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Thursday, December 31, 2009

The thing about bras.

Warning: This post is not for guys to read. Simply because you just won't understand any of what I'm talking about.

They (Oprah Show maybe?) say that what 80% of women are wearing the wrong bra size. And you know what, it's not our fault. It's because companies make them the wrong sizes!

Literally one of the best things about living in Connecticut for awhile was that I found an actual bra boutique where I could get measured and fitted and they actually carried my correct size! And guess what, it turns out I'm a 32HH (pregnant or nursing anyway, 32G normally)!! Sounds crazy, but that's more like the sizes we should be wearing. The scale needs to majorly be shifted because culture thinks that a DD woman is huge, but really, it's not at all! Yet that's all we see in the stores. Nothing bigger than a DD really and by then they've moved the band size all the way up to 40, which is totally wrong and hikes all the way up my back, not supporting me in the front at all. When all wrong sizes is all you can find in the stores, then what?

My life was changed in a big way when I found the right bra size. Seriously! Before I had NO support and if I bent over or jogged to catch a frisbee, I totally fell out of my bra! I constantly had to find ways to discreetly readjust, and that's just not cool. In CT, however, I was fitted with a proper bra and I discovered a whole new world! I had proper support, was lifted and could actually do active things like play frisbee or volleyball or simply bend down to pick up something without having to hold myself in. It was great! You have no idea. But it costs big bucks to find a 32HH bra, averaging probably $50-80 for just a bra that fits. But for me that's worth it, hands down. There's still not a big selection, but at least I've found some stores online that carry the size (since I'm no longer near my favorite boutique in CT), providing for my bra-wearing needs and giving me a freedom that really is priceless. Check out Her Room, Bare Necessities, or Fig Leaves.

Except when it comes to nursing bras. *sigh* Now we have to get even more specific. There are three bras to pick from in my size. Two still aren't quite big enough (I bubble out the top) but don't come in any larger sizes. And the third is OK, I've worn it before. It does the job but doesn't give you a very attractive look. Hard to explain. Bras are shaped differently, and this one isn't a shape or lift I really care for, but it just might have to do. Yay. So I guess this is the life for the next year while nursing. I know, it seems so petty. But a woman likes to feel attractive. And how a bra fits also makes a HUGE difference in how shirts fit.

So. I'm frustrated. I want to go in the bra-making business so I can just help offer the right sizes for women like me. I don't really feel like I'm that abnormal, so I don't quite understand why it's such a struggle. How can we get companies to start making the right sizes and offer a better selection in normal stores? Does anyone else even share these problems??

Monday, December 28, 2009

Before-Baby To-Do List

We're almost down to 4 WEEKS before Baby's due date! Can you believe that?! CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT?! I don't know why, but I feel so unprepared this time around! I feel so busy and swamped with the two that we have that I'm definitely feeling more than uneasy about how the adjustment will go with the addition of a third! We first heard that the transition was the same as going from one to two kids, but now I just keep hearing how extremely DIFFICULT it is for the first several months! So please, can anyone share some hopeful honesty or tips to make it easier??

I'm also feeling a bit stressed about delivery and all the details surrounding that. The timing with Kevin's work schedule, arrangements for the kids (WHO can be our on-call people, day and night until my parents can get here), the weather (seeing that we've had some MASSIVE snow lately!), and labor itself knowing this time we need to hurry to the hospital to avoid another surprise home delivery! I know God has it already planned out, every single detail, but it's just hard to rest in the unknown.

Pregnancy-wise I'm feeling very good. Sleeping well through the night. (for now!) Earlier in pregnancy I woke up nearly every night to pee almost precisely at 2am, but now I must be so exhausted that once I'm asleep I'm out until morning. And it takes so much effort to roll over at all that I just don't even move. I've had much fewer leg cramps than my last two pregnancies, probably less than a handful total, and that's good. There's nothing like having to hop out of bed in the middle of the night to walk out a cramp that ends up lingering for days. I only have mild heartburn sometimes, and no swelling or anything. But I'm definitely reaching the point where I'm just ready to not be pregnant any more. The huffs and puffs of trying to reach something, the extremely awkward baby movement, and the frustration of not being able to find a comfortable way to sit on the couch. I can't complain though, because pregnancy has been VERY good to me! It's just a bit hard for any woman, and I'm ready to reach the end and meet our baby!

So with that, here is my final to-do list as we prepare for this sweet baby boy:

* Finish hospital pre-registration forms.
* Make arrangements for where kids are going to stay.
* Pack kids' overnight bag.
* Rearrange van and install infant car seat.
* Clean up and prepare guest room. I never reaaally cleaned it after having our windows installed. So it's still super dusty and needs the bedding washed, even though I continue to keep clean folded laundry on there ALL the time now.
* Stock up cupboards and freezer with meals.
* Sew curtains for Eli's room. (I finally found fabric to make matching curtains for his second window!)
* Sew nursing cover blanket.
* Make a list for my hospital bag.
* Figure out snow plow something or other to make sure we can get out of lane if there's snow that week!
* Try on nursing bras again and decide whether to return or keep.
* Purchase Hannah's birthday presents, since her birthday is so soon after Baby's due date. Thanks, Amazon!
* Prepare MOPS activities for February meeting.

* Shopping List:
  • OxyClean and a bucket. (ahh, how I've forgotten those days...)
  • Binkies (just in case. our old ones look gross)
  • Infant socks. (I cannot find the ones we had for Eli!)
  • Raspberry leaf tea. (Due date is the 28th, and I'll be shooting to deliver on the 25 or 26th)
  • Nursing pads.
  • Baby hangars.

Snow, Christmas, Family.

A brief description of what our week has been like since Tuesday and over the holiday week...

Change of plans.
Freezing rain for 2 days.
Early Christmas.
Great time spent with both families.
Several hours with no electricity.
Candlelight Christmas eve dinner.
Candlelight songs by the piano.
Perfect moments.
Heavy snow storm.
Kevin back to work.
Still snow.
Fun board games.
Lots of goodies.
And hot chocolate.
A fun evening with my friends (and my kids).
Still blowing snow.
No plows back home.
Kevin's truck stuck. Again.
Kids and I "stuck" at my parents' house.

Yup, that about covers it. Without going into the long drawn-out detail of what's been going on. Basically we've had a lot of BAD weather here this week, but with a little rearranging we've still been able to have some nice time with both families. Kevin trudged his way back Christmas Even to return to work on Christmas Day and the kids and I stayed to visit with family that's home for the holiday. We would have driven separately but because of the weather we all crammed in the truck, and my parents will drive us back (or meet halfway with Kevin) whenever things are clear for us to get to our house. I'll have pictures and more to share when we get back home to our computer, but I thought I'd at least pop on and share a brief update. Hoping to get back home tomorrow. I miss my hubby and the home routine. But we'll enjoy this for now!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Monday Meanderings - Holiday Style

Well with Christmas this week and us going home to see family, I'm obviously not going to be posting a week of plans. But I did think I'd share what our holiday plans are!

Kevin's been on nights over the weekend, and now today he starts his 4 days off. While he's still sleeping this morning, the kids and I are having a play date over at a friend's. Thought it would be fun to hang out before we all head off for the holidays. With the blizzard two weeks ago and then our trip to KC, it's been awhile since we've really seen anyone!

Tomorrow morning we're going to have our own little family Christmas. Stockings, one present, and a nice breakfast complete with a strawberry-cream cheese butter braid I bought from the local school's fundraiser. Then in the afternoon at nap time we'll drive home. Kevin and I are driving separately since he has to return earlier for work, while the kids and I stay a few more days to visit with family that's coming in for the holiday.

Wednesday we'll probably be just bumming around and taking care of a few Christmas-related things. My brother Paul and his wife Holly fly in that evening!! Kevin's sister Carri and her husband Lucas will also arrive that day!

Thursday will be our day for Christmas celebrations. Morning Christmas with my family and an afternoon Christmas and dinner with Kevin's family. Christmas Eve church service later that night, though I'm not sure I can go because the kids will be in bed. (the service doesn't start 'til 10:00) My dad's the pastor so their house is right next door, and as tempting as it is to just bring the baby monitor, I don't think I can do it. Kevin will drive back for work the next day. (bummed he doesn't get to see the family more while they're here!!)

Friday is Christmas! No big plans though. Probably a nice Christmas dinner with my family but otherwise probably just hanging out.

Saturday. Again probably just hanging out with a visit to see Kevin's family sometime during the day.

Sunday. Church in the morning. Then after naps I'm hoping to get together with some of my friends from home while Paul and Holly head back to the airport.

Then Monday sometime I'll head back home with the kids.

So it'll be a nice week of family time and relaxing! And celebrating Jesus' birthday! I like to play Christmas hymns on the piano by candle light/Christmas light, read the Christmas story, and watch The Nativity Story movie.

What are your family's plans this holiday week??

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmastime at our house

Just a peek into our home right now, cuz I thought it would be fun to share. I love seeing everyone else's Christmas decs! It's such a special time of year!







Friday, December 18, 2009

New cake decorating technique!

Every month at our church we have a women's fellowship meeting. "Godly Girlfriends" it's called. Before heading into devotion time, prayer, and snacks, someone shares an "added attraction". Last night one of the ladies taught us how to make bows, last month we got some fun ideas for creating gift baskets, and the previous months we've learned how to make candles and do cake decorating.

Now cake decorating isn't really my thing. It's hard and frustrating, takes forever to do, and the cake never quite turns out how I wanted. But I try. And I'm learning. So I was pretty excited when we learned some tricks at our fellowship meeting! Afterward I went out and bought the same pan (12x2" circle pan) and frosting spatula that our friend Rachel used in the demonstration, and now finally since it was Kevin's birthday this week I got a chance to try it out!

Step 1: Cut up a towel into strips the same width as the cake pan depth. Use metal safety pins to pin together your strips of towel so the whole thing will wrap around your pan 4 or 5 times. Wet the towel and wrap it around the cake pan. Bake according to your directions. I'd sort of tried this before and knew it helped, but this was so much easier to have the towel cut into nice strips and pinned together. This whole process helps your cake come out with a flat top instead of rounded. See?
Step 2:
Let your cake cool fully.

Step 3: Pick an image you want to use for your decoration. Anything you want. Kevin likes Jeeps, so I went online and Googled "jeep coloring page" and printed. Now cut out the picture, cutting along the lines of the picture as much as you can without actually cutting the picture apart.

Step 4: Frost your cake as normal and let it sit for about 10 minutes, 'til it's dry to the touch.

Step 5: Now lay your picture on the cake and gently press it into the frosting with a butter knife, especially so you can see the inside edges of your picture where details are.

Step 6: Now gently lift the picture off the cake, and you'll see your print in the frosting so you don't have to try to freehand a design or find a specific-shaped cake pan. Now when I did this I didn't let the frosting sit quite long enough so it smeared a little bit when I pulled the paper off, but I could still see it clearly enough. You'll see most of the lines for your picture, and then you can fill in where needed when your doing your frosting outline.

Step 7: Using a small frosting tip, outline all the lines on your picture. Then fill in accordingly with colors of your choice. Two more lessons I learned trying this one: 1) a Wilton 16 tip was NOT small enough, so I didn't have enough space for all the detail of the picture. I should've used my Wilton 3 tip, which I realized as soon as I started, but the tip was already in the bottom of the frosting bag so I couldn't really change it out. 2) For me the WORST part of cake decorating is getting the frosting the right colors. I couldn't get black for my outline, the darkest I got it was dark gray before I ran out of coloring. Then I wanted the Jeep to be a green color, but it turned out to be a really bright green, so I added in a little bit of the gray from the outline frosting, but that just made it a super dark green, and now you can't see the detailing of the Jeep because there's no contrast between the gray and green. But at least it gives you an idea of how it can turn out. I can't wait to try it again for Hannah's birthday in a few weeks, hopefully with a picture of a little less detail. Still came out pretty good though, huh?

I'm not very good at star-tipping, so for this one I just filled in the frosting and smeared it together a little bit. But still it was pretty easy and I'm excited about this new method! So what do you think? You gonna try it??

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Baby Names.

We're still in the process of deciding on a name for Baby #3, so everywhere I look I keep my eyes open to name ideas... brand names, initials, movie credits, stores, street names, book characters. Phillips 66, Taylor Trucking, Jesse James sign, etc. Names are everywhere!

The name Eli came to me because I remembered a friend of mine who worked with a little boy named Eli and liked the name. We chose Elijah as the full name though, and William is a family name.

Anne is another family name but I converted it>>Anna>>Hannah. Mostly I just really liked the name Hannah Elizabeth and was set on it right from the start. First name anyway, middle name took awhile to decide.

And baby 3's name is still in progress. I have a name I'm pretty set on, but we're not in 100% agreement about it quite yet.

But I'm curious, what's the story behind your children's names?? How did they come to you? Is it a family name, is it from a favorite TV show, is it named after someone special, or did it just come to you in a baby name search? I'd love to hear your story!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Happy Birthday, honey!

Today I am celebrating my husband. His life, his presence in my life, the man that he is, the father he's become. I am so so thankful!


By the way, my Kansas City pics are up OVER HERE!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Kevin and I are home from a wonderful weekend in Kansas City. My parents dropped the kids off this afternoon, and we're loving being together again as a family. Amazing what a good break can do! There will be more to come! But for now I just wanted to stop in to say Hello! to you dear friends Kevin doesn't have to go to work until Thursday night shift so we'll just be hanging out the next couple days, and I can't wait to do just that! Happy Monday!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

No more scraping windows!

While we're at it talking about how much I love coupon codes, I just remembered I wanted to share a little tip I've learned since being married to my wonderful husband.... Instead of scraping frost or ice off your windshield, just spray your de-icer washer fluid! It's gone in an instant! You might still have to scrape your side windows but if you were parked in the right direction, they're not usually as bad anyway. You might go through washer fluid faster, but it is soooo worth it!

Don't forget coupon codes!

I was just online ordering some new nursing bras and remembered during check out that I should just do a quick google search for a coupon code. ("bare necessities coupon code") In one click I found one and saved $15 just like that! So don't forget those coupon codes! They're easy to find and so worth the save!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

24 hours.

Whew, it's been a long day. I'm tired and ready to take a nice hot shower after having no water for almost exactly 24 hours. That sure made life interesting, needless to say. I spent all morning melting snow, which ended up only being enough for us to feed the cats and flush the toilet two times. With the microwave, stove, and oven I had a pretty good system going, but still it was a very slow process and one that I gave up on by mid-afternoon. I also learned how dirty snow actually is, despite its pure white color! There was quite a bit of dirt that settled to the bottom of the bowl as I was melting! What a surprise!

While I was melting snow, Kevin was trying to dig his truck out. He worked on it for almost 4 hours this morning, took a couple hours break, and then went back out right after lunch. Finally around 2pm, a nice old man came by with a front-loader and helped pull him out and scoop the road! What a blessing!!

By the end of the afternoon the winds calmed down, the sun shone, and everything was calm again. COLD (7 degrees!!), much too cold for play, but calm. So we took a rest.

And then Kevin got to work again fixing the water problem! Turned out it was a specific fuse or something or that sort. And I'm so thankful it was something we could fix without an electrician!

We had our mac n cheese and hot dogs for dinner, and now finally all the dishes from last night's dinner are washed and stacked high. The kids are tucked in bed, heaters are running, and clothes that have been in the washing process since yesterday are re-washed and finally getting put in the dryer.

Tomorrow's agenda: the lane. Must get it cleared out so we can get out for our Kansas City babymoon on Friday!!
And amidst all of today's chaos, one can still find much beauty:

Sun dogs.

This is Day #3 of being snowed in. And that we are. Kevin tried to get out for work today, and 3 hours later he's STILL just on the other side of the barn trying to dig out his truck, while at the same time the winds continue blow him back in. Poor guy. He just called the neighbor so hopefully they can come over with their tractor and help dig him out. (UPDATE: they're stuck in too) Not a single car or plow has been by yet.

The electric in the basement is out, and it's what runs our water pump so we've been without running water since dinner last night. And there's not a chance we can get an electrician out here any time soon in this weather. Everything's shut down. So I'm hoping that MAYBE an electrician can at least talk Kevin through something over the phone.

I'm thankful Kevin's stuck home today. So thankful. I didn't know what I was going to do! And I'm also thankful that he was able to bring home a little food last night. I told him to get milk, bread, and food, and he brought home, milk, bread, mac n cheese and hot dogs and three frozen pizzas. Haha. Yup, that works! We can at least do the pizzas without needing water.

I'm melting snow over the stove right now so I could at least feed the cats and soak our dirty dishes from last night. Snow melts veeerrry slooowly. But it's not so much. At least it makes me feel like I'm doing something, I guess.

While I was out collecting snow I snapped a few photos. See the sun dogs? The rainbow looking things on either side of the sun. I love them.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Snowed in.

We're totally snowed in this week. At least the kids and I are. Thankfully Kevin has a 4x4 truck and can still get out for work. We still don't have any snow removal device for our lane because no matter what we decide to go with, it's probably going to cost at least $2000! And since Kevin leaves for work at 5am, having someone else come dig him out before then really isn't an option. So the lane is drifting over and more snow keeps coming down and tomorrow's weather is supposed to be equally bad with heavy winds. Yikes! We haven't gotten to the store yet this week so we're really scrounging for food, but it's amazing what you can come up with when you really have to! The closest thing we have ingredients for is this yummy and easy alfredo sauce, so that'll probably be dinner tonight with chicken and broccoli from the freezer. I'm really hoping Kevin can at least bring home some milk and bread when and if he gets home tonight!

Today was a little bit warmer than yesterday (22 degrees instead of 10!) so I was actually wanting to take the kids outside to play in the snow today. But I couldn't get my belly to fit inside Kevin's snow suit and I don't have any snow gear to wear otherwise. I had to go out to the van to get diapers, and even that walk had me going through snow nearly up to my knees! So playing and building a snowman and getting my regular jeans completely snowy wasn't really my idea of a good time. So we stayed in and read some books instead.

So it's a quiet week at our house and we're bumming like nobody's business. And feeling thankful for a warm house to stay in and the fact that we do have food in the cupboards.

Monday, December 7, 2009

This week. Random.

I don't feel like sitting down and planning the whole week.
It's 5:00 and I have no clue what we're having for dinner tonight. It was too cold to take the kids all out for errands today, so we didn't. And we're not the type to really have much on hand for no reason. So we'll see. Kevin doesn't get home from work 'til 6:30pm, so I have a little time to think. Chicken nuggets?

This week I do need to:
* finish getting things ready for our MOPS meeting tomorrow, even though we might end up having a snow day and canceling.
* clean off the radiators. they're piled with STUFF right now.
* clean off the hutch. it's our hot spot and always cluttered
* put the Christmas bin away now that we have decorations up
* put laundry away
* wash our kitchen towels. they just pile and pile up until I finally have enough to do a load/we don't have a single towel clean in the drawer.
* write our Christmas letter

I'm trying to learn the art of decorating a Christmas tree so it's a PRETTY tree. Seriously, I'm not very good at it. The last couple years I've been keeping to golds and sparkly ornaments and glass icicles instead of toy-type ornaments. This year I tried adding ribbon and I really like it but it only wraps twice around the tree, so I need to buy another roll that matches, if I can find some. And now this year I've also learned that LED lights are not my friend. They're just too bright white instead of glowy.

I also want to learn how to make different Christmas cookies. I don't make cookies all that often, simply because I will eat them all! And I just realized the only kinds of cookies I ever make are oatmeal chocolate chip or sugar cookie. There are tons of varieties out there, especially at Christmas season, so I want to start trying new recipes! What are your favorites???

Hannah's into giving random hugs lately, and I'm adoring this new phase.

My camera is having troubles with the auto focus, so I've been having to do manual focus and it's really hard to tell looking through the view finder if something is completely in focus or not, so I've been ending up with a lot of blurry pics. Plus it's the time of year with pretty Christmas colors that using flash is especially undesirable, so I've been shooting in low-light settings with a very low shutter speed also contributing to blurry pics. Frustrating, but I did some looking online today and apparently it's a common flaw with this particular lens for the auto focus to stop working at times. I'm hoping for a different lens for Christmas this year anyway, so it may end up being the lens I start using more anyway and the auto focus problem won't be so much of an issue.

I just (as in just a couple clicks ago) came across this Jesus is the Gift online Bible study. I want to do this starting right this minute. And printing...

I'm super duper excited for our getaway this weekend! The kids are going to Grandma and Grandpa's house, and Kevin and I are going to Kansas City for THREE WHOLE NIGHTS! I can't wait! Wish I wasn't 8 months pregnant, so we could do fun things like ice skating, hot tubs, or champagne, but we certainly will enjoy some quality time together as a couple instead of as mommy and daddy!

So that's what I'm up to this week. How 'bout you? Oh and if you haven't been over to the ol' blog at all in the last week or two, come on over, because I've decorated for Christmas! =)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Christmas Countdown Calendar and Jesse "Tree"

Last year at this time we were in the middle of moving and didn't have our normal Christmas tree. So we were borrowing a small Charlie Brown style one and made ornaments following the Jesse Tree tradition. This year I wanted to make a Christmas countdown calendar and I realized we could incorporate our Jesse Tree symbols all into one. We're following these devotionals, using these symbols, and at the end of the day instead of putting the symbols on a tree, we put them over one of the numbers on our countdown calendar. Seems to be working well and is a great way to end the day!

the calendar I put together just using a large white piece of paper and red and green construction paper

calendar with symbols

What are your family's traditions leading up to Christmas??

I don't get it.

Why does my 3-yr-old frequently throw fits about not being able to do something he does every day??! Today it was a whole stink about how he couldn't get his underwear on, even though it's something he's been doing by himself for several weeks now! He does this sort of thing quite often and it irritates me up the wazoo because I don't know why it has to be an issue at all!! I usually just let him continue in his fit, refusing to help, telling him I know he can do it and somewhere along the line he gets it himself and we can finally carry on with the rest of our day. But seriously, this is ridiculous. Anyone know more about toddler behavior and can fill me in on something???

And while we're at it, I'm trying to help Eli learn how to dress himself (he can do underwear and pants, but we're still working on shirt and shoes) but WHY is it so impossibly hard to get him to even TRY to do it on his own! He gives one little tug on his sleeve and then pleads that he can't do it and wants help. JUST TRY!!

Okay, I'm done now. But seriously, if you have any suggestions, I would really love it! Happy Thursday, everyone!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

There isn't anything I'd rather do, sweet child.

Today before nap time I was reading to the kids the book God Gave Us Christmas. I just bought the book this season but have been waiting 'til after Thanksgiving (and coughing) to read it. In the story Mama Bear takes Baby Bear all around showing him the wonders of God and how God gave us Christmas by giving us Jesus. And at the ending of the book, there was this simple conversation that brought tears to my eyes...

"Thanks for showing me God, Mama."
"There isn't anything I'd rather do, sweet child," she said with a kiss.

There isn't anything I'd rather do. Wow. Do I feel like that with my own children? Or do I allow myself to get consumed with to-do's and sibling battles and crying and messes that I forget what my purpose really is??

I admit I have been really struggling lately. I know there's no excuse, God can always provide the strength we need. But this horrible cold I've been battling has left me feeling ultra-frustrated and annoyed at everything the kids do. I'm tired of the constant fighting and the crying. I'm tired of them making messes as I'm trying to clean up. My constant nose blowing has made my ears pop a lot such that their noises are extra-loud. And my lack of full voice makes me feel like they can't hear me well, so I end up yelling even more. I'm tired of disobedience, and I'm tired of anger. I am tired of a messy house. I am just tired. And I've totally allowed myself to get consumed instead of taking joy in the blessing of motherhood. Yeah, the BLESSING OF MOTHERHOOD. It doesn't often feel like that, huh? But that is what it is. Because God has chosen me for this role, and honestly, in the end... there isn't anything I'd rather do.

Dear God, help me to choose joy throughout my days. Help me to not get consumed but to keep focus on the things that really matter. It doesn't really matter when all the puzzles get dumped out at once, but it does matter that I show God to my children with my reaction. So fill me your love and your joy and your peace and your patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control, that I might glorify you in all of my days. Amen.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday Meanderings

Bible Study
book of Isaiah

Memory Verse
1 John 3:18 "Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."

Husband Encouragement
* make him cookies

Train Them Up
* continue working on kids' chores-- start reviewing them in the morning so they'll (hopefully) remember to do them on their own throughout the day
* make cookies. I'm not up for making from scratch this time, so we'll do some ready-to-put-on-the-tray kind so the kids can mostly do it all by themselves! instead of me always telling them no, no, no to one thing or another.
* Bible verse: Luke 6:30-31 "Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you."

Absolutely MUST Do
*Plan MOPS activities and send out postcards.
* Get ornaments for our MOPS exchange.
* Set up van appointment.
* Mail package.
* Put together Christmas photo cards before the FREE deal expires the end of TODAY! We never could get another family photo done so I'm just going with one we've already got.

Zone(s)
1. Bathrooms.
2. Put ALL the laundry away. Ever since I started folding laundry on the guest bed instead of on our bed (because Kevin was sleeping in there for so long during outage), I've gotten into the bad habit of never getting everything putting all away.
3. Suitcases cleaned out and put away from our Thanksgiving weekend home.

Menu - trying for easy stuff as I'm still battling a horrible cold, but also trying to pick things I know Hannah likes because she's been really picky lately!

Monday - we have to run out to pick up Kevin's truck before he leaves for work, and while we're up there we need to get our weekly groceries. We'll probably be walking in the door barely in time for dinner. so I'll just get a couple lunchables for the kids and make a sandwich for myself.
Tuesday - chicken and rice soup (can style)
Wednesday - green eggs and ham, toast, fruit
Thursday - dad's spaghetti, garlic bread
Friday - cheesy spinach and artichoke dip (we have tortilla chips leftover from last week), fruit salad, smokies
Saturday - broccoli and four cheese calzones (finishing the ricotta from last week), peaches
Sunday - frozen pizza

FUN THINGS!
* Put up Christmas decorations! Kevin works nights for 3 days this week and then he has 4 days off over next weekend, so it'll be a perfect time to put up our tree and lights outside!
* Because Kevin's days off are actually over the weekend again, he can come to church with us! It's been months since he's been to our church and seen our friends! I don't know how he can stand it!

Join me with your weekly plans! Have a blessed week!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Today I am especially thankful for family and for living close enough we can spend holidays together now! I am thankful for so many good friends. I am thankful for my bloggy friends, because you too are a very real presence in my life! I am thankful for our church and mostly importantly a life in Christ through salvation! HAPPY THANKSGIVING, FRIENDS!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Be Thankful: Nov. 25


Today I am thankful for my new sister-in-law Holly. It was just this time last year that I first got to meet her, and now she is just a great blessing to our family! Not only is she perfect for my brother Paul, but she's a great friend and wonderful sister! I'm so thankful for how God works in our lives, bringing people together every day!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Be Thankful: Nov. 24


I am thankful for...

* waking up to the smell of coffee
* porch swings
* lazy rainy days
* hot tea
* good novels and snuggly blankets
* waffles smothered in peanut butter and syrup (healthy, I know)
* beautiful golden sunsets

What are you thankful for??

Thanksgiving Craft

Eli actually did this a couple weeks ago as the kids' craft at MOPS. He glued it together but didn't really color it. So we finished it at home and mailed it off to Grandma to enjoy! I got the craft idea HERE. Isn't it cute?
The same day at MOPS I had the kids make this thankful tree (with leaves I'd already made and used for an activity the previous month). I wrote on each leaf something a toddler would be thankful for, put all the leaves inside a wrapped shoe box (wrapped so the lid and bottom are wrapped separately), and each child got to pull out a leaf and stick it to the tree. I hear the kids really enjoyed this activity, and since I'm the leader I got to bring it home and it's colorfully decorating our home!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Be Thankful: Nov. 23


"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will--to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment--to bring all things in heaven and earth together under one head, even Christ.

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession--to the praise of his glory." Ephesians 1:3-14

I've been feeling a little guilty the last few days for all the material things I'm thankful for, like I'm cheating and just giving easy answers. It's easy to be thankful for the good things in life. But this, THIS is what really matters!

God chose us to be holy and blameless in his sight.
He has freely given us grace.
I am blessed to have heard the Gospel.
He has redeemed us and forgiven us and saved us from an eternity in hell.
We are guaranteed eternal life with Jesus.

What more can we be thankful for?

Kids' Responsibility Chart


Instead of going back to the kids' chore chart we used quite awhile ago, with tasks on it that all still required my assistance, last week I decided to revise it. I picked five things I think Eli can and should do all by himself throughout the day and [key] without me asking. The 5 tasks I put on his list:

1. Sippy cup - put it in the fridge when he's done with it
2. Shoes - take them off and put them on our shoe shelf as soon as we come inside from something
3. Bed - at least attempt to make bed (we're still practicing how to do this)
4. Dishes - take plate/bowl to kitchen sink after meals
5. Laundry - put clothes down the laundry shoot after we get dressed for the day

At the end of the day I evaluate how he did throughout the day with each task. If several times I had to remind him to do it but he did do it, then he gets just a regular sticker. If he did it most times on his own, then he gets a gold star. And if he didn't do it at all, then he obviously gets no sticker for that task. At the end of the week we count up his gold stars, and he gets a small treat based on how many stars he got. I originally was shooting for 10, (as it is in the picture above), but I think I'm going to change that to just getting a treat equivalent to what he earned. Today he got one M&M for the 10 stars he earned last week. (and we only started on Wednesday) Closer to 15 stars would be something a little bit bigger like maybe a tootsie roll. ALL stars would be fantastic like an ice cream for goodness sakes! That would be amazing! But anyway, you get the idea.

When I re-printed the chart for this week I renamed it "Eli's Responsibility Chart" instead of "chore chart". And while I was at it, I printed one for Hannah too because at the end-of-the day evaluations last week, she'd want to be a part of the stickers and chart too. So for her chart, I took off the "make bed" task but otherwise left it the same as Eli's. She's younger so if she regularly does the tasks at all when I ask her to, she'll earn her stickers at the end of the day. I'm not quite sure what I want my expectations to be for her just yet, so we'll figure it out as we go along.

But so far, it seems to working very well for Eli! He's been awesome at putting his cup in the fridge when he's done, putting his shoes away when we come home, and taking his plate to the kitchen after meals! And it's soooo nice not to have to search for his cup when it's time to get him something to drink, shoes don't become a clutter bug, and he's becoming a regular part of dinner clean-up. He's very good about doing things when we ask him to, so the key to all of this is that he learns to do it on his own and take responsibility for his own clean-up. I think this will be excellent help in preparation for new baby to come, and I'm excited to see how it continues to go, with both children!

What about you? Do you have anything like this with your own children? Any tips or ideas to share?

Monday Meanderings

Bible Study
word study on blessings

Memory Verse
"I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the Lord most high." Psalm 7:17

Husband Encouragement
* Write a thankful letter to my husband.

Train Them Up
* continue working on kids' chores
* Thanksgiving activities!

Absolutely MUST Do
* Mail out a package
* Return library movie before leaving town this week for the holiday
* Make the first seasonal batch of caramel popcorn so I can bring some home with us this week. (not really a MUST do but something I really want to remember!)

Zone
Playroom. We don't have a LOT of toys to rotate much, but some of the smaller misc toys could definitely get rotated out. So I'm working on that.

Menu -

Monday - chili, pears
Tuesday - enchilada dip, Italian pasta salad, sandwiches
Wednesday - pizza

FUN THINGS!
* We're going HOME for the holidays! Kevin has Thursday - Sunday off, like a normal person for once! And he said he might be able to work longer days on Monday and Tuesday and then not have to go in Wednesday, so that would be extra fun!
* While home we're going to help Kevin's family set up all their Christmas decorations, complete with Christmas music and everything. It's hard for them to get around, so now that we've moved back we try to help out and make it into a fun day for them!

Join me with your weekly plans!



Sunday, November 22, 2009

Be Thankful: Nov. 22


One of my favorite hymns, very appropriate for this week and for always...

Count Your Blessings
Johnson Oatman, Jr.

When upon life's billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings - name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings - name them one by one;
Count your blessings - see what God hath done;
Count your blessings - name them one by one;
Count your many blessings - see what God hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings ev'ry doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by.

Count your blessings - name them one by one;
Count your blessings - see what God hath done;
Count your blessings - name them one by one;
Count your many blessings - see what God hath done.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings - money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven nor your home on high.

Count your blessings - name them one by one;
Count your blessings - see what God hath done;
Count your blessings - name them one by one;
Count your many blessings - see what God hath done.

So amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged - God is over all;
Count your many blessings - angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey's end.

Count your blessings - name them one by one;
Count your blessings - see what God hath done;
Count your blessings - name them one by one;
Count your many blessings - see what God hath done.

I am thankful for my two beautiful little blessings that are looking at books side by side right now. I am thankful for my wonderful husband who is hard at work right now. I am thankful that this yucky cold I have this week won't last forever. I am thankful for lego-built car washes, trains made out of folding chairs, and play dough spaghetti. I am thankful for a child calling for Mommy. I am thankful for couch snuggles. I am thankful for happy playtime. I am thankful for warm meals. I am thankful for electricity and computers and Internet. I am thankful for friends. I am thankful for productivity. I am thankful for days I'm in jammies all day. I am thankful for yummy, sweet cappuccino. I am thankful for clean laundry. I am thankful for clothes to wash. I am thankful for safe water to drink and warm water to wash in. I am thankful for music. I am thankful for baby kicks. I am thankful for sunsets. I am thankful for love. I am thankful for salvation. I am thankful that all that matters most in life will last forever.

What are you thankful for today??
Do share!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Be Thankful: Nov. 21


Right this moment...

* I am thankful for new friends.
* I am thankful for church family.
* I am thankful for the movie the kids are watching right now. We've been learning all about elephants this week and reading books about Dumbo, so now they're watching the movie about him. It's just fun to watch them get excited about the things we're learning about!
* I am thankful this yucky cold won't last forever.
* I am thankful for jammie pants.
* I am thankful for yummy smelling perfume.
* I am thankful for my wonderful children. They always surprise me.
* I am thankful for the new life of Nora Katherine who we got to celebrate at a baby shower this morning. She's precious and makes me even more anxious to meet our sweet little boy in 10ish weeks!
* I am thankful for an easy dinner we're having tonight. (omelets)
* I am thankful for creating new habits in my children and hoping it sticks! (more on this next week)
* I am thankful for our friend Craig who has been giving Kevin rides to work and letting him borrow his truck while Kevin's is in the shop.
* I am thankful for my hard-working husband and am anxious for him to get home in an hour.

What are you thankful for right this moment??

"I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." Psalm 18:1-2

Elephants everything!

Our week of elephant-themed school lessons are up over at our school blog, so check it out! Here's a sneak preview of our activities...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Be Thankful: Nov. 20


Today as I'm a bit worn down from a cold I am thankful that we as a family do not lead a busy lifestyle. During this season in our lives we don't have a lot of commitments or extra curriculars or anything that fills up our schedules. We're mostly just home, training up our children, and Kevin's at work providing for the family. So when an afternoon nap is much needed, that's still very possible, and when I need to turn in early for the night (like tonight probably! which is hard for me to do since I'm a night person) that too is easily possible. And I'm thankful for the freedom we still have to be flexible and just chill. Because I know that someday as the children get older, we'll start getting busier and busier with AWANA or music lessons or soccer or dance or who knows what. So for now, I am thankful for this. Good night.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Be Thankful: Nov. 19


I am thankful for the lessons I learned from Kevin working those 2.5 months of straight night shift....

* I was reminded how much I appreciate all that Kevin does around the house and how important a man is to running a home.
* I was reminded how much I love just being with my man. We may not be romantic, but it's us, and I love that.
* I learned how wonderful four days off in a row are! And to think that that's a regular part of his shift rotation!
* I was reminded how much of a blessing it is to share meals together as a family.

Today I am also thankful for...

* A good baby appointment today. Everything checked out right on track. It's a great blessing for my body to to handle pregnancies so well.
* Kevin majorly cleaning out the van of our little mouse traces. I'm good at finding places to put things away, and he's great at deep cleaning, so together we make a good team. And now our van smells wonderful!
* A nice afternoon to play outside for awhile!
* Sweet sweet ladies fellowship at church tonight!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Be Thankful: Nov. 18


Today I am thankful for...
* A productive morning and lazy afternoon.
* Cozy pants instead of uncomfortable preggie jeans.
* A warm cup of hot chocolate.
* Afternoon snuggles with my baby boy.
* Pizza Hut lunch buffet.
* A warm house.
* Fluffy outside kittens who do catch mice for us.
* Our sweet little family.

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Be Thankful: Nov. 17


Today I am thankful for....
* breakfast out as a family this morning followed by errands and grocery shopping. I just love being out and doing things together as a family, even if it's just getting groceries.
* an afternoon nap, even though I didn't get anything done on my to-do list today!
* the joy of watching the kids tromp around the house in their "new" snow boots.
* Kevin being home. Ahhh... it's just. so. nice.

"Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Ephesians 5:19-20

What are you thankful for today??

Monday, November 16, 2009

Be Thankful: Nov. 16

"I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." Psalm 16:7-11

Monday Meanderings

Bible Study
Continue praise word study

Memory Verse
"Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Ephesians 5:19-20

Husband Encouragement
* Just spending time with him! He has FOUR DAYS off this week! FINALLY!!!
* Cook some of his favorite meals, seeing that he really hasn't sat down to many home-cooked meals for quite some time now.

Train Them Up
* Kids' chores. We need to get back to this.

Absolutely MUST Do
* Send mail out.
* Pay bills.

Zone(s)
Kitchen counter. It's out. of. control. In that I'm trying to find a solution to cleaning tools that usually just lay all around the sink (ie bottle brush, the little drain cups, etc)

I also really need to clean upstairs (once Kevin is done sleeping up there during the day!!). With the installation of our windows last week we now have a thick layer of dust all over everything, and we need to vacuum for any broken glass that might be up there. Kevin got half the rooms done last week, but I haven't had time to finish! Still need to do master bedroom, guest bedroom, and bathroom.

Menu - Kevin's truck will be in the shop until the middle of next week (hit a deer yesterday morning), so I'm going to plan the meals for next week too since it's a short week and Kevin will be using the van to get to work.

Monday - hot dogs, Suddenly Salad (Kevin's favorite), apples
Tuesday - spinach and cheese enchiladas (already have the cheese and ricotta), fruit cocktail
Wednesday - chicken broccoli lo mein, orange
Thursday - toasted Italian sandwiches (have pepperoni to use up)
Friday - ham and cheese omelets, peaches
Saturday - something
Sunday - potluck after church! taking veggie pasta salad and enchilada dip

Monday - chili, pears
Tuesday - fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn
Wednesday - pizza

FUN THINGS!
* Kevin's FOUR DAYS OFF and switch back to days!! Woohoo! That's enough for me!
* Baby appointment Thursday morning.
* Women's ministry fellowship Thursday night.
* Baby shower at the church Saturday morning for a friend who just had their new baby girl!


Join me with your weekly plans! Have a great week, sweet friends!


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Be Thankful: Nov. 15


"Praise be to you, O Lord, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting; yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name." 1 Chronicles 29:10-13

Today I am thankful...
* Kevin wasn't hurt from hitting a deer on his way home from work this morning. I am thankful his friend Craig was with him when it happened and they were able to get help. I am thankful that Kevin will have the next four days off so we won't really need his truck anyway, while we can hopefully get it repaired quickly.
* I am thankful we've made it through Kevin's looooong weeks of night shift. This is the last night!

What are you thankful for today??

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Be Thankful: Nov. 14


I am thankful for today's shopping day out with several other of the MOPS moms! We had so much fun, had a lot of time to chat and get to know each other better, and got a good break from the regular duties of mommyhood. I am thankful for the new friends I'm still beginning to get to know. I am thankful for my mom driving down to watch the kids today and I'm thankful for the fact that we live close enough to do that at all. I am thankful the kids did so well while I was gone. And I am thankful I could return to see them again. I am thankful.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Be Thankful: Nov. 13


Things I am thankful for today:

* The library. What a great resource of FREE books!
* Fresh haircuts. On my husband.
* Quiet evenings.
* The kids actually ate their meals really well today!
* Deliciously soft cookies.
* Wonderfully-smelling, freshly-bathed children.

What are you thankful for right this moment??

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Answer me this: This is the year!

Alrighty, friends, I really want your input on this one... Christmas is coming and with that comes Santa. We don't do Santa at our house, but Eli's old enough this year and already asking questions, I need to explain who Santa is. He's been seeing decorations/pictures of him around the stores and asking "Is that Jesus? Who is that?" I casually answer that it's Santa and then change the subject. I want him to know a) where the idea of Santa Claus came from, b) that he's no longer real, and c) that many people like to believe that he's real. And then we continue on with what Christmas is really about--celebrating the birth of Jesus. I want him to know the truth but not walk around blowing the cover to other kids! Of course this is something Kevin and I will have to sit down and discuss, but I thought I'd see if you had any advice to share! How do you explain Santa to your kids?

Be Thankful: Nov. 12


This week I am thankful for some quality time with the kids. The last two days we've had workers here installing the new windows in our upstairs. Kevin's been sleeping in the basement, and the kids and I just hang out in the living room, play room, and office. Can't do errands, can't do chores, can't go outside, so I've really had some good time to just hang out and play with the kids. Not the WHOLE time but at least I was more focused on them instead of flitting around the house doing this and that and dragging the kids with me all over town. It's been kind of nice just doing puzzles, playing games, reading, making cookies, and working on school time. And while they have TV time or blanket time I've had a lot of time to do some Bible reading, today with a word study on praise. TONS of great verses I came across there and will continue tomorrow! It's just been a good, calm couple of days, so much so that I just might have to set at least one day like this every week!

I am also super thankful to my wonderful husband for some house projects he's been working on the last two days during his nights off. We're still not done, but he did a lot of cleaning in the basement (so he could sleep down there) and in the process had a lot of mice to deal with too. So I am VERY thankful for that work! And he also fixed our kitchen sink pipes. They were leaking underneath and smelling HORRIBLE because of bits of food that would get in there with it. I couldn't even open the cupboard for a new trash bag without getting a big whiff of nastiness. So I'm so thankful he got that tackled last night! Men are such a vital part of running a home, I can't imagine doing any of this on my own! Thanks, hun!

"I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High." Psalm 9:1-2