Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Aftermath

Well, we've made it through three rounds of family celebration! The kids had a ball, and of course have already started fighting over "stuff." Sigh. Need to go through their room again and pass on some of their outgrown treasures. The kids particularly enjoyed our Christmas Eve candlelight service (they got glowsticks rather than candles!). They brought all the kids up on the platform to listen to the Christmas story, and our daughter was listening quite nicely when she suddenly felt the need to reassure me and started waving and yelling, "I'm up here, Mom!" They really are starting to understand what it's all about, though, which is great to see. Nothing quite as cute as last year, though, when D would wave and say, "Hi Jesus!" every time he saw a nativity scene.

I ran out this morning for about 45 minutes and managed to spend $101.42. Bought an artificial tree, new tree skirt, bows, and a very pretty topiary thingee that will look great on the piano. I'm going to be going through our Christmas boxes and getting rid of some of the older, dilapidated decorations. It's definitely time to retire some of the stuff I bought in college!!

Anyway, hope you had a wonderful time of celebration with your friends and family. Talk to you all next year!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday Funny

Breathing a BIT easier :)

Well, I managed to make it to the P.O. last night with seven minutes to spare. Packages have been shipped priority, so here's hoping they all make it to their destinations within three days.

Also did the grocery shopping (I don't think I could have fit another thing on that cart - and I'm pleased to report that I did not lose consciousness when I saw the total!) and got some more cleaning done. Still a lot I need to finish up today, though, so toodles!!

I'm going to be taking a break for the next week or so. May you all have a blessed CHRISTmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Chistmas is HOW many days away?!?!

I'm so far behind it's ridiculous. Haven't wrapped a single gift or even sent cards yet. I'm seriously debating whether it's even worth doing at this point. We didn't put up many decorations, but the tree and nativity set will have to suffice. I did manage to finish a little project that is now hanging on the wall in our living room that you can check out here.

We're doing Christmas with hubby's sister on Saturday, and then my brother on Sunday. Christmas Eve candlelight service at the church, but then the rest of the week is blessedly free of other obligations. Gifts have all been purchased, but I will be doing the mondo grocery run tonight. Need to pick up normal stuff as well as ingredients for spinach cheese pie and seafood chowder. Mmm Mmm Good.

We did have a very lovely surprise earlier this week - UPS knocked on the door, and I couldn't figure out what the big white package could be. Well, it was a cooler full of goodies from Omaha Steaks (in fact, that box will be providing our Christmas dinner!). Mommy was excited about the pounds and pounds of meat - Daddy and the kiddos were excited about the dry ice in the bottom, and had a ball playing with the "fog" in the bathroom.

So what else is going on? Little D is on day 5 of medicine for an ear infection. I'm still not over this silly cold, and our daughter isn't really healthy, either. I am thankful that none of it is severe (we've had several friends with children in the hospital recently) but I'm getting tired of slime. On the mommy and daddy front, we're still trying to decide how to handle the Santa issue. We've just side-stepped questions up to this point, but D has heard all about the jolly old elf from others, so is asking lots more questions. Santa wasn't a part of my childhood, and hubby doesn't remember it ever being a big deal. I know many people consider it to be part of the "magic" of the holidays, but I really don't want to focus on the gifts. I do have a great book that talks about St. Nicholas and I'm leaning toward reading that over with the kids.

Lastly, here's a bit of silly fun:

Your Elf Name Is...

Pixie Tinsel Toes

Friday, December 14, 2007

We have a winner!!

I just had our little girl draw a number, and she picked #3. So Jenn, the CD is all yours! Watch your mailbox :)

Friday Funny

Dear Santa,

I've been a good mom all year. I've fed, cleaned and cuddled my children on demand, visited the doctor's office more than my doctor and sold sixty-two cases of candy bars to raise money to plant a shade tree on the school playground. I was hoping you could spread my list out over several Christmases, since I had to write this letter with my son's red crayon, on the back of a receipt in the laundry room between cycles, and who knows when I'll find anymore free time in the next 18 years.

Here are my Christmas wishes:

I'd like a pair of legs that don't ache (in any color, except purple, which I already have) and arms that don't hurt or flap in the breeze, but are strong enough to pull my screaming child out of the candy aisle in the grocery store.

I'd also like a waist, since I lost mine somewhere in the seventh month of my last pregnancy.

If you're hauling big ticket items this year I'd like fingerprint resistant windows and a radio that only plays adult music, a television that doesn't broadcast any programs containing talking animals, and a refrigerator with a secret compartment behind the crisper where I can hide to talk on the phone.

On the practical side, I could use a talking doll that says, 'Yes, Mommy' to boost my parental confidence, along with two kids who don't fight and three pairs of jeans that will zip all the way up without the use of power tools.

I could also use a recording of Tibetan monks chanting 'Don't eat in the living room' and 'Take your hands off your brother,' because my voice seems to be just out of my children's hearing range and can only be heard by the dog.

If it's too late to find any of these products, I'd settle for enough time to brush my teeth and comb my hair in the same morning, or the luxury of eating food warmer than room temperature without it being served in a Styrofoam container.

If you don't mind, I could also use a few Christmas miracles to brighten the holiday season. Would it be too much trouble to declare ketchup a vegetable? It will clear my conscience immensely. It would be helpful if you could coerce my children to help around the house without demanding payment as if they were the bosses of an organized crime family.

Well, Santa, the buzzer on the dryer is calling and my son saw my feet under the laundry room door. I think he wants his crayon back. Have a safe trip and remember to leave your wet boots by the door and come in and dry off so you don't catch cold.

Help yourself to cookies on the table but don't eat too many or leave crumbs on the carpet.

Yours Always,

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Peppermint Candy

Ready for another ridiculously easy recipe for holiday treats? I came up with this idea last year, and it's sort of become a tradition around here. Pick up a bag of candy melts (craft store or back in the craft area at Wal-Mart; Michael's has these on sale quite frequently and it's just over a dollar for a 1 pound bag). Dump them into a microwave safe container, and nuke 'em until they're soft. Pour onto a cookie sheet (it's much easier if you put wax paper down first, trust me!) and sprinkle with broken candy canes. Allow to set, them break into little pieces. Package up and wow your friends.

I'm not really a big fan of peppermint flavor, but somehow when you mix it with the creamy vanilla candy, it's really good! And once again, the process is definitely kid friendly. D had a ball helping break candy canes and then dumping the packages (another hint: the little candy canes are the best to use for this; just whack the package once with a coffee mug and then snip the end off. Individually shrink wrapped canes are a pain!) Oh, and licking off the spatula is fun, too!

And while you're buying the candy melts, how about picking up some chocolate ones? They're generally cheaper than chocolate chips, plus they set up much better. They're great for dipping cookies, pretzels, and even marshmallows. You can put large marshmallows on wooden skewers, dip in chocolate, then roll in misc goodies (chopped nuts, crushed candy canes, colored jimmies, etc). You can make quite a nice little "bouquet" by arranging in a glass jar. Try it with large pretzel rods, too. Package them in a nice crinkly bag (look in the candy making section!) and they make a great gift for friends and neighbors.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

More holiday fun

I don't think the Christmas season would be complete without watching a group of kids sing a song or two. They're so doggone cute dressed up in their holiday finery - and then there is the delightfully unpredictable behavior. One hamming it up for mom and dad, while another scowls and refuses to sing a single note. The inevitable nose picking. Ah, good times. And this year's performance was particularly exciting as this was our son's first "public performance." He managed the chorus of "Go, Tell it on the Mountain!" pretty well, and didn't do anything too obnoxious. So can you find him buried in there? Hint: he's wearing red :) Don't forget you can click on the picture for a larger view

In other news, the chocolate crinkles never made it out of the house. There were a number of issues: first off, I made the mistake of leaving the storage container out on the counter. Within reach of little hands. The kids ate more than I want to admit, managed to knock quite a few in the garbage can, and just generally messed up the remaining cookies . Since I didn't want to subject anyone to our kids' drooly leftovers, I made another batch of goodies. And I will now reward my three faithful readers by sharing another tasty recipe!

Peanut Butter Fingers

1 c flour
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c butter, softened
1/2 c crunchy peanut butter
1 egg
1 c old-fashioned oats (uncooked)
12 oz pkg semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 c powdered sugar
1/2 c crunchy peanut butter
3 Tb milk

Combine the first 9 ingredients and mix well. Press into a greased 9x13 pan and bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with the chocolate chips. Allow to sit for about five minutes, then spread the chocolate evenly over the surface.

Combine the remaining three ingredients in a small bowl and blend. Drizzle over the chocolate, then sprinkle with additional powdered sugar if desired. Cut into small bars.

So there you have it - another tasty but simple holiday treat. Now I'm off to do laundry, sort paperwork, and decide what we're having for dinner. Thrilling stuff, eh?!

Monday, December 10, 2007

It's my birthday - but the gift is for you!

Well, two weeks from today I'll be turning 34. Where has the time gone? I can vividly recall times as a child, whining how s-l-o-w-l-y the days passed and desperately wanting to be older. But now I'm one of those old people :)

For those of you who don't know, my birthday is Christmas Eve. So birthday memories are intertwined with candlelight services, family gatherings, and general holiday craziness. But the one constant through all those things is MUSIC. I adore all sorts of music, but the melodies of Christmas are particularly dear. From traditional carols to funky new stuff and even hysterical spoofs - I love it all. And my ginormous pile of Christmas CDs proves it (I think last time I counted it was around 70). I have numerous "favorites" but Rose of Bethlehem by Selah is definitely in the top three. Beautiful arrangements, lush harmonies - from the soft tinkling of piano on Silent Night to the closing strains of the title song.

Oh, Rose of Bethlehem
How lovely, pure and sweet
Born to glorify the Father
Born to wear the thorns for me

Anyway, I'd like to give away one copy of this CD - and I don't want to wait until my birthday, because I'd like you to have a chance to listen to it before Christmas! So leave a comment sharing one of your Christmas favorites - whether a family tradition, Grandma's cookies, funny memory, or even a song - and I'll randomly draw a name Friday morning (12/14). And please leave your email address, too, so I can contact the winner!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Friday Funny

Man, I know this is how Christmas often feels around here! :)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Chocolate Heaven

Who doesn't love Christmas cookies?!? One of my favorites growing up was always Grandma's Chocolate Crinkles. But as I got older, I realized that they did tend to be just a teensy bit dried out (of course that's a great reason to fire up the coffee pot!) Well, last weekend our pastor's wife brought Chocolate Crinkles to the church decorating night. One bite and I was hooked. I pinned her down and demanded the recipe (OK, so maybe I just smiled sweetly and asked) - she laughed and told me that they were embarassingly easy. Even better! Anyway, I got the recipe earlier this week and decided to bake some up with the kiddos this morning (as I'll be taking some with me for lunch today, a craft night tomorrow, and church on Sunday). Let me tell you, they're truly luscious AND easy! Drooling yet? Here's the recipe so you can bake some up for your family. Easy enough that even a 2 and a 4 year old can make them! :)

Chocolate Crinkles

1 box of chocolate cake mix
2 eggs
1 Tb water
1/2 c shortening

Blend together in mixer. Roll into balls (walnut size), then roll in powdered sugar and place an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 8-10 min.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Monday, Monday

It's beginning to look a bit like Christmas! I helped decorate the church on Friday evening, and I must say it's quite lovely all decked out in greens, red bows, and gold. Still haven't done anything here at home, though. We're planning to get our tree this evening - an artificial one. We'd been debating about investing in one for a couple years now, and I think we're going to take the plunge. If we can't find one that looks somewhat realistic for a reasonable price, though, we'll be heading back to our standard lot to fork over another $30. I have Christmas music playing, plus I've been humming "Unto Us" (a rocking tune we're doing this month as part of worship - you can hear a snippet here - #8) We also had our first snow of the season yesterday - enough to excite the kids when they looked out the window in the morning - but it soon turned to rain and the ground is clear again.

Our little girl has been battling a cold and has been mopey (she pretty much spent all day Friday either sleeping or just sitting in the corner of the couch). She's perking up now, but I've got a sore throat/stuffy nose, and now our son has been hacking like mad. Hmmm... now that I'm thinking about it we might just focus on pulling out decorations tonight and pick up the tree itself tomorrow. We visited some friends last week who had already decorated their entire house, and ever since then our son has been asking when Christmas is coming to our house. Awwww... Nothing like pleading brown eyes to bring out mommy guilt :)

I'd like to bake some cookies with the kiddos over the next two weeks, too, and deliver them to various neighbors, but we'll see if it actually happens. Still a lot going on - getting together with a few friends over the course of the week, a craft night with the MOPS moms on Friday, then church activities on Saturday and Sunday. I think I need to take some time to sit down with the calendar and think through the rest of the month. There is always so much that I want to do for the holidays, but never enough time. I'm sure I'll be sharing more thoughts on that as we get closer to Christmas.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Pay It Forward

PAY IT FORWARD : handcrafted items

I will send a handmade item to the first 3 people who leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this "Pay it Forward" exchange. I don’t know what that gift will be yet (but it will probably be made of paper!) and you probably won't receive anything in '07 but it will definitely be within 365 days - I promise! In order to participate, though, you must pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog. So basically, if you comment, I’ll send you something crafty that I’ve made! Once you sign up, copy and paste the above paragraph on your blog, and three other lucky people will be recipients of your handmade work. I found this at Aged to Perfection and thought it was a great idea. So spread a little handmade cheer!!

(and please leave your email in the post so I can get in contact with you!)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving Wrap-Up

So did you all have a wonderful holiday? Ours was pretty quiet - my hubby was off for the week (needing to use up vacation time) so we took care of some things around the house and frankly just enjoyed some down time. Things have been going nonstop for the past several weeks, so we chose not to have anyone over or go anywhere. In fact, our Thanksgiving dinner consisted of meatball sandwiches. Don't worry, we had green bean casserole and olives to go with it :) And I actually did cook up a turkey on Saturday, so the freezer is now stocked with leftovers. So what else did we do? Read on! (And don't forget you can click on the picture for a larger view)

October was unseasonably warm, so the fall colors arrived later than usual. Aren't they beautiful? Of course changing leaves = falling leaves. I'm thinking that raking will be on the agenda for the coming weekend...

I am now concerned about our daughter's parenting skills, as I found her baby doll safely tucked in with a bottle. And an ice cream cone. :)

Hubby cleaned the garage - and had some pint sized help. Ty Pennington watch out!

Finished redoing one of the kitchen chairs. They're lovely but were getting quite rickety, so hubby sanded, stained, and tightened everything up and then I did the seat. Not too shabby for my first upholstery job!

And welcome to the "House of Wax!" A friend came over on Friday, and we cranked out all sorts of interesting creations (including a frog and a batch of orange candles that seriously smelled like Pledge). The kids had fun helping sort colors, and we now have some festive candles to burn over the holidays.

So that pretty much sums up the past week or so. I was also busy packaging up stamps as I posted a big sale list on a couple chat boards as part of my ongoing efforts to clean up. I sorted through more kids' clothes and passed on several bags worth to other families. We also had a bit of excitement last evening when our daughter decided to flush half a roll of toilet paper. Ah, the little joys of parenting...

This week's plan includes a bit more cleaning/organizing, and then we'll probably get the Christmas stuff out on Saturday. I'll be up at the church Friday evening helping to deck those halls, so I'm sure that will put me in the mood!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Monday, November 19, 2007

Cranberry Pecan Spread

Just want to share the recipe for Cranberry Pecan Spread - it's great to put out for holiday gatherings with crackers. And if you happen to be hosting a brunch, how about serving it with some fresh bagels? Mmm Mmm Good.

Cranberry Pecan Spread

2 - 8 oz bricks cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
1 - 6 oz package dried, sweetened cranberries
3 Tb frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed

Beat cream cheese until fluffy, then stir in remaining ingredients.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Raising kids, foolishness and grace

So earlier this week I loaded the kids up in the car to go check out the pictures we'd had taken last month. Frankly, I was already tired from all the general busyness, had the beginnings of a headache, and was worried because I knew I'd want to spend too much moolah. The pictures were every bit as adorable as I'd anticipated, and I had a hard time narrowing it down. It was also a time to get a bit misty; we did this same fundraiser two years ago and it was the first professional photographs we'd had done with the two kids together. How they've changed! Anyway, I gathered up the pictures, wrote out the check, oversaw a potty stop, herded the kids back to the car, and settled into the driver's seat with a big sigh. Seat belt securely fastened, I started driving back home where more tasks were waiting.

Now I do want to back track a little here to set the stage: our pastor has recently started preaching through I Corinthians, and in the opening chapters Paul writes extensively about worldly vs. Godly wisdom. He also speaks of God's grace.

So anyway, as I'm driving home, my Rich Mullins CD is playing and I'm singing along, enjoying the brief interlude. The kids are actually being quiet, simply looking out the windows and taking in the sights. "Let Mercy Lead" starts up. A very nice song, one I can remember listening to in college. I start singing the first few words, but suddenly I didn't want to sing anymore. Time to simply listen.

Aidan you're young
But Aidan you're growing fast
Me and your mom
And all the love we have
We can only take you so far
As far as we can
But you'll need something more to guide your heart
As you grow into a man

Let mercy lead
Let love be the strength in your legs
And in every footprint that you leave
There'll be a drop of grace
If we can reach
Beyond the wisdom of this age
Into the foolishness of God
That foolishness will save
Those who believe
Although their foolish hearts may break
They will find peace
And I'll meet you in that place
Where mercy leads

Aidan the day
Aidan the day will come
You'll run the race
That takes us way beyond
All our trials and all our failures
And all the good we dream of
But you can't see yet where it is you're heading
But one day you'll see the face of love

Let mercy lead
Let love be the strength in your legs
And in every footprint that you leave
There'll be a drop of grace
If we can reach
Beyond the wisdom of this age
Into the foolishness of God
That foolishness will save
Those who believe
Although their foolish hearts may break
They will find peace
And I'll meet you in that place
Where mercy leads

I don't know the exact story, but I vaguely remember hearing that he'd written this song for a nephew or a friend's son or something (he didn't have children of his own). But now I'm thinking of my own kids, and their growth as shown in the photographs lying next to me on the seat. And I'm being convicted by the simple words pouring from the speakers. How are we raising our kids? I know I've written about it often, but it's a subject dear to my heart. Are we teaching them the importance of mercy? Whose wisdom am I focusing on? Certainly knowledge is important, but "the foolishness of God" (I Cor 1:25) is absolutely vital. I'd love to know that each footprint - every muddy track as our son currently tears through life with his little sister desperately trying to keep up, and particularly as they grow larger and break new ground - will contain "a drop of grace." That they can share the truth with others, even if their hearts are broken in the process. For they will know the Healer and His peace.

Just a little reminder of what really matters, squeezed into a busy day. Don't you just love how the Lord meets us right where we are? So I wiped away a few tears (just like I'm doing again now) and continued on with the tasks at hand, praying that I'll do better. That I, too, can leave a trail of grace.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday Funny

Catching Up

I know I've been much quieter than usual lately (after all, I do so enjoy talking to myself! :) but things are starting to settle down a bit. The past week or so has included: my MIL visiting for a few days, surprise Sweet Sixteen party for our niece, making 28 pans of lasagna with our MOPS group (my shoulder is still a teensy bit sore from stirring all that ricotta!!), excitement over lost keys, and a sell-off of some stamping supplies. Our weekend is already full of activities, but thankfully my hubby is off ALL next week and I think we're all looking forward to some quiet family time. Maybe we'll even take some time to chuzzle (a very silly game that my MIL has officially hooked us on. The kids were fighting over who got to sit on her lap and watch her play, which is when I snapped this pic)

Anyhoo, off to do laundry now and put away all the stamp stuff that didn't sell last night...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Some Silly Trivia
LogoThere are
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

I was surprised just how many people have my first name - it's the 828th most popular :)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Friday Funny

Howzabout some cheese today?

Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat says to the other, 'You stay here, I'll go on a head.'

The English Teacher felt odd after being fired: it was post-grammatic stress disorder.

The police barbershop quartet's favorite song is "Donuts make my brown eyes blue."

Vandalism is just a stone's throw away.

Some people really enjoy blowing air out of their lungs - I'm not a fan myself.

I couldn't figure out how to fasten my seatbelt. Then it clicked.

What is the difference between a nicely dressed man on a tricycle and a poorly dressed man on a bicycle? A tire.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Carrots, Eggs and Coffee Beans

(Just a little something I read on another blog a few months ago, and wanted to pass along...)

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me, what do you see?" "Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied. Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft.

The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg. Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, "What does it mean, mother?"

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity ... boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

"Which are you?" she asked her daughter.

"When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?"

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor.

If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Miscellaneous Ramblings

First off today is my hubby's 35th birthday. Happy birthday, hon! This picture was taken just a few years ago :)

Secondly, my MIL will be arriving in a few short hours. There's quite a bit more I wanted to get done - so why am I on the computer?!?

And the most exciting news of all: we did the poopy dance yesterday! Yes, our daughter is making progress in the potty training area. This is particularly thrilling to me as her brother was about 3 years, 9 months when we finally hit that milestone... and she won't be three until January. Removing diapers from the grocery list will be the ultimate thrill!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Holidays are coming!!

Can you believe that Thanksgiving is just over two weeks away? And I know you've all been seeing the Christmas decorations at the stores. I swear they're put out the same time as the Halloween candy! Anyway, I try to purchase gifts throughout the year so that it doesn't drain our December budget. We do have a few more things to purchase, but I thought I'd pass on some of my favorite sites that have helped us stretch our dollars.
  • Silver Jewelry Club - a great place to pick up nice quality jewelry for bupkes; you pay just $5.99 shipping for each piece. The choices update each fifteen minutes, so I just click on it a few times a day or week (depending what I'm looking for). They offer a WIDE variety of styles, and I've purchased everything from a necklace for grandma to funky earrings for our teenage niece.
  • Fetch Book - just enter the ISBN of the book you're looking for, and they'll tell you where it's cheapest. Particularly helpful if you're looking for something that's out-of-print. Two years ago, I was hoping to find the complete "Thomas the Tank Engine" stories. It was going for over $40 on eBay, but I found it for around $12 (shipped!) through this site.
  • - it's now affiliated with eBay, but you can usually find better deals here. You can find music (wouldn't your brother love a CD of that album he used to listen to in high school?), books, and video games. Plus shipping is a set amount per item (and decreases if you purchase multiple items from a single seller), so you don't get gouged. I just purchased the eyetoy (which will be our kids' "big" gift for the year) along with five games for less than the suggested retail of the original package. Hint: shipping is media mail, so shop early to make sure you receive your package in time.
  • Budget 101 Gift Mixes - this site is a perfect source for ideas when you want to give a little something to neighbors, teachers, etc. but can only spend a few dollars.

Lastly, don't forget about the clearance aisles at the local stores! Why not pick up some halloween costumes to create a dress-up box? And I always seem to find fantastic deals at Target (read a bit more about that here). Seriously, people, you can find nice - and thoughtful - gifts without spending hundreds of dollars.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Friday Funny

OK, today's site isn't supposed to be funny - but I started laughing as soon as I saw it and just knew I had to share. Yes, I love crafts but this isn't something I'll be making anytime soon!! (But I must admit that there are some cool projects on the site)

Make Your Own...

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Flying Things

Well, another Halloween has come and gone, and both our kids had a ball. We really don't "celebrate" per se, but I do put up some harvesty type decor and the kids dress up and make a brief tour of the neighborhood to gather candy. This year's costumes were purchased at a major discount last year, and I was quite relieved when they both fit. We had a little photo shoot in the backyard earlier today, as they both demonstrated their flying skills. Aren't they adorable?!?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Golden Compass

Perhaps you've already heard a bit about the movie The Golden Compass due out in December. It stars Nicole Kidman, and is being billed as a children's fantasy film. It's based on the first book of a series written by Philip Pullman, an outspoken atheist who wrote the books as an alternative to The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. While much of the anti-religion sentiment has been removed from the film, many have expressed concern that fans will read the books and be influenced by its dark messages. Read more for yourself here and here.

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8

Monday, October 29, 2007


So my hubby had today off of work. We had originally planned to have a little family excursion somewhere. But it was not to be. A couple weeks ago he announced that the clutch in his car was in baaaad shape. We got the parts, but he was unable to find a block of time in which to actually install it. The latest plan was to do it this past Saturday - but it was pouring rain. Not a good time to lay under a car. So it was pushed back to today. The bad thing about that is that the only help he had was ME. As he's trying to maneuver the transmision back into position, the only advice I could offer (while peering down into the void next to the engine) was that "the flared part is getting hung up on that bracket that's sticking out." Not exactly helpful instructions when he's trying to finagle 120+ pounds back into place. But he managed to get it done in spite of me... Hooray for handy husbands! Anyway, thought I'd share our latest "vacation" photo :)

In other news, we had our big MOPS fundraiser over the weekend, too: Antiquities. We had nearly 140 sittings, so hopefully our group is now set for the next two years. Whooopeee!

And finally, a bonus funny for today. Our son has been exceptionally tired the past couple weeks, so has had a few night-time accidents. Well, I was stripping all the beds today, and decided it was time to wash our mattress pad, too. As I was bringing it all downstairs, he was sitting on the floor playing cars and noticed what I was doing. His question to me: "Who had the accident - you or Daddy?"

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday Funny

Sometimes you've just got to ask for help!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Catching Up

So what have we been up to this past few days? Well, there was our church's Fall Fest, complete with over 200 pounds of pork roasted on an open fire, crying children (let's just say our daredevil son went down a rather large hill. backwards. on a big wheel), kids' activities and a bonfire. There were also family pictures (always a joy when there are young children involved). And yesterday was just too nice to spend indoors, so we went off to the beach (the first time on a "sandy" beach for my folks). Oh, and one last story with Grandma, too.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday Funny

Today's humor is courtesy of the pianist from our church worship team. This is the actual email (names removed) that he sent out last week announcing that their new baby had arrived:

Hey Everyone! Well, she decided not to wait til the 22nd. She walked the halls of the hospital, doing little bobs and bounces and bearing the pain to get the baby to come out. After about 9 hours of extreme heavenly least I THOUGHT it was heavenly. She seemed like she was praying...or yelling, not sure. I WAS going to say things like,"Oh suck it's not that bad!" Or "hey...I'm ready to have bout you?" oh and the best comment..."Just do your deep breathing exercises and it will go away." Also, she did the entire thing totally drug free. It just happened that way. My personal policy is: The wife may or may not be given drugs--depends on the mother. The father, however, can have anything he wants. I asked for vicodin...they said no. I just didn't say a thing! Baby came at 4:12 AM and...oh yes...4:12 AM for those who were all snuggly wuggly in their beds!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

What's up?

I know I haven't been posting quite as frequently as usual these past couple weeks. I've already mentioned that we're pretty busy. My parents arrived last week; they've been staying with my brother the past few days, and will be "moving in" here later this afternoon. I still need to get some more cleaning taken care of before then. The kids are really excited to spend more time with Grandpa and Grandma.

We had our second MOPS meeting yesterday, and our pastor spoke on loving our husbands. Well, actually he spoke on how our husbands need our respect. Always a good reminder! Another very good meeting, and thankfully our childcare situation was much better, too. Thank you, Lord!

I finished up my first round of samples for the stamping design team I'm on and got those mailed off on Monday, and now I just have to decide which sets I want to work with for the next quarter.

We're pulling things together for our church's Fall Fest this Saturday. I'll be dragging my Mom out tomorrow for a shopping trip. And I have nearly 200 pounds of meat to pick up on Friday! We're expecting a good turnout, as this is the first time in "OUR" building, so we've invited neighbors, families from the day care programs and MOPS, and pretty much anyone else from the community that happened to make eye contact :) Seriously, though, we're very excited about this. The temps are feeling more fall-like, but it's still a bit warmer than average - perfect for an evening out with the family. Crafts and games for the kids, songs around the fire, yummy food and fellowship.

Oh, and did you notice the new profile pic? Yes, not only have I cut my hair but I've colored it as well. Problem is that the color didn't take evenly (I think my hair is just too coarse for "natural" products. Bring on the ammonia, baby!) Need to find time to take care of that as I'm planning to have my Dad snap some family pictures for us. Here's hoping that our kids can make it through the next few days free from major facial abrasions!!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Friday Bonus Humor

These kids continue to crack me up! Our son had a "bleed" under his nose (mild allergies lead to lots of nose wiping!) and he decided he needed a bandage. While I was distracted (changing sister's diaper), he climbed up into the cabinet and got one for himself. Yes, I was ticked off, but I had a very hard time containing the snorts of laughter that were welling up when I saw the results of his doctoring.

Of course now he doesn't want to take it off - and I really need to run out for some groceries. But there's no way I'm taking him out with this ludicrous strip plastered across his face and his sister's smattering of purple blotches (which thankfully are healing pretty quickly).

Friday Funny

I dedicate this post to anyone who spends a lot of time staring at their computer screen. Click on the button!