Saturday, January 30, 2010

6 months ago

6 months ago today, our family was forever changed. 
The Lord answered the prayers of one hard praying dad and saw fit to grace our lives with just about the sweetest little guy we could ask for.

 

  

  

I've never let him take a bath alone. 
Today was his first time.  

What is this? Bubbles, you say?

  

  Splish-Splash!
  

I'm lovin' this!
  

 Hmm....do my crawlin' skills work in here?
 

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The more productive I am.....

This was just the status update of Matthew West-

It seems the more productive I am, the less I update my twitter/facebook. So, yeah, I've been pretty productive lately...

It seemed fitting to put that here on my blog...that I have been neglecting lately. 

Ive been trying to be a better steward of my time, and not eat the bread of idleness, so its been lacking in the blogging department. 

I do have some stuff I want to share though! Just need to find the time to share it all!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hot Water, How I Love Thee

I've been MIA for a few days longer then normal this week. We're almost done with our No Spending 2 Weeks and we've learned some pretty important lessons.

First- when planning on not spending anything for 2 weeks, plan on spending something. As Dave Ramsey says (well something to this affect) Once you get gazelle intense Murphy WILL come knocking.

Second- our wonderful, sweet children are addicted to spending...just like we are. 

Third- we have learned just how much we rely on running water. Hot, running water specifically. 

Last week a terribly cold spell hit Texas, along with most of the rest of the country. The wind chills where we live were hitting BELOW zero. I, honestly, don't think I've ever been that cold in my.entire.life. It was sooo cold! The first night that the (actual) temps were around 10 degrees we left our water running (a no brainer, right?) BUT we made one HUGE, AWFUL mistake. We only left our cold water running! 
I know, I know...what on earth were we thinking?! Derek woke that morning and took a nice hot shower and thought nothing of it. I woke to take a nice hot shower and....only cold, ice cold mind you, water would come out. No.hot.water. Apparently, he used the remaining water in the hot water heater for his shower and that was it. 
He got home from work and, in the 10 degree weather (I checked the temp), he went under our house (which is on pier and beam) to see if he could help thaw out the frozen pipe. Well, where he *thought* it was frozen. There was one section where the dogs had managed to get under the house one summer and tear off the insulation. No amount of blow drying that darn pipe worked.

Fast forward 3 days and the temps get high enough that we *hope* the pipes will thaw. And thaw they did. Along with bursting in 3 places. Nice. Since this happened toward the end of the day Derek didn't have enough day light to fix the problem. So, not only did I lose hot water I lost ALL water. Ugh. Not fun with 4 kids and a house to maintain!


Derek was able to fix the water yesterday and for only 30 cents!! Thank you, Lord!!! He had all the parts he needed except he was short 1 coupling (I think). 

Never again will I take hot, running water for granted. I didn't realize how much we depend on it until I had to function without it for almost 4 days. We were able to shower at Derek’s parents so that was good. But, I couldn't do laundry because the water was ICE cold. I couldn't really wash dishes because the water was ICE cold. Even boiling water and adding it to the tap water was taking pots and pots of boiling water to even warm it up. It was just so cold. 

Due to our lack of hot water, and eventually water at all, we spent some money this weekend. We had to take showers at Derek's parents’ house and make it to a birthday party an hour and 15 minutes away by 2 o'clock. Through all my stressing of getting everyone and everything ready to take to grandma and grandpas and then getting ready to get to the party on time I totally forgot about planning for lunch! 
My kids need to eat...what??? 
So, with sick feelings in our stomachs we had to spend money grabbing food on the way to the party. Trust me, we felt sick. Like..Completely blowing, wasting money since we had been doing so well! Boo!

We have also come to the realization that our kids are as addicted to spending money as we are. We told them our plan but as soon we got into town almost every time this past week and a half they have started with the "I'm hungry. I'm thirsty" whines. Fortunately, I was prepared and offered them the snacks and drinks I had waiting for times when I knew those whines would start. (Score one mom point for me!) They begged and pleaded that it was just Sonic Happy Hour so it wouldn't be that much money. But, I stood my ground and gave a firm no. Even though I wanted just as much, if not more, a nice, cold Sonic Dr Pepper. 

All in all I think we've done really well. Now 2 days from our goal date of spending no money we've spent probably a total of what we'd normally spend in 1 day. Looking at our bank account and seeing the money that is STILL IN THERE makes us really happy and pleased with the self-control we've exercised. 
While we didn't make our goal of spending no money we did realize that we can do it...if nothing unexpected arises. And, we've learned to expect the unexpected because it WILL happen. If no other time then when you're trying your hardest not to spend money, it will happen. 
We also feel like we've broken our addiction to spending money every time we leave the house. So, we're going to continue with the same mentality going forward.
 

Friday, January 8, 2010

Rock a BiBaby

I have a sweet friends baby shower this weekend. Celebrating the birth of their first boy! I'm pretty sure she has no clue this blog exists so I'm going to show you the gift I made her!! 

Idea # 40 in this book suggests you use your hands, or talent, to create a gift for someone. The gift you give them will be more meaningful and show them they were worth taking time to make them something special. Not to say that just because you don't make something doesn't mean its not special.Any gift with thought put into it is special. 

Even though Christmas is over there are still plenty of ideas in the book that you can put into practice. Which is exactly what we're doing. Trying to make giving a lifestyle year round, not just at Christmas.

I ran across a tutorial for a guitar bib and knew this would be the perfect gift for this new blessing! Their doing his nursery in guitars; so it was perfect! 




I added 2 burp cloths and 2 onesies to match as well. For the tie onesie I browsed through Etsy and then chose the ones I like best and duplicated a template like that. For the J, well I just drew that as well. I used Wonder Under for the appliques on the onesies. I didn't use it for the bib though. As a tip if you're thinking about making the bib, I don't recommend using terry cloth. Its kinda hard to sew. Maybe I'm just not an experienced seamstress but it's too stretchy or something. 


Here is the final result-




Also, the website I linked to above, where you can find the bib, also has a tutorial for EASY peasant tops. Here is an example of some I've made from that tutorial.

 

  

This is the same tutorial I just lengthened it to make it a dress.




Thursday, January 7, 2010

Bible Memory Challenge!

Since it appears as though we're starting the year with new challenges I though I'd add a new one to the mix! 
 

Scripture Adventures, remember them from here? Well, they are, once again, giving away another FREE download!! 

This time it's a 21 Bible Memory Challenge! Pretty cool if you ask me! 

A friend and I were just talking today about how important Bible memorization is and different ways we could do it. Well...here it is for us! Thanks God! 


How are we doing?

I've had several people ask how we're doing. So, I thought since we're a week into this adventure I'd give an update.
We have eaten every meal at home. Not paid a dime to eat out. This is a big accomplishment for us. Usually we grab fast food at least once per week. Even if it's just 2 $5 Little Caesars pizzas on the way home from church. My mom did bring us BBQ yesterday though. Not because we were dying for something other then home cooked food but because she just offered to pick something up on her way out here. So, we had BBQ last night. 
It doesn't feel like I've been cooking a ton though. Last Friday night we celebrated Derek's sisters birthday so we had dinner at his parents house. Saturday I already posted on what I made for the entire weekend. Monday is one of the days I've gotten into the habit of grabbing food. We have our small group Bible study that night and its family night at Chick-Fil-A. The kids eat free so I figure I only have to buy 2 adult meals so its a steal. I also feel like its worth it not to be stressing about getting dinner made and everyone fed AND to small group on time. This week had other plans though.
Our small group was canceled for lack of a place to hold it. It was suggested we all meet up for dinner one night this week. Oh no...spending money! I knew we wouldn't be able to participate so I just decided to invite everyone out here for dinner and fellowship. This is not something I would normally do because the house is never clean enough. Or I don't have enough to feed everyone or....you get the idea. But, I figured if we don't ever just bite the bullet and do it...it'll never happen. Most of the families couldn't come, for various reasons, but 2 other families did come. And, we had a great time fellowshipping. (spell check is telling this isn't a word. I think it is!) Honestly, I was kinda worried about our budgeted items (read: food and drinks) for the next 2 weeks. But, then I decided if we run out of food and drinks because we opened our home up to friends then it was a worthy enough cause to run out of stuff :)
Tuesday, my brought dinner and last night we had leftovers. (Yeah, I know. I said we don't have leftover nights. I was wrong) So, with tonight, there is a week of meals and no eating out! *woot-woot!* 
Now I've told you we haven't spent any money on eating out. How about other stuff? Well, I can not lie. Derek spent some money. Not a lot; but some. Heres the story. (I feel like a kid getting ready to explain away a sin, lol) 
Derek's company started allowing them to wear jeans about a month or two ago. Derek had 2 pairs of jeans he wore regularly. One pair being a grayish denim. Friday his regular blue jeans got a hole in the knee. Uh-oh. He could  the next 2 weeks without buying new jeans. But, they would be the grayish colored ones and it would be quite obvious he was wearing the same.pair.every.day. Then we remembered my grandma gave us a $25 gift card to JcPennys for CHristmas. Whew, we'd only have to spend a little bit to cover the rest of the jeans. He wears Levi's that usually cost around $50. But, his style are always on sale at one of the dept stores. So, we figured they would be there too. 
We were wrong. 
And, we are not pay full price people. 
The difference of the card and the price of the jeans was $23. We couldn't spend $23. Thats for sure. A couple dollars, maybe. $23? No. 

Derek called me and we talked about it and then he decided to wait and not get any. Ten minutes later he called back and told me he had found his exact style of jeans, his exact size (which usually is hard to find) marked down on clearance!! Only $24.99!!!! Of all the styles and sizes it happened to be his style and size. Thank you, Lord!! How awesome is that!? So, with the gift card he ended only up having to pay tax which was $2.05. 
We both settled that spending $2.05, even during our No Spending 2 Weeks, was worth it. These are jeans for work....and he does need to be in compliance with dress code. Pretty important if you ask me. :)


Another funny has happened this week. People don't often never ask us to go out to dinner with them. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that we have 4 kids, two of which are 2 and under.;) For most people I'm sure that doesn't sound like their idea of an enjoying dinner out. And, that's ok. We know that buy choosing to have a large family there are things, like this, that come with it. And we're good with that. 
Anyways, from Sunday till Wednesday night we had 4, yes FOUR, invitations to go out to eat with friends. All of which we turned down because we set our goal of not spending any money, especially eating out. I explained that to each person and said we'd make plans to have dinner, in 2 weeks. Derek and both thought this was pretty hilarious. 4 times in 4 days, really? LOL Talk about someone sending temptation our way. 


So, all in all I feel we're doing really well 1 week into this adventure. If all we've spent is $2.05, even though we didn't want to spend any, I'll call week 1 a success!



On something totally unrelated. I like comments. My comments section feels a bit lonely. All you friends who are posting comments on my links on Facebook, Post some comments here so these comments sections don't look so bare. K? Ok, thanks :) lol



Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday



 



Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Apparently, we have a budding artist on our hands

And apparently she thinks the house is her canvas.
This would be the oven.





and this is the fridge....



and now we have the window seat in the girls room. (good thing we were already planning to repaint it and I still needed to make a padded seat cover for it)



And still not done. She needed to go for the bedroom window too.


And, to finish up her work for the day....her crib.


If she thought we wouldn't know who 'done it', she probably should have thought again....



 

Not only do we have a budding artist on our hands but we apparently have a mom who needs to go back and read Raising Godly Tomoatoes again and start tomato staking her 2 year old!



*ETA: If, because I'm making light of this here on this blog, you don't think we're taking this seriously don't worry, we are. She did and has continued to get in trouble for her coloring on anything except paper.





Did I ever share this?

When we first started this blog last month, and were working our way through 101 Simple and Thoughtful Ways to Give This Christmas Away, I never dreamed anyone remotely close to the book would run across our blog.

BUT, about mid-December a guy from Tyndale House Publishers, the ones who published Matthew West's book, did indeed run across our blog! He emailed me asking if he could include our names and blog address in a Tyndale press release. How cool is that?!

Our family was also featured in an Examiner.com article!
Hopefully, through our giving, others saw all of this was done to bring glory to the Lord!


Sunday, January 3, 2010

So Long, Pillsbury!

One of my New Years resolutions is Proverbs 31:27.
She looks well to the ways of her household

and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Oooh, ouch. Now, I know I should be striving to be all of Proverbs 31:10-31, and I am. But, the whole does not eat the bread of idleness is really what I am striving towards this year.
Its so hard though. With the internet, (um, hello Facebook) and all the other things that can take up your time its hard not to be partaking in the bread of idleness. Can I get an Amen?!
For me, at least, it's a daily partaking. As much as I like to believe I get a lot done I still waste time on stupid stuff. *cough cough Facebook*. Or, this was a huge thing for me a few years ago, what about message boards, like Babycenter, for instance. We gave the TV the boot and have just replaced the idleness with other things.

If I truly am convicted and believe my calling and mission in life is as a wife and mother, raising little people for the Kingdom of Heaven, then am I doing things daily to further my success in this calling? I can pretty much guarantee Facebook does not further that calling. Although...I might be able to find some good 'groups' that would allow me to beg to differ with that last statement ;) har har.

Seriously though, 1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us-
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
and how about Colossians 3:23-
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,

This year I really want to analyze everything I do in this daily job as wife and mom.
Am I eating the bread of idleness?
Is everything I'm doing bringing glory to God?
Am I working heartily as unto the Lord?
And what about doing all things without grumbling and complaining like Philippians 2:14-16 tells us to do. (On a side note; that is our family verse) My sweet friend Marie made a good statement to me once. She said it's not just doing our job as a wife and mother it's doing it with JOY! Now, I just can't get that out of my head. Thanks, Marie!

So, all in all, this is where I'm at right now.

With all that said now I can share with you what I made today! I'm really excited about this accomplishment. Yesterday I gave the recipe for the No Need to Knead Bread but I didn't mention the fact that I had never made it before. Ha! I trusted my friend Brandee's word and suggestion and passed it on :) I really did plan on making them though. And today I did it! And they turned out!!!!! *Hallelujah chorus* I also made the dough into a batch of homemade, made from scratch cinnamon rolls. YUM!

Here is Audrey helping me spread sugar over the dough. (I know, I know, she really should have clothes on but we took them off for our messy BBQ chicken lunch and never put them back on. And then Derek took these pics)



And here are the finished product. Hey! Don't laugh because they're ugly! They taste REALLY yummy!




Obviously, I need to perfect my rolling and cutting method of the cinnamon rolls. ;) I didn't have any string to cut them with, like the recipe says to do. So, I used a butter knife. It did fine, they just don't look pretty.

So, in conclusion of this long winded post, today I kept up with my New Years Resolution and have not eaten the bread of idleness! And it feels great!!! Now I feel like I can give the boot to our Pillsbury Cressant roll addiction and be more than happy with homemade rolls!



Saturday, January 2, 2010

01-02-2010

Today's date is a palindrome (same backwards and forwards)! 

01 02 2010

Thought that was pretty cool. I wanted to share it and make it an 'official' observation with a blog entry all its own. :)


 

Aaah, the Aroma

We're on day 2 of our No Spending 2 weeks. So far, so good.
Normally on a Friday and Saturday we would pick something up to eat for at least 1 meal. Saturdays are usually busy so we're eating on the run or they're lazy days so I don't want to cook.

Today was the second of the 2. It was a lazy day for us. We got a ton accomplished though. There is an end in sight for my laundry. For me, this is a big accomplishment! I've been behind since Owen was born. So..its been awhile now. We also took down and put away all the Christmas decorations. I'm sure anyone else in a small living space can relate when I say, once Christmas is over I'm ready to have my house back to normal and less cluttered!

I really didn't feel like cooking tonight. Tonight would have been a time when I was willing to drive 20 minutes (one way) to the nearest fast food restaurant just so Ididn't have to cook.
But, I knew I couldn't. So, instead I made chicken Fajitas with homemade refried beans for dinner. Pretty simple considering I already had the refried beans made.

Since tomorrow is Sunday and, again, I usually don't feel like cooking we will usually pick up Little Caesars  pizza on the way home from church if we don't have plans. Can't beat feeding the family for $10. But, I knew we wouldn't be stopping for pizza tomorrow. I also knew the last thing I would want to do was take part of the afternoon cooking. We also have a members meeting at church tomorrow night so that limits when I can cook. So, what is the solution to my problem you ask? I went ahead and put BBQ Chicken in the crockpot to cook so it would be ready for us after church tomorrow! Yay for planning ahead! :) I'm also planning on making homemade No Need to Knead Bread rolls to eat the chicken on.

My friend Stephanie brought this chicken over to us the week after I had Owen and we all couldn't get enough of it. (Thanks Stephanie!) It makes quite a bit so we'll have a few lunches covered this week as well. I can smell it cooking and the aroma is making my mouth water as I type!

Would you like the recipe to this yummy (and easy!) dish? Here ya go! Let me know if you make it and what you think.

Crockpot BBQ Chicken:

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 frozen skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1 (12 ounce) bottle barbeque sauce
  • 1/2 cup Italian salad dressing
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place chicken in a slow cooker. In a bowl, mix the barbeque sauce, Italian salad dressing, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over the chicken.
  2. Cover, and cook 3 to 4 hours on High or 6 to 8 hours on Low. 

And the recipe for the No Need to Knead bread? Heres that one for ya, courtesy of my friend Brandee :)


INGREDIENTS

2 C of warm to wrist water
2 pkgs of dry active yeast (or 2 tbsp if you buy in bulk like I do)
1/2 C sugar or honey
5 C of flour
1/4 C oil
1 beaten egg


Directions

Put water into large bowl along with the sugar and yeast. Allow yeast to activate, become bubbly. then add reamining ingredients. Mix together, gently (Yeast doesn't like to be overly handled). DO NOT KNEAD. Let rise to double in size.(took about an hour or so) Make into rolls or loaves. Let rise again. (another 45 minutes or so) Bake in 400* oven until done.


Hope this New Years weekend has been great for everyone! So far, this year is starting off wonderful in our home.





Friday, January 1, 2010

Note to Self:

Note to Self: 

When going shopping to stock up for your no spending 2 week period make sure and double, even triple, check to make sure you have your shopping list, competitor ads to price match and coupons with you. Especially if you live 30 minutes away from the grocery store.

And, to answer my friend Stephanie.....Oh, yes I did. :( 

To make matters worse it was rainy and like 38 degrees and I had all 4 kids with me. But, my mom was there to help too.  I had to make the decision of whether or not to drive all the way home (30 minutes), get my stuff and drive back to the store (another 30 minutes). If I drove home I would be getting back to the grocery store at like 5 pm so it would be getting dark and I would risk it turning icy on the way home. Why I waited until so late in the day is beyond me. So, I made the deicsion not to drive the extra hour (total) and spend the gas, which would take away from the money I was saving anyways. I pretty much cringed at my grocery total though. But, at least we'll have food to eat and can embark on our no spending 2 weeks and Eat From the Pantry Challenge.

On a side note; some people can be so rude. I know all you other moms with many littles know what I'm talking about. So, if you aren't a MOMY and see one out and about I think just about the worst thing you can do is look at her and then look at your 2 teenage daughters and laugh together under your breath.  For the record we chose life for our children and count them as a blessing!

Oh and HAPPY NEW YEAR! 2010 is gonna be a great one! 



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