Thursday, January 26, 2012

$25 Sam's Club Giftcard Giveaway

I am happy to share with you two great offers from Sam's Club! First off:

From February 1–29, 2012, you can get a $10 Sam’s Club Gift Card when you purchase any two of the following baby items at Sam’s Club:

Pampers® Swaddlers® or Pampers Cruisers® Diapers
• Pampers SoftCare Scented Baby Wipes
Similac® Advance® Powder or Similac Sensitive® Powder
Dreft® Liquid Laundry Detergent

So stock up on your baby basics today and save even more at Sam’s Club!

For more offer details, visit Online request must be submitted by March 14, 2012.

And, my personal favorite: free groceries/supplies from Sam's!

One lucky blog follower will win $25 in Sam’s Club Gift Cards

To enter, become a follower of my blog and leave me a comment telling me one money-saving idea.

For additional entries (please leave a separate comment for each):
• Become a fan on Of Such is the Kingdom's Facebookpage--Double wammy: once I have 100 followers there, I'm giving away these nine cool date night gifts!
• Follow me on Twitter: yeah, I'm new at this but find me at KingdomOlivia.
• Tweet, blog, Facebook, etc. this giveaway (comment once for each). Hey, you can even get an extra entry for pinning this! Just leave me a comment that you have. 

The winner will be drawn on Friday, February 3 by and will be announced on a blog post that same day. U.S. residents only.

Happy shopping! and Happy winning!
p.s. Maybe I should be buying diapers to get ready for our new child???! Maybe, "If you buy them, he (or she) will come..." 
six word saturday

The Sam´s Club Gift Card and information have been provided by Sam´s Club and P&G through MyBlogSpark.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fashion Olivia

Remember back in the day when I used to do a fashion post every now and then? I did it partly because there is kind of a fear among mommas about posting their own pictures on their blogs. I don't know if I did it to stand up to that fear in general or to beat it in my own head or both, but I do think fashion is kind of fun. So here's a bit of what I've been wearing lately:
dress: from the hubby in our first years of marriage, boots: old, belt: ???
hair: yes, there's a sock in there! Thank you pinterest for a lovely idea to make my hair look big in a bun. It's a bit hard to just write it out, but what you do is 1. put your hair in a ponytail. 2. cut the toe out of a sock and slide the sock over your pony tail. 3. starting at the end of the sock and your pony tail, roll the sock outwards being sure to roll your hair with it. And really, that's all you do. It stays without any pins or anything. Pretty cool.
dress: another one my hubby bought me--from the Limited this Christmas, boots: same old ones
necklace and bracelet: Charming Charlie (thanks Abby!)
hair: a little gel, a little scrunching, and a little drying on low and wow, it's frizzy and curly!
Emery Jo, this one's for you! When invited to a Roaring 20's party, I tried putting my headband over my hair styled straight, but that just made me look like a hippy. So I just scrunched all my hair up and rolled it up over the back of the headband. And voila! short hair.
lace blouse: Kohl's, black skirt: old from Walmart, shoes: Naturalizer ($8 on DSW's sale rack)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Open My Hands

I've announced this here, but you're going to hear more and more and more about it (if you keep reading):
Our family is adopting.
We feel the call to adopt domestically.
For many communities, adoption is kind of radical, considered only for the super-parents among us.
Well, just for the record, we're not super parents.
But in our community, adoption has become almost normal lately. There are five families in the adoption process right now at our church and others are thinking about joining us.
Most of those families are adopting from Haiti or Uganda or China, so a domestic adoption almost seems tame compared to that!
But all of that is just randomness. What I really want to say today about adoption applies to all of life really.
This past weekend I had a minor breakdown because of the timing issue in adoption. It's soon to never, they say, and that really sent me for a loop this weekend. I was arguing with God, "But I feel called to adoption NOW, Lord."
And I'm not afraid that He's not in control or that He doesn't know what's best or that ultimately He's not a good God.
I'm afraid of the waiting! I'm afraid of the trials we might be called to go through to be sanctified and/or to show others how God comforts us through trial.
I worked myself into a crying mess, really.
And then I was invited to speak about the PRC I work with on Sanctity of Life Sunday at a church just down the road from us. My little talk went well, and guess what (surprise, surprise!) the pastor spoke exactly the words I needed to hear. First there was this song that nearly undid me:

I Asked The Lord
1. I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith and love and every grace
Might more of His salvation know
And seek more earnestly His face

2. Twas He who taught me thus to pray
And He I trust has answered prayer
But it has been in such a way
As almost drove me to despair

3. I hoped that in some favored hour
At once He'd answer my request
And by His love's constraining power
Subdue my sins and give me rest

4. Instead of this He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart
And let the angry powers of Hell
Assault my soul in every part

5. Yea more with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Cast out my feelings, laid me low

6. Lord why is this, I trembling cried
Wilt Thou pursue thy worm to death?
"Tis in this way" The Lord replied
"I answer prayer for grace and faith"

7. "These inward trials I employ
From self and pride to set thee free
And break thy schemes of earthly joy
That thou mayest seek thy all in me."
If you didn't actually read it, please back up and do. John Newton wrote it, 
but I can tell you that I know exactly what he was feeling when he did so!
What the pastor said, and what I really needed to hear, is that we often have 
our own version of the future and when God doesn't go along with that version, 
we get moody, depressed, and yes, even angry with Him.
I have so done that about this adoption.
I have a version of a little four month process that ends happily and easily with a 
successful adoption. And this past weekend I realized that God's version of the 
future might very well be completely different. And after I heard that sermon on
Sunday, I find that I am feeling very called that during this wait,this "soon to never"
wait, my song should not be, "Why, God?" or "Look how beaten down I am
in this sore trial!"
My song should be "O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus" and 
"Open My Hands"
by Sara Groves
I believe in a blessing I don't understand
I’ve seen rain fall on wicked and the just
Rain is no measure of his faithfulness
He withholds no good thing from us
No good thing from us, no good thing from us

I believe in a peace that flows deeper than pain

That broken find healing in love

Pain is no measure of his faithfulness
He withholds no good thing from us
No good thing from us, no good thing from us

I will open my hands, will open my heart

I will open my hands, will open my heart

I am nodding my head an emphatic yes
To all that You have for me

I believe in a fountain that will never dry

Though I've thirsted and didn't have enough

Thirst is no measure of his faithfulness
He withholds no good thing from us
No good thing from us, no good thing from us

I will open my hands, will open my heart

I will open my hands, will open my heart

I am nodding my head an emphatic yes
To all that You have for me

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Tomorrow is Sanctity of Life Sunday

Sanctity of Life Sunday is a memorial of the decision to make abortion legal in the Roe vs. Wade court case. We do not remember so that we can accuse or hate but so that we can mourn with and share the hope of Jesus Christ with those who mourn lost babies. And so that we celebrate the importance and holiness of life.
I will be speaking at a local church this Sunday on behalf of the pregnancy resource center where I am a board member. Here is (roughly) what I will share:
Imagine that you are a sixteen year old girl. You had a boyfriend who you were sure loved you, but he has since moved on to other girls, and
you find that you are pregnant.
Your mother encourages an abortion. Your friends make snide remarks and tell about how easy abortion is.
The former boyfriend threatens you if you don’t.
Perhaps even your doctor says that with a small ten-minute procedure your pregnancy can be over.
You're scared, you're vulnerable and you have no one to turn to.

This and many other scenarios are behind the girls who walk through the door at Choices Pregnancy Resource Center.

On the week of January 2-6, 40 girls walked through the doors at our two locations. They found sympathetic ears willing to listen. They were able to take a free pregnancy test and receive confidential, Biblical counseling.

Out of those 40, 18 received a positive on their pregnancy test. And the number of those who will probably carry and parent their baby? One. 

Many people assume that abortion is yesterday's issue. Or maybe since our city has no abortion clinic, we get a little lax in our prayers and actions for this issue.
But this IS today’s issue. The same God who is father to the fatherless and defender of widows also forms each baby in the womb!

Nationally there are over 1.2 million babies aborted each year. And our state accounts for 39,820 of those. That number is so astronomical—39,820 babies in one year.

90% of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted and
40% of women ages 18-40 have had an abortion, half of these women have had more than one.

Almost all abortions are done as a means of birth control. Only a very small portion are performed because of rape or incest, fetal abnormalities or a risk to the mother. 

Choices Pregnancy Resource Center is there to help the mother in crisis in any way they can.

The choices we represent are:

Parenting—raising a child
Adoption—this is the most difficult for many girls to make
Abortion—sold as a solution by the media, but really just adds to the problems with a life-time of emotional aftermath

Along with presenting the options, Choices also---

**Gives out maternity clothes, baby clothes, and baby equipment. 

**Offers post-abortion counseling, a 24 hour hotline, childbirth classes, and ultrasounds.

Many girls who are set on an abortion change their minds completely after those ultrasounds, by the way. It is a great blessing to be able to offer that ministry.

**Gives out std information and referrals for medical care, social services, and legal assistance.

 I am on the board at Choices, but the main way I am most involved is by teaching an "ABCs of Baby Care" class to those moms who have chosen to carry and parent. We build relationships with them, pray over them and pass on information about parenting their babies.

Please join us by praying for all pregnancy resource centers!

*Pray for the girls who are discovering they are pregnant.

**Pray that adoption would become a more positive word in the field of crisis pregnancies—many girls would much rather abort than consider adoption.

**Pray for the girls who make ultrasound appointments to keep those appointments!

**Pray for the staff to have the right words to speak at the right time—to be gentle and bold with each girl who walks in.

**Pray for the babies who are born to these young moms.

**Pray for the board members to make wise and Spirit-filled decisions.

**Pray for the funds to keep our doors open and all our services running.

**Pray for awareness and an end to abortion.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Momma Daughter Date

We made our own cake in a mug.
(Something like this)
The oldest chose all our foods:
Ramen noodles, croissants, and pomegranate juice.
We watched Soul Surfer, a movie the oldest got for Christmas that she has been waiting (and waiting) to watch. I highly recommend the movie. My only hesitation is all the bikinis--and even that was pretty mild for what it could have been...
After the movie we did a little hair and nails.
And then visited a local vintage clothing store we've both been wanting to see.
It was a great mother-daughter date, and I hope there are many more to come!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

10 Healthy Kid-friendly Snacks

I don't know about your families, but mine is all about snacks. Basically, if I allowed it, all three children would happily snack themselves through the day and skip meals entirely. Okay, and yes, you got me, so would I. The kids sometimes behave this way though they've never (ahem, okay, only occasionally) been actually allowed to behave this way.
We do have three meals at the table together on most days. But still, when 10am and 3:30pm roll around the kids are eager for a snack. I'm not a complete snack nazi; I do allow the occasional candy bar or cookie--but we try to differentiate between those and snacks by calling anything super sweet (and with little or no nutritional value) a "treat." When my son says he is hungry and then asks for a twizzler, I (hopefully gently) correct him by saying, "Bud, that's a treat, not a snack. It won't help your tummy feel full at all." I hope to be able to help them establish good habits without becoming stressed about always eating healthy.
All of that being said, keeping healthy snacks on hand is quite a challenge. Here's a list of snacks we try to have available for the 10 and 3:30 munchies.
from Costco
1. Dried edamame is a snack we just recently discovered. Since the kids were super hungry when I first offered it, they all took it and enjoyed it. Edamame is soybeans boiled with salt. The dried version is a lot like nuts. They have tons of protein and are sufficiently snacky for the younger set.
2. Whenever possible, I like to have homemade options on hand, and these Easy Granola Bars are still a favorite around here. (seen here and here as well)
3. Muffins, muffins, and muffins! You can do so much with that one little bread. This list includes a fruit/veggie muffin that is very versatile and healthy and applesauce oatmeal muffins that would be great for breakfast or snack. There's another fruit muffin recipe here.

also from Costco
4. Dried fruit and nuts: There are tons of trail mix options out there, from the very, very healthy to the not-so-much. Even with chocolate chips or M&Ms, it's going to be more filling and (at least slightly) more healthy than another sweet snack.
5. Pretzels are our go-to salty, starchy snack. There are so many different kinds of pretzels out there with an amazing range of price. We try different ones in different months. My fave is the honey wheat pretzel sticks. I never thought I liked mixing sweet and salty all that much, but the slight sweetness to these is yummy!

one last Costco find
6. I have to admit that fruit rollups are a favorite of mine, and the more like fruit leather, the better. I highly recommend these homemade fruit leather snacks or these homemade gummies. But if you're cheap and lazy like me, you could also go for the healthified fruit rollup.
7. Do your kids enjoy playing with their food? Make it possible with this Edible Play Dough!
8. Sometimes the kids come and ask for a second snack. If it's far enough away from meal time, I usually give the free reign with the fruits and vegetables drawer in the refrigerator. Baby carrots, chopped sweet peppers, apples, oranges, and pears are usually (And by usually I mean for up to a week after we take a big shopping trip) ready for extra hungry kiddos.
9. And of course there is the wonderful, magic, amazing cheese! My kids are picky about their cheese. They will only eat the mozzarella cheese sticks, but they'll eat cheddar melted on anything (grilled cheese, rollups, etc). When I know that dinner is going to be late or on those rare occasions when we're snacking our way through lunch time, cheese sticks come in quite handy!
10. And to finish off, here's a great list of 22 Healthy Snacks for Kids. Some of them are admittedly only healthyish, but there are some great ideas!
Happy snacking!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Silver Shoes

You might remember that my youngest was an angel. And for some reason I felt like she needed sparkly silver shoes to make her angelic. We looked at several shoe stores while out one day and couldn't find any in her size, so I took the  matter into my own hands, and she's been wearing the result almost daily since. They aren't perfect (not really angelic material, I guess) but she loves them and they were free, so that's a definite plus. 
In the attic we have a gigantic box of old shoes. (GIGANTIC!) Most of them are well worn, but this is the box I go to when I notice the youngest's shoes getting a bit tight. Or when I need a pair of shoes to sparkle-fy.
I cleaned the shoes as best as I could then I:
1. Coated them with tacky glue.
2. Covered the glue with silver glitter.
3. Sprayed the whole thing with spray adhesive.
There may be better ways to keep the glitter from getting everywhere, but I had all this on hand. For the first couple of times she wore the shoes, she still made glitter trails all over the house, but they've settled down now and she only gets glitter on something when she actually rubs her shoe against it (somehow this happens to my dress every Sunday as she wiggles in my lap during church). 

Glitter everywhere! Some people (i.e. the hubby) have a thing about cleaning up glitter, but somehow to me it's a bit like cleaning up magic, and I really don't mind that we still have little sparkles between some of our old floor boards in the kitchen.
And I guess they did make her a bit more angelic for our home Christmas pageant.

five days five ways | feature friday free for all

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cold Weather Boredom Busters

Have an elegant tea party.
(Boys like this too--you'd be surprised!)
Make snowflakes.
Visit an indoor play area.
Play in the snow!
p.s. coat and snow boots required.
Go hiking. 
Visit a transportation museum.

Monday, January 9, 2012

10 Yummy Vegetable Dishes

I've been pinning a lot of vegetables lately, and I thought you guys might like a peek. 

2. Best Baked Broccoli This sounds so easy!

3. Roasted Vegetables with creamy polenta!

4. Broccoli Cauliflower Soup Unfortunately (for me) this one calls for cream cheese--I'll just have to figure out an alternative so that my tummy doesn't hate me!

5. You can regrow your own celery.  We have celery in the fridge right now, and my crafty, gardener of a daughter will love me forever if I let her plant and water it in an indoor pot.

6. Alfredo with Chicken and Vegetables This is on my "try it very soon" list!

7. Chicken Sausage Pasta with Brussel Sprouts The hubby and I recently had a brussel sprouts dish at a party, and I've been craving them ever since. 

8. 15 Vegetable Soup The kids are pretty good about eating soup--I think making one full of yummy veggies is an excellent idea.

9. Vegetables in Pastry There's no recipe at this site, but I found this recipe at allrecipes that might make something similar.

10. Zucchini Lasagna Another one I'm trying soon--who knew that you could make lasagna without lasagna noodles.

Friday, January 6, 2012

What We're Reading and Watching

I am reading The Book of God and loving it! It is a great way to get an overview picture of the Bible as long as you remind yourself that it is a fictional rendering. I love the parts that Wangerin decides to dramatize a bit more. I've always loved Biblical fiction and this is, in my opinion, something in between the normal Biblical fiction and just reading the Bible. There is something about Wangerin's writing that keeps the feel of Scripture.

Right now I'm reading my 8yo and 6yo the first Harry Potter book. We'll probably stop there for now, possibly reading the next one next year. They are enjoying it, though the sensitive 6yo was a bit scared of the ending.

On the advice of some good friends, we've been watching a lot of Phineas and Ferb around here. I have the utmost respect for the creators of a cartoon that can capture both adults and children with equal enthusiasm. I have often discarded the tv as something to be avoided if possible, but I've realized that P and F have brought us closer together as a family! We talk and laugh about certain scenes at dinner. Daddy gets everyone rolling with his Doofenshmirtz impersonations, and I do believe we talk about Candace as much as we talk about any real person! Sometimes our dinner conversations can be adults vs. kids (ever tried to have a serious conversation when the kids are coming up with siren sounds or trying out alliterative phrases at louder and louder increments?) so a common, interesting subject is very welcome!

This is a great read that I'm excited to start. Katie is young, but has much to teach Jesus-followers of every age.

Kisses from Katie reminded me of this book that I read cover to cover in college. I just snagged it off the shelf the other night and read some snippets. These entries are from when Jim and Betty Elliot were in college and just out of it, but the depth and understanding is extraordinary! I love the way their love story is told from his perspective and I learned something valuable about my own husband just by reading a few of his entries. This is a great read!

My oldest's first real Bible had the story of Bethany Hamilton told in it, and since then, the oldest has been fascinated by this girl and her story. For Christmas I got her the movie and the plan is that we will have a Momma and oldest date sometime very soon. We're going to send the others off on play dates and order in food (or make our own together) and watch the movie just the two of us.

I got the last book in the Inheritance Cycle for Christmas, and I'm looking forward to reading all of these books through again. I'm fascinated by the story and by the fact that the author was so young when he started writing them.

I'm looking forward to adding this book to our daily routine. The hubby particularly asked for it when I asked him how we could work daily devotions in with the kids. I think it will be a great motivation to keep up with our readings because it has one for each day of the year.

This is going to be our next read aloud. The oldest got some of this series for Christmas and I'm eager to check them out.
**I'm ending with a blog read because it's my latest online fascination. Ever heard of the Dennings? They have a blog called Discover. Share. Inspire. They are modern nomads--a family of 7 who have no home but spend their days exploring together. They are currently journeying from Alaska to Argentina in a vegetable-powered truck (with a tent on the back). I'm not ready to jump on the bandwagon (hee hee) or anything, but I am very interested in that idea that life is an adventure (see my header). I've enjoyed reading about their adventures.
five days five ways | feature friday free for all

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Visit the Past

One thing that always surprises me about the children is when they beg, beg, beg for stories about our childhood. And they love stories about the hubby's childhood even more than stories about mine.
The hubby has always told them about visiting a certain park repeatedly with his Grandpa as he grew up. It's where his Grandpa taught him to skip rocks.
It's where a love for hiking and nature was encouraged.
And it's where we were able to take a lovely walk with the kids while we were visiting at Christmas.
A few things have changed--
like the old trail now being a paved sidewalk,
but many things haven't.
We wondered at how there could still be flat round rocks just laying about at his old favorite place to skip rocks. Imagine the hundreds, even thousands of rocks that have been skipped here.
The hubby was truly in his element as he taught his oldest two how to hold, throw, and skip rocks over the water. 
And I was in my element as I snapped pics and watched, beaming.
Loving every moment.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

10 Helps for Service and Sacrifice

On Sunday our pastor made a statement that I hope rings in my head all year long. He said, "I can't say it strongly enough. There has been a murder in the church!
Safety and security have slaughtered 
Service and sacrifice!"
He was talking about in the church--the church in the broader sense 
and our church specifically, I'm sure.
He was talking about in the Christian's heart.
In my heart.
I have known this for years--known it and believed it.
(See this post with the rest of this quote:
"Because what they're actually feeling in their heart, I think, is the word of Jesus, which is saying to them, "No, I didn't make you for safety. I made you to go build my kingdom and transform the world.")
And yet I forget to live it. 
I live in my nice house with all my stuff; I even complain about all my stuff! I have my husband coming home each evening; I even complain when he's late! I have my healthy kids; I even complain when they wake up in the night! 
I'm sure you get the picture. My safety and security have bred an ugly ungratefulness.
How do we counteract this? What can I do?
Our pastor gave a few bits of advice woven into the rest of his sermon (on Matthew 10, by the way).
1. Do what you cannot do. Live risky. Ask for the Holy Spirit's power. And all good things come from Him, so all of the following are really part of #1.
2. Start with who you know. This is the hardest thing, isn't it? I can serve and sacrifice right now by lovingly greeting my kiddos when they wake up, making breakfast with joy and spending the day loving them.
3. Give as freely as we have received. Really, could we ever match His generosity? He gave His own Son!
4. Trust that God will provide. This is very easy to say (or type) but it is definitely refer back to #1 for the actual doing.
5. Live this: "Christianity defined is the most dangerous special operation. Someone may well die. Someone already has."
6. Go every day. Disadvantage myself for those who are lost so that they will receive the advantage of the Kingdom and the Gospel.
7. Speak it every day. It may feel a bit corny at first to bring up the Bible often to your children or your husband. It often feels contrived to me. But I believe in Deuteronomy 6. I believe that Scripture is woven beautifully into our lives, so there is beauty in speaking it!
8. Go to work. If I see myself as a contented slave laborer, what won't I be willing to do? And really, if there is any possibility that this would bring me closer to Him here or in heaven, what wouldn't I do for that?!
9. Nothing can stand in the way. Nothing can stop His grace. He is all powerful. I want to live this way, you know? I want to live as a daughter of the King--never ruffled because I know that my Daddy is in control. Fearless, confident and humble.
10. Live simply dependent. I'm going to spend the rest of my life figuring this one out.