesiastes or Job.  And I know if they struggled, then it is normal that I do. 

I also know that I will, as it says in James 1, count it ALL joy.  I will count the struggles, the tears, the heartache, and even the lack of sleep as Joy!  I know that is what God wants me to do.  Of course, it's easy to count the blessings as joy.  But really, if I start to see it all as joy, then even the heartache becomes joy.  It is hard to do.  I will look to God for the strength to do this.

I challenge you this week to be a little more transparent with someone.  Ask questions, so someone will have the opportunity to be transparent with you!  Let me know how it goes!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Weekly Purse

Have you turned any rotten moments into silk purses this week?

I had one on Monday.  Things fell apart on the home front.  Can you say first day of school?  I won't get into the details, but it was a late night with lots of discussion.  It could have been worse.  Much worse.  Apologies were spoken.  New goals established.  And lots of prayer.  Lots and lots of prayer.  It was the low part of my week.  But it was also like birthin' a baby.  Very hard but definitely worth it! 

Come on gals (and guys?)!  What sows ear have you turned into a silk purse?

Stationery Give Away!

Who doesn't like a freebie, right?
I found The Notecard Lady on eBay back when my son was born (almost 7 years ago).  From there I went straight to her store for purchases after that.  I love her things and she is so reasonable.  She makes note cards, calling cards, stickers, invitations, and gift cards.  I've even worked with her to customize my designs from a stock design of hers.

My favorite thing that I like to get from her are the Gift or Enclosure cards.  I have a set for each of my children.  I use two (back to back) with a self laminating pouch for a bag tag.  (Although she sells luggage tags also.)  When it's time to wrap a birthday gift, I punch a hole in a card, write the name of the receiver on it, and tie it on the package with a ribbon.  I've also had 'mommy cards' made up with all of my information on it.

I love her flat note cards!  They are so classy!  She typically has a buy 3 sets get 1 free promotion going.  They are great teacher or Christmas gifts.  Who doesn't love getting something for free?

She is giving all of my blog readers a super deal!  If you check out with this code DLH2010 you will get a 10% discount on your order!  Awesome right?  

I know, you want to know what I'm giving away, right?  Well, it's a set of my favorite product!  It's the Gift or Enclosure Cards.  Now, here is how to enter:  become a public Google follower of my blog.  Go to The Notecard Lady's site and choose which enclosure cards you would choose if you win.  Don't worry about the specific name or all the details.  We'll hash those out if you win!  Come back here and post a comment on which one you like!  I'll use a random number generator to pick the winner on next Friday, 8/27.  ***Update: do not worry if your comment isn't showing up.  I am getting email verification and will use that.  Working on a fix.***

Friday, August 20, 2010

Project Fun

Ever gone out to McDonald's because the kids needed a treat?  Ever felt guilty about yelling at the kids and bought them a toy?  Ever turned on the TV because you the kids needed a break?  Come on, I know I'm not the only one!  I find my self doing so many things out of guilt.

One of my favorite 'celebrity' moms is Hannah Keeley.  She went to the same college I did (a few years before me), has 7 kids, and her own TV show called "Hannah Help Me."  She's just really a neat, down to earth person.  She really focuses on having fun in your child's life.  She thinks that kids should remember something fun from yesterday, do something fun today, and look forward to something fun tomorrow.  I think that is a wonderful philosophy of parenting.  My son doesn't always think the 'fun' things I do are very funny, but I hope when he is an adult he will look back and remember his mom as funny or goofy!

Along these lines, I have started +"Project Fun".  It's nothing formal or scheduled.  I don't have a list on the calendar of things we are supposed to do to have fun.  It's an attitude or way of life.  I realized I was doing too much of "guilty fun."  I did things to help my guilt as a mom, not to instill fun in our kiddos.  I have started to change this way of thinking.  Now don't start thinking that "I don't do crafts" or "I don't do puppet shows" or "I don't have any money".  It doesn't have to be that, although it could.  Sometimes it's planning something.  Other times it's just saying "Yes!" to a request!

Here are somethings we have done recently:
-Took lunch on a drizzly Saturday the park.  Ate lunch and let the kids play in the rain.
-Went on a small two night vacation and DID NOT tell the kids where we were going, untill we got there.  They didn't even know we were spending the night.
-Went to a downtown toy store and let the kids play.

-Took shaving cream and let them spread it all over the front porch.  It smells good and washes off pretty easily.
-When my son asked to make chocolate chip cookies, I said YES!  I stopped everything and started baking with him.
-This weekend we are going apple picking.  It's a little bit of a drive, but I could it as 'fun grocery shopping'. 

Leave me a comment about intentional fun things that you have done or are going to try with your kiddos!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What I learned for the summer

It seems every time I talk to someone at about their summer, they just sigh.  It was too short, too hectic, and too hot.  This was one of the hottest summers that I remember in South Caroonlina.  For me, this was really the first summer I had two children.  In '08 my daughter was born 2 weeks before school started back.  In '09 my husband was out of work, so he was home the entire summer!  Talk about spoiled.  So the summer of '10 had me flying solo.  I DID NOT DO THIS WELL!  I resolve to do this better next year.  Here is what I learned.  It may or may not help you out.  I will at least have a place to look back to come next June.

1. Have a list of ideas.  I would draw a complete blank on things to do.  If we didn't have a doctor's appointment or somewhere else to be, the three of us just stared at each other like we were lost.  I forgot that we had passes to the zoo until 2 weeks before school started!  Ack!  Of course, it was SOOOO hot!  Maybe I will have a jar that we can pick from.  I just didn't have inspiration on the spot. 

2. Space out camps, vacations, and vacation bible school.  I did ok on this, but will do better.  It seemed like for any type of camp we had it took a week to recover.  I thought these things would make the summer easier, but they actually made it harder.  It interrupted whatever schedule we had and got us out of the groove.

3. Save more of a summer activity fund.  I've done this when my son was in a more expensive summer long program, but didn't do it for the small things.  I'll try to save more for that next year.

4.  I need to find better summer recipes.  The idea of cranking up the gas stove was horrendous to me.  It was just too hot!  I'll be searching out a few 'no heat' recipes before June.

5. I will plan some nights out with friends.  I had very little 'mommy recharge' time.

Leave me some comments on what ideas you use to get through the summer!  I'd especially like to see some inexpensive ones!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Mommy Meltdown

As I said in yesterday's post, I had a rough week, ending with a "Mommy Meltdown".  Raise your hand if you have ever had one.  If you didn't raise your hand, then I know you are lying.  As moms, we can come to the end of our rope.  I had that day.  It wasn't pretty, but I will spare you the details.  I can blame it on a lot; long summer, tired children, economic recession, bum knee, crowded restaurant, meet-the-teacher night, and Satan.  I'm throwing that last one in because I do really believe that we can be attacked by him.  And what better way to destroy a family than attack the mom.  I did some major apologizing to the husband and kiddos.  Took a lot of time to pray, slept late the next day.  All is not perfect, but we are on the mend. 

This has made me keenly aware of how much we can hurt as women.  We carry the weight of so much on us.  Our house, our family, our health, our family's health, our finances; really the future of our family.  How do we protect ourselves?

Ephesians 6:11-13 (NIV) says, "Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand."

As this school year begins, let's commit ourselves to praying for our families protection so that we can concentrate on being the mom's we are supposed to be.  

God bless!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Weekly Purse

Oh my!  So I'm supposed to sit here and tell you about all the great ways I turned sows ears into silk purses this week.  That might be difficult.  There were a LOT of sows ears this week.  Not so many silk purses.  I think it's because school starts Monday.  Everything just seemed so rushed and last minute.  I keep wondering if I've forgotten things.  Ok, so I know that we can still go to the store.  Where did the summer go? 

The one silk purse of the week was a great trip to the local water park with our church.  It wasn't hot or overly crowded.  It really was the bright spot in a crummy week.  Hey, if you have a bad week, then having at least one good thing is a blessing!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

15 windows

Our house has 15 windows.  Compared to some in our neighborhood, that's not a lot.  Some of them are grouped in two's or three's.  I know some are you are thinking, "why does she know how many windows are in her house?"  Square feet?  Sure.  Rooms?  Yeah.  Windows?  Nobody knows that.  Well, I decided that I was going to paint them.  On the outside.  Did I mention we have two floors? 

Sometimes we hire out big jobs around the house.  It's always nice to have big jobs just finished!  Of course writing the check always hurts though.  I got a few quotes on getting them painted.  It just isn't in our budget.  They REALLY need painting.  I mean you can see the bare wood.  They haven't been painted in 8 years!  Since before my son was born.  So of course, I decided I could do it.  Did I mention there are 15 windows?

I knew I couldn't do them all in a weekend.  With two little ones running around it would have to be several weekends.  Sunny ones at that!  So last weekend I started this project.  I originally wanted to get two windows done.  Once I got started I realized I could do 4!  Of course these are on the ground floor.

Here are the basic steps that helped me get this done.  I broke it down into Saturday and Sunday tasks.
Saturday:  Clean.  I didn't want to use a pressure washer.  Just too much to mess with.  I used a bucket with hot water and Oxyclean and a bathroom scrub brush.  I just slopped the mixture on and scrubbed the trim.  Since we have vinyl siding this seemed to work well.  I then just used the garden hose to rinse it off. 
I had some rags to dry it off and let the rest dry overnight.

Sunday: Paint.  This became less difficult because I was painting the same color (white).  There are lots of ways to cut in windows.  You can just scrape it afterward or use painters tape.  I chose to tape because our windows have no outside mullions or grids.  I primed using Zinser all house primer.  I used it because I had it on hand.  Kilz would have worked just as well.  I primed each of the four windows first.  By the time I finished all four, I could then paint.  Because I took the time to prime, it actually only took one coat of exterior paint.  After the paint dried, I removed the paint and cleaned the windows inside and out.

Now I only have 11 more widows to go.  The next 4 are all downstairs.  I'll tackle those this weekend.  I'm still researching how best to do the upstairs.  Our windows pop out, so that might be the best option. 

I did have to spend a little money (counting what I already had on hand): primer, paint, new GOOD QUALITY brush, painters tape, oxyclean, sweat equity.  All total, less than $100.  Now, I may have to buy a new ladder for the upstairs, but this is still cheaper than paying someone.  Although God bless those men and women who build and rebuild our houses!  If it were in the budget, I would be hiring you!

Give me some encouragement!  Leave me a comment about a project you tackled that you thought would take forever, but was totally worth it!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My Scottish Roots

The Scot's are known to be rather frugal (ok, cheap).  It's where Scotch Tape got it's name.  I'm not judging.  My son got his red hair from the Scottish and Irish sides of my family.  My great grandmother used a kitchen chair instead of getting a wheelchair.  My grandmother used the stove to make toast.  She just couldn't see spending the money on some new device to cook toast (of course she always burned it, but that's another story).  I was thinking alot about her today, about that generation born at the beginning of the 1900's.  Frugality was really just a way of life for them.  As they lived through wars and depressions, they made a life out of what was around them.

What would they think of all of the 'new-found' frugality: coupon sites, re-purposing clothing, thrift store shopping?  I think they would scratch their heads at our amazement at this 'new' way of life.  To them, it was just life.

I was really channeling my grandmother as I took a mattress pad apart.  It had kind of melted in the dryer and didn't fit my sons twin bed anymore.  I knew I could use the quilted batting in some sewing projects.  As I started to cut it apart, I realized I could use the elastic too for some pants for my daughter.  Score! 

I don't keep everything 'just in case' I find a purpose for it.  But I am beginning to look at items in a whole new way.  Let me know what you've re-purposed or put to a new life!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Timing is everything

I've been thinking a lot about timing lately.  My timing, God's timing, the timing of the world.  It's the waiting that can be the hardest.  When the big things in life are in the "it's up to God's timing" category we can drown in the uncertainty.  We think if we just knew 'when' then we could survive it.  We spend a large part of our life asking God when?
-When will I meet my future spouse?
-When will I get that promotion?
-When will we get pregnant or when will be able to adopt?
-When will our 'ship come in'?
-When will our health improve?

Shouldn't we be spending our time seeking God, not a date on the calendar?  Seeking His wisdom, not the world's?  Seeking His plan, not ours?  Of course the hard part is that His plans aren't always clear.  That's where faith in God comes in.  We have to trust that he is guiding our steps. 

Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (NIV)

Proverbs 16:9: In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. (NIV)

Ahh, but isn't all of this easier said than done?  I struggle with this as much as the next person.  As my family is waiting for some guidance on what to do next, we will continue to seek God's will.  I have to trust that he is guiding our steps!

God bless!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Babes in Tech Land

I love this picture of the Turtle boy.  (We were in a parked car, so no worries about the seat belt or the fact that he was in the front seat.)   
He just seems so old here.  There is no baby fat on his face anymore.  He's in big boy camo pants.  He's intently playing on my iphone (hence the pink case).  He's gotten pretty good at the "Rush Hour" game. 

And the Monkey is sitting in the back:

She's playing on a hand me down itouch.  Of course, we adults seem to think it's amazing that kids these days are so technologically advanced.  They grow up with it around them.  To them it's as normal as running water was to my parents generation and tv is to my generation.  I, like many first time parents, said "I'll never let my kids watch tv, play video games, etc."  Famous last words!  Now, of course I DO understand the importance of limiting 'screen time'.  We don't have a set schedule (that's just not how we work as a family) but we do limit the types of shows and programs that we allow them to watch.  It's a delicate balance.  We live IN this world, but we are not to be OF this world. 

I marvel at how time marches on.  Babies grow to toddlers, toddlers to big kids!  Phones get smaller, TV's get bigger.  I wonder what my kids will marvel at in thirty years?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Weekly Purse

Let's see what I've had the opportunity to turn into a silk purse this week:

Sow's Ear: No fun plans for a Sunday
Silk Purse:  Impromptu trip to the zoo after church.  Beautiful weather!  We all had a blast and even got to see the baby orangutan swing from the rope and fall down.  My daughter is still talking about the monkey that fell! 

Sow's Ear: Dentist appointment for 2 year old to get spot ground off her tooth
Silk Purse:  She actually napped really well afterward (screaming will do that) and then keeps going "buzzzzzz" with her finger to everyone else's mouth.  It's hilarious

Sow's Ear: Only two weeks of summer left
Silk Purse: Only two weeks of summer left!  (Heehee, I'm sure you moms understand this).

It's been a good week because I decided to make it a good week!  Now, go forth and make silk purses!

Friday, August 6, 2010

From Burlap to Cashmere

I finally finished putting up my new window treatments in our family room.  It really wasn't difficult, it just took forever to get a picture!  You know how that goes.  (The beginnings of the project are Hardware store decorating).  I could call this a tutorial but it's so easy that I think that would be insulting.  I bought two 8 x 6 canvas drop cloths from Home Depot.  One had a seam across it but I knew I could work with it.  I washed, dried, and ironed them.  I did not press them super well because I wanted them to look casual.  I folded over the top (making sure to hide the seam) and attached them with drapery clips.

The rod and clips were from our previous draperies.  It's actually two rods screwed together with a special two sided drapery screw and mounted with three brackets.

 And here is the full view:
I'm pleased with how they turned out.  I'd love to see what you have decorated with from the hardware store!

I also entered this in the Friday Remodelaholic party.  Check it out!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Seeking silence

If you know me in real life, you know how much I can talk.  I've met a few people who can out-talk me, but not many.  So don't keel over laughing at this post title-hang with me.

I've been thinking alot lately about silence.  What it is, when it's good, when it's bad, and how I can get some more of it.  Now as a mom, there isn't a whole lot of silence in my life.  The monkey LOVES to talk and the turtle LOVES to just make noise.  I have every word of the Fisher Price Little People CD memorized.  I can quote every line from Spy Kids 2.  Even taking a shower isn't a quite experience. 

Of course, many times in our life we seek out noise.  We are afraid to be alone with our thoughts, our life, our God.  On the rare occasion when the kids are out of the house, we turn on a TV or a radio, run the laundry, or the vacuum cleaner.  Just to have some noise.  What are we running from?  Shouldn't we be running toward silence?  It's in that quiet space that we can find the clarity that can come from the Holy Spirit to deal with our life when it is noisy. 

In 1 Peter 3:3-4 it says "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment... Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight."  Although I may talk a storm, I pray that God will grant me that quiet spirit.  That He will lead me in the directions that He wants me to go.  I challenge you to seek out some silence in your life this week.

God bless!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

It takes the cake!

So you've seen the little monkey's birthday gift on this post.  Now here's the cake!

In more prosperous times I have bought the kiddos cakes (although I made the cake for the turtle's first birthday).  I decided I would break out the cake decorating skills this year.  Now, this is not a frugal one time option.  There is the initial cost of decorating tips, pans, etc.  MANY years ago I took a cake decorating class and kept all of my 'stuff'.  Of course if you plan on doing this every year then it becomes even more frugal. 

Here's how this cake worked.  I borrowed a Wilton flower cake pan from a friend (helps to have crafty and frugal friends) for the first tier.  The second tier is a eight inch round pan.  I used a confetti type cake mix.  One box was enough but only if you add a package of Dream Whip to the mix.  It makes the cake fluffier and stretches the batch.  You can find Dream Whip in the baking aisle of most major grocery stores.  I had this green leaf platter that made the perfect stand for the flower.  I used all types of tips to give it lots of whimsy!  And last but not least I added some Tinkerbell fairies to the top.  I found a set at Toys R Us but here is a similar set with more fairies:

It was fun to have a little present for the monkey after the cake was eaten!  We had about 20 people at the party and almost all the cake was gone!  It was fun to make and the kiddos liked seeing me do it.

Now if you are looking for someone else to make a cake and you are in upstate South Carolina, please check out Deb Es Cakes.  She actually gave me some tips on the icing and it was great!  She is donating her proceeds for the month of September to Childhood Cancer Research in memory of her sister.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Learning to balance

Have you ever watched a child learn to walk across a balance beam?  Some will try and go too fast.  Some will try and go too slow.  Some only want to walk with one foot leading.  Others try to balance using only their arms.  It takes a lot of motor coordination to get from point A to point B over a 4 inch wide piece of wood.  The one thing it does take is balance.  (Yeah, I know I'm stating the obvious.)

I was thinking a lot about balance today.  There are so many things in our life, especially as moms, that take balance:  parenting, budgeting, exercise, hobbies, friendships, cooking, cleaning...and the list goes on.  Each day as we wake up at point A we have to figure out how to get to point B without falling off the beam.  Falling off usually looks like yelling at the kids, forgetting the important things, and maybe even bursting into tears.

God gives us the road map to get from point A to point B in Phillipians 4:8.  The NIV says "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."  If we focus on this road map and ask the Holy Spirit to give us the help (and wisdom), then we will have the balance to get through the day.
God bless!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Weekly Purse

Ahh, another hot summer week gone by! I've talked to so many moms that have said this has been a hard summer. For some it has been because the kids are restless and wild. For others it has been financial. For many, it has just been lonely. We have about two weeks left before summer. I'm hoping to make the best of it and add a little fun into the remaining days!

This week's ears:
Sow's Ear: 45 minute wait in the doctor's office
Silk Purse: Great diagnosis in just a few minutes

Sow's Ear: Two kids in a different doctor's appointment in a REALLY small room!
Silk Purse: LOVE the new doctor!

Sow's Ear: Just take a look at this post
Silk Purse: A really great gift!

Sow's Ear: Negative comments made about someone dear to me
Silk Purse:  The knowledge that God gave me this family for a reason.  Pure and simple.

Ok, I'm off to brainstorm some fun things for this week!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Stinky Playhouse to Garden Cottage

For my daughter's 2nd birthday I wanted to get her a Little Tikes type playhouse. Something like this:

The problem is they are between $200 and $300.  NOT in my budget for her birthday.  What I found was a 15 year old cottage that I bought for $60.  It WAS NOT what I wanted!  And it was stinky.  REALLY stinky.  I know I paid too much.  I know the person needed the money.  It was a win for both.  Here's a few before pictures of it in pieces.

I decided that I needed to bring out the spray paint for plastics.  This stuff is great.  I've used it a lot with great results for items inside the house (making my trashcan match the kitchen, painting matching plastic containers, etc.)  This is the first project that I have done for outside and I'm still waiting to see how it holds up.  My Home Depot was limited in the color selection but I picked up 2 cans of black, a can of sunrise red, and 4 cans of a creamy taupe color.  And here's the result! 

I did not add the kitchen sink and counter to the inside.  It was just too far gone.  I'll probably look for some plastic chairs to add to the inside.  It cost less than $100 and NO ONE else has this house.  I replaced the handle with a golf ball (I just used a drill to make a pilot hole in it and used the original screw).  I want to add some vinyl letters (maybe her monogram) to the door.  She LOVES it!  

A few tips I learned from this project.  DO NOT do this in 95 degree heat.  It does not make a happy mom!  Buy one of the pop on handles for spray cans that help you spray.  It helped the paint go farther and kept my hands clean.  I will never spray paint without one again!  I spent about $3.00 on it.  Children love seeing their parents work on something for them.  She keeps asking, "You painted this for me?  It's my house?"  Too CUTE! 

Have you painted anything with plastic spray paint?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sow's Ear Limit

I think I should set a limit to the number of sow's ears I tackle in one day.  I definitely tried to do too much.  I bought a used (and stinky) playhouse for my daughter for her birthday.  I decided that it needed painting and it needed painting today.  Did you know it was 95 degrees in the shade today?  (I'll show some pictures soon.)  I also decided I needed to get my camera looked at and needed to make her birthday cake.  Umm, WHAT was I thinking!  I will sleep well tonight.  VERY WELL!

I'm not sure why I am working so hard for a 2 year old's birthday.  She won't remember it.  She'll just be glad to have her family around her.  I'm sure it's guilt.  Ever noticed that if you are feeling bad about your parenting or your current life situation, you overcompensate by buying or doing too much for your kids?  Of course I know that a playhouse will not make up for my shortcomings as a mom.  My other theory is that I'm an emotional mess about my baby girl turning 2.  It's easier to stay busy than to stay sane during this time.

Hmmm, maybe I'm being a little bit like Martha, huh?  I pray I can choose what is better tomorrow.  I'm going to enjoy it.  Count my blessings.  Love on my little birthday girl.  Swim in the pool with my kids.  Enjoy some time with my childhood friend.  May you choose better too!
Luke 10:38-40
 38As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. 40But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"  41"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, 42but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Hardware store decorating

I love making things for my home.  I blame my mother.  She's an interior decorator by trade so she always had some project going.  My dad is very handy with tools.  Put the two together and they created an obsessed child!  Not all my projects turn out great but it is always cheaper than buying it in the store or paying someone to do it.  AND I have something that no one else does.

We recently bought some 'barely used' furniture for our family room.  It is a TOTALLY different design than what we had before.  We used to have dark blue couches.  Now they are cream and sage and coral.  So my red floral cutains had to go (given to a friend of course!)  Now, I searched for a replacement at the usual haunts: Target, Bed Bath Beyond, Marshalls, Ross, and several consignment stores.  I was looking for something in a beige/green/cream linen.  I found NOTHING.  I didn't even find a sow's ear.  I ran across this article at Beneath My Heart about using drop cloths.  That's right, as in the things you put on the floor when you are painting!  It's the PERFECT sow's ear!

I'm half way done with getting them ironed and hung up.  I will hopefully post a few pictures tomorrow.  It really was the perfect shade of linen that I needed.  I spent less than $20 for a pair of 8 foot curtains.  If you buy linen from a fabric store it is going to cost you anywhere from $10 to $20 a yard.  

What things have you decorated with that are unusual?

Monday, July 26, 2010

What is God's Safety?

My dear sweet friend, Cheryl Cannon, of  Let's Talk Ministries challenged a group of us to memorize Psalm 16.  It's a long one and I have it hanging in my shower (in a Ziploc bag) so I can read it every morning.  I don't have it memorized yet but there are parts of it that have seared it's way into my heart.  I know that's what the Word can do when we let it into our lives.  The first verse of Psalm 16 has done this for me.

Our family has a particularly stinky sow's ear in our life right now.  It's a scary time and we are still figuring out what type of silk purse this will be.  Will it be one that arrives in a box all tied up with a ribbon?  Will it be one that we have to go out and sew ourselves with blood sweat and tears?  Or maybe it will be a combination of both.  We are in the waiting time.  Waiting on God.  But His word says that we can cry to Him for safety.  We can RUN to him for refuge.  I find myself saying throughout the day "Keep me safe, O God"  "I'm running to you for refuge."

The glorious part is that even though I have this stinky sow's ear, I have this peace.  I believe that God is keeping me safe.  Maybe not from the current situation but He is keeping me safe from the sheer emotion of it all.  He is allowing me to hand my worries over to him.  These are the world's worries.  Not mine. 

I've included the entire Psalm here for you to sear into your heart.  I'd love to hear how God has provided refuge to you!

Psalm 16 (New Living Translation)

A psalm of David.
 1 Keep me safe, O God,
      for I have come to you for refuge. 2 I said to the Lord, “You are my Master!
      Every good thing I have comes from you.”
 3 The godly people in the land
      are my true heroes!
      I take pleasure in them!
 4 Troubles multiply for those who chase after other gods.
      I will not take part in their sacrifices of blood
      or even speak the names of their gods.
 5 Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing.
      You guard all that is mine.
 6 The land you have given me is a pleasant land.
      What a wonderful inheritance!
 7 I will bless the Lord who guides me;
      even at night my heart instructs me.
 8 I know the Lord is always with me.
      I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
 9 No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.
      My body rests in safety.
 10 For you will not leave my soul among the dead
      or allow your holy one to rot in the grave.
 11 You will show me the way of life,
      granting me the joy of your presence
      and the pleasures of living with you forever.