Thursday, March 31, 2011

Purging the House - Where To Go With Stuff

Bit by bit I've been trying to clear things out of our house that aren't needed or wanted anymore.  First of all, let me say that this has been a big step for me.  It's hard for me to let go of things (I have even hung on to broken toys thinking I'd fix them someday).  But, once I started forcing myself to do it, purging has actually become somewhat enjoyable.

I'm a long way from having a clutter free house.  But, it's my goal that when (and if) the time comes for us to move to a different house, we won't be dragging junk from one place to another but instead moving only cherished and essential items.  Since my husband and I have a 5 year plan of saving and preparing toward purchasing a different home,  I have some time to work on my de-cluttering goal.

The question comes up.  What do I do with the things that I am not keeping?  Do I have a yard sale?  Sell on Craigslist or ebay?  Donate?  

Well,  I've tried a yard sale a couple times and it's always been met with very disappointing results.  We just don't have a very good location.  Also, preparing for a yard sale is a lot of work without, in my experience, a lot of return.  I think my worst yard sale results left me with $5 in pocket and my best, about $20.  Plus, stockpiling stuff to sell at a yard sale always makes my husband a little jittery too.  It bugs him.  And, he will ask me repeatedly if he should just haul it all down to the dumpster at work.

Craigslist and Ebay could give slightly better results from what I hear, but I haven't tried either of those yet.  So, for now, my method of choice is donation.

Here's where my stuff goes.....

1.  Book/ Magazines:  A couple years ago I came across a couple websites that offered free year long trial issues to different magazines.  I went a little nuts signing up for different offers and I ended up getting a ton of magazines in the mail.  They pile up quickly.  I take any old books or magazines to my local library.  They accept donations year round and save them for their annual fund-raising book sale.

2.  Ripped/Stained Clothes:  I did a little research and found out that the Goodwill in my area will accept ripped & stained clothing donations.  They then sell these to a fabric recycling center.  Be careful.   Not every place that takes clothing donations does this.  Some will just toss the items.  Since my goal was for these things not to end up in a landfill, I had to call around to find out who made use of them in this way.

3. Outgrown/ Unworn Clothing:  If clothes are still in good shape, I try to find someone I know who can use them.  My boy clothes are being handed down to my sister who just had her first baby (a boy).  Clothes belonging to myself or my husband I'll either pass on to a friend or donate to Goodwill or ReUzit.
 
4.  Old linens/ towels:  If you have old sheets, blankets, towels, etc. that are frayed and showing wear, many times these are accepted at vet's offices or animal shelters where they can use them as bedding for the animals.  I just dropped off a couple bags of old linens at my vet office and they were thankful for the donation.

5.  Household items/ toys:  These items I usually donate to my local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group for our annual fund-raising auction.  Otherwise they go to my local Goodwill or ReUzit.

6.  Collectibles:  This is the one thing that I might actually turn to Craigslist or Ebay for.  I used to collect (and wear) vintage dresses(in my single years - alas the dresses no longer fit me).  I have about 30 dresses that are circa 1940's - 1960's.  I paid good money for many of these dresses and I'd love to see them go to someone who would truly appreciate them.  For now, they are still taking up valuable closet space (we don't have many closets in our house at all - 2 small ones to be exact).  And, letting go of these pieces is a little more difficult.  They hold sentimental value and represent good times.  I'll probably keep one or two favorite pieces and then bid adieu to the rest.

Sometimes, getting the donations to the different places means extra trips for me.   But, I like the idea of taking them places where they are going to get the best use.

So what do you do with purged items.  Do you sell them?  Donate them?  I'd love to hear.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

When I Grow Up

It used to be I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up. When I was a teenager, you could ask and I didn't need to hesitate. Hands down I knew I wanted to be a wife and a mother. And, until that dream came to fruition I worked with children in any capacity that I could. I got my degree in elementary/ early childhood education and worked in the education field from that point on. (I must note that I did dabble with the idea of studying journalism or literature. Reading & writing were also my passions.)

Fast forward to the present. I am living out my dream of being a wife and mother. And, it consumes my time and energy almost completely. And, I'm glad for it. Tough as it can be some days, this is exactly where I was always meant to be.

I've had some people ask me recently what I'll do when my children are all in school. With a one year old, that's still a number of years away. But, it's a valid question. Some have asked if I'll get back into education. Will I renew my teaching certificate?

Probably not. I think my time for working in that particular field has passed. So, then what?

Well, I know that I want to do something that will still give me the flexibility and ability to be home when my children are home - when they have vacation days, snow days, sick days - I want to be there. Even when my children are teenagers, I want to be there to send them off on the bus and to be there to greet them when they get home. Maybe I'm old-fashioned in that way, but it's important to me and it's what I hope to be able to do.

Something requiring that kind of flexibility would almost have to be a home-based business.

So, I've had a few ideas brewing in my head. I've always had an itch to do something creative. I'm not necessarily a crafty person. But, I do like the idea of creating things - seeing what I can make. I tried drawing and painting for a little bit. But, that's probably not my forte.

Do you know what really gets me excited? Furniture. Whenever I see a piece of furniture I notice right away if it has good bones. And, often I can see it for what it could be.

Like this piece I noticed today on Craigslist.
It's listed as needing some TLC and it does need that. But, can you see how awesome this would be either painted white and distressed or even sanded down and given a beautiful new stain?

Part of me wanted so badly to go get this piece of furniture. My hands were itching to get a hold of it. But, the fact is that right now I don't have the time or energy to put into projects of this nature.

But, someday, I might. And, so the thoughts of having my own trash to treasure type business (I've been inspired too by the ladies at My Dear Trash) are starting to formulate in my mind. It seems like a really appealing idea. Who knows. Maybe I'd get into it and find it too tedious. Maybe I wouldn't enjoy it as much as I think I would.

But, remember when I redid this bench?

It was a $15 yard sale find. It took me well over a year, but when I finally got around to the project and painted it, it now looks like this...


And, I loved seeing that transformation. It gave me such a sense of accomplishment.


So, who knows? Maybe when I grow up, I can do this type of a thing for a 'living'. We'll see.

If you could do any job or start any kind of business, what would be your passion? What do you dream of trying?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Weaning

I'm a little sad. I'm in the process of weaning my youngest son. Sniff.

I've breastfed each of my children and soon I'll be saying good-bye to breastfeeding forever. We don't plan on having any more children. Joseph is our last baby.

My husband is excited about this. He's been urging me to wean Joseph for the last couple months now. He says the boy is more than old enough. I've been dragging my feet.

Yes. Part of me is excited to have all body parts back to myself. Part of me is excited about the idea of sleeping through the night (All my children continued to wake in the middle of the night until they were completely weaned.). After all, it's been 8 years since we were expecting our first child. And, I've either been pregnant or nursing for most of those years.

Yet, it's bittersweet. This will officially signal the end to 'the baby years'. I will miss those cherished, quiet moments that I can share with my child while nursing. And, (on a more vain note) if I'm no longer considered a nursing mother, maybe that means I'm no longer young.

Breastfeeding hasn't always been easy. As a matter of fact it's been downright difficult at times. I seemed to have recurrent issues with mastitis (I was fortunate with Joseph and only had it once while nursing him. With the rest of the boys, it occurred multiple times). There were times when I had terribly sore, cracked (and even bleeding) nipples.

For some people, that would have been good enough reason to stop. But, it was so important to me to nurse my children, I kept going. Call me crazy. But, that's what I decided to do. And, I don't regret it.

So, how long have I nursed each child?

Wyatt - 14 month
Edison - 10 months (I had the most difficulty nursing him. And, I still have some guilt about stopping as early as I did with him. But, I was also dealing with some postpartum depression after his birth and something had to give.)
Charlie - 16 months
Joseph - By the time we are finished weaning he will be 15 months.

We're winding down. This week is supposed to be the final stage of weaning. It's time to move into a new stage of parenting. Ready or not. Here we come.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Lazy

I'm feeling lazy today. I just don't have the motivation to write. So, I have two quick things to leave with you.

1. I mentioned earlier that I'm planning on writing a post on being a good steward of our homes and then Sarah at Clover Lane beat me to it. More or less. She did a post today called, "40 Days Tips and Tricks: House Love". In her post she captured a lot of the same thoughts I've been having. I'll still elaborate on a few of my own thoughts...probably sometime next week. In the meantime, be sure to check out her post.

2. I'm anxious to get started on our garden. But, I'm stuck. Here's why...



Our garden area is filled right now with brush waiting to be burned and wood waiting to be split and piled. Only after that can it be plowed and prepared for planting.

One other note about our garden. It's not actually in our yard. It's in the yard beside us. Our back yard is very small without any tillable areas. It's taken up by the septic system and it's drainage field and a shallow well.

My in-laws own the house next to us and rent it out (It's the house my husband grew up in. And, right now, his sister is actually living there.). It has a large yard and we're able to use it for our gardening. The only inconvenient part is that you can't see our back yard or house from the garden (there's a barn/shed between the 2 properties). So, while I would love to work on my gardening while the younger children are napping, it's just too far from our house & out of earshot and my vision.

3. I've moved into the technological age! I just discovered today that with our new wifi router I can access the web from my Nook (It's like a Kindle. It was a Christmas gift from my brother in law). I'm a little dizzy with this sudden advancement.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Good Stuff

Thanks for bearing with me yesterday and for your words of encouragement. I am so happy to report that today has been a better day...not perfect...but better. My head and my heart are in a better place.

I've noticed a trend in my posting style. When I post something particularly heavy one time I'll usually come back with something much lighter in the next. Have you noticed that? I don't know if that makes me come across as manic-depressive (I'm not). I like to think of it as being more reflective of life...some days are hard, some days are good.

And today I'd like to talk to you about some good stuff. Stuff like....

Friends

- Friends like Brian and Angie who had has over for a delightful meal at their house along with a few other friends. Good fellowship.

- Friends like Matt & Callie. Matt was kind enough to loan us his technological knowledge and was able to set up wifi for us so we can do Netflix instant streaming (we're LOVING it and thinking of dropping Directv). Mr. Matt helps us with all our computer/technology issues. (And he sets us up with some awesome coffee that he's roasted himself). And, Callie is a trusted and dear friend with whom I can share so much. She is a strong woman of faith and prayer. She's creative. And, she's an awesome mom.

- Friends like Russel and Selena. As they are getting ready to move across the country, they surprised me the other day by stopping by with some boxes of toys their boys have outgrown. It was like Christmas as my boys rummaged through the boxes.



They brought us this guy too. Scary looking, but made for boxing/punching practice. Great for using up some small boy energy.

Signs of Spring
Need I say more?


Hydrangea buds

The rhubarb is already making it's appearance!

Buds on our cherry tree

My sweet boys




Ok - We'll include the dog too. She's a good girl. She makes me nutty with her barking sometimes. But, I wouldn't trade her for anything. She is so faithful and so loving.


Moments in time
Not merely temporal - these last into eternity.


Have a blessed day.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Under Attack

Well, today's post is going to be a little heavier than I originally planned. I had wanted to do a post on some thoughts I've been having on being a good steward of the homes that we have. And, I will come back to that. But, today, some other things have pushed to the front of my mind and since writing always helps me sort through my thoughts and often brings me some peace, I'll post on these things today.

There are times that we come under attack. Sometimes we don't realize it and other times it is obvious. Today, I've been feeling like I'm under attack...like my family is under attack. I'm talking about a spiritual attack. I feel like the enemy is doing his best to wear us down.

There have been several things that just keep adding up until it all seems so overwhelming. We haven't suffered any devastating tragedies or life-threatening illnesses (those are the obvious attacks). Instead, bit by bit I feel like he's been trying to chip away at our peace and well-being.

-We've had a difficult winter with colds, flus, and viruses. We are worn down. We are ready for health and strength.
- We're still struggling with some tenant issues. We're ready for resolution.
- My husband's job has demanded a lot of his time and energy over the last few months. He is feeling stressed, frustrated, and discouraged. We're ready for rest.
- Raising boys is hard work. I still struggle to find what is the most effective discipline when discipline is necessary (which some days seems to be often). We're ready for peace.

Then this morning began as many mornings begin...with a bang. As soon as my husband leaves for work (which is early) it seems to be a signal for the boys to wake up and get started. I went from being sound asleep to hearing the 3 oldest boys stomping downstairs like a herd of elephants.

The baby was still asleep and I try every morning to remind the older boys that they have to keep the noise level down so the baby doesn't wake up. "Quiet" isn't a word in boy vocabulary apparently.

There's also the fact that I need time to wake up. It's hard for me to go from being sound asleep to being on full alert. (I've wanted to try to wake before the boys and get my day started before they are up, but it's hard to do when I'm still up at least 3-4 times during the night with the baby or the 3 year old.) When I have to deal with noise first thing in the morning, I get cranky!

Long story short - I reminded the boys multiple times to be quiet. They didn't listen to me. The noise level actually escalated. I got frustrated. They still didn't listen to me. I snapped. It wasn't pretty.

Eventually I got the big two sent off to school. The little two were fed, dressed, and a certain amount of quiet had been achieved and that's when the enemy started in on me...

"Wow Karen. You really blew it again. Your boys don't listen to you at all. You want them to give you respect but how can they respect someone who throws a temper tantrum just like you just did?"

"You know, there are women who balance work and homelife and volunteering and lots of other things and somehow they hold it together. You can't even seem to get a grip on mothering."

"By the way, have you looked around your house lately? Filthy, filthy, filthy. It's no wonder your kids are sick all the time. If you would clean a little better maybe there wouldn't be so many germs floating around."

"And boy, oh boy. What kind of mom are you if you feel a sense of relief when your children leave for school? You should be able to be with them 24/7 and enjoy every moment. They are going to grow up before you know it, and then what?"

"You know you really should be able to do more. Most women do more. When's the last time you volunteered at church or in a ministry? You're really not pulling your weight."

"Speaking of weight. Yours is still pretty out of control. Gluttony is a sin you know and self-control is a virtue. Other women still have fabulous figures after having a lot more kids than you....so that's no excuse. Just another area where you are failing."

"You and John are both exhausted and stressed and what do you have to show for it? You've always said staying home with your kids is the best choice, but then John has to work himself to the bone and what do you have? Look at those people around you with nice homes and nice stuff, and they seem to have much more downtime than you? Are you really living the simple life when you struggle so much?"

"And what would you do if something truly devastating ever did happen? If you can't cope with life now, how would you ever cope then? Can't you see how blessed you are? You should really be more grateful."

And on and on and on.

Little thoughts that keep coming into my mind stealing my joy and stealing my peace.

It's enough!

James 4:7 says, "Submit yourselves, then to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."

Submit to God.

Resist the devil.

He will flee.

We have the advantage. He is the one who has to flee. We are not running from him. I picture this puny, annoying, little pest darting around, poking and jabbing but without any real power. He'll try to get in as many jabs as he can. But if we resist, he has to flee.

Because the Power that we have in us is greater. Our power comes because we are children of the Most High God. Through Him we are strong.

And, today, I was reminded of how great His power is. Psalm 29 says, (emphasis mine)

"The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is majestic.
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;......
The voice of the Lord strikes with flashes of lightning.
The voice of the Lord shakes the desert;.....
The voice of the Lord twists the oaks and strips the forests bare.
And in his temple all cry, 'Glory!'
The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
the Lord is enthroned as King forever.
The Lord gives strength to his people;
the Lord blesses his people with peace."

When I take the time to pray. When I take the time to read His word, I am tapping into that same power described in these verses. That's something the enemy would like me to forget. And, unfortunately, I often do.

But for today, I am claiming this promise for myself,

Isaiah, 51:16.
" I have put my words in your mouth
and covered you with the shadow of my hand -
I who set the heavens in place,
who laid the foundations of the earth,
and who say to Zion, 'You are my people.' "

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

It's Time to Change the Toothbrushes

I feel like just about every other post that I leave either here or on Facebook reads, "We're sick again. We're sick again. We're sick AGAIN!"

Most recently it was me and my hubby. Yesterday we were both knocked down with a sucker punch from the stomach virus that we didn't see coming. There was a lot of laying down on the couch and hoping that the little two could basically fend for themselves. (Therefore, there was a lot of 'Go Diego Go' on the tv as well).

Blech! I'm so over these viruses!

Then my mom had a brilliant idea. I was talking to her on the phone and she asked me if we've changed our toothbrushes.
image found here
Um. No. I hadn't thought of that. But, it makes complete sense! It's time to change the toothbrushes!

Hopefully that along with opening the windows and airing out the house, washing our bedding (again), and liberal sprays of Lysol we might have a chance at conquering this sickness beast. And, prayer! Lots of lots of prayer for healing, wellness, and strength!

Anywho. I really do have other things to write about and I will be back to post.

P.S. - My menu on the sidebar has been sadly neglected. We just haven't felt like eating much and I haven't felt like preparing much. As a matter of fact, last night's dinner was the very fancy meal of a can of Campbell's family size Chicken Noodle soup. It almost felt like cheating by not acutally preparing something and just opening and heating a can of soup. So, here's my question. Do you have any favorite, easy meals that your family eats when folks are feeling under the weather? I'd love some ideas for this week. Thanks!



Thursday, March 17, 2011

Date Night and a Non-Recommendation

A couple weekends ago my parents took the boys Saturday afternoon and kept them until Sunday afternoon. (Thanks Mom and Dad!) I arranged this with them as a belated Christmas present to John. He is awfully hard to buy gifts for. So, I decided this would be my gift to a man who almost never has any downtime (he's a worker my husband). We would have downtime together without the boys.

Can anyone say Date Night??

I will say it was probably one of the best weekends we've both had in a long time. We were so relaxed.

Saturday night we decided to go out to dinner. We went to a restaurant that is actually quite close to us (maybe a 10 minute drive) that we had never tried before. Another blogger, who I discovered lives in the same county as me, recently wrote that her and her husband went there to eat and really enjoyed it. So, we decided to check it out.

Loved it! The atmosphere was so neat - it was Victorian themed but not in a stodgy way; it was actually very cozy. Plus, they seated us in a booth (I love booth seating - very comfy) and GET THIS - it had drapes which swooped back on either side of the opening to the booth. So even though the restaurant was quite busy that night, we still felt like we had our own little private spot.

The food was lovely. The atmosphere was lovely. The conversation was lovely. The fact that my steak came out to the table cold - not less than hot, not lukewarm, COLD - couldn't detract from how much we liked this restaurant. And, of course they were gracious enough to remedy the problem & deducted the cost of our appetizers.

We will go back again for sure.

Then we decided to check out a movie. We haven't been out to see a movie since I can't remember when. We left the restaurant around 8:30 and that is getting late for old me. But, it was date night! We had no restrictions, no time we had to return to our house! We were gonna get wild!

It was a 10 minute drive to the theater and we discovered that the next batch of movies didn't start until 9:30. So, we killed some time by finding a Cold Stone Creamery and sharing an ice cream. Then we headed back to the theater.

There were two movies we were trying to decide between (there weren't a ton of choices unless we wanted to wait until 10:00 - ugh!) . We decided on 'The Adjustment Bureau'. It has Matt Damon in it. We like Matt Damon. And, it seemed like it would be suspenseful and action-packed. We enjoy those types of movies.

image found here

Well folks. Here comes my non-recommendation. First of all, I was out WAY past my bedtime. We were in a dark theater watching a movie that wasn't quite as action-packed as we thought it would be. It was actually a bit slow moving in parts. I fell asleep. Multiple times. I tried really, really hard to stay awake. We spent good money on the tickets and a grotesque, shameful amount of money on the popcorn that I HAD to have. (Yes. I know we just ate dinner. And I know we just ate ice cream. But, I have a thing about movie theater popcorn. I must have it.).

Now, I don't want to spoil the movie for you if you were planning on going to see it. But, remember, I'm non-recommending it to you. So, if you do go see it - well I won't spoil it too much. Let's just say I walked away from the movie disturbed. Here is the very humanistic message I took from the movie. It seemed to say that we humans know what is best for ourselves; better even than the author of life. (While the movie never makes a direct reference to God it's very thinly veiled that the Bureau 'Director' symbolizes God.) The movie seemed to say that the author even changes his mind (repeatedly) and the script for our lives. And, the real heroes of the movie are those who take things into their own hands.

So there you have my two cents. I'm curious if anyone else saw the movie and what thoughts they had.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

It's Here! & Some Tidbits

My blog book arrived this week and I am thrilled with it. I decided I'm going to make a yearly book of my blog posts. So, this particular book is of all the posts from 2010.




I had mentioned that with the number of pages my book ended up being it was a bit pricey. But, was it worth it? I would say 'Absolutely'. I am thrilled to have these posts in print now. The book is part journal/ part scrapbook. Well worth the money spent.

Here's the link if you'd like to check out Blog2Print. Also if you google Blog2Print coupon codes a few links come up. I didn't discover these until after I'd ordered my book, but if you check them out maybe you could save a few bucks?


I also have to share with you that my oldest boy, Wyatt, was chosen as Student of the Month at his school for the month of March. I am so proud of him!

Here he is with his principal & his teacher as they presented the award to him in front of all the 2nd grade classes.

And, here's our family, along with Wyatt's teacher & principal after the award was given. The only one missing from the picture is Edison because he was in his own class.



Also, I said in this post that I'd show you how our version of the 'Pool party' birthday cake turned out....

Not quite as cute as the cake featured in Better Homes & Gardens, but Edison was happy.


And, these are the cupcakes I made for his class. My icing was too runny & I was out of 10x sugar, so it just had to be good enough.



Spring is almost here! Is everyone as excited as me?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Your Church and the Orphans

Kelly, a friend of mine from high school, posted this on her Facebook page today. (And that's her speaking in the video.) She talks about the impact churches across America could have on the orphan crisis across the world.




While the particular informational event she is talking about takes place in Pennsylvania you could also go to Hope For Orphans website where they have additional information. They also list a couple other churches which are hosting one of these workshops (they both appear to be in LA) and there is a way to register your own church for one of the workshops.


Finally, I've only heard this song twice so far on the radio, but I am really loving it.




Have a blessed weekend!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Way It Goes Sometimes & A Birthday

Well, today is Edison's 6th birthday. And, can you believe it? The stomach virus hit our family again this week. Charlie was sick on Tuesday. Then last night Edison and I both got sick.

He was so bummed that I was keeping him home from school today. Granted, the virus hit hard and fast and by this morning we both felt about as good as new. Still, I didn't think they really cared for us to share our germs at the school.

So, I have a sick boy who doesn't seem very sick at home bored. Bored and bummed that he couldn't take his birthday treat to school to today and that we can't have our family over for cake and ice cream as we'd planned tonight.

I was going to show you the cupcakes we made for Edison's class that are now sitting in my refrigerator. And, I was going to show you the cake we decorated for his party at home. But, I can't find the thingy that connects my camera to the computer for downloading.

I guess I'll just show you the picture from Better Homes & Gardens website that gave us the idea for his cake and his school cupcakes.
And, here's the link.

You'll just have to wait for our pics.

In the meantime, if you get a chance, would you post a Happy Birthday comment to Edison? Our day hasn't quite turned out like we planned. His party is postponed now for Saturday. But, I thought it might be a cute surprise for him if I could show him birthday wishes that people left here just for him.

Thanks! Have a great day!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I Did It.

Today I finalized and ordered a book compiling all of my blog posts from last year. If you are on Blogger you may have noticed something on there about Blog2Print. I've been wanting to somehow save all my posts in print form and this was a super easy way to do it.

The only downside? It was a bit pricey. The standard rate was $14.95 for a 20 page book, but they tack on an additional 35 cents for each additional page. And, with over 200 blog posts last year I had a lot of additional pages.

I went ahead an ordered it anyway. When I consider how much money scrapbooking supplies cost (a hobby that has gone by the wayside lately) and how much time it would have consumed for me to try to put something together myself, it seemed worth it.

Have any of you put your blog into the printed form? If so, how have you done it? Did you print it out yourself or did you use a website. If so, which one?

Finally, have you seen these?

I love York Peppermint Patties! And, these are M&M size pieces of that delicious Peppermint Patty flavor. They were available at the discount store where I shop and I had to pick up a bag.

Um. Yum! But, they are a little dangerous too. It doesn't seem like you're eating all that many until you look in the bag and realize half of it is gone. Just to warn 'ya!

Have a blessed day! And, Happy first day of Lent!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Something Different For Lent This Year

Other years as Lent approaches I have felt an urging or a sense about something I should give up that year. One year it was caffeine; another it was chocolate; last year it was sweets & Facebook. But, this year I haven't felt strongly about anything in particular.

So, I've been somewhat perplexed. Do I repeat something I did before for the sake of giving something up? Do I just 'skip' Lent this year? Do I need to pray harder that God would show me what He would have me sacrifice this year?

Then, a Facebook friend posted about Lent and was asking what other people were doing this year. And, she shared this idea... and it's one that resonates with me. She said that she was challenging herself to bless someone else in some way each day of Lent.

40 Days of Blessing Others. I like it. I like it a lot.

These blessings can be small. They don't have to be extravagant. Here are some of the things I've thought of...
  • Cook a my children's favorite meal
  • Do a chore that is normally my husband's (like putting out the trash on trash night)
  • Send a note of encouragement to someone
  • Compliment a stranger
  • Give a waitress a truly generous tip
  • Allow someone in front of me when waiting in a line
  • Visit someone who is lonely
  • Offer to babysit for someone for an hour or two
  • Make a doublebatch meal and take the extra to a friend
  • Smile at someone who is not
  • Make an extra donation to a charity/ministry
  • Put little 'I love you' notes in my children's lunches
Simple things. Things of kindness and thoughtfulness that we should look to do on a regular basis anyway. And, in making small sacrifices of time, effort, and/or money I can bless someone and prepare my heart for Easter.

This year I also am planning to continue something that I heard about for the first time last year - 40 Bags in 40 Days. If you haven't heard of this before, it's a way of helping to purge and clear your home of things that aren't either needed or loved. The idea is to fill a bag ( the size bag is up to you) each day of things that you can give away or donate. I also love this idea because it's a way of blessing others with your donations and decluttering our homes, our lives, our minds at the same time.

So, what are you doing for Lent this year?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

It Just Ain't True

I think we all know our culture is a wee bit skewed. We see things all the time on t.v. and in magazines that try to convince us it's 'the norm'. And, most of us know, it's not. But there are still things that get under my skin and I feel the need to vent. So, I present to you my first edition of...

It Just Ain't True

1. The Biggest Loser - While many people find this show inspiring and motivational, I find it annoying. Most of us will never have the opportunity to take 3 months away from our lives to focus solely on weight loss. We will not have famous personal trainers at our disposal, the time to work out 8 hours a day, or healthy foods specifically designed and prepared for us. Most of us (unless we have been violently ill) will not lose between 4-15 pounds a week. It just ain't true.

2. Rachael Ray via Marie Claire magazine - I don't normally watch television during the day, but I switched it on the other afternoon when the boys were napping and I had a mountain of laundry to fold. Rachael Ray was talking about her favorite magazine features, one of which was 'Splurge or Steal' as seen in Marie Claire magazine. They take current fashion trends and show where you can buy pieces that are a 'splurge' and pieces that are 'more affordable or a 'steal'. She did a segment on her show that was an offshoot of this where models came out in outfits that were almost identical but one costs significantly less. However, when an outfit that still costs $377 is labeled as a 'steal', I'm sorry, but it just ain't true. Most of us would still consider that an incredibly large splurge. As a matter of fact, I can't recall that I spent that much on clothing in the last year.

3. The Bachelor - Sorry guys (or girls if we also take The Bachelorette into consideration), but you will not ever in your life have 20-30 gorgeous women vying for your attention and affections. And, you can not fall in love (not true love) while 'dating' multiple women at one time. Doing it in front of a television camera makes it all the less about 'reality'. It just ain't true. And, while we're venting who is the guy posing as Brad's psychologist/therapist. If you like listening to mumbo jumbo, he's the guy to listen to.

4. House Hunters - I almost hate to include you in this list HH, because you know I enjoy watching you. I really do. But, here's the truth of the matter. Most of us don't have the same budget as the people on the show. And most of us are truly annoyed when the people touring homes turn up their noses at perfectly good and beautiful kitchens or bathrooms and declare that it HAS to be updated. It just ain't true. Unless there is a plumbing or electrical issue, it doesn't HAVE to be updated. It may be a personal preference, but definitely not necessary.

I have more. But, I'll leave it with these for today. Are there any cultural messages out there that really get under your skin?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Canning and Freezing Notes for 2011

I was just taking a look at what I have left on my canning shelves today. Plus, I'm really thinking about warm weather! So, here are some mental notes (now written) that I was making for myself as I think about canning and freezing this year.
image found here

1. Don't bother making cherry applesauce. Not a big hit at all. Stick with regular applesauce and make lots of it!


2. Can and freeze more tomatoes!!!! I always end up using them up quite quickly.


3. Can spaghetti sauce and and salsa this year. Every year I want to do this. And, every year for some reason I don't. We use a lot of these items in our house, and it's a great way to use the abundance of tomatoes we usually get in the garden.


4. Plant and freeze green beans. Last year I didn't plant any in my garden because my parents always do and usually have an abundance that they can share. Last year their green beans didn't do well at all and we ended up using store-bought green beans most of the winter. It could be a bumper crop this year, but to be on the safe side, we should plant some too.


5. Experiment this year with growing and freezing some dark, leafy greens like spinach and kale.


6. Experiment this year with freezing herbs.


7. We can never have too much frozen sweet corn. Be sure to freeze plenty.


8. This is the year to can pears again. We've used up the last from previous years. Note: Spiced Pears are not a huge hit. Can them plain.


9. We still have canned cherries to use. If I can any cherries this year, experiment with canning them as pie filling.


10. Homegrown peas and limas this year? Consider this option.


11. Can grape juice and grape jelly this year. We've completely used up what we had. And, the boys love grape juice!



So, do you have any garden plans this year? What types of things do you grow? Can? Freeze? Are you trying anything new this year?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Updates

I feel really out of practice writing blog posts. Even though we are all feeling better in our family, I'm having a hard time getting back into the groove. So, for today I'll settle for a smattering of updates.

1. I have updated my weight loss progress on my sidebar. I'm really glad I'm only reporting in once a month instead of once a week. Progress is slow. Losing weight is no easy task after 40 and after having babies. My weight was actually a bit lower last week, but that was because we were sick all week and I just didn't feel like eating. But, sure enough, my appetite returned this weekend. :) Anyway, I feel like Dori in Finding Nemo. 'Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.' Eventually I'll reach my goal.

2. I finished reading Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua. Mama's Minutia mentioned that this book was on her 'to-read' pile. And, it sounded interesting to me.



It was a memoir of sorts written by a woman whose parents had been Chinese immigrants. She modeled her own parenting techniques after the way she'd been raised... 'the Chinese way'. Throughout the whole book she compared Asian parenting to Western parenting. It was eye-opening and a little bit disturbing. But, still an interesting read.

Next up is The Dirty Life, On Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball. This is another Mama's Minutia recommendation. I'll let you know what I think about this one.


3. I had a great idea the week before we all got sick that one week on my Menu sidebar I would list meals all recommended or found from other blogs. I even have a mostly complete list of a week's meals that I could use. I'm thinking I might make this happen next week. So, keep checking the menu sidebar. You might even see a recipe you've posted on your blog!

4. We've got a new tenant! John and I have a good feeling about her and we are really hoping she'll be a long-term tenant. Thanks for all your prayers!

Have a great week!
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