Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Does it really matter?

"There are three things that will endure--faith, hope, and love--and the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13.

In this day and age there are so many things one could be worried about, so many ways to spend your time. It can all be very overwhelming, but this verse simplifies things for me.

What am I supposed to be doing each day?

Sharing and growing my faith, providing hope to those around me, and loving others.

Those are the things that will last, the things that will matter in the end.

Find more Thankful Thursday here and Thursday Thirteen here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Real Life Laundry Monster!

Anyone want to guess what has happened in this picture?

Toddler and I folded a load of laundry and stacked it neatly in that blue laundry basket to be put away. I headed to the washer to move a different load to the dryer. I returned 1 minute later to find the basket dumped out, all the clothes unfolded, and the basket on top of my son's head.

I had toddler help me refold the clothes and put them back in the basket, but still did not have time to put them away. The basket was left by the bottom of the stairs.

And do you know what happened? Sometime during dinner preparations a few hours later, THE SAME BASKET was again dumped out and turned into a helmet!

This could very well be the day I stop folding laundry. Let's just get rid of any semblance of order around here and throw the clothes into the dressers unfolded!

Check out more Wordless or Wordful Wednesday.

Our Favorite Kid Games

We love playing games with our kids and with Christmas shopping season just around the corner, I thought it might be helpful to share some of our family favorites with you! Keep in mind my kids are 6, 4, and 2 years old so we are not into the really big kid games yet.

I am not going to technically list Candyland and Chutes and Ladders because I think everyone probably knows about those. Also, I have an issue with the Candyland and Chutes and Ladders. Although I do think every kid should play them and I like to play them with my kids for nostalgia sake, unless you cheat by stacking the deck or stealthily moving the spinner needle (which I would NEVER do), the games have the potential to last way beyond even my 30-something year old attention span! You know all the getting sent back to the gingerbread man or down the big slide can make the game last, well, forever!

Anyway, moving on. Some of our very favorite little kid games:

What games do you like to play with your kids?

Find more Works For Me Wednesday here.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Greatest Thing a 2 Year Old Can Know

One day last week my 2 year old brought me the craft he had made in Sunday School and said, "God cares about you!"

He then opened the flap of the craft and pointed to the rectangle at the bottom and sure enough it said, "God cares about you." 1 Peter 5:7
He went on to tell me, "I glue it church." "I make it church."

It always blows me away when I hear one of my kids as toddlers reciting Bible verses, but they can learn them at that young age!

I am so grateful for the sweet, loving teachers who are planting God's word in the hearts of my little ones!

Knowing that God cares about him is the greatest lesson my 2 year old can learn, one that if he can cling to it, will carry him through anything and everything life sends his way!

Find more Gratituesday here.

Monkey Mayhem

It is time to join back up with Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

When we went to Parent's Night at my 1st grader's school a few weeks ago, his teacher talked about things they'd do this year and she mentioned a "Good Manners Monkey" that would go home each night with a child that displayed particularly good manners that day. Considering my 6 year old uses his shirt as a napkin and a Kleenex, often has to be reminded to flush, and thinks it is hilarious to talk about underwear, my husband and I quickly agreed we'd never see the "Good Manners Monkey". So there is NO WAY this actually came home to spend the night last Tuesday!We enjoyed having you Good Manners Monkey and do NOT hope to see you again soon!

Speaking of stuffed animals, my 4 year old daughter has NOT been digging out all her dirtiest, rattiest stuffed animals to showcase to her class during show-and-tell. I have NOT had to often suppress the urge to micromanage her show-and-tells and suggest that she take something a little more presentable!

I did NOT walk into my toddler's room after his naptime yesterday and find this scene! He did NOT use that ride-on red car as a step stool and get diapers, lotion, and powder down from the top drawer of the dresser!

I did NOT just find myself saying to one of my children, "Are you putting your fingers in your ears while I am talking to you?"

Happy Monday Everyone!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Can you tell I'm not really here?

So, as it turns out, my house does not clean itself.

Nor do my children pick up after themselves without me encouraging, reminding, rewarding, nagging, suggesting, consequencing, and sometimes literally holding their hands through the process!

I have been physically gone more from home this past week as my mom has had some pretty big health issues, and when I've been here, I've not really been on my game.

Hence this shoes-socks-toys-nap mat-backpack-tap shoes-school papers explosion in my kitchen.

But that mess can be fairly easily cleaned up, and for that I am thankful.

Although right now, at ages 6, 4, and 2 years old, my children do not automatically clean up after themselves, some day they just might, (like maybe when they are grown up and have children of their own) and for that I am thankful!

I'm not sure if, when, and/or how I am going to share on this blog more details about what has been going on with my mom, but I have no deadline, and for that I am thankful!

My mom is now out of the hospital, and doing much better than last Thursday, and for that I am very thankful.

She is far from okay and back to normal, though, and there is no guarantee she will be on this side of heaven, but His grace is enough. God's grace is enough, and for that I am eternally thankful.

Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

His Agenda

I am taking a bit of a blogging break due to my mom's hospitalization, so I'm republishing this post from Feb. 16, 2009. I need this reminder right now while things seem so hard, to trust Him for each day's portion, and strive to give up my agenda for His.

I always feel behind. I am constantly thinking how I can get more time. Several months ago I wrote out how much time per day I'd ideally spend on every activity (preparing meals, dressing kids, housework, exercise, playing with kids, time with husband, quiet time, volunteer work, errands, sleep, taking kids to school and activities, etc., etc.) and added it all up.

The result = 27 hrs. and 30 min.!

That is how much time I need in a day to live up to my own standards! Needless to say, it takes a lot of God for me not to constantly feel like I am failing, because I am in some area all the time! If you are going to squeeze 27 hours and 30 minutes worth of stuff into 24 hours, something, or rather several somethings are going to suffer and all the things on my list are important, necessary things (there is no Oprah, no Days of our Lives, not even a daily hair washing)!

Exodus 16: 4, “Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction.'”

Gather a day’s portion every day! That is what I should be doing, not just to sustain life for that very day, but in obedience to God, to walk in His instruction!

Each day should be about what God has for me to do, learn, accomplish, and be for Him! It is not about my agenda! And thank God for that because my agenda is unattainable!

The Bible says in 2 Cor. 3:5-6 that God knows I am inadequate, but my adequacy comes from Him. I pray I will more fully give my agenda to Him each day and spend the 24 hours He gives me in service and obedience to Him. Oh, that He may some day say, “Well done good and faithful servant . . .” Matt. 25:23.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


My toddler's new favorite phrase is "Mommy I need you!" with the middle "e" sound especially drawn out for effect.

He sounds so pitiful when he says it, that at first I would respond immediately whenever I heard it. And I wanted him to know I was there for him in his time of need.

But then I began to notice that the times he used that phrase were usually the times he really didn't need my attention, like when his daddy had put him in time-out and he began yelling, "MOMMY I NEEEEEED YOU!"

He did not need me at that moment. What he needed was to serve his 2 minute time-out and perhaps dwell on the fact that throwing toys does not lead to fun consequences.

I also noticed that the times he really did
need me he did not say, "Mommy I need you!" Like right before he fell off the back of the couch or hit his sister or began applying my makeup.

And it all got me thinking how often I don't call on God when I should, how often the things I think I need His help with are really not the important things at all.

I know I've prayed for God to rescue me from a "time-out" or two in my life.

Thankfully, Matt 6:8 says, ". . .your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him."

"Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need." Heb 4:16

Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

It may be time for a haircut!

How do I know when I need to take my 6 year old son for a haircut?

I see a note like this he wrote, illustrated, and stuck on the backdoor!

That is the date at the top 9-14-09 with a picture of a boy with a lot of hair, scissors to the left of the face, and just under the scissors a suggested time 4:00 PM.

My kid writing me to-do lists actually works for me! It saves me the step of planning it and worrying about remembering! And we were in and out of the haircut place by 4PM on 9-14-09!

Check out more Works for Me Wednesday and Wordless or Wordful Wednesday.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Toddler Wall Art

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." ~Pablo Picasso
Too bad my 2 year old's favorite canvas is my wall.

Thankfully the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser tackles the problem and my toddler-sized Picasso can wipe his slate clean!

Find more Gratituesday here and Tackle It Tuesday here.

MckLinky Blog Hop

If you lived here you'd want to move to preschool, too!

Not Me! Monday is back! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have NOT been doing (but really have) this week.

Here's what's NOT been going on around my place:

I did NOT find this moldy apple in my fridge! I did NOT think to myself, "Now, if finding this extremely moldy apple in my refrigerator is not a sure sign it's time to clean it out, then I don't know what is!" With that thought (that I did NOT have), I did NOT just throw away the one moldy apple and still fail to clean out the whole fridge. NOT ME!!

My daughter did NOT come downstairs ready for 3 hours at preschool with a packed duffel, overnight-type bag. My girl, travels light and with only the essentials. You know, a mask she made as a craft ages ago, a toy train, princess shoes, her VBS book, toy binoculars, and a purse to hold the other essentials. Remember my post about her daddy's pack rattery? Well, apparently the apple really does not fall far from the tree! Except this apple wants her treasures to travel with her everywhere she goes!

Oh, and just so you know, that is definitely NOT my kitchen in the above picture with a baby doll and a kid watch scattered randomly across it. My house NEVER has toys strewn all over and even if it
did I would certainly crop the mess out of the picture so at least I could portray the illusion of a neat house!

My 2 year old did NOT say to me last week, "Watch me fall off bed one more time!" Since I am a good, safety conscious mother, I proceeded to lecture him on how dangerous it is to fall off the bed on purpose and did NOT simply observe the falling off the bed and comment, "Wow, that was a good fall!"
Which was NOT followed by him saying, "Watch me fall off bed one more last time!"

Today I am NOT thinking of packing my overnight bag for preschool, too!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sometimes Life is Random

There was a Silly Putty incident here a few hours ago. To make a long story short I was finishing up dinner, husband came home from a work meeting and we were talking about the day, and somehow during that 6 minute period of time the kids found purple Silly Putty I didn't know we had, coated one carpeted stair with it and the front of my daughter's dress. After dinner I did a Google Blog Search on "how to get out silly putty" and instantly found this blog with the magic answer -- Hand sanitizer! It worked like a charm! Who knew? Another mom who has been through it, that's who! Reason #10003 why I love the Internet and blogs!

Remember this blog post of mine about my toddler locking my daughter and I out of the house and us having to break in by my jumping the fence and sending my daughter in through the doggie door to unlock the house? Well, you'll be glad to know that I did get to thinking, "Hmmm, maybe a burglar could get in that way, too!" And so, I tried to enter my house through the doggie door myself. I couldn't do it. I could get my head and one shoulder in but not for the life of me would that other shoulder fit. In hindsight I should have stationed one of the kids to take pictures of me trying to fit through the doggie door, but sadly I failed you Internet friends on that fun spectacle! Now, I rest easy at night knowing only a burglar under the age of 8 or 9 could possibly break in through the doggie door!

Oh, and I posted this week about my husband's pat rat ways. And it turns out many of you out there are married to pack rats, too! You might like to learn this little bit of science, the pack rat is a real living type of animal and its nest is called a midden; the pack rat is known for gathering tons of "treasure" to bring back to its midden creating an ever expanding mess! Sounds just like my house!

Yes, it is only a couple weeks into the school year and already the papers and artwork are threatening to engulf the place! I am going to have to sit down with my 4 year old daughter and come up with a game plan about managing the creations once they are created. She is much more the artist than her older brother who only brought something home from preschool once a week or so. My daughter is averaging 2 or 3 per day! We're not just talking paper, either. There are actual sculptures, too! She is so proud of all of them I don't have the heart to throw them away!

I finally made this bread from Art's Chili and it is really pretty easy. I was able to do it on the first try so that is saying a ton and it is amazingly good! Seriously, go make it right now, you'll be hooked! Made-from-scratch-in-my-own-kitchen is a finer thing!

I loved this hilarious article in Parenting Magazine on being a chronically late parent. It got me thinking about how much more I tended to run late before having my 3rd child. It is totally counter-intuitive that adding a 3 child would make me a more prompt person, but it did. There was a breaking point day early on in my 3 kidness (yes, I did just create that word; definition: the state of having 3 kids) when I was hustling my 4 year old into his swim lessons while juggling an infant carrier containing my 2 month old son and carrying his crying not-yet-2 year old sister. Shoes and pacifiers and car keys and towels and snacks were spewing out of my bag as we raced into the lessons to be 15 minutes late for a 30 minute lesson! The effort and stress was so not worth the result and I learned there is no way to hurry 3 children -- 1 or 2, maybe, but there is no way you are getting anywhere fast with 3 kids! And so now, I plan ahead better, leave earlier, allow a time cushion for the last-minute-cup-of-water-for-the-road requests and tears over scraped knees somehow acquired while entering the car. I really can't remember the last time we were late to swim lessons or school, and life is definitely more peaceful!

Does this shirt make me look pregnant? I have been seeing this style of empire waist tunic-type shirts for a couple years now, since right after my 3rd child was born. Although I think they're cute, I haven't bought one before because it reminded me too much of maternity clothes. Recently I found this shirt and couldn't resist its adorableness or the low price. But I wore it today to a Bible study and after having 3 kids in just over 4 years and my youngest now being 2 years old, I worried they'd all be wondering, "Maybe she's pregnant?" So, for anyone that saw me today, the answer is "NO!"
Happy Friday everyone!

Find more Finer Things Friday at The Finer Things in Life, Hooked on Fridays at Hooked on Houses, 7 Quick Takes Friday at Conversion Diary.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I Don't Know Why

As a Christian I think one of the hardest things to explain to non-Christians is why God allows bad things to happen to good people.

I was working in the corporate world with a non-Christian, who was newly out of college, just starting his career, at the time of the Sept. 11th attacks and I remember him asking me this question.

There is no short answer. I believe that God is good, that He loves us as His own children, that He has a purpose and plan for our lives, that He is near to all who call on Him. But at the same time I believe He is much more concerned with us and others coming to know Him and rely on Him than He is our temporary comfort during our short stay on Earth.

I know from my own life that it has mostly been the hard things, the "bad" things, that have brought me the closest to Jesus.

I do not know why God allowed Sept. 11, 2001 to happen.

I do believe with certainty that on that day, "Jesus wept." John 11:35. I believe Jesus wept and continues to weep with each individual person grieving a loved one lost that day, just as He wept with Mary and Martha over the death of Lazarus.

I do know that on Sept. 14th, 2001, I was able to invite that young non-believing co-worker to my church for a lunchtime prayer vigil. And he came.

I also know that
this article says that in Afghanistan, there were only 17 known Christians in the country before al-Qaeda attacked the United States and today, there are well over 10,000 Afghan followers of Christ.

I am thankful that God doesn't expect me to have all the answers but to just trust Him and follow Him.

"Look, among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days -- You would not believe if you were told." Habakkuk 1:5

Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Imagine a Mile in These Shoes!

Perhaps if I walked a mile in his shoes I'd understand why, oh why, my husband insists on keeping these shoes!!

I did a massive cleaning out of my side of the closet complete with getting rid of 3 bags of stuff, thoroughly vacuuming/cleaning the floor, baseboards, and shelves. And I couldn't help noticing these shoes completely caked in dust, way back under some hanging clothes on my husband's side of the closet.

Although I was not cleaning out his stuff, to be helpful I drug the shoes out, and later said to my husband, "Since these were so coated in dust that I actually vacuumed a thick layer of dust out of them, I'm assuming you want to get rid of them."

His answer?

"Those are my favorite shoes!"

Me: "But you obviously have not worn them in ages! And judging by how they look you really shouldn't be wearing them!"

Him: "I wore those shoes the whole time I was away at business school (allow me to interject that this was 12 years ago). They are great shoes; I'm never getting rid of them!"

Now you know the uphill battle I'm fighting to get organized around here!

Sentimental attachment to shoes!

Keepsake shoes!

Pack rattery at its finest!

Check out more Wordless or Wordful Wednesday.

A Limited Number of Hangers

I organized my closet this past weekend and what really helped the process were the nice hangers I'd bought recently.

Wood hangers for tops, chrome pants hangers, and chrome skirt hangers.

But here is the catch, because the hangers are not cheap (although the wood hangers are from Ikea so they were very affordable!) I didn't buy a ton of them. So as I was cleaning out it inspired me to get rid of things because I wanted all my clothes to fit on the nice, attractive hangers, rather than having overflow onto plastic or wire ones. I got rid of more stuff than I ever have before during a closet cleaning session!

And I think the hangers will help me follow the "one in one out" rule (you know if I buy a new shirt, I need to get rid of an old one), because I'll have to free up a hanger for the new clothing item!

Find more Works for Me Wednesday here.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Goodbye Summer!

We used the holiday today to have one last hurrah with summer. Goodbye summer, we have enjoyed every last bit of you! Really, does it get any better than a mixture of sand, chocolate chip cookies, and cheesy chips all over your face?

Yes, as a matter of fact it does.

Look at my 6 year old and 4 year old holding hands!

Watching my kids have the best of fun playing together will be what I remember most from this summer. My 6 year old summed it up a couple weeks ago as we drove home from the pool where he and his little sister had played together for 2 hours straight, "I like my sister!" he said.

We spent a lot of time together this summer. Fewer play dates, fewer camps, intentionally, so we could relax and enjoy less time running around and more time being together.

And it worked out mostly great. The kids fought a lot the first couple weeks of summer, but then it is like they worked it out and began playing together so well!

And now? I'm so behind on everything household related, but the memories of the summer being with my kids and allowing them so much time together, is so worth it!

And with the school year starting it is exciting to see the kids each getting a little world all their own in their perspective classes at school. A world where they are not the oldest, or the middle child, or the youngest. And then they can come home and share with each other the adventures of their day. I love hearing my son get in the car after school and eagerly ask his little sister what she did at preschool.

Yes Summer, you will be missed. But Fall? You're not too bad yourself. Afterall, it feels good to wear something besides a swimsuit or pajamas!

Find more Gratituesday here and What I Learned This Week here.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Healthier Family We Will Be!

I try to be a healthy person and provide a healthy lifestyle for my family. I've homemade the baby food for my 3 kids, breastfed them as babies for the 1st year, and then served them organic milk for the years beyond. I cook at home nearly every night, fast food is a very rare thing, usually only reserved for meals during car trips. I shop at the Farmer's Market for a lot of our fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts. We have eaten several times from our garden the past few months. I was a swimmer in high school, swimming twice a day for 3 years, and even ran a marathon a few months before I got pregnant with my 1st child.

But still, in recent days I've come to believe the healthiness around our household needs to be kicked up a notch or two. My husband and I need to get on a regular exercise routine (Not 30 Days on, 30 Days off!) and we as a family need to eat less processed food.

I'm not worrying about us losing weight, just eating things that are better for us. For example, I made homemade ice cream in my ice cream maker last Sunday and I felt good about us eating it. Was it high in fat and calories? Yes, but the ingredients were all so basic -- milk, an egg, cocoa powder, cream, sugar, & vanilla -- and I mixed it up in my own home with my children helping. That is not the kind of food I'm working to eliminate, but the more unwholesome things.

Here are 7 things that are helping me think healthier:

I was already pondering these things, and then Robynn started her 30 Day Throw Down on making healthy changes one month at a time and it got me thinking even more!

This article on exercise beating surgery for some heart patients is really eye-opening!

This list of superfoods has given me a lot of ideas of foods I should incorporate more into our diet.

In that superfoods list you'll see that plain yogurt is a superfood, and while I eat yogurt everyday, I have realized I've been buying the wrong kind. The Yoplait Strawberry is very high in sugar, 32 grams in one cup, and considering 40 grams is the recommended amount of sugar for a 2,000 calorie diet, that is a lot! So, this week I bought plain, organic yogurt and then used this recipe from MckMama and it is so yummy I'm never going back to the store-bought strawberry yogurt! For some reason, when I blended it all the consistency was pretty thin, so I just drink it through a straw like a smoothie, rather than eating it with a spoon, but it seems more like a treat than health-food like that anyway! I know it has sugar from the added fruit and honey, but again, that is wholesome, from nature sugar, rather than added at a factory!

Also on the list is lentils and because I bought a big bag at the farmer's market a few months ago, I found this recipe to use them and I love it, could eat it several times each week! I have decreased the chicken broth amount a bit and made it less soup-like and more side dish-like.

I have also fallen in love with hummus and chickpeas in general. This recipe is a bit different than regular hummus, but it is really good and so easy to make! No cooking at all, just measuring, mixing, and mashing!

Cooking from scratch sometimes takes a little more time, but I am enjoying simpler grocery trips and fewer things to clutter up the pantry/fridge without all the cake mixes, canned rolls, rice mixes, boxed mac n' cheese, Pop Tarts, and snack packs around! It is a finer thing to go to the store and only have things like wheat flour, sugar, plain yogurt, bananas, blueberries, milk, eggs, broccoli, red peppers, and olive oil on the list!

Anyone else hooked on a healthier lifestyle?

Find more Finer Things Friday at The Finer Things in Life, Hooked on Fridays at Hooked on Houses, 7 Quick Takes Friday at Conversion Diary.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Toddler Make-up

Oh yes, this is the same toddler who locked my daughter and me out of the house this week, and in this picture taken the same day? He had gotten into my make-up, applying both foundation and eyeliner.

When I found him he couldn't wait to tell me, "I paint my face!"

My 13 words:
His upcoming first day of Mother's Day Out no longer seems so sad!

Find more
Thousand Words Thursday, Thursday Thirteen, and Thankful Thursday.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Repurposing Containers

Today's Works for Me Wednesday is a themed edition focused on organization tips.

You can read my post here about how much I have grown to love containers for helping me get (and attempt to stay) organized. But I don't want to spend a bunch of money on storage containers so I've gotten better at repurposing containers. Here are some of the things I repurpose:

  • Baby wipes tubs - I buy ground beef and chicken breasts in bulk and then separate them into 1 lb batches that I freeze in freezer bags, but it was a mess digging through my deep freeze to locate the bags when I needed them, and it was never obvious when my supply was running low. To remedy the problem, I cut the lid off a couple empty baby wipe tubs and used one to hold my bags of ground beef and one to hold my chicken breasts. This way they are all together and I can easily see when I need to replenish the supply!
  • Shoe boxes - become drawer dividers, especially for kid clothes that are small
  • Large clear plastic tubs with screw-on lids from buying pretzel sticks in bulk from my warehouse store - become a more attractive way to store cereal and keep it fresher than the boxes they come in.
  • Empty metal coffee cans washed with the labels removed become attractive ways to store and organize everything from receipts to small candles to crayons to nails and screws
  • Plastic sand pails no longer needed for the beach can be cleaned (or bought new in bright colors for a $1 at many places) and are great ways to store little toys like My Little Pony, Small dolls and their shoes, toy cars
  • Empty large tubs of yogurt are great for storing many things. I like using them inside other buckets or baskets to further separate the storage area, like my bin that has small plastic bowls has an empty yogurt tub in it to hold the small lids.
I'd love to hear any repurposing ideas you have!