Monday, December 31, 2007

God's Encouragement When I'm Tempted to Be Anxious

The first Sunday after I found out about our surprise baby I missed the sermon at our church. I was working nursery or dealing with a fussy child or something. However, we had planned to go to my folk's church for a Christmas potluck get-together afterward. We drove out to the little mission church on the Rez and it turns out they were just starting their prayer time so we joined them for the rest of their service, including the sermon. I felt like the pastor was preaching directly at ME as he talked about Mary and the angel's command, "Do not be afraid.....(Luke 2:29) He was talking about the difficulties of pregnancy and the times Mary lived in and reminding us that no matter what unexpected challenge we face in our lives today, that God is with us and will equip us for it. It was unbelievable how God encouraged me through his words!
Then, a week later we attended my in-law's church with them around the holidays when we were in MN. Guess what their pastor preached on? Mary, and the concept of fear! He outlined the many reasons she had to fear (possible stoning, divorce, loss of the man she loved, loss of her dreams for a good life, loss of reputation, giving birth in a stable, etc.) and talked about how she was willing to be God's servant in spite of it all. Once again I felt like God was re-inforcing to me in a profound way that He was going to be with us through another pregnancy no matter how tough it might be or how exhausting. What a blessing that we have such a God who controls the universe and yet still has time to bless miniscule me with the gift of bringing another child into the world and that He loves His children enough to speak to them and encourage them perfectly no matter what situation they are going through! I have no reason to fear the horrible sickness I get for many weeks, the exhaustion of being pregnant with two toddlers, the pain of childbirth, the possibility of another hemorrage after the birth, the fact that we need to move to a bigger place and get a minivan now, the fact that my husband wants a new job soon, miscarriage, the fear of what people will think (3 kids in 5 years of marriage!), how I'm going to chase 3 little ones with only 2 hands, the cost of another baby, etc. because my Loving Heavenly Father already has it covered. He blesses us with the strength to get through the tasks He has called us to. I have prayed before each of my 3 pregnancies that God would give us a baby in His perfect timing and according to His will, and though we may not have felt "ready" this time around, God has presented us with a new opportunity to exercise our faith in the coming year!

Happy New Year to all of you Blog Readers out there!


Here are some photos of the most special gift we gave our parents on Christmas Day.
Here is the letter we gave to some of our closest friends and our siblings to open on Christmas morning.
If you can't read the words click on the photo itself and it will come up bigger so you can read it better.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Okay.....WHO was it?

Right before we left for MN I saw a blurb on Money Saving Mom about how you could get a great deal on wipes and Huggies products at Target. So, I printed off a few of the $3 off coupons and bought some Huggies coupons from the Coupon Clippers online. Then when we were in my husband's hometown, I was able to shop Target, with a couple of girlfriends, and we got the Huggies deals. I wish now that I had printed off more since I was able to get boxes of Huggies wipes for 5 cents a box and disposable washcloths for around 30 cents and baby wash for around 25 cents. (Just a note for those of you doubters: Even with the costs of the coupons and ink to print the coupons from my computer the wipes were still less than 20 cents a box!) As we were checking out, the sweet and bubbly cashier was telling us that a few days before another gal had come through with those same $3 off internet coupons we were using. She said that the gal had bought about 30 Huggies items and she had teased the gal about figuring out how to "cheat the system" which was just a joke but got the customer a little riled up. The customer explained that she wasn't "cheating" but was just a deal shopper and knew how to get the deals. Anyhow, I asked the cashier, "What was this gal's name? I bet anything I would know who it was if you told me?" She didn't remember. Henceforth......I ask the crazy-deal-shoppin'-women-in-my-hubby's-hometown, which of you was it?

Home Again, Home Again

We're finally home! What a trip! We had a great time seeing family and friends but it sure is an exhausting thing to travel over 2,700 miles in a week with two little ones! It was wonderful to see my Grandpa B. who has been in the hospital for over 2 months in Fargo with serious health issues. It was great to see King Jo's grandma, who had only seen Ali as a baby. Seeing all of his cousins we hadn't seen in many years was great too as well as my cousins and relatives on Christmas Day. But it sure is nice to be home after what seemed like an eternity on the road coming home. We were so exhausted that driving all the way through the night didn't work on the way home so we stopped at 3 a.m. and got a motel for a little sleep. Of course the kids had been sleeping all night in the car so they woke up at the usual 7 a.m. but a little sleep is better than none! We then made it the rest of the 5 hours home with tons of laundry and unpacking to do upon arrival! I'm thankful that the kids were AMAZING and such good travelers and didn't have fussing episodes this time around even with the many hours in car seats. I'm thankful the roads were clear all the way home even though there were storms all over the country. Thanks for your prayer of blessing on us cousin V--God answered it!
To those of you dear friends we missed seeing in MN: I wish we could have seen you! There were some new baby boys I would have loved to see, but due to the fact that we only had a few days in my hubby's hometown during a major holiday and a few days in the Twin Cities and a day in my Grandma's town, it was too busy to get together with all of my friends. I hope you all had good Christmas celebrations!
To those of you friends who spent Christmas in Florida (Jesse, Shiloh, Lyndi, and Colter):
The night that I went shopping at Target in MN and felt like I was going to freeze into an icicle before I made it to my car and the wind was blowing and it felt like 50 below, I was SO JEALOUS of you all who hung out on the beach this week!
One funny thing that happened on the trip home: Jer wet through his diapers 2 times the day we left for home. It was awful! I had gotten Pampers on a super good sale thinking that the "expensive" diapers would be more leak-proof than the Wal-mart brand we usually use. I discovered that I should have used my homemade cloth ones on the trip; they would have held more! Since everything was packed, by the end of the day, he had no clothes to wear but was soaking wet. So, we fished out the easiest thing that was accessible and he got to wear his sister's pajamas out of the dirty clothes bag! Ick! We were eating at Olive Garden for supper on the trip home (Yeah! Our once-a-year treat since there are no O.G.'s in our entire state and we LOVE it!!!) so I changed him in the restaurant. He had to use sister's pink, girly blanket, and wear her pajamas which were really big on him. We turned them inside out so at least you couldn't see the bow on the front and the flowers! I'm sure everyone thought we had a couple of little girls!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Blog Break!

This Blogger will be traveling for the next 8 days to visit family in MN so have a Merry Christmas and check back for updates on our trip in a week or so!

Prayers from the Puritans

I was blessed to receive a leatherbound edition of The Valley of Vision as an early Christmas gift. This little book is a compilation of prayers from great Puritans of the faith. It is an amazing little book that I plan to use for a lifetime and wholeheartedly recommend to everyone who is sometimes dillusioned with our "selfish prayers." Sometimes I am tired of the way that everyone prays trite prayers that are unbiblical. Whether people pray in a certain habit, using lots of verbal crutches like, "I just pray this," and "we just pray that..." or whether people pray from lack of knowledge of the Bible, we are probably all guilty of praying with impure motives a lot of the time. This is why I find written prayers based on Scripture and written by great people of the Faith to be useful for drawing my focus to Biblical prayer.
Here is a prayer from the book, entitled, "The Gift of Gifts."
O Source of All Good,
What shall I render to thee for the gift of gifts, thine own dear Son, begotten, not created, my Redeemer, proxy, surety, substitute, His self-emptying incomprehensible, His infinity of love beyond the heart's grasp.
Herein is wonder of wonders:
He came below to raise me above, was born like me that I might become like Him.
Herein is love;
when I cannot rise to Him He draws near on wings of grace, to raise me to Himself.
Herein is power:
when Deity and humanity were infinitely apart, He united them in indissoluble unity, the uncreated and the created.
Herein is wisdom;
when I was undone, with no will to return to Him, and no intellect to devise recovery, He came, God-incarnate, to save me to the uttermost, as man to die my death, to shed satisfying blood on my behalf, to work out a perfect righteousness for me.
O God, take me in spirit to the watchful shepherds, and enlarge my mind; let me hear good tidings of great joy, and hearing, believe, rejoice, praise, adore,
my conscience bathed in an ocean of repose, my eyes uplifted to a reconciled Father; place me with ox, ass, camel, and goat, to look with them upon my Redeemer's face, and in Him account myself delivered from sin; let me with Simeon clasp the new-born child to my heart, embrace Him with undying faith, exulting that He is mine and I am His. In Him thou hast given me so much that heaven can give no more.

True Love Does Exist

We had a nice time opening gifts as a family last night. My hubby blessed me with many things I can use, including a new camera case for my nice, new camera, a memory card, batteries for the camera, and a hanging travel cosmetic bag I'd been wanting. Oh, also a couple of books I had been wanting too! But the nicest thing he gave me was a special card. Every Christmas he gets me a wonderful card and puts a heartfelt message in it. This year he said he looked over around 50 cards until he found the perfect one. The words are so touching, I had to share it here. I'm not trying to brag, because I always fall short of being the woman this card describes, but I wanted to share with those of you women who are still waiting for that special guy to come into your lives that godly guys ARE out there and it is so worth waiting for the right one; God's choice for you. The words in the card were so meaningful to me, especially since I've recently been striving to make our home as much of a haven as it can!
*If you had trouble reading the words you can click on the photos and it will bring them up in a bigger size.

What's Cookin' at Your House?

Last night after opening gifts as a family we had homemade gingerbread cake topped with homemade cinnamon applesauce! Yum!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Restaurant Kits

Planning to travel over the holidays? Need a unique gift idea for someone with kids? Make a restaurant kit! Today I was thinking about how much I hate lugging a huge diaper bag into a restaurant and trying to dig through it to find everything. It's a lot of work and things get so jumbled up in the car. We will be traveling 2,500 miles round trip over the holidays and will probably eat out between 6 and 10 times.
So, I decided to just make up a few "Restaurant Kits" to have handy with the things I will need in a restaurant so that traveling and eating out with two toddlers is easier.

The restaurant kit includes:

Bib (I had some disposable ones on hand that were a gift but cloth ones work too!)

Cheerios and Crackers (because little ones can never wait for the food)

Spoons and forks

Coloring pages and crayons

Little toy truck for my boy since he's too young to color

Spill-proof sippy

Paper plates

Sanitizing wipes (I'm one of those paranoid moms that sanitizes the high chair and table tops!)

Regular wipes for clean-up after the meal

Paper towels for spills

Shiloh's Chocolate Coconut Candies

These are so delicious and they make a great gift! I found this little tin at the thrift store that says, "World's Greatest Mom" and filled it up with these as a thank you gift for her for babysitting and for bringing me a nice dinner when my tooth was hurting. The little basket of candies was a gift for a good friend and fellow choco-holic!

Here's my friend Shiloh's recipe:

13/4 C. powdered sugar

13/4 C. flaked coconut

1 C. chopped almonds

1/2 C. sweetened, condensed milk

2 C. (12 oz. package) semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 T. shortening

In a large bowl, combine first four ingredients. Shape into 1 inch balls. Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chips and shortening (about 2 minutes) and stir until smooth. Dip balls in chocolate; allow excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper; let stand until set. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 2.5 dozen.

If you buy the ingredients on sale, it costs about $4-$5 to make a batch of these. However, a little goes a long way and you can stretch 4 nice little gifts of chocolate candies out of one batch!

Latest Leather Shoe Projects

Here are a few of my recent pairs of shoes. The turtles were designed with my nephew in mind, but alas, they will have to be Jer's for next summer since little nephew's feet are much too big for them (from the measurements his mommy gave me on the phone). Jer's feet are about an inch shorter. The flowered shoes were given to little Arianna, whom is affectionately known by people at church as Jer's "girlfriend" since she nabs him in the nursery and kisses him every chance she gets. She's only 2 months older than him! The wild, multi-colored boots are Jer's and let me just say that boots are REALLY hard to make and you can end up breaking a lot of needles. But they will be warm for the winter. I didn't have enough leather in one color to do them all the same color so they are very unique!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Is Mrs. Jo on Drugs?

If you've ever doubted how much pain an infected wisdom tooth will cause, I'll let you know that I took about 38 pain pills in the first 48 hours! Relax, I'm not trying to overdose; I took it all carefully, making sure not to go over 4 ibuprofen and 1 oxycodone at a time and then alternating with Extra Strength Tylenol. Praise the Lord I made it through the night last night on only one dose of Tylenol! Amazing! I'm trying to just use Tylenol now to give my stomach a rest and I've been taking teething tablets and chomping on a cold, wet tea bag at times too. I hope and pray I never have to go through this again!

10 Babies and Toddlers

One of Ali's friends recently had a birthday party. Here is the pic of us trying to get 10 little tykes to take a group photo after being all sugared-up with cupcakes!

New Products

I'm wondering what you all think of these products pictured here. The Burt's Bees blemish stick was on a great clearance for $2.20 and I love other Burt's Bees products I have been given as gifts. I have heard of Emergen-C and wanted to get some to boost our immunity as we're getting over colds and have a big upcoming trip for Christmas. I'd love to hear people's comments on these products if you have used them.

Freebies this Week

It was a slim week for Freebies but I still managed to get paid to buy these items. There was an online coupon for Hand Sanitizer for $1.50 off and this bottle was only $1.25 at Wal-Mart. I will get a $2.50 rebate on the shampoo from Walgreens and it was on clearance for $2.19.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Making My Home a Haven

Make your kids make your home a haven too! Ali made a mess of her nachos at lunch so she got to sweep it up. I found this child-friendly broom brand-new in the packaging at a yard sale for 25 cents!

Before.....A cluttered bookshelf

After....much neater, though I'd like to spruce it up even more by painting it some day!

The kid's room gets to be a disaster daily, especially when Mommy isn't feeling well.

Much nicer! We have waaaaaay too many BIG items for kids in our tiny apartment. We try to rotate them from our storage shed. The kids love the wagon and the rocking horse though!

I loved the Making My Home a Haven challenge for the past 2 weeks at Biblical Womanhood. Unfortunately Crystal had to cancel it one day due to a computer hacker problem, and I had to skip one day due to my tooth pain. However, I enjoyed it so much and the accountability and comaraderie that I may post on this topic from time to time again as the mood strikes me. Today I tackled the kid's bedroom and last night the book case. I had read in a magazine that if you pull all of the books out to the outer edge it makes your bookshelf look much neater. It sure didn't last long though as Jer thinks it's a great game to go push all of the books back in! Ali currently sleeps in her toddler bed in our room as we've worked on getting Jer to sleep in his own room for the past month or so. Soon we will move them both into the same room, which may mean they will likely try to play the entire nap time and won't go to bed until very late due to egging each other on and giggling.

For now, our bedroom is the biggest housekeeping challenge I have because it's small and has a toddler bed, a queen log bed, 3 dressers, a nightstand, a large bookshelf, a laundry basket of work clothes, our Christmas decorations storage tub, 2 baskets of children's books, 6 rubbermaid storage drawers, and all of my craft tubs, gift boxes and wrapping supplies, and all of our files and bill slots. It can get to be an absolute pig sty! I can barely walk in there due to lack of space! I can't put my clean clothes away as Ali's bed blocks my bottom 2 dresser drawers so I always have piles of clean clothes around. It will be so nice to move eventually, but until then I will do the best I can to clean it up this weekend and figure out a way to have a little bit more space.

Great News for Hot Cocoa Lovers!

Hershey's Kisses has a new flavor of kisses out called "Hot Cocoa Creme." I sampled some at a friend's home and they are now my all-time favorite! Can't wait until they are on a good sale at Walgreens!

Update on Tooth Pain

Finally some relief from the pain! I called my Dentist's office yesterday afternoon and they had already closed. I was desperate for relief from the pain. I called the pharmacy and complained that the pain pills we had gotten from them didn't help at all. They said I could take up to FOUR Ibuprofen at the same time as the pain pills. Go figure, if you can take that much Ibuprofen WITH a prescribed pain pill, does the pain pill really even work?

Once the Ibuprofen kicked in life was good again. My mom came by with a delicious supper, tortilla soup (which tastes like fancy chili) which she happened to have in her crockpot. If you know my mom, she usually works until 6 pm at the school grading papers and hates to cook so it was amazing of her to bring us a tasty meal. Thankfully my numbness had worn off by supper time and I was able to eat my first meal of the day. Boy was I hungry and boy did that tortilla soup hit the spot! She also took my toddler for a few hours so that Ali could attend the Christian school Christmas play and give me a little bit of a break. There is nothing like having two toddlers screaming at you and whining incessantly when you are in pain!

I managed to live a completely normal existence until the middle of the night when all my pain meds wore off and it felt like someone was mountain climbing with a pick axe in my jaw! Complete agony! One of the longest moments of my life was waiting for all the meds I gobbled to take effect. It took a good half hour to an hour! I kept thinking about that last contraction in Jer's labor where I thought the pain would never end and I wouldn't make it. That's how it felt last night!

I don't mean to sound like the biggest baby and biggest whiner ever. I realize there are people out there who have gone through much worse (like my dad's tricky root canal or my father-in-laws accident while cleaning a chimney that ended up breaking his jaw and half of his teeth and resulting in lots of fake teeth and a wired jaw for a long time.) This experience has made me SO THANKFUL for the advanced care we have today. I imagine the pioneers just had to suffer until the infection killed them!

Now let's hope I don't get an ulcer from taking so many meds and taking them on an empty stomach!

*Tip of the Day: If you ever have a tooth surgery, DO set your alarm clock to wake you up every four hours so that you can prevent the excruciating agony which will cause you to lose a lot of sleep!

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Ever have a pain pill just start to feel like it's working and then make you so drowsy you wanted to drop comatose right on the spot making you wonder if the kids will survive this since their caregiver is so "out of it"? Then the pain pill wore off (about 30 minutes after the drowsiness) and now I am in more pain than I ever was before going to the dentist. Forget oxycodone; it doesn't work! I want like 3 or 4 ibuprofen! This tooth thing is starting to make me consider that natural childbirth may not be the most painful thing I've ever endured. Nah, I take that back. I definitely couldn't blog when pushing out a baby!

Experiences at the Dentist's Office

I went in to the dentist's today as my tooth was throbbing even worse today. My husband was able to come home on lunch break and watch the kids and thankfully the second office I called said to come in immediately.
I was a little nervous, since I hate having to do anything remotely medical and I don't enjoy pain. Also, the dentist's office was shabby and all of the equipment looked at least 30 years old. A very Wyomingish place where the secretaries lounged around browsing the sale ads and chatting while wearing sweatshirts and jeans.
At least the photos on the wall were interesting and made me feel better. How many people can say that their dentist has climbed the Grand Tetons and mountains in Nepal (including Everest)? This being a new dentist to me, I figured if he was a mountain climber, then he was a man of ambition and must be smart too, right?
Unfortunately, my wisdom tooth was infected and he said, "I bet that is REALLY painful." Uh-huh! Especially since I haven't taken any Ibuprofen today!
The good news about going to a shabbier dentist office is that the cost is affordable. I would rather sit in a 70's dentist chair than go to a ritzy office with everything new and be charged $1,000 for a quick extraction. Thankfully, my two x-rays and extraction only cost a couple of hundred.
Let's just say that when anyone with the title "Dr." says you will feel a "little pressure," it's time to get nervous. I admit I was wishing that King Jo was there to hold my hand! I've heard things like that when the pregnancy books say crowning is like a "ring of fire." Take it from someone who has had two non-medicated births, "ring of fire" is a VAST understatement for the Blowtorch from Hades.
Even though I was numbed up by Mountain Climber Dentist, I felt like someone who gets the epidural in childbirth and it doesn't work. "Gentle pressure" was akin to someone shattering my jaw with a sledgehammer. I'm glad it only lasted about 30 seconds, just before I was ready to pass out to avoid the pain! I'm glad he was extra careful since he found an infected root which came out with the tooth. He put one stitch in, which I also felt!
Needless to say, my kiddoes can't understand why mommy can't talk right now or why her face resembles that of a Sumo wrestler's. It's been interesting giving orders to my two-year old through grunts and pointing. Amazing how much she understands from my facial expressions telling her to go take a nap NOW!
One other crazy thing is that they tell you to take some prescribed pain pills (which are just starting to kick in....ahhhhh.....bliss.....) but they tell you not to drink or eat anything until the numbness wears off. With a mouth full of gauze I tried to say, "How?" when the dentist told me take a pain pill. You just told me not to eat or drink and to keep this gauze in for awhile! How am I supposed to swallow when I can't feel my tongue? Lucky for him I couldn't talk so he didn't really have to answer the question. I did manage (barely) to swallow the pill on the side that isn't numb!
Take my advice and have your wisdom teeth removed in High School when your parents will pay for it and they can put you completely under! My other 3, non-infected wisdom teeth should probably be removed before they, too, get infected. However, I want to be drugged beyond comprehension if I have that done!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Keepin' It Simple

Sometimes it's hard for me to accept that I'm limited by time, resources, and energy and can't get everything done that I want to. I think most people tend to be frustrated by these constraints, whether they are the loafer types that can't get all 3 things on their daily list done or whether they are like me and can only get 20 out of 30 things done in a day. This week I've had to constantly remind myself to STEP BACK and LET GO in order to keep life simple. Some examples:

*I had great ambitions to sew a beautiful apron for a friend for Christmas and thought it would be cool to make her daughters matching aprons too. Not going to happen! I had to accept that this isn't the season to do that and the original gift I have for her, which is sitting in the gift pile ready to go, is perfectly acceptable and will be appreciated.

*I wanted to send a cousin an e-card, but it's getting late and it takes a lot of time to load cards to preview them with our dial-up internet. So, I sent her a Happy Birthday e-mail, which is just as heartfelt, but takes less time.

*I wanted to make a dainty, very fancy snack for the Toddler Gift Swap we're going to tomorrow (the kids all choose a used toy to swap among friends). Instead, with a throbbing tooth that continues to pain me, I will be grabbing the quickest thing I possibly can, like some store-bought cookies someone recently gave us.

*I wanted to have a loaf of home-baked bread made fresh and wrapped attractively for every neighbor in our building with a sweet Christmas card attached. My especially "crunchy" neighbor was going to get a loaf that was made with olive oil, all-natural flour, sunflowers, etc. I had to let this illusion go and settle for the baskets of chocolate candies. It's enough that I bake all our own bread for our meals. Sometime, maybe in January or February I will have the time to bless my neighbors with bread, but in these busy days of December, it's not possible.

*I'd love to make an apron, pair of ribbon socks, pair of leather shoes, fancy hair barrette, or flannel rag quilt for every friend and kid I know and am related to, but I have to just step back and accept that I can't. There are times when I can bless family and friends with handmade gifts and I enjoy it heartily, but I can't "do it all." This is why I share pattern links, craft ideas, and info on making these projects because if someone truly wants something, they can learn to make it, just as I have done!

*I wanted to fresh squeeze orange juice (by hand) for my husband and I every morning this week as we've had colds. I also wanted to eat fresh crushed garlic, take apple cider vinegar daily, and all my vitamins. Instead, I forgot to buy garlic, forget some of my vitamins and to take my vinegar and only managed to squeeze the yummy OJ one morning. Instead we are feeding off the delicious homemade chicken rice soup I made on Sunday to help heal our colds.

*I wanted to have 10 cloth diapers made for my single mom friend who has to use cloth due to an allergic baby. After today, I won't see her for another month and the few diapers I have made her (in the Fuzzi Bunz style) are so convenient and nice for her as she works, goes to nursing school, and deals with a very sick baby with severe health problems. I know she really needs them and appreciates them and this is my "benevalence project" for this holiday season. However, I ran out of waterproof material and am waiting on my next shipment and realize that with our upcoming trip I likely won't get to the diapers until January. I guess she'll survive for a while using old-fashioned diapers with pins like our grandmothers did!

*I wanted to have the house cleaned top to bottom and everything completely spotless for the managers who are coming this week to work on the apartments a little bit (they live in Washington, D.C. and come about twice a year.) They will be renevating our living room light which no longer works, and due to the fact that lots of workmen and our managers will be in and out of the house starting tomorrow, I would love to impress them with the cleanest apartment they've ever seen. *laugh* Like that is EVER going to happen! They will just have to realize that real people live here and toys everywhere are proof that we are blessed to have two tiny, busy ones here daily! Besides, why on earth would I want to clean everything before they go and rip out an eighth of our ceiling and make a world-class mess?

*I wanted to get a million things done today, but my jaw is so swollen that I am thankful to have gotten just several projects done and that I was able to take my kids to their friend's birthday party. It's becoming more evident as the pain continues that I will be seeing a dentist tomorrow!

There are many other things I wish I could do: caroling, buying gifts for and delivering them to the nursing home, hosting a Christmas party club to share the Gospel, planning a craft-making party for my gal friends one evening, etc. etc. etc. But alas, sometimes the GOOD things aren't the GREAT things and the GREAT things aren't the BEST things. I want Jesus to be the focus of this season and my family's health and well-being to be next! This necessitates that I learn to use the little word, "no" more often than I would like to.

What are ways that you keep things simple during this busy time of year?

A Little Lady's Apron

I've been into sewing aprons this week. Unfortunately, the apron I was making last night with a store-bought pattern totally flopped and looked horrible once finished. So, I developed my own pattern. Then I decided to make Ali a couple of little aprons. One isn't quite finished and is smock-style for painting or coloring in. This little one is almost like a large bib, which she can wear when helping Mommy in the kitchen or while eating. It is the easiest thing ever to make! I've taken pictures of the shape so you can get an idea in case you want to make some. Because it's so tiny, I didn't think side ties were necessary, but with the adult ones in this style I will add ties at the hip. I'm considering making a few in boyish prints to use as long bibs for Jer (without the ruffle of course!)

Experiment with ribbons or bias tape to embellish them.

Gifts on a Budget

I love to give gifts! I love making cute things handmade or finding great bargains so that I can bless others through gifts. I was thinking today about what I could give my neighbors as a little something with their Christmas cards. Then I remembered the cute little baskets I found at the thrift store, still wrapped in plastic and brand-new for 10 cents. I have a few on hand. I also remembered the yummy Peppermint kisses I snagged at Walgreens for $1 a while back. Throw on some cute bows I got during after-Christmas clearances last year and you have a cute little gift for around 65 cents each!


Whaaaaaaa! No, it's not Jeremiah teething today. Oddly enough it is MAMA who is teething today! How weird is that? I have utmost empathy for any of my tiny friends who may be cutting teeth. It hurts like the dickens! One of my back molars is coming in and my whole right side of my face is swollen and sore and I'm popping Ibuprofen like candy. If it doesn't feel better tomorrow I'll make a dental appointment. I sure hope it's nothing that requires a......(shudder...)...root canal.

Thanks Honey!

Last night my hubby was remarking that he told a certain friend of ours that I had to run to Safeway to get another good deal. I said, "He thinks I'm a nut, doesn't he?" My hubby replied instantly with, "Oh, I don't think he thinks you're a bad nut honey!"
Ahhhhh, thanks Honey, I guess I'm a GOOD nut, which is so much better!
I posted this for you fellow coupon-clipping nuts who get groceries for free!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Clean Veggies

I found this great new product a couple of weeks ago! I'm hoping this will help make the Dirty Dozen less dirty (see my posts on Natural Living for a recap of the produce most likely to contain pesticides). Where we live there are very few options for organic produce. Sometimes you see it, sometimes you don't. I was planning to buy organic apples last week and the store didn't have any. For that matter they didn't have anything organic in the produce section! So, I figure that using this cleansing spray is the next best thing until we can grow our own garden. This cost a little over $4 at the health food store and is all-natural. It should last a long time. Have any of you used this or something similar?

Making Your Home a Haven--Day 7



Today for the Making Your Home a Haven Challenge we are supposed to do a project like tackling a drawer, shelf, or closet. I tackled my spice cabinet as it's been bugging me recently. I straightened and organized and wiped it out. I am so happy with the results! I tried not to overschedule my day so that I have plenty of time to play with the kids (something I haven't been doing enough of recently). All of the items on my list are done except the yard stuff. It's icy cold with lots of snow outside, but I still need to get a pile of branches moved out of the yard.

I also got an unexpected but pleasant call from my brother, whom I haven't talked to in a few months as he's been in Argentina. He's spending Christmas in Florida and gave me a call. Ali chatted with him on the phone. He asked how she was doing and if there was snow and she mentioned going outside and said, unprompted, "I FWEEZED my buns off!" It was hysterical! Meanwhile, he's picking lemons and tangerines which just seems weird to do at "Christmas-time."

Supper tonight is Nachos, which is very simple, especially since I have frozen bags of hamburger in the freezer already cooked and refried beans and Green Mountain Lava Salsa already made! (See my Cooking posts for the salsa recipe).

Monday, December 10, 2007

Making Your Home a Haven--Day 6

I'm excited for another week of emphasis on keeping up those problem areas of the house. Today is the kitchen! Boy, did mine need it. I was horribly embarrassed to take "before" pics for you all to see, but the contrast is so great that at least I can feel glad about the results. Bear in mind that I don't have a dishwasher (I can't wait to have one someday!), that I was feeling sick with my cold this weekend, and that weekends are whirlwinds of disaster at our house. When my hubby is home it's extremely hard to stay on schedule and get as many chores done and we tend to do different things on the weekend so housekeeping sometimes gets forgotten.

Supper is planned: Pancakes, sausage, and cheesy scrambled eggs. No early prep necessary.

I'm still working on my verses from last week!

On a happy note, I found a super simple pattern online for a smock apron and since I don't really have a feminine cute apron, I thought I'd make one this week! So, here's a pic of me in my new apron. For some reason the cheap batteries I put in my camera last night have been making the pics look fuzzy!
For those of you who wonder why my dish drainer is full in my newly "cleaned" kitchen: That's my definition of clean! I've become an expert at stacking the dishes as high as possible to avoid drying. When my hubby does dishes, he always dries EVERYTHING! But it takes him 3 times as long to get them done! I would rather not waste precious naptime drying dishes when they will dry just fine in the drainer and can be put away later!
I even scrubbed my floor to a squeaky clean shine on my hands and knees with my all-natural, Dr. Bronner's all-purpose cleaner. My home definitely feels like a haven now!

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Obstacles Against Making Your Home a Haven

My earnest desire is to make our home a beautiful haven of rest and peace. I would love to have a perfectly spotless home, plenty of time to make my favorite crafts, delicious 5-star meals every night, and well-behaved little angels.
We can't have everything we want in this world.
So, even though I'm making a major attempt to de-clutter, organize and freshen our home, this week and every week, I realize that life isn't neat and organized and perfect all the time. For instance, today I have a bad cold and would rather lay on the couch or sit at the computer than do anything. I'm pooped and feeling icky! Not only that, but my kids will never be perfect and will always keep me on my toes and stretch my patience. I will work on a lovely meal only to realize that my whole kitchen is a disaster now and needs cleaned. I will clean the kitchen during which the kids will empty every toy they own on the living room carpet. I'll enforce the cleaning up, which takes forever, only to notice another mess in their bedroom, another mess in my kitchen, the accidental spilling of something on the carpet, someone getting into something they shouldn't have, etc. Then, just when I think I've gotten things taken care of, and cleaned up, two of the neighbor kids will show up and help my kids destroy the house again. Uuughhh!
The comic strips of late in the local paper have been almost prophetic in what has happened in my life as a mom recently. A Baby Blue's comic this Sunday about the mom having to peel her kids off her legs with a crowbar for some alone time made sense to me when I fought off the screaming little ones on Monday night for about 15 minutes so I could get out the door to a church meeting. The above comic illustrates my exact feelings most days! Especially today when my little boy decided to dunk the remote in the toliet and throw some of his sister's best toys in the garbage can. My kids have done everything pictured above and about a billion other naughty things.
Making your home a haven is mostly about attitude and not about cleaning. I have been to homes that weren't perfectly spotless but reflected the sweetness of a God-fearing mama and a warm cozy feeling. I have been in homes where there isn't a speck of dust or dirt but the feeling is icy and sterile. I want to have a clean home, but most importantly I want to have a home where Mama is a happy and kind Mama, always ready to listen and help and be a servant.
Someday I look forward to having a home of our own with more space. Someday I may have a lovely place that STAYS clean and more time on my hands once our children are grown. But, for now, I can only do what I can do with what I have and that means controlling the chaos as much as possible and not fretting over the rest!

Frugal Friday--A Simple, but Fun, Family Game

Today for our Making our Homes a Haven challenge we are supposed to think of something we can do to make time for our family, which is essential to having a warm atmosphere in our homes. So, I thought I'd post on this fun, but very simple game that children of all ages love. It's a fun game for families to play since kids of all ages enjoy it. Adults enjoy it too! This game was developed by a missionary here (Kurt Shafli of Switzerland) who reaches out to the Native Americans on the Reservation. Using symbols he learned from the people he ministers to, he developed this game as a way to help them understand the Gospel.

Take 3 flat, smooth stones of preferred size and using a permanent marker, put a dark, filled-in circle on one, an empty circle on another and an X on another. In this game, the empty circle represents the empty tomb/forgiveness, the dark circle sin/death, and the X is the cross. Interestingly enough, the X is a traditional Indian symbol for "TRADE" so the combination that receives the most points is:

Dark circle, X, empty circle which means: Jesus trades our sin for forgiveness at the cross. Jesus conquered death and the tomb is empty!
To play the game hold all three stones and toss them onto the ground/table. If they land with the marking down, then they are blanks. Figure out how many points you have by the point system pictured above. Then tally point up for each person playing on a piece of paper.

This game is also fun for outdoor activities like camping or family picnics. If you have it memorized and you have a marker on hand it can be made anytime, anywhere! Hours of fun, and the Gospel reinforced in little minds!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Making Your Home a Haven--Day 4

I didn't skip out on the challenge yesterday ladies! It was just a very busy day and my laundry pile gets tackled on Mondays and was done except for diapers. See yesterday's post for a description of how my hubby made our home a haven yesterday, more so than me!

Today's Goals:

Time with God--Read Psalm 145 and Proverbs 31:10-12

I'm going to work on memorizing them throughout the day and all this week

Planning Time--Since yesterday was crazy busy, today is going to be low-key. The main things I have to do:

Call the bank-done

Babysit a friend's toddler in the morning while she is moving-done

Straighten the computer desk again--done
Straighten the kitchen, do some dishes

Mail the Christmas letters--done

Clean the bathroom--done

Make a lunch for Josiah

Make a nice supper--Chicken/Broccoli/Rice Casserole, Pumpkin Rolls (see Crystal's post from a couple days ago for the recipe at and Chocolate Cake

Other things I would like to do today:

Sew myself a cute apron

Catch up on some of the other ladies posts on the Home a Haven Challenge
We're also supposed to think of something fun and special to do for our families this weekend. I'm thinking that we could have Boppa and Grammy (my folks) over for a relaxing Saturday brunch and make homemade caramel rolls or that maybe we could let Alathia open her Candy Land game we got her for Christmas and teach her how to play it!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Senior Pics

Grant has the greenest eyes I've ever seen. This photo doesn't do them justice!

Grant is a BMX biker and has worked as a bike mechanic at the local bike shop for a few years.

It's scary how much he looks like our Dad did in the 70's with that afro! He didn't even realize how "old fashioned" he looked until he saw these photos!

Grant has spent the last 10 years working on bikes and pouring most of his time, energy, and financial resources into various bikes! One hot July day he biked 80 miles in 6 hours!

No, I haven't abandoned the Make Your Home a Haven challenge today. I didn't have a pic of my home to post today since it was "Laundry Day" and I got the bulk of my laundry done on Monday. I did work my buns off today from the time I got up until 11 p.m. I got my newsletters printed and ready to mail, along with 100 Christmas cards/letters/Christmas photos, bought stamps at the post office, answered some e-mails, got my food order to the bulk food club person, chased after kids, disciplined kids over a thousand times (or so it seemed), dressed, fed, and bathed kids, did a load of diapers, took my youngest brother's belated senior pics, made lunch, browsed the new grocery ads online, ran the kids to my mom's, drove to the town 30 miles away for an evening eye appointment, shopped Wal-Mart for over an hour, shopped Walgreens with all my many coupons, drove home, made myself a very late supper, and gave my hubby a nice back massage.

The plus side to this extremely busy day was that when I returned home from my appointment and shopping trip my hard-working hubby who peels logs all day to the point of exhaustion had done a huge sinkful of dirty dishes and towel-dried them (which is something I NEVER do since I think it is a waste of time). He also had cleaned up all the toys and junk in the living room and vacuumed it! My hero! Nothing says love like having your most hated chores done for you! He didn't even know I'd had a busy day either!

Tomorrow I think I will put my feet up and take it easy. Eat a lot of chocolate and take time to read a fun book. Days like today are thankfully pretty rare! But I do have a tendency to be a work-a-holic, even if I don't technically have a real job. Even if it seems like I accomplished a lot, I had about ten more things running through my brain today of things I need to do. I relentlessly punish myself to get EVERYTHING accomplished all at once! Ease up girl, back away from the To-Do list and no one will get hurt!

The above photos are some of the best of the pics I took of my brother Grant. My parents bugged him to get photos done, but he never wanted to. I finally bribed him by telling him this could be his Christmas gift to Mom and Dad: posing for the pics. We haven't had a decent pic of him in years and my parents would be devastated if something ever happened to him and they didn't have some nice pictures to remember him by. I think he looks best with his hair cut and his face shaved (and no earrings). But, no matter what style he decides to sport, the girls in town seem to adore him!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Babysitting Twins

Babysitting twins is such an adventure! Especially when those twins happen to be two! Even more so when you happen to have a one and two year old of your own! Our good friends from church have some very delightful twins who are very sweet little people most of the time and pretty easy to babysit. Just don't give them crayons (I learned the hard way) and try to make sure everyone is sharing and playing fairly. Little Kennedy and Carsen are very easy to babysit as far as kid temperment and personalities go but it still takes a ton of energy to have that many littles running around, literally, underfoot. When their mom comes to get them it's a little bit like trying to herd rabbits to get their coats on and out of the door before someone runs away or takes their coat off or escapes down the hall. We went on a walk today and that meant getting hats, gloves, shoes, and coats on 4 little people and KEEPING them on those little people.
For those of you mothers who daily keep up with four kids 3 and under, you have all my admiration and awe. In the meantime, where I once thought two was hard, I now consider it a piece of cake!

Making Your Home a Haven--Day 2

Refresh your spirit:

I'm trying to memorize parts of Psalm 145


Today we were supposed to write a list of things to accomplish today. In addition to my morning routine, here is my list of things to remember for today (pictured above). The main thing my husband wanted me to help him with was the refried beans since he has to take them to church tonight (he volunteers with the youth).


Living room is the emphasis today. I plan to organize the stuff we store under the couch, move my sewing and craft tubs into my bedroom, and straighten up piles of books left on end tables/arms of the couch, etc. Since this isn't exciting stuff, I didn't take a pic.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Making Your Home A Haven--Day 1

Yummy rolls and a cheery Christmas candle!

What a mess! I can't find anything around here!

Ahh! So refreshingly neat! Now if only it would STAY that way!

The ladies at Biblical Womanhood are doing a two-week challenge on

Making Your Home a Haven.

Today, in addition to refreshing your spirit and making a plan for a morning routine she suggests working on the entryway to your home. Since we don't have much of an entryway in our tiny apartment, and I've already been trying to contain jackets in a special laundry basket and we have a little rug all set up for shoes, I decided to tackle the worst spot in the whole house; our computer desk! What an eyesore when you come in the door and see that across the room! Being that I get a lot of bills/mail and love books, this has become the catch-all for anything we want to keep out of the reach of tiny fingers. I hate it and my husband gets sick of it, but everytime I clean it, it takes about one day before it's back to chaotic. So, the next two weeks will find me working on this spot A LOT! I cleared a spot on our bookshelf to handle all the books I'm currently reading. I put little odds and ends in a plastic box and tried to sort magazines, flyers, and little notes on scraps of paper. I'm making more of an effort to jot notes, shopping lists, addresses, and little reminders in one little notebook in my purse where it's all contained and not a bunch of strewn paper clutter.

A few things I DID do to make my home a haven today was lighting a pretty candle (Holiday Cheer scent), bake a batch of Crystal's 30-minute-homemade rolls for our sandwiches for lunch, and put on some Christmas music. I also did my general Monday morning cleaning in addition to babysitting my friend's adorable 2-year old twins for over 4 hours! What a morning!

Friendly Mommy Tip: Don't ever give 3 two-year-olds and a 1 year-old crayons! Let's just say my kitchen floor was very colorful and is now VERY clean!

Our Morning Routine which I do daily and don't need to write down because it's in my head:

1. Hubby or I get up with the kids and give them each a banana, some cheerios, and sippy cups of milk. One spouse always lets the other sleep in. We split this up about 50/50 just based on who is the most tired that day!

2. I usually do dishes or work on some kitchen cleaning while they eat. I don't bother eating since the interruptions are too great at this point!

3. Clean up kids, change diapers, bathe if needed (every 2-3 days) and get them dressed for the day. Do Morning devotions with them, reading some of the Bible, praying, and singing songs or reading stories.

4. Put Jer down for a morning nap. Put an educational video on for Ali (we let her watch 30 minutes a day). Then shower, get dressed, and grab a quick bite to eat if possible. Check e-mail and do paperwork until her movie is done (bills, organizing shopping lists or coupons, letters to mail).

5. Seek to do as much laundry as possible during the morning when few other residents here are using the washer/dryer.

6. Try to get the living room vaccuumed and straightened up nicely before King Jo arrives home for lunch.

7. Kids get a snack around 10 a.m. and usually start fussing for lunch at 11:30 a.m.

8. Try to do an educational activity with Alathia, whether painting, learning letters, cutting paper, or practicing Bible verses.
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