Thursday, December 27, 2012

All He Lost for Christmas Was His Two Front Teeth.....

We've really been trying to crack down on the boys running on the stairs.  Usually it's the speed they come down that freaks me out.  They figure since they've got both hands hanging on the banister, they're good.  (It's just what if the banister comes loose from the wall??)
Last week Nathan decided he needed to run up the stairs for something, tripped, and barked his shin pretty good, ending up with a rather impressive bruise.
Yesterday, we're only wishing it would have been his shin.....
He was running up the stairs to get a toy to show "Uncle" Seth, and tripped near the top.  Apparently his teeth took the brunt of the fall.... He left one laying on the stairs, and the other was pretty much just dangling. He also bit a pretty good chunk out of his bottom lip.  He really wanted us to pull the other tooth (it was moving around every time he opened his mouth), but I couldn't get a grip on it (baby teeth are so tiny!), so I took him to the dentist this morning (they were closed yesterday).  They removed it with no problem.
The x-ray showed no apparent injury to his permanent teeth, but we better get used to his toothless grin, because it's looking like it'll be that way for a while.

Photo: ♪♫ All he lost for Christmas was his two front teeth.....  (Ouch.)
Love him!  He was so brave.  Other than the initial injury, he really didn't cry that much - even at the dentist, when they were digging around in his mouth and bumping his very swollen lip.  We treated him to ice cream and onion rings afterwards (first food he'd had since breakfast yesterday), and apparently that cures all!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch......

I'm getting so I hate Christmas.  Not what the holiday represents, as how people celebrate it.  Watch TV, and you'll see the pathetic emptiness of it all:
Christmas is about STUFF!  This is your last chance to buy STUFF!  If you buy STUFF your kids will love you!  You need to buy STUFF!  You don't even need money to buy our STUFF - just finance it!  Aren't there a few more people you need to buy STUFF for?  Make up for the emptiness in your life by filling it with STUFF!  You deserve STUFF!  People will love you if you buy them STUFF!  We're going to stay open late so you can buy EVEN MORE STUFF!
I mean, I'm all for buying gifts for those you love.  But our society has really gone overboard.  I don't know if it's gotten worse in the last several years, or if I'm just more aware of it, but I hate it.
Part of our not going crazy at Christmas is the fact we can't afford to.  But even if we had the money, what is the point?  Are your kids going to love you more if you buy them $500 worth of presents?  Does buying your wife a diamond automatically fix your marriage?  (Let's not even talk about the problems all around that putting Christmas on a credit card causes!)
I mean, really.  People trampling each other for stuff?  Spending money they don't have for stuff?  Is this really what Christmas is about?
What is Christmas all about anyways?  Jesus was born on this earth.  It's His birthday!  His sole purpose in coming to Earth was so that he could die to pay the penalty for our sins, so we wouldn't have to.  He has given us more than we could ever imagine, and we in turn give to others.
We only have a few days to refocus our priorities, and determine to focus on the real reason we should be celebrating.
May his joy and peace fill your heart.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Clearing the Air

Paul and I had to have one of those discussions to "clear the air" last night.  I've been wanting to say something for a long time, and I've been stewing on it at night when the lights are off and he's asleep, or when he's gone at work - when I can't say anything to him.  I have worked myself into a frenzy, getting angry, and I know that when I'm angry it's not the best time to bring something up.
So last night, after the kids were in bed, I decided it was time to stop stuffing it and get it said.  If I put it off, I knew I was going to blow at a bad time, or in a bad way.  I could already feel the pressure leaking out in little snippy things I was saying to him, and the way I was treating the kids.
I hate how even though these things need to be said, and I think I did a good job expressing myself without getting [overly] accusatory, I still feel like the bad guy for even bringing it up.  But I guess that's better than feeling smug and victorious "because I put him in his place," or feeling angry and bitter.  I cried, of course.
It took us until 5 AM to work through it.  I brought it up and blindsided him, and when I had said all that I needed to say, he wouldn't say anything, so we turned on the TV and watched a movie.  I fell asleep, and woke up at 2:40 to a silent house.  I found him in front of the fire, "thinking."  I prodded and prodded, and finally he started talking and explaining his side of it.  We sat on the couch and talked, and I cried some more, and finally, the air was clear.  We reached an end.  No more stuffed emotions, no more silent sulking.  We laughed at some stuff, and then went to bed.
I hate it when people just assume we can't relate to having marriage problems.  Just because we don't have fights, doesn't mean we don't know anything about problems in marriage. We've dealt with plenty of serious issues.  We just don't fight.  I think, in 8 years, we have maybe yelled at each other once.  And it was like a sentence, then we were done.  And I don't go telling everyone about our problems.  I mean, yes, I tell my sister and Mom, maybe one or two close friends, but I'm not constantly railing on him behind his back.
I mean, really?  Would you rather for advice go to someone who is constantly cutting down their husband, or someone who knows how to work out their problems?
I am as tired as all get out today, but I am so much more relieved that everything got said.  And I'm even happier that I pressed and got him to talk it out.  I could have gone to bed, telling myself, "Well, now he knows where I stand," and pretend I didn't know it was bothering him and that he was upset.  But now I know where he stands as well.  I think it was a pretty good end to the biggest "fight" we've had all year.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I Love My Family

I have a pretty awesome family.  We are so weird, and I love it!  Any family dinner conversation with my parents and siblings can flow from movie quotes, to childbirth stories, to spiritual matters, to neighborhood genealogy, and beyond.  We are so loud, and I'm sure it's intimidating to an outsider, but I think it is awesome.
As I was nursing Zadie to sleep, for some reason I was thinking of one of my brother's favorite things to say. Mom, Lurenda, and I will be in the kitchen putting the final touches on the meal, and we'll get on a roll about something, not even paying attention to the food situation, and JC will yell from the other room, "Hens!  Get in here!  It's time to eat!"

I'm sure it totally stokes his ego to have JC be the first mention in my new series, but when I thought of it, I about started giggling out loud while I was up there.  It's the "Hens!" part that gets me.... Such a perfect description of I'm sure what we sound like.  I'm going to make mention of my awesome family on regular occasions now.  (Regular, meaning, whenever I actually think of something and have the time and motivation to go to the computer.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

This Day Sucked..... Until I Cleaned the Kitchen.

So, yeah.... The day didn't get any better.  I was on the verge of tears several times today.  There wasn't any one part that was particularly bad, but all of it was wearing on me.  Plus, I must be hormonal, because I can tell I'm being moody toward Paul, and short with the kids, but I just don't care.
Zadie slept a total of less than an hour all day, and that was in two parts, so it wasn't even a stretch of productiveness.  I did get half a load of laundry folded and the rest of the Christmas decorations put out  while she entertained herself (I needed the empty tote to take to Sam's Club tomorrow).  Jacob woke up from his nap whiny and sick-ish.  I had to install all 3 car seats in the van before we left, and I couldn't get the L.A.T.C.H. system to work on Zadie's, so was wrestling with that for what seemed like 15 minutes - meanwhile I can hear Zadie inside screaming because she is so tired, even though I had tried nursing, rocking, everything for the previous two hourst. I came in from the carseat debacle and Jacob still hadn't touched his supper, so we had the meal time showdown, while Zadie continued to scream.  Jacob ended up going to Cubbies, but not allowed to play or participate until he ate his supper (which he never did).  I didn't get a chance to prepare for the lesson, and we were one teacher short, and Zadie still wasn't asleep, so I didn't get a chance to study after we got there and ended up just reading it from the lesson book, which the kids totally zoned out during.  Paul did come get the kids after work, so I didn't have to wrangle them out the door and into the van, but when I came home, the house was a disaster (just like I left it), and Zadie - who had fallen asleep on the way home - was awake again.  An hour later, she still wanted nothing to do with sleep, so I put her in her crib and walked away.  She screamed bloody murder.  I can't even begin to relax while listening to that, so I started banging things around in the kitchen.  Paul figured out pretty quickly that I must have been upset (I hate cleaning the kitchen) because he jumped up and started trying to help, and ended up going upstairs to rock her because he couldn't stand listening to her anymore.  When he came down, he flipped off the light in the kitchen, thinking I had put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher and I was done.  "No, I'm not done.  I'm not going to get a chance to clean the kitchen tomorrow, and if I don't clean it tomorrow, it won't get cleaned all weekend, so just go to bed without me."
Did I mention I was moody?  That may be an understatement.
I am definitely not one of those people that thinks doing dishes is therapeutic, but the end result is.  In the chaos of the rest of the house, the kitchen is all clean and gleaming.  And it gives me hope for the rest of the house.  And when my house is organized, it makes me feel like life is a little more organized as well.
If she sleeps......

One of Those Days

I seriously need to be cleaning this house.  It looks like every closet, shelf, drawer, and even the outdoors stepped into the middle of every room and vomited.  What a crap pile.
But it's one of those days.  I just had to get on here to let out a huge GAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I hate days like this.
It started out with not sleeping well - which has been going on for weeks.  I haven't had any caffeine since Saturday, so I know that's not the problem.  But on top of not sleeping well, I was up for an hour with Zadie in the middle of the night.  I woke up with a headache.  Not a huge one, but just that kind of niggling, irritating, just-don't-feel-quite-right kind.  And then the house smelled like we'd had a house fire (probably the cause of the headache) because there's a leak around the doors of the wood stove or something.  Which has been that way since we first lit it a month ago and we still haven't done anything about it.  Then when the sun came up, I noticed there was definitely smoke in the house, so I had to open all the windows to get it out, and whereas it got rid of the smoke, it didn't get rid of the smell.  (And need I remind you it was like 20 degrees this morning?)
Then the boys are fussing at each other.  They both are a little "off" as well; I think they're trying to get sick.  But not sick enough that they want to just lay on the couch and watch TV.  It's the whining, arguing, disrespecting "off," and continually nit-picking each other.  I didn't spank either one (they were threatened with one more offense), but they both got sat on the couch, sent to their room, or sent outside.  (I probably should have just spanked them.)  And then Zadie was off as well.  She wasn't happy doing anything.  If she was nursing, she wanted to play.  If she was playing, she wanted to snuggle.  If she was snuggling, she wanted to eat.  If I gave her food, she wanted to play.  So I didn't have 10 minutes of peace this morning, without having someone hanging on me or whining at me.
Then the bank called.  We closed on our refinance, but they forgot to collect the accrued interest for this month - nearly $400.  There goes my Christmas ideas.
And I'm just frustrated with several little things.  Things that have needed said or done for a long time, but I keep ignoring them, because it's easier to just keep the peace.  But I've been stuffing it long enough, and soon the kettle is going to blow.
And I'm sure my stress is a lot caused by this filthy house, but I am continually spinning my wheels trying to get it clean.  One person picking up after 5 is seriously out of balance, and I can never quite get it done, between school, lessons, church stuff, and being needed.  It seems like a neat house is only a priority to me, even though everyone around here functions better when it's picked up.  (Nathan can not focus for anything when there is stuff piled on the dining room table during school or a mess on the floor when he's practicing violin.)  Even when someone tries to help me out, they don't do it right, or don't do it completely.  I hate that I can't be grateful for a small amount of help, but it seems like it doesn't really help me at all when I have to finish or redo it.
And lovely.  I should have used these 15 minutes of ranting to pick at least one room up, because now Zadie is awake, after only a half an hour.
May I say again:


I want to hatch that egg.
(I want to crack that egg.  Jacob, while helping me make scrambled eggs.)

Jacob, you need to come help me, 'cause you're my best friend.
(Apparently, we need to emphasize that it's not a contractual obligation.)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Encounter the Cross

My dad, brother, and brother-in-law (sister's hubby) went to a men's retreat called Encounter back in May, (Paul was supposed to go, but the timing was bad with his work, and having just taken vacation for Zadie's birth).  In September, they returned, taking Paul, two men from church, and a neighbor.  Then Paul went back to yet another last weekend, taking his dad and his uncle.
I can't tell you a lot about it, other than the second-hand info I have heard from him, but it is obviously incredible.  It's a 48-hour retreat, that covers all aspects of a man's life.  I have absolutely no doubt the Holy Spirit is powerfully present at this event, from start to finish.  I have heard no negative feedback from anyone attending (except for the food :) ).  For those of you that know Paul, you know that he isn't a bad guy at all - he's a committed Christian, a great husband and father - yet the change in him has been amazing.  He's reading the Bible daily consistently for the first time since we've been married - he wants to, not me reminding him to.  He's stepping up and speaking out.  I am so proud of him.
I don't know the exact history, but it sounds like a church puts it on, then rather than the event for that church getting larger and larger, they train other churches how to do the event themselves.  True discipleship.  They are training men to be men, to stand together and stand for Christ.
If you men want to change your life, go to this.  If you women want your man and marriage changed, encourage him to go (although nagging him into it is not the best approach).  If you have any questions, my husband would be happy to answer them via email.

And can I just say that a husband who is on fire for God is incredibly sexy as well? I think the boys are tired of seeing us kissing in the kitchen.  ;)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


One my sidebar, I have links to friends' blogs.  On one of my friends' blogs, she has links to other blogs.  One of those blogs is Life and Grace.
Talk about a lesson in perspective.
This woman is about to have a baby.  A baby that won't live very long after birth.  She's known that for most of the pregnancy, and yet chose to carry the baby (not abort her) and celebrate the life.  She's simultaneously planning a birth and a funeral.  And yet the strength and grace and absolute trust in the Lord she has blows me away.  Every time I read it, I am so humbled.
If you have the time, read it.  You will be blessed.  And if you have any heart, you will bawl your head off.

Monday, November 5, 2012


We didn't celebrate Halloween this year.  The last two years, we've done something, but I decided this year that we were going to stay away from the mainstream celebration of Halloween.  Instead, I organized a game night for anyone else who didn't want to do the trick-or-treating thing, or wanted to be out of the house so they didn't have to deal with greedy kids banging on their door all night.  (I will admit, it's partly laziness.  I don't want to come up with costumes.  Or deal with wrangling 3 children while Paul's at work.)
Two years ago, we did the whole trick-or-treating thing.  I just did home-made costumes (Nathan a construction worker, Jacob a sailor).  One of the boys' friends was having a birthday party on Halloween night, and they were going to go trick-or-treating on their street afterwards.  The boys were freaked out.  It was dark, there were kids (and adults) in weird and scary costumes all over the sidewalks, being loud and boisterous.  And half of the porches we went up on had freaky decorations.  
So last year we did something a lot less scary.  We went with friends to a local nursing home.  The kids had decorated miniature pumpkins, and handed them out to residents - instead of it being gimme gimme gimme,  they were also giving something.  And I did like that.
But this year, the more I thought about Halloween, and how our culture celebrates it, the more I wanted to distance my family from it.  If you celebrate Halloween with the costumes and candy, I'm not judging you.  I do think it is possible to participate in Halloween events with innocence and good motives.  But you can't get away from what the holiday glorifies..... death, ghosts, witches, and evil - it's everywhere!  I wish it wasn't that way.  You may send your kid to school dressed like a ballerina or baseball player, but their friends (and teachers) are dressed up as witches and zombies.  A trip to nearly any store has costumes and decorations portraying gore and death.  Do we really want our kids thinking those things are okay?  That witches are no big deal?  That ghosts are friendly?  That death is not serious?
I wanted to find out the "roots" of Halloween.  I looked up the Wikipedia entry on Halloween (rather than use a biased Christian site).  Halloween the way our country celebrates it is based on the Celtic holiday of Samhain - which was the day before All Saints Day, or All Hallows Day - thus the name All Hallow's Even[ing], later shortened to Hallowe'en.  The holiday morphed from pagan and "Christian" traditions. 
The custom of wearing costumes has been linked to All Saints/All Souls by Prince Sorie Conteh, who wrote: "It was traditionally believed that the souls of the departed wandered the earth until All Saints' Day, and All Hallows' Eve provided one last chance for the dead to gain vengeance on their enemies before moving to the next world. In order to avoid being recognised by any soul that might be seeking such vengeance, people would don masks or costumes to disguise their identities".
That's not any kind of Christianity that I practice.
But where it came from aside, I am more concerned with de-sensitizing my kids to the seriousness of the occult and witchcraft.  I don't want them to start thinking that because we laugh at people that are dressed as witches or zombies or whatever, and that we celebrate fear and death on this one day, that they're no big deal.  If my kids met a witch in real life, I want them to be scared out of their wits and praying for God's protection like they never have before.  If they saw a dead person walking, I want them realizing it would only be from demonic possession.

Nathan kept asking me when it would be Halloween.  How long 'til Halloween?  Who's going to be at Halloween?  So I asked him, "What do you think we are going to do on Halloween?"
"We're going to go to the church and play games and laugh and have fun."
Last November, we had a game night at the church, and there were pumpkin decorations on the table.  Apparently that's what he remembers as our Halloween.  And I'm okay with that.

So that's what we did.  
(Minus the pumpkins, or decorations of any kind.  Because I'm lazy like that.)

Monday, October 29, 2012


Changing seasons around here brings birthday season!  Both boys have birthdays in the autumn.  They are separated by five weeks, so we really don't have the temptation to lump them both into one party.  However, they are definitely close enough that Jacob remembers exactly what happened for Nathan's birthday.... Which could prove tricky when they are a bit older.
Nathan turned 5 on September 14.  We had a little party for him; I was just planning on a small family-only party (which is still 15 people), but about a week before Nathan gives me this line (not trying to manipulative, truly sincere): "Mom, I like Charlie.  He's my best friend.  He really is my best friend."  Then later repeated a similar declaration, followed by, "Can Charlie come to my birthday?"  How can you say no to that?  So we invited Charlie's family.
We don't do much in the way of parties (themes, decorations, etc).  All birthdays have the same theme:  food.  But I do try to make them whatever type of cake they ask for.  (I figure even if it's lame, the made-by-Mommy touch is worth something.)  
He had been saying for months that he wanted a Tonka Truck cake.  I figured I'd find an easy idea online, but.... No such luck.  When I Google'd "Tonka Truck Cake," mostly all I could find was cakes with a toy stuck on top.  I wanted to do something a bit more original than that.  (Not that I didn't do just that for his first birthday.  And his second.  We just don't need any more toys!)
My sister Lurenda told me about something called a "sugar sheet," which you can print designs on and then just lay on top of the cake.  AWESOME!  After I bought it, I read the instructions.  You are supposed to use edible ink.  Uh oh.  But then I thought, if my kid ate a piece of paper that had ink on it, I wouldn't take him to the emergency room - what's the difference?  They printed off great, but didn't dissolve into the top as well as I thought it would.  We called the printed out things "stickers" and told everyone they could peel them off if they wanted to.  (FYI, the sugar sheets taste like paper that dissolves in your mouth.)  He requested a chocolate cake, and I forgot to buy a mix, so I made a from-scratch chocolate cake.  Triple layer.  It was massive, and had to weigh at least 10 pounds.  I don't think we even finished half of it.  (It's in the freezer for another day.)

I decorated it the night before, so it had bled.  

I had leftover batter, so I made cupcakes.

The Munchkin convention.
Nathan and Jacob, my nieces Lena and Mackenzie, and Charlie is on the right, along with his older brothers, Clayton and Willie (who are also pals to our boys and nieces).

I had to have Paul re-light them like 3 times to get this picture

Jacob turned 3 on October 21.  His birthday came at kind of a bad time.  The boys had been sick all week.  Like can't-get-off-the-couch sick and fevers all week, and by Sunday, Zadie and I were also getting sick.  We also were having a worship night at church the night of his birthday, which I was leading.  It was a busy weekend, and Sunday after church was the best time to squeeze in a party.  We again did a family-only thing.  And he was still sick enough that that was about all he could handle.

We made four of these for his party, and cooked them on the grill.  We made them Saturday, and rewarmed them at the church on Sunday.  Absolutely a-freakin'-mazing.  Best yet.

Jake had been saying he wanted a elephant cake.  He really likes elephants, and had 3 in his stuffed animal rotation.  I was planning on doing it... somehow....  And then he asked for a mouse cake.  And a worm cake.  I made him stick to his original request.
I was not sure how to do it, and finally went for free-handing it.  I wasn't positive how we'd do the fill inside the outline.  We were going to "star fill" it (I have no idea what the official cake-decorating terms are), but then decided to paint it in using food coloring and water.  Much easier.  Plus, I was super-tired, getting sick, and stressed out about the upcoming worship night.  So I was happy with anything, just as long as it was done.
It was not supposed to be this purple.  It was supposed to be more of a gray-blue-purple.  But I was still pretty happy with how it looked.

First shot!  (Him and me!)

......And as I tried to remember what we'd done for Jacob's cake previous years, I went back and looked at old blogs.  No pictures.  Of first OR second birthdays.  Not even any mention of his birthday, both years.  HORRIBLE. MOTHER.  Oh my gosh!
His first birthday we were in Colorado.  We got him an ice cream cake.  I'm sure we have pictures, but they're not on my laptop.
I think I was planning on a grand post featuring his cake last year, because it's probably one of my best.  But I was pregnant.  (That's my excuse, anyways.)  Last year, Google really paid off in the idea department. He'd asked for an owl cake, and it turned out awesome!  (Cupcake cake.)  (Now that I think about it, I think we did do a first-birthday party for Jacob after we got back from vacation, and we had cupcakes for it, too.)

So, a year late, there's Jacob's 2nd birthday pictures.  And his 3rd.  And Nathan's 5th.  That's just how I roll.  Better late than never, I guess. :)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Refinancing.... Again.

We're in the process of refinancing our house again.  Rates are currently 3.5%, which is over 1.5% lower than our current rate, and we can save something like $30,000 if we can get the lower rate, not to mention saving over $100 per month with a lower payment. Worth the hassle, totally.  I wasn't thrilled about starting over on 30 years again, but they gave us the option of continuing our current payment schedule, just at a lower rate - awesome!
I'm not sure if I've given them a shout out on here, but I have so loved our experience at Citizen's State Bank of Paola.  Our original loan when we bought the house was with Bank of America.  (Boo!  Hiss!)  That was NOT a good experience.  We'd get our monthly statement, and the amount had changed, due to a change in escrow amounts.  Or we'd get a "additional escrow needed immediately" statement.  Or both.  They called all the time to try to get us to refinance, apply for a home equity loan, or open a credit card (not to mention the junk mail).  Whenever I called to talk to them, IF I could get through the phone system, the person couldn't really help, "That's just the way we do things."  We had to pay $70 a month of mortgage insurance (which would pay our mortgage if we didn't - you know, because they can't take the house or anything like that), and kept saying we could take it off after such and such point, but wouldn't do it, even when we had a appraisal that showed we owned over 20% equity.
NOW, when I need something, I call the bank at Paola, a real person answers the phone, and transfers directly to whoever I need to talk to.  In the two plus years we've been there, I've needed something maybe twice, and it was resolved instantly.  No junk mail.  No phone calls.  We do our own escrow (setting money aside to pay yearly taxes and insurance), so there's no surprises.  They carry the loans, and don't sell them to national companies (which is how we ended up with Bank of America, even though we went to a local bank).
So there's my internet shout out.  I love this bank, and I highly recommend them to anyone looking to refinance.

Six Months, One Tooth (Finally!)

It feels like I haven't updated in so long.  And it has been a couple weeks, but really not much has been happening.  We had a 10-day stretch of sickness, so that was a chunk of time where there was lots of movies and days spent in PJs.
Teething bites.
Zadie passed the 6-month mark last week!  She is such a big girl.  Her first tooth FINALLY made its appearance.  She has been working on that thing for, I'm not even kidding, three months.  Unfortunately, it's twin is still struggling to make it's debut as well, and now when she bites while nursing..... YOWCH.
Zadie has been sleeping through the night since she was about two weeks old.  I got used to that real fast.  Now she's waking up at about 4 to nurse, and sometimes then again at 6.  Killer.  If I put her in bed with me, she will nurse for a solid hour, until my alarm goes off at 7:15.  I'm sure it's because she's growing and needs more calories.  I can't get her to go crazy on the solids.  And frankly, I don't blame her.  She still needs the smooth texture, or else she gags, but the simple foods are so bland.  How long til she can eat Mexican food, seriously?  Jacob didn't eat solids til he was 8 months old and could pick up finger foods to feed himself.  I'm hoping we're not headed for that again.
First food!
We really need to get a high chair.  Meal times usually consist of planting her in the middle of the living room, wrapping her in a tea towel, and feeding her.
She's sitting really well on her own, and really, really wants to figure out how to crawl.  She leans forward from sitting and gets her legs mostly under her but then can't figure out what to do from there, and then gets frustrated and starts hollering.  She's starting to try to pull up to stand.  I am so not ready for her to be mobile.  More so, the boys are not ready for her to be mobile.  The Legos will have to go when she starts crawling, plus who knows what else.  In general, she's been kind of high maintenance.  I think she's discovered that there is worlds beyond her little field of vision, and she wants to see it all.  Right now.  She likes spending time outside.  It's been so warm out here, that hasn't been a problem.  Unfortunately, it just turned cold, so I'm not sure what we'll do this winter.
Trying to pull up.
Oh my gosh.  I've got the TV on while I type (Office reruns).  I hate it when they have restaurant ads that show steak.  Now I want steak.  I think Paul's going to be cooking on Monday when he's off.
Mommy and sister.  (In all my morning glory.)
So that's the update on the little miss.  I've got other stuff, but I'll let this post be just for Zadie.  Except for the steak comment, of course. :)


We don't speak Whinese.

Paul, after I told Jacob he needed to stop whining and speak clear English.  Jacob is really bad about instantly switching on the "Whinese" when he's upset about something (which usually doesn't merit the drama he applies toward it) where we can't understand a single word he says.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Sick Day Muffins

We're sick around here.  It's Paul's fault, really.
No, not really.
But Paul was the first one to have sinus stuffiness.  Then Nathan got sick Friday afternoon, and has pretty much not moved off the couch since then.  Fever of 103.  Jacob came down with it on Sunday (we stayed home from church - for once they were sick on a day convenient for me to skip!).  I'm trying to get sick, but I am hitting the Zicam pretty hard.  I can't get a cold this week!  (Our worship night is this Sunday.)
Nathan has me concerned.... The high fever, complete lack of appetite, and the just laying around all the time.  I can't get him interested in doing anything, and then he acts like he can't concentrate if I do get him to try to attempt something.  I keep going back and forth whether to take him to the doctor.  First off, it's $20 just to walk in the door.  We don't really have that right now.  And if it's just a virus (which I'm pretty sure it is since we've all got it in some form), the doctor will send us back home with a "just keep an eye on him."  So $20 wasted.  Plus, there's the chance that we'll pick up some other vile disease while we're there - which has happened before, more than once.
I was really hoping that today is the turnaround day.  So I thought I'd tempt them with something tasty to eat.  It worked, sort of.
These muffins were a variation of a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook recipe.  The first time I made them like this (last week), Paul ate 5, Nathan ate 3, and Jacob ate 2.  Then the boys both wanted another for their mid-morning snack.
So I tried them again.

3/4 cup white flour
3/4 cup wheat flour
1/4 c(ish) oatmeal
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp(ish) cinnamon
1 beaten egg
3/4 c milk
1/4 c oil

Mix dry ingredients.  Stir together egg, milk, oil and pour into dry ingredients.  (May need to add more water or milk to get it to right consistency - not as thin as cake batter, but not so thick it clumps up in the whisk.)
Divide among 12 muffin cups.
Top with streusel:

1/4 c (half stick) butter
1/3 c flour
1/3 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp(ish) cinnamon

Combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon.  Cut butter in using a pastry knife.  Sprinkle by the tablespoon full over the unbaked muffins.

Bake at 350 for 14-15 minutes.
*(ish) means I didn't actually measure it.  Just a guesstimate.

Nathan actually asked for one.  He ate the streusel top off of it, and left the bottom half.  Jacob ate one for breakfast, then wanted another for lunch.  When they're sick, I'm like whatever.  As long as they'll actually eat - it may not have lots of nutrition, but it has calories, which is energy to fight illness..... right?  Nathan's pretty much just ate Cheetos and cookies for the last 4 days.  I'm just happy he'll eat that much.
So we'll see if today is the turnaround day.  Nathan voluntarily went to take a nap at 11.  But so far, no fever.......

Monday, October 8, 2012

And here it is!

As promised…. An update!
Paul is off to work, and all 3 kids are watching a movie.  I’m not so sure about how I feel about Zadie watching TV, but she’s happy, which is a change from the last hour.  She’s not watching much, but is sitting on the couch with the boys, facing the TV while playing with her toys.
As I said, she’s become a little high-maintenance lately.  I don’t mind it mostly, but when I’m trying to get stuff done (like supper), it’s a little exasperating.  Especially since I know she doesn’t need anything (food or diaper), but she’s just bored.  But boy, can she scream!  She’s been so laid back since birth, this is a new thing.
The boys are getting so big.  I think they both went through a growth spurt at the end of summer.  Sometimes when they walk into our room in the middle of the night I second-guess which one it is.  It seems like Nathan should still be Jacob’s size, and Jacob should be a lot smaller than he is.
However, they are also getting some BIG attitudes.  The arguing between the two of them has reached epic proportions – about EVERY.  LITTLE.  THING.  And I’m not sure how to deal with it.  I don’t feel like wading in and beating them is the thing to do (although that’s what I really feel like doing when it’s the eightieth argument I’ve broken up before 9 AM), but they just don’t listen when I tell them to stop.  Nathan will keep it up under his breath, which he thinks I can’t hear, then Jacob will start yelling at him or wailing.  Who do I spank?  Both of them just for principle’s sake?   So there’s been a lot of yelling. 
I’ve started a chore chart with the boys.  They are old enough to start pulling some weight around here.  Their chores are to daily pick up their toys, clothes, shoes, etc.  Nathan unloads the silverware from the dishwasher and takes out the scraps to dump on the garden as compost.  He also helps with the trash on trash night.  Jacob feeds the pets and takes the recycling from the kitchen to the back porch when I have empty cans or milk jugs in the kitchen.  I love the fact that they are still motivated by getting stickers - it makes convincing them so easy!  They’ll get stickers until they own their jobs and start doing them as a course of habit.
I struggle with balance between serving my family and expecting them to do things how I want them done.  They boys know where their coats go.  Is the floor beneath the hook close enough or should they be hanging them up?  (They would have to move aside the bottom of Paul’s jackets to hang them on the lower hook.)  Should I let Paul hang his coat on my hook, or make him hang it on a hanger, since he only wears it every other week?  I have sock clips to keep socks matched in the wash – should I make them clip them together, or do it myself since I’m the one who benefits from it?
As for individual updates on the children:
Nathan has been doing school for 23 lesson days.  His math is supposed to be done 3 days a week, and repeat the lesson on the off days, but most of the concepts he either already knows or easily grasps.  For example, one of the lessons was counting to 5, and he can already count to 20.  He’s working on acting out story problems (Three teddy bears got on the bus, then one got off.  How many are left?), and graphing, which seems advanced for a 5-year-old, but he’s getting it, so…  But at this rate, we’ll be finishing the K math by March.  I think we may just move right on to 1 Math, and do it on through the summer.  He just seems to have a good head for math, and it makes sense to him.  Definitely does not get that from me.  Phonics seems maddeningly slow for me.  I don't know how much I should push him.  He knows all of his letters and their sounds, but putting them together either truly doesn't click or he just doesn't see the point. But I don't want to rush on, because I want him to know and understand very well. We have seen a rapid improvement in his violin with daily lessons.  He knows “Twinkle Little Star” theme, and 5 variations of it, “Old MacDonald”, a song we call “Walking Fingers” but is actually a simplified fiddle tune, “Boil the Cabbage Down”, and is learning “Joy to the World.”  He plays pretty good by ear; Old MacDonald he learned in pretty much one day.  Again, doesn’t get that from me.  He started in Sparks at our church’s AWANA program.  He was actually still 4 when it started in September, but he was in Kindergarten, and he moved up with a bunch of buddies that had been in Cubbies with him last year, so he was in good company.
Jacob started in AWANA Cubbies this year, sort of.  With a late October birthday, I don’t think he’ll be ready for Sparks yet the fall that he turns 5, even though we will probably start Kindergarten with him around that time.  So we call him a “Junior Cubbie.”  He wears Nathan’s old vest and memorizes the verses, but I’m too cheap to buy him the $10 book if he’s going to be in there for 3 years.  (Next year they are changing the whole program, so he wouldn’t be able to reuse the book when he’s older.)  Jacob wants to do school with us every morning.  So his school consists of cutting paper, coloring, writing on the dry-erase letter books, or playing with whatever math manipulatives Nathan uses for his lesson.  He kind of does his own thing; he’ll wander outside on his own (I’m a great mother).  Jacob is fearless.  Not in a macho, I’ve-got-something-to-prove way (read: short man syndrome), but more in a “Yeah, this looks fun.  I think I’ll do this.”  This week he jumped off the tailgate of the truck onto a log, which rolled beneath him.  Stuff like that happens daily.  He's still a snuggler, and likes to snuggle up against you when we read or watch TV.  He tries to end up in our bed whenever he wakes up at night.  (I don't want to admit how often he actually succeeds.)  He turns three later this month, and is pretty excited about it.
Zadie is nearly 6 months old.  She may be bigger than the boys were at this age.  They tended to be 90th percentile for height/75th for weight.  She's 100/90.  She was nearly 17 pounds at her checkup last month.  She's sitting up really good now on her own, where I don't have to put pillows around her.  I think she wants to crawl, but can't quite figure it out.  She rolls over onto her belly really well, but has yet to figure out how to roll from her belly to her back.  She's trying to change up her sleep pattern by giving up her morning naps.  So I know that's part of the problem with her attitude and needing attention.  We've had some big scream-fests at night.  She knows she's getting sleepy, and so will fight it.  After so long, I just get tired of the nurse-yank away-nurse-yank away.  I'll try rocking her, and if she doesn't relax, I just put her to bed.  Sometimes she'll scream and scream, other times (like tonight) she gives an obligatory squawk or two, but that's all I hear the rest of the night.  She started cereal this week.  The first time, she did pretty well, with not much tongue-thrusting and spitting out.  The last two times, she has attacked it with gusto, leaning forward and practically putting her face in the bowl.  I'm going to try green beans tomorrow, and see what she thinks of that.  Paul calls her a "show stopper."  Everywhere we go, people comment on how pretty she is.  I think it's the dark skin and the big blue eyes.  She is a beautiful girl.  (But of course, as her mother, I would never think otherwise!)
We had our first freeze this past weekend.  We were still getting watermelons and canteloupe - in October!  I didn't even try to save anything.  I was done with gardening.  With a capital D.  And it finished off the garden, big time.  Yet my roses by the deck were fine.  I don't get it.  I was happy with how the garden did, considering the type of summer we had.  Thrilled actually.  My tomatoes were a big waste of time and water, though.  I don't know if it was the year or the breed, but the most I got in one picking was a half a bucket.  Not even enough to put up.  My mom combined them with hers and got some sauce and salsa put up that she gave to me, so I do have something on the shelves at least.  The canteloupe were amazing - I think we were on our 5th or 6th round of pickings, and they had finally backed off to a normal size (as opposed to the first couple rounds of basketball-sized melons).  I even had a cucumber plant that held on.  It almost died in August, but then the tiny little bit that was still alive when it cooled down in September, started producing again.  I had about 12 bean plants that came up for my fall crop, and they were thisclose to being ready when it froze.  I told Paul next year, no matter what, I'm heeding my grandpa's advice of putting the fall garden in "the 25th of July, wet or dry."
Well, that's it for tonight.  I'm going to be responsible and go to bed, because, after all, being caught up on housework and laundry is way overrated.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Still Alive.....

We're still here.
School has started full-swing.  We've been "in session for a month now, and it's going pretty good.  But it's another hour out of my day.  (And yes, it only takes about an hour when you charge through it start to finish with no play time or breaks.  With a boy, it seems to work better that way.)  Also the little miss is becoming very demanding.  I think she's finally realized there's more world beyond just her little area that she happens to be in, and she wants to see it.  RIGHT NOW.  In Mommy's arms, of course.  It's not enough to just move her to the room I'm in - she wants to see what the world looks like from the altitude of 6 feet tall.  And I've been trying hard to avoid the siren call of the internet to lure me away from engaging with my family and being productive around the house.
I'm breaking my own media Sabbath, but I got online to do some "training" for a worship night we're doing at church in two weeks.  I'm trying to decide what theme and flow I want to establish, and what the main goal of the night is.  I think there needs to be something a little more substantial than "having fun," although that was originally the main motivation for getting together.  I want it to be a powerful night of worship, but not only do "power songs" - balance out with some quiet songs of meditation.  Decisions, decisions.....
Anyhow.  I need to get to bed, but I will try to make it a point to post an update in the next two nights while Paul is working.  And add pictures. :)

Thursday, September 20, 2012


"Whoa, something stinks.  Did you toot?"
"Wow.  That is really stinky."
[seriously distressed voice] "I don't know why I keep smelling like Pa-pa!"

Overheard: (Why, thank you.)

I'm glad my husband's not here.  Because then he'd expect us to have all this yummy food at our birthday parties.

One of my friends, the mom of Nathan's best buddy, came with her boys to Nathan's 5th birthday party.  We had a pretty simple fare, I thought.  Hamburgers and hot dogs, and different salads.  I made pasta salad, and my family brought several others.  It's not my fault my family loves flavorful food. :)

Culinary Self-Flagellation

I consider myself a decent cook.  While my cooking wouldn't necessarily be called gourmet, I think most of what I eat is enjoyable.
However, I will admit:  I do make some pretty amazing sugar cookies.  And some dang good cinnamon rolls.  And a pretty good pies, too, now that I think about it.

So let me change the subject.
Monday, I joined my Mom and brother on the carb-free train.  What I'm doing is not as strictly the Atkins (I eat vegetables, minus corn, carrots, peas, and potatoes), but it's still pretty strict.  When you get the munchies, there's not a whole lot that's munch-able, at least not in our house.  Seriously, Tuesday, my teeth were aching for something crunchy.  I'm not being totally fanatical about it - I had 3 Fritos to try to satisfy that need for crunchiness, and I had a bite of Paul's grilled pizza on Monday.
The reason I decided to try out this diet is because I've been feeling very bloated and fat. As we all know, after you have a baby, there's a certain amount of belly fat you can't do anything about.  But it was just a blah feeling all the time.  My mom said it would help with that, and it has helped.  And even though it's only my 4th day, my belly does feel (and maybe look?) less bloated.

Back to the original subject:
Once a month, Paul likes me to make treats for him to take to his shift at work.
Well, I promised them cinnamon rolls before I decided to do this diet.  This is where the subjects come together:  If there is one food/flavor I love, love, love, it is cinnamon.  You can't go wrong with cinnamon.  I even put in on ice cream occasionally.  But white bread, not to mention sugar, would definitely be a no-no on a carb-free diet.
He takes four 9x13s (1 dozen each) to work (I made two plain, one apple, and one chocolate chip).  Anything in the two rounds is the "ugly ends" from the dough roll, which I keep for our family.  But they turned out just as beautiful and fluffy as the others!  And this pic is even before I added the frosting!
Seriously.  It was total self-torture to make these.  And they were the most perfect batch I've ever made - go figure!  And I made apple cinnamon rolls, which I love.
I did sample one taste each of the apple and the chocolate when the boys were eating them last night.  And they are as definitely as good as they look!  It was hard to stop at one bite!  So, it's a total lesson in self-control for me to ignore the pan of cinnamon rolls on the counter.
Ah, the things we do for the ones we love. :)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


I have kind of a love/hate relationship with recycling.  I love (okay, like) that I'm not adding to the massive amounts of trash in the landfill, but I hate that it stacks up before I finally get it taken to the recycling center.
I think that I really started trying harder to recycle after Nathan was born.  I got to thinking about how many diapers I threw in the trash.  Then I got to thinking about how many babies were in our town, and how many diapers were being put in the landfill every week by all those babies combined.  And the thought of all that poop in a pile just kind of grossed me out.  Even though I had already decided to do cloth diapers for finance's sake, that thought just reinforced my decision.
But diapers are not hard to decompose, I would think.  I got to thinking about the amount of plastics and glass everyone throws away - that stuff isn't decomposing for a long time.
The boys have a movie called Mighty Machines (basically a bunch of videos of different machinery doing jobs).  They have one of a trash truck doing it's route and it shows the landfill.  I've never been to our county's, so I was surprised at how huge it was.  And gross.
So I started trying to recycle.  I only do things that our local recycling center takes (#1 and #2 plastics, soup cans, pop cans, glass, paper, and cardboard).  Once we take those things out, a week's worth of trash is only 2 bags, and that includes diapers.  (If I was religious about recycling junk mail, it would probably be less than that.)
But I hate how it stacks up!  My storage totes take up too much room to keep on the back porch, so we keep them in the shop.  (I wouldn't need the storage totes if I took it to the recycling center every week - but, let's be real, that is never going to happen until I'm an old lady and have nothing better to do.)  I keep a basket by the back door to take the stuff out to the shop when it's full.  But because I (or someone else in this house whose household duties include the garbage, which in my book includes recycling by extension) am too lazy to take the basket out to the shop every week, there is always a precariously balanced pile of soup cans, milk jugs, alfredo jars, and shampoo bottles on the shelves by the back door.  I hate that. .
But I do like the thought that by doing this little bit, it's keeping some of the non-biodegradables out of the landfill.
And if everyone did that little bit, which isn't hard, just slightly inconvenient, it would make the world a more beautiful place.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Budget Blues (How We Save Money)

The last couple months have wreaked havoc on our checkbook.  Without going into details, suffice to say we majorly have to tighten up the spending, and I made a silent vow to not take anything out of savings the next few months.  (Or else, we won't be having Christmas.)  After paying bills and balancing the checkbook this morning, I was stressed and depressed to find out we had $350 to last the until the end of the month that hasn't even started yet.  And I haven't even bought groceries for the month.  Not to mention the gas Paul will need to get to work.
So I grabbed the ol' list and started crossing off things that I thought we could get by without until the end of next month.  Some were easy - like matching baskets to hold crayons and colored pencils (rather than the mismatched cardboard boxes I'm using), but some made me grit my teeth - like disposable diapers.  I used just over half a box last month.  Surely I can use just under half a box for this month. And I'm pretty sure we can live without soy sauce and sliced cheese.
Not that we can't take money from savings (I should be grateful we even have a savings account!), but just that I feel panicky if it drops under a certain amount.  A vehicle or appliance breakdown would wipe us out.
I think some people think Paul makes lots of money at his job.  He makes decent money for a factory job, but it doesn't afford us to a life of ease, by any means.  We can afford what we have by careful spending and going without some things.
Every time I see an article with a title such as "The Best Ways to Save Money," I always eagerly read it.  And it's the same old tips that everyone knows.  "Give up Starbucks, make your coffee at home."  "Take your lunch to work."  "Check books out from the library instead of buying them."  Duh.  Seriously.  How about some tips for real people that already and have always done these things?
So I came up with my own list of ways to save money.  Some of them are in those articles.  But I'll take them a step further, and show you how we save.  And spew my opinions upon you.  (You were warned.)
Ditch movie rentals.  First we ditched the movie store for Netflix.  Then we ditched Netflix.  It wasn't worth the $8 a month we were spending on it.  We own probably over 50 children's videos, and twice that many grown up movies.  If we can't find anything to watch in that collection, we need to find something else to do.  We also found that there the access to profane movies and TV shows was a temptation on Netflix.  And by saving the monthly subscriptions, we have enough money to buy the [very occasional] movie that we think is good enough to add to our collection.  (We do use Redbox if we want to watch a recent movie that we don't think is worth buying.)
Stop eating out.  I realize that sometimes you have to eat out.  Even as much of a cheapskate as I am, I am not dedicated enough to pack a lunch when there's no avoiding being out over lunch, nor am I stoic enough to endure 45 minutes of whining meltdowns because my kids are hungry.  We do eat out, but when we do it, the boys and I can eat for $3 plus tax.  A dollar hamburger for each of us, and water to drink.  My husband is not quite on board with the dollar hamburger, and when he comes with us, the total more than doubles.  (Part of this is because when Daddy goes with us, it's a treat, and we get french fries, too! :) )  But even if you stick to the dollar menu, eating out just three times a week can add up to $30 a month!  Now, this is not to say we never eat out.  I think we average maybe 2-3 meals out a month.  And we splurge for special occasions, and usually don't cheapskate it for those special times.
Get rid of cable/satellite.  You see advice to cut back to the basic service to save money.  But why not ditch it altogether?  A lot of people don't realize that since over-the-air TV went digital a few years back, many stations have two stations, if not more.  With just "rabbit ear" antennas, we can pick up nearly 20 stations with little to no adjusting. Seriously - why would you need more than that?  And really, do you even need more than one?  As long as you can get the news in an emergency, I'd call that enough.
Stay out of WalMart!  If you know me at all, you know of my disdain for this place.  I'll admit, with their "price comps," it is possible to save money by shopping at WalMart.  But only if you stick to your list. WalMart preys on people that have no willpower.  Even I am not immune to it.  How many times do you go in for your regular groceries, and come out with something you didn't need?  If your kids don't need new clothes, stay out of the kids section!  If you don't need new throw pillows, don't browse the home goods section!  If you're not looking for a print cartridge, stay out of the electronics!  Get in, get your stuff, get out.  I don't usually let Paul go with me, because I am much better at sticking to my list if he's not there browsing while I shop.  Last month's splurge: a $1.74 flyswatter.  This month's:  a $2.22 cube of Post-Its.  I justify my splurges if they are something I will use and are less than about $4.
Quit buying processed food.  We buy a lot of pasta.  And rice.  They may not be the best for you, but they're better for you than the pre-packaged "just add water" rice and noodle packets.  A packet or Knorrs noodles may only be $1, but it doesn't even feed a whole family one meal.  Meanwhile, that same $1 can buy a pound of pasta, which you can add a little butter and spices to, and you have enough for 4 meals.  Not to mention it's so much healthier for you.  And do I even need to mention how much a soda habit costs?
Your kids don't need as much as you think they do.  This is probably the hardest one.  It is super hard to tell my kids no.  We went to the fair this summer, and had to tell the boys they couldn't ride the rides.  (Tickets were $3.50 each.)  Seeing their tears hurt.  But they got over it, and by the next week didn't even remember.  You may say, "I don't want my child to feel deprived."  But they can't feel deprived if they don't first feel entitled.  I heard somewhere that kids have so much not because kids want so much, but because parents want them to have so much.
Since my little sister moved to Africa, I think I've become more aware of how much our kids (and all kids in our country) have, and don't even realize or appreciate.  In her first letter to the boys, Carlsie told them about how the children there don't have any toys, and they make cars and trucks to play with out of sticks, rocks, and trash they find.  Meanwhile, my boys have 6 drawers and 2 shelves full of toys, and yet they ask for more.  Do they really need more?  If we happen to end up passing some toys in the store (and we always do - strategic marketing), I always tell them no. They may whine at the time, but they forget about it by the time we're home. If I go shopping without them, and I want to get them a "treat" so they know I was thinking about them, they get special fruit (like berries), or maybe chocolate milk - not a toy.  I have to tell them no when they ask for those off-season raspberries that cost $5 for a half-pint, when apples are $1.29/lb, and explain to them why we're going to get the apples.  My kids will grow up to appreciate the things they have, be responsible with money, and not feel like they are entitled to something just because they want it at the moment.
Internet on your phone.  Do you really need it?  How much is it costing you versus how much you need it?  Need it, not use it.  Facebooking on your phone is not a need.  We've got internet at our home, and whereas it would be nice sometimes to be able to look up price comparisons or merchandise reviews when you're in the store, is it worth the $30 or $40 more each month?  Or is it just taking your time and attention away from something more important, like paying attention to your kids?
Stay home.  I don't like going places.  Partly it's laziness - wrangling 3 kids on my own?  Pass.  Let's just stay home in our pajamas instead.  Partly it's the cost of fuel.  Seriously.  With gas prices what they are, you're talking at least $10 in gas just to get out of town.  But mostly if I'm out shopping, even if I'm just looking and not spending, it makes me feel not content with what I have (which in the light of what some get by with, is a lot).  Which leads to......
If you don't need it, don't buy it (i.e. self denial/self control).  Dave Ramsey says, "A sale is not an emergency."  No matter how much of a steal it is, if it's going to make you come up short before the next payday, you don't need it right now.  We've lived in this house 7 years, and I still don't have curtains in any room except the bedrooms.  We have blinds on all the windows, so the neighbors can't see in.  I really want some nice deck furniture, but even on sale it's too big of an expenditure for something that we don't need.  We've got a picnic table that Paul's dad made out of scrap lumber on the deck.  I want matching lamps and end tables in the living room.  But I've got a coffee table on one end, and an end table on the other, and a lamp with a defunct shade.  It works.  Even though it's not what I really want, these things work for now.  My house may not be the most beautiful, but my checkbook looks pretty good.  Another Dave Ramsey quote:  "Live like no one else, so that later, you can live like no one else."  Someday, if we stay on track and keep things tight, someday, I won't have to think so hard about every cent we spend.  You'd better believe that the instant this house is paid off, I am using the money on some serious face-lifting on this house.
And I do realize that if we put all the money we've spent in the last year or two on say, movies, together, I would have enough money to buy myself curtains.  But I also believe that sometimes you have to let go and splurge on something unnecessary (within reason, usually under $20).  Paul works hard for the money he brings home, so when he wants something, I try to make sure he gets it.  If you stay absolutely uptight, everything becomes about money, and that can not be good on your marriage.
So there you have it.  This is how I save money.  Not by couponing or comping, but by common sense.

(And thus ends the first installment of my overly opinionated posts.)
(And apparently my opinions are very long-winded!)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Be Forewarned:

I'm mulling over several blog entries, and I'm going to warn you ahead of time:  the next several entries will be chock-full of my opinions and convictions.  I've been thinking a lot, and I need to write these thoughts down.
I'm not one that thinks that just because I think and am convicted a certain way about something, I think everyone should abide by my convictions.  But I do think that hearing another's convictions should give you pause to think about your own.  Prepare to be offended if you don't agree.  Or even if you do agree, but don't want to face the truth.

So that's what I'm mulling on.  When I get time.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

August Update

I can't believe we are almost to the end of August.  Seriously.  Where has this month gone?
I've actually had a fairly productive month.  It started with my media Sabbath, and got better from there.  I have been spending less and less time on the Internet.  I haven't even been checking my email every day, and I've declared Fridays "Facebook Fridays."  I don't miss it; it's kind of freeing, actually.  I usually watch about 15-20 minutes of local news (network morning shows are complete jokes) each morning to catch the weather (I'm obsessed with weather reports) and find out if anything important is happening in the world.
I love walking.  I've been walking 2+ miles every morning on our roads.  I haven't lost much weight - only like 6 pounds in the last 3 or 4 weeks.  Frustrating, considering I've also been trying to eat better.  But I've had more energy and feel generally healthier.  But I also know that "slow and steady" is a better, more maintainable way to lose weight.
Keeping the house clean is NEV.ER.END.ING.  Good grief.  I've swept the floor every day (unheard of), and am trying to clean the kitchen after every meal.  It doesn't take ridiculously long, but added up, it seems like most of my day is in the kitchen or dining room, cooking, picking up or folding laundry.  (I know, my place is supposed to be in the kitchen.)  But I so much prefer the end results.  It's almost become habit, and it gets so it bugs me if there's stuff laying around.  This is a good thing!  Now, to get  it to bug the rest of my family enough they want to pick up as well......
Nathan has two days of preschool left.  As I predicted, we're going to finish it up just in time to start his Kindergarten.  We'll finish up on Friday, take a week off and then start up again on Labor Day.  (It's not a real holiday.)  We asked him what he wanted to do to celebrate being done with school, and he said he wanted to go on a picnic.  In our yard.  We talked him into going to the lake.
For his curriculum, I wasn't sure how much to do.  We settled on Math, Reading, and Science.  We're using Saxon math, and it actually is a step back from what he's already learned with the Answers in Genesis preschool curriculum.  But it covers much more than numbers - for example, the first lessons are about the calendar/days of the week.  So we'll have to keep up with his addition and subtraction so he doesn't forget all that.  The reading is a phonics approach; we're using A Beka.  And science is also A Beka.  It's actually 1st grade, but he's ready for it.  I think it's considered 1st, not because of the material, but that the student book is like a reader.  The first part of the year is health and manners, then the second is more "sciency."  We're going to try to do some social study/history type things, but the basics are more important.
Oh yeah.  I got these.
I'm sexy and I know it.
When I went to the eye doctor, he said my eyes aren't that bad and normally he wouldn't prescribe glasses.  But it is 30% worse than it was (from  "2" to  "3" points near-sighted, in his explanation).  And I think that that decline all happened in June when my eyeball swelled up, which is why it bugs me so much and I notice it.  We looked at our insurance, and it actually is really good, and pays 100% on glasses.  So I went ahead and got them, mostly for driving at night and whenever I am watching TV or reading lots on the computer (like now).  Apparently they look natural on me, because I've worn them to church twice and also to couples group and the only person that noticed was my best friend (besides my family, obviously).  Paul bestowed his most sincere compliment:  "Your glasses don't look that bad."  Praise indeed. :)
All 3 kids are kind of sick.  Just snotty noses and some coughing.  It wasn't enough to keep the boys from skinny dipping in the freshly cleaned dog pool.  But it still bothers me to hear them cough in their sleep, or to see snot dripping off of Jacob.  Zadie is handling it pretty well, too.
The little miss is not so little anymore.  I'm not sure what weight she's up to, but she's about to outgrow 3-6mo clothes.  Her 4-month birthday was last week.  I know she's teething; you can see the teeth changing the shape of her gums.  She is still so laid back and happy, though!  Oh my goodness, we love her.
Is she not absolutely beautiful?!
She's been sleeping downstairs in the playpen, so we can save money on a/c bills (she'd have to have a window unit).  It's been cooler lately, so she's been doing naps upstairs, and we put her up there the last two nights.  (Too hot again tonight, though.)  I thought it might be a big adjustment for her, but she took it with her usual laid-back nature.  Didn't fuss, didn't wake up.  If all babies were like her, I'd want to have 50 more.
I have had several "refuse to cook" weeks this summer, with this ridiculous heat.  So once again, I made Paul cook outside.  That grill has been completely worth the $100 we spent on it.
We perfected the grilled pizza.  The key is don't rush to get it on the grill, let the heat get down.  And don't screw with the heat once it's on there!  The thermometer reads about 100 lower when there's a pan in there.
Veggie Pizza - tomatoes, peppers, onions, zucchini, mushrooms, and olives.
 The more fat there is in bread, the better the flavor. (E.g. when you make the dough with milk versus water.) And cheese just makes it amazing!
"Breadsticks" - I'm too lazy to form the individual ones, so I press the dough into a pan and top it with spices and cheese.
 This whole meal (minus the buns, I guess, this time) on the grill.  Grilled curly fries - amazing!
 These deserve their own picture.  Bacon-wrapped green beans.  Fresh green beans, wrapped in bacon, sprinkled with brown sugar, garlic, and dry mustard (1/4 c sugar, 1 tsp each garlic and mustard).  SO GOOD.  Add a little water and cook for about 20 minutes, then take the foil off and cook until the bacon crisps up.  If my fall beans in the garden produce, I'm pretty sure this will be what I use all of them for.

Okay.  I need to get to bed.  That's a sampling of what I can think of that we've been up to lately.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Work in Progress

So I've been sitting on the broom/dustpan picture for quite a while, intending to use it for my blog header.  (Yes, I took the picture.  And no, I did not intentionally sweep the dirt into the heart shape.  But when I noticed it, I just had to take a picture.)
The header and layout is a work in progress.  I'm not totally happy with the yellow font, but going into Paint and changing it is proving to be more of a pain in the backside than it's worth right now.  So I'll get around to a different look..... eventually.


I had an awesomely productive day yesterday.  I fully cleaned the kitchen and dining room (which actually weren't that bad), and even mopped the floors for the second time in a matter of weeks.  (I think I need to see a doctor....)  I got all the laundry folded and put away.  I did school with Nathan and cooked a nice supper.  I had that victorious feeling of almost being on top of the housework.  Today, the plan was to clean the bathroom and sort toys/movies/books and vacuum the living room.  Paul would come home to a shining house and be able to kick back and relax while I served him supper in high heels and pearls.... (ha ha)
So of course I wake up not feeling well.  It's not to the point of not being able to do anything, but definitely making me feel tired and lethargic.  I'm watering trees outside, and my legs feel heavy and my joints ache as I walk across the yard.  I had to take a nap.  I did manage to tidy up the kitchen and dining room of the school and lunch mess, but that's about all that I've managed, other than sitting on the couch contemplating my cramping gut and churning stomach.
Does this happen to anyone else?  It seems like it happens every time I'm getting with it on the housework - I get sick.  I don't know what it is, whether it's my body complaining about the mutiny from it's usual state of laziness and complacency, or God keeping me from getting too proud of myself and having a clean house.
On the upside, what allowed yesterday's productiveness and today's nap was the fact that the little miss took a 5 hour nap yesterday and a 4 hour nap today.  I put her upstairs in her crib, which I've only done a handful of other times.  But I think the quiet and dark is helping her sleep.  (And the fact she may be going through a growth spurt.)  We've been having her sleep in her playpen in our front room so we don't have to pay an a/c bill for her window unit.  The last couple nights have been pretty cool (low 60s), so with the windows open and fan on, combined with the fact it's on the west side and no sun comes in the window 'til about 1, it was pretty comfortable up there at 11 when I put her down.
Oh well.  She's awake now and she's voicing her opinion of me being on the computer.  Back to it.

Monday, August 6, 2012

V for Vendetta

So I mentioned in this post about the bug infestation we got in our kitchen.
Still gagging about that.  Ulgh.
Indian meal moth a type of pantry moth
These are what the little buggers looked like.  They're called pantry moths/flour moths/meal moths, and are about 1/2" long.  They were everywhere.  For probably two weeks afterwards, I would go on a rampage whenever I saw one, and go hunting and kill at least a half dozen (daily, if not multiple times each day) - opening cupboards, looking at the underside of the cabinets, and pulling chairs into the kitchen to swat them off the ceilings.  I still am opening the cupboard at least once a day and looking for them.  The boys got used to seeing me go from walking calmly through the house to going all ninja on one flying through the air - they don't even ask what I'm doing.  But I am determined to rid our house of these things!  I cannot describe to you how absolutely disgusting cleaning all that out was - and I made Paul do it, so I wasn't even the one handling the stuff!  One live moth means the possibility of baby moths.
Just in the last few days, I've finally stopped seeing them.  Every once in a while, I'll see a small moth in the living room, but I think they're something different.  (I kill them anyways.  "If it flies, it dies.")

Saturday, August 4, 2012

This Is Why I Oppose Gay Marriage

This article has excellent points.  It's rather long, but it helped me put my thoughts together on this controversial subject.

If we don't maintain and define "marriage" as between one man and one woman, preaching tolerance, and "acceptance of one's orientation," then, by default, we must allow anyone to marry anyone or anything.  If we allow two men or two women to marry because "they love one another," then we must also allow a man who wants to marry two women, a bisexual who wants to marry a woman and a man, a man who wants to marry a young boy or girl (because I'm sure, in their own twisted way, they do sometimes love each other), a man who wants to marry his cousin, his sister, or even his daughter, or a woman who wants to marry her cat.  Because if the qualification is "we love each other," if marriage is not defined as "between one man and one woman," then we must allow anyone to marry under the mantra of being "tolerant."  Gays say we (conservative Christians) are intolerant, but they themselves are, because they would say that gays should be allowed to marry, but not any of the above who "love each other."
If we ignore 6,000 years of history (up until the last 20 years) of marriage being known as only between a man and a woman, it's a slippery slope of what is allowable.
And that is why I oppose gay marriage.

(Besides the fact that God's Word explicity says homosexuality is a sin. I Corinthians 6:9-11)