Sunday, May 31, 2009

Not Me! Monday

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! In this blog carnival created by MckMama everyone has fun telling all the things they DID NOT do (but really did). You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.
Here's what has NOT been going on around here:

My son DID NOT finish kindergarten
last week and is NOT officially a first grader! I already felt old being a mom to a kindergartener, there is NO WAY I have a first grader!

That same boy DID NOT wake up on his first day of summer vacation on Friday and immediately begin working on the first grade workbooks I got him to stay fresh on school work a little over the summer. He DID NOT complete 3 lessons before even breakfast! Who would do tha
t? Seriously! The first day of summer break!!

I'm NOT on Day 14 of the Shred, DID
NOT get brave on Day 6 and move on to the Level 2, DID NOT feel like it was a ton harder than Level 1, and DID NOT feel like I was going to throw up after completing it. I DID NOT stick with Level 2 and actually think it got easier. I have NOT found that with Level 2 there is no waiting a few hours before I shower after the workout. Let's just say the Level 2 is sweaty and you must shower immediately upon finishing! I am NOT actually considering Level 3! I have actually done the Shred every day, but have NOT many times really wanted to skip a day (like after spending 3 hours in the sun helping with my son's field day and then another 2 hours at a pool party for my daughter's friend) and waited even until 11PM to do it! I do NOT really need to go do the Shred right now and am blogging instead of just getting it done!

I have NOT decided to undertake the beginnings of potty training my newly-turned-2-year old at the same time as doing the 30 Day
Shred and facing no school for my older 2 kids! That would be crazy! He has NOT had a few accidents and I have NOT actually hosed him off outside in the backyard a couple times!

The potty training has NOT renewed the toilet paper chaos around here. I did NOT enter my bathroom and see this . ..

and then this . . .

and then this . . .

I DID NOT use my expert mom-detective-work-skills and surmise that the toddler had unrolled the entire, nearly new roll of toilet paper and thrown it all in the trash can. I absolutely did NOT pull it out of the trash and pile it on the toilet paper dispenser, like so . . .

NO! I am frugal, but absolutely NOT cheap!!!

So please share what you
have NOT been up to and also the answer to this little question: If you found your toddler had unrolled an entire roll of t.p. and thrown it into your trash can would you a) leave it as trash or b) remove it from the trash and attempt to put it back on the toilet paper spindle?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Not Just Another Bag

I love bags. I have a variety for all different purposes, most stay semi-packed all the time.

One of my favorite bags is this beach/pool bag.

It gets used a ton over the summer and is always stocked with sunscreen, pool toys, goggles, my daughter's ear plugs, hand sanitizer, and baby wipes. Then right before we leave I add towels, snacks, drinks, and change of clothes.

This bag is HUGE. It holds all the stuff for our family of 5! Yes, 5 towels are no problem for this bag!

The best part is that it is a strong, heavy mesh material so sand falls all the way through and out the bottom to minimize the gritty sand you bring home with you! It also works the same for crumbs from smashed up crackers. Not that I know that from experience or anything!!!

Please don't ask me about the time I found ants feasting on crumbs in a different bag without holes in the bottom! Hmmmm, maybe I need a purse made out of this material!

You can find your own bag like this here.

I am hooked on this bag and I don't know about you, but anything that means a little less mess in my life is definitely a finer thing!

Check out more Friday Foto Finish Fiesta at Candid Carrie, Finer Things Friday at The Finer Things in Life, and Hooked on Fridays at Hooked on Houses.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hurricane Season is Here Again!

For those of us along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, this is not really happy news, but Monday is the official start of hurricane season.

I live in an area that was hit by Hurricane Ike last year (the picture below is our driveway shortly after the storm), and while we were fairly well prepared and sustained only minor roof and tree damage, we learned a lot about preparing for, living through, and dealing with the aftermath of a major hurricane.

We evacuated for Hurricane Rita a few years ago and spent 12 hours in traffic and only made it about 15 miles from our house! We had a 2 year old, a 6 week old baby, and a dog in the car. Gas stations were empty and we were constantly worried about running out of gas. That experience plus the fact that we were not in a mandatory evacuation zone, convinced us to ride this one out. We are glad we did, but wish more had left Galveston and the areas around it where so many died!

13 Things we learned about riding out a hurricane:

1. When hurricane force winds blow into your town it's not a good idea to gather your 3 young kids
and your dog and head into the master bedroom closet at 1AM. Just brave the possibility of glass flying through your house at 100mph! In the closet nobody will sleep, first they'll be excited about being in the closet lined with sleeping bags, then start bickering over the few toys and books, then they will insist you run out to get other beloved items that were left behind because your life is much less important than say, the 2nd pillow from off their bed! It will get hot and stuffy because your A/C needs electricity, and your toddler will crawl over everyone a couple thousand times.

2. After the hurricane, you will speak with neighbors 3 times per day that you had only waved to a few times in the previous 1 ½ years you have lived on that street.

3. When t
here is no electricity, it’s a good idea to bathe your kids before it gets dark; it is not easy to do by flashlight!

4. On that note, you need more than just regular flashlights, but a few of those lanterns that light up a whole room!

5. After the hurricane, you will be so glad you practice stockpile shopping because you’ll not only be able to feed your family, but others, as well, when the stores are closed.

6. Speaking of stockpiling things, those experts are serious when they say buy batteries and bottled water before a hurricane threatens. Around here all the store shelves ar
e picked clean of those items at the first mention of a hurricane in the Gulf, 5 days before landfall!

7. Post-hurricane, you will realize the huge blessings of ice and being able to do a load of wash!

8. You will happily wait in line for over an hour at the grocery store or gas station and be thankful they are opened!

9. A gas-powered stove and hot water heater are awesome!

10. A hand-crank radio will provide you with much-needed news through the storm and the days after when you are without TV, radio, Internet, and newspapers.

11. In the
days and weeks after a hurricane you will cheer on the power trucks and trash trucks as they drive down your street!

12. After 2 weeks of school and all kid activities being canceled, you will never be so glad to hop back into the “rat race”!

13. You will see this scripture with a whole new understanding: Matt. 8:24-27, “And behold, there arose a great storm in the sea, so that the boat was covered with waves; but He himself was asleep. And they came to Him, and awoke Him saying, ‘Save us, Lord; we are perishing!’ And He said to them, ‘Why are you timid, you men of little faith?’ Then He arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and it became perfectly calm. And the men marveled, saying, ‘What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?’”

Find more Thankful Thursday at Spiritually Unequal Marriage, Thousand Words Thursday at Cheaper Than Therapy, Thursday {Thirteen} at Happy to be @ Home and Things I love Thursday at The Diaper Diaries

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Works for me Wednesday: Just Stop

Next week's Works For Me Wednesday is "Mom, I'm Bored" Summer Edition: Share your best tips to keep boredom at bay. I planned for my post this week and next to feature our family's Summer Fun List in 2 parts, but then God brought something else to my attention to use my Works for Me Wednesday spot for this week. So, next week will be our summer fun list all in one post.

I am very new to blogging and the fact that a few hundred people I've never met in real life will visit on some days (especially WFMW days) and actually read what I have to say still blows me away. Although I may often blog about some of the sillier moments of my life, this position of having a voice and reaching people is not one I take lightly. You can read more about why I blog here, but today I'd like to use this platform for a very important message.

If you are married and you have children and you and your spouse have a terrible relationship, JUST STOP!

Stop having affairs, stop yelling at each other in front of your children, stop any physical violence that may be happening, stop talking about your spouse in a negative light to your children, stop destroying your spouse's things, stop threatening to leave, stop blaming your spouse for everything that is bad about your family, and definitely stop claiming you are staying together for the sake of the children!

If these things are going on in your family, know that it is abusive to your children and that you can make a choice to stop it. Yes, it takes 2 to fight, but it only takes 1 to end a fight. Watch the movie Fireproof for great inspiration on how one person choosing to be selfless can dramatically turn around a relationship.

I know a lady who found out her husband was having an affair when her 3 daughters were in grade school and middle school. She and her husband didn't tell their kids about the affair, but did tell them that Mommy & Daddy were having problems and were working on it. They enlisted in marriage counseling and worked and prayed through their problems and now 15 years later have a wonderful marriage and strong family culture. They made a choice to work through the problem in a healthy way rather than giving up or worse, living together with bitterness, anger and even hatred for one another.

I wish my parents had made that choice.

But instead they had years and years of a terrible marriage (affairs, alcohol problems, fights so bad the police would come) until my junior year in high school when my dad finally packed up his things when no one was home and moved out without telling us goodbye. I was the first one to return home that day and thought the house had been burglarized until I realized only his things were missing.

He was a deacon at our church, my mom was very involved in the community, school functions, etc. We were an every day family on the outside but things were very wrong on the inside. I think the fact that it was our little secret, that the problems were never talked about in the light of day, made things even worse psychologically for my brother and me. It really wasn't until I was a teenager that I realized not all families functioned that way.

Only by the grace of God have I been set free from the legacy of my childhood family. But, the damage cannot all be erased. It affected so much of who I am and my memories of growing up. Years later the sound of a door slamming can still fill me with fear and dread of what is to come.

So, please, make a better choice for your children. Don't think you are taking the high road by staying together for the sake of your children. Heal your marriage for the sake of your children! Make a choice to stop for the sake of your children!

Find more Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family.

Monday, May 25, 2009

How To Entertain 2 Little Kids

I did not plan this activity, but here's how it happened one day a few months ago. . .

I received a package in the mail in a large box. After opening it and removing the contents, the empty box was instantly taken over by my 3 year old and 1 year old.

First they sat in it with the box upright and pretended it was a boat.

The box toppled over a couple times before I realized the danger of a head colliding with the hard tile floor and turned the box on its side and suggested to the kids that it was a "cave" or "house".

After a few minutes the "cave" became a little crowded.

I remembered I had another large box in the garage and brought it in.

Ahhh. . . . Each with their own space!!!
Of course, it was only a few minutes before Little Brother began going into Big Sister's "house", which resulted in shrieks. Finally she said she was "moving to Oklahoma!" and she drug her box into the living room.

But, seconds later, guess who moved in next door?

You guessed it!! Little Brother moved his box right over next to hers!

Despite the occasional squabble, the kids really did have a blast for a long time in their boxes. They moved toys and "furniture" into their houses, rang each other's "doorbells", and had me knock hundreds of times and ask if anybody was home so they could pop out!

It was really fun to watch their creative play! I have blogged before about my daughter and her love of "too much stuff". At the end of their play I emptied her "house" and look what was inside!!!

It is a wonder she fit in there with all that stuff!!!

It really is a privilege to get to stay home with my little ones and experience these ordinary, extraordinary, every day times!

Find more Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers, What I Learned this Week at Musings of a Housewife, Tackle It Tuesday at 5 Minutes for Mom, and Talk About Tuesday at The Lazy Organizer.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sunday Scripture Sharing - Family Devotional on making plans

Today's Topic is:

Praying about plans

Ask your children, "What is a plan?" Then talk with them until they understand the concept and what it means to "have plans".

Together with your children come up with a list of things they want to do over the summer. Write down everyone's ideas. Include things like activities, trips, camps, classes, or skills they'd like to learn. Be creative, and maybe even include something like, "Have ice cream for dinner!"


Proverbs 19:21, "Many plans are in a man's heart, But the counsel of the LORD will stand."

Say, "I'm so glad we have this list so we can try to do things this summer that we will enjoy!" But, we should pray about these plans. It is very important that when we have plans for our lives that we pray and ask God what He wants us to be doing. Then when we know God's plans for us, we can pray for Him to help us accomplish those plans. God is the only one who can make these plans happen!

Dear God, show us what plans you have for us this summer. Help us to have fun as a family but also be glorifying you this summer. Amen.

****Check back on Wednesday to see our family's summer fun list****

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What happens to the dog after the baby is born?

This is one of my favorite pictures of our dog. It was taken about ten days after our first child was born, so a little over 6 years ago.

I think it perfectly portrays the way anybody feels when they have a 10 day old baby in the house!
She was such a loyal dog that for the first few nights she actually got up with me in the middle of the night when I went down the hall to feed the baby. She would jump up and trot along beside me, a little enthusiastic about all the middle of the night excitement! She would lay nearby as I nursed the baby and only return to her bed when I returned to mine.

A faithful companion.

That lasted about 3 nights!

On the 4th night I remember the baby waking about 1 AM and as I got out of bed I looked over towards the dog's bed and she did not get up but simply raised her head to look at me and laid it back down as if to say, "You handle this one on your own. I'm just too exhausted!"

Thankfully now that the kids are 6, 3, and 2 yrs old, she and I both get to sleep through the night most nights, and that, my friends, is a finer thing!

Anyone else hooked on their dog or sleeping through the night?

Check out more Friday Foto Finish Fiesta at Candid Carrie, Finer Things Friday at The Finer Things in Life, and Hooked on Fridays at Hooked on Houses.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Boy - Girl Differences

To me this picture of my youngest son taken over a year ago, says a thousand words about the difference between boys and girls because my daughter never ransacked the cabinets as a crawler, but my boys emptied them several times each day! My littlest guy took it to a whole new level by actually crawling all the way into the cabinets!

I realize my conclusions on this subject are going to be extremely stereotypical, but they are very scientific, based on my daily research with my 1 daughter and 2 sons, my observations as a preschool teacher at my church, and experiences like this past weekend when on Saturday morning I was the swim team mom for 16 five & six year old boys, responsible for taking care of them during their swim meet and ushering them to and from their races and then juxtaposed with Sunday when I was the backstage mom for 10 three year old girls during their dance recital! Without further explanation, I give you my 13 random thoughts about the differences between little girls and little boys:
  1. With baby boys, you must baby-proof nearly every cabinet to save your sanity of replacing their contents multiple times each day. With baby girls, you can just lock down the truly dangerous stuff!
  2. When chaperoning a group of boys, you will have to break up the occasional pushing and shoving, but there will be no tears. When chaperoning a group of girls, there will be tears and whining, but you won't have to worry about them being too rough with each other!
  3. Boys cannot find anything, even if given specific directions down to what cabinet said item resides in. Girls can not only find their own things but also the things their dads and brothers loose!
  4. Little boys like clothes with sports-type designs on them. Little girls like clothes with animals on them.
  5. If given free reign with markers, a two-year old boy will color on the walls and furniture, while a two-year old girl will decorate herself, coloring all up and down her arms and legs!
  6. Girls understand the concept of "clean", boys do not understand why you are bothered that they threw their snack wrapper on the floor.
  7. With boys there is one constant mood every day, all day, that is occasionally interrupted with brief outbursts, but these never last more than a few minutes. You always know what to expect. With girls, the moods can last hours. You never know what you're going to get -- sparkly, happy girl or whiny, clingy girl.
  8. When you take your toddler daughter with you to watch her older brother's baseball game, you will sit on the bleachers and she will be right next to you the entire time. When you take your toddler son with you to watch his older brother's baseball game, don't even bother sitting, because you will be chasing him all over the ballfields!
  9. If forced to wait in a group, say before their turn at a swim race, 5 & 6 year old boys will make rude sounds with their underarms, while 5 & 6 year old girls will make up cheers and chants!
  10. At a preschool birthday party, it will not matter to a boy who is sitting next to him, but to the preschool girl, feelings can be deeply wounded over someone not sitting next to her!
  11. When attempting to entertain a group of boys, say on a large blanket at a swim meet, the biggest hit will be the matchbox car track with cars they can race against each other. When attempting to entertain a group of girls, say backstage at a dance recital, the biggest hit will be the pages you rip from a Strawberry Shortcake coloring book for them to color.
  12. Girls at age three and a half can sit through a 10 minute Sunday school lesson. Boys at that age can sit for about 90 seconds and then they are off and running around the room!
  13. Matt 19:4b, "He who created them from the beginning made them male and female," and I'm so thankful for both the little boys and little girls I'm blessed to share life with. Their differences sure help keep things interesting!
Find more Thankful Thursday at Spiritually Unequal Marriage, Thousand Words Thursday at Cheaper Than Therapy, and Thursday {Thirteen} at Happy to be @ Home.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Works for me Wednesday: Best Ice Packs

It seems I'm always packing a cooler. Either it's full of drinks for my son's baseball team, snacks for a car trip, or lunch for the kids and me to eat while out somewhere to save money and keep us from buying fast food.

But I used to hate the process of emptying the cooler afterward. The ice would have melted and any leftover drinks or food would have to be dried off before being put away. The cooler would also have to be dried out. Anything with a paper label would be soggy. It was just the extra mess at the end of a busy outing that put me over the top!

Then I found these reusable ice packs at Target.

They are awesome because it is a flexible sheet of frozen cubes, so I can put one in the bottom of the cooler and then use one to wrap around the sides of my smaller soft-sided cooler. You can cut the sh
eets (around the cubes, of course) into any size you want. They can be used over and over again. I have several because most coolers need more than one sheet.

And the best part is -- NO MESS, because they don't melt water all over everything!

It's all about making the little things in life easier, my friends!

Find more Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family.

The Shred - Day 2

I woke up this morning not as sore as I expected to be, so in today's work-out I tried to follow the harder girl rather than the one who does the easier version of the exercises. Tomorrow I plan to bump up to using my 5 lb. hand weights instead of the 3 lb. ones I've been using. I'll try that for a few days and then maybe move up to the Level 2 work-out. Anyway, it's only day 2, but so far so good. I like the workout and you really can't beat the length - 20 minutes and you're done!

I'm not going to post on this every day, so I'll wait a few days and then post another update.

Hang in there fellow Shredders!

Monday, May 18, 2009

"Come to the carpet"

My oldest son is the type of kid that you have to tell 5 times to put his shoes on because we are leaving and still you load the car and look down at that child and NO SHOES!

He likes to do his own thing, in his own world, eager to do things he wants to do, but not necessarily what is commanded of him.

So, it really was no surprise what his only issue would be in Kindergarten.

I didn’t want to be the mom who pesters the teacher, constantly asking for updates on how my child is doing, and mostly I’m content with the knowledge that “no news is good news”. But at the beginning of the year, after two weeks and no updates either positive or negative, except what was passed on through my prodding my son for information, I couldn’t stand it any longer. So, on a Friday when I picked him up I casually asked his teacher, “How’s he doing?” She said fine, “He’s a sweet boy.” And then for the negative. . .

“He is a little slow about coming to the carpet for storytime; I have to ask him multiple times.”

So there you go, no problems writing his letters, playing with others, reading or math (he is actually testing grades ahead in all those areas), but slow to come to the carpet!

Like any parent would do when a teacher brings a problem to their attention, I talked to my son about it and he admitted that yes, he was usually the last one to come to the carpet. So we worked on it at home and since he’s into superheroes we talked about him being fast like “The Flash”. I made it into a silly game that he actually liked. I’d yell, “Okay everybody, time to come to the carpet and sit criss-cross applesauce!” and he'd come running and sit down on our rug with his legs crossed. We practiced several times, with me even adding in surprise drills and it worked! The next week he said he was FIRST on the rug and even got to pick out a special treasure as a reward!

Oh that all his school issues would be so easily tackled these next 12 years!!!!

I smile at this story, but my son’s failure to respond at lightning speed when I call him to get ready to go, really is frustrating for me. I have three kids and a very busy schedule and my efficiency to accomplish anything is hampered when one of my children will not just, “Come on!” It is just not the best use of my energy or time to have to call him and tell him things several times.

As this slow-to-the-carpet scenario unfolded last September, I was studying Jesus calling the disciples in Mark chapter 1 in a Bible study and I couldn’t help but reflect on Mark 1:17-18, “And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.’ And they immediately left the nets and followed Him.”

IMMEDIATELY, it says! Not "they had to think about it for a while, create an Excel spreadsheet with the pros and cons of the decision, poll all their friends for help. . ." No! They just went right away and left everything they knew - their lives, their jobs, their families!

How often does Jesus call me to leave so much less to “Come join Him on the carpet”, but there I am lingering back on the hard floor! He wants my immediate obedience. Why? Because it is more efficient that way. There is a task to accomplish, an eternal goal to save people with Jesus! There really is no time to waste, when Jesus tells me to “Come” I need to just grab my shoes and go!

I am grateful for His patience with me and pray I can show the same to my son.

Find more Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers, What I Learned this Week at Musings of a Housewife, Tackle It Tuesday at 5 Minutes for Mom, and Talk About Tuesday at The Lazy Organizer.

The Shred - Day 1

I survived! Day 1 is done! Only 29 more left to go!

Yes, I'm talking about the
Jillian Michaels - 30 Day Shred DVD workout.

I started with the Level 1 because although I do run fairly regularly, I have not done a weight training type of workout in a long time. I also chose to start out with the 3 lb. hand weights, rather than the 5 lb. ones. My plan is that if (hopefully when) the Level 1 gets easy I'll move up to the Level 2 and then maybe even the Level 3.

I did today's 20 minute workout while all 3 of my kids were home and awake, which definitely made it more entertaining. My 6 year old son kept asking if I was on Level 2 yet. My daughter wanted to know why all 3 of the girls on the video were wearing different clothes. I guess coming off her dance recital where they all wore the same costume, the variety of workout wear seemed wrong to her! My toddler liked the jumping parts and jumped up and down himself in excitement!

Anyway, I did have to chase kids off the mat when I needed it for an exercise, but otherwise they didn't interfere and I think I'll keep trying to do it when they are around rather than sacrificing precious kids-are-in-bed time for exercise!

I can see where Jillian may get annoying in another half day or so, but she's not as in-your-face as I thought she'd be. But then again, I still have vivid memories of my high school swim coach yelling, "You're all sittin' around like a stale cup of urine!" and although I can still hear his voice booming that now 15 years later, I don't really remember it being all that motivating of a coaching technique!

I've heard mixed reviews of the Shred, so I don't really know what to expect over the next month, but I am determined to stick with it! My goal is not weight loss, but to get toned and add the weight-training/strength element to my workout routines in the future. My arms are already sore, so I'm sure they got a workout! I'll let you know tomorrow, but I bet I'll be feeling it all over by then!

Please share your shred experiences here in the comments (or link to your post if you blogged about it) or if you have a great coach quote, that would be super, too!

Not Me! Monday -- Back from Vacation

Not Me! Monday is the perfect way to jump back into blogging after a week vacation! Yes, I will let you in on a little of what has NOT (but really has) been going on around here both in my vacation life and in my real life!

This was NOT where we were staying last week! It really is NOT paradise!

My husband and I did NOT actually manage to get away from our 3 little kids for 6 nights in Hawaii! This was NOT a celebration of our 10 year wedding anniversary! It was NOT the trip of a lifetime with the most beautiful scenery!

My husband did NOT break our rental car agreement by driving on some crazy one lane roads on the side of cliffs next to the ocean! We did NOT meet another car coming the opposite direction and have to reverse back up the side of a cliff!

My kids did NOT survive just fine without us and look like they'd grown a ton whil
e we were gone! My husband's parents did NOT manage to not only keep them all alive, but also get them to the long list of activities that were on the agenda for last week. They do NOT get extra points for even getting my daughter to her dance recital rehearsal in complete costume with her hair up!

I was NOT so glad to see the kids when we got back and my toddler did NOT give my husband and I the longest hugs ever to greet us!

I was NOT really glad that my 6 year old re
ally didn't loose his first tooth before we got back. We did NOT have a conversation about the tooth fairy where he told me a boy in his class got $10 for a tooth from the tooth fairy! I did NOT immediately think that we have 3 kids who will lose over 50 teeth in the next 6 years and that at the rate of $10 per tooth, we will be totally broke!!! I am NOT trying to convince my husband that $1 per tooth is actually more reasonable and we can convince our son that his classmate's tooth just must have been more spectacular than his teeth and therefore worthy of a higher tooth fairy payout! My son's tooth is NOT still hanging in there as he forces us to cut sandwiches up into very small bites so he doesn't have to use his loose bottom tooth to eat. I'm NOT thinking with all his babying of that tooth, it may never really fall out!

My daughter did NOT have her first dance recital yesterday. I am NOT at all biased, but she was NOT the most precious, beautiful ballerina! My husband and I have NOT already watched the video of her dance 5 times!

I was NOT the backstage mom and did NOT realize how hard it is to take several 3 year old little girls to go potty while they are in costume!

It is NOT back to non-vacation reality now, this Monday morning with a trip to the grocery store, meal planning, wash, and the 1st of 30 days of the Shred all on the agenda! It is NOT really kinda nice to be back, even so!

For anyone who'd like to join me on my 30 days of the Shred Adventure (not to be confused with the Potty Training Adventure that will also begin here soon or the Maui Adventure that we just had), there is still time. Run to Target right now and buy the Jillian Michaels - 30 Day Shred DVD, a few hand weights and a mat. Then actually do the 1st workout and come back later today to check on how my 1st workout went and share about yours! It will be the most painful fun you'll have all day!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Republished - Too Much Stuff

My daughter likes her stuff. It is not uncommon that she appears at the door to leave for church with a doll, 2 books, a sippy cup, and a blankie in hand.

My husband or I will look down and say, “It’s too much stuff.” You see we know that there is no way for her to carry all that stuff into the car or to hold on to it once she’s in the car and that carrying all that stuff will slow her down.

So, if we are on top of our parenting game we will tell her, “Pick one thing to take.” If we are not on top of it, we let her sneak by with all the stuff. Sometimes we don’t feel like challenging her and agree to pile all of it in on top of her lap in the car seat, but as soon as the journey begins we regret not ending the madness sooner because the entire trip will be filled with dramatic outbursts as beloved toys, books, and cups are dropped from her lap.

“MY BOOK!” she will shriek from the backseat and you try to ignore her because it is on the floorboard and not easily retrieved, especially if you are the driver, but the shrieks continue and are joined by tears and you’ll do anything to make it stop even twisting your back and arm into contortions not intended when God designed the human body just to retrieve said object and return it to quiet the shrieks.

But alas, you seasoned parents know, the quiet lasts about 30 seconds until the cup is dropped. “MY CUP!!!” the little princess screams, “MY CUPPY!”

Oh how well God knows that we all travel around this life on earth with “too much stuff!” He knows it will slow us down, cause us grief, but we refuse to choose just one. We want it all, all the time! So, He strips it away until we are finally free enough of the “stuff” that is making us ineffective in serving Him. We shriek as each one falls away, but our Heavenly Father is the perfect parent and knows ultimately it is better for everyone to leave that book, that cup, that doll on the floorboard rather than returning it to our lap.

This post was originally published on January 15, 2009.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Republished - The White Floor

(An ode I wrote to my white tile kitchen floor)
White floor, O white floor,

Why does thou mock me?
White floor, O white floor,
How many times shall I mop thee?
White floor, O white floor,
What more shall I write?
White floor, O white floor,
Why must thy be white?

I love our house and wouldn’t change very much about it, but it does have an annoying flaw – a white tile kitchen floor! We’ve only lived here a couple years, so I really don’t know who thought that was a good idea, but obviously not someone with kids or dogs!

I am a neat freak at heart. There are not a whole lot of things better than a clean house to me! When I am not especially
Spirit-filled my mood is proportional to how clean my house is, the cleaner my house the better my mood! And the messier my house, well, let’s just say I need a lot of the Holy Spirit to even remotely resemble a person you’d want to be around!

So, this white floor is really my nemesis. I mop it and the next day it looks filthy again. A dog walks through with muddy feet, a child helps make coffee and spills some of the grounds, my husband mows the lawn and comes in with little bits of grass falling off his pants. So, the battle begins – I mop, they mess, and the floor reveals every speck! I would be much happier not knowing how dirty my floor is!

Does anyone know if you can paint tile floor?

Our old house had terracotta tile. A wonderful brownish-peachish-pinkish color-varied tile that hid dirt like nobody’s business! It was awesome! I could go weeks without mopping and it looked great! You wouldn’t even have known its filth, unless you made the mistake of walking across it bare-foot!

I have been thinking over this new house white floor problem a lot this January as my husband and I have been evaluating our life – what works, what doesn’t, what we need to do to be better people, better servants for God. A lot of that revolves around how we spend our time, so I’ve been thinking about the things that take up my time but don’t really seem to produce much fruit. And I’ve often thought, “What a waste of time it is mopping this floor every day!” but my other choice is to let it be dirty and that wears on my mood as it then seems like my whole house is filthy!

But after spending a lot of time studying 1st and 2nd Kings in a Bible study, God revealed something awesome to me about my white floor. If you’ve spent much time in Kings you know there is a whole lot of repetition. Over and over you read, “Then so and so became King, and reigned such and such years, he did evil in the sight of the Lord; he was murdered; his son became king in his place.” Again and again you read the same story about the people turning away from God, worshipping idols, etc. and then after getting defeated in battle or plagued by locusts they cry out to God and he delivers them and then 2 verses later, again they are walking their own way, sinning against God. I just think it is amazing how God continued to deliver these people and they continued turning away from him. How he must have tired of cleaning up their messes only to have them do it again!

But that is just like me! How many times do I mess up and God wipes it clean! In fact he promises us a new slate every day, a beautifully mopped white floor, no matter how many times we walked across it in muddy shoes the day before! Isaiah 1:18 says, “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; . . .”

So, now, as I mop my white floor I think of God wiping away my sins, allowing me a fresh clean start day after day. Maybe we won’t paint that tile after all!

In the early days of my relationship with that white floor, before God offered the sins wiped clean analogy, I used to catch myself often saying, “I hate this white floor!” But really it is not the white floor that I hate, afterall white is my favorite color. What I really hate is the dirt that messes up the white floor, the muddy footprints, the tiny bits of dried playdough, the small round drops of strawberry yogurt dripped from the wobbly hands of a preschooler clearing their place at the table.

Don‘t you think God feels the same way about the sin that messes us up? The sin is what is ugly to him, not the person under the sin. This Tuesday and every day, I am grateful that God is a God of fresh starts and clean slates and that someday when I go home to be with Him, my floor will always be white!

This post was originally published on February 2, 2009

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Republished - What's That Lady Singing About?

When my son was almost four he went through a phase of asking, “What’s that lady (or man) singing about?” to every song that came on the radio. Thankfully I listen to Christian radio and praise God for providing great Christian stations because I shutter to think how I’d explain the answer to that question about most songs on mainstream radio, but I digress.

One day when he asked, “What is that lady singing about?” I struggled to sum up the meaning of the song in a way a four year-old would understand and I came up with, “She is singing about how she needs a new life, a new life in Jesus.”

His reply stunned me. He said, “I need a new life, too, because the old one is broken.”

Indeed!! Out of the mouths of babes! We all need a new life in Jesus. The "why?" is so simple – because the old one is broken! Our lives are broken by sin, broken by circumstances, broken by others, broken into a hundred thousand tiny pieces that only Jesus can take and make new.

I must be honest and admit that some days when I wasn’t as Spirit-filled as I should have been, the “What is that lady singing about” phase drove me crazy, but as it is with all phases, it passed. A couple months later it was replaced with the “Are you turning?” phase. Yes, every time I came to a stop while driving the car, he would shout from the back, “Are you turning?” Needless to say I longed for the return of the “What is that lady singing about” phase!

This post was originally published on January 13, 2009

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Republished - What it is Like Having 3 Kids Part 2

For the first official installment of this series see Part 1 here.

My inauguration into having 3 kids was when we left the hospital with my 3rd baby. My husband and I thought it was a sweet idea to have our older 2 kids (ages barely 4 years old and 21 months at the time) accompany us on the journey to bring their new baby brother home from the hospital, so we had Mimi, who they had been staying with, bring them up to the hospital when we were discharged and then all 3 kids would ride home with my husband and I. Our first experience as a family of 5! A lovely idea conceived out of complete naiveté.

The reality . . .

As soon as the nurse got me in that wheelchair with my newborn in my arms and began to wheel me out of the hospital, my 21 month-old began to scream and cry, “MOMMY! MOMMMMMMYYYYYY!”

Mimi could not console her, Nana could not console her, Daddy had gone to bring the car around. So, she ended up riding in the wheelchair with her newborn brother and me. It was the beginning of what would become a recurring theme called, “Not enough Mommy to go around!”

I was keenly aware as I was wheeled out with my tiny baby and my medium baby in my arms and my larger baby walking beside, that we seemed to be attracting attention. Everyone turned and watched, they seemed to smile as if seeing a sweet picture, but really I knew they were thinking, “She is in way over her head!”

That was then and now 20 months later, we’ve got it all figured out, right?

Well, let’s see, just in the last 2 weeks I’ve sent my 3rd child, a 20 month-old off to the church nursery with one pull-up. Not a diaper, mind you, no, I couldn’t find one of those during the car scramble after the realization that we left the diaper bag at home. But a pull-up, somehow left over from potty-training days gone by for my older two kids, I could find. I’m not ashamed to say I called “Not it” on being the one to drop him off with only the pull-up. I instead told my husband if he got any funny looks from the caregivers to just say, “We’re potty-training!” at 20 months!

Also in the last 2 weeks, this same 3rd child was discovered to be missing his shoes when we arrived at a mall 25 minutes from our house, a mall we made a trek to so our 5 year-old could go to its Lego Store following a really good report card (not bribery, but a
reward). Apparently someone who will remain nameless loaded the toddler into the car without his shoes.

Did we run in and buy him shoes at the mall? No way, he had perfectly good shoes at home! Did we just put him in the stroller and take him in shoeless? Absolutely! Did we at a couple points during the mall trip let him out of the stroller to run around shoeless through the mall? Absolutely! Were we aware of the people watching? Yes, but somehow now it doesn’t really bother us anymore, we just laugh along with them because they are right, we are in over our heads!

This post was originally published on January 29, 2009

Monday, May 11, 2009

Republished - It Doesn't Really Look Like a Flower

Col 3:12-14 says God has chosen you and made you holy and beloved that he wants you to treat others nicely, compassionately, with gentleness and patience, “bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.”

I understand a little of this sentiment of God’s saying, “I have given you so much love, now go and treat others as I have treated you.”, through raising my kids. With my firstborn I poured in so much time, patience, and encouragement, always the cheerleader for even the smallest accomplishments. When my little cherub’s baby sister came home with a flower she’d made with paper and a pipe cleaner, she was so proud of it. I gushed about how pretty it was and turned to her big brother and said, “Isn’t it so pretty.” To which he replied, “It doesn’t really look like a flower.”

“Come on!” I thought, “after all the encouragement I’ve shown you, can’t you provide a similar response for your sister?” This must be just a fraction of what God feels when we are unloving, unkind, unforgiving, and uncompassionate to one another. Oh Lord, forgive me when I am not who I should be. Help me to share the love you lavish on me.

This post was originally published December 27, 2008

Friday, May 8, 2009

What is a vacation?

I once heard a pastor speak on how important it is to have getaway time with you spouse. He said, "If I packed up my wife and 4 kids and we headed to Hawaii for week, that would not be a vacation, it would be a family trip. Now, if just my wife and I headed off for a week in Hawaii, now that would be a vacation!"

My husband and I are heading off for 6 nights in Maui to celebrate our 10 year anniversary!

Since we had 3 babies in 4 years, we have only had short, close to home getaways without the kids in the last 6 years since our 1st child born. And we have been talking about this Hawaii trip for a long time. But I think I saw it as more of a dream thing to do for our 10 year anniversary rather than something we'd actually do! But my husband arranged it all in the last couple of months!

All that being said, I wouldn't be honest if I didn't admit I have mixed feelings about the trip. Obviously it is a dream trip. I've never been to Hawaii and neither has my husband. It will be a trip of a lifetime. This will be a glimpse back to our pre-kid days, the whole 4 years we were married and traveled freely and often! The vacation will be an investment in our marriage. And growing up in a home where my parents had a horrible marriage, I know what a gift a loving, stable, strong marriage is for the kids! Let's face it, when you have little kids they are very consuming, taking over your entire life, and allowing you only 20 second conversations with your spouse before there is an interruption! So having time just the 2 of us will be amazing!

But, I have never left my kids for this long. And however tiring and annoying they can be sometimes, I really truly enjoy being around my kids most of the time! I will miss them, perhaps terribly! Also, the next week will be busy in terms of kid activities (but what week isn't, right?), so the logistics of planning for someone else to do it is hard. And then there is the worry that they will miss me, and the worry that they will not miss me.

My husbands parents are coming to stay with the kids at our house, so they will be in very good hands. Now I just hope they don't run screaming out of the house when I show them the schedule for each day, complete with all the running around to deliver or pick up somebody from something multiple times per day! But the house is stocked with groceries, it is fairly clean, all the wash is done and the meals for the next week are made and in the freezer, just ready to be thawed and heated.

Actually, maybe I want to stay home after all, that kinda sounds like a vacation week to me!

Oh wait, the toddler wants to sit on my lap while I'm trying to type this and eat my cereal. And he has a poopy diaper! Okay, maybe I do need a vacation, if only to be able to eat breakfast without the smell of poop in my lap!!!!

I have set some old posts to rerun this coming week. I know most of you have not been reading since the beginning, so hopefully they will be new to you.

And there will be some exciting bloggy fun when I get back! On the agenda -- the Jillian Michaels - 30 Day Shred, every day, for 30 days, no exceptions, no excuses!!!! If you want, get the Shred yourself (and some hand weights and a mat) and join me for the start of the 30 days on May 18th. Because there is camaraderie in pain!! And I'll also begin potty training my 2 year old and blogging about it. Oh the excitement of it all! I just don't know how you'll contain yourselves!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

We are THAT Family, too!

I can totally relate to Kristin's blog name We are THAT Family. Everyone knows a family that they consider THAT family, but how do you know when you have become THAT family?

The photo above of my kids during an regular errand to Target really says
a thousand words about being THAT family. To me you are THAT family when you attract attention while just going about your daily life, meaning people point and laugh! To further clarify this concept of THAT family I've created a list:

13 Signs you may be THAT Family:

1. When your children regularly go places with their shoes on the wrong feet.

2. When you carry around a potty in your car, and it gets used at least once a week!

3. When you sit down at a restaurant and people sitting around you request a new table!

4. When you host a birthday party at your home and your husband stands on the roof and hurls foil ball “meteors” down at all the children!

5. When you have to say things like, “We don’t take pictures of people naked.” Or “It is never okay to wipe snot on your sister!” or “Stop licking the salt shaker!” and mean them with all seriousness.

6. When someone tells you that your child just ate something off the floor/ground and you are not at all bothered!

7. When one of your children throws such a bad fit outside school one day that he has to be carried into his kindergarten class by the janitor!

8. When a successful outing consists of leaving home with all of your children and returning with all of your children!

9. When you take your car to the car wash and it takes them 30 minutes to vacuum it out!

10. When your child tells you to, “Come see something really awesome!” and you are filled with fear and dread as you follow her up the stairs.

11. When you drop your child off at the church nursery and instead of praying that he doesn’t cry while you are gone, you pray that he does not injure any of the other children!

12. When you consider handing out earplugs to visitors who come to your home, because the noise? It can be deafening!

13. When you know without a doubt the only thing good about your family is Jesus!

You may have guessed it, but my family scored 13 out of 13! Now maybe Kristin will induct me into her THAT Family Tree Society, except I have to find the time to email her about it!

We're not the only ones, are we? Please tell me you are THAT family, too!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Works for me Wednesday: Ways to Save Money Part 2

In honor of today's frugal themed Works for Me Wednesday I am going to add on to the list I posted here of ways to save money.
  • Repurpose household items. The last few months my kids have had more fun with large empty yogurt containers. They use them as buckets to collect leaves, dirt, rocks, etc. I organized my kids' sock drawer using empty shoe boxes as dividers instead of buying containers.
  • Call the company. Now I posted last time on how you can trim money from bills like the phone bill by calling the company and eliminating options you pay for and don't need, like call forwarding. But now I'm talking about when you have a problem with a product. Two different times (a few years apart) I've called the Diaper Genie company, Playtex, to see about getting a new part for a piece that broken on the lid to my diaper pail. Both times they sent me a new lid for free! For my over a year old Diaper Genie! I would have bought a new one, but instead I saved that money! Another time I called the company because we had lost one piece to our Perfection game. I described the piece we were missing and asked if I could buy it. The lady told me that they don't sell the pieces individually but that she could send me the whole set of pieces for free!!! What a deal!!! So, if you have anything broken or missing pieces, it might just be worth your while to call and see what they say (probably helps if you ask very, very nicely!).
  • Use cloth napkins. Granted this won't save much money, but it does, a little. And napkins are one less item you'll have to worry about on the grocery list!! Turns out I had a large set of cloth napkins that someone had given us as a gift and we were never using. I do a laundry load of towels every few days or so anyway so it has been easy to just throw the cloth napkins in with those loads. And you're helping the environment!
  • Buy ground beef and chicken breasts at Sams Club. Costco may have similar deals, but I have a membership at Sams and their prices for these items are always cheaper than my regular grocery. Of course I have to buy a bigger pack, but that is not a problem, I freeze what I won't use right away.
  • Potty train your toddler closer to 2, rather than 3 years old. Now granted every child is different and for some kids this may not be achievable, but it is possible to potty train most kids when they turn 2 even though the norm in the U.S. seems to be older than that. Think how much money you'd save each month on diapers!
  • Plant a vegetable garden. We are very new to gardening, but have gotten a few edible things so far, and hope to get more soon. Seeds cost very little and may save your produce bill. Also, gardening doubles as a cheap family activity and great learning experience for your kids. All 3 of my kids love helping in the garden!
  • Send fewer clothes to the dry cleaners. I have had great results washing several typically dry-clean clothing items like skirts, dresses, and sweaters on the hand-wash setting in my washer, hanging them to dry, and then ironing them. Also, there are wonderful non-iron dress shirts out there now. My husband has Brooks Brothers Non-Iron dress shirts and they are amazing! Just wash, and dry on low and really there is no ironing required! Those shirts have more than paid for themselves in money saved sending his shirts to be laundered!
Do you have any money saving tips to share?

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Great Reveal

A little over a month ago I posted this cry for help for my dining room chairs that had suffered the horrific fate of 3 little kids eating on them day in and day out.

Well, you guys came through and were full of advice and encouragement. You may not have noticed but towards the end of all the comments I thanked everyone for their help and made a commitment to get it done in one month's time.

This past Wednesday was the one month deadline, so in my typical procrastinator fashion. I headed to the fabric store last Tuesday morning.

I knew I needed about 5 years of strong fabric that would not show stains, maybe even upholstery fabric, but it was expensive. The upholstery fabric was discounted to 50% off, but even then it was $10-15 per yard. I was afraid of spending a bunch of money and then messing up the project and it going to waste!

I made my way over to the deeply discounted bin. And I found some upholstery fabric that was really okay looking, darker colors and a pattern to hide stains, and even a kinda shiny finish that seemed like it might wipe off well. I took it to be measured and it was just under 4 yards. I wasn't sure it would be enough, but was willing to risk it if the price was right. I wasn't sure of the price since it was in the discount bin, so I asked.

It was reduced to 50 cents per yard!!!! So I got nearly 4 yards for less than $2.00! The man who rang me up said, "I didn't even know we had any fabric that cheap!"

It was the deal of a lifetime, y'all!!!

And I was so excited because now, if I completely messed it up cutting or stapling, I would only be out $2.00!

I called my husband at work to forewarn him that tonight was the night. We were tackling the chairs!

As soon as the kids were in bed we started. We unscrewed seat cushions, cut the new fabric, wrapped it over, stabled it on, and reattached the seats. It was a little awkward getting the corners folded, but once we did one seat, the other 5 went quickly. We were done in a couple hours.

Here is the before (the cream-colored seat that showed every stain):

And the after:

I even got some clear plastic covers that I stapled on top of the fabric on the kid chairs for extra protection. And I Scotch-Guarded all the chairs.

I am really happy with the results and so excited that we achieved this for less than $2.00 with even left-over fabric in case a chair does get messed up in the future!

I was never brave enough to try this before (due to my uncraftiness) and I am grateful for you, Awesome Blog Readers, for empowering me!

Find more Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers, What I Learned this Week at Musings of a Housewife, Tackle It Tuesday at 5 Minutes for Mom, and Talk About Tuesday at The Lazy Organizer.