Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Clean Heart: Part Seventeen

Do my thoughts reflect a clean heart?

This is another area I've struggled with over the years. Growing up, I was a chronic worrier. I've lost countless hours of sleep, made myself physically ill, and wasted lots of time on this. In recent years - God has provided much relief and healing in this area as He has taught me about how and why I shouldn't worry.

But, worry is just one area. Judgmental thoughts, thoughts of jealousy or comparison, what-if and if-only thoughts and allowing discontentment to creep in through my thoughts. I had a revelation when I realized that a thought can come into my mind - it isn't mine, isn't my responsibility until I allow myself to dwell on it or think about it.

Years ago, I committed Philippians 4:8 to memory to help me in this and I have said it over and over to myself through the years. Philippians 4:6-7, 1 Peter 5:7 and 2 Corinthians 10:5 are among a host of others that have been sources of great comfort as well as great challenge.

Having a thought life that reflects a clean heart requires great discipline to reject the thoughts that do not please God and replace them with things that do. It requires that true, noble and right thoughts are hidden in my heart to draw on when I need them.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Strawberry Pickin'!

Friday was a beautiful day, so we took a short drive and picked some beautiful strawberries. More correctly, I should say that I picked strawberries - the ladies ate strawberries!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Family Night: Fun & Games!

This week we played Red Light, Green Light and Simon Says for our Family Night. Emily has been talking about the fact that a green light means go and a red light means stop - so this seemed like an appropriate game for where she's at! She had so much fun that she's asked us to play it several times since then!

Here are a few photos:

Chicken Alfredo Pizza

Here's another yummy pizza recipe I tried recently - making it up as I went.

One frozen bread dough pressed into pan for crust.
Prepared Alfredo sauce or this prepared which is what I used.
Cooked and cubed chicken.
Mozzarella cheese.

Bake at 400 until cheese is brown and bubbly!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Super Savings!

David and Emily are gone to a baseball game this afternoon, so I decided to get out with Samuel and Rachel and get all the deals. I don't normally go out shopping on Sunday, but oh it was so much easier and, you will see, very worth it!

If you aren't checking out Crystal's blog, Money Saving Mom, you are missing out! Seriously, I feel like I should send her all my savings in reward for all the effort she puts in to this. What a tremendous ministry this is to helping us stretch our dollars! Thank you, Crystal!

I haven't posted my deals in a while - but this was so fun, I just had to do it this week!

Orajel Plaque Rinse - $4.99 less $4.99 Easy Saver Rebate = Free
Walgreens Ultra Thin Maxi Pads - $1.99 less $1.99 Easy Saver Rebate = Free
Oral B Toothbrush - $4.49 less $4.49 Easy Saver Rebate = Free
Walgreens Ibuprofen - $2.00 less $2.00 Easy Saver Rebate = Free
Walgreens Lightbulbs - $0.99 less $0.99 Easy Saver Rebate = Free
Ear Rinse - $9.99 less $9.99 Easy Saver Rebate = Free
NexCare Cold Sore Treatment - $8.99 less $8.99 Easy Saver Rebate = Free
Quilted Northern Toilet Paper (each package equals 16 rolls) - $4.00 - less $1.00 coupon (I bought two) = $6.00
Total spent: $6.00
Total saved: $44.43

Rite Aid:
The Dr. Nightguard - $14.49 less $14.49 rebate
Car Wash Concentrate - $2.00 less $2.00 rebate
Big Hair Shampoo with bonus - $4.99 less $4.99 rebate
SG Mousse - $5.99 less $5.99 rebate
Citre Shine shampoo - $3.99 less $3.99 rebate and $1.00 coupon
Listerine Smart Rinse - $2.99 less $2.99 rebate
Total spent: -$1.00
Total saved: $48.14

Scotch Brite Scouring Pads: I bought 2 at 3/$5
Scotch Packing Tape: I bought 5 at 3/$5
Post-It Flags: I bought 1 at 2/$5
Post-It Paper: I bought 1 at 2/$5 - all of these above items qualified me for the $5 Extra Bucks Reward
CVS Rapid Release Pain Reliever: $3.99 - $3.99 Extra Bucks; limit five
Bic Soleil Razor: $5.99 - $3.00 Extra Bucks - $2.00 mfr. coupon = 0.99
Essence of Beauty products: buy 3 get $5 Extra Bucks - I bought 15 products at $1.99, BUT they were Buy one get one half off - and a limit of five offers; so I got all 15 items free and earned $2.50 on the deal!
Copier Paper: $3.99, ream of paper
I also used a $3/$15 coupon
Total Spent: $10.59
Total Saved: $88.53

Total Spent: $15.59
Total Saved: $181.10

Friday, April 25, 2008

Woman of Worth

A Crafter’s Walk Through Proverbs 31: Woman of Worth

I love Proverbs 31! It is a favorite passage to camp out in and it feels like a place where there are mountains of treasures waiting to be discovered. Each time I study these words, new treasures are revealed and I am challenged anew to be a woman of worth.

God brought the idea to my mind to read through these verses with the view of creating craft projects that would be a response to some part of each verse or series of verses.

So a journey begins of creatively walking through Proverbs 31 – adorning our home and lives with the beauty of its treasures. Won’t you embrace the creativity God has given us and join me?

Proverbs 31:10, “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.

When I reflected on this verse, the main theme I came away with was wanting to be the kind of woman whose value surpasses jewels and who is described as good, virtuous and noble.

This is the project God inspired me to create after reading this:

Supplies Needed:

* Picture Frame

* One piece of patterned scrapbook paper

* One piece of velum paper

* Sewing Machine

* Coordinating Thread

* Coordinating Ribbon

* Typewriter Stickers

* Scissors: plain and decorative

* Double Stick Tape

* Tacky Glue or comparable

* Spray paint, if desired

* Brown Marker

* Paper Towel

* Sand Paper

To create this project – follow these steps:

Spray paint frame, if desired and let dry. Sand, as desired, to distress.

Draw lines on frame with a brown marker and rub in with paper towel for more distressing, if desired.

Cut a piece from the patterned paper to fit inside the frame.

Cut the velum slightly smaller (to your liking) with decorative edged scissors.

Stitch velum to patterned paper. Tie ends of thread before trimming.

Glue a small length of ribbon to top right corner of stitches. Slide under velum if desired. Clip ribbon in place with a clothespin until dry.

Affix stickers to spell “worth” – begin with the “R” to ensure they are centered. Add remaining letters.

Cut prayer out and round corners. Affix to velum with double stick tape. (Note: You'll have to print this out on a color printer.)

Remove back of frame and insert artwork. Replace back.

Now, place this where you will see it often – mine is on my kitchen windowsill where I can see it when I’m at my sink. When you do see it, purpose in your heart to pray, “Lord, Shape my heart and life to be worth more than precious jewels. Make me a woman of worth. Amen.

Option: If you prefer not to frame the artwork, you could have it laminated, add an adhesive magnet and hang it on your refrigerator!

**Please let me hear from you! If you try this project, I'd love to see your creation! Also, please leave any comments on the directions here. Thanks!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thank You

Thank you all for your sweet comments. I am always amazed how when I post something like this so many of you share that you are thinking similar thoughts or going through similar things. It is amazing how God works in us to encourage and help one another!

I just want you all to know that I appreciate you and I am grateful for every comment and every word of encouragement. I know that I cannot respond personally to each comment I receive, but I read each one and they are a tremendous blessing to me.

May God bless you as you have blessed me.

Bloom Swap: Post Your Pictures!

Swappers, don't forget to head over to Carrie's tomorrow to post pictures of all your Bloom goodies!

Needed: Mother

I wrote this poem on Tuesday evening. David says I'm being way too hard on myself, which I do have a habit of doing - however, I still want to share this.

I want to share it because it really and truly described my thoughts that night. I offer it as a prayer for correction where I need it. I wonder if it will encourage my children someday when they are discouraged as parents. Maybe it will even encourage them before then that I wanted to be a good mom and am praying for God's help to do so. And, I imagine many other moms will read this and shake their heads in agreement.

Tears fell as I neared the end of the poem - it was a pouring out of my heart on paper. I hope you won't think less of me for having these struggles - but even if you do, I pray that God will allow me to look past that and be open to His correction and change in my life.

My children need a mother.
Have you seen where she's gone?
There's a woman who lives here
but it seems playing is a bore.

She'd rather keep busy
it seems much better that way.
It's either that or
have lots of fiascos each day.

You know what she means, right?
Throwing fits, undue tears, obedience often equals a fight.
Whining, no sharing and even less caring
it goes only downhill from here.

So busyness seems much easier most days
but she can't help but feel guilt in her ways.
Why can't she enjoy examining a leaf, scooping dirt or dancing around?
Why not stop to bounce the ball, read a book, everywhere opportunity abounds!

She's selfish and lazy and really - afraid.
She selfishly tries to avoid all the conflict,
she's lazy at handling it right.
And not so deep inside she knows a list of failures
will surely give her a fright.

Now, don't judge her too harshly - she loves these children to pieces
and her heart's desire is to lead them to Jesus.
She plans fun things to do, but it seems never enough.
Her head and her heart often scream, "Just give up!"
She's tired, she's grouchy and her head really aches
and it seems her littles just take, take, TAKE!

Lord, I'm glad being a mother isn't easy
or I'd forget to rely on You.
Now, Lord, I do ask that You soften my heart
and lead me in ways that are true.

I want to enjoy my children, Lord,
my failures are all I see.
My children desperately need a new mother,
Oh dear Lord, please let it be me.

PS: Today, I'm especially praying for kind words and a pleasant attitude. It seems when I'm sleep deprived and pushed at by toddlers, these things don't come as easily as they used to.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Megan tagged me to complete this meme - here goes:

A One-Word Meme (which is really more like a one-phrase meme):

You’re feeling: overwhelmed with wanting to be a godly wife and mother, seeing how short I fall
To your left: a pile of stuff waiting to be put away
On your mind: God's will for our family in multiple areas
Last meal included: leftover Olive Garden ala Monica
You sometimes find it hard to: not worry about what others think
The weather: makes me wish for a screened in porch, a loungy swing and a good book
Something you have a collection of: enamelware and canning jars
A smell that cheers you up: freshly mown grass
A smell that can ruin your mood: trash that needs to be emptied, or should have been a day or two ago!
How long since you last shaved: Um, I can't remember - a few days I think
The current state of your hair: getting longer, but I'm not sure what to do with it now
The largest item on your desk/workspace (not computer): piles waiting to be cleared
Your skill with chopsticks: I have no skills with chopsticks, but I like Megan's idea
Which section you head for first in a bookstore: magazines
Something you’re craving: sleep, sleep and more sleep
Your general thoughts on the presidential race: I love Megan's answer to this too - but for my own answer I would say it is two-fold: wishing it were over and praying for revival in our land
How many times have you been hospitalized this year: Well, hospitalized would probably involve an overnight? I was in the hospital three times total welcoming Samuel!
Favorite place to go for a quiet moment: propped up in my bed with a book or on Mesa Road overlooking Garden of the Gods and Pike's Peak or here
You’ve always secretly thought you’d be a good: homemaking mentor
Something that freaks you out a little: anything that creeps, crawls, slithers, etc... you get the idea
Something you’ve eaten too much of lately: homemade cookies: chocolate chip, M&M, etc...
You have never: gone scuba diving
You never want to: have my children know hunger

Now - I will tag Rebecca, Brie andMiriam

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hair Bow Tutorial

I have been loving these bows - I think they just dress my girls up a little more than the small clip barrettes we were using. These are simple to make and ribbon choices are endless. I also think these would make a cute gift for a little girl's birthday or stocking!

Thanks to my sweet friend, Grace, for teaching me how to make these and for allowing me to share the details with all of you!! Mine aren't quite as professional looking as hers are - which I will attribute to the fact that she's made more than I have!

Start out by tying a knot in one end of the ribbon. Trim the other end so that the knot is in the middle.

Next, thread a needle and have it sitting handy. Any color thread will do as it will be covered by ribbon when we're finished. Now, grab your ribbon and make a loop to one side:Now a loop to the other side:

... and repeat for desired number of loops. Mine are three on each side:

Here is where you need the needle. Poke it through all the layers of the ribbon in the middle somewhere and then you can sort of maneuver the loops around to lay the way you would like them to.
Stitch a little "x" in the middle to hold the loops where you want them. Now, wrap the thread around the middle and pull a little to cinch the middle in so it looks tied at the end. Secure the end by stitching through some of the ribbon and knotting the end.

Put a drop of hot glue in the center of the bow. Place a clip in the glue, but hold the clip open and fold one end of the knotted piece around into the glue. The knot should be in the center of the other side of the bow - see finished bow above.

Repeat by placing a drop of hot glue on the end of ribbon and folding over the other end. Let it dry before closing the clip so it doesn't glue shut!The only other thing to do is to melt the ends of the ribbon so they won't fray. Grace taught me this fabulous trick as well. And, really you can do it whenever in the process works for you. You obviously don't want to catch the entire bow on fire! For grosgrain ribbons, just hold the cut end near a flame and you will see the edge melt a little. For obvious reasons, I could not photograph this step!

Hope this makes sense! Leave a comment with any questions or if you make bows - show a picture on your blog and come back and tell me about it! I'd love to see what everyone comes up with!

Note: these small clips were purchased at Sally's Beauty Supply. They are about $2.00 for 12 clips.

Gripe Water?

Ok, I'd personally never heard of this before - so am just learning about it. But, I have a friend who had a very fussy baby. Ok, more than fussy. She screamed. She asked her dr. about Gripe Water, went to the pharmacy next door and now has a much happier baby!

So, she's looking for some input from others on this. Would you please leave a comment sharing any of the following:

* Have you heard of Gripe Water? What is your experience with it?
* Have you noticed any side effects from using Gripe Water?
* And, just because I'm curious, why is it that no one talks about this stuff and then when you tell them you've heard of it, they shake their head knowing about it?! This could have been a tremendous help to me when we had Emily and I'm just wondering why people seem so tight-lipped about it?!

Overall, I'm hoping that by posting this - it will provide valuable feedback for my good friend and any new mom who has a baby that is very uncomfortable due to colic, gas, reflux, etc...

Please let us hear from you!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Weekend Update!

I hope you all had a great weekend! We were very busy - which is why I'm not exactly prepared for my post today!

Friday - Emily was sick, so it was a very long day for her and therefore for me as well.

Saturday - we cleaned out our shed! We'd been putting this off for about a year and finally got it done - we pulled everything out, ended up with a big trash pile, a sell pile and put everything else back in much more organized! What a great feeling!

Sunday - I did a Olive Garden themed dinner - yummy! I made Pasta Fagioli soup, Garlic Herb Chicken con Broccoli (Stacey - I did marinate the chicken overnight in spices and a drizzle of olive oil and it was deliciously moist, not dry!), Breadsticks (I used frozen) and salad with their signature dressing (thanks Michelle for the recipe!), we finished the meal off with apple pie and homemade ice cream! Yummy!

Note: I used Egg Beaters in the dressing so there would not be a risk of salmonella. I will also add that this is not exactly a frugal menu that I planned - but neither is a trip to Olive Garden! And, since we live about an hour away from the nearest Olive Garden, this seemed like a good investment to enjoy one of our favorite restaurants at home!

All this to say - I am wiped out and will be back tomorrow with something more interesting!

Random: I'm considering posting my craft ideas now so that if any of you want to try them, you can let me know if there are any holes in the directions. Would anyone be interested in seeing these/trying them in advance?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Runnin' Dad

My Dad is running a 50K tomorrow! Wish we could be there to cheer you on in person - but know that we are thinking of you from here! We're proud of you and hope you enjoy your surprise fans!

Clean Heart: Part Sixteen

Do my motives reflect a clean heart?

Be as a rose bush that quietly grows, buds, opens wide in bloom, smells sweet. The attention it calls to itself is merely from its existence. It quietly and faithfully moves through the seasons carrying out what it was created to do. It allows itself to be pruned and cared for in quietness and its gentle and quiet spirit is indeed beautiful. It isn't worried about what other people think or other roses think or other flowers think. It just is.

Can I say that these things are true of me? No, I cannot. Pride has been a struggle for me in certain ways and I would love to truly model humility in a way that pleases God - but, I find this a challenge. False humility is not what God is looking for an true humility is not something that can be forced or come by easily.

I'm too often concerned with what others think or how they feel - trying so hard to please everyone. In truth, I'd be much better off using all that energy for an audience of One and being focused on what would most please and glorify Him.

Several years ago, I did a word study on pride and humility. Here are the definitions I wrote after studying lots and lots about these two words and all they entail:

Pride: Follows its own desires thinking its way is the only way and demanding the glory for itself, not God. Creates a heart of anger, fear, jealousy, condescending attitude and a me-first outlook. Opposite is humility.

Humility: Follows the example of Christ, who obediently submitted to God out of respect and reverence and to bring Him glory. Opposite is pride.

When you think of someone you know who models humility - what does that look like? What characteristics come to mind?

Newsletters: How To

Thanks for voting yesterday! A couple of you asked about making the newsletters - so let's see how well I can do at explaining how I keep this manageable!

First of all, it started with Emily - her newsletter is called the Emily Edition. I set up an e-mail list to everyone who I thought would want to receive it and have added/subtracted since then. This makes it super easy to keep track and all I have to do is click the Emily Edition list and it inserts ALL the e-mail addresses. This goes out to lots of people, so this is a huge time saver!

Next, I have a folder in Microsoft Word for each child's newsletters and then have it divided by year, so it goes like this:

Emily Edition:

Rachel Review:

Samuel Sentinel:

Within the folders, I simply name the file whatever the date is I am sending it out: 04-16-08.

When I go to do the next newsletter, I open the one I last sent out and just delete out the pictures and change the date, volume number. This makes it easy to format because all of that is already done and saved over from time to time. Therefore, you only have to set it up one time. Here begins my speech about using SAVE AS instead of SAVE! If you just hit save when you do this the way I am explaining, you will lose the last newsletter - please, please use SAVE AS to rename the newsletter for the next time!

Here is an example: (click to enlarge any of the photos in this post)

Open last newsletter:
Change details and delete pictures, I leave the text as is for now:
Next, I go through all of our photos and choose which ones I want to use. I do this by browsing through them using Windows Picture and Fax Viewer. When I am on a photo I want to use, I right click and select "Open With" and then choose "Microsoft Photo Editor." The purpose for this is to reduce the size of the photo or your newsletters will be so humongous that no one's e-mail will be able to hold them (especially when sending three at a time like me!)

So, now that you are in Microsoft Photo Editor, you go up to Image and then Resize. I usually change the size to about half of whatever it currently is, though even smaller would probably work. Now, this is VERY important - and yes, I learned it the hard way. When you save the picture that has been resized, you need to use SAVE AS! I just add the word "small" to the end of the file name so I can differentiate easily between the edited photo and the original. If you don't do this step - all your pix will be small and if you need 4x6's or to enlarge them, they will be grainy and not good quality. TRUST ME - please use SAVE AS!!!!! Ok, moving on from my soap box! :)

After you have gone through and re-sized the photos you want to use, go back to your Word document.

Here are the steps for adding pictures to your Word file:

Choose Insert
Choose Picture
Choose From File
Now, you can select a photo from your computer to add. This is where adding the word "small" comes in handy, because you can find these easily and don't need to sort through them again! So, choose a photo.
When the photo is in your document, right click on it and choose Format Picture. Then choose Layout. Next, click the box that says Behind Text and click Ok. This will allow you to move the photo anywhere and re-size it easily. It is MUCH easier to make this work if you do this step!

Repeat the above steps to insert all your photos. Now, just arrange them around a middle open space. I use a text box to insert my text as it is easy to move from time to time if I want to move it a little to accommodate photos.

Now, it is time to insert your text. I use the typeover function and it just erases last time's news and adds the new stuff.

Ok, when you are all done - save the entire thing. Now, I used to just send these as attachments from Word - but I will tell you that it is a pain for the recipient in some cases. So, we switched to PDF and it is SO much easier!

Here are all three of the newsletters I sent out this week, to give you a feel for each one:

Emily Edition:
Rachel Review:Samuel Sentinel:
To get your file in PDF format, you need to use Adobe Acrobat or Cute PDF Writer. We use Cute PDF because it is a free download. From my document in Word, I simply choose Print and then under printer options, choose Cute PDF Writer. I send these PDF files via e-mail to our list.

I hope I have not made this sound impossibly hard - I wanted to try to think of every detail so you could just print this out and let it walk you through how to do it. If you have questions, please leave them here and I'll do my best to help. Now that I have this established, I can do all three newsletters in about 45 minutes total.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Making Your Home A Haven

This week, Crystal suggested an Anti-Procrastination Day! I really needed this and started on Tuesday afternoon and carried it over all day on Wednesday! Wow - it feels great to get these things caught up - thanks, Crystal!

I started with a bigger project which was to sort out my files. Shred everything we no longer needed and file away the new things.

Here was my to file pile:
Here was my shred pile:Progress: shredding and filing are all done and everything is cleaned up and put away!

Next, I needed to put all the Easter stuff away:

Box packed up and put away:
Baskets hung until next year:
I had a rotisserie chicken that needed de-boning:

Wednesday, we started out by planting some sunflower seeds, I'm starting them indoors and will move them outside when they are starting to grow. This is all to prevent the squirrels from eating my seeds like they did last year!

Another thing I frequently put off is spending time just being with the little ladies. So, the next thing we did was have a tea party:
Then, I let the ladies watch a movie while I went out and planted some more green beans - I've been putting this off for about two weeks. The other row of green beans is doing great and I wanted to get a bunch more planted:
I've been wanting to make cookies for David's baseball team all season. Yesterday was their last game, so I made M&M cookies with orange and green M&M's:
While the cookies were baking, I wanted to finish up the hair bows I started a few weeks ago when we were on our trip. My friend, Grace, taught me how to make these and I had two to make and one to finish up:Next, I sat down at the computer to get caught up there. I downloaded all the pictures off of our camera, did the next round of newsletters that I send out periodically on each of our littles, and uploaded pictures with the intent of ordering to update each of their photo albums. But, I sat there while they were uploading questioning my method of pictures for them.

Here is what I currently do:
* Twice a month, e-mail out newsletters with pictures and what is new with each child. Here is a sample (click to enlarge):

My Mom prints these out and sends them to me, I put them in plastic sheet protectors and have a book for each child.

* I also have one photo album for each child with as many pictures as that will hold and then a photo box for when that is full. I have made an effort to ensure that each picture has a month, year and short description on the back.

* In addition to all this, we create a Year-In-Review DVD that includes a slide show of favorite pictures from the year and video.

However, today I was wondering if it would be better to do one photo book a year so the could easily look at the pictures? If I did that, I wouldn't get 4x6's printed anymore. Carrie, I think you mentioned th photo book recently and it got me to thinking.

So, here are my questions: Should I keep doing 4x6 prints for the photo boxes or do one photo book each year for each child? What would be easiest to enjoy in the future? Would they want prints or ease of enjoying the pictures?

Please vote or leave your opinion in the comments!

Whew - lots accomplished and it feels great!