Monday, December 31, 2007

Oh Where Oh Where Has All My Money Gone, Oh Where Oh Where Can It Be?

Finances are tight. Not just for me, it seems for everyone. Every blog is talking about it.

OK, so that is an exaggeration, and I have told my kids NOT to exaggerate, so I should not either. Not EVERY blog is talking about it. But nonetheless, finances are tight for us, and we are not alone. And that is not an exaggeration.

It is easy to look back and see what we should have been doing. And it is easy, when finances are tight to look ahead at what you need to do. But we were never in either situation. And yet, because we were not prepared, we are in the financial tight spot we are in now.

There is no way to know the future. And we always looked toward a happy future. While we were not rich, we were not poor either. So we spent money we had, not thinking to really save for a future emergency. Soon, we were spending money we did not have, only to pay it off as soon as the paycheck came in. NOT a good habit to get into.

There are so many blessings that have come about as a result of JJ being in the hospital. And one of them being that finances are now tight.

Of course, looking back, if we had saved better, finances would not be so tight right now. But the blessing of this is that NOW, while my beloved is still employed, and while the children are still young to not have developed bad habits based on our bad financial habits.... this has been a wake up call to get our finances in order. And we are able to do so while we have finances coming in, and while they children are able to learn.

SO we are FINALLY watching Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University (can you believe we have had a copy for TWO YEARS and have not watched it until now?!?!). And one thing that we really knew, but weren't really applying, was to SAVE UP for the things you want to purchase. So even with all these AMAZING after Christmas sales, we will just have to save up and buy it NEXT year during the after Christmas sales. It is really hard. Especially when you find something that had been stashed away and now is brought out at the time everything is 75% off, and you know it is a good item that everyone grabbed up at 50% off.

DISCIPLINE!

How can I expect my kids to be disciplined in the area of money in the future if they are not seeing their mom and dad disciplined in the area of money? How can I expect them to have delayed gratification, if we as parents are buying everything at our heart's desire?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Time Is Here....

God totally amazes me sometimes. I was in need of more Elecare for JJ. As I have mentioned before, it is his main calorie and protein source. But it comes at a high price (about $5 a drink, 4 times a day). Of course when it comes to the health of your child, no cost is too high. But still, if there is a way to get what your child needs and not have to pay such a high cost, then ... well, as Martha Stewart would say ... it is a good thing.

I am not sure why or how it happened, but the doctor's office called today, just as we are finishing up our last can. They were just given a case of Elecare and want to give it to me.

There are those times these past few weeks where I have felt under attack. I have not shared yet because it has been a very emotional ride and also really caused me to really look at myself...where I am and where I know I should be. Where God would have me be.

But for now, I know that I need to spend this time with my family. So no posts for a week. My husband has been forced to take time off, and with Christmas right around the corner, we will be enjoying time as a family. Tomorrow (with the frigid cold outside) will be spent indoors baking lots of cookies and drinking lots of tea and hot cocoa! :) And of course plenty of time reflecting on the true meaning of Christmas.

Remember that Jesus is the reason for ... well ... for everything. :)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tuesday Link Up: Morning Ramble

I have found another blog that is a must read. Morning Ramble is a blog that will really touch your heart. It has great posts that are truthful and edifying. AND she is vegan too (or at least does vegan baking/cooking). She has a GREAT beauty and dress tips post. And she has two wonderful posts perfect for this time of year about greed and going back to the true spirit of giving.

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Sorry this is so short today, but I guarantee it is a good one and will keep you busy. The direct links above are to some of her more recent articles I found of wonderful interest!

It hurts to type. I am not sure if I broke my arm or just sprained every ligament in it. Thankfully it is my left arm. Got some WONDERFUL advice from Well Tell Me. Usually everything is already answered and I just have to search. Rarely do I have to ask. :) Heading out to get some comfry root right now. Thanks for your prayers!

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Just checked Annie's Attic Free Pattern and today's is a GOOD ONE! Little stockings that would make the cutest garland for your tree or your hearth!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Beware of Shopping Carts!

Oh how I love my children! There are times when they can be disobedient and fighting with each other. But other times, the ones I choose to remember, are filled with laughing and love and kindness.

EE is my sweet and sensitive one, always so thoughtful and giving. She has already decided that she is going to teach foreign countries about Jesus! WOW!

The other day while we were shopping, JJ was in the front of the cart, where it is supposed to be safe, right? I remember reading just the other day about how unsafe carts were. "many shopping carts are designed with a high center of gravity, making them prone to tipping over even when children are properly placed in the seating area".

I remember thinking how absurd! I have been putting my child in there for over 7 years (well, not the same child, but always a child for the past seven years). So I quickly put away the article and went on my day.

Well, we are in the checkout line and I have JJ in the cart (not in the back where the cart pictures tell me it is dangerous, but right there where the cart tells me to put him). Low and behold the cart tips over!!! I had not buckled JJ in (because I had put a floppy seat there and you cannot use the cart buckle with those seat covers).

Anyways, I did not hear a cry! I looked down and THERE WAS EE! She was lying down on the floor. The cart and fallen on top of her (no she had not been standing on the cart, just happened to be in front of the cart entertaining JJ while I was checking out). Her hands were wrapped around JJ. Even SHE was not crying or screaming!

I had always heard of stories of other families where their children were selfless. They would put themselves in harms way to protect a younger sibling. I had told my children these stories in hopes that they would learn to serve their siblings, even if it meant them getting hurt.

Little did I know that I would have my own story to tell.

EE is fine. Her back hurts (it took the blow to the floor instead of her head). And because she stayed calm, JJ stayed calm. He is 18 months now and probably thought it was fun. Silly boy!

I no longer put my children in the cart where it tells me to. I will have to find a sling or remember his shoes and just walk VERY SLOWLY everywhere. :) I wish I could remember where I read that article. I wish I had been more open to it and seeked God about it. God might have put that article in my path to warn me. And I missed it in my own pride. For now on, I will seek God about His truth regarding articles I read.

I will continue to tell the stories of other brave children who were selfless and helped their sibling in spite of danger to themselves. But now, I will add the story of EE, who selflessly helped her baby brother and may have saved his life. And how God saved them both.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Saturday Sweethearts: Meeting Needs

I went into the trunk the other day and saw a small container of salt for the road. You see, we live in a state where it gets very cold and sometimes we get a lot of snow and ice. The main roads are always cleared pretty quickly, but sometimes it can take weeks for them to get to all the parking lots and side streets.

My husband was thinking ahead. He was thinking of a future need I might have, and then he met it. Should I get stuck in the parking lot after taking JJ to one of his appointments, I will have ice to pour behind the tires to melt enough snow that I can safely back up and get back home.

This really encouraged me to try to think ahead for my husband. What is something I can provide for a need he has? This is something that I need to pray about. I am not as good about this as he is.

So may I encourage you to pray this week and see if there is a possible upcoming need in your husband's life that you can meet.

Remember, THESE ARE IDEAS FOR YOU (not your husband). YOU are to romance your husband! I was inspired to do these Saturday Sweethearts based on a book called Romancing Your Husband by Debra White Smith. PLEASE get a hold of this book and read it. It is a really good book and will really change your life. :)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Friday's Fun: What Is It?

This game would be a lot of fun at a Christmas party!

Pair up players. Players sit back to back. One player pulls something out of a bag and tries to describe it. The player sitting back to him tries to draw it. When all the pictures are finished, everyone tries to guess what they are and match them to the real objects. To play this at a Christmas party, it would be fun to pull the items out of a stocking.

This is also GREAT for homeschooling! (Yes, I do try to find a way to relate every day life to homeschooling!) :D It is a great way for children to use descriptive words and adjectives to describe an object. It is also good for critical thinking. Instead of describing the object, describe how you would use it/what you would do with it. :D

Thursday, December 13, 2007

More Ravelry and Pillowcase FUN!!

SO, I am so loving Ravelry! I just joined a group called Sew Obssesed and am really enjoying it! Someone mentioned "pillowcase dolls" and how Little House on the Prairie they were.

WELL ENOUGH SAID! LOL! I just HAD to google it! Which explains some of my absence yesterday. :D

Here are some links I found.

There are some BEAUTIFUL pillowcase dolls for sale by CAB Creek Crafts of Michigan

You can buy a pattern to make one yourself.

Here are free online directions to make your own pillowcase doll.

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Just a note about Ravelry. They are in beta right now, so in order to avoid an overload while they create this, you have to be put on a waiting list. PLEASE be patient. I think I waited something like 2 or 3 months (maybe longer, I did not keep track because, well, I was patient LOL!) :D But get on the waiting list now! It is SO WORTH the wait!!! :D :D :D

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tuesday Link Up - More and More Christmas!

LOTS of stuff today. I thought about not sharing it all at once and sharing some next week, but Proverbs 3:27 reminded me other wise. :)

Free Christmas notebook pages! Even if you don't homeschool, grab it! :)

Annie's Attic has a Daily Free Pattern! TODAY IS PEPPERMINT CANDY COASTERS! TOO CUTE! Grab it today because it changes daily!

Meredith shared a blog that needs to be in everyone's feed reader! Recently she shared about Christmas.
Christmas Open House Part One
Christmas Open House Part Two
Thanks Meredith!!!

What a great idea! My daughters LOVE to write letters (or at least draw/write - we are still working on the Writing part of the 3 R's). Someone has put up a free printable self-mailing notecard. Please forgive me for not remembering what blog I saw this mentioned on. If it was you, please comment so you get the HT! :) Thanks!

THIS IS SO GREAT!!! With all the recalls on toys, why not crochet your food for those pretend tea parties!!! Pondered In My Heart has the most adorable crocheted pastires! She also has a link to other patterns to crochet food! And check out the eggs and bacon on this one! HOW FUN!!!! This is also GREAT for the pretend kitchen your daughter has! :)
HT: Threads of Love

Monday, December 10, 2007

Any TRUTH to this?? How to sort historical fact from fiction?

I have always heard that the tradition of the Christmas tree was pagan and in fact, celebrating Christmas was pagan.

I am NOT trying to start a debate here (just for those of you who are curious we do celebrate Christmas and do have a tree). But I received the following in my mailbox today and am curious just how true it might be.

-=-=-
Martin Luther is said to have had the first Christmas tree. He supposedly cut down a fir from a local forest and placed it in his home for his family to enjoy. He was so taken by the beautiful, dark night with snow reflecting starlight through the trees. He wanted to share it with his wife and children as a way to celebrate the birth of Christ. Once he brought it home, he decorated the tree with small, lit candles to represent the stars. After that, people began to follow his example and it wasn't long before other decorations, such as strings of popcorn, apples, and bits of colored paper were added.
-=-=-

Anyone know how to check the validity of this statement? With so much re-writing of history (not only in America, but it seems all of history is being rewritten), how can one sort historical fact from fiction? I grew up believing everything you were taught in school is truth and not to be questioned (but then again, that is the purpose of public school isn't it?). But after becoming a Christian and learning about the re-writing of a lot of historical facts, I have no idea where to begin to know fact from fiction.

Thanks for ANY help on this!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Saturday Sweethearts: OUR Night

The other night my husband came up with a MOST ROMANTIC idea, and I just had to share it.

He thought how fun it would be to have an OUR Night date.
I posted some of the questions we came up with. If you come up with more PLEASE leave them in the comment section. I also answered them for us.

What is your song? Fields of Gold.
Food? Cheese-sticks.
What is your color? Purple.
Flower? Rose
Game? Air Hockey and Scrabble.

So this can easily be done at home to save money. Grab the CD with your song on it. Spread out a blanket on the floor. Make sure to have your game set up (if I wanted to do the Air Hockey I would plan a night out, but with finances being tight, I could set up a fake air hockey table with a cotton ball and two straws, but I would just do scrabble to save time and money). :) I would try to wear something with our color on it, and maybe encourage him to wear something with our color on it to work, so when he comes home, he comes home to the romantic set up. The kids would already be in bed (nice thing about young kids). I would have some roses in a vase or rose petals strew on the blanket, and cheese sticks cooking in the oven.

Recipe for cheese sticks:
Pizza crust (either hand made or store bought). Slather with olive oil. Add spices (we like to add garlic granules, onion granules, and basil. I want to try this with FRESH garlic!! OOOOOhhhh! Maybe not. He might not want to kiss afterwards. LOL!!!! Fresh garlic is not so great for a romantic evening.) Slather with shredded cheese (we like to use Mozzarella, but you can use any combo).

Play your game, dance to your song and eat your food. Reminensse about all that makes you YOU as a couple.

Remember, THESE ARE IDEAS FOR YOU (not your husband). YOU are to romance your husband! I was inspired to do these Saturday Sweethearts based on a book called Romancing Your Husband by Debra White Smith. PLEASE get a hold of this book and read it. It is a really good book and will really change your life. :)

Friday, December 7, 2007

Friday's Fun: Dough Ornaments/Cross Necklaces

These are so fun and so easy. And no need to worry about a recall on them (did you see the recent recall on cross necklaces? YIKES!)

DOUGH ART CROSSES/ORNAMENTS (perfect to help keep the house warm! LOL!)
4 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 1/2 cups water.

Knead dough for five minutes, after which it will be ready for shaping.
Shape dough into 2" high crosses or other shape (for ornament).
Punch a hole for a cord.
Place shaped dough on greased cookie sheet. Bake for 3 hours at 350F, turn off oven and allow to cool overnight.
Next day, you can paint your crosses.Use one color at a time and allow to dry before using the next color so that colors do not run together.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

America Has Settled For Mediocrity

America has lost it's creativity. We have settled for fast, fun and cheap. I love the old movies where the actors really had to have talent (I doubt we will ever have another Fred Astaire or Bing Crosby). And the actors back then had to think on their feet. They had to be more than someone who could act. In addition to acting, most had to sing, dance, be a comedian...the list goes on.

And I have noticed this with our crafts lately as well. I mean, you goto any craft store and THINK you see cute stuff. But most of it really is cheap. I think that is why there has been a HUGE surge in Japanese crafting lately. I mean check out adorable pot holder! You would be hard pressed to find something like that in America.

I must admit that I have jumped on the Japanese craft band wagon. It started about a year ago. I have kept it a secret because, well, those books cost a pretty penny (at least to me where I get most of my books for free on Paperback Swap).

I spend way too much time looking at blogs where people have talked about what they made or what new book they found. I have been wanting a Japanese craft book for over a year!

And the other day God blessed me with one!!!! I am not sure what the title is, but it is part of the petit boutique series. Isn't it adorable?!?! ISBN 4939459800465

It was at the local Goodwill, just SITTING there! At first, I thought I must be seeing things. There is no way someone would get rid of something so valuable! I truly hope that the person who got rid of it meant to and it was not accidentally shoved in during a major declutter. I have been known to do that. I snatched it up (for less than $1) and spent all evening looking over every single page. I love it!!! Just look at all these goodies!

Apron Swap - Pics

I got my apron from the apron swap the other day.
You can see what my partner made here. I LOVE THIS APRON! It is so neat, I have never seen one like it before! The ties are one long string that goes around the neck, which allows you to lower or raise the body of the apron as needed! This proved useful when AA (almost 8yr) claimed the apron as her own (not really, but she admired it so, how could I refuse?).

And what an extra little surprise awaited me inside the pocket? One of her handmade dishcloths. I LOVE IT! It is so beautiful. Too bad JJ claimed it as his own (and that one I did fight for). He cuddles it like it is his security blanket and enjoys playing peek a boo with it.

So here is a sneak peak of what I made her. I used a vintage apron pattern (it was a remake, not actually vintage). I searched on Ravelry (my username is lvg4him in case you are on there). Anyways, I have always wanted to make an apron with a handy dishcloth available. ready to take off and use to wipe those messes up or to do dishes. I found the PREFECT PATTERN for this! I must admit that this was the strangest pattern I have ever followed. But the tutorial made it easy to do, and once you figured out the pattern, it works up fast and easy - no need to even look at the patterns anymore! :) And because of the big hole at the top, it worked PERFECTLY to be able to attach to the apron!

Here are some pics. Her kitchen colors are yellow and white. And with the yo-yo kick I am on, I had to add a dash of color with yo-yo's in the lower left hand corner. It is only a half apron (perfect for when you are entertaining) and I made it in a dark denim (to go with most anything she wears). Then of course the dishcloth had to be white and yellow to match the kitchen! The lightening on the pictures are HORRIBLE. The only thing true to color are the yo-yo's and dishcloth. Everything else is too bright or too dark. SORRY! :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Tuesday Link Up - More Christmas Fun!

I have been a fan of Junie Moon's for a while now. Currently, she is going through a different kind of Christmas countdown. I love reading each day's advice and seeing how she plans to implement it! Day 3 and my recent Saturday's Sweetheart go hand in hand! Perfect timing! Jump on the bandwagon now!

And this wonderful idea to use up your old greeting cards that you get at Christmas!

Check out this ADORABLE advent idea from Martha Stewart!
HT: Sunshines Creations

Monday, December 3, 2007

Buy Handmade

Check out THIS ADORABLE craft kit I just got for AA! I LOVE this shop! It is called fritzbits and I cannot wait to see what other kits she creates. I don't know fritzbits, and this is my first order from her. I get nothing for mentioning her, I just thought it was a great gift idea for the daughter that loves to create from bits! :) I will let you know when it arrives and how it arrived and all when it gets here.

There is a pledge going on around the blogs to buy handmade this year. Especially with all the recalls and lead paint and all. May I encourage you, even if you are making all your gifts this year to buy at least one handmade item. The great things about fritzbits is that you are buying handmade and what you get you can make more handmade items! :)

And don't forget on the left hand sidebar of this blog is a listing of some of the items in my store. Click on a picture to take you to the item, or click on the link to get to my shop. And thank you for your support! :)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Saturday Sweethearts: Christmas Love

It has been a while since I did a Saturday Sweethearts. For more ideas, check out the ROMANCE tab on the left hand side bar.

WHAT I DID

I hung up mistletoe all over the house. Over the doorway. Over the shower. Over the place where you stand to cook. Over the couch. Every time my husband would stand under the mistletoe I would kiss him.

MY REASON
I just wanted to love on my husband and be silly with him.

HOW I FELT
Sneaky. I put them up while he was at work, and he had no idea why I was following him around and kissing him so much. It didn't take long for him to notice the mistletoe on the ceiling.

THE OBSTACLES I OVERCAME
I cannot remember any real obstacles. This happened during our first Christmas as husband and wife (almost 11 years ago now).

MY HUSBAND'S RESPONSE
He wasn't as pleased as I had hoped he would be. And he rarely kissed me when I was under the mistletoe unless I made a big deal about it "Look where I am honey!"

WHAT I WISH I HAD DONE
I cannot think of something I could have done differently to make him enjoy this more. I thought it was a great idea.

BUDGET SUGGESTIONS
I used green construction paper and cut out mistletoe. Then I taped it to the ceiling. Did not take much money or time.


Remember, THESE ARE IDEAS FOR YOU (not your husband). YOU are to romance your husband! I was inspired to do these Saturday Sweethearts based on a book called Romancing Your Husband by Debra White Smith. PLEASE get a hold of this book and read it. It is a really good book and will really change your life. :)

Friday, November 30, 2007

Holiday Meme from Sew Mama Sew - UPDATED!!!


Want to participate? You can by following the link to the Sew Mama Sew Handcrafter's Holidays Meme

GIFTS:

Do you have a favorite gift that you love to give?
I love to find out something about the person and then get them something that they have a hard time giving themselves. My FIL really loved the movie Private Eyes and had looked for several years for a copy and was unable to find one. I looked for seven years before I was able to find him a copy (thank God for the internet). My MIL had a beloved cookbook that was old and well used. She had wanted another copy, but could not find one (at least not at a reasonable price because the book was out of print). I was able to find a copy online for the right price. She also really liked a certain brand of cookbooks that also were no longer in print. I searched several old bookstores until I had found her most every copy in the series.

Are you making gifts this year? If so, post what you are making!
Unforutanely because of baby JJ's hospital stay, I am unable to make gifts this year. But I am making stuff to sell in my Etsy store. Our gifts this year is coming from our stash! We go shopping throughout the year and buy things with people in mind when things are on sale! :) We then put their name of the price tag (which of course is taken off when it is wrapped) and put the gift downstairs on a to give shelf. We also have a to keep shelf which has gifts for the children. We always have our Christmas shopping done before the end of the year. AND we save lots of money doing it too! Sometimes we are able to get some great after Christmas sales on gifts to give the next year. Just be sure it is not food related! (Don't worry family - when we buy food gifts they are always bought in the same month we ship so the food is fresh).

Do you have any good stories about handcrafted gifts you've given or received?
Actually, my beloved made a game for me one year. It is a romantic game with questions to get to know each other better. It had a game board and everything. It was very sweet, and innocent enough that we could give copies to our parents if we wanted to and not have to blush. :)

Do you have any great gift compliation ideas?
Well, while not handmade, the items COULD be handmade if you knew how to. THIS is my most favorite gift received.

Name one thing on your personal wish list.
Only ONE?? Hmmmmm.... I would have to say a gift card (then I can buy all the fabric and books I want!). :) But if it has to be a specific item, I would have to say a box full of cute fabric already cut up in circles for yo-yo's. I am on a yo-yo kick right now. They work up SO EASY, but cutting out those circles is not as fun.

Do you make and sell things that would make fantastic gifts?
Oh I cannot WAIT to see what others say! I do have an etsy store that has a few items in it (with more to come).

TRADITIONS:

Favorite family holiday tradition?
I know that in Victorian times, parents would hide a pickle in the tree, and whoever found it on Christmas morning would get money or a gift or something. We hide a long nail in our tree. On Christmas morning, we wake up and after breakfast read the Christmas story from Luke. THIS BOOK is awesome as it has pictures and goes verse by verse! The little ones will reenact with the Fisher Price Nativity kit. Then the children look in the tree to find the nail. Whoever finds the nail, tells the reason it is there, which is to remind us that while we celebrate the birth of Christ today, we remember that He came to die to save us from our sins. Then they get to pick the first present to GIVE. The pick up a present, read whose name is on it and gives it to that person. That person opens the gift, and all oh and ahhh. Then he picks a gift and gives it to the person whose name is on the gift. This goes on and on until all the gifts have been given and opened. It does take a while, but it really does make Christmas last MUCH longer than everyone getting their piles of gifts and ripping into them. And it allows each gift giver to see the recipient's face when he opens his gift. It really is a GREAT tradition!

Have you started any new traditions with your family that you did not practice growing up?
The nail mentioned above is something my beloved and I started. The opening one gift at a time is actually from my husband's side of the family. My side of the family really never had any traditions.

What do you love most about the holiday season?
The lights. I love seeing all the beautiful lights up at Christmas. And I also love the gathering of friends and family. I wish there was that kind of spirit all the year.

What do you like least about the season?
That is starts the day after Halloween. I mean what is up with that? We totally skip Thanksgiving and go straight into commercialism. Totally skipping the true meaning of CHRISTmas.

Anyone close to your heart that you will be missing this time of year?
I really have been missing my great grandmother and great grandfather recently. They died over 11 years ago, but it is only now that I am realizing just how much I missed out on not getting to know them better. Such an awesome generation and there is so little known about them. So little I know about them.

What is your favorite holiday food?
Sweets.

Do you have a great recipe to share?
No. Sadly, I usually just pick and choose from the cookbooks. Trying new things all the time. :)


Want to participate? You can by following the link to the Sew Mama Sew Handcrafter's Holidays Meme

Christmas JOY - Shop Update AND FAMILY FUN IDEA!

Here is another adorable angel I finished. I named her Joy because when I see her I am reminded of Luke 2:9-11. Don't know the verse? LOOK IT UP NOW! :) I love the fact that Jesus was born, not only to save, but that His birth, Jesus Himself, should bring us EXCEEDINGLY GREAT JOY! Pick her up (and other great handmade gifts) in my store. And thank you for your support.

NOW, on to a most AWESOME idea, which you can actually start TODAY! It is a GREAT Christmas family fun idea, but I cannot take credit for it.

While we do not do the Santa or Mrs. Claus thing, the ideas listed here are so much FUN! We are going to incorporate the books and the fun Friday's idea! We already do the ornament thing (although for ours we go to the after Christmas sale at the Christian bookstore and get each child their own ornament). When the kids are grown and married, they will have a host of ornaments to start their own tree (full of fond memories of Christmas with the family).

And if you don't want to go buy new new games, why not buy one (or more) from your local thrift store?!?! 

And a friend of mine had a most excellent idea. Each year, her family would take a board game that they no longer played and they made their own game! Cover the board with paper, and then decide what kind of game to create! You can print out your own cards and just have FUN! AND if you like all your games and want to keep them just the way they are, use a board game from Goodwill.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Ruby - DMC Angel Ornament

Isn't she cute? I named her Ruby. She is made up of mostly DMC floss. Only the head, the paint on the face and the lace wings are NOT DMC. :) Check her out and more to come to my store soon. And if you have a particular color you want an angel in, let me know. These should arrive in your home just in time for Christmas! PERFECT for the crafter in you (or the one in your life). :)

Journey Towards Simplicity

I want to live more simply. It seems the closer I draw to the Lord, the more simply I want to live. Key word here being WANT. But the actual DOING seems so difficult. I start, with the BEST of intentions, and yet, fall short in one thing and then give up completely. What kind of example is that to my children? When you fail in the smallest thing, just give it all up?!?!

I have really bad habits. I am addicted to books and buy WAY too many. I collect fabric. LOTS of fabric, and yet do nothing with it (though that is changing, SLOWLY). And I admit that I sometimes get on the computer to do one quick thing and end up spending an hour wondering where the time went.

So I figure there are two things I really need to focus on. Then all the rest SHOULD fall into place.

Time and money.

For the money part I need to STOP SPENDING. Spending 50 cents on something I don't need adds up to a lot of clutter and truly a lot of money. I walk out of Goodwill having spent close to $75 on a few good deals and a bunch of clutter for my home. Now that is not to say that I cannot indulge in the cute little tea cup and saucer for our collection. But I think if I were to go into Goodwill with a goal. This is the item I need and if I want to buy anything else, even if I THINK I need it, I need to call my husband and have at least three good reasons why I need it, a place to put it AND something that I can get rid of that it can take the place of.

I think I am also going to start wrapping up my credit card. It is so easy once the cash is gone to just whip out the card. I tend to waste the cash on frivolous items at Goodwill and then don't have the money for groceries. If the credit card is wrapped up, it will be a better reminder NOT to use it. BUT I will still have it in case of an emergency. Out running errands past lunch time is NOT an emergency. LOL!

I am also going to watch Dave Ramsey's FPU. And then I am going to apply what I have learned.

Time.

I am always complaining that I do not have enough time. Yet, if I were to cut down on the amount of TV I watch (even rented movies are watching TV), the blogs I read, and the surfing and collecting of ideas I do, I would have the time to garden. I would have time to spend with the Lord. I would have time to sew all the things I want to sew.

And part of the whole time thing is being organized with SOME sort of schedule. I know I have one around here somewhere. But being the perfectionist that I am, I keep working on it and wanting it to be perfect before I implement it. I keep worrying that if I have to change it, the girls will no longer follow it. Isn't that silly?

SO things to work on:
-STAY HOME! If I stay home, I do not know what I am missing, and don't end up buying things I don't need.
-Try to do a month of buying only needs.
-Find the schedule and just start it! If it needs tweaking, we can tweak it. Thankfully the kids are young enough that they won't really think of anything if I have to change it.
-Find something CONSTRUCTIVE to do rather than mindlessly surf the net or watch TV.
-Make a list of projects I want to do (check out my list of 101 things in 1001 days) and START! :)
-Do more things WITH the kids (other than homeschool)

There is a blog that has really helped encourage me in this. It is called Down To Earth and it should be in everyone's feed reader so you do not miss a post. The posts are short enough to read in just a minute or two, but the content is thought provoking enough to leave you thinking all day. :)

NOTE: No one has signed up for the Pay It Forward yet! There are three spots open! :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tuesday Link Up _ Christmas Time Is Here

Keeping Christmas Simple
Part 1

Wonderful Christmas Mosiac Cards

Check out this adorable yo-yo advent calendar! She is also showing you throughout the month how to make ornaments for the calendar! WAY CUTE! Be sure to check it out daily! Don't know how to make yo-yo's? Check out this great tutorial to make your own yo-yo's. We (one of the daughter's of a close friend helped) taught the girls how to make them yesterday. EE (almost 6yr) made them perfectly! Even MM (4 1/2yr) did pretty good.

Being into yo-yo's right now, I just think this yo-yo tree tutorial is perfect! :)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Pay It Forward

I am so blessed enough to be part of the Pay It Forward that has been going around. I will be receiving something (I can hardly wait!) from A Life Uncommon.

While it is my understanding is that the first one was quilt related, this one is ANYTHING handmade (soaps, candles, bags, aprons - oooohhhh aprons!, etc.), so feel free to jump in!

"Come join in the fun and make the world a happier place. So this is how it goes...It’s the Pay It Forward Exchange. It’s based of the concept of the movie “Pay it Forward” where acts or deeds of kindness are done without expecting something in return, just passing it on, with hope that the recipients of the acts of kindness are passed on. So here’s how it works: I will make and send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment to this post on my blog requesting to join this PIF exchange. I do not know what that gift will be yet, and it won’t be sent this month, probably not next month, but it will be sent (within 6 months) and that’s a promise! More than likely I'll get it made after Christmas and sent out early in the New Year. What YOU have to do in return, then, is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog. Unfortunately this is only possible for those who have a blog."

So the first 3 people to comment saying that they are able to join (meaning I will make them a gift AND they will be able to pay it forward on their blog) will get a gift from me. I too am going to have to say that it will have to be within the next six months as I do have my hands full with JJ and all. :) PLEASANTLY FULL! Soooo in order to make something NICE, I need six months. :)

I won! Thank you! :)

I really don't win things very often. SO imagine my surprise when I was contacted and told I had won the Foof-a-Life!! I am so excited! I will do another post to show you how beautiful this package is! YEAH! I am re-emailing my address right now.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Another Shop Item - Doll Blanket

What little girl would not love to wake up on Christmas morning to this darling crocheted blanket covering her favorite doll? I know MY girls were fighting over who would get this adorable blanket! I told them I would have to make them another one at a different time (maybe a Christmas present!). :D This blanket is perfect for 18 inch dolls (like American Girl) or shorter. A precious handmade blanket for your precious little girl. You can find this and other handmade items in my store.

Thanksgiving Break (but I leave you with craft links)

Well, since beloved has the week off, I will be enjoying my time with him. So this will be my last post until the Monday after Thanksgiving. I hope all of you will take this time to enjoy this season of Thanksgiving.

But just incase you find some time to do some crafts (this should make up for my week away! LOL! Like I have that many readers!):

Check out these adorable Crochet Pinecones!

Why not make some cute flowers?

Make an apron from a large man's shirt!

How about some Homemade Gifts For The Little Girls?

And lots of stuff at The Loveliness of Handmade Gifts

Check it out!Homemade With Love post with LOTS of ideas.

And this adorable Book Cover Tutorial

And I just LOVE to make my own Cloth Napkins. I am sure there are other tutorials out there, but this one came from Sew Mama Sew. Don't forget Sew Mama Sew is having a NEW bunch of tutorials EVERY DAY during the month of November to make handmade gifts for the holidays!

And the Super Cool Wallet!!

And the BEST FOR LAST:
OH I AM IN HEAVEN! Ok, not LITERALLY. But definitely figuratively. I have been a huge fan of Amy Butler, but need to spend money on other things right now. So, I discovered she has a whole page of FREE designs!
HT: THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU Junie Moon!

If you love crafts and tutorials then this site is probably the only one you need (although the patterns are mostly for adults and to make stuff with your kids, you would still have to look around, but I have LOTS of GREAT links for this under Sites To See). Rececca I thought of you when I saw this. :)

HT: I Have To Say...

Friday, November 16, 2007

Harvest Hair Bun Cover

So as I mentioned before, I am trying to work hard to make items for my etsy store in hopes of helping just a bit with the bills that we are anticipating. I have left several messages for the insurance company and have not heard back from them, but when I called the hospital today they said they have filed the claim and are waiting for the insurance and have not heard from them.

So we wait.

And while we wait, I created my own crochet pattern! I really wanted a nice and elegant bun cover. But none of the patterns I found really did it for me. So I fiddled around and came up with something that I feel is really pretty. And in hopes that others would too, I made some to sell (I am keeping one for myself).

It is so cute and perfect and festive! I just love it! And the girls do too!! I made a pink one for MM (pink is her favorite color) and a cream colored one for AA (to go with her outfits).

I will be more than happy to take orders if you would like it in a different color. AND I am planning on making some adorable (well, **I** think they are adorable) ones for Christmas.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Apron Giveaway, Tutorials and MOST AWESOME SITE!!!

OK, so you know me and my LOVE of aprons!!! I found a MOST AWESOME site that is having a giveaway right now!
Being the girly girl that I am, my favorite is the Dorothy Apron Breast Cancer Pink.

While there entering the giveaway (which they seem to have a lot of!), be sure to check out all the GREAT PATTERNS AND TUTORIALS!!! They are listed on the right hand side bar. And do browse through past entries! OH MY! The most ADORABLE aprons I have EVER seen!!! WAY CUTE!!!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mother-Daughter Cookie Swap

I have tried to keep the tradition of a mother daughter cookie swap for a few years now. I have not always been able to do it, or even REMEMBERED to do it (LOL!), but this year we are planning on doing it. December 8 at 3PM. :)


And we encourage YOU to as well! Sign up below if you plan to join us. You can use our free invite (at the end of this post), or create your own. All I ask is that on Monday Dec 10, 2007 you make a post about how it went. What recipe did you use? Any pictures to share? Did you do something different? Share details so we can do it next year. This gives you ONE MONTH to plan. And plenty of time to get those invites in time for people to make plans to attend before other invites arrive or before they make party plans of their own.

I will be posting throughout the plans we are doing for the swap. If you do, PLEASE comment below with a link to your post concerning the swap. Maybe you have to do some super cleaning before you can even THINK of inviting guests into your house. Maybe you are decorating your recipe cards.

SO, comment below if you plan to join us. And comment with a link every time you blog about something cookie swap related. :) I will be creating a linked list on Monday of all those participating (along with all the posts they have done about the swap between now and then). And feel free to advertise on your blog. Here is a cute button for your sidebar:

Special thanks to http://petitmoineaux.blogspot.com/ for the free kit to create he invites! If you use the invite I created, PLEASE do not charge people for it. The kit to make it was free, and I am giving it to you to use for free. Thank you. Click on the image below and then save the image on your computer. Print out and write in the details OR fill in with your computer before printing out.

Tuesday Link Up

Want a fabric shopping bag WITHOUT all that sewing and cutting? Try
using an old T-shirt. These are SO CUTE and SO EASY! And what a GREAT way to use up that souvenir shirt that you just had to have but never wear! Every time you go shopping, you will remember the great time you had on vacation! :D

Just sew a hem and cut off the neck and sleeves and you have a reusable shopping bag! "SEW" easy even your little girls can make their own bag! WOW!!! This is so great! I was also thinking, about those shirts that are really worn, instead of using them as dust rags, sew them up and use them as garbage bags! Just one more way to reduce the amount of plastic you are using! :)

These little booklets are so cute and easy to make!! These would make GREAT stocking stuffers for the shabby chic friend you have OR even better, maybe you have a littler author in your midsts (our little AA LOVES to write stories). I plan on making a small handful for her to "publish" her stories. Then she can give her publish stories as gifts! Don't forget to take a picture to put on the front page and make an "about the author" page. These make GREAT gifts for the Grandparents!

Oh I just LOVE this site! I have seen paper dolls before, but these are GREAT! All different kinds from all different time periods. AND THE BETSY MCCALL DOLLS! all of them!! WOW!!!

THIS IS SO COOL! Neat crafts to do with the kids, and don't even get me started on how COOL those placemat purses are! YES, you heard right, PLACEMAT PURSES!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Daily Life Now Is Not The Same As Before

For posterity in dealing with a child with food allergies as well as dietary problems, I will talk about what we are dealing with. Maybe there is another Mom like me out there.

JJ is drinking specialty drinks right now (Vanilla Elecare -30 cal as well as EO28) that are costing about $5 a drink. Multiply that by 4-5 times a day, and 30 days in a month and you have an idea of what we are spending just on drinks for him. The food is a bit easier as I can make it from scratch. But it is VERY limiting right now (with the results of his food allergy test back). I really need to find a support group for such dietary restrictions. Right now he is eating single or double food servings. But no real MEALS per se.

I am so thankful I have dealt with food allergies/sensitivities before. Both MM and EE are sensitive to gluten and casein. So I already do a lot of gluten free cooking/baking and not using dairy (or other substitutes with casein in it). But now I cannot do egg in any form (he has the most unusual allergy to it - the doctor prescribed an epi pen for his unusualness). I cannot even use tomatoes (which is like in EVERYTHING!) or beans (which is a main source of protein for vegetarians). I have no idea how to cook without tomatoes or beans! I do have some idea about baked goods without eggs (simply because of the research I have done on allergies). But it is not fun and it does not taste as good.

I have done a lot of research on raw foods, so I can make a lot of healthy raw substitutes for him (which leaves out eggs and such), but quite a few of them have nuts (nuts are something else he cannot have).

Add to that a $20 co-pay per doctor visit which is happening once a week, not to mention the 45 minute drive across town to physical and occupation therapies (with the rising cost of gas and all) which thankfully is only every other week. After being released from the hospital, he was about 11 months in physical development. In just two weeks he moved up to 12 months! :) I am thankful not only that he is so motivated, but that as a home school mom **I** am motivated and educated about how to do some of his therapy at home.

I watch JJ as he falls asleep (1-2 naps a day and then to bed at night) to make sure he does not have a chance to ruminate, and am right back in his room as soon as he wakes up to make sure he is preoccupied and not having a chance to ruminate. It takes him anywhere between 5 and 30 minutes for him to fall asleep (mostly because he fights it). No more leaving him in his room to cry it out when he is over tired and frustrated. I have to keep him calm and happy or he can fall back into the habit of ruminating.

I am SO VERY thankful that the Lord is STILL working on me (hello my name is Paula, and I am a continual work in progress). I am able to clean the house, home school the girls, love on JJ and still have some time to do crafts (I even created my own pattern for a crochet bun cover and will be selling some I made in my store soon!!) as well as crafts with the girls (look soon on the blog for AA's scarf she made). I am also able to have time with my beloved in the evening to play games and talk. AND I am also still able to some how have time to make food from scratch!

I say this not because **I** in myself am able to do this. But because I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! I have been on my knees much more since all of this with JJ happened. I so want to encourage you that even though at times life may seem overwhelming (which I know it can, I am there right now), that somehow, through God's supernatural ability... you can. You can do so much more than you think you can. I never ever would have thought I could be doing what I am today. And it is only by crying out to God (even in the midst of the chaos) that His strength fills me and I am able to do even 1/4 of what I need to do.

I am not able to wake up and have quiet time with the Lord. Yet, throughout the day, as I call on Him, and wait on Him, and listen to and for Him, I am able to be obedient. I read His word when I can (mostly with the girls), but make a point to do it daily. Even if it is just one verse. And remembering to thank Him even in the midst of the chaos, for He has done so much for me, and I know that He can use the chaos for His glory. And I truly do have so much to be thankful for!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Crafting with Children

Between two GREAT sites (Me And My Girl and Scrumdilly-Do, I am finally getting up the courage to do some fun crafty things with the girls! I have LOTS of other kid craft sites under Sites To See (right hand sidebar), but sometimes a new one gets you up and going. :D

When I come to a craft idea I think the girls will like, I print it out (instead of just saving it on the computer like I used to). Then I put it in a notebook JUST for these sorts of things. On Monday, I look in the notebook and pick something to do. I make sure I have the items I need and if not, I go and buy them. There is always a clearance section in any craft store (even in the craft section of Walmart). Sometimes, when funds allow, I stock up so I have the items at a great price for FUTURE things. Then I plan the day of the week to do it, and we do it! YEAH!

Merideth has the most wonderful blog. I have really cut back on my blog reading, but hers is one that I catch up on almost daily (at least weekly). She always has great posts that really make you think about how you spend your time and money. This post is a wonderful one about cheap entertainment. Be sure to read through the comments! Good ideas there!

But that post really allowed me to spend a little money on stuff I normally would have not. Buy the artistic palate for the Marshmallow Paintings and the marshmallows (we already had the food coloring) and have a day full of fun and good memories. All for under $3! That is $1 per child right now! :)

And don't forget about FreeCycle when needing craft supplies! It is amazing what people are willing to give away! :)

I already have some fleece I got REALLY cheap last year at a garage sale that will be PERFECT for an easy to make scarf!

I must admit that I have always wanted to do more things with the girls, but have been scared. Scared that there will be SUCH a mess (see my cleaning post from yesterday). Scared that they will not make a perfect item (and how will that reflect on me as the Momma). I find it sad that I really do find some sort of worth in my children. I want them to look good because in some way it makes me look good. Their bad behavior reflects poorly on me as a mother. And if they wear something that they made, which is going to be FAR from perfect, then what will others think?

Oh Lord, please remove this attitude from my heart and mind! Allow me to find worth in You, so that my children will learn to find worth in You and not in things of this world.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Don't Do That

When I thought of homeschooling my children, I saw only the benefits of me being with them 24/7. I did not even think about the downfalls of THEM being with ME 24/7. They see everything I do that is wrong. When you are a homeschooling mom, you cannot say "do as I say, not as I do" because truly more is caught than taught!

Cleaning up is NOT one of my favorite things to do. Unfortunately, my girls are now old enough that they are starting to pick up on my dislike of cleaning and developing a dislike of it themselves!

So what to do? It is so easy to say that I prayed and my attitude was changed overnight and now my children blissfully clean the house along with me. But my attitude about cleaning the house has been bad for years now and only by the grace of God could it go away overnight. So I pray, but I still hang onto this attitude. Why? I really don't know.

BUT I do know that I am working on it. I have confessed this sin (yes, I do believe a lazy and unthankful attitude about cleaning the house is my sin) to my girls and told them that the Bible tells us to be thankful in ALL things and to do all things as unto the Lord. I have not been doing that, and I want to change.

So EE suggested that maybe if we sing while we work, that would help us to be glad while we are working. (Kind of like the whistle while you work theme.) :D So now, we are all singing and working, and honestly, it does make it go by a little better.

But there are those jobs that are just so huge to tackle, that even singing won't help. :D So I have taken the FlyLady approach and have decided that on those jobs that are too big to tackle (and 15 minutes seems too long to spend on it when you are already spending 15 minutes cleaning your zone --- each of the children have a zone - a part of the house they are responsible for keeping clean and orderly), they have a 15 item pick up. Before they are allowed to play, they have to clean up at least 15 items in that area. It could be a toy, a game, or a piece of trash, but they each have 15 items to pick up. It is working well. Even Momma has to pick up 15 items in the area! LOL!

I want so desperately to do as I say so that my children can do as I do. :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Tuesday Link Up - It's not too late to start MAKING Christmas gifts

Links - what I think would make great Christmas gifts:

There are a lot of tutorials out there right now for fabric shopping bags. THIS BAG is not only beautiful (look at that YUMMY fabric!) but functional as well (love that shopping list and coupons holder!!!). She does have a tutorial too, check out the last link in the post!

Here is a great tutorial for a mini wallet. It is her first tutorial, and I think she did a great job!

Check out this ADORABLE apron! This Mom is a genius! She took her daughters falling apart overalls and made an apron and has plans for the rest! WOW! Talk about Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do Or Do Without! :)

And how awesome is this! Sew, Mama, Sew is hosting a WHOLE MONTH of gift ideas for the whole month of Novemeber!!! There is a new one EVERY DAY! Check it out daily so you don't miss a single one!

And for the men out there to make for their wife:
IS this ironing table just the CUTEST! LOVE how simple yet elegant and SMART this is! Directions how to make it are there and I just MIGHT have to do this! I see tables this size all the time at garage sales!

And a simple yet practical idea I know I would love and just might make my girls this year (although it really is more for me):
how to keep kids from fighting over whose cup is whose or whose towel is whose.

I have not gotten around to reading Making Home in quite a while. But she always has GREAT posts when I do! And then I kick myself for not keeping up (and wondering what great stuff I missed!) LOL! :D Anyways, she is preggers! So go wish her a CONGRATS and pray for that precious baby growing inside her!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Do You Know Mommy?

It is frustrating to know how unbehaved my girls were during all that was going on with JJ and me in the hospital. I know that some people will say that it was hard on them and so on and so forth, so it is understandable.

But is it? Is it really understandable?

Not to me.

I truly feel that if I had done a better job raising the girls...if they had their faith rooted in Jesus at this early age (and yes, I do believe it is possible, Samuel heard and obeyed the voice of God at the age of three)...then no matter the circumstances, they would be well behaved. They would know and understand that they are doing and being for the Lord, and not for Momma and not for them selves.

Since coming to this grim realization, and realizing just how SHORT life can be (I am still amazed that God allowed my son to live when so many others with the same thing die), I have really changed how I talk with my girls about Jesus.

I know that they know about Jesus. I know they know the stories from the Bible. I know they know that being good doesn't get you into heaven, only by faith.

But I have come to the realization that my children do not know their need for a Savior. They know Jesus is the only way to heaven. But they don't KNOW Jesus.

So how to explain that to a 7yr, 5yr and 4 yr? How to explain their need for a personal relationship with Jesus? How to explain that they need to KNOW Jesus, not just know about Him?

My husband and I sat the girls down and I asked them if they knew me. Do you know Mommy's favorite color? What is Mommy's favorite food? What things does Mommy like to do? The kind of questions you would ask someone you were interested in getting to know better. They knew the answers. We then explained that there are things about Mommy they do not know about. How many pillows does Mommy like to sleep with? Who is her favorite actor? What is her favorite book (of course they answered the Bible, but OTHER than the Bible...)? What does Mommy want most for you? Answers they did not know.

How can you get to know Mommy better? By spending more time with her and talking with her.

You need to know God in the same way. You need to know God better than you know Mommy or Daddy. You need to know who He is and what He wants for you. And how can you get to know God better? By spending time with Him in His word. By talking/praying to Him and then remembering to wait on Him and listen. And the more you obey, the stronger His voice will be. You need to make Jesus your friend.

In just the few days of observation in my children since our conversation, I have started to notice some changes in them. They are still not to the point I want them to be, or that I know God would have them be. But slowly but surely, I am seeing progress!

I am so thankful that I came to this realization now instead of later. I thought I was doing the right thing by teaching them about Jesus. But in doing that, I left out a most important element, which is just as important. Teaching them to KNOW Him.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Friday's Fun: Thanksgiving - Hours of Thanks

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, and it being a holiday that never seems to get the recognition it deserves, I would like to take my Friday Fun's and share some Thanksgiving fun you can have with your family.

Hours of Thanks (from Quiet Times with Active Preschoolers)

Make a clock face with movable hands and write something that you are thankful for beside each hour of the day.
Then see if you and our child can remember to stop and pray a prayer of thanks during each hour of Thanksgiving Day.
Move the clock hands to show you have prayed.

My thoughts: If the child cannot read, you can draw or have the child draw a picture at each hour. They can also cut out pictures from old books/magazines and glue at each hour. It also might be a nice idea to prayer EVERY day of the month (not just Thanksgiving day). It would be a good habit to get into.

There are LOTS of verses in the Bible about giving thanks. Choose one to put in the middle of your clock and memorize it. If you wish, make a new clock each week with a new verse in the middle to memorize. :D

Another variation is to cut out pictures of friends and family and put one at each hour. Then pray for that family member/friend at that hour. It can help your children remember Grandma and other family members if you are unable to be together. AND if you are gathering for Thanksgiving day, it can help to get the child familiar with them again after being apart for so long.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

More Aprons!

CHECK OUT THESE GREAT APRON PATTERNS! I just love the Bloomin Apron Pattern! TOO CUTE! LOVE that there is a size for Mommy, daughter and the 18" doll! I need to get my hands on this pattern! LOL!!! Anyone know of similar free patterns online for something vintage shabby chic? For me specifically, but it would also be fun to find one for the doll for my daughter's dolls.

Creativity Birthed

Being a family that watches as little TV as possible has produced GREAT results in our family. There are LOTS of studies out there about the BENEFITS of children (especially young children) NOT watching TV.

Here are just a FEW of the things we would have missed out on had our children been watching TV.

It is a two day drive to visit family. We have frequently been asked why we don't get a van with a DVD player in it. My question is always WHY get one WITH a DVD player? LOL!!! So our oldest, who a the time was 6yr, had drawn a map from our house to Grandma's house! The map had all the places we had stopped (to eat, the hotel) as well as the places that meant something to her (the hills, the cows in the pasture, the little red farm, etc.). We would have missed out on that had she been immersed in a movie instead of God's creation.

And just now we are in the middle of "finish that picture!" It started with a Magna Doodle and some "bored" kids. EE (5yr) drew half of a picture (a face) and asked me to finish drawing the picture. I did and then I drew half a butterfly and she finished the rest. This went back and forth a few times and then I drew two circles and had her finish the picture. Then AA (7yr) got involved. We all took turns drawing a bit of something (mostly shapes like a boat or circles for a flower, etc.) and having the other person finish it. Then EE (who has always been my most artistic one) drew a few scribbles for someone to finish. I LOVE IT!! So now we are finding "pictures" in each others scribbles!!

Oh how I love their creativity!!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What We Are Up To

Thank you for the prayers for my family. They got back safely (hence my reason for not posting - enjoying every moment with them). :)

HOWEVER, we are ALL sick (the girls got sick the day before they got home). It is a bit of a struggle trying to keep up with JJ's new schedule (especially while both he and I are sick), doctor appointments and therapy appointments and care for the girls.

I am trying to make new items for my etsy store in order to offset the cost of the hospital stay. We have been very blessed up until this point to only be in debt to the mortgage. We want to get the hospital bill paid off ASAP so as not to be in debt to it. Keep your eyes on this blog for updates to the store. I have some really neat ideas, just need to find the time to implement them.

I have also learned through this trial with JJ, that I really need to include my children even MORE in what I do all day. They have a few chores, but we should be doing so much MORE together than we are or have been. And I really need to limit my time on the computer.

And because I blog to record my journey of faith for myself and my girls, as well as record cool things I want to remember and be able to find - like the fun craft I know I saw the other day - I will continue to blog daily. BUT, I will not be able to read all the blogs that I used to read. I will miss them! I have picked a small handful that I will continue to read (as time allows) as I have developed close friendships and have also learned SO MUCH from. Creating a post does not take nearly as much time as reading all of the blogs I love! LOL!!

Edited to add: I FOUND THE CRAFT! This site is not Christian, and right now, near Halloween has some stuff that might offend some Christians who do not partake in Halloween, so I am simply putting that warning out here. But just skip over those posts for all the GREAT ideas on there. We are doing this craft later this week! You can also do it for Christmas or any holiday! We have some pretty leaf cutters that we will be using. I also bought some black acrylic paint to do this!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

All I Want and Need

This video is so powerful and so relevant to my life right now. I will warn you to watch it before you allow your children to watch it (especially REALLY young children). There is one part that might not be appropriate for them (but then again, maybe I am being over protective of my kids). I will leave that up to you. It is kind of slow in the beginning, but wait for the end. WOW!



HT: Nancy

Edited to add: Lest anyone think I was referring to the desperate act near the end, I am not. I am referring to the feeling of having to fight to get back to God. So many things in my life had been keeping me from Him.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Life and Death

Thank you again to all of you who have prayed (and continue to pray). It has been a fun adjustment being home alone with JJ. I miss the noise from my girls. I miss their giggles and just every day talking and sharing.

JJ is doing OK. He did not eat hardly at all on Wednesday, ate just a bit more on Thursday, but not nearly what he should, and so far today he is making up for the past two days! LOL! He is sick (runny nose - greenish yellow) and might have a cold. I too am sick. Migraine (which I usually never have), sore throat, whole body aches... And I found out this morning that AA feels the same. They should be leaving TX soon, so please pray for a safe trip for them, for no one to be sick, and for AA to feel better soon.

When a baby is born, they all come with something. It is called a birth certificate. But I think a more appropriate term is a death certificate. What woman can continue to be focused on her self when she has a new little baby to care for? And the care never stops. For a mom never stops caring.

It amazes me how some people/friends (all here in person, no one over the computer yet) have commented that they could not have gone through what I went through with baby JJ. Staying in the hospital and not getting any fresh air. Being with him every moment. Sleeping in a most uncomfortable chair with him on me. I cannot understand how a mom could NOT do those things. When you become a mom, you learn to die to yourself. We are called to do this anyway, but there is something about giving birth to your own child that speeds up that process. ;)

I stayed in the hospital, being with him every moment, because JJ needed me. I wanted to make sure that he got the right meds at the right time (you would be amazed with how many different nurses you have to care for your child who don't always read or understand what was written about the care of your child - but the mom who stays and hears what the doctors say KNOWS). I cannot tell you how many times I prevented an overdose or the wrong meds or helped prevent another unnecessary blood draw on a baby who has been pricked and poked more times in one month than should ever be needed in a lifetime. And even though the nurses are nice, and there is a play room (only open when there was a volunteer - which is NOT as often as you would think or like when you are STUCK in the hospital), it is still a very scary and stressful environment for a child of ANY age, much less a baby of seventeen months.

I slept in the uncomfy chair because I was thankful for anything to be able to sleep on to be close to JJ. And the reason he slept on me was so I could know the second anything went wrong. If he stopped breathing...if he tried to pull out his feeding tube (which thankfully I caught very quickly - he is a good boy and did NOT try to pull it out ever, BUT he did rub his nose and his finger got caught inside - he was asleep on me when it happened and if I had not caught it, it would have meant pulling that tube and putting in another one along with x-rays to make sure it was in his guy in the right place)...if anything were to go wrong. And the way JJ held on to me, hugging me so close throughout the night, reassured me that I was doing what was right for him - what JJ needed.

And I find it frustrating at how easily I can die to myself for my kids (especially when life and death are involved), but have trouble dying to self for others. Or for the Lord (Lord, why can't I spend more time scrapbooking or reading blogs? I can read Your Word later. - which of course I usually forget to do when I spend so much time scrapping or reading blogs). And yes, sometimes even for the kids when they are all healthy and doing really well (why can't I finish reading this book in peace?). LOL! I am sure we have all been there. Something for the Lord to continue to work on me I guess.

Hello, my name is Paula and I am a work of God in progress.

I hope I have not discouraged anyone from the wonderful blessing of being a mother. But I know that it has really helped me to realize the JOY in dying to self as a mother of my children - how much closer I am knitted to my children and the Lord as a result. Am I tired, yes. Exhausted. Is my body sore, yes. Would I do it all over again, in a heartbeat! (But I hope that I never have to again - healthy children from now on OK Lord?) :D

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Update from Mommy - WE ARE HOME!!!

It is so good to be home! You have such a greater appreciation of everything. Of course the mind races to all the things to do DIFFERENTLY now that the church has come and cleaned your home and you want to keep it that way! :)

JJ went from being 16 pounds at 16 months to 17 months and 19 pounds 10 ounces! WOOHOO! God is so good and so wonderfully amazing! It is only in hindsight that I can look back and see God's hand on baby JJ.

He is doing wonderfully and so happy to be home. Daddy and sisters do not come back until Saturday night. They have been blessed to be able to stay with family. Please pray safe driving for them Friday and Saturday.

I think through this all, the one main thing I am taking away from it is to pray for God's will and God's best for my family. In the hospital, it was so easy to pray for them to take the tube out when he was getting an infection (common when a tube is in for as long as his was in). It was easy to pray for us to be let out to go home TODAY instead of when they want to release him. But maybe JJ needed that tube in for one more day to help him completely stop ruminating. And maybe by being in the hospital one more day we were able to encourage a single mother whose baby was also having feeding issues. Maybe Jesus will touch her heart by a seed we planted because we were in the hospital one more day. :)

I know it is hard to just trust God and pray for His best and His will because more often than not we know that is not our will or what we think is best for us. But after seeing God's miraculous hand on JJ, it is a bit easier, taking it day by day and moment by moment, to pray God's will and God's best and just trust in Him.

Thank you to everyone for ALL their prayers!! And now I am off to enjoy being home with my son! PRAISE BE TO GOD!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Update from Daddy

In drivers education class, the teacher emphasized that most accidents happen within the final stretch of coming home. Anytime I travel back home after a long time away, I find myself so excited with anticipation or so tired from the long journey within that final five mile stretch that I have to remind myself of the risks; There's a greater need to keep alert and ready.

Hebrews 12 and Galatians 5 talks about our journey to Christ in faith being a race. If accidents and carelessness happen so often near the end of the race then it becomes a greater need to pray, seek and listen to God. It's easy to be broken at the beginning of a long and arduous trial, but not so easy when there's a hopeful and near end in sight. We're hopeful and excited, but still exhausted and easily overcome or tripped if we're not careful.

It's hopeful that Paula and JJ may come home this week - possibly even today! But that means we need more prayer. Pray that God's will is orchestrated through these doctors.

We know what we want, but aren't certain of what God wants specifically related to the days ahead and JJ's release. We do know, however, that whatever God's will is - it's ultimately the best for all of us, even when (and most often when) we don't understand it.

New problems have come up which require prayer in addition to the hopeful return home.

JJ has been tolerating a feeding tube through his nose for nearly a month. He's now suffering from nose bleeds there. He's doing well in the hospital, but RSV season is approaching and we fear that if he's there much longer that he will contract that disease. He can't advance as quickly in his therapy at the hospital as he could at home because we have better equipment and accessibility to more equipment at home.

Any parent who has sacrificed and suffered as Paula has understands the needs. On her own she's completely exhausted and drained. Please pray that what has been drained is filled up with the LORD's Spirit.

If what we have endured and learned over this past month doesn't come to a finish that glorifies God then it would have all been in vain.

We need physical and emotional strength to endure, strength of character to overcome, strength in faith to wait on God and love Him more no matter what. We need healing for JJ; a strong appetite and stomach for JJ to keep good amounts of food in his system today and for the years to come, a quick healing from the feeding tube in his nose (and hopefully removal of the tube today). We want Paula and JJ to come home as soon as possible - again, this all depends on God's will and we'd rather subject ourselves to that than to our own desires.

Thanks again and stay tuned. There should be some more news in the next few days ahead.

-Bri

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Update from the Momma

Dear Friends,

I have finally gotten another chance to get home for just a short while (shaving those armpits and all). :D

JJ has amazed all the doctors with his growth. Of course the doctor who diagnosed him knew that once his stomach was bypassed he would grow.

JJ now has speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, feeding therapy and behavior/developmental therapy. WHEW! They are all amazed at how well JJ is doing considering how small he is! They are amazed and GLAD that I taught him sign language (he now has 12 words he can sign and is able to sign complete sentences). He is "cruising" - walking from place to place but still holding onto things. They have a LOT of hope because of all that I had done with him previously at home, that once he gets enough nutrition in his body that he will be walking and RUNNING on his own.

The stay in the hospital though is about to get tough. We have been there so long that JJ is now starting to seem depressed. He is also not sleeping at all during the night, and hardly at all during the day. He toss and turns. No sleep for JJ means no sleep for Momma. I am SO THANKFUL to my friends and church who have brought meals, made phone calls and even visits. JJ and I really perk up during those visits!

It is also about to get tough because they are about to introduce the foods that JJ has been throwing up (which I assumed he might be allergic to) back into his diet. His blood allergy test came back and he is not allergic to as many foods as previously thought. So now, while in the hospital, they are going to be introducing those foods he threw up, but is not allergic to, to figure out WHY he is throwing them up. No Momma likes to see their little baby throw up. PLEASE pray the doctors get a QUICK answer and if it truly is harmful to his body, that they stop. Even though the allergy test said he was not allergic, he may still be intolerant.

This Thursday/Friday they are going to stop doing the feeding tube 24/7 and just do the tube at night. During the day he will be eating and drinking as he would at home. IF HE DOES WELL WITH THAT, then we can come home. PLEASE continue to pray. He needs to do well.

It really is a scary thought to think that all this time (from 4 months on - he is now 17 months) that we could have lost him. He could have died from starvation or from choking on the rumination. I am so thankful to God that he is still with us. I know that God must have a VERY special plan for JJ and am so thankful that we found out about this now rather than later. God is so very VERY good.

Thank you to ALL of you for your prayers. I have read all the comments (though I do not have time to respond personally). Also, if you know the phone number to the house, the message has changed with a way to get in contact with us.

Thank you again for your prayers. And thank to my WONDERFUL DH for keeping you updated and for posting the picture. I am truly blessed beyond measure!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Update From DH

Paula and JJ have been doing better. JJ is starting to gain weight at a very good rate (two to three times faster than the minimum that the doctors said they were hoping for).

He has begun mouth feedings to suppliment the tube feeds. Please pray that all food stays down and is digested well. His little body needs to grow in length, weight and head circumference. I'm also praying that his brain and organs stay strong and healthy during the jolted body growth and especially that whatever this is that has turned his system topsy-turvey will be completely and permanently healed.

Paula and JJ are currently scheduled to be released from the hospital in two weeks. Please pray that he does so well with all his feedings that they are able to be released even sooner.

Thank you all for your prayers and support. We still have a long road ahead of us even beyond these next two weeks, so please keep praying and keeping in touch. I have another heartfelt thanks to our geographically close friends and church who have really stepped up to help make Paula's long term stay in the hospital more tollerable by bringing her food and company. The picture was graciously provided by the Hanyok family.

God Bless,
-Bri