October 31, 2010

Sunday Rest

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.
Phillippians 4:8

October 30, 2010

Gift Idea

Did you know that it is 55 days until Christmas?! I want to savor fall, but I also like to be ahead of the game when it comes to Christmas shopping.
Before you start to stress, I thought I'd share a great idea for the cooks in your life.
Check out this Le Cruset baking dish at CSN.  For $29 it's a great deal!
 The quality is great and it comes in a variety of sizes and colors.  I chose the 12x9.5" because I needed a large dish that would bake well and look nice for serving.
 I'm all about a good pen, and what better time to find a good pen for signing all of those gift tags for Christmas?  My friend Angie told me about Papermate Flair pens and I'm hooked!  They are a little hard to find, but CSN carries them.  You can even order them with your dish here and here.

Have any good Christmas gift ideas that you've found lately?  Do tell!

October 27, 2010

The Joys of Boys

In the world of ribbon, princesses, fairies, and fashion that comes with having two older sisters, my little boy has carved out a special place in our hearts that is full of rough and tumble, baseballs, swords, and lightsabers.  We celebrated his birthday this week, by celebrating his favorite past time:  Baseball.  

Several years ago my husband and I decided that we would try to do birthday parties at our house as much as possible.  Firstly, because we want their best memories to be of our home, and more specifically our backyard.  We've been blessed with a large backyard, so we have plenty of space to play.   Secondly, because it is so much more cost-effective.  Birthday parties can be just as fun on a tight budget.  Don't get me wrong, we love being invited to parties, regardless of where they are!  
It turned out to be a perfect day, so we partied on the back porch.  The centerpiece was a tin bucket filled with the party favors.  (Boys don't care, do they?)

 I placed real baseballs (that we already had) along the shelf of the porch to go with the theme.  Oh, and yes, we served junk food.  Na're a healthy thing in sight!  Cupcakes in the shape of baseballs and ice-cream cups.

 I had forgotten that I had already purchased the kool-aid bottles, so we used the cups for cheese balls. :)

 The best part was watching them have fun.  We had a scavenger hunt, played home run derby and a couple of other baseball games; but the most fun they had was just being boys and playing together.  I think sometimes we (parents) get in the way of kids' fun by trying to  plan too much.  And I'm not just talking about birthday parties... but that's for another day. :)

October 26, 2010

Tap Tap tap... testing 123

Hello from the land of NEM.  I really do have a million excuses for being AWOL, which include:
     *my son's birthday party
     *hosting a huge bonfire/weenie roast  
     *cleaning my house for said parties, but I really should have waited      until afterward
     *lesson plans for our new school quarter which started yesterday
     *catching up on errands that needed to be done
     *sketchy (at best) internet service
     *baseball games
     *family photo session with the extended family

All of those were within a 72 hour period.  I might be a multitasker, but even the best superheros have a sidekick. And superpowers.

October 21, 2010

Fall Break

 Here in the lowlands it's still as green as the river in Chicago on St. Patty's day, so what a nice surprise awaited us in the mountains: peak week for fall foliage 
We took full advantage of it and spent as much time outdoors as possible.  
 Lots of walks and hikes...

 A fun corn maze


 Making memories...

 More hiking, which led to incredibly sore thighs beautiful views.

The kids and I enjoyed our break from school while my sweet man sacrificed and stayed home to work so that we could eat  play relax.

We've spent the second half of our break catching up on laundry, playing, and enjoying no lesson plans each other.  I'm also catching up on things that just get pushed to the side, like cleaning out my freezer and washing all my kitchen cabinets.

Our weekend will be filled with a birthday party for our little man, a baseball game, and having 85 people from our Life Class group at our house for a picnic and bonfire in the backyard.  Whew! :)
Even though I enjoy my quiet days, I love opening our home to others for a bunch o' fun!

October 20, 2010

12 Days of Craftiness

Ready to get your craft on?  Edie is hosting 12 days of handmade Christmas.  With it being the first week of November, you'll have plenty of time to copy these work your magic for Christmas gifts.

Check out her ideas from last year here.

May I Suggest...

 I think I want to be buried with this stuff.  It is divine.  If you are a fan of apple butter, you just met your soul mate.

 My mom gave me this colander for Christmas last year and it has been one of my most used kitchen items.  It is big enough to hold a giant pot of pasta but it collapses for easy storage and fits in the dishwasher leaving plenty of room for everything else.
 It makes a great gift and can be found at large home stores such as Target and Bed Bath and Beyond.

I really like the fun factor that blue corn chips give a dish but the fun usually stops when I take a bite and they taste like cardboard.  Until yesterday.
 These blue corn chips from Trader Joes are light and delish.
Don't like to eat your chips plain?  Me neither.  How about a little sumpin' like this:
Chipotle Pepper Hummus from TJ's.  Mmmm!!!

*No compensation has been made by Trader Joes for these suggestions.  It is just a great place to find new and unusual stuff.  Especially pumpkin butter.

October 17, 2010

Sunday Rest

Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do
as though you were working for the Lord
rather than for people.
Remember that the Lord will give you
an inheritance as your reward,
and the Master you are serving is Christ.
Colossians 3:23-24 NLT

October 14, 2010

You're Never Too Old...

To feel giddy when you see the first gorgeous sign of fall:
Or to try something new:
Today my dad and I took a long ride (83 miles, but who's counting) through the winding roads of the NC mountains. The same roads that I've been banned from since two of my children turn green at the mere thought of a curvy road. It was the first time I've ever been on a motorcycle and I loved every minute. We couldn't have asked for a more perfect day: 55 degrees, windy and sunny. He has these cool headphone thingamajigs so we chatted for over two hours. Without interruption.
We are enjoying a few days with my parents in the mountains for our fall break. There just might be a little spoiling going on around here. And I'm not just talking about the kids. ;)

October 13, 2010

Tip(s) O the Day

I recently ran across these frugal household tips and thought they were worthy of passing along:

* A Must for Dust: Use a fabric softener sheet to dust the front of the t.v.

* Sharpen Your Scissors: Cut through sand paper a few times (I've also heard tin foil, but the sound gives me the shivers!)

* No More Foggy Mirrors: Clean the bathroom mirror with canned shaving cream

*Hard Water Buildup? Pour distilled white vinegar in a plastic bag and tie the bag to the shower head or kitchen faucet so that the head is completely submerged. Soak over night.

*Clean as a Whistle Shower Curtain Liner: Wash with 1/2 cup ammonia to 1 quart water

*Stain-less Plastic Containers: Spray your plastic containers with cooking spray before filling with tomato sauce to avoid red stains

*The Price is Right: To remove sticky price tags from dishes or glasses, spray with WD-40. Your husband will be so impressed!

*Carpet Stains Be Gone: 1 Tbs. vinegar with 1 Tbs. cornstarch. Work into area with a soft cloth and let dry for 48 hours. Then vacuum it right up!

*Stainless Steel Appliances: use good old fashioned Pledge to get those finger prints off. For more details, check this out.

*Stainless Steel Utensils: Place flatware in a pan and cover with seltzer water or club soda. Let set for a few minutes then let it shine like new again!

*Freeze the Vine: Put leftover wine into ice cube trays and freeze to be used later in recipes

*Eye Know! Put an apple in with your bag of potatoes to keep them from sprouting

What's your favorite household tip?

October 12, 2010

Big Boy Room Makeover

As much as I hate to admit it, my baby is growing up. Earlier this summer he told us he was ready for a "big boy room." Ouch.
So we said goodbye to the baby blue, tractors and bunkbeds; and I started the budget hunt. We decided to reuse as much as we possibly could. See the cornice board in the picture below? My husband originally made it for the nursery with a wallpaper boarder running between the pieces of moulding. We painted over it and added the tractor wallies for the toddler years. Since it fits his window so perfectly, we decided to use it again.

This time we used mini MLB baseball pennants (package of 30 for $8.99).
We chose to do board and batten with a shelf that runs around the room. With 3/4 of the wall being white, I decided to be very bold and paint the remaining 1/4 Tricon Black (Sherwin Williams).
I can't believe how much bigger his room seems. His giant "M" came from Hobby Lobby. It was ugly-gold, but for $5 I knew it had great potential with a little spray paint.
The tall chest came from my room. It's been moved to several places in the house over the years but it was originally part of our bedroom suit. It's called a lingerie chest, but don't tell him that. ;)

This basket was a yard sale score. It was a bicycle basket with a nasty water bottle attached. Other than being dusty, it was in good condition. I just took off the attachment pieces and cleaned it up. For $3 I was thrilled. {Cheap thrills}

Remember the green locker? We just gave it a new coat of paint.

I am partial to buffalo check. I don't know why. I just love it. So when I ran across this bedding (on sale for $35) it was love at first sight. (I liked this color, too, but thought the red would go with the baseball theme better). The baseball pillow came from TJMaxx. It was like the icing on the cake.
I sacrificed my own bedside table for the makeover. He needed some extra drawer space for socks 'n stuff. We reused the lamp which I had bought on clearance at Target a few years ago. The stitching on the shade looks like baseball stitching.
In case you are wondering about the board and batten, here's the scoop: We used 8' firring strips cut into 5' lengths. Firring strips are a little more rough than trim boards but not enough to be noticeable. You didn't notice, did you? The price difference? $7 apiece for trim boards or $0.98 apiece for firring strips. Yes. BIG difference.
We spaced the strips 18" apart and tapered the ends at the base. My oh-so-smart husband created these snazzy supports for the shelf from left over pieces of 2x4's:
This desk has true sentimental value. It was my husband's childhood desk. Not just any desk. He and his grandfather made it together.
It even opens from the side for some great storage.
Total cost of the makeover: $108
Happy Birthday, "BIG" boy!

October 11, 2010

My Take on TV this Week

1. I need to mark Nevada off my list of places to visit. According to Fatal Attractions on the Animal Planet channel, this is a hot spot for tiger owners to take their beasts out for a walk.

2. The making of matches is much more involved than I ever imagined. I am amazed that they are so inexpensive. I now have the Doors' version of Come On Baby Light My Fiya in my head. Now you do too. You're welcome.

3. Why did I pause at The World's Fattest Man the other day? Why oh why would he agree to be filmed in his diaper? I couldn't handle it for more than 3.2 minutes.

4. Why am I disgustingly intrigued by Hoarders? Are there really this many Americans living in filth and with the need to purchase?

5. Probably my most burning question: Are there REALLY that many women who are Pregnant and Don't Know It to make an entire season of shows? Really?! They didn't know it?

6. While we're asking questions, how many different wedding planning/disaster shows are currently playing this season? I haven't found a single one that has drawn me in. Unlike gluttons and hoarders.

7. Other than having 19 (or is it 20 now?) Kids and Counting, I want to be like Michelle Duggar when I grow up. She defines patience and has the sweetest demeanor.

8. Anyone else notice how many "paranormal" shows are currently running? Weird. Nuf said.

9. I used to love HGTV because of the fun decorating ideas and design concepts. Now it needs to be called SHTV ~~ Selling Houses TV Grrrr.....

10. Since the Food Network seems to be going down the competition street, I am so glad that the Cooking Channel (fomerly Fine Living Network) is sticking to what we want to learn more about: FOOD

What's your take on tv lately?

October 10, 2010

Sunday Rest

For everything that was written in the past
was written to teach us,
so that through endurance
and the encouragement
of the Scriptures
we might have hope.
Romans 15:4

October 7, 2010

Things that Made my Week

1. We've had the privilege of leading a group of sweet girls. Don't let their age fool you. They've kept us on our toes with questions about death, angels, the origin of evil and fun stuff like that. :) What a blessing to see the next generation dig deep and define why and what they believe.

2. My mother gave me a stack of coupons the other day. Discreetly tucked into the stack was a coupon for EPT pregnancy tests. Whacha think she's hinting at?

3. The fine people over at CSN contacted me about doing a product review. With so many choices from their unique coffee tables to a vast array of cooking gadgets the possibilities are endless!

4. I received a wonderful surprise package from my dear {new} sister-in-law today. I am wearing my gift as I type: my very first snuggie/slanket. It's even better than the commercials make it out to be. I am wrapped in a sea of ivory plushness. Thank you, N!

5. Last weekend I took a little road trip... alone! Starting with a Campfire Mocha from Caribou Coffee it just got better. A book on cd, Hobby Lobby, Old Time Pottery, TJ Maxx, and HomeGoods kept me busy along the way. But, the real treat was getting to spend an evening with my bestie topped off with her white chicken chili and homemade cheesecake for just us girls on her back porch. We got a little crazy and set our alarms for 5:50 am. Why? Because the Nester was having a gigantic yard sale. I had the chance to meet her and her wonderful sister Emily. They were so adorable and gracious. We came away with some good stuff, too!

6. Tomorrow we will officially begin our fall break. Whoot woot! We love our year around schedule! After 11 weeks of school, we are ready for some downtime.

7. We've been in project mode around here. With 3 rooms under construction I have lots of good blog fodder for the future :)

8. I love wearing a sweatshirt to my little man's baseball games. It's so much better than wearing a coat of gnats and other hot weather bugs.

9. I took a nap wrapped in a blanket on the back porch on Sunday afternoon. My happy place.

10. The weather was cool enough to put chili in the crock pot and light a pumpkin spice candle. Glory.

October 6, 2010

The Pleaser Parent

Earlier in the week I shared with you my battle with pleasing others. Today, I want to explore how it affects parenting.

If you are a pleaser, then there is a good possibility that you faced some of the same difficulties I did during my first year of becoming a parent. Before our first child was born, we attended parenting classes, read books about parenting, and told ourselves that we were ready. Since I am a rule-follower, I assumed that everything would go as expected. Our baby apparently forgot to read the owner's manual. By week four I was completely devastated that our baby wasn't following the schedule that the book said we should follow. After all, the parenting class assured us that if we stuck to the sleep-eat-play schedule, then life would fall into a normal rhythm. Nope. Not true. We even decided to go for a second round of mental torture parenting classes geared toward the baby-toddler stage. Again, I was devastated when our precious girl only slept for 30-45 minutes during naptime. But the book said....!
Fortunately, my mom encouraged me to close the book and just enjoy it. "God gave you mothering instincts for a reason. Listen to them." That same week my bestie, also a new mom, said, "There is no way that one book can be perfectly written for millions of babies {other than the Bible} with unique personalities." Oh the freedom in those words. I was trying to live up to standards that man had created. And failing miserably.

Into the toddler years I found myself trying to please another source: other moms. While having peers in the same chapter of life can be a blessing, to the Pleaser it can be a mine field. "You feed your children gummies?" "How long did you breastfeed?" "What about potty training?" So many areas in which a mom wants to answer correctly. After child number two I started to realize that there is no magically correct answer to most of these questions. Even though I parent my children (mostly) the same, their own little personalities play a big role. It was a tough lesson, but I quickly learned that if I parent to please others, then my children are really going to be messed up. The urge to please other moms can rear its ugly head in all kinds of ages and stages. "You let your kids wear flip flops in November?" "What time do your kids go to bed?" "What kind of activities are your children involved in?"

As we are slipping into the pre-teen stage I am reminded again of the dangers of being a pleaser-parent. This is the age that a little part of me wants to please them. As we face bigger and more morality-based issues, I have to decide whether it is worth it to be a Pleaser-parent or not. Am I going to let it alter my decision when I get some eye-rollers because I say no to a tv program? Putting on my big girl panties and realizing that I still know what's best for them can be tough.

Even though each stage of parenting brings its own twist and turns, the desire to please remains.
What to do?
1. Pray! Ask the Lord to give you a discerning heart.
2. Audience of One: keep in mind that He is the ONLY one I need to please.
3. Ask: Are my parenting choices pleasing to the Lord and biblically based?
4. Remember: even though some of us have more experience than others, NO ONE is the expert. We're all on a learning curve.
5. Seek good council. It's okay to ask advice from other seasoned parents. Just don't fall into the comparison trap. It's deadly. Also remember that just because a really good parent suggests it, doesn't mean it will work for you. (see #1 above)

October 5, 2010

FB Personality Test*

I love to watch people, in the mall, at the airport etc... As I've "watched" people on Facebook, I've noticed that most of them fall into one of these categories:

- each of my posts consist of how healthy -or- unhealthy I am eating

Woe is Me - I like the world to feel sorry for me. I'm having a bad day (yet again) and want everyone to know

Weird- I make no sense to anyone else, but I sure find myself funny

Exercising my Pride - Guess how much weight I've lost. Guess, guess! I've just completed 89 minutes on the elliptical machine for the second time today followed up by running 9 miles in leg weights.

Comedian- I have a good sense of humor and keep life fun for all of my friends

Silent Film Star- I'm on Facebook often, yet you never hear me say a word. Basically I stalk all of my friends. I'm a little creepy.

Who Cares?- Wanna know what color my shoestrings are today?

Up and Up - I do a great job keeping up with my friends and my updates are frequent and interesting

Just for Kids - I have lost my own identity. Even my profile picture is of my kids.

It's all about the Numbers - I don't say much, and we really don't know each other, but will you be my friend so that it looks like I'm really popular?

Livin' in the Past - If you saw me on the street, you wouldn't recognize me since my profile photo is from my glory days.

Gamer- I play Facebook games all day and I am not ashamed. In fact, I'll gladly post the link.

Well Rounded - Sometimes I'm funny, sometimes I share news or tips, sometimes I am serious, sometimes I complain, sometimes I am silent. Facebook is not my life, just a great place to catch up with friends that I don't get to see that often.

Are you a Facebooker? If not, you're still cool with me. If so, which of these describes your FB personality? Have a new category you'd like to add to the list? I'd love to hear!

*No, you're not losing your mind... this is a re-post from 1/10. :)

October 4, 2010

Pleasing Others

Hello, my name is Gretchen, and I am a pleaser. Are you? If you are not, stick around because there is a good possibility that someone very near and dear to you is.

I've been a pleaser my whole life. As far back as I can remember I have felt the burden of everyone's happiness on my shoulders. Not that I could actually make them happy, but I wanted to smooth the waters and do everything in my power to please. Even in the tumultuous teen years I sought to please my parents. Was I self absorbed like my peers? Sure, but the opinion of my parents was powerful enough to keep me on the straight and narrow.

As a young adult I sought to please my peers, in-laws, co-workers, parents, husband, fellow church members, and even casual acquaintances. Under the guise of being a pleaser, what I really wanted was their approval. Even as a young mom I wanted the approval of other moms, my children's teachers and anyone else that had a role in the development of my mothering skills. That was a hard job. I wore myself out trying to please everyone because the timeless saying You can't please everyone is undeniably true.

Funny how, in the midst of my "I want to please everyone" I didn't stop to think about what God thought of my pleaser-mentality. It has taken me thirtymumblesomething years but I am learning that I CANNOT please everyone. I cannot gain their approval. Even the people who have known me the longest will never approve of me all the time. So where have all of the years of "pleasing" gotten me? Do my peers approve of me any more than others who are not pleasers? No. Do my parents approve of me more than my non-pleaser brother? No. Do half of the people that I come into contact even care if I am a pleaser? No.

My search to please (and gain approval) comes from an attitude of seeking significance from people. The only place that I will ever find true significance is in the approval of my heavenly Father. 1 Thessalonians 2:4b says:
We are not trying to please men, but God, who tests our hearts.

When I try to please others I am handed judgement, criticism, and possibly rejection. On the contrary, if I seek to please God he already knows my heart. I don't have to worry if He will misconstrue my motives and actions. He knows and he loves me.

I have and will continue to face criticism and judgement my entire life. -A pleaser's greatest enemy.

Do I want others to be happy? Sure.
Am I going to become confrontational? Um. No!
Am I going to allow others' approval motivate me? I am choosing to answer no.
The Lord and I have wrestled with this for a long time. I am ready to throw in the towel and surrender my need for approval. He is enough.

Are you a pleaser?
How critical are you of the loved ones in your life?
Let's give both of those to the Lord today.

October 3, 2010

Sunday Rest

The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
Psalm 19:8