Sunday, January 31

la la la la diaper deal!!!


Thanks to some generous contributors of coupons,

I just submitted my rebate information to Rite Aid

and got

5 huge boxes of Pampers (my favorites)


8.39 each.

And it could have been less, but I couldn't quite work it out with my printer to cooperate.

(It would have been 5.99 each, but I'm grateful anyway!)

Folks, that is around 8 cents per diaper

Hopefully I will not have to buy diapers for a very, very long time.

(I already had 2 huge boxes stocked up from the last time they went on sale)

PRAISE THE LORD with me! He provides even the non-necessities* for us!

*I call diapers non necessities since I have plenty I could wash and use, but at this price per diaper, my time is more valuable, after you figure in laundry soap, water, and electricity.

Interested in the details of this deal? Find out how here - it's more money than I usually do spend out of pocket, but the rebate is in Visa Gift card rather than Rite Aid gift card, so I made an exception. I used the Rite Aid pdf $5/$25 coupon (that expires today) instead of the Video Values coupon, so my transactions looked a little different.

Monday, January 25

Works of God Monday

This week has been pretty incredible. God's blessings are never lacking, for sure! Michael teaches our junior high Sunday School and also the junior high Wednesday night program, and we really, really love it. God is gracious to let us have this opportunity. Last Sunday it was brought to my attention that we are starting our seventh year and that is MORE than a little weird. But I did want to praise God for allowing us to see Him working in the lives of our junior high teens. They've been asking the best questions - I am so excited about their inquisitive minds - a great group this year. Would you join me in praying for the teens this coming weekend? We have our annual Snow Camp coming and I am praying that the questions keep coming and that God will use the weekend away to work in their hearts. Michael is going for the whole weekend (Thursday-Saturday) and I'll be heading up for the day on Friday.

We also had a few unexpected blessings this weekend - selling a couple items on Craigslist that have just been taking up space in our garage - praise the Lord!! And we were able to catch up with a friend from our Northland days who made an unexpected visit! It's always good to talk about what God is doing, and encourage one another.

Would YOU join today in praising God for His working this week?

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

In the Mister Linky widget below, simply type your name in the top 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

Sunday, January 24

Beans and Rice, Rice and Beans

My kids looooooove rice and beans. I'm so happy. Cheap, healthy, delicious. And here's how we had it last night. A new favorite, for sure.

2 cups cooked brown rice (I used a quick steam pouch)
1 pt (mine are home canned, you could use one can) black beans, drained if desired
1 can petite diced tomatoes, drained. (I used a regular can, drained of liquid and squooshed a bit)
1 T taco seasonings (I never use taco packets but had a pack lying around from one of those taco dinner kits I bought for the shells - you could spice it up with seasoned salt and cilantro if you prefer)
Sour Cream & Cheese, if desired

Mix all, heat, serve. Top with sour cream and cheese if desired. Eat with tortillas and lettuce as burritos or tortilla chips as a nutrition-packed dip. For the record, I liked it best with the sour cream & cheese stirred right in. Aaron preferred his sour cream on top where he could see it (the kid would eat a whole tub of the stuff if we'd let him) and Evan liked it plain just fine. Michael liked it both ways - with and without sour cream.

Friday, January 22

Kiddo Update

Aaron is growing so fast! He's almost 3 1/2 and is a ball of energy & creativity. I am so thankful he still takes a nap almost every day. I think he's going to end up teaching himself to read - his comprehension of letters, sounds, and how they work together is just amazing, and a little scary to his mother. We ended up backing up on preschool, but I really do need to get back at it. He's starting to put words together and sound them out with his LeapFrog word builder - a gift he got for Christmas. He's getting taller every day and has gigantic hands - his fingers are almost as long as his mother's. If this is an indication of what is to come, we will need to continue to save money on groceries! I've also had some awesome conversations about spiritual things lately.

Evan is 16 months and is walking quite well, and he is learning sign language like crazy. He's blossoming and starting to help with little things and will quite earnestly try to communicate verbally, although it just sounds like the shadow of words. He's got a few things he says frequently, and obviously understands much more than he can say. He is quite laid back and easy going, a trait we pray continues. I am so grateful for his delightful grins. He is finally over 20 lbs and is starting to fit into his 12 month clothes. I'm sure he will catch up - he continues to have a sensitivity to milk & eggs, but we are hopeful that he will outgrow it soon. He is busy and curious, and is ready with a smile for anyone.

It's been really fun to watch the boys start playing together more, and better. They love to chase each other around the house and play with toys together - so nice! There are occasional tiffs but Aaron is learning that Evan is little, and Evan is learning too!

I LOVE being a mom, and am so thankful I can stay home with my two little blessings. I am really trying to soak up all the adorable and horrible things that happen and meld it into happy memories that will last. I don't want to miss anything!!

Wednesday, January 20


My little brother is one of the coolest people alive. Aside from the fact that as my only sibling, he took every single available athletic gene available to our family, I have nothing against him. *grin* Neveryoumind that I'm the oldest.

He's owned a VW bus (that burned to the ground on a road trip - everyone made it out fine, and our family are AAA fans to the end because of it), done a random internet search with a buddy to find a "camp out west" to work at for a summer (which changed his life and through a series of events introduced him to his awesome wife, Lissa), and globe trotted with YWAM to Hawaii and Japan. His horizons are considerably more broad than mine.

Also, he is a dedicated believer, a deep thinker, creative, hilarious, etc, etc. I really love him, despite the fact that we only chat once in awhile and that his Christmas box is sitting on my dining room table, waiting to be sent.

So when Nate sent an email last week about some friends of his, who he met through YWAM, who started an orphanage in Haiti (Hands and Feet Project) and have been able to help with some of the relief effort, I definitely did a little reading up on them. What a great ministry!! You will be encouraged to read, too. Please check it out and pray for Aegis & Mark Stuart. Their ministry is the primary source of aid for their entire city of 50,000. Pray about whether or not you would be able to support them financially, but most of all pray for God to turn the hearts of Haitians toward HIM.

Monday, January 18

Works of God Monday

God has been at work in my life, doing some convicting, which I posted about last week - and I am so grateful. He is so faithful - I am grateful for the His gracious discipline. I've also been encouraged this week by the testimonies of fellow believers who are really going through some rough times and are still trusting God to provide, to heal, to comfort.

I am also pleased thrilled that the whole family was well and able to be in church yesterday! Praise God!! It was nice to see some familiar faces and be able to worship with a body again.

In the evening service, Dr. Rich Poupard, a friend of ours, gave a great lesson on the sanctity of human life. He also mentioned Life Training Institute, and his semi-bi-weekly podcasts. If this interests you, please visit and subscribe. I can tell you that the message he brought last night was eye opening, and I like to think of myself as being more than somewhat aware of pro-life statistics and facts. I praise God for the work that is being done by faithful teachers.

Along the same topic, I recently found this blog, written by a girl I met at the very first SGI conference, who is now a missionary with her family in Ukraine. She is burdened for expectant mothers in Ukraine. I wept as I read through her blog tabs and tried to fathom the norm for Ukrainian women - and as I read through the transcript of this interview, was saddened by the statistics that some women she has spoken to have had 20 or more abortions. I was encouraged to read about her ministry - it's really neat when God allows you to catch a glimpse of what He is doing globally.

So, how have you seen God at work this week? Will you share and link up here?

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

In the Mister Linky widget below, simply type your name in the top box, or a short description of the work that God has done, and then in the second box, paste the link from your specific "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, January 15

who are we, if not honest

God brought me to a breaking point the other night - I could not sleep and was feeling all manners of miserable. I always do better to write down my thoughts, and so I did. I was originally NOT going to share it here, on a public forum, but what are we, if not honest with each other about our struggles? I certainly could use the accountability! For me, God used this exercise to bring me back to what I know to be true about Him.

of Repentance
There is no one here but You, and me.
I type with my eyes shut, tightly, and feel so very alone.
Cursed feelings. Blessed feelings.
My thoughts swirl violently, I am wide awake this night.
I’ve been doing it again – clinging to the illusion of control,
Feeling overwhelmed
Irritated and Irritable
Making excuses for myself, blaming circumstances, taking liberties with my time.
Thinking more of others’ opinions than Yours.
Selfish and self-seeking
Full of pride
Despite these sins, my self-pitying sins
You are still here, still loving me, the same reprobate I’ve always been.
Still You are here, with Your open arms, Your Words of love
You have already forgiven me, already picked me up.
You will never leave,
And Your love never changed.
Not once did it falter, as my steps do – and if I’m really honest, as my love for You does.
You have drawn me back again. I am forever Yours; able, yet unable to resist Your gracious care.
Oh, Father God, I groan without words.
Your Spirit breathes meaning into my tearful nonsense.
Your Son intercedes on my behalf.
I am already whole.

Thursday, January 14


This is an old favorite.

I'm not sure who came up with this slogan,
but it caused many a laugh over the years.

Michael made a series of video sketches
while he was at Northland - demonstrating
ways that attending was not the "easy path"

The college is in Northeastern Wisconsin, but we did actually have it pretty easy.

And these two mugs are also quite special. As you can see.

We sent them to some friends, for Christmas.

They are still our friends.

(we think)

Wednesday, January 13

lyrics from the past...

Michael and I had a discussion the other night while we were on our date. Actually, he printed out some "speed dating" questions that he had found via search engine, but that is another story - hilarious, but another story.

So because of the questions, we got on a discussion about music, and what kind was my favorite. I said classical, because it is - but Michael looked puzzled and asked why I never listen to it. Well, I do - but not often enough to let anyone know that it is my favorite. It comes down to the fact that I'd rather fully experience it - whether live or by listening to a really good recording - it needs my full, undivided attention. I need to savor it, like a delicious dessert or a particularly lovely cup of coffee. I don't have much time for that anymore, but when I do, it's glorious. Just me & my Yo Yo Ma cd's. Ahhhh, bliss. Someday, I'll go to a concert.

One of my favorite music-memories is of a Pavarotti concert with a friend. I knew then that it was a once-in-a-lifetime, and it was phenomenal. I could have listened much longer than the concert lasted. It was magic.

And there is music meant for worship, which is a totally different kind, a type which "picky" doesn't even begin to describe my tastes, and is a discussion for a different day.

But I do listen to some totally mindless music. We have a station here in our town that plays "unforgettable favorites" and it's my go-to when I'm on the road, especially when NPR is playing a talk show I don't care for. I can sing along, be-bop and what not and it's fun. I've definitely got old fashioned (read: old person) tastes. There's cheesy, but this is cheesy like Velveeta. Love it.

And the lyrics are definitely atypical from today's tunes.

Monday night I was listening on my way home from Meijer to "Hey hey Paula" which has a sickeningly simple tune to go with bubblegum vocal styles and these lyrics - True love means planning a life for two / Being together the whole day through / True love means waiting and hoping that soon / Wishes we've made will come true / My love, my love. They also talk about waiting for school to be through - ahh, yes, recordings from the era of marriage right out of high school.

But a couple weeks ago, I was really struck with this from the Carpenters - "For All We Know" - a really different perspective on love - pretty much an endorsement for arranged marriage if you read the lyrics. Or commitment. Either way, different from the new stuff. Most of the new stuff.

Part of my lifelong fascination with the Carpenters I am SURE has to do with the number of albums at my parents' house - packed away on a long-forgotten shelf, listened to by me, often, in my growing up years. But you didn't hear that here. And, for the record, I'm certain that those albums stay on the shelf at this point in time. My parents are not sitting around jamming to the Carpenters.

Love, look at the two of us
Strangers in many ways
We've got a lifetime to share
So much to say and as we go on from day to day
I'll feel you close to me
But time alone will tell
Let's take a lifetime to say
I knew you well
For only time will tell us so
And love may grow for all we know

What is your favorite drivin' around town music? Anyone else want to admit to listening to Velveeta music?

Monday, January 11

Works of God Monday

Well it seems that something has come up for the last several weeks that has prevented me from making a Works of God Monday post, but this week I am determined to post in praise to God for all He is doing. Join me??

I've posted before about how God sometimes works in ways we don't like - ways that, in our flawed humanity, we think are NOT with our best interests in mind - however, we know from His Word that His plan is always best. I pray that I can point people to Him and be filled with joy and peace when my life is butterflies and daisies, and when things happen that really seem to stink.

I've been watching God at work, increasing trust, being a strong tower, providing, and holding up. There are a lot of people going through some hard circumstances - and I'd be lying if I said I was exempt. It's awesome, though, to watch God give exactly the grace needed for the circumstances He puts us in. I am believing that God is always working out His plan, and trusting that He knows what He is doing!!!

I've also seen some amazing blessings this week - a good friend from high school delivered a baby after a complicated and stressful pregnancy - he was 5 1/2 weeks early and born breathing on his own. This situation was dire - there were times that because of the specific complications, I (and the doctors) had much uncertainty about a good outcome. I got to watch God do miracles, and my friend and her child are both all right. I'm very thankful for this!

Sunday, our youth pastor was able to speak of God's provision for his family in unbelievable ways - an encouragement to me! I am so glad that as fellow believers we can rejoice together at the incredible things God does - the things that make us jump for joy as well as the times we run to Him asking for comfort and hope.

I'm praying that no matter where you find yourself this morning and this week, that you can look for God's work and rejoice that He is always, without fail, GOOD.

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

In the Mister Linky widget below, simply type your name in the top box, or a short description of the work that God has done, and then in the second box, paste the link from your specific "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, January 9

Pears, and cooking with recipes of sorts

I found 5 organic pears on the reduced-produce cart at Meijer earlier this week, marked down to $1.95 and begging me to take them home. It is a little more than I usually spend on winter produce, HOWEVER, they were organic. And beautiful. And they actually called my name and asked me to make something yummy out of them. They tempted me out of my "say no to sugar" and called to me.

Aaron, Evan and I ate one-and-a half for lunch, and really enjoyed them, but the lone red d'anjou of the bunch looked a little hard, and I really wanted to make something oozy and carmelicious out of these - something that would go really well with the vanilla ice cream in our freezer. It was deep, deep in our freezer, seeing as I've been saying no to sugar a lot lately. Well, not lately, lately. Just in general.

So I chopped up 3 and 1/2 pears, making about 4 cups.
And then I zested an orange up on top - it was actually about 2/3 of an orange, but I'd totally recommend 1/2.

Then I connived and schemed some more.

Thought about what I wanted as an end product, and went ahead and dumped 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar and half a stick of butter, but up in cute little squares. Carmel is the goal here. Not health.

Incidentally, my brown sugar has been so long neglected that it had lost it's packing power and had chunks. I left them alone - I love little chunks of brown sugar baked into things. I used to look especially for the cookies with the accidental brown sugar chunks - my mom makes the best chocolate chip cookies, made even more delicious with caramelized baked-in chunks of brown sugar.

OK moving on, I added about that much (see photo) ginger, and about twice as much cinnamon, and put it all in an 8 x 8 baking dish, after stirring it to combine and letting it sit in the bowl awhile.

Here's where you can start rolling your eyes. The recipe gets a little hard to follow here.

I had some leftover homemade baking mix from a recipe I made at a Pampered Chef show on Thursday. I'd say it was about 1/3 cup. If I had to guess.

Then I grabbed the bulk bag of walnuts from the pantry and filled up the bottom of my Pampered Chef food chopper twice and pretty much pulverized the little suckers. But not fine enough to be flour, just all in tiny pieces.

Then I put in another 1/4 cup or so of the chunky brown sugar, the other half of the stick of butter a splash of vanilla and mushed it around. It looked off, so I scooped 2 handfuls of old fashioned rolled oats in there and it was good to go.

Then I evenly distributed the topping, baked it at 350* until the pears were squishy and I had lots of juicy caramel, and took it out of the oven.

Whereupon I realized I needed to wait a very long time to eat it, so I stuck supper in and put the pan on the back of the stove, waited until we'd all eaten supper and put the kids to bed, then reheated and served with ice cream. A must. It's way too sweet and buttery and carmelicious. And you probably shouldn't try it. Unless you want to come over and have a little of mine.

You know, as I am supposed to be saying no to sugar and all.

So - I'm curious - do recipes like this bug you? Or is this how you cook? I got some info on supper swapping and was reading a book about it and had to laugh when the author suggested bringing your recipe cards/books and passing them around so others could get an idea of whether they would like your family's favorites or not.

I'd have to make something up, most likely. I look at a recipe as a suggestion of flavor combinations and proportions, everything else is pretty much optional. The bonus is that you can always cook something. The bummer is you can't ever quite reproduce it again.

Friday, January 8

growing up snowy

Those first few steps on new snow are always the best. I set Aaron free in the backyard yesterday while Evan & I got bundled up and ready to go - snapping a photo as he ran. He (and I!) loved the snow so much - I hated to come in, but Evan was so unhappy (unusual for Evan) and was letting the entire neighborhood know - quite loudly. So Aaron will have to wait for Saturday to play more in the snow. Unless Evan takes an early nap, that is.

We chased each other in circles around trees, I tried to cheer up Evan and picked up his mittens seven thousand times, lamented that I never pulled out the plants and cleaned out my garden box, Aaron discovered that it's not fun to try snow angels while it's snowing - flakes get in your eyes - and we came in for some deliciously rich cocoa. It was, honestly, the least I could do for the extremely energetic child who did not have enough outdoor playtime.

Such an interesting stage of life. Evan's not walking well enough yet to put him down in 6 inches of powder, and he cannot navigate boots anyway. So next winter will probably be better for outdoor play with two boys.

Cocoa, Most Delicious
1/4 cup dutch process cocoa (regular cocoa powder would work fine)
1/8 - 1/4 cup sugar (or other sweetening agent)
2-3 cups milk, whole if possible.

Combine cocoa and sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan with enough water to make a little paste, stir well. Slowly whisk in milk and heat through. Top as desired, with marshmallows or whipped cream (and sprinkles, if you're feeling extra festive) Prepare for energy surges, all around.

By the way, if you have a box of cook & serve sugar free pudding (BLECK!) adding an extra tablespoon of dutch process cocoa makes it taste much better. Not that you should eat all those chemicals. But I'm just saying.

Thursday, January 7

leftover Christmas

mmm, I love it when

there is extra, leftover


it goes perfectly with pumpkin coffee.

(or any other flavor. I'm not discriminatory)

oh, wait, yes I am. No chocolate + fruit + coffee for me. Chocolate/raspberry coffee?? No thanks.

Wednesday, January 6


there are forty nine new photos here, of our last few weeks. Enjoy!

Also, if you haven't checked out Food Loves Writing, be sure to - I can easily get lost in the descriptions of the fantastic recipes. That, and thoughts of visiting/living in Chicago, and remembering with distant fondness my single-girl dream of living above a flower shop.* Yes, all that from a food blog. I'm strange.

*I do, for the record, prefer my current living situation. But life above a flower shop seemed, at one point, to be a very happy - perhaps the happiest - place to live, indeed.

Tuesday, January 5

Works of God er, Tuesday - the "I'm Baaaaack" Edition

I'm so grateful to finally have the time to sit down and blog about the things God has been doing in our lives. We are slowly and surely getting back into the swing of things! It's been a long week, but I am so thankful for the provisions God has heaped on us!

On the 20th, we celebrated SIX blissful years of marriage. I don't take that for granted, not even a little bit. SO thankful for my fantastic, amazing husband, and for the grace of God that keeps us together, and happily, too! We planned to celebrate by ourselves, but our sitters canceled due to sickness so we're hoping for a redeux in the soon-coming future!

We had a great Christmas, a superfast (too fast) visit with family in Ohio, and then when we got back, we came down with the sickies. Not fun, not ideal, but we made it, and we watched God working out all the details!

We were sick, but God took care of us. Not one of us was hospitalized, and Michael was on his planned (and paid!) vacation. We survived, we thrived!

We were overwhelmed, but not forgotten. Plans were made for some serious project completion, including decluttering, garage organization, and home improvement projects. Sickness thwarted the good majority, but we were able to take a run to Habitat for Humanity's ReStore with quite a load of used home improvement goods, and our closet is at least one garbage bag of clothing lighter. Our Salvation Army pile grows! We have laundry foothills, and our Christmas decorations are still up - but hey, one thing at a time!

Michael finished ALL the baseboard in our house! That means that we will be filling little nail holes and painting trim soon - hoping and praying to refinance and get our kitchen project rolling. I'm excited to have construction dust in my future. Ha ha. We also got a few things up on the walls, so I'm starting to feel like our house is becoming more homey. Still needs work, but thanks to a few friends, we're on our way!!

Yesterday, Michael and I were able to get out of the house a little bit and head to a "Back to Business" Pampered Chef meeting, which was fun - no kids! It had been awhile. I'm excited to get back into the swing of PC shows and see what God has for my business this year.

Well, it's Michael's first day back to work since Christmas Eve, so we've been spoiled rotten. Rotten, I tell you! I could get used to having him around all day every day. And so could my little munchkins who are clamoring now from their beds. I'll be posting photos of our New Year's celebration later!

Happy Tuesday!