12.16.2009

Good Riddance!

Sorry about the long absence in blogging.  We were lucky enough to receive one of the most shared gifts of the season: the stomach flu.  Yes, from Mom and Dad to all three kids, we've each had the pleasure of admiring the floor of our bathrooms.  I'm just glad they were clean.  :)

So, what could I possibly write about this monster of a bug?  Don't worry...I'm not going into any details.  I just want to share with you a couple of pieces of advice that I have put to good use in the last week.  If any of you can use any of them, then it was well worth it.

1.  If you have a baby or toddler sleeping in a crib, please do this NOW!  Get at least three crib sheets and mattress protectors, and layer them so that you have three layers on your crib.  (Crib + mattress protector + sheet + mp + s + mp + s) If your child gets sick during the night, it is much easier to take off a layer than to completely recover their bed.  Plus, they go back to bed more quickly.


2. Wash your hands.  I know this is obvious, but a lot of people use hand sanitizer in place of soap and water.  Sanitizer does not kill the virus, but soap and water will at least wash the germs from your hands.  And, a recent study found that hot or cold water can be used to achieve the same results.

3. If any of your children complain of their tummy hurting, let them call the shots during meal times.  No, I'm not saying to let them have cookies for every meal.  But, if they don't feel like finishing a whole bowl of beef vegetable soup, don't force it.  Believe me...sometimes you just don't feel like eating.

4. After experiencing the bug, don't drink the water your body desires.  Give your stomach time to settle.  Drink only one tablespoon of room temperature water or diluted liquid every ten minutes.  After a couple of hours, you should be able to increase your intake.


5.  If available, take a phenergan when the time between vomiting has slowed to every 45 minutes. Take the prescribed amount just after vomiting, so that it has time to absorb. This will allow your stomach to settle, as well as give your body the rest it needs.


6. Children have a hard time knowing when they are going to vomit, so it is a great idea to cover their bed/couch with a towel or blanket that can be washed if it becomes soiled.


7. Lastly, there are some foods that you should really have at home at all times, just in case something like this happens to your family. These include crackers, bread (for toast), pop cycles, sports drinks, applesauce, bananas, rice, oatmeal, and broth soups. I did not have any Riptide Rush, and sometimes you just need purple Gatorade. We have a full supply now.


I hope some of this will help you to be prepared. The bug we experienced is very contagious, and seems to be most contagious up to the first day of showing signs of the virus. With this being the case, you can spread the virus without knowing you have it. Just wash your hands as often as possible, and try to eat well-balanced meals. For picky kids, or if your family doesn't always have those recommended servings of fruits and vegetables, there are plenty of vitamins available to keep your immune system strong.


Wishing you and your family a season of health!

11.27.2009

Left-over Turkey: Recipes


Sorry for the late post, but Thanksgiving isn't over for us yet!  We eat at my parents' house tomorrow, so this is 'technically' early.  :)  


My Mom purposely prepares an abundance of turkey so that we can bring some home with us, which my hubby loves.  He usually makes turkey sandwiches, but I like to mix it up a bit since turkey is not a meat of choice for me.  Thought I'd share with you a few recipes I've collected over the years to make good use of that leftover turkey.  Enjoy!



Turkey Jambalaya

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds turkey
  • 1 pound smoked sausage
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups uncooked long-grain white rice
  • 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning

To Prepare:

1. In a large pot over medium heat, add all ingredients except the rice.  Cook for 30-45 minutes, until the celery has had time to cook.  
2. Prepare the rice as usual in a separate pot.
3. To serve, pour a serving of the jambalaya mixture over a serving of the rice.  

We like just a little spice, so this recipe does the trick.  If you, like my hubby, like to sweat when you eat Cajun, you will want to add an additional spice of your choice.

Turkey Pot Pie

Ingredients:

  • 2 unbaked pie shells 
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup cooked, chopped turkey meat
  • 1 can mixed vegetables, drained
  • 1 can (left after emptying the cream of mushroom soup) of milk

To Prepare:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the mushroom soup and milk. Stir in the remaining ingredients and pour into one pie crust. Top with the other pie crust, and seal the crust edges by crimping with a wet fork.
  3. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown

I usually make 2 of these, and freeze one for later.  If you choose to do this, allow one full day for the frozen pie to thaw before following the same directions above.

White Turkey Chili

Ingredients
  • 3 cups chopped cooked turkey
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 can diced jalapeno peppers
  • 1 can chopped green chile peppers
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 cans chicken broth
  • 3 cans white beans
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

To Prepare:
  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook and stir until tender. 
  2. Add the garlic, jalapeno, green chile peppers, cumin, oregano and cayenne.  Continue to cook/stir 3 minutes, or until tender. 
  3. Add the chicken broth, chicken and white beans. Simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove the mixture from heat. Slowly stir in the cheese until melted. Serve warm.

I hope all of you had a great Thanksgiving!  

11.24.2009

Thanksgiving 2009: What Are You Thankful For?





Over at MooreThanWords, Cathleen listed the 20 things she is thankful for this year. She inspired me to record some of my 'thankfuls' so that I can look back and remember what my life was like way back in 2009. As we gather together with our loved ones, may we remember who made all this possible. Who are you thankful to?

(If you are reading this, consider yourself 'tagged' and write your own! Link back here so we can share them with each other!)

I am thankful...

...that the Lord saved me. It's that simple. I am so undeserving of such a wonderful gift, and yet He chose me. Long before I was even born, He wrote my name and that was that. Thank you, LORD, for your Son, for your Word, and for your faithfulness.

...for my husband, best friend, and father of our children. For some reason, God allowed us to find each other, even when neither of us were looking. :) Seth is so good to me and the kids, and works so hard to provide for us a life full of walks, smiles, laughter, and games. As a sweet friend said of her husband...he's not perfect, I'm not perfect, but we're perfect for each other. He really is perfect for me, and for some reason, he loves me back.

...for the opportunity to be a Mommy. I never knew how wonderful life could be until the first time I held Maya Jo. To feel her body move as she breathed, to look into her eyes and see part of myself, and to know that this little miracle would never cease to be. Since then, I've held two other babies with much the same thoughts. I'm thankful to know this amazing kind of love...so different from any other love I've known...and thankful I've had seven years to enjoy it.

...for Maya Jo. My sweet pea, my fairy, my Jo Bird...whose strong will and stubbornness brought her through one of the most difficult beginnings one could imagine. That same strong will challenges me often, and shows me that my work as a Mommy is never-ceasing and always changing. I'm thankful for her imagination, her sweet smiles, and her laughter that always makes me yearn to be a child again. I've seen a miracle, and I thank the Lord for her.

...for Maxwell James. He keeps our family going...laughing, running, never stopping! He is always so honest and keeps me smiling with the things he says to me. He makes me feel needed, and I love him for it! I'm thankful I have a little Seth to watch grow up and become a man, and I hope one day he loves me the same way my husband loves his Mom.

...for Nina Grace who has shown me just how wonderful a baby can be! For her cuddles, her belly laughs, her kisses, her outstretched hands reaching out for me...it's so wonderful. I'm so thankful to know Nina Grace and be loved by her!

...for my church and church family. The Lord led me to the place I was mean to be, and to the church where I needed to be. I'm thankful for our pastor, assistant pastor, future pastor...our teachers, deacons, and many other great men and women who are servants to our Lord.  I'm thankful for the truths we uphold and continue to stand for, and that the Lord revealed these truths to us. For learning about the depravity of man, the Lord's atonement for sin, for the precious blood of our Savior...I can never thank the Lord enough for leading me here. My brothers and sisters there are such great examples for me, and I hope to one day grow to be as great of a witness as some of them are. I'm thankful for their caring spirits, their prayers, and most of all, for the blessed hope of sharing eternity with them.

...for my parents, grandparents, brother, sister, and cousins. I rarely get the chance to see most of my family, but when I do it's as if we had always been together. I'm thankful for their unconditional love, support, and just knowing that they are always there for me, no matter what. I'm thankful for the salvation of many of my family members, and pray that the Lord will give me the words to open the hearts of those who are not. I'm thankful they are only a car ride away, and that I get the opportunity to visit at least once a month. I love each and every one of them, and hope we remain close as we continue to grow.

...for my husband's family, who loves me just as my own. I'm thankful for each and every member...the Andersons, Bryants, Gormleys, Moores, Roses, and Sechrists (in alphabetical order)...they each have a special place in my heart, and I'm so thankful to have a family in Lexington that is as comfortable as being back 'home.' I love you guys!

...for the struggles that have brought me to where I am today. Life has never been easy, and looking back on the struggles I've lived through, I see just how far the Lord has brought me. Things that seemed so hard when I was younger are nothing compare to the things I face today. I'm thankful for each lesson learned, and believe that Seth and I are as close as we are today because of how much we leaned on the Lord and each other. Thank you, Lord, for your chastening, and help me to continue to gain wisdom from my mistakes.

...for my house, car, and all the things I daily take for granted. I'm thankful that we're able to keep our cabinets full, our children fed, and our house warm. I'm thankful for a computer at home where Seth can work, a table where we can eat our meals, and many forms of entertainment for the children so that we can be together often.

...for the electronic age in which we live. I agree that sometimes we take communication a little too far, but it so nice to stay in constant contact with friends and family who would otherwise not share in our daily lives. I'm thankful my Mom and Dad can talk to our children on a webcam, that they can watch videos online, of what is going on in our lives, and can always find an updated picture of us. I'm thankful I can talk to our future pastor and his family in the Philippines by phone, email, or chat. I'm thankful that there is a need for computer programmers, and that my husband, brother, and many family members and friends are employed by this profession.

...for the men and women who serve for our country.  For their families who support them and wait for them back home.  I'm thankful for those who served in the past, as well as those serving today, so that we can enjoy the freedoms in our country.  Thank you for your choice to serve. I pray for your safety.

...for Blue Grass Baptist School, whose teachers are paid a minimal salary, go above and beyond what is expected of them, and teach Christ and the Bible together with math, spelling, and science. I'm thankful the school is still educating our little ones, and pray that the Lord continues to bless them with the ability to do so. I'm thankful for all the work that goes into keeping the school open and functioning, and thankful that after all these years, it is still a BAPTIST school. Thank you!

...lastly, for a voice. Whether it's an electronic voice or an audible one, I'm thankful to have the ability to tell you what I'm thankful for in my life. I can tell you that Jesus came to earth, lived a perfect life, and died so that I wouldn't have to suffer for my sins. He shed His blood so that I could have the hope of spending eternity with Him. And He rose again, to show that once I was saved, my life could begin again. Yes, I continue to sin, but He is faithful in his forgiveness and patient as I continue to make mistakes. I pray that I can use my voice to tell others about Him, and that He might let them hear and understand.

I hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

11.19.2009

Cutting the Cable: 10 Reasons Why To Do It

As I mentioned before, we cancelled our television several months ago.  Surprisingly, we've hardly noticed a difference, due to some of the reasons I list below.  As we enter the winter months and our family begins to spend more time indoors, I hope this continues to prove true.  I'm already looking for other sources of entertainment...let me know if you have any suggestions!

Here are some reasons to cancel your cable or satellite, and still be connected:

1. Cut monthly costs.  The most obvious reason, in this time of struggle in our economy, is the amount saved in your monthly budget. For our family, cancelling our subscription to DirecTV saved us $45-50/month.  This number could be more or less, depending on your package.  For some of you, it's not enough to make a difference.  However, to those of us SAHMs living on one income, it definitely adds up.

2. Get connected.  As we move forward to a more electronically-connected life, many people find that they can stay connected to the world via the internet.  This is true with newspapers, magazines, and television.  With websites such as hulu, avid television watchers can continue to watch regular broadcasts of their favorite programs for free.  In addition, you can choose when you watch the program, as well as pause and resume when needed.

3. On-Demand.  As with hulu gives you access to your favorite shows, Netflix gives you access to your favorite movies.  For as little as $8.99/month, you have thousands of choices both online and in DVD format.  Utilizing both of these capabilities gives you control of what you watch, and when you watch it.

4. Over the Air.  Another way to stay up-to-date with your television programs is to use the channels available over the air.  Most areas offer local ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, and CW channels, providing that your television is capable to access them.  To find out which channels are available in your area, visit here.  Simply type in your zip code, and choose Broadcast (Antenna).

5. Focus on what is important.  By cancelling your cabel/satellite, you decrease the amount of distractions in your life.  Often, the family television is on even when no one is actively watching it.  By cancelling it, you will learn to focus on what is happening in your life without the distraction of your television on in the background.

6. Reconnect with your children.  I know from experience that television can be used as a baby-sitter.  I used it to distract my children so I could cook, clean, or perform some other task without "help" from my little ones.  I also used it at night to calm them down before bedtime.  Instead of turning to television, find a game or craft that your child is old enough to handle and let that keep them busy while you work.  And at bedtime, bring back the bedtime stories.  It's been proven that this helps them learn the importance of books, which will help them through the many years of school in front of them.  Even NBC agrees!

7. Discover a hobby.  All those hours and nights set aside for catching up with your television programs are now free, so why not do something you enjoy?  Start quilting again.  Or work puzzles with your kids.  Or find a new hobby.  With all this extra time, you and your family members can dedicate 30 minutes or more a few times a week and learn a musical instrument.  Lessons are available online for free, or you can find someone in your area to teach you.

8. Get involved. When you don't have your evenings set aside for television watching, you suddenly have free nights to fill.  Find out what is going on in your community, and start enjoying what is offered.  Many events are free or of little cost, and can add an appreciation for your community to your family's life.  Check your libraries, parks, and other public organizations for fun activities.  Also check the communities of cities surrounding you for ways to get to know your area a little better.

9. Boost your health. With your nights and evenings, you can find a fitness program to help you get back into shape.  Whether it's aerobics, Jazzercize, yoga, walking, or free-weight training, we all need exercise to stay healthy.  ALSO: Use your time to find healthy ways to prepare your meals, and decide to stop eating fast-food on week nights.  You will be surprised how quickly this leads to a more healthy you.

10. Rest. Although it may not seem very important, sleep (or the lack thereof) plays a significant role in your day-to-day performance.  The Mayo Clinic has found that adults need 7-8 hours of sleep per night.  So, instead of catching up on your dose of reality tv, go to bed!  Start fresh tomorrow, and enjoy your own reality.

Keep your camera handy.  With all this extra time, you will be creating lasting memories that you will want to document.

11.10.2009

Children: When They Leave the Nest

As most of you know, on Maya's latest report card, she made it on the high honor roll with all As.  She loves to read, and can learn many new things very quickly.  However, also on that report card was a "not so great" Conduct grade.  From what I gather, she talks during class, ignores some of her teacher's commands, and basically tries to be the center of attention.  (On a daily basis, her teacher gives the students one or two warnings, then gives strikes 1, 2, or 3 depending on the situation.)

I'm still a little shocked that I'm faced with this situation, but I must also find a way to deal with the problem.  So, we've adopted a new rule in our house: Get a strike during the school day, go to bed an hour early while everyone else is still awake.  Also, no electronics of any kind.  Get a strike 2 or 3, and the punishment escalates.  Think that will work?  We instituted it starting this week, so I guess we'll see soon enough.

I have also tried to think of ways to reward good behavior, so that she wants to follow the classroom rules.  I told Maya that once a week, she and I get an hour of "Maya and Mommy" time...no brother or sister to interrupt.  I figure this will give her some of the attention she is craving, as well as give me a chance to connect with her on a regular basis.

Any thoughts?  Any suggestions?  I'm definitely out of my element here, so any help would be greatly appreciated!

11.03.2009

Love's Most Wondrous Story

So, my baby girl is 14 months old, and she's not a baby anymore.  It's amazing how fast she has learned to do things on her own, as well as sad how quickly the cuddly days are gone.  

On Sunday, during mandatory Anderson naptime, she threw every stuffed animal out of her crib in protest to being in bed when she wanted to be up playing.  And, at some point over the weekend, she learned to say "Uh-Uh" for all those times when I try to figure out what she wants, and she wants me to know that I have NOT figured it out.  She carries a little purse with her Bible in it on Sundays.  She follows the kids around all the time, and actually plays with them.  (They have this game where Maya and Max pretend she is the bad guy.  The kids zoom by into the other end of the house, and about 5 seconds later you can hear Nina toddling after them.  It's so very cute.)

She's still not able to do everything Bubba and Sissy do, but she wants to.  She does not know how to share.  :)  And she's having a hard time learning that Mommy and Daddy like to hold Maya and Maxwell sometimes, and that she can't make them stop just because she wants them to.  She likes to be the center of our attention, and is having a hard time learning that we love three children, not just one.  :)
But, what makes this time even more special, is that Nina has learned to show her love.  She gives hugs, she gives kisses, and she gives big, beautiful smiles.  I don't think there's anything better in the world that to see her leaning over to give me a kiss.  I'm so thankful the Lord has shown me what a special love exists between parents and their children.


He tells us in 1John 4:7, "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God."  It's hard to imagine that I wouldn't love my children as deeply as I do if I didn't know Jesus as my Savior and Lord.  I'm thankful He revealed to me what a sinful creature I was, and continue to be, and suffered for my sins so that I wouldn't have to.  Romans 5:8 says, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."  He showed such great love for me...even when I lived in sin and enjoyed that sin, He died for me.  He saved me from that life, and showed me how to live with Him as my guide.

I'm so very thankful for His love, as well as the love I now possess, and I pray I can show others how to receive it.


10.22.2009

Practical Post: A Mop

So, a couple weeks ago, my best girlfriend (Mom) told me she ran out of Swiffer refills and pads.  I used the Swiffer for years and loved it...but, let's face it, all those refills add up to a lot of money.  Even when you buy at Sam's.  That's why I switched.

A couple of years ago, another lovely lady in my life (Lorene G.) gave me one of her mops that she purchased from QVC.  I used it, and decided I needed one. When I ordered mine, it came with two mops...so, I recently gave one to my Mom to replace her Swiffer.  I think she's hooked, too.  :)

Don Aslett's Opti-MopOn this mop, the microfiber pad comes off, just like the Swiffer...but instead of throwing it away, you throw it in the washer and use it over and over.  And...you also don't have to buy a high-priced bottle of cleaner...I use Pine Sol just because I love the smell.  Use whatever suits your needs best.

Best of all, the mop with 3 pads is $14.96 + $5.97 shipping.  This is one item I will never replace.

Try it here, and let me know what you think.

10.17.2009

Old School Frugalista



2003 – 2009Seth and I are thankful that have been blessed to have three wonderful children to raise.  We made the decision in early 2003 that I would stay home and take care of our children, and the Lord has blessed that decision.  It’s never been easy to buy groceries, clothing, and everything else that comes with our growing family, but we’ve somehow done it.  And with no credit card debt to this point in our life.  I am now entering into my 7th year of being a stay at home Mom, and I have become a pro at finding good deals and taking advantage when I find them.  (Read about some of the ways our family saves here.)  I clip coupons, look for sales, buy in bulk, and stay connected to many money-saving blogs on my RSS feed.  (Including ClippingMakesCents, MoneySavingMom, and The Simple Dollar.)  


…(I should stop here and say…Not that I don't occasionally splurge...believe me, I do…and I am really trying hard not to do that as often as I used to.  But sometimes…those kids clothes are just too cute to pass up!  :)…


In a way, I find it rewarding to know that even though I am not bringing money into the budget, I try to be frugal in a way that makes our life a little less stressful.  It’s kind of my job, and I try to do it well.


At the presentOur nation is technically coming out of a recession, but our bank accounts have yet to show this as true.  But saving money and cutting costs seems to be a growing trend across the board in American homes.  And guess what I saw on a commercial yesterday…Target’s “frugalista” girls showing how to be fashionable on a budget.  Whaaaa??  Did they really say “frugalista”??
  
So…what?  It’s now cool to be on a budget?  Awesome!  Finally, a trend I can be a part of!


And skirts are “in,” so I may just be the coolest Mommy on the block…the verdict is still out on that one.  :)


10.05.2009

Boys...Gotta Love 'Em!

This past weekend was one of the most fun weekends I've ever had.  Really.

I have to say that I spend a good part of last week dreading it.  But, nevertheless, it turned out to be quite fun.  Max turned 5, and had three of his best buddies spend the night with him.  Yes...4 boys under one roof.  And it was fun!

Let me tell you, these boys were great!  They played, ate cake, jumped on the trampoline, fought with light sabers, and not a tear was shed.  They played until they couldn't play anymore, then they went to bed.  (10:30 people...not 1 a.m. like the girls!)  And they got up the next morning to play some more...at 7:30.  Are you kidding me?  How did I get off so easily?

I expected injuries, tattle-telling, throwing things...but that's not even close to what happened.  These boys really surprised me!

And I'm thankful I lived to tell you about it.  :)

9.29.2009

Triple Fudge Cake


1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 cup chocolate chips
1 box of chocolate cake mix
1/2 cup veg. oil
1 cup applesauce
2 eggs
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix cake mix and oil until crumbly.  Take out 1 cup and set aside.  Add applesauce and eggs to larger mixture and beat until creamy.  Spread into a 13x9 pan sprayed with cooking spray and lightly floured.

In a small bowl, microwave 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and milk for about 1 minute.  Stir until creamy.  Drop by teaspoon full on batter, more along the edges than in the middle.

Stir remaining chocolate chips and pecans in the cup of batter that was set aside, and sprinkle on top of batter.

Bake 38 – 42 minutes, or until center is set.  Make sure you run a knife around the edges after removing.  Let cool completely before serving.

Gain 10 lbs after eating half the cake.  :)

9.26.2009

5 Way to Simplify Your Cooking

I've been reading articles and talking to friends, and have found a few ways to simplify your time in the kitchen.  Here are my 5 favorites:

1. Use your crock pot.  In years past, I have only used my crock pot for making roast and potatoes.  That's one of my least favorite meals, so my crock pot has rarely seen the light of day.  However, after looking around online and talking to some other ladies, I have found many other ways to use it.  From beef stroganoff to spaghetti, to potato soup, to homemade barbecue, the crock pot cooks the meat while you're out, and makes the meat much more tender in the process.

2.  Use online cooking websites.  My favorite is allrecipes.com but there are several others.  What I like most about allrecipes is that you can search for a dish (Fried Chicken, for example), and then sort by rating, and you're virtually guaranteed a recipe that is fantastic.  There is also a tab called "Ingredient Search" which allows you to search for recipes by the ingredients you have on hand, or would like to use for that particular meal.  I use this all the time, especially during harvest time when veggies are plentiful.

3. Buy meat in bulk.  I have been doing this for a couple of years now, and am thankful every time I open the freezer.  I buy 5-10 lbs of beef, chicken breasts, or whatever meat is on sale.  Then I cook it, bag it by the pound, and freeze it for later.  When you want to make a dish of beef stroganoff in your crock pot, just grab the already cooked beef from the freezer and throw it in the pot.  Easy.

4. Sign up for an online cookbook. I've signed up for both free and paid versions of this, and my favorite version is TasteBook.  You can copy and paste recipes from any website, email, or document, and keep them all in one place.  And if you're ever at your parent's home and want to make a special dish, all your recipes are accessible.  I love this.  I use it all the time, and can now t hrow away all those random slips of paper in my makeshift recipe book.

5. Buy frozen veggies.  I don't always do this, because they are sometimes more expensive than fresh.  However, during winter and spring, this is a very time-saving and affordable way to keep those vegetables in you menu.  Corn, peas, green beans, spinach...all the frozen varieties contain the same vitamins and minerals that the fresh version have, and are usually already chopped and diced in the package.

So, get out your crock pot, grab a couple bags of frozen veggies, a baggie of ground beef from your freezer, add some tomato sauce and have some veggie soup tonight.

Happy Cooking!

9.25.2009

Sometimes, When You Least Expect It

What is the one thing that always makes you happy?  Cooking?  Shopping?  Spending time with friends or family?  When I need a pick-me-up, I usually find a sitter and have a night out with my husband.  It's not usually fancy or exciting...just a few hours together away from the chaos that is our house.

For my oldest daughter, her biggest smile comes from being the center of attention.  As our oldest, those moments are fleeting to say the least.  But, when she has our undivided attention, she's happy.  She is happy being tickled, being watched while she carefully writes her spelling words, singing with all her heart, or (most recently) playing the piano while we sit and listen.  We've recently signed her up for ballet, which seems to be exactly what her heart desired.

For my baby girl, she is happiest when her Mommy and Daddy are happy.  She smiles when we smile, she laughs when we laugh, and she loves to be the one to make us do those things.  When she discovers that something she does makes us laugh, she will do it over and over and over...  :)  And it still works.

Our second child has proved to be more difficult.  Singing, performing, or being the center of attention do not make him happy.  As a matter of fact, these moments are when he tends to get himself in trouble.  On top of this difficulty is the fact that he is so very energetic.  Spring and Summer are mostly spent outdoors: riding bicycles, playing at the park, going on long walks.  Fall and Winter are not so easily filled, and this is a problem.  When he has no outlet for his energy, he gets in trouble because he tries to release it in ways that are not desired.  So, I began looking for solutions.  Last year, he was in a gymnastics class.  This class was very fun, and was a great outlet for his energy, but not quite what we were looking for.  We considered t-ball, but were told that four was really too young to begin. So, a few weeks ago, we signed him up for soccer.  And we finally hit the jackpot.


He received a couple of soccer balls when he was 3 and has always enjoyed kicking them around.  He was coordinated with the ball, and could run the length of our yard with it easily.  So, we went with it.  On first day of soccer practice, he was very timid.  And then I saw the smile.  The one I see from time to time at home when he is doing something he really loves.  During his game the week, I saw it a few more times.  And last week, that smile stayed on his face the whole time he was on the field.

Can I just say that my heart is overjoyed?  For once, we have found something that he can do with his whole heart.  He can run, he can kick, and he can try his best to be faster than everyone else around him.  It is even a setting in which it is encouraged to be aggressive.  My son is happy.

And as a Momma, when my kids are happy, I feel so blessed.  My cup runneth over.  :)

Do any of you have any suggestions on other activities we can try?  Any help is greatly apprecated.  Please keep us in your prayers, as this is only a small step in our continuing battle with self-control.

9.02.2009

What Do You Think?














Parents - Are you aware that President Obama will be addressing K-6 students in their classrooms next Tuesday?  He is.


http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/academic/bts.html


How do you feel about this?  Just interested in your thoughts...

8.31.2009

A Living Testimony

I recently had the privilege to hear Pastor Scott Guiley, pastor of Newby Baptist Church, deliver a message about how we can live our lives as a testimony for Christ.  He spoke of Jesus healing a leper (Mark 1:40-45), and of Elisha, through God, healing Naaman (2 Kings 5:1-14), a leper.

There are many instances of healing in the Bible.  What is more thought-provoking is the many times Christ tells the healed individual to tell no one of this blessing.  Brother Guiley used these scriptures to show us that instead of us telling everyone that we are saved, we should let our actions show them that we are saved.
  • How do you show your love for Christ?  Do you use vulgar language, or are you certain that others can hear your salvation in your speech?  Do you dress modestly so that instead of drawing attention to yourself, you can put the emphasis on your Lord?  How do you spend your time?  Is the Lord's Day a priority in your life, or do you make it to church if you don't have anything else to do?
  • After thinking about that, ponder this: Christ showed His love for you.  He stayed on the cross.  He was bruised and beaten; He bled and suffered until He gave up the ghost.  He rose again, and visibly displayed the scars left from His great sacrifice.  Did he suffer for you?
When Jesus told the healed leper not to tell anyone, He wasn't asking him to keep a secret.  He knew that others would see a difference in the man.  Can the world see a difference in you?

This message was meant for me.  I'm sure there were others who felt the same way, but I know the Lord used Bro. Guiley to deliver this message to me.

I am a sinner, saved by grace.  I am full of sorrow - and thanksgiving - that Jesus died on the cross for my sins.  I do, however, love the world; I pray that the Lord will continue to give me the strength and ability to live in a way that gives honor to Him alone.

8.11.2009

In the words of Jesus, "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."

Yes, summer is officially over. School supplies line the aisles at all the department stores. Bedtime is rolled back an hour. And Mom is getting back into a routine. :)

Maya is beginning first grade, and I am plugging away at my degree in education. In a world where money is the goal, and school is the means to get there, how do we keep God at our center? How do we make our children separate from the world? As Jesus teaches in the 17th chapter of John, we live in this world. The difficult part is not being of the world. I'm looking for suggestions from you, but here are a few ways we have found at our home to keep Christ at the center.

Morning Devotions : I bought a devotional for kids, and we have begun reading this in the mornings. I have learned that my day starts so much better with prayer. Along the same lines, the kids' days go much smoother when they are reminded of the importance of God at the start of their day.

Nightly Bible Readings : For over a month now, Maya and Max have been anxiously awaiting our nightly Bible readings. They no longer go pick a book from the play room. They bring their Bibles, and we all read together. I think what makes this work best is that it is their idea.

Prayer : Obviously Max has never been forced to pray. :) He and Maya both have been taught to pray before every meal, to pray at bedtime, and to pray for forgiveness when they have hurt someone. It's important that they know that it isn't just Mom and Dad who are disappointed. God is always watching, and we should want to please Him. Remind your children to pray before lunch at school. The Lord can use them as a witness to others!

Communication : Preparing our children for school includes more than buying their school supplies. We should make sure they know exactly what we believe, and prepare them as best we can for opposition to that. Within our own friends and families, we have conflicting parenting styles. This is much more apparent within schools. We should be open and honest with our children, which (hopefully) will encourage the same communication from them.

Involvement : There are many organizations that encourage parental involvement. Take advantage of this to stay up-to-date on things going on at school. Make your voice heard. As my husband pointed out, we should try to be bold, yet humble. Also, try to read ahead in their textbooks to know what they are going to learn about inside the classroom.

Do you have any other suggestions? Let's try to encourage each other as we embark on another school year!

7.22.2009

How To: Easy Money Every Month

Yes, our country is in a recession. Has your family's lifestyle has changed in response to this? We made a few changes in our home that I want to share with you. Maybe one of these will save you a few bucks a month:

  • Cancel your newspaper. I never read it, Seth only read it on the weekends, and we both check our newspaper's website on a regular basis to keep up-to-date. $ saved = $30/month
  • Join a family cell phone plan. I upgraded to an iPhone, got the data package, and still pay less. $ saved - $10/month
  • Shop at local thrift stores. It's not always a jackpot, but you will occasionally find a good deal. $ saved - $25/month (approximately)
  • Cancel your satellite/cable. This was a biggie for us. We weren't sure how we or the kids would react to this, but we decided to go about it like a band-aid - rip it off fast, and it only hurts for a minute. We still have the local channels, so we're not really missing that much. $ saved - $45/month
  • Cut your dog's hair at home. This was an easy change. We bought the clippers online, and found a diagram that showed how the hair should be cut. $ saved - $30/month
  • Shift to bi-weekly grocery shopping instead of weekly. This was a surprise to me. I didn't think we could go that long between shopping trips, nor did I think this would save money. I was wrong on both counts. I do occasionally need to stop by to pick up milk or bananas, but for the most part I only go every other week. $ saved - $50/month
  • Turn up the thermostat 2 degrees during the day. The kids and I are outside for the majority of every day, which means the house doesn't need to be as cool as in the evenings. I do turn it back down around naptime. $ saved - $10/month
  • Total amount saved - $205/month

Are any of these ways you could cut expenses at home? Are there any other ways your family is cutting costs? Let us know!