Friday, December 10

friday

The table is
sticky with glue,
there are
crooked sequined grins
on two
hastily cut
painstakingly crafted
brown paper
gingerbread boys

The toys
are strewn,
couch cushions askew,
I have two hastily fed
sleeping boys
the house is
happy to be silent
breathing in and out

warmth
and love
and twinkle lights
piles of mail
receipts and crayon doodles
half-unpacked bins
of Christmas sparkles
this is
my happy life.

Thursday, December 9

Cranny


I won these in a giveaway.

But here's the truth - not one week before I won, I was over at Cranny, very seriously contemplating buying them for this very spot in my house.

God is so good to give us these bonus blessings! Thank you, Sarah, for being a direct hug from God to me.

Sarah Kate has some gorgeous other items for sale in her shop, but hurry - Cranny closes for the season on December tenth! (Don't worry, it will re-open on January first with (no doubt) some lovely additions to the shop.







I won this little fella, too...isn't he cute?

Wednesday, December 8

Preview of Christmas Cards 2010


Rejoice Lord King Religious Christmas 5x7 folded card
Shop Shutterfly for elegant custom Christmas photo cards.
View the entire collection of cards.

Tuesday, December 7

Home Reserve-ations

So, we are thinking about a new couch. We are looking at the possibility of a small sectional to maximize the space we have. As we researched, going to furniture stores and shopping online, we came across Home Reserve. Everything looks good - maybe too good. The boxes come UPS and we're always up for a DIY (obviously), we can take the fabric off and throw it in the washing machine if (and when, I'm certain) we need to. There is storage under every seat. Also on the plus side, we can get the size sofa/sectional we need without spending a HUGE amount of money. On the down side, it's kind of hard ordering furniture sight unseen. So that is the BIG downside. Does anyone know anything about this company?

We put our old couch up for sale on Craigslist, deciding that we would replace it if it sold...and we got a call today that looks like a done deal. So, I ordered a few swatches today, and if we like the fabric, maybe we will order a chair or a chair and a half just to give it a shot. It's a hard call, though.

So has anyone ever heard of this company? Purchased anything? Sat on a couch from here? Help!

Wednesday, December 1

Advent Begins

So, I didn't get my super-cool Advent calendar done for this year - but I was visiting with a friend yesterday and I remembered what we'd done last year with Aaron - a cheap little cardboard Advent Calendar with which we taught him the Story.

(Here is a clip of his version)

He's changed so much in a year - this was totally worth a revisit for me. What is your plan for the Advent season? Do you have any special traditions as you count down the days to Christmas?

Wednesday, November 24

Christmas Cards!

Every year, I procrastinate with cards. It's not so much the acquiring of the cards - there is always some great deal going on where I can get a discount on photo cards to send out to the family - I love Shutterfly's Christmas card designs this year, by the way! I procrastinate in the updating of address lists, the sticking the cards in the envelopes, and the mailing of the cards. OOPS.

One year, I even sent some New Year's Cards. That was before kids, so you know this problem hasn't been a new one. A woman from my BSF group sent Thanksgiving cards this year, which I thought was a great idea!

Shutterfly has been a great company for me to work with - I bought a photo calendar one year for my parents with kiddo pictures in it - they loved it! Here's a desk version that would be a cute gift! You can ask Kris & Andrea how they like their crazy photo mugs we got them last year. Plus they are giving me some free photo cards just for writing this blog post - woo hoo for me! So go check out Shutterfly's website and see what you can create this season!!

Tomorrow!!

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and today is jam packed with things to be thankful for! My mom is coming over! Woo hoo! I know there are lots of little second graders and their families who are super glad mom teaches, and I am too - but I really miss my parents in the school year time. I'm glad their work is appreciated and that they are loved. I am also thankful for summer break and days off from school, because I love spending time with my mom! We have pie baking and side dish planning on the docket for today.

And then tonight I get to have some girl time with some friends from high school. It's been way too long, and I need a good laugh, the kind of belly laughs that can only come of laughing at your high school self from a new perspective.

Have I mentioned that I am thankful for our new camera? It's nothing fancy, but it gets the job done with more megapixels than the last model, so that is a definite improvement.

Then tomorrow is Thanksgiving! I'm ready with my 18-day long list of things to be thankful for! Do you have any special traditions for Thanksgiving Day?? I would love to hear!

Tuesday, November 23

Two Days

It's just two days before Thanksgiving. It's finally starting to feel like November in Michigan - yesterday was balmy, today it can be balmy in my heart. Ha ha. My parents are picking up the turkey today and I'm excited to try brining for the first time. Let me know if you have any great hints for this!

I'm always thankful for naptime, but today especially so. I am grumpy, very much so, and a nice quiet house and some time in the Word is the recipe I need for a great afternoon.

I'm super thankful for my husband, who, while I was working on a project last night on the computer, singlehandedly took on another project that has been sitting for awhile and finished it up. He is, without a doubt, the world's greatest. And not just because he helps me around the house. He loves us in so many ways - I am so thankful to be married to him!

Unexpected surprises came in the mail! I love freebies, especially from Pampered Chef! Woo hoo for Tuesday!

What are you thankful for today??

Monday, November 22

3 days!

Wowsa, it's getting really close!! We set up tables yesterday to make sure we had enough space for the people coming to our house for Thanksgiving dinner! It's going to be cozy, but we have room - as long as no one cares if we get out the front door or not, ha ha!

I didn't mean to alarm anyone with my post yesterday - nothing huge and horrid is going on in our house; yesterday's sermon was just a fantastic reminder to me of the sufficiency of Christ.

Today I have a list of more things I am thankful for!

1. Our successful refi. I feel like I've been beating this to death, but I'm very thankful! The additional funds came at the perfect time, there were (and are!) several items that we've been saving up for and the funds will allow us to have the money available when the needs happen, and gives us a huge head start on our savings. It was also nice to skip a payment on our mortgage this month.

2. Freezer Meals. Every Monday should have one. I know I'm not the only one who wishes Monday was more like just about any other day of the week!

3. Family close enough to celebrate with. And far away family, who, God willing, we will see sooner than later. We miss you, far away family!!!

4. My diaper sprayer. It's the little things, I tell ya.

5. To-Do Lists and timers. Helps me focus, helps Mondays, helps kids. Why don't I do this more often? I'll never know.

6. The promise of a good old fashioned GNO later on this week. Already looking forward to it! Love ya, girlies!

What are you thankful for today?

Sunday, November 21

day 5/ day 4

Combining days again because I am forgetful. :-)

Today in church, our pastor reminded us that sometimes, giving thanks has to be an act of the will. He reminded us that sometimes there are blessings, sometimes there is loss, and ultimately, everything is okay because God Never Changes.

I think, in light of that truth, He alone is enough to praise today - so glad I am able to know and love the God who never changes, the Creator, the lover of my soul.

Friday, November 19

6 days

I can't believe there are only 6 days left. That mess up in the countdown really sped things up (ha ha). I am looking forward to hosting Thanksgiving for some members of my extended family this year, complete with gluten free turkey (thanks, mom & dad!) and hopefully, at least one gluten free pie. Test baking of pie crusts commences tonight!

I am very thankful today!

1. for PBS, which made my super-fast cleaning spree a happy time for me and for the kids. Thank you, Word World!
2. for spaghetti squash and farm fresh butter. LUNCH!
3. for sweet little boys who ask to play tic tac toe with O's and R's.
4. for "I love you, mommy" several (hundred) times a day.
5. for the hugs that accompany the words
6. for makeup to hide dark circles
7. for God's grace to let me see the beauty of my simple, blessed life.

What are you thankful for?

Thursday, November 18

8 days/7 days

OK, I realize it's getting a little ridiculous - I know it is a week away so I'm combining. :-) I have been counting the day AND Thanksgiving, but really we should not count Thanksgiving! Silly me, I never was any good at math.

1. Thankful for BSF and the Isaiah study. Today we were reminded that God has a plan, and He will prevail, that no one can thwart His plans. What a comfort in the midst of living in this crazy world!!
2. I am thankful that the kids love LOVE their BSF classes. And that they can be counted on to take good naps on Thursdays.
3. I love naptime! Ahhh, quiet house.
4. And today, I am thankful for the 5 quarts of Northern Spy applesauce sitting on the counter, popping away as it seals. Aaron helped turn the crank on the foley food mill. He's quite a helper! Tomorrow I may try pie filling.
5. Thankful for being alive and getting to enjoy my two precious boys, all day most days. The challenges are there, the craziness is definitely there. But I wouldn't trade these guys for the world.
6. Thankful for friends who don't mind sharing great coupons. (thanks, Erin)
7. Thankful for REBATES ON APPLIANCES that just came in the mail. Yeehaw!

What are YOU thankful for today??

Wednesday, November 17

9 days

9 days left and at LEAST that many things to be thankful for!

1. Junior Highers. I love junior highers. Tonight is our annual food drive, and I'm really looking forward to it.
2. Friends. ((HUG)) to all my friends.
3. Sleep. Just keep it coming. (ha ha)
4. Sunshine on this gorgeous November day.
5. Clean windows to see the sun (even if nothing ELSE is clean!)
6. Taking a few minutes to read the Bible. AHHH, says my spirit.
7. Reece's peanut butter cups. The mini ones. I need an intervention.

So, what are you thankful for today as we count down the days until Thanksgiving?

Tuesday, November 16

10 Days

Thankful for
1. Raw Dairy at great prices.
2. Friends willing to help retrieve said dairy items. (Thanks, Hannah!)
3. Green Tea Lattes (TIFFANY!!!)
4. Leftover Potato Soup for lunch
5. THE KITCHEN IS DONE (well, except the backsplash...)
6. The promise of sleep, t-minus 6 hours, and counting.
7. A great sitter who did fun projects with the kids and kept them happy and healthy while I was gone for a few hours this morning.

Praise God with me for little and big things today!

And yes, pictures of the kitchen will be coming - but, unfortunately...we have to replace our camera first!

Monday, November 15

11 days

Whoops. I WAS thankful yesterday, I just failed to blog.

11 days until Thanksgiving, and I am thankful for a nice, cozy bed. I'm thankful for a great weekend of getting things done - my kitchen and mudroom will be back to normal before I know it. And I wanted to post some photos of the kitchen this morning, but my camera is out of commission. SOON, hopefully!

I'm also thankful for boys who wake up happy, most days.

And for gluten free oats, which I will be having for breakfast.

And for produce co-ops, which allow us to afford more organics and more avocados. YUM.

Hurray, Monday!

Saturday, November 13

13 days

My feet are about to fall off. I am thankful for the ability I do have to stand and talk to people all day, even when it hurts. Praise God for healthy bodies!

I had a great day at a holiday mart - vendor friends getting together for an open house. I sold a few cash & carry items and got some great leads, so that is always awesome. THANKFUL for friends and opportunities to build savings in this way!

Also THANKFUL for a fantastic husband who played with the kids all day and then is willing to come with me to a Pampered Chef show tonight for couples - it's the first time he's been able to come, so I'm really looking forward to it! Hurray!

AND thankful for the parents (mine) who are willing to come over and make our duo-show possible.

What are you thankful for today?

Friday, November 12

14 days


WHEW! I just made it in under the wire today.

Thankful for a day off work for Michael, equaling a working sink and DISHWASHER, can I get an Amen??

Also thankful for the magical effect sleep seems to have on attitudes around here. Mine included.

I'm also thankful for my chiropractor, who adjusted the whole family again today. Evan LOVES the adjustments; actually, both kids do really well.

And one last thing - Lucy's. I found boxes of Lucy's Gluten Free Cookies for 49 cents at Blue Knight today. Sometimes I like to take a million hours to bake up fabulous gluten free snacks. Other times I like to open a box and eat delicious snacks that are gluten free. Emphasis on delicious. Which doesn't happen often. SO thank you, Lucy. And thank you, Blue Knight. The boxes still had their grocery store tags on them - $4.79.

Thursday, November 11

15 days

Today, it's easy to think of a BIG thing I am thankful for. It's Veterans Day.

1. I am thankful for freedom. In fact, I was just talking about this on election day with a friend. People have DIED because they loved freedom, and wanted YOU to have it too. This is something I cannot fathom, but I am so, SO grateful. For freedom, for those who serve, for families that sacrifice time with their soldiers.

2. This is a small one, compared to the above. I am thankful I am not getting a tooth extracted today. It was scheduled, but moved for various reasons. I am glad to avoid that today.

3. Another small one. I'm thankful that the garbage disposal is hooked up. These are baby steps, but GOOD baby steps, to a fully functioning kitchen.

4. My husband, who works all day and then comes home to slave away until late at night getting things done in our kitchen. Yesterday he worked on it after a long work day, and youth group. He's so cool. I love him.

Count down the days until Thanksgiving with me - what are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 10

16 days

Counting down the thankfulness days.

Thankful for more steps toward a working sink and installed dishwasher, and for friends who barter services to make it less expensive!


Thankful for God's peace


Thankful for another step toward kitchen completion - knobs and pulls and baseboard were installed today! (don't you love these sneak peeks?)



Thankful for wisdom from God, in the increments we need it and in His timing


Thankful for new neighbors, which means the real estate market on our street is looking up.


Thankful for escrow account refund checks. (YAY!)



Join me in the Thanksgiving Countdown!!!

Tuesday, November 9

17 days

17 days until Thanksgiving, and I have a lot to be thankful for!

1. a fantastic husband who works tirelessly to provide for us - and show us he loves us in many ways
2. a short lived cold (thanks, neti pot and GSE)
3. a sweet friend who doesn't mind watching the kids for me even though she has family visiting
4. crispy fall air, and sweaters
5. the hope of a soon-installed dishwasher, and water connected to the sink.
6. These kids, singing at lunchtime. (we have a special family song based vvvvvvvery loosely on the first few bars - or really, just the title, of this. Yes, it's true. Please don't judge, just laugh, like we do.)




So, what are you thankful for today? Help me count down the days!!

Monday, November 8

18 days

There are 18 days left until Thanksgiving (including today), so I'll be counting down the days with some little lists of little/big blessings. Here are a few for today:

1. A nice warm house (we turned on the boiler and turned up the heat last week)
2. A nice warm QUIET house this morning for a few minutes before the kids woke up. Hurray!
3. Kids waking up happy and rested
4. Sleep, to heal the body
5. Delicious coffee
6. A fabulous kitchen, slowly taking shape despite my indecisiveness about the kitchen faucet. *grin*


Join me, if you like, in this pre-Thanksgiving countdown. Would you leave a link in the comments if you do??

Thursday, November 4

Far Too Long

Karen likes to do brain dump posts. I shall follow suit, for it is a great idea.

1. I've been doing nothing but surviving. Sorry about the lack of posts. It's all I can do to upload pics to Facebook and update my status. The kitchen remodel took over there for awhile, and will continue. We are waiting for our kitchen sink (4 more days!) to arrive at the store, still need 2 sections of countertop done, the dishwasher needs to be installed, and we have a few finishing touches on the cabinets. I am loving our new setup, still can't wait for regular function to come back to the kitchen. I'm excited to start using real plates again and making menu choices based on things other than how many dirty dishes I will have to wash when dinner is over.

2. The kids are growing and Evan is growing into the 2's. He's been such an easy going kid but last night in the nursery he pushed over 2 kids in those play cars. And yesterday during the day he scribbled in sharpie all over the hallway walls. I strapped him into his high chair while I scrubbed the walls with Mr. Clean.

3. I have 50 daffodil bulbs that still need planting. If I don't hurry, the ground will be frozen. Ugh. And, YAY when spring comes and my yard explodes in daffodils. We also need to get the foot and a half of leaves off our grass, TruGreen keeps "yelling" at us because they can't do the final treatment due to the leaves. Obviously, I have far different priorities than TruGreen.

4. My kids are sleep deprived, which is not good. I have no idea how to fix it - they have been waking up in the middle of the night, multiple times, and refusing to take naps. We are all so grumpy. Well, Michael's not. I am hoping that it's just the fact that the house is unsettled, we've been letting them watch more TV than normal, eating more junk than usual, and we all seem to be fighting off seasonal sniffles. I hope that is all it is. I'm thinking of turning them loose in the backyard until they collapse in utter exhaustion. OK maybe not.

5. I bought a bushel of apples and I hope I have time to can some pie filling before it's too late.

6. When life is crazy, as it often does, I want to take my family and go somewhere all by ourselves, to see no one we know, hole up and just be together, and forget about the craziness. Anyone else feel this way? But then I think about how much work it would be to go away and I reconsider.

7. My new fabulous washer and dryer wash and dry clothes faster than I can fold them and put them away. This is not a new problem - I had issues with this with the old machines. There needs to be a folder-putter-awayer machine. Can I get an Amen?

Thursday, October 14

More Music

I went to BSF again this morning. What a challenge, what a needed blessing! It started out great, with all of us singing "Praise My Soul, the King of Heaven" and the blessing kept on going with our group discussion of Isaiah 6 - WOW. It was awesome. And then the lecture time blessed me again.

Thank you, Lord! You are holy, perfect, pure, righteous, full of power and glory - when I see You - even a tiny glimpse of your glory - it is in stark contrast to my sinfulness, I cry, with Isaiah, "WOE IS ME! I am lost!"

But you have cleansed me. Not with a burning coal, like Isaiah, but with Christ's blood, sacrificed because of your great love for me. Not because of anything I have done, but just because You are God and You love me. I have, because of Christ's atonement ONCE for ALL on the cross, been made WHOLE and CLEAN!

You ask, "who will serve me?" and I cannot hold back - I burst out, "OOH, ooh!" I say, "pick ME!"

And then, I am busy serving, busy doing, and so quickly I forget how bright Your glory is. How easily my eyes turn from you to look on myself. My comforts have been interrupted, my ideals crushed, my expectations flattened. I am sleepless and indignant over injustice. I feel without hope because I have forgotten Your glory. I forget that You call people to serve You faithfully, and that sometimes it will feel thankless, fruitless, futile, and most of all, hard. I have forgotten that it's not about any of those things, but it is about YOU and YOUR glory.

Lord, help me see You. Help me praise You. Help me serve You. You are the King of Heaven, You have not left your throne. You are robed in glory, You are splendid, You have been and will continue to be victorious. You are God.

Praise My Soul, the King of Heaven
Henry F Lyte, public domain.

Praise, my soul, the King of heaven;
To his feet your tribute bring;
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Evermore His praises sing;
Alleluia, alleluia!
Praise the everlasting King.

Praise Him for His grace and favor
To His people in distress;
Praise Him still the same as ever,
Slow to chide, and swift to bless:
Alleluia, alleluia!
Glorious in His faithfulness.

Father like He tends and spares us;
Well our feeble frame He knows;
In His hand He gently bears us,
Rescues us from all our foes.
Alleluia, alleluia!
Widely yet His mercy flows.

Angels, help us to adore Him;
You behold Him face to face;
Sun and moon, bow down before Him,
All who dwell in time and space.
Alleluia, alleluia!
Praise with us the God of grace.

Monday, October 11

It's a Monday Miracle!

Aaron finally let me tape him singing - and he didn't SCREAM the words, he just sang in his adorable little 4 year old voice! I love the little hop in the strangely appropriate (lyrically) place. This little boy is growing up - and I love him!! Thank you, Jesus for this gift of motherhood and for the gift described in Aaron's song.




The Gospel Song

Holy God in love became
Perfect Man to bear my blame
On the cross He took my sin
By His death I live again

Friday, October 8

Speak, O Lord

If you haven't heard this one yet, check it out here. (he talks first - try starting around 50 seconds)

Speak, O Lord, as we come to You
To receive the food of Your holy word
Take Your truth, plant it deep in us
Shape and fashion us in Your likeness
That the light of Christ might be seen today
In our acts of love and our deeds of faith
Speak, O Lord, and fulfill in us
All your purposes for Your glory

Teach us Lord full obedience
Holy reverence, true humility
Test our thoughts and our attitudes
In the radiance of Your purity
Cause our faith to rise; Cause our eyes to see
Your majestic love and authority
Words of power that can never fail
Let their truth prevail over unbelief

Speak, O Lord, and renew our minds
Help us grasp the heights of Your plans for us
Truths unchanged from the dawn of time
That will echo down through eternity
And by grace we’ll stand on Your promises
And by faith we’ll walk as You walk with us
Speak, O Lord, as Your church is built
And the earth is filled with Your glory

Copyright © 2005 Thankyou Music

Tuesday, October 5

and it begins

The littlest Muth is starting to assert himself. We were laughing pretty hard at Evan's little faces, but we did let him know he cannot tell us what to do.

Bedtime Routine

Here's a hilarious version of our bedtime singing. Evan climbs in bed with Aaron and we do some singing before schlepping him off to his own bed. Of course, as soon as the camera came out, Aaron's singing became obnoxious! At times it sounds like he's singing harmony, ha ha. If you watch Evan, he's trying to sing along. So cute!

Saturday, October 2

winner, winner....but no chicken dinner

Congratulations to Marybeth! She wins a free drink of her choice - woo hoo! Thanks to all who participated in my giveaway!

Friday, October 1

Gluten Free Meatballs

I tried a new recipe for our freezer yesterday - meatballs. Now, prior to being gluten free, I'd make meatballs occasionally - once every 4-5 months or so, but after, not so much. I was nervous about making meatballs without my old familiar add ins that all contained gluten.

Then I found this recipe and suddenly there was nothing I wanted MORE than meatballs, except possibly meatLOAF but I think this could be adapted. It's crazy what you miss, let me tell you.

Anyway, I followed this basic recipe, but instead of adding parsely, basil, and oregano, I added 1T of that dried minced onion, just to make it more versatile later. I baked them, and froze a bunch then Michael and I snacked on a few leftovers. I'm excited to have a quick throw together on a busy night in the future.

Thursday, September 30

Cute Little Cuteness

I love Etsy. LOVE it. This week I bought some salted caramel samples (made from grass-fed, organic ingredients, be still my taste buds) and a gift for a friend expecting a girl.

You've checked out Shyla's Brown Eyed Girlies shop, right? Just so happens I was over there last week to buy my friend's gift, and then again today (bought some covered hairpins for myself) and Shyla has a ton of new fun things. It's *almost* enough to make me wish I had a little girl, but I'm happy enough to have a niece to buy cute little things for!

So...do me a favor and go check this shop out, ok? If you feel that you need to purchase something, Shyla's got a deal going just for my readers - FREE SHIPPING! Woo hoo! :-) Just put "MUTH" in the message to seller and wait for the corrected invoice before you pay. What a deal, right??

As an added bonus, you'll be helping Shyla save up for her kitchen remodel, and you'll be helping me earn a discount on my next order - win/win for everyone!!

What are you still here for?? Go see the goods!!

Monday, September 27

Happy Fall Giveaway!

There are few things that give me enjoyment like a really delicious hot beverage. Especially this time of year, I'm really, really happy to drink a warm, comforting beverage. Hot tea, cider, coffee, chai, cocoa - it's all fair game to me!

Have you tried a salted caramel hot cocoa, ever? *bucks is my friend on this one. Hot cocoa, with whipped cream on top, caramel drizzle, and the best part - sea salt & raw sugar garnish. Oh, salty-sweet goodness. I have had a grand total of TWO short soy versions this fall thus far. I try to limit it to shorts due to the soy content plus, you know, it's a treat. It doesn't have to be a venti treat. :-) I suppose I could take my own raw milk for *bucks to use in the drink, but that seems to be a lot of trouble. Maybe if I visited every day. But my wallet will not allow that luxury. Nor would it be a prudent use of wallet contents, even if it DID allow.

And then of course there is a double-tall soy pumpkin spice latte, which I drank this morning. Good thing, too - I needed that extra shot of expresso to get me through the fateful trip to Dollar General for some fabric softener. DISASTER!

But I digress. This past April, I registered a *bucks gift card online. If you haven't checked out the pretty sweet rewards program, you definitely need to. I benefit from free soy milk for those occasional stops - usually it costs 50 extra cents, so it is worth it just for that - but there are other benefits too! Free drink on your birthday, and free drink every time you buy 15, etc. SOOO, I want to share!

I just got my free drink postcard in the mail and want to pass it on to one of you - all you have to do is comment on this post and let me know what you would order if you could get anything from *bucks, and what your favorite thing about fall is.

I'll go ahead and pick a winner on Friday. Unfortunately, the coupon is only valid at US stores, but it doesn't expire until December 14th, so if you will be able to use this by then and you're not in the US, feel free to enter!

Friday, September 24

Kiddo Update

We had a height/weight checkup for the kids the other day, and I was delighted to find that our boys are healthy and doing great! Praise the LORD for healthy kids. God is gracious to us - we are blessed indeed.

Evan had grown quite a bit in the last 6 months! At 2 years and a little bit, he's weighing in at 25lbs 4 oz and is 33 inches tall. He's really taking off in his speech and amazes me daily with his BUSY play, silliness and joking. I don't remember much about Aaron at this time - probably because I had a brand new baby which equaled sleep deprivation, and Aaron talked MUCH earlier so the progress wasn't as obvious at 2. Love our sweet-natured littlest boy!

Aaron weighs, at 4 years and a little bit, 36lbs 4 oz and is 41 inches tall - and is quite the kid. He cracks us up all the time with his facial expressions and "explanations" of things as well as his tall tales (we are working on making sure he remembers what he made up and what really happened!) He can count to 20 in English, and by 10's to 100 (thanks to a song tape), 10 in Spanish (with a little help) and is starting to grasp beginning reading concepts. We are looking forward to beginning K4 at our house in just a couple weeks! Aaron is really enjoying his second year of Cubbies and his 4 &5 year old class at Bible Study Fellowship.

What a privilege to have these two boys in our family. They teach me so much about myself (sinful) and my God (holy, just, loving, full of grace, ETC.). I'm so grateful!

Wednesday, September 22

a wink, a grin, and a thumbs up

Today I was driving down the road and saw a perfectly good (although a tad soggy from last night's rainstorm) pallet sitting there on the side of the road waiting for big trash pickup. NORMALLY it wouldn't even cross my radar, but since a friend introduced me to Ana White and her fantastic projects, pallets have new value and worth.

The pallet I got will have to dry out in the garage for awhile, so no project for me for awhile (whew! I can decide what to make!) but the real story was in what happened while I was loading it.

I was in traffic, so I put on my emergency flashers and opened the van hatch. An older lady (probably in her 70's) was hesitant to pull around me so she waited while other cars went whizzing by. I felt pretty bad, so I was hurrying. I grabbed that pallet and stuck it in the back of the van and turned to wave at her in thanks. She grinned, winked, and gave me a thumbs up. I imagined that she was happy that I was saving something that was worth saving - who knows if that was what she was thinking or not.

Either way, it totally made my day.

Tuesday, September 21

Before & After

I got the Facebook album done! Michael has been wanting to use our "before" pictures as a guide and take "after" photos from the same angle and position. So we did that last night after the appraiser left - probably the only time our home will be this clutter free, unfortunately. So for those of you without Facebook, here's the link to the album! Before & After

Monday, September 13

blessings!

I thought I'd update on the house refinance situation. Hoping this week for an appraisal (or maybe early next week?) but all looks well on the refinancing front! We've been pre-approved pending our appraisal.

Michael and I went to the bank last week to talk to the loan officer, and it looks like we will be paying 2.2% less on our mortgage, plus losing our PMI, plus getting a new kitchen complete with new energy efficient appliances all for the same monthly payment - now, granted, we will OWE more, but our monthly costs are projected to stay the same and (hopefully) go down! I was just looking at our energy bill today and wondering how much of a difference energy efficient appliances will make.

I'm so humbled that God has led us along - we are so blessed. And when I think of how far our little house has come? WHOA. It was so sad when we bought it - and I can look around and remember how HE provided many of the materials that we've used to renovate, some from generous friends, other from jobs that Michael has been able to salvage materials from. HE has provided funds, HE has helped us to be patient in waiting for His timing. And in the past month, we've even been able to spruce up things and decorate! I am honestly moved to tears at His incredible gifts, and I couldn't wait to share with you.

I'll be uploading some way, way before pictures to Facebook soon along with the "after" pictures, but you can get an idea from this long-ago-posted slide show. I smile when I see what the "currently" in the slides looks like - four years ago! I will probably wait to do that FB album as we have a very busy week this week! Please pray for our youth group - having a special evangelistic emphasis week - pray that God would see fit to use us and the teens to reach out to others and to consider and reconsider what God's plan is for us.

BSF also starts this week - I'm so SO excited! And I have about 1/2 bushel of tomatoes and a dozen green bell peppers sitting on my dining room table waiting for me - and windows calling my name to be washed, and floors, and preparations for this week....WHEW! I've typed too long already!!

What are YOUR blessings this week?

Wednesday, September 8

Hello Kitty must have grown up Baptist

Aaron woke early this morning, and as we sat on the sofa, snuggling, he was also playing with a Hello Kitty plush key chain that I'd picked up in college at some point and unearthed in the massive decluttering going on around here. The exchange went something like this:

A, as HK, to me: "Hey, wanna watch my dance?"
J: Sure!
(A proceeds to dance HK for a few seconds)
HK, frantic and panicked: "I can't dance! Nobody gave me any rhythm!"

Somehow, I can completely and totally identify.

Happy Wednesday, everybody!!

Friday, September 3

Kiddo Art

Modern/abstract art can be tricky. On the one hand, it can look kinda (super) cool. On the other hand, sometimes you are thinking things along the lines of "Really?? Someone believed this guy was an artist???" More like I wish someone would pay me to produce art like that.

So, about 6 months ago, during one of Evan's naps, I got out my watercolors - my good ones from back when I actually made time to paint - and sat down at the table with Aaron. For the first couple of paintings, I was a mean mom and restricted him to a few colors - I had a plan - and then I let him go to town on his own once I had a few paintings I really liked.

Yesterday, I framed them in frames I found at Walm*rt for $2.50 and did a little grouping on his wall. The funniest part is that he didn't even remember painting them, but he thought they were super cool.


What's that? You wanna see them up close?? I knew it.











You know, in theory I despise Walm*rt. In nice-sounding theories, I shop only at locally owned businesses, eat only locally grown produce, and would never dream of darkening the door of any mass merchant. I love the idea of community, of cooperation, of reduction of travel-related environmental and big box economical consequences. In practice? I go there. More often than I want to admit. And I eat bananas, and pineapple, and lots of other delicious fruit and vegetables, mid winter. Not grown in Michigan, last I checked.

Really it boils down to my priorities. And right now, my priority to provide my family with a cozy place to call home and delicious food is taking over my nice-sounding theories, and that is okay for me. Honestly, I can't tell you how thrilled I am that this group of awesome paintings from a very local artist cost a grand total of $7.50, framed. Oh, BTW, I know his bed is a wreck. He is very particular about the blanket/pillow placement and I don't care enough to fix it. Posterity photos, you know.

Hopefully next week, I'll be posting pictures of our bedroom makeover, and living room spruce-up, also crafted from mass merchant goods, and costing far less than I ever could have dreamed.

When Aaron is famous, I promise to frame his art in locally crafted frames. Maybe I can even talk my resident carpenter into making them. Even better.

Clean

So yesterday, our youngest had his poop escapade. Hopefully that is enough for him for LIFE. Somehow he ended up out of his crib, surrounded by blankets and poop and a very clean dry diaper. I'm not sure if he climbed out, disrobed, fell asleep, and woke up dirty, or if he woke up, climbed out, disrobed, and relieved himself. I kinda think it was the first situation, which only makes it slightly better.

Either way, we ended up calling a friend of ours from church who cleans carpets for a suggestion on how to neutralize the problem, and he ended up cleaning the carpet for us in both boys rooms. He is a total lifesaver. Well, sanity-smell-cleanliness-home appraisal saver. It was time for a cleaning regardless - off white carpet and 2 small boys do not a clean carpet make, and it has been in for at least 2 years. And the carpet was used when we put it in.

Thankfully for YOU, I didn't get before shots. But the after?? WOW. Isn't it nice???

Wednesday, August 25

everything's great


Everything's fabulous, and I'm going crazy! (Or at least this silly picture makes me look kinda deranged. That's so you laugh.)

This summer, it seems, I've taken time off from blogging. I am hoping that as fall begins, I will get back to it, but there are no guarantees, for sure.

We have been VERY busy this summer, and we haven't gone anywhere since April. I don't know why I always look forward to summer thinking it will be a nice, uneventful time. It's not uneventful. It is nice.






Most of the summer has been spent
*playing outside when the humidity is low(ish) and enjoying my boys.
*trying to get the house ready for the big re-fi
*decorating said house, same reason
*CSA pickups and raw dairy education
*generally losing my mind
*church activities
*missing friends
*mowing the grass and picking tomatoes from the garden
*laughing with friends
*sweating
*trying to keep 2 busy boys busy in a constructive way
*endeavoring to keep up with friends
*being thankful
*reading Crazy Love
*taking pictures
*taking more pictures
*eating fresh fruit & veggies
*adventuring with my preschoolers
*praying
*postponing Evan's birthday
*washing the dishes
*sleeping
*getting great chiropractic care for an even better price
*visiting splash parks
*thinking and rethinking my thoughts about faith, theology, traditions, Relationship
*being overwhelmed by God
*falling more in love with Michael
*skype - dad in China, the Oregonian Forbes'
*sweeping the floors
*losing sleep
*saying "yes" to my kids more
*taking deep breaths
*pondering further education
*crying
*being inspired to create (like this, and even a little bit here)
*trying to make naturally fermented pickles, and failing
*baking gluten free snacks
*paying bills, lots of bills
*eating cilantro-lime rice
*saying no
*being content
*being too content
*being frustrated
*trying to relax
(in that order)
*picking blueberries
*thinking about canning salsa
*doing the laundry
*"and et cetera"

Well, you get the picture...and this list, while exhausTING is by no means exhaustive. In the next few months we will be starting a few new things - BSF, hopefully - and homeschooling a little K-4 student, who I'm sure will teach himself to read, given the opportunity. The timer will indeed be our friend.

God is giving, has given, and will continue to give us grace. I'm learning, slowly but deeply, more of Him. I'm truly overwhelmed by His goodness! I hope every one of you who still check in on occasion despite my summer silence will ponder YOUR walk with God and ask yourself when last you were truly overwhelmed with God. I want you all to feel HIM, to taste and see that HE is good. Very, very good.

Wednesday, August 18

the enlightened one (or so he thinks)



So Aaron was talking to me today, and said, "Mom, when it turns winter and it is snowy again, maybe you will have a baby in your tummy and it will turn into a sister."


Kids. They say the funniest things.


(nope, not pregnant)

Tuesday, August 10

and the winnah is...

Thanks to random.org, the winner is...

KAREN!!

Congratulations, Karen, and thanks to everyone who wished me a happy day and shared such funny, funny stories. Here's Karen's, in case you missed it.

For my 13th birthday, my parents let me have a sleepover. In my excitement (I'd never had one before.), I had a totally blonde moment when the cake came out.

It was lovely--a 13x9 with cream frosting and decorated with a lovely semi-circle fan on it. Embarrassed for the baker, I sheepishly informed her that... "It's spelled wrong!"

It read, "FANally a teenager!"

Ah, adolescence. I had several of those moments, and sadly, the worst was in college. I am still too embarrassed to share THAT moment. Oh, boy.

I did have a fantastic birthday, with a fun chiropractor/dinner/shopping date with my honey and lots of love and hugs from my family. I am very, very blessed to celebrate another year.

Karen wins...
*A $5 gift card to....Baskin Robbins 31 Flavors!
*a 3-pack of Pampered Chef Paring Knives!
*a coupon for a 31% discount on any one Pampered Chef product! (coupon is only good with me), if she should choose to use it
*a SURPRISE!

As a sort-of consolation prize, I'd be very happy to send a recipe card to whomever requests one - just email me your address and I'll send you a surprise recipe from Pampered Chef. I will also be happy to offer 10% off your order and free shipping to anyone (in the US) who commented on the birthday post, and who orders before August 15th. It's no birthday surprise package, but if you were already thinking about ordering something, it might be a little bonus for you. (just email your order to me directly and let me know if you need a catalog or a link to shop online)

Thanks again for sharing the love on my birthday. (oh, and Alicia - here's the reprise - the corrected version, thanks to you - I've been singing it wrong for years!) Ah, ah, ah, ah, stayin' alive, stayin' alive!

Wednesday, August 4

it's still hard.

Today, no one in my family passed away.
No one was seriously injured.
No one had to have chemotherapy, kidney dialysis, or a transplant.
No one received a difficult diagnosis.
We are able to pay our bills this month; Michael has a job.
There is food in our refrigerator, pantry, deep freezer.
We have a beautiful home to live in.
I am in love with my husband, and he loves me.
I have two gorgeous, bright, curious children.
We are not oppressed, abused, or threatened for our faith.
We have freedom to live, to love, to worship.
There is much to be thankful for.

But it was still a hard day for me.

And it's okay for me to struggle with that. It's okay for my small trials to remind me of God's Big Grace. It's okay for me to fail and get back up, and it's okay to revel in God's love for me in spite of my failures. It's okay for me to admit that I am blessed and that I still struggle. I know I am not alone. I know I am human.

God is so good to me, so beyond words. Sometimes I taste His goodness in the form of blessings and selfishly want more sunshine, more happiness, more ease. Instead, I pray that no matter how my day goes, or what small or large trial comes my way, I would truly desire God's glory above my comfort. I've been singing this song today.

AS LONG AS YOU ARE GLORIFIED
Words and Music byMark Altrogge

Shall I take from Your hand Your blessings
Yet not welcome any pain
Shall I thank You for days of sunshine
Yet grumble in days of rain
Shall I love You in times of plenty
Then leave You in days of drought
Shall I trust when I reap a harvest
But when winter winds blow, then doubt

Oh let Your will be done in me
In Your love I will abide
Oh I long for nothing else as long
As You are glorified

Are You good only when I prosper
And true only when I’m filled
Are You King only when I’m carefree
And God only when I’m well
You are good when I’m poor and needy
You are true when I’m parched and dry
You still reign in the deepest valley
You’re still God in the darkest night

Monday, August 2

Happy Birthday to meeeee! (a giveaway)

It's my birthday, something I like to celebrate because I am so thankful to be alive. I'm not sure when or why people started to get embarrassed about their age -it doesn't make any sense to me! With age comes so many benefits (and the sad reality of having much less energy you can fully appreciate when you have it, let's say at the age of, oh, FOUR or so) and there are so many blessings that come with each year, I say...there's always room for another party!!

This year's virutal cake is definitely going to be gluten free, and I daresay if you haven't tried a gluten free cake recently, it's about time you did. So pull up a seat and slice some flourless cake from this delicious chocolate creation. It is totally fat and calorie free, so make it a big slice. It is not, however, dairy free. Good thing it's virtual. (Click the photo if you want the actual recipe)

I *love* doing giveaways on birthdays. In fact, I love giving things away in general, so my birthday just provides an excellent excuse. Here is what I'm giving away this year (drumroll, please) because I'm so happy to be 31.

*A $5 gift card to....Baskin Robbins 31 Flavors (we can make other arrangements if you live somewhere that 31 Flavors does not, or if you are dairy intolerant)!
*a 3-pack of Pampered Chef Paring Knives (one for every decade)
*a coupon for a 31% discount on any one Pampered Chef product (coupon is only good with me), if you should choose to use it
*a SURPRISE! (because I love surprises)

This giveaway is open to anyone with a US address! To enter the giveaway, just leave a birthday memory or just a "Happy Birthday" but who doesn't love those funny/awkward preteen birthday stories! (you can leave a comment even if you don't want to win the giveaway, just mention that!) The giveaway will be open until NEXT Monday, August 9th. I'll draw a winner and let you know on Tuesday who wins!

Now let's get this party started!!! (anyone know where that disco ball went??) Oooh, oooh, ooh, ooh. . .stayin' alive, stayin' alive!

Friday, July 30

Wow.

SO, we have been getting some pretty great news lately, which is always nice!

Yesterday, Michael (who has had a looooong history with back pain) had an appointment with my nutritionist who is also a chiropractor. We have been looking for a chiropractor who does soft tissue work as a part of the adjustment. Not only did she do a great job with the adjustment, we found out that she has a Family Wellness Plan for those people whose insurance will not cover chiropractic care. What does this mean?

Well, our entire family can go to see her as often as we need to for a flat rate. The price is $140 for every 30 days. One visit for adjustments costs $40. Michael's new patient appt and adjustment would have been $100. This is a no brainer. And a special blessing from God. We are praying that, with continual care, we can see some real improvement for Michael - and the rest of us! (and what a deal for the next time I am pregnant and need the chiropractor every week! This is NOT an announcement. I just am thinking about our expense with chiropractic care during my last pregnancy)

Our next appointment is Monday - my birthday! So we will be heading to Bay City for adjustments and then going out to eat. How fun! I think we are definitely getting older when I'm thrilled to bits about getting an adjustment on my birthday! Ha!! Hey, I love my life, so why shouldn't I let everyone know?! If you think I'm a fuddy duddy then you just can think that. I'm having a great time!

Speaking of birthdays, you will definitely want to come back on Monday. I've been thinking of ways to celebrate my THIRTY FIRST birthday, and you will definitely have a chance to win something fabulous.

Because, as you may not know, being 31 is definitely going to be fabulous. (It's a prime number, after all.)

Nothing but Trouble.

Here are a few reasons that we've been AWOL on the blog this summer. We've been having fun with our two littlest troublemakers. It's so much fun!!

Monday, July 19

Blessings!

We haven't had a Works of God Monday around here in quite some time. I'd say I'm taking the summer off, but really, I've been lazy and busy...not usually on the same day, although that does happen.

So, here are some blessings! Feel free to link up your blessings this week as well, or mention them in the comment section.

1. Our far-away friends are in our time zone, and better yet, in our TOWN! We've already had some great times catching up and laughing together

2. Garage sale finds. This summer has been packed with great deals on books - especially those consumable books like paint-with-water that are super hard to find in the stores. I also love paying 25 cents rather than full price!

3. Birthdays in the works. It's 12 days until my oldest turns 4 (GASP) and my mom found the perfect cake accessories. Aaron has requested an ORANGE cake, so that should be fun. :-) My birthday is the 2nd, Evan turns 2 a short 13 days later, so it's going to be a month of birthdays.

4. My mom. She's been overworked and underpaid as grandma and mom extraordinaire this summer. I'm positive that she's saved me from a total nervous breakdown several times.

5. God's provision. All the time, He is good to us. He knows what we need, and when I fail to trust Him, He reminds me anyway of how faithful He is. Praise God!

6. Continued successes with my physical health! Hurray!

And finally, summer time brings fun prize winning opportunities (shameless plug alert) Please Vote for Evan (You have to "Like" Wojo Photography first). I can win a free photo session!

Saturday, July 17

if I'd learned math this way...

So it's no secret that I barely squeaked by in Algebra II. I did not understand Geometry, either. My math teacher was frustrated, and so was I. I'm sure he was more frustrated.

But I do use math. It's when I first realized that there really are practical uses for it that really mattered to me that I started connecting the dots - that I could use this info. (duh)

So for all you creative math teachers out there who help your students understand that math is indeed practical and is not, in fact, just another class which gives them excruciating headaches, this one's for you.

I have a recipe for iced coffee that calls for 1/3 cup of coffee grinds and 1 1/2 cups water. I happened to have 1/2 cup of grinds. How much water would I need? I figured it out! 2 1/4 cups.

Story problems about trains going different miles per hour don't cut it, nor do people with fictional names. Give me a recipe for ICED COFFEE and results I can drink on a hot summer day, and I'll gladly do the math.

Happy Saturday!

Thursday, July 15

for what?

I am pretty upset right now. Some might say I have good reason to be, but I am slowly calming down.

Health insurance. I hate it, and I love it. Generally speaking, we are pretty healthy, but who wants to be surprised with an illness or injury that takes us out financially for years to come? Not me. So we had a generic plan, with dental coverage as well for my genetically horrid teeth. The rates kept rising, so we decided to make a switch. Eventually we are hoping to switch to an HSA policy, but until we can get our savings built up, we found a traditional coverage plan that will do.

Today I got a letter explaining to me that my rate was going to be 30% higher than quoted. I called. Reason? C-section.

Why am I upset?
1. the policy doesn't cover maternity care.
2. the c-section was unnecessary, definitely, without a doubt, unnecessary.
3. there are no means to appeal except to find medical documentation that it didn't happen.
4. there are no breaks for my VBAC status.
5. THE POLICY DOESN'T COVER MATERNITY CARE!
6. I feel like the c-section keeps costing me. It cost me initially in ways financial and other, but here we are 4 years later and it is STILL costing.

Now, before you express concern over my current state of frustration, I DO know that God is sovereign and He knows about this. He will provide (and has!) for all our needs. He keeps His promises, all the time. I'm disappointed that the money we thought we'd be saving by switching policies just went away because of a doctor's decision based on who knows what. So all the hassle ended up being for nothing.

I do feel that there is injustice here. I think that is why I'm upset. I can see why people sue doctors - not that I am going to, I can just see why. Poor decisions by doctors end up costing in so many unexpected ways.

So here's another reason to avoid a c-section if it is at ALL possible, especially if you will ever have to pay your own health insurance. It will cost more every month.

Incidentally, about the lawsuits. Does anyone else think the reason health care costs are through the roof ridiculous is due in part to those lawyers whose commercials urge you to sue for health care mistakes? And then the insurance required to keep doctors "covered" if a lawsuit is ever filed against them? Oh, for simpler days...no really, more like - oh, for heaven and home!

Tuesday, July 13

Kinda Like Qdoba Shredded Pork

Pork loin unexpectedly went on sale, so with our cilantro-lime rice and pinto beans, we had this delicious addition.

1/2 boneless pork loin roast
1 small onion or a few green onions
1/2 jar of mild banana pepper rings
1 8-oz can mild green chilies
1/3 4-oz can (or more if you like spicy, less if you're really bland) jalepeno peppers
1 T salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Rub 1/2 pork loin with salt and garlic powder. Slice onion very thin, place in bottom of crock pot. Put rubbed meat on top, add the peppers. Cook on high for 2 hours, then reduce to low and cook for a minimum of 6 total hours. The longer, the better. Shred, and devour. Makes tons but it doesn't last long.

YUMMY!

Wednesday, June 30

life's little snafus

Please pray! The car that Michael has been using to get to and from work (my first car, ever, boo hoo hoo) has finally bit the dust. Would you pray that God would provide just the right vehicle for us? We don't always need 2 vehicles, but there are days when it is somewhat necessary. We'd like to find a vehicle that is reliable and inexpensive, and our budget is stretched pretty maximally now. I know God will provide, but would you pray with us to that end?

Thanks!

yipee!

Yesterday, I made a trade with the last two produce shareholders for a 1/2 pint of jam for their quart of berries. I was delighted, and for some reason they were too.

So I've got another batch of jam going. This time, I added the last of last season's blueberries, thawed in the fridge overnight. I am out of applesauce, so this one will be straight-up strawberry-blueberry. I've only added 1/4 cup of sugar to this batch, much to my delight.

Then, this morning my mom & dad gifted us with the last of last year's raspberries, so I'll make some jam and give some back to them - I may even make some raspberry-rhubarb, although that will take some sugar!!!

Thank you, Lord, for a beautiful cool day to make jam, lots of jars, and lots of fruit for free!!

Tuesday, June 29

Random and Unrelated

Happy Tuesday! It's been way too long since I blogged - thirteen days, to be exact. A lot has happened, and yet, not much.

1. We're 3 weeks into our Community Supported Agriculture group (CSA) and I've thoroughly enjoyed my drive of solace every Tuesday morning. I've been thrilled with the produce, too.

2. I have a kidney infection that, in hindsight, has been around for about 2 weeks. The side effects for the antibiotic they put me on are scary. It's the same drug they use to slow the onset of anthrax. The doctor hopes to get me off this one to something more specific once he knows what type of bacteria got me into this mess. So, I also can't nurse Evan while I'm on it. We were down to once at bedtime, but it appears that most likely this will be the end of that. Mixed feelings, a little sad since I didn't really know it was coming, but ultimately it will be good. He's 22 months.

3. I made jam today. I started with a quart and a half of strawberries, and was going to make a small batch for the fridge, but things kind of got out of hand and before I knew it, I was dragging out the supplies. I ended up pureeing them (thanks, Carrie, for that great idea!) and adding pureed raspberries and about a cup of applesauce and making spreadable fruit. Well, it was going to be sweetened only with fruit juice concentrate, but it was a little tart. So the whole batch has only 1 cup of sugar, which isn't bad, considering. I ended up with 8 1/2 pint jars, for about $3 - not bad at all! (I had a lot of the items on hand) and it turned out pretty great. I was surprised!

StrawRazApple Jam

3 cups strawberry puree
6 oz box raspberries, pureed.
enough unsweetened applesauce to make the whole batch 5 cups
1 cup 100% juice white grape raspberry concentrate (thawed, from the can, do not dilute)
1 scant cup sugar (optional - you could use stevia if you wanted, or nothing if your berries were sweet enough, but tasted it and chose to use sugar)
1 box no-sugar needed pectin
jars and lids

Puree fruit, stir in applesauce, concentrate, and gradually add pectin. Bring to a boil, add sugar, return to a boil, stirring constantly. Ladle into jars and process, or try the inversion method, or store in the fridge and use it up fast. This is an adaption of a recipe from the Ball brand no-sugar pectin. It said it would yield 6 8-oz jars but I got 8 full ones.

4. I love my husband. A lot. That has not changed since last I blogged.

5. My parents are so sweet. They came over this morning to watch the boys and when I got back the yard was mowed, the clean clothes were folded, my mudroom was straightened, and more. They have always been great parents. This also has not changed since my last post.

6. (and final) after a sticky, humid and hot several weeks in a row, today is the perfect day. 68 degrees, sunny, low humidity. It's perfection. This has been a great weather day!

Wednesday, June 16

Breathe in, breathe out.

Whew! it feels like I'm running a marathon this week.

Crazy Monday
CSA Tuesday
Crazy Wednesday
VBS Thursday...

I need a vacation! (or a very, very long nap and the ability to say NO)

I'll be back, eventually.

Friday, June 11

Fun on Friday, week 2











This morning I got a call from my friend Michelle, reminding me that it was Friday Story Time at the Children's Garden in Dow Gardens. I'm trying to keep us all out of the house a little more, so I quickly finished the project I was in the middle of while the boys finished up breakfast and watched a quick cartoon (to keep things moving!)

So anyway, we did meet her there, briefly - basically just said hello to each other - the boys and I were too late for story time, but there was lots of fun still to be had. We only stayed about 40 minutes, but Aaron & Evan sure had fun playing in the bubble tables! Here's to many more fun Fridays at Dow Gardens!!

Wednesday, June 9

ohhhh, wow.

Does anyone else have a temper-tantrum-thrower? Mine is almost 4, and will throw a big old tantrum at least once per week. I just got off the phone with my mom and she said she doesn't remember us throwing tantrums. Wow, and I would have pegged myself as a many-tantrum child, but I guess not.

I know what I do, how I handle it - not always well, not always effectively, but I am relatively consistent. But I'm curious - how do YOU handle tantrums, full out tantrums in a public place? Key thought there - public place!!! (ours are handled somewhat the same in public and in private, btw)

I want to clarify - the tantrums are bothering me less but that is more because of my outlook, and some godly counsel from some awesome women of God, and most of all - THE HOLY SPIRIT!!! But they are very concerning for me. I so want my children to understand the heart of God and true repentance.

So, please share. I'm endeavoring to be a student of your parenting skills!

Tuesday, June 8

Constantly Evolving

Ever have an experience that sort of re-awakens you to your walk of faith? Or makes you ask questions you haven't asked in years? Sometimes I welcome these questions, and other times the questions cause a reaction I'm not prepared for - fear and doubt.

For the last month or so, I have been confronted with situations or by people and events that at first discourage and weigh me down. These situations force me to ask questions, to seek the truth of God's Word and be honest with what I find – and anything that leads me to God's Word is definitely not a bad thing. Slowly, studying the truth of God's Word answers my questions, soothes my doubts, and gives me peace.

I've always been a person who asked questions. Sometimes this gets me into trouble. I'm seeing this pattern repeated in my oldest son - "Mommy, why is that man's belly so BIG?" But asking questions has also helped me learn. Along the way, I had somehow quit asking so many questions, and consequently, the learning process had slowed significantly. Now I'm being forced to re-examine some things I accepted without question, or issues I thought already had a final conclusion. Sometimes I end up in the same place, but more well-grounded. Other times? Different conclusions.

A surprising side effect of this study process has been an increased thankfulness for my spiritual leaders, pastors, and teachers who encourage me to ask questions, to go to the Bible to find the answers. These kinds of leaders have nothing to lose by my being a student. They encourage me to search out even their sermons and lessons to make sure they ARE the truth. I'm thankful - increasingly so - for my pastors, who want God to be glorified and are encouraged when I grow in my understanding of God's Word.

So, the answers to my questions are constantly taking on different nuances. The truth of God's Word is a constant, unchanging rock – but as I grow spiritually, in tiny increments, my understanding of who God is, what He has done for me, His awesome grace, and what I'm supposed to do - these are the things in which I am constantly "evolving" - I'm being transformed, as my mind is renewed (Romans 12).

This is exciting, this fresh growth. I can't contain how I'm feeling - giddy! And yet, here, on this blog, I have been silent. Sorry for that - I did not want to come across the wrong way - I know that, aside from His grace, it would not be happening. Those fears, that doubt, those nagging questions? The heaviness of spirit? Replaced with joy! He has turned my mourning into dancing (Ps 30:11-12)!

Friday, June 4

Fun on Friday

It's been quite some time since I posted - probably not a whole lot of readers still out there! I have been doing a lot of reading, thinking, praying the last couple of weeks. I've also been trying to come up with a new "normal" for keeping the house and yard up to semi-par condition, fighting a summer cold, and having a blast with my two little guys. When Michael is home, we've been trying to knock out last minute items on the list of things to do before our re-financing, which we hope is sooner than later.

Today Aaron played with "Gears Go 'Round," a relic of my own childhood and mom's (short-lived) Toys That Teach selling days. We thought it was great fun as we got to play with all the fun toys she had on hand!! Aaron was "getting it" for the first time today and it was GREAT to watch his creativity at work. He's also starting to draw "robots" which is pretty funny, too. Not as funny as his hilarious facial expressions.













Evan is getting to be more of an independent spirit, which is fun to watch. He loves to "torment" his brother by grabbing a toy in Aaron's perimeter of influence and then taking off at a dead run. We've been working on Aaron's responses as well as Evan's pilfering ways.

He is always excited about eating, although you would never guess it by his slight build. He'll bring boxes from the pantry, signing "eat, eat!" and enthusiastically helps transfer clothing from basket to washer and from washer to dryer. He's growing up quickly!









Both boys enjoy playing in the pool and drinking from the hose. It's so hard to believe that they will be 2 and 4 this August! WOW, how the time flies!!!

Monday, May 24

Works of God Monday

I am praising the Lord for His provision today! Without sharing too many details, God has allowed our resources to stretch beyond what I thought possible - and I am praising Him for providing for our needs! I am also very thankful that Michael has a job - and that God continues to provide work for the company. In Michigan's economy, Bright Construction has continued to have an abundance of work. What a blessing!

I'm also thankful that my sweet husband was able to take our kids to church yesterday while I tried to sleep off a headache. He then made sure the boys were fed so I wouldn't have to worry about it and also worked on my neck to help ease the pain. What a guy!

Oh, and do you need this reminder?? I certainly did, as this day has not started out quite the way I expected. Or wanted. Let's choose to praise Him together!!

So, what is God doing in your life this week?

"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up..." 1 Thess. 5:11

In the Linky Tools widget below, simply type your name in the title box, or a short description of the work that God has done, and then in the second box, paste the specific link from your "Works of God Monday" post. If you don't have a blog, use the comment section! Feel free to use the image from the top of this post if you like
!

Saturday, May 22

random

SO a couple weeks ago, I was sitting in the mall at a Pampered Chef booth, and business was sloooooow, so I began doing the only thing available to me to do - watch people. This can be very fun, and I wrote down a few observations. I found that paper today.

1. Some people are so skinny that it is literally hard to imagine all of their organs actually fitting into their bodies.

2. I hope electric scooters have seat belts. There was one guy I saw several times, cruising at breakneck speed.

3. I don't like skinny jeans, but they are worse on boys. Even worse than skinny jeans on a boy is when he decides to sag them, pants-on-the-ground style. EW, ew, ew.

Wednesday, May 19

yes, it's Wednesday.

I'm hoping the beginning of June will signal the beginning of a wonderful break. We shall see. It's BUSY around here!! gotta go! I hope this tides you over until I can post again. Aaron has discovered, like the generations before him, how entertaining you can be when accompanied by a mirror and your imagination. Enjoy!


Thursday, May 13

kids.

Our kiddos are a constant source of laughter. Aaron's been saying some pretty cute things lately - I needed to write them down. Here is one I can remember - "I don't want my hair made" (I can't bear to correct that one - he is saying he doesn't want me to do his hair, it's so stinkin' cute.)

Today, while cleaning, I found a bowl of almond milk in the pantry next to an open box of almond milk. I asked Aaron to come talk to me about it, and he was immediately remorseful. I need to figure out how to help him understand that his actions and words cause problems. A simple "Sorry for doing that" just doesn't cut it - it's not as big of a deal today with the almond milk as it was yesterday when he tipped Evan's high chair over - with Evan in it!

Evan is teething. Again. I feel so bad for his poor little self. SO thankful for store brand ibuprofen that is not included in the recall.

And one more thing - I am so grossed out by the rubber ducky bath toy that, after almost 3 years in our bath toy basket, decided to suddenly grow disgusting mold on the inside. He's now a resident of the trash can, and probably will not be replaced. EW. Not worth bleaching, in my opinion. You can never get all the water out of him anyway. Why do they make those with holes in the bottom???

Wednesday, May 12

All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God. Teach me your way, O LORD,that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. (Ps 86:9-12, esv)

Tuesday, May 11

Works of God


ACK! It's Tuesday already - and still no post!! It's been almost an entire month since we had Works of God Monday. Rest assured, God is WORKING - and I am busy this week, but rest assured I am praising Him for who He is and what He is doing! Here are some quickly written blessings this week - maybe you can join in on this! :-)

1. Good health, for all of us and for my dad, especially - he's been sick with some strange virus and is about fully recovered!

2. Great opportunities! I was able to sign up for Bible Study Fellowship last night and am excited for next fall's Isaiah study - and for my kids' opportunity to also study the same thing at the same time! I'm also looking forward to meeting some other ladies from the community who want to study God's Word.

3. God's provision! I found some checks yesterday while I was decluttering and sorting the mail and I thought I'd already deposited them. Hallelujah! About $50 - and this month we are going to need it! Also, praising God for a particular blessing in my Pampered Chef business!!

God is always at work - would you share what He is doing in your heart, in your family this week?

"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up..." 1 Thess. 5:11

In the Linky Tools widget below, simply type your name in the title box, or a short description of the work that God has done, and then in the second box, paste the specific link from your "Works of God Monday" post. If you don't have a blog, use the comment section! Feel free to use the image from the top of this post if you like
!

Friday, May 7

Quick Health Update

Well, some of you may know that I've been to a nutritionist, and along with affirming my decision to cut wheat and gluten out of my diet, she also asked me to remove all non-raw dairy (I can have aged cheeses and raw milk products) and put me on some nutritional supplements for low thyroid function (among other things).

I went to her originally because I was at the end of my rope with strange gastrointestinal symptoms and (despite a careful diet and 3-5x/wk exercise) slow and steady weight gain. I knew if I went to see my doctor, at best he'd send me for blood work (which I'm not doing without first trying other things) and at worst he'd prescribe something to mask the symptoms rather than coming to a conclusion about the cause. I made an appointment to see an acupuncturist who purportedly can remove food sensitivities, but she couldn't see me until September (still waiting on that one!) So nutrition was my next non-invasive choice.

I've been gluten-free for about a month and a half, processed-dairy free for almost a month, and on the supplements as long as I've been off dairy.

I NEVER expected things to be righting themselves so well - my symptoms have all but disappeared, and while I really miss things like whole wheat bread, I have to say the way I feel - and the TEN POUNDS I've lost more than make up for it. I am SO grateful that God is allowing a more natural, less invasive solution for me! Thanks to those who prayed!!

keeping busy

Here's Evan, noshing on black beans, his fave. I think he looks a little bit vigilante here, with is bandanna bib and his "5 o'clock shadow" of bean juice.

Of course, the smile makes him totally disarming.

He would make one horribly happy vigilante.













My newest way to keep Aaron busy.

Construction paper.

Water.

Paintbrush.

Voila! "Painting"

That is his FAVORITE outfit. It's one serious task to get it off and into the washing machine.

Thursday, May 6

there are no more leftovers.

And thus, there are no more photos.

So, yesterday was Cinco de Mayo, a big holiday at our house - bigger by far than, say, Valentine's Day, just as an example. *grin* And it is really only big because I cook a big Meican-ish meal.

Here was our menu:
Home Canned Pinto Beans
Cilantro Lime Rice
Pico de Gallo
(3lbs roma tomatoes, 1/2 cup chopped onion, 1 largeish seeded minced jalapeno (from which I should not have removed all the seeds, but one never can be sure with jalapenos!), 1/2 cup cilantro, sea salt)
Guacamole
(quick and mild version - 2 smushed avocados sprinkled with Lawry's seasoned salt)
Slow Roasted shredded beef
(1 smallish chuck roast plus 1 14-oz jar of mild banana pepper rings and 1 cup of medium-hot salsa, roasted all day in the crock pot, separated from fat, bones, gristle, and shredded. I cannot even begin to tell you how yummy this is. I also warmed up a few tamales that, as it turned out, should have been tastier. Or spicier, maybe. I didn't make them, so I didn't sweat it. Ha, ha.

I ate a big stack of rice, beans, beef, pico de gallo, and guac. And Michael just ate and ate. We definitely should have had friends over to share. I packed up the few leftovers in his lunch for today, and now all that remains is some of the beef and a bunch of pico de gallo, which we will not have trouble eating. It was one of those meals that we kept taking a bite and saying, "oh, this is SO GOOD!" I'm still remembering with fondness those bites of bliss.

Almost enough to re-create it for tonight. Almost. But then I'd have to re-wash all those dishes. But truly, you have got to try these items all together, with some tortilla chips. So delightful. And not hard at all!

Yay for delicious, nutritious, home-cooked gluten- and dairy- free food!

Wednesday, May 5

Never too young



Look at that happy kid,

"helping"

Priceless.

Right, so it's Wednesday now...

And I still haven't posted for Works of God Monday! God has definitely been working on me this week - my attitude has needed some serious adjusting! The stomach bug hit me hard in the wee hours of Monday and I was pretty much down for the count all day - sleeping almost an entire day. Yesterday was challenging for other reasons, but I think I have emerged from the fog and now I'm trying to catch up and do our normal, crazy, Wednesday stuff. We'll skip this week, officially, but feel free to leave a comment on this post if you have a blessing you would like to share from last week!!

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Sunday, May 2

Garlic Quinoa Pilaf with Toasted Pinenuts

1 cup rinsed quinoa
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock or broth
3T finely chopped onion (I used green this time)
1-2 minced garlic cloves
1 T olive oil
2-3T pine nuts
salt to taste

Thoroughly rinse the quinoa, then add to medium saucepan with the stock/broth. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook 10-15 minutes until all liquid is absorbed. Meanwhile, toast the pinenuts in a dry skillet until golden and fragrant. Remove from pan (carefully!) and set aside. Heat the oil, add onions and saute until lightly brown and/or transparent, adding garlic midway. Remove from heat.

When quinoa is cooked, fluff and stir in onions/garlic and pinenuts. Taste. Add more salt, if necessary (it was for me, but I was using homemade stock).

Caution: this might not be the best dish for you to make if you have toddlers or messy preschoolers in your family and want to keep the surfaces clean. But it is delicious.

Friday, April 30

California Dreamin'

We had such a fantastic time in California - truth be told, we sure hated to leave! Today at naptime, Aaron told me that he wanted to go back to California. So we had a nice talk about how we have to wait on God's timing for our next trip, and we have to wait on God to tell us where that might be. We talked about how God wants us to be content no matter where we are, and discussed the blessing of the trip, and how amazing it was that God provided for us to go. We are so grateful for His provision for our needs all the time, and the BONUS BLESSING of seeing our good friends. It was neat to share that with Aaron, too.

While we were there, we visited a couple of fun touristy places - the Aquarium of the Pacific, the San Diego Wild Animal Park, and various sights around Riverside. We also were blessed to worship with Heritage Bible Church and meet fellow members of the body of Christ there. It was such a special time for us. Other than that, we just enjoyed the time together and laughed a lot. It was great.

We also were re-acquainting ourselves with each others' offspring. It is fun to see how Emma & Olivia have been growing up - they are such fun! Aaron has changed a TON since the last time we were all together - Evan is about the age now that Aaron was when they moved. Plus, Andrea and the girls hadn't even met Evan yet. They were so helpful and patient with our boys.

Since our return, Aaron talks nonstop about Uncle Kris, Aunt Andrea, Emma & Olivia. And of course, Bailey, their miniature Yorkie. What fun for the boys to have a dog - albeit temporarily! Evan took awhile to warm up to her, but by the end of our trip was petting her gleefully.

Here and here are a few of the pictures we took while we were gone. There are hundreds - these are just excerpts!

We do praise the Lord for allowing us to go, and for working out the details of our travel beyond what we could imagine. Only with the miraculous price on plane tickets (yes, miraculous!) could we have ever made the trip. In some ways, I felt like I was on an up close and personal missionary slide show - we pray for the Stephens family often, but without a knowledge that comes from experience. Now we know a little better how to pray for our friends. What a great time together!