Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Boy's Eye For Art

The (4yo) boy picked this ad up a few days ago in the store. He told me a little bit about the colors and the squares in the store, but I was distracted and wondered why he cared to bring the ad home. It didn't take long to figure it out, though, because he went straight for the crayons and paper and began to copy the ad.
Where others might see just stuff on sale, he saw colors and shapes that intrigued him as an artist. If you look closely, you can see that the yellow part does have separate squares and that he filled in between with yellow as well. And look at the right side of his page; he colored each jelly bean in the correct color order.
I shouldn't be so amazed when I see the creator God reflected in my children, but I am, and I love it. May God use my son's gifts for His Kingdom and His glory!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Momma, What is Easter?

"Momma, What is Easter?" This is such a great question, I thought it deserved it's own post on Holy Week. Here is what I might say to my 3yo-6yo if they asked:
Easter is all about the death and resurrection of Jesus. Do you remember what your Sunday School teacher talked about last Sunday? How Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and the people waved palm branches? Why was Jesus going to into Jerusalem? (for the Passover) Jesus was going to Jerusalem for a holiday called Passover. Do you know what the Passover is? Do you remember how long before Jesus was born the Israelites were slaves in Egypt? And God freed them by sending all those horrible plagues? What was the last plague? The last plague was the Angel of Death who took the first born of the Egyptians. But did the first born of the Israelites die? (No, Momma) No, because God told the Israelites what to do to make the Angel of Death "pass over" their houses. So every year in Jesus' time his people celebrated this.
Did all of the people like Jesus? (Not really, Momma) No, they didn't. Some of the rulers of the people wanted to kill Jesus. And do you think he knew this? Yes, he did. He knew that His job was to die for our sins. So he went to Jerusalem where the rulers were.
During that week, one of Jesus's disciples named Judas decided that he would tell the rulers where to find Jesus. The rulers gave Judas some money for doing this. When Jesus went to a garden to pray, the rulers sent their soldiers there to capture him. He went with them willingly. (Remember that Jesus knew he had to die for our sins.)
The rulers tried and tried to find something that Jesus had done wrong, but had Jesus ever sinned? (No, Jesus lived a sinless life.) Finally they found some people to lie about him and then they said that Jesus must die on a cross.
The rulers beat Jesus and put a crown of thorns on his head. Then they made him carry his cross outside the city. They nailed him to the cross. And he died. (Did he really die, Momma?) Yes, he really died. A soldier came around and poked him with a spear to make sure he was dead. Then they took him off the cross and buried him in a tomb. But did he stay dead? (No, Momma)
On the third day, early in the morning, some of the women who loved Jesus came to see where he had been buried. When they got to the tomb, the stone had been rolled away! There was an angel there that said, "Why are you looking for Jesus here? He isn't dead any more!" The women ran and told all of Jesus's friends. Jesus came to his friends and taught them. Forty days later Jesus went up to heaven to be with God, the Father.
So why did Jesus have to die? (Here's how my kids answered:) Because we were sinful and we needed someone to take care of that. Satan said that we have to die because we have sinned, but Jesus said, "No, I will die instead."
This is long, and kids may not want to sit through this at one time, but this is the goal of the story of Easter--to point out the necessity of Christ's death and to celebrate His resurrection.
Long answer to a short question (see comments of "The Garden") but I hope to inspire us all (myself included) to share this story often with our children.
Linked to Tip Jar Tuesday.

Monday, March 29, 2010

More on Easter

I'm still knee-deep in researching how our family can celebrate Easter this year and in the years to come. And of course, I'm sharing what I have found with you!
Christian Easter Crafts for Kids: This site describes itself as having "Christian Bible-based activities and Easter crafts for kids including Easter coloring pages, Easter recipes, Easter poems, background about Easter and the first Passover and more." I especially like the idea of beginning with Passover when explaining Easter to your children.
A Glorious Easter: This is a site full of Easter ideas! There are skits and puppet plays, devotions, object lessons, and crafts, coloring pages and banners, Easter puzzles and games, and more! I especially love these Easter Lilies which we are definitely going to make!
Easter Egg Bread: This bread just looks very fun to make! I'll be making this Easter Egg Bread this week along with the Resurrection Cookies.
I'll definitely be posting more as I find it!
Happy Easter!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I Love Easter

Have I mentioned that I love Easter? We made the Resurrection eggs and we planted the table garden. We've talked about Jesus coming into Jerusalem as the people waved palm branches. I'm excited about all that is coming for us to learn and do together as a family. We want to celebrate our Risen Savior!
Here is another great recipe for Easter time that has the entire story in the ingredients!
At some point in my past I signed up for Sunday School lesson ideas from Mary Kate Warner. This one came the other day, and I think it would be a great activity for my kids. They love to help out in the kitchen, and what better way to learn than by tasting, seeing, touching, hearing, and smelling!

Ingredients:
one cup of whole pecans
one teaspoon of vinegar,
three egg whites
a pinch of salt
one cup of sugar
Preheat the oven to 300 degree Fahrenheit.

Place the pecans into the zip lock baggies, and break them into smaller pieces with the wooden spoon. Explain how Jesus was beaten by the Roman soldiers after he was arrested, and read John 19:1-3.

Next, add the vinegar to the mixing bowl and tell your kids that Jesus was given vinegar to drink while he was on the cross. Read John 19:28-30. Add the egg whites to the bowl, explaining that eggs represent life and how Jesus gave his life to us by reading John 10:10-11.

Now add a pinch of salt to the bowl to represent the tears shed by Jesus' disciples and followers
after his death. Read Luke 23:27.

The next step is to add the sugar while telling the children how the sweetest part of Jesus' story
is that he died because he loves us. To reinforce this notion, read Psalm 34:8 or John 3:16. Let them taste a bit of sugar as well.

Beat the mixture with the mixer on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes. Have your kids take turns beating the mixture until stiff peaks are formed. Next, fold in the pecans and drop by teaspoons onto cookie sheets covered with wax paper. Read Matthew 27:57-60 to explain how each cookie represents the tomb where Jesus' body was laid to rest.

Put the cookies in the oven and close the oven door. Turn the oven off and seal it with tape to
represent the way that Jesus' tomb was sealed off. Read Matthew 27:65-66. Read John
16:20 and 22
to learn about how Jesus' disciples and followers were saddened by the sealing of
his tomb.

The cookies should bake for about 10 minutes. They can stay in the turned off oven for up
to 15 minutes, then should be taken out to cool after that.

As you eat the cookies, which are hollow on the inside to represent the empty tomb after Jesus rose read Matthew 28:1-9. This speaks of Jesus rising from the dead.

Enjoy!

The Garden

"Mercy and truth have met together,
Righteousness and peace have kissed." Psalm 85:10
"Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, "Sit here while I go and pray over there." Mathew 26:36
This garden is inspired by Ann Voskamp's Lenten garden.
You can find more ways to celebrate Easter with your kids here.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

This Is Too Good Not to Share

This is the Scream-free Parenting tip of the day:
"Children are a great comfort in your old age - and they help you reach it faster too." Lionel Kauffman

And here's their counselor's take on it: Before we had kids, we used to dream about a big family, all grown up, coming to visit on Christmas and recounting all of the wonderful times we shared together. Then we had kids and we wondered if we’d ever make it to middle age, let alone old age. From the moment they are born, kids try our patience and they test our mettle. And that’s a good thing.

Because along with the extra gray hair and bulging middle (from all that stress related cortisol), we also gain more maturity and wisdom from our kids – if we let the job do its work on us. Nothing asks more of us than parenting does. We must grow up if we want our kids to. We must admit our weaknesses and work on them if we’d like them to do the same. A tall order, to be sure, but one worth all the gray hair in the world. For when we allow our kids to teach us about ourselves, we can then be as free and joyful as children again. -Hal Runkel, LMFT and author of ScreamFree Parenting

I couldn't agree more! My first daughter's pediatrician once handed out a sheet that gave a few parenting tips. One of the things I remember distinctly was that she said if your child is wining and driving you crazy perhaps you need a nap as much as your child does! Sometimes that is impossible, but the point is, we are learning and growing here too. Our sanctification is as important to God as our child's is. If I can learn this lesson, then I truly will enjoy parenting and my children much more.
Happy Parenting!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Easter

In the past, I have generally celebrated Easter only on Easter weekend. I love the Lent celebrations, but I've never led our family in anything. I really feel that Easter should be more celebrated than Christmas! And yet I continue to let things come right down to Easter weekend.
So here is my public proclamation: the Holy Spirit is telling me to celebrate more this year. Now if I don't, you all can call me on it!
Here are some of the GREAT ideas I've seen around the internet for celebrating in the weeks leading up to Easter Sunday.
Ann Voskamp's Easter Tree is beyond words. This is on my "Someday List." I think my kids will get more out of it if I wait a few years.
More of Ann Voskamp's ideas can be found here and here. She has some great ones, my favorite one being a beautiful mini garden to symbolize waiting and praying with Jesus in the garden. Wow! Another favorite is a link to this website where you can make beautiful butterflies to lead to talk about new life.
There is a great list at Mom Sense of hymns and subjects to learn about during the Easter season.
Another great list of Easter activities is over at Centsable Momma.
Okay, this is definitely one I'm going to try this year. This website has an easy way to make your own Resurrection Eggs.
And another one I'm going to do is make Resurrection Buns. There are two ways to make these here and here.

I would love to know how everyone else is going to celebrate the death and resurrection of our Savior! Happy Easter!

(Edited to Link to Frugal Easter Extravaganza over at Keeping the Kingdom First and Works for me Wednesday at We Are That Family)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Homemade Cleaners and Farmer Boy

In February I visited three different Frugal Friday posts that talked about making homemade cleaners. Since I'm sitting here thinking about Spring cleaning, I thought it would be worth sharing those with you in one post. The only one I've tried so far is the foaming hand soap (that is wonderful in the kid bathroom because it's a lot harder for them to waste!)
And, in case you need a pick-me-up, think about how much less we have to do now than in Laura Ingalls Wilder times:
"Everything in the house was moved, everything was scrubbed and scoured and polished. All the curtains were down, all the feather-beds were outdoors, airing, all the blankets and quilts were washed. From dawn to dark Almanzo was running, pumping water, fetching wood, spreading clean straw on the scrubbed floors and then helping to stretch the carpets over it, and then tacking those edges down again." (And that's just one paragraph from the chapter on house cleaning in Farmer Boy!)
Happy Spring Cleaning! (Or Happy Spring Go-Outside-to-Avoid-Cleaning!)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Map by David Murrow

The Map by David Murrow is an interesting mix of fact and fiction. I have nothing but respect for an author who realizes that important truths can be well conveyed through fiction. What if Madeline L’Engle had just written a nonfiction book about the timelessness of God and His Word? What if Tolkien had written a nonfiction book about how the righteous remnant will conquer the evil horde? There would be huge gap not only in literature but in our understanding of these subjects.

I definitely admire Murrow for whetting a reader’s appetite for truth by couching it in a fast paced adventure novel. The first part of the book is the novel, and it’s worth a read for sure. The second part of the book delves into the truth of “The Map” which is actually an outline of Christ’s work on earth as told by Matthew—a map to manhood. (If you end up skimming the second half, be sure to read Epilogue which adds to the novel part of the book!)

I have to admit I skimmed the how-to-be-a-man part. (Insert wry smile here.) But I did read enough to know that I agree with the author’s overall premise, though I have some doctrinal differences with him. The overall premise is that “feminine qualities” (which is just a broad term that Murrow uses to mean things like submission, communication, family, nurturing, and harmony) are a part of a man’s spiritual journey, but only a part. The other part is to emulate Christ’s strength—His ability to get in a Pharisee’s face when the moment called for it or overturn tables when His anger was righteous. These strong spiritual men, Murrow argues, are lacking from the Christian church.

Murrow seems to be pointing to that idea that I have spoken of several times on this blog—that we modern Christians do everything we can to make Christianity seem safe, harmless, and harmonious. I have argued that this leads to disinterested and rebellious teenagers. Murrow argues that it leads to disinterested and feminized Christian men. We must as a culture admit that sacrifice, discomfort, and all-out war on sin are a definite part of the true Christian life. We must teach that surrender and love and relationships are a necessary part of the Christian’s spiritual journey, but they are not the end! They are the fuel that leads us and spurs us on to building the Kingdom with all the muscle that the Holy Spirit can supply.

So yes, I recommend it--mostly for the men and husbands out there. Read it through the lens of Scripture, read it with an open heart, and then go and use the strength of the Holy Spirit in your own lives!

Linked to Things I Love Thursday (because I love to read and I love to write about reading obviously!)

I was sent a copy of The Map by Booksneeze.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Free is Better than Cheap Again

I am still constantly amazed at the free things that are coming in my mailbox. These last couple of weeks have been great for freebies. This isn't everything, but it's all I could locate for a picture. There have at least been a couple of coupon booklets that I didn't take pictures of.
Above: A full-size bottle of Pantene Nature Fusion Shampoo, Astroglide sample, Kotax pads, Always pad, Burt's Bee's toothpaste, Oil of Olay body wash, and 2 packs of Pop-Tarts. (Sign up at Pop-Tarts Sprinklings and they will send each of your children a free pack of Pop-Tarts when it is their half-Birthday. They also send a card and a banner. Pretty cute.)
Below: overnight pads, Meullers Pasta coupons, Loreal EverPlus Shampoo and Conditioner)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Screamfree Parenting

Recently in my meandering on the internet, I happened upon the Screamfree Parenting website. I liked what I saw, so I signed up for their tip of the day. I planned to be very critical and definitely filter their advice through the lens of Scripture. And I think I have, and they're passing the test. Most of the advice I've read on their emails has been right on and helpful in this very difficult job of parenting.
So here are ten of the tips that I've received and found helpful. The tips consist of a quote and then a counselor's thoughts on that quote. I've summarized those thoughts after the quotes. (Disclaimer: Some of the people they quote have a lot of the exact opposite views from mine, but "all truth is God's truth," and I think the counselor's thoughts are a good take on each quote.)
1. "Television has changed the American child from an irresistible force into an immovable object." Lawrence J. Peter Kids' behavior and energy level can be directly related to the amount of tv they watch.
2. "Human beings are the only creatures that allow their children to come back home."
Bill Cosby Letting your kids be truly gone when they move out for college is a good idea.
3. "Raising kids is part joy and part guerilla warfare. -Ed Asner, U.S. actor (1929- ) Parenting is sometimes warfare. Be both a fearless soldier
and a peace maker.
4. "There can be no happiness if the things we believe in are different than the things that we do." Freya Madeline Stark (British travel writer 1893-1993)
We need to evaluate what we believe about disciplining our kids and act on that--make our actions match our beliefs.
5. "Nothing is so aggravating as calmness." Oscar Wilde When your child picks a fight, the very best thing you can do is stay calm. This also happens to really annoy your child, which can be entertaining.
6. "The more I encourage a child to think for himself, the more he will care what I think." Unknown Teaching our children to think for themselves is difficult (it means we have to stop ourselves from always thinking for them) and very, very important.
7. "Results! Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results. I know several thousand things that won’t work." Thomas Edison (1847-1931) If we try something with our kids and it fails, this is still a learning experience for everyone involved.
8. "Strange new problems are being reported in the growing generations of children whose mothers were always there, driving them around, helping them with their homework – an inability to endure pain or discipline or pursue any self-sustained goal of any sort, a devastating boredom with life." Betty Friedan, U.S. writer (1921 – 2006) We have to be very careful of making our kids' lives too insulated. They need adventure and even danger in order to grow in a healthy way. (Sounds a lot like this post of mine!)
9. "Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first and the lesson later."
Vernon Sanders Law Sometimes we need to let our children fail in order for them to learn a lesson.
10. "A person’s a person, no matter how small." -Dr. Seuss (1904-1991) in Horton Hears a Who
Your child is a person. Sometimes we tend to think of them as objects to be dealt with instead of individual people.
Good words, I think.
Linked with Top Ten Tuesday.

Monday, March 15, 2010

As Your Days, So Shall Your Strength Be

And of Asher he said:

“Asher is most blessed of sons;
Let him be favored by his brothers,
And let him dip his foot in oil.

Your sandals shall be iron and bronze;
As your days, so shall your strength be.

There is no one like the God of Jeshurun,
Who rides the heavens to help you,
And in His excellency on the clouds.

The eternal God is your refuge,
And underneath are the everlasting arms;
Deuteronomy 33:24-27a

This was the passage that our pastor used this Sunday for a charge before a baptism, and I was so caught by the beauty and meaning of the words that I almost missed seeing all the baby and sibling antics in the front.

"As your days, so shall your strength be." Is that not the most wonderful promise for me, a mom? Each day, God will provide me with the strength for that day. He will. He promised, and He never lies.

And then, as if that weren't enough, there is that beautiful "And underneath are the everlasting arms." Wow! What wonderful imagery, and even better, what wonderful truth! He is holding me! And when I need to escape to the bathroom to vent my frustration in the only room in our house with a lock, He is there holding me up with everlasting arms.

Today has been a good day. We had no issues during school time and some of my daughter's friends came over for a class we have royally named, "Castle School." There were no bad accidents, the baby participated meekly as well as she could, and the boy was also very cooperative. We talked about simple machines and did experiments and everyone had fun.

I say all of that to say this: some days I can't write as peacefully about God's strength in me or my security in God's refuge. Somedays I'm too in the middle of things, but I do believe that if I rehearse this truth today, when the going was comparatively easy, that just maybe the Holy Spirit will bring it to mind on the days when the going is not so easy.
And so my prayer for you all, whether a mom or not, is that as your days so would your strength be, and that you would know without a doubt the wonderful refuge of His everlasting arms.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Cheap Momma Entertainment

Aaahh! This is definitely a good 6 hours of entertainment...oh wait, I guess an hour during nap time will have to do.
I love a good Southern Living to skim, then go back and read.
I also love any good book, and I'm not too picky. I'm currently rereading Madeleine L'Engle's Wrinkle in Time series, which is one of the best for fantasy fiction. (I really think she hits on that heavenly idea of being outside of time very well.) Next up will be The Map by David Murrow-- interesting because it is described as "an action thriller [that] transitions into a modern-day parable." (Review to come.)
And the snack? It's the best. Cheese and crackers and grapes and carrots and peppers. Perfect munching food--without too much guilt afterwards.
So if you're feeling stressed, take my "Finer Things" advice: Put the kids away for a nap/rest time, grab a book, a snack, and water and have a cheap siesta!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I Love Birthday Freebies

Who doesn't love birthdays? And who doesn't love free things? Recently I've found two really GREAT lists of free things on your birthdays.
For your birthday enjoyment:



I can't wait 'til someone in our family has a birthday!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

One of My Favorite Pics of My Oldest

Boy this is a walk down memory lane, or memory "tracks" to be exact. Here's my oldest on a walk with her daddy and Grandpa quite a while ago. Before we lived where we do now, we lived in the country near the train tracks. One of our favorite things to do was to walk down to the tracks and see a train come by (and bark at all the dogs along away and moo at the cows, you get the picture.) There is something quite awe-inspiring in being near a train. It's loud and squeaky and it nearly takes your breath away by how large it truly is. Well, on this walk, Daddy and Grandpa decided to take the fun a step further and let the wee one actually walk on the tracks. Her Granna was appalled, her mom laughed (but was secretly glad she was not there), and the picture was saved for posterity's sake. How's that for a "wordless" Wednesday? : )

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Folks, We Have A Winner!

And the winner is...

Thank you to all who commented!
Lisa, I'm sending your info to BlogSpark so they can send you your prize pack!

How to Tweak a Recipe

I hardly ever actually follow a recipe. I'm not sure whether that's bragging or making a confession. It's probably both. This means that sometimes I come up with original creations that taste wonderful and sometimes I come up with original creations that taste...well, not so wonderful. But it's in my genes, so no matter how horribly I mess something up, the next time I look up a recipe, there I go tweaking again.
Let's look at an example. The following recipe is what I found on AllRecipes.com that matches the mood I'm in and basically the ingredients I want to put together. I'm making four dinners at one time: one for the church freezer, two for couples in our church who just had babies, and one
for us.

Pretty straight-forward, I guess. And it meets my requirements of no cream (I'm lactose intolerant); I can handle a little cooked milk, but if I put in sour cream or cream cheese, my tummy is not thanking me, for sure.
So I really won't tweak this one much, but here's what I'll actually end up making tonight:
2 16 oz. boxes of fettuccine pasta, cooked
1 green pepper, chopped fine
10 cloves garlic, diced
4 cups of frozen broccoli, cooked in boiling water for 5 minutes
4 cups bouillon (mix of chicken drippings, water, and bouillon cubes)
1 cup margerine
1 cup flour
2 cups milk
1 cup soy milk
1 cup water
3 8oz. blocks of cheese (mozz, mild cheddar, and sharp cheddar) cubed
salt and ground pepper to taste
I will saute the garlic and green pepper, make the sauce basically like #s 3 and 4 say above then mix everything together.
I'm leaving the chicken out because I'm lazy. I've cooked 2 large chickens, and they look pretty, so I'll just half them and put them in a dish with the broccoli-noodle mixture around them.
Sometimes I use a recipe even more loosely than this, but this gives you the general idea.
And now for one that I didn't need a recipe to make. Yogurt Banana Splits are a favorite snack for my kids and they have endless possibilities. Just split half a banana, pour on some yogurt, and then top it with whatever you have on hand. This particular one has sprinkles and a grape. We've used m&m's, chocolate chips, cookie crumble, granola, and other kinds of candy.
I love a snack that is so win-win. I feel like they are getting nutrition, and they feel like they're getting a treat!
Linked with Tempt My Tummy Tuesday and Tasty Tuesday.

Monday, March 8, 2010

If I had a $100 to blow at Amazon, here's how it might go...

I don't know if I've blogged about this before, but I believe very firmly that one reason that teens get into so much trouble is that our society does not expect anything of them. Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations is right on with that belief. This is a book by two teenage brothers, Alex and Brett Harris, and evidently, they hit teens hard for being the floaters in our society. Way to go, boys! I can't wait to read this one!





I know I've blogged about these before, but they are worth listing here again. These are the Tell Me A Story cards, and they are just that: beautiful pictures meant to spark a story. Have your child choose a few, and then make up a story! What fun these will be (whenever we get them) for me to make up stories for the kiddos and for them to make up stories for me. While I was buying, (since this is hypothetical money anyway) I would go ahead and get the Fairy Tale Mix-Up, Circus Animal's Adventure, and Little Robot's Mission versions of these cards as well.



These alphabet cards look beautiful. I'm thinking that framing a child's initials would make beautiful wall art...maybe a great Christmas present?









My boy is right here with his learning of sounds, and since he loves puzzles, I think this Simple Words Puzzle Pairs would be perfect.



And this is just for my own pleasure. Who can pass up a fiction book about the seven-year old Jesus especially when it is written by a converted popular vampire-thriller author? Christ The Lord Out of Egypt was written by Ann Rice and she has included her testimony at the end of the book. This is definitely high up on my must-read list!



Saturday, March 6, 2010

Six Word Saturday #4

First 6: Going to dance at the YMCA
Second 6: Dance = "celebrating with all my might"!
"David and the whole house of Israel were celebrating with all their might before the LORD, with songs and with harps, lyres, tambourines, sistrums and cymbals." 2 Samuel 6:5
Linked with Six Word Saturday.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Welcome to My Home

As I was vacuuming today, I was talking to myself in my head. Olivia #1: Why am I vacuuming again? Olivia #2: Because you like the house to look nice. Olivia #1: But no one else cares. Olivia #2: Remember this blog post? You could always blog about it. Plus you've been so jealous at how nice your friends' homes look on those realtor sites. (I'm brutally honest with myself sometimes.) Olivia #1: Great idea! I should have thought of that myself.
So here it is: the tour of our house. Welcome and enjoy your peep into each room. Notice that there are many corners and closets hidden. That's because there is junk piled everywhere you can't see. : )
You come in here...after you step over the dog, and hopefully she doesn't come in when I say, "Come in!" (Because I'm talking to you, not the dog.)
The first room to your left is the living room. It has had quite a few additions in the last year. This cabinet (on the far right) was a thrifty purchase to hide all our homeschool stuff. The piano was given to us by a friend this year as well. Besides the cabinet, nothing in the room was purchased by us! The chairs and couch are a hand-me-down from friends and the table was a wedding gift. Wow! It's nice to take stock and see how blessed we are.
Now turn around and you can see the dining room/homeschool room/everyday eating room/craft room. It looks a tad fancified now, but just picture all the crumbs under that table cloth and the broken crayons under the table and you'll get the real idea of the room.
Backtrack to the entryway and turn left to see our kitchen. On the wall to your right is the stove. You can see it in that post because it had just been cleaned. Please don't open it now. Most of the kitchen is original to our 1950s house. All of the cabinets are metal. It's very fun for the kids and magnets. And no, the floor hasn't ever seen a mop. Not since we moved in, anyway.
Now for our hallway of pictures-- All the divided frames on the left are of trips that our family has taken before and after marriage (and one of pics from our wedding). On the right side are the growing up pics of the kids. I don't have the latest ones up, but they are the ones we took at the beach and they'll be up as soon as I can re-size and re-order them from Snapfish. When I blew up the first set to 8 x 10, it cut off the kids' heads. Oops.
First door on the left is the kids' room. All the toys (except for some of the baby doll stuff) are in here, and the oldest two sleep in the bunk.
Next door on the left is the bathroom. When we first looked at this house, I had a sinking feeling when I saw the peach tile. Yes. PEACH. The walls were grey at that time. Changing them to a rich brown helped the peach a bit, I think.
At the end of the hallway is the youngest's room. I take particular pride in this room. It was decorated in sailboats for the boy when we first moved in, and I didn't want to repaint for a girl (or I didn't want to make my hubby repaint) so I decided to pair the blue walls with lots of pink. The curtains are actually shower curtains (Why pay $15 a panel for the curtains when you can pay $10 for a panel that can be cut and stitched by your mother?) I wish I had opened the curtains because there's a marvelous view of a big magnolia out that window, but oh, well. My mother is the wonderfulness behind that quilt, and I painted the big flower pics myself. The flowers hanging over the bed were a gift from my MIL and I love them. They are from Pottery Barn Kids party supplies. All told, the room redo cost me about $200. Sweet.
Come out of the youngest's room and turn to your left and you're in the "Master Suite." It sounds very impressive to call it that instead of just "Momma and Daddy's bedroom." The rugs and window treatments in this room were left by the previous owner (thank goodness!) and I love the peacefulness that this room conveys.
Our small (okay, tiny) bathroom. We are very thankful for it! I was also stymied by the tile color in here. It is kind of a yellow color and the walls were mint green when we moved in. We painted it white and added white accessories.
Now go all the way back through the house to behind the dining room and you'll find the family room. The couches and tables were our Christmas present and the tv cabinet in here is one that the hubby and I bought unfinished and stained the summer before we got married. This is our hanging out room and it's where I sit now to blog.
Thanks for coming over and I hope you come again!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I Love Jewelry

Lately I've found that I love jewelry. I love the fact that larger jewelry is back "in" and that I can be a little bit frivolous and fun with my accessories. I don't have much, but I've noticed myself gravitating toward the stands in the department stores and jewelry sites much more frequently. In fact, I love jewelry so much so that I am willing to shamelessly advertise for any jewelry company if they offer me free jewelry. There. I've admitted it.
The good part of this is, the jewelry at Chunky Bling is not as bad as the name implies. Really, it is quite beautiful. They have interchangeable watches where you can pick the watch face and the beads on the band. They also have the beautiful Swarovski Crystal Rings (pictured above).
Their prices are great--single strand chunky bead bracelets for as low as $8 and double strands (I love that white pearl one) for $15.
"Chunky" is not necessarily a word I would put with jewelry to imply beauty, but this chunky jewelry is beautiful!
While I'm being shameless, I might as well direct you to comment to win a great cereal gift pack here. And, what the hey, I can also admit that I'm blogging while my sweet 1 yo is awake from her nap and singing "Upa upa upa sky" at the top of her lungs while she waits for me to come get her. : )
Chunky Bling is offering a free ring to anyone who will blog about their site. So yes, they are sending me a free ring, but all the opinions in this blog are truly mine.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Couponing Stockpile

Yeah for couponing! As you know, I'm relatively new to this world, and I'm excited to say that I am starting to stockpile. Here's a bit of what I have. Almost all of this food was purchased in the last two months and I'm happy to say that last month we were well within our food budget! We have enough food to last us through this month already (and beyond), and I have weekly money proportioned for the great bogos and too-good-to-pass up coupons. So, again, yeah for couponing! (Stay tuned for the bathroom/household stockpile pic. It's on my to-do list!)
If you are interested in a bit of free stockpiling yourself, head over here and leave a comment for some free cereal vouchers and other cool stuff! Thanks!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

New Giveaway-Whole Grains Awareness Challenge

Well, I have another great giveaway for you! This time it's:
  • 2 VIP coupons for Big G cereal products
  • A breakfast chiller
  • A large cereal mug
  • A tote bag
  • A wipe board for recording whole grain intake
Sound good? It has been for us! We love our mug (which we've used for hot tea and soup as well as cereal) and I'm really loving the breakfast chiller. The spoon and smaller container have been used several times, and the bigger container will be great for many things!
You can take the Whole Grains Challenge here to see how you can eat more whole grains (and how Big G cereals can help.)
So would you like to win all this? If you are a follower of Of Such is the Kingdom:
** just leave a comment telling me how you incorporate whole grains into your diet. (Recipes are definitely welcome!)
** you may leave a second comment describing your idea of a perfect cereal!
This giveaway will end at 9pm March 9th!

(The information, VIP coupons and "Grains of Goodness" prize pack (the coupons, chiller, mug, and tote bag) were all provided by General Mills through MyBlogSpark.)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Entryway and Closet Fix-Up

Now no one can complain that I never post anything bad about myself. Here it is (and it's no secret!) I am a closet junk-aholic. My house is usually very neat, but if you open any closet or any drawer, you are sure to find something like the above--and it usually will spill out! My kitchen drawers have no rhyme or reason and everything is stuffed in haphazardly (this drives my hubby nuts) and every other drawer in the house, well, just beware! I can't even keep my clothes drawers neat despite the unfailingly good model of my husband for these 8 1/2 years.
So when I stumbled upon the 28-Day Organizing Challenge over at Organizing Junkie, I got inspired. You can scroll down and see if you like the results. : )
Here are some questions Org Junkie asked us to answer:

1. What was the hardest part of the challenge for you and were you able to overcome it?

The hardest part of this project was coming up with a WORKING organization since we use these areas constantly.

2. Tell us what kind of changes/habits you have put into place in order for your area/room to maintain its new order?

When the closet was junky, I was only using the top shelf for storage. I moved all of the storage stuff to the attic and am now using that shelf for mine and my hubby's boots--in other words really USING that shelf. This is helpful. I also left an empty basket in the bottom of the closet. That has become the drop box for things that don't really have a home.

3. What did you do with the “stuff” you were able to purge out of your newly organized space?

Most of the stuff that I took out of the closet either went in the trash or the attic. (The attic is my NEXT project.) There was also quite a bit of just regular clothing in the closet that I was able to put where it really goes in our clothing drawers/closets.

4. What creative storage solutions were you able to introduce in order to create additional space as well as establish some limits and boundaries?

The shoe organizers are awesome! (I might even be able to get my hubby to use them!) And I used a lot of nails on the walls of the closet for bags. Part of the problem is that it is a teeny closet and a lot of stuff really belongs there, especially in the winter. The heating/cooling unit is there too, and I put a basket on top of that for boggins and mittens.

5. Why do you think you should win this challenge?

I think I've already won! Look at the awesome spaces I now have (and continue to have--really!) to look at. The piles of junk are gone, and I am HAPPY about that!

Linked to Organizing Junkie's Organizing Challenge!