Friday, December 22, 2006

Secret language of babies

I've been hearing from 5+ sources about this Oprah show concerning the secret language of babies. It's actually quite facinating. If you haven't yet seen the TV clip, you can see it here.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I'm a believer!!!

My sister let me borrow her sling she recently bought: an adjustable pouch sling. I'm a believer!!!! Here's a few pics of Cassandra and I with a sling from mamasmilk.com. Wish I would have discovered this with my first kid.


New stuff

There's LOTS of new stuff on the Family Weblog. Check it out!

Don't know why this struck me as funny

Came home from a date night last night and was welcomed to this bumper sticker,
prominently displayed on the bathroom mirror.
I about busted a gut.
I just can't imagine where this came from.... Cyndi...
:-)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

If you like your music then you will LOVE this site

Was recently introduced to this website called Pandora.com
All you have to do is type in your favorite song/artist and Pandora will create a "station" of music for you to listen to that is similar to that song/artist.
Say, for example, you like Newsboys. You type in "Newsboys" and Pandora will select a song that it feels exemplifies Newsboys as a whole. You click on whether or not you like it and Pandora will refine your station. Once it figures out the style of music you like, it will play an endless supply of that kind of music (but from a wide assortment of artists). No ads. No fees. It's so cool!!!!
You can have up to 100 stations.
RD and I created the following stations: Christmas, secular, and Christian.
You have to try it!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

I caved...

Alrighty... I finally became a MySpace member. It's been a long tome coming but I finally did it. I've always wanted to reconnect with my friends from the past anyway. Here it is if you're interested: http://www.myspace.com/125625157

Friday, December 08, 2006

Thursday, December 07, 2006

What to do, what to do...

All of my life, through school, through extra curricular activities, through work, etc. I have been told what to do, when to do, and how to do pretty much everything. That is, until I became a stay-at-home wife & mom. Believe me, I LOVE having the freedom, BUT... sometimes the freedom is overwhelming.

American people seem to love having the "have it your way" sort of lifestyle, complete with a never-ending supply of options.
But me?... I get overwhelmed in the cosmetic department. My mind swirls when standing in the pad/tampon aisle. Don't even ask me to go to ACE hardware to pick up screws or nails! Forget it! I like having a few options, but more than 5 or 6 and I start having heart palpitations.

Hence part of my dilemma. What do I do during the day?. The choices are near limitless.

Now, I'm a firm believer of routines and schedules and chore charts... but there's still too much freedom for me, I guess. I'm overwhelmed with the options. I'd do better if someone was over me saying "this, this, and this need to get done by 10am and then at 4pm there's mandatory outdoor recess for the kids for 30min.s, etc.". But I'M the boss. I'M the one planning out the days for the kids and I. Maybe I'm having trouble prioritizing. Perhaps I've fallen into the whole "I can get to that later" sort of stinkin' thinkin'. Whatever it is, I feel like I'm batting at the air, with no real direction. Kid's ask, "can I color?" and I think, "sure, why not? Can't think of anything else you should be doing".

Does anyone else feel like this? Or am I in left-field all by myself? How do you other wives and mom's plan your days? Do you have any good resources I could get my hands on that would help me get my days better planned/scheduled? What SHOULD I be doing during any given day?

Kids say the darndest things.

Got any funnies that your children have said. Here's one of my favorites:


Several months ago when I was changing Benjamin's diaper, Arianna noticed that he had a different anatomy than her own.

Arianna: "what's that, mommy?"
Mel: "that's his penis."
Arianna: "well... do I have a penis?!"
Mel: "no... girls have a vagina."
Arianna: "oh, ok"

Days (maybe weeks) passed and out of the blue on the way to church...
Arianna: "hey daddy... boys have a penis and girls have 'ginas."

After we laughed a good long time, we tried to explain that she was right, but that we have to be careful when we share this anatomy lesson with others. Yeah, right... like a 2 year old could understand that. For several months, Arianna would openly and freely share her new bit of knowledge with anyone at anytime she felt. It was terribly embarrassing, yet sorta funny.

A few more months go by and Arianna eventually stopped talking about this difference between boys and girls. That is, until Cassandra was born. The midwife had left a pretty significant piece of umbilical cord on Cassandra and of course Arianna saw it immediately.

Arianna: "mommy, is that a penis?"
Mel: "no... that's her umbilical cord."
Arianna: "so is Cassandra's a boy?"
Mel: "no... (sigh), that's just an umbilical cord, not a penis. Cassandra's a girl."

No matter how much I tried to tell her it was an umbilical cord, Arianna wouldn't believe me. She was dead set that Cassandra was a boy because she had a penis. Oh my, you should have seen her reaction the day that the midwife brought scissors for us to cut the umbilical cord off. We snipped it and Arianna about had a heart attack.

Arianna: "YOU CUT OFF HER PENIS!!!!"

I don't think I have laughed so hard in my life.
Eventually, she got over it and accepted the fact that Cassandra was now a girl. :-)

***I know some people have been taken aback that RD and I teach our children the actual names of our body parts, but we do so for two main reasons:

1- IF anyone ever tried to sexually abuse our children (and we pray to God that NEVER happens), but if... then our children would use the correct words when telling us about the incident. At our church, everyone that works with minors is required to watch a child abuse protection video before serving. In the video, they suggest that parents use the right words when identifying body parts. They gave an example of a child who was "petting the neighbors puppy" when actually he was being sexually abused by the neighbor. The abuse continued for a long time because the parents didn't realize what their child was trying to say to them. He wasn't taught the correct words.
2- we also don't want our children to identify their sexuality as being dirty, naughty, or evil. If we're nervous or hesitant about discussing it or calling it what it is, the child may think it is something to be ashamed about. Yes, it's private and we teach our children to regard it as such, but we also don't want our kids to think they can't talk to us about sexuality because they think that it's a "no no" subject.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Mom's say the darndest things

My sister recently was telling me that she has been catching herself saying the darndest things since becoming a mom. Things she thought she'd never say in a million years. Here's an example: "Amara- don't color on the table with your cheese! Cheese is for eating- not coloring with!!"

You other mom's out there... what are some crazy/silly things you've caught yourself saying? I'd love to hear them!

How nutritious is this food?

Ever wonder how healthy the food you prepare for your family is? Check out this website. All you have to do is enter all the ingredients from your recipe and it will show you a nutrition label (just like you'd see on the side of something pre-packaged that you buy) with the calories, fat, fiber, vitamins, etc. You can even print these labels off to post on your recipe cards. My sister discovered this and has been totally impressed. The only tedious thing is at the beginning when you have to enter all the ingredients into your "pantry". Once the info is saved, though, it's easy to analyze your recipes.

Have fun!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Need a laugh?

Doc Hamstrung's at it again. If you need a laugh, see the Doc.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Mezzo Farte Chili

Mezzo Farte Chili

1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, diced

Brown and drain.

Add:
1 can (46 oz.) tomato juice
1 can (16 oz.) red beans, rinsed
1 Tbls. + 2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Simmer until thick, approx. 1-2 hours.

Snacks for Toddlers

Per request, here are some of snacks that I serve to my two toddlers:

-cheese and crackers (mine prefer saltines)
-apple slices
-any kind of chopped fruit
-veggies and ranch
-cottage cheese
-good 'ol Cheerios (or any kind of cereal, w/o milk)
-raisins
-bread and butter
-bread and peanut butter (we use natural peanut butter- Smuckers- cause it has less sugar)
-smoothies
-zucchini or pumpkin bread
-pretzels (mine like to dip in mustard)
-organic blue corn tortilla chips (from Aldi)
-nuts
-lunch meat
-jell-o
-pudding
-pickles
-yougurt
-graham crackers

You ladies have any other snacks your toddlers love? Please share!

PS: if my kids don't like a certain something (like a veggie or meat), I've been known on many an occasion to blend the tar out of it in a food processor and sneak it into the food. They never know the difference.

What I discovered the other day

This is profound, but I discovered something in the basement here the other day.

The TREADMILL.

Alright, it's not so secret or hidden. It's actually out in the middle of the floor in the den right outside my bedroom door. It's been there for as long as I've know RD, but never paid much attention to it.

What got me thinking about it was my sister-in-law, Shauna, who likes to run. I'm not a big runner, but she got me thinking about the "gotta stay in shape" concept that I've been neglecting a bit here lately. I'm stuck at 9 more pounds to lose to be at my pre-pregnancy weight. So it's time to kick in gear and lose it. Thank you, Shauna, for the reminder.

So this treadmill's been sitting there collecting dust for at least the 5 years that I've known RD and I've never really taken notice of it... until I got back from MI for Thanksgiving. I woke up Sunday morning, stepped outside my bedroom door, and had one of those "ah-ha" moments, you know, where the clouds part, rays of light are shining down from the sky, and angels start singing in a mighty chorus. (Yeah, try getting have one of these at 5 am.)

I decided to try it... and I think I am really liking it. I'll start walking, pick up speed, start praying or thinking about something, and the next thing I know, -bam- I've walked 2 miles. It's actually pretty easy, even though I'm hoofing it. And I know it's working cause I'm sore.

Who knew?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

6 mo. pics of Cassandra now available

Check out the Duckwall Family weblog!!!

How to feed a family of (5) for $50/wk.

One word... Aldi.

-sigh- I must say, Aldi is probably my most favorite store ever. It took me nearly three years to discover it. Money was super tight our first few years of marriage (and tight might be an understatement). All I knew and was familiar with was Kroger. To boot, I didn't know how to meal plan appropriately. Needless to say, for a family of two, we were racking up bills of $100+ every time we went "Krogering". Much of it we ended up throwing away because we couldn't eat it fast enough. We were wasting our money. Finally, we got to a point financially where we said "enough is enough" and drastically cut our food bill. We said "no more than $50/wk". I was forced to figure it out. In comes Aldi!

1. I started by making very simple meals like spaghetti, BBQ ribs, baked chicken and veggies. And when I say simple, I'm meaning 2-5 ingredients. Spaghetti, sauce, ground beef. BBQ sauce and pork ribs in a crock-pot. Chicken breasts, seasoning, and cauliflower baked. I like very simple, but super tasty meals, not only because they are much cheaper to purchase but also, with three kids, I don't have time to prepare the fru-fru dishes.

2. What really helped me figure out basic cooking skills was a cookbook I received for Christmas one year entitled "Betty Crocker's Cooking Basics". A wonderful book for the kitchen weary and fearful. I highly recommend it. Pictures galore!

3. Another thing that I did was stretch meals with rice, pasta, potatoes, and couscous.

4. I'd also stretch foods by using the meat/main dish for several meals in a row. For example:
*Make a pot of chili... meals that could come from it:
-1: chili and rice
-2: chili dogs
-3: potato bar with chili and cheese
-4: taco salad (Wendy's style) w/ chili
-5: nacho night with chili

5. OR I'd make a double batch of chili and freeze a portion of it so that we could eat it at a later meal. (Freezing extra's is always an awesome idea. I did a lot of meal freezing prior to labor/delivery so that when my babies were born and life was hectic with adjustment, meals weren't so much of a hassle.)

6. Other ways I stretched food was to take things like hamburger buns, hotdog buns, or slices of bread that were getting close to their expiration date and turned them into garlic toast or croutons.

7. Basically, I had to be creative. If something was getting close to "going bad", I tried to come up with a way to use it... like in a soup, for example.

8. At all times, I try keep my spices and baking cupboard well stocked so I can bake and "fluff up" a meal to make it go further.

9. But otherwise, I only buy what I plan on using for the week and no extras. For a while there, we bought absolutely no chips, pop, cookies, etc. If we wanted them, I baked them. Now, if there's a little extra money, I might buy a surprise purchase as a treat.

10. We rarely eat out. And when we do, it's usually because there's a little extra money that week. It's amazing how much fast food adds up.

11. When I first started out with this $50/wk thing (and when I was just learning how to cook), I have to admit, we didn't eat super healthy. Sometimes it was Ramen noodle soup or fish/mac/peas. As I got more comfortable with being in the kitchen, I decided to try things like whole grains, brown rice, wheat pasta, etc. A lot of the healthy stuff is more expensive, so I'd wait for it to go on sale.

12. Every Monday here in Peru, the grocery ads come in the newspaper... every Tuesday, I go grocery shopping. I meal plan around the sale items, especially the meat (which can also be expensive). When I purchase meat, I really only purchase it when it's on-sale. I also keep an eye out for the orange tagged meat that needs to be sold that day (which is usually marked down considerably).

13. I still do this, but I started calling my friends to come over more often for meals and have mini pot lucks. "I'll provide the meat if you guys provide the side dishes" sort of gatherings. Super cheap and fun cause you're hanging out with friends.

14. Cottage cheese. Sounds silly, but we love it. And added as a side dish, the meal gets stretched.

15. Make homemade bread. Serve with dinner. More stretching.

16. Homemade desserts rather than ice cream and boxed yummies.

17. Add a salad to your meal. Even more stretching.


OK. My brain is throbbing. Like when I play Sudoku. :-) If I think of anything else, I'll let you know.

Keep it simple.
If it's not on your list, don't buy it.
Stretch.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Things to consider before becoming a Domestic Engineer (Part 2)

6. HOUSE-FLEEING: A lot of women who are used to the high-paced life of the work-world get stir-crazy when working at home full-time. Perhaps it ties into the whole "no goals" category, but many women face the temptation to flee the home any chance they can get, oftentimes without even realizing it. Several women find it quite difficult at first to find contentment with their new situation. Realize that being a Domestic Engineer doesn't tie you to the home 24-7. (We stay-at-homers need to get out, believe you me.) But, when you're out of the home more than you're in the home (during waking hours), you may have fallen into this category.

7. SUPER-WOMAN: Now that you'll have more freedom and flexibility in your day, it is very difficult to not fall into this trap. The "I can do everything because I'm available" syndrome. Yes, you are available and can help out more during the daytime hours, BUT your first and foremost responsibility as a Domestic Engineer is the home. Weigh your responsibilities carefully. Balance. Balance. Balance. Oh, and did I mention balance? :-) Yes, you can help babysit your girlfriends' kids. Yes you can help out with miscellaneous church functions. Yes, you can join Bible Studies, fitness classes, clubs, politics, etc... BUT, if any of it keeps you from getting your duties at home done, then you need to learn an awesome two-letter word... "NO". It's that easy. Just say "no". Am I saying never help out or join/do anything fun? No way. Fun keeps you young. But if you are consistently/habitually neglecting laundry, meal prep, house cleaning, money management, homework with kids, time with hubby/kids, etc. for the sake of your activity level, then you need to start saying "no". Home and family come first!

8. DISCOURAGEMENT: For the Domestic Engineer, our rewards are usually not immediate. Sure we get peanut butter smiles, hugs, lovin-on's, and the occasional thank you, but it sure is different than getting a paycheck, raise, holiday bonus, promotion, etc. A lot of our rewards aren't even seen this side of heaven. It is terribly easy for the stay-at-home wife to think that she is doing nothing of significance, especially when the world around her poo poo's her home efforts. The world says that there is nothing useful about laundry, cooking meals, wiping runny noses, changing diapers, cleaning house. They look at it with disdain and ridicule, possibly even something to be avoided. I can't even count how many times I've heard people comment on how their brains "wasted" during their years of homemaking because they weren't using it. The thing is, they probably weren't! If you pour all your energy, time, and creativity into making your house a home, believe me, you'll use your brain. Since I've stayed home, I've been forced to learn how to efficiently/effectively meal plan and grocery shop, keeping our grocery bill around $50/wk. for a family of (5). I've had to do a TON of research on childrearing, home remedies for illness, healthy eating habits, breastfeeding, homeschooling, etc. I've been forced to grow up and think about others before myself. I'm forced to think about things like local and national politics and global news because of how it may impact myself and my family. I've been forced to think about Biblical doctrine and why I believe what I believe. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. If your heart and eyes are truly focused on the home, believe me, you will (or at least you should) use your brain constantly. And you may not see immediate results for all your hard work, but the best rewards will be when your children rise up and call you blessed (Prov. 31), your husband speaks highly of you around town (Prov. 31) and when God looks at you at the end of your life and calls you a "good and faithful servant".

9. USED TO STRESS: Many women (since they're used to the high-stress levels of working full-time then coming home in the evenings/weekends to take care of the house) aren't used to a slower-paced life when they decide to come home full-time. It's like an eery silence within the four walls of their home. Even if they have kids to take care of, many women are uncomfortable with the slowness of life. And what do many women decide to do? Increase the stress levels, because it's comfortable for them. It's hard to get used to/comfortable with this new pace in life, but if at all possible, cut back on the stress level. Enjoy the quiet. Enjoy the slowness. Use this new-found quiet to spend time with the Lord in prayer.


***Hope this list helps some of you that are considering staying at home full-time. If there are other "things to consider" that I've failed to mention, I'd love to post them and to hear how you women have dealt with them.

Yummies with Ranch

Bacon Ranch Chicken

4 large chicken breasts
6 oz. shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
3/4 package of bacon (cooked/chopped)
1/2 package powdered Ranch Dressing mix
water

Spray bake pan with non-stick spray. Evenly place de-thawed chicken breasts in pan. In this order place over chicken: Ranch Dressing powder, cheese, and bacon. Add 1/4 in. water. Place lid over it and put in 350F oven for approx. 25 min. or until chicken is no longer pink.
*I rarely use a timer with this recipe. Usually by the time I can REALLY smell the chicken, it's done.



Ranch Broccoli

-steam your broccoli with a healthy sprinkling of Ranch Dressing powder. Stir it in for a thorough coating.

So funny!

Seriously, if you haven't checked out Doc Hamstrung's Parlor, you are sorely missing out on some major humor. Need a laugh? See the Doc!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I love my hubby

Fresh fam pics

Check out the family weblog here.

Things to consider before becoming a Domestic Engineer (Part 1)

One of my girlfriends is planning on quitting her job and staying home full-time at the end of this year. She's on kid #3 (who's now 18 mo.) and has been working for as long as she can remember. Her very words to me the other day were, "I'm excited... but I'm also scared."

Her comment is so terribly common among women who are contemplating staying home.

Here is Part 1 of some common issues that Stay-at-Home-Wifers have to constantly contend with:

1) LAZINESS: Just because you can sleep in until 9 or 10am everyday doesn't mean you should. Just because you can watch soap operas all afternoon doesn't mean you should. Just because you "have all day" doesn't mean you should neglect your responsibilities. When you're home all day, it is sometimes really hard to fight back the "but I don't feel like it" or "I can just get to that later" thoughts. Granted, if you have little ones, it's sometimes VERY hard to get things done NOW, but "later" usually never comes (we all know that). Being a Domestic Engineer is a full-time job and should be respected as such. Have a definite start time for your day. Get a good night's sleep. Get your clothes out the night before. Set up a daily schedule. Think of managing your day at home as you would a normal 9am-5pm job.

2) DISTRACTIONS: There are a gazillion things to distract us from getting our work done during the day. TV. Radio. Movies. Internet. Books/magazines. If it distracts you, just say NO! I like having the radio on and listening to praise music during the day. But when the talk shows come on, I sometimes have to turn it off because I find myself paying more attention to what the speaker is saying rather than on my kids or my chores (which are actually called Home Blessings in my house). If something is prying at your attention, shut it off or get rid of it. Make it a reward or a treat after the hard work is done.

3) MOOCH COMPLEX: How many times have we as women heard this comment being said, "stay-at-home wives are mooching off their hubby's income since they're not contributing a pay check"? -sigh- It breaks my heart when I hear comments like this being said, especially if I see it deter a woman from staying home. We may not be making money, but we sure can SAVE it. Think about it. No more daycare costs. Less wear and tear on the car(s). Fewer oil changes and mechanical repairs. Less eating out. There will be time to look for good deals, to shop off season, and to buy stuff on sale. More things will be made/repaired from home. Women can save $1,000's of dollars by staying home. Not just in saving money, but we also contribute in other ways, too. Since our home IS our job, we can dedicate our full time, energy, creative juices, and drive into it and not have to worry about being "too tired" at the end of the day to give anything to our husband, home, and children.
*On a side note, our pastor once told us that he'd come across some research stating that if a stay-at-home wife actually got cut a check for all her tireless effort of taking care of the home, she'd be making $150,000+ a year!

4) NO GOALS: If you don't have a goal, you don't know where to aim. If Domestic Engineers don't make goals for themselves, they won't have proper focus during the day. What do I mean by goals? I make daily and weekly goals for childrearing/home blessing. It gives me something to strive for. You might want to call it a schedule perhaps. I know that on Mondays I topical dust and meal plan. Tuesdays, I take the kids to reading hour at the library and go grocery shopping. Etc. I also make childrearing goals. One of my goals for Benjamin is for him to stop playing at the dinner table. For Arianna, I want her to stop whining after I give her a command. It gives me something to work toward rather than batting at the wind not knowing what I'm aiming for. It gives me focus. We'd have goals at an outside job. We should have them in our stay-at-home job, too.

5) LET YOURSELF GO: We wouldn't go to work (typically) un-showered, without make-up, hair not done-up, wearing sweats... so why would you do this at your stay-at-home job? Just because no one (but maybe the kids) will see you? Once again, this is a real job and should be respected as such. Not that we have to dress to the nines just to feed and diaper a baby and take the trash out, but I am saying we should at least get dressed and presentable. Believe me, hubby will appreciate it. AND you'll feel better about yourself during the day, too. As the FlyLady says, dress to the shoes!

Friday, November 17, 2006

This is terrifying.... is it true?

One of RD and I's friends is contemplating getting a vasectomy. I decided to do a little research on the subject and immediately came across this and this. Is this stuff TRUE?!!! Have any of you ever heard of this before?!!!

Friday, November 10, 2006

More humor

For some more laughs, check out "Ralph for President" campaign stuff on the family weblog.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Semi-recent family pics

This was seriously the best of 10 poses.
-sigh-
Do you know how hard it is to make 5 different people
(three of whom are under the age of 3)
cooperate for a picture?!
-mom looks tired of trying to be civil-
Next time we're bringing a taser gun.
*it would have looked much better with a brighter background for contrast*

This one' s a little better.
*Note: RD gains sympathy weight with Mel during her pregnancies...
it does go away.*

Monday, November 06, 2006

You girls are great!

This one is from Amy K. John Piper is bad. Thanks for yet another laugh today. :-)

This takes the cake!

Serina, what a hoot! I laughed so hard when I looked at this site. I just had to share with my readers. (My favorite was the menorah.)

Currently reading


Fascinating!
The Bible says so much about heaven,
yet so few people have really taken the time to read it and study it
to know what we'll experience when we die.
A must-read for Believers.

Are you a nursing mom?

Quick question. Any mom's out there that have used cloth breast pads? I currently use disposables (Lansinoh) but am considering using cloth/re-useables. What brands/types would you recommend (for med. to heavy flow)?

Friday, November 03, 2006

New feature

You can now contact me via e-mail (for comments, concerns, snide remarks, fan mail, letters of adoration, topic ideas, sharing of info/personal stories, etc. -smile-) Thought that'd make my blog more effective/user-friendly.

At the end of each post you'll see an envelope with an arrow. Click on it it and you can e-mail me. Also, my address is posted in my profile.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Urinary Tract Infections

If you've never had one, count yourself blessed. If you have had one, you can understand when I say, "YEE-OW!".

Common symptoms: near-constant urgency to urinate & painful/burning sensation during urination

I'm typically a little hesitant to try natural healing and herbal remedies, but I'm slowly starting to become a believer in them, that is, concerning stuff that's non-major medical in nature.

Recently, I experienced the unpleasantness of a UTI and decided to try treating it naturally (rather than having to pay for an office visit to my doctor/urine screen/prescription for antibiotics). After doing some research, I decided to try the cranberry route and for $15, I'm now UTI free!

Cranberry treatment: lots of water, Cranberry Juice (100% juice), and cranberry concentrate herbal supplements (I got mine from from Kroger).

I think the key is catching the UTI early and treating it immediately. If you wait too long, the infection can get into your bladder/kidneys (which is quite dangerous and certainly requires medical attention).

As soon as you experience these symptoms, try the cranberry route and see if it saves you a visit to the doctor.

*the herbal supplements I purchased were called: Super cranberry fruit 1680mg. plus vitamin C (100 softgels)
*my mother-in-law also swears by these vitamins called AZO

Note: if in 2-3 days your symptom persist or get worse, see your health care provider immediately

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween

While many of you may be caught up in the candy, goblins, costumes, and frightful entertainment of this holiday, RD and I will be caught up in something of a more romantic nature.

Today, 5 years ago, RD and I went on our very first date!



Five years ago, I remember standing there filing charts at Four County Counseling Center where I worked as a drug and alcohol counselor. I was nervously watching the clock and waiting for my shift to end because at 9pm, RD was coming to pick me up for our very first date. -sigh- I don't know what it was about RD, but from the moment I laid eyes on him, he made my heart flutter and my knees weak. I had never felt that way about any other man I had dated previously. There was something electric between us.

How we even scheduled this first date is a story in itself. To make it short, I had been putting out "the vibe" to RD since we had met but he appeared oblivious to its signal. One weekend, just prior to Halloween, the Single's Group from our church went on a camping trip. Late one night during the trip, a few of us stayed up WAY late (like 4am) playing a game only my IWU friends would be familiar with called "Mao". It's a complicated game but one of the rules was that when a queen of hearts was played, the person who laid her down had to "compliment the Mao". Well... I was the Mao and RD laid down a queen of hearts. He paused nervously, obviously perplexed at what he should say. After a long, awkward pause, RD said, "I just can't think of anything good to say about you." I thought the other two players were going to bust a gut at his response, but I sheepishly kept my mouth shut, torn inside that he had made his opinion of me completely obvious: he wasn't interested. Needless to say, my "vibe" stopped and I backed off, thinking we would never be together. As a joke, a few days later, I temporarily stole RD's pocket PC and scheduled on a random day (which just happened to be Halloween) that RD had to "compliment the Mao at 9pm". It was TOTALLY RANDOM. When RD caught it in his calendar, he called me and said that he wanted to "make up" for his rude comment during the game and wanted to go out that evening. He sensed my distance and realized that he didn't like it. He wanted to be near me, with me. Hence, our first date on Halloween 2001 where RD tried to "compliment the Mao".

Well anyways, RD came to my office right at 9pm as scheduled, walked up to the front window and asked to speak with me. He surprised me by greeting me IN the chart room (which was a big-time no-no but the office ladies let the rules slide "just this once"). He had a single yellow rose in his hand and handed it to me saying, "A beautiful rose for a beautiful woman". (Yeah, I finally got my "compliment".) My heart just melted.
*For those of you who know RD, you realize this was totally out of character for him. He'd never had a girlfriend. Never really dated. Always had this invisible three foot radius around his body that girls could never penetrate. So the mere fact he took an interest in me made me weak in the knees with disbelief.

Come to find out, back when we were playing the card game, RD had tons of compliments to give me, but if he said them, everyone there would know immediately that he had the hots for me- which he wasn't ready to reveal yet.

We spent that evening walking through Woody's Corn Maze (a Peruvian must-see), ate at Gallahan's truck stop on 31, and illegally played on the kids playground at Miamisfort (since it was way after hours). It was a ton of fun. The night was electric.

After Miamisfort, RD drove me home, pulled into the parking lot of my apartment complex, turned the car off, and sat in awkward silence for a long while staring at the wheel. I was so nervous my legs were shaking uncontrollably. All of a sudden, RD turned and looked me straight in the eye and said, "If this isn't going to possibly lead to marriage, then it needs to stop tonight. Do you want to continue dating?" I kid you not! I was presented with an ultimatum on our very first date! Never before had I dated someone so forthright and bold. I was hooked. I replied with something cheesy, like, "I wouldn't be opposed."

Two weeks later, RD informally proposed to me on IM (seriously) and on Jan. 9 I was given a ring. We were married August 3, 2002.

I love you, RD. Feel free to "compliment the Mao" anytime. Happy 5 years, babe. ILY

Monday, October 30, 2006

Update on weight loss

Woo hoo. I actually now fit into most of my pre-pregnancy clothes!!! Just shy of my goal weight (10 more pounds to go). Funny thing, though... my clothes just don't fit the same. Who am I kidding, though? How can I have three kids in three four years and expect to have that I've-never-had-a-baby-sleek-shaped body? HA! Now, if you've never had kids and you're reading this, please don't freak out. Very few women can go through the gauntlet of childbearing and come out in the end looking as though it never happened. Even with rigorous exercise and healthy eating, it's just not possible for most. BUT... you'll have curves in all the right places that you've never experienced before and that your husband will just adore (if you catch my drift). It's been hard losing the extra weight (esp. with all the thyroid problems I've had along the way), but having a post-partum body isn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. I feel different. I look different. My clothes fit differently. But when I look at the three miracles that came from me... I realize it was ALL worth it. Every last pound. :-)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

No Greater Joy newsletter- Nov./Dec.

To see the full document, click here.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Routines and babies

Let me preface this entry with the fact that I am no guru when it comes to babies and childrearing, nor am I saying that my methods will work with every baby or family. I am merely wanting to share what I have learned and what has worked with all three of my babies.

Prior to having Arianna (my first child), RD and I were given an information packet (booklet and tapes) entitled "Preparation for Parenting- Baby Wise" by the Ezzo's. The woman that gave us the info had three kids of her own that benefitted from the program. She let us borrow it, saying that this is NOT to be taken literally, but that these were merely guidelines that could be adapted to our family.

We read it. It made sense.

The basic premise of the material was this: humans, especially children and babies, thrive with routines.

RD and I started a basic routine with Arianna that looked like this:
*Nap.... eat.... awake/playtime....
*nap.... eat.... awake/playtime....
*nap... etc.
Nothing strict. No "must follow the clock" attitude. It was just a loose schedule, a routine.

Since Arianna didn't come from the womb knowing intuitively what a routine was, she needed to be taught. It was kind of hard as a newborn because all she wanted to do was eat and sleep, but after 2-3 weeks she was on a very basic schedule. From one feeding to the next, we strove to keep it approximately 2-3 hours apart (naturally/gradually increasing this span of time with age & maturity). At first, we had to wake her up to feed because she'd sleep all day if we let her (then, be up all night- which was SO not cool). Sometimes she'd eat in just a diaper/onesie otherwise she'd fall asleep while nursing if too warm. But she got it... and naturally, without forcing her to "cry it out", she was sleeping 6 hours through the night at 6 weeks. And at 10 weeks, she was sleeping 8-10 hours through the night.

Did this work with Benjamin and Cassandra, too?
You bet!

We've been stopped by lots of parents wondering how we do it. We simply say, "Get them on a basic routine... they'll thrive."

Who doesn't thrive with routines and schedules? Daycares, homes, schools, businesses, etc. all use schedules to even function. There's consistency. It's predictable. It's safe and comfortable. We know what to expect. There's few surprises.

For me as a parent, it was great. If our kids were crying after a nap... simple... they were hungry. If they were crying after being awake for a while... they were tired. I learned their cries at a very early age and could easily tell if they were sick, teething, or simply wanting to snuggle/be held. It left out much of the guess-work I see so many parents struggle with.

I enjoyed my babies. They slept good. They were content/happy because their day was predictable- they knew what was going to happen next. Their bellies stayed fuller longer because they got a full meal rather than "snacks" all day.

It worked for us. Perhaps it would work for you. Remember, though... DO NOT be a slave to the clock. That leads to bondage and it's not healthy for anyone. Also, be flexible. These are merely guidelines. It's terribly dangerous when parents take something like this and force their children to follow it to the "t". Keep it simple. Hope this helps.

The difference between men and women

One difference became abundantly clear when RD and I were packing to visit MI recently. I found it too humorous to keep to myself.


This is how women pack.


This is how men pack.
(Note: RD said I misrepresented him by placing two different deoderants
since he really only uses one, having another for back-up purposes only.)

The Myth of Adolescence

My sister sent me this very thought-provoking article. Thought you might be interested in reading it, too. Let me know your thoughts/reactions.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

New stuff on Family Page

visit Duckwall Family blog for some new stuff/pics

Upcoming elections

For you Hoosiers out there, you should check out www.Hoosierfamily.org to take a look at who's on the ballot for this next election. Pretty user-friendly and it will help you make wise decisions on who to vote for. They ask each candidate where they stand on abortion, education, taxes, gay marriage, etc. and you can see how they answered. If a candidate refused to submit an answer, they give you a number where they can be reached. Hope this helps you as you prepare to vote. For you out-a-staters, check on-line to see if they have a similar ballot help for your state. If you find a link for it, let me know and I'll post it on the blog. Happy voting!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Ways to live on one income- Part I

Here's a list my girlfriend (a fellow stay-at-home wifer) and I developed. It's pretty extensive, but not exhaustive. I've talked to many women about staying at home and there's a common thread between the comments I receive: "In today's world, you just can't make it on one income. I HAVE to work." Many of these women long to stay home and raise up their families, but feel trapped. Hopefully, this list will help you women out there that are contemplating staying home but don't know how or where to begin.

Let me preface this list with a description of the stay-at-home wife and/or mom. I can sum it all up in one word: SACRIFICIAL. It's not easy, but it's worth it. Hope this list helps.

-pray for wisdom and diligence to use your resources wisely
-tithe to your church; help others as much as possible (what goes around comes around)
-live in a home that is modest and that fits your needs; that may mean selling the house you're currently in; since most houses increase in value over time, use that extra money to pay off the original mortgage and make a sweet down-payment on a smaller home
-sell the "toys" (extra cars, the boat, three-wheeler, lake cottage, RV, etc.); these items require SO much money in maintenance/storage/gas
-pare down to one car if possible
-buy a good used car instead of a brand new one
-detailed menu planning & grocery shopping; buy only those things on the list
-shop as much as possible at Aldi or a comparible store; I kid you not, I've seen Kraft, Schenkles (sp?) and Dean semi-trucks pull up in Aldi's loading dock; for another example, check out Aldi's Kyder ketchup... above the bar code it says "Red Gold"; you're buying name brand stuff there with an Aldi label slapped on the packaging
-only buy meat on sale or meat marked down because it has to sell that day; contact your local butcher or cow/pig farmer and see where you could purchase an 1/8, 1/4, or 1/2 a cow or pig in different cuts
-no more eating out; eat at home as much as possible; if you don't know how to cook, Betty Crocker has a "Cooking Basics" cookbook that's awesome!
-don't accrue more debt; if you can't pay cash, maybe you shouldn't buy it
-be a "sale shark"; look at grocery ads, watch for coupons, scope out the clearance racks; shop at garage sales and Goodwill; you can buy name brand stuff for 1/2 or less; for me it's a game... what's the most or the best I can buy with "X" amount of dollars
-when at the store, ask yourself "do I NEED this item or is it WANT?"; if it's a "want", put it back on the shelf
-never make a purchase on impulse; talk to huband/wife first; think if there's another way to satisfy the need for the item; buy only after careful consideration and time
-don't go to the store hungry
-cut out all the "extras"- movie rentals/purchases, cell phones, cable TV, prepared food from supermarket, expensive coffee, cigarettes, overly expensive meats, alcohol, pop, junk food, excess trips in the car, excess schedule-fillers (kids' sports, for instance, are costly for all the fees, uniforms, tickets, and driving that are required), tanning beds, movies, plays, musicals, etc.; make it a treat; if you don't do it often, you'll enjoy it more when you get the opportunity
-start a budget- record all receipts each month; you'd be amazed at how much we spend on non-essentials
-stop buying stuff name brand (esp. medicines); Wal-Mart, Meijer, Kroger, CVS, and Walgreens brands are usually just as good
-declutter; less is more; give your unwanted/unneeded stuff to others who will benefit from it; also, fewer possessions means less time, money, and energy caring for them
-donate to the Salvation Army; get a tax write-off
-live below your means; just because you make "x" income doesn't mean you need to live at "x" standard
-if breastfeeding, consider using cloth breast pads
-combine errands; only go out once per week for errands and shopping (save on gas)
-stay home; no temptation to spend when not in stores
-use library instead of buying books; or look for bargains on Ebay, Overstock, or Amazon
-if in town, walk/ride bike to destinations rather than drive
-for projects and repairs, learn to do them yourself (the library and internet are good resources)
-learn to mend and make minor alterations to clothing; no joke... a girlfriend of mine spent $8 on a button and $12 for a zipper!
-learn to sew your own decorating implements- pillows, curtains, tablecloths
-use cloth napkins and hankerchiefs rather than the paper counterparts
-use real dishes rather than paper plates
-for outdoor flowers, use plants that spread on their own like irises, lillies, hostas- and split those out rather than buying plants
-bake multiple items at one time
-use a clothesline rather than a dryer
-keep house heat a little cool if using gas or electric heat, then dress warmly
-save up to buy high-quality items (furniture, shoes, house paint, appliances, etc.) as cheaply-made items wear out quickly (note: high quality does NOT always mean most expensive); do research before making a substantial purchase to know which brands and materials are best
-stop using credit cards unless you pay off the balance each month; interest rates and fees add up very quickly
-pay bills on time; late fees add up
-keep careful track of checking account so you don't have overdraft fees
-entertaining can be less expensive if you have a dessert party instead of a full meal
-keep possessions in good working order; it's expensive to replace things
-buy wholesale note cards or make your own from inexpensive card stock
-use leftover food creatively (rice pudding, bread pudding, soup, quiche)
-use natural cleaners rather than chemical (vinegar, baking soda, rubbing alcohol)
-use cloth cleaning rags rather than paper towel
-use cloth diapers- in general, use the real counterpart to anything disposable; it's cheaper
-stretch laundry detergent with baking soda
-don't feel obligated to give a store-ful of gifts to every acquaintence at Christmas; you could cut out gifts all together or cut them down to one per child and focus more on Jesus, family, and fellowship during Christmastime
-set a dollar limit for gifts then shop clearance aisles; buy necessary gifts ahead of time as they go on clearnace at the end of each season
-buy next years clothes at the end of summer and winter during clearance sales; this is especially true during pregnancy- if you know you'll be needing fall/winter maternity, purchase clothes on clearance in the spring/summer; check out Old Navy and Gap maternity on-line and scope out their clearance racks
-use an artificial tree at Christmas
-don't renew magazine subscriptions if your local library has those same magazines; just check them out there
-wait for new movies to come out on video THEN rent them
-one good butcher knife and cutting board can take the place of make different expensive gadgets and appliances
-grow your own flowers to cut and bring inside rather than buying them
-make dates with your spouse over coffee and dessert rather than filets and merlot
-take care of teeth
-learn basic first aid and simple home remedies for common ailments (I'm NOT advocating to stay away from doctors all together, but there are many things that can be treated at home just as, or more, effectively than at the doctor's office)
-women: learn how your body and cycle works; read book "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" by Toni Weschler as this knowledge can save lots of money on birth control methods, fertility/infertility drugs, doctor visits, pregnancy tests, etc.
-for healthy, low-risk women, give birth at home with a midwife rather than at the hospital
-eat healthy meals full of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains- it's much less expensive to keep your body reasonably healthy than to eat badly and cause health problems (a great expense in itself)
-drink mostly water; if you have a sweet tooth satisfy it with 100% fruit juice instead of pop (but remember to brush teeth)
-work hard at whatever you do- keeps your body healthier than if you were lazy

Whew! That's a long list, I know... but maybe it can spur you onto frugal-ness and give you the opportunity to stay home. If you ladies have more ideas on how you live on one income, I'd LOVE to hear about it!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Crazy for chocolate

Be still my heart... these truffles are amazing. Recently took them to a church pot-luck and was bombarded by people asking for the recipe. If you like chocolate, you'll LOVE this recipe.

Easy Oreo Truffles
Prep: 30 min.
Total: 1 hour 30 min. (includes refrigeration time)
Yields: 3-1/2 dozen or 42 servings (1 truffle each)

1 pkg. (1 lb. 2 oz.) Oreo chocolate sandwiches, divided
1 pkg. (8 oz) Cream cheese, softened
2 pkg.s (8 oz. each) Baker's Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, melted

Crush 9 of the cookies to fine crumbs in food processor; reserve for later use. (Cookies can also be finely crushed in a resealable plastic bag using a rolling pin.) Crush remaining cookies to fine crumbs; place in medium bowl. Add cream cheese; mix until well blended. Roll cookie mixture into 42 balls, about 1 inch in diameter.

Dip balls in chocolate; place on waxed paper-covered baking sheet. (Any leftover chocolate can be stored at room temperature or freezer for another use.) Sprinkle with reserved cookie crumbs.

Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Store leftover truffles, covered, in refrigerator.

HOW TO: For easy dipping, place truffle in melted chocolate to coat; roll if necessary. Lift truffle from chocolate using 2 forks (this will allow excess chocolate to run off) before placing on wax paper.

Dipping Oils

I don't know about you, but I LOVE the dipping oils you get with your bread at Italian restaurants. It's so easy to make it at home.

Rarely do I measure the ingredients for my dips, but here's what I put in mine.

-olive oil
-crushed or minced garlic
-minced/dried onion
-garlic salt
-oregano
-basil
*you can use any mix of spices you want, though- be creative*

Cover; let set out on counter for 2+ hours.

I lightly toast my bread with butter, garlic powder and shredded Mozzerella cheese. Dip and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

So cool- have to do this with Benjamin

Got a coupon from the Wal-Mart Portrait Studio in my e-mail and they have a new deal happening that I'm going to use with Benjamin and thought that some of you other ladies might be interested for your little guys.

At my Wal-Mart in Kokomo, IN, they have a new background/package with Thomas the Engine. You get (1) 10x13, (2) 8x10, (2) 5x7, (4) 3-1/2x5, and 16 wallets for $6.88 plus a bonus Thomas the Engine Golden Book. If you're interested, check out their website here and see if it's at a Wal-Mart near you.

Here's something you don't see everyday

Came across this blog... and I must say it is quite noteworthy. It's entitled "Doc Hamstrungs Parlor: Strange Fiction and Facticious Half-Truths". It's a must-see.

New Women's Movement

A new trend in American culture is taking place. It's facinating and exciting to see women my age, from my generation say, "Enough is enough, I'm staying home".

It's possible, girls, to stay home and live on one income even in today's society. If you're seriously considering becoming a full-time stay-at-home wife &/or mom, there are a TON of resources to help you in that endeavor. In some of my upcoming blogs, I'll be sharing some ideas on how to possibly make it a reality in your home.

For starters, check out this website and this website.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Michael and Debi Pearl Newsletter (Oct. '06)

Check it out here.

More awesome meals from the Duckwall kitchen

No Boiling Baked Ziti

1 jar (26 oz) Pasta sauce
1-1/2 cups water
1 container (15 oz) ricotta cheese
1/4 cup Paremesan cheese
2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
8 oz uncooked ziti pasta

Preheat oven to 400F.
In large bowl, combine pasta sauce and water. Stir in ricotta cheese, Parmesan, and one cup Mozzerella cheese, then uncooked ziti.
In 13x9-in baking dish, evenly spoon ziti mixture. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake 55 mins.
Remove foil and sprinkle with remaining Mozzerella cheese.
Bake uncovered an additional 5 mins. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.



Cherry Delight
1 cup butter
4 tsp. sugar
2 cup flour
1 cup nuts (pecans, preferrably)

Spray pan (13x9).
Mix above ingredients together.
Melt butter, add the rest. Pat this in bottom of pan. Bake 10 mins. at 375F till light brown.
Cool.
Then take 2 (8oz) packages cream cheese and add 1-1/2 cup sugar and 3 Tbls. milk.
Beat till creamy. Spread this on crust when cooled. Take 2 cans cherry pie filling and spread over cream cheese mixture.
Spread Cool Whip over cherry pie filling and refrigerate.





Apple Crust Pizza (open-face apple pie)
1) Roll pastry to fit 12" pizza pan

Here's the recipe for pie/pastry dough that is amazing:

One Double-Crust Pie
2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup Crisco
4+ Tbls. COLD water

Measure flour and salt into bowl. Cut in shortening thoroughly. Sprinkle in water, one tablespoon at a time, mixing until all flour is moistened and dough almost cleans side of bowl.

Ok, back to the Apple Crust Pizza...
*Ingredients:
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbls. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
4 medium tart apples (we prefer Granny Smith)

TOPPING:
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup rolled oats
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup butter softened (4 Tbls.)

2) Combine sugar, flour, cinnamon in a bowl. Add apples and toss. Arrange apples to cover pastry. Combine the TOPPING ingredients and sprinkle over apples. Bake at 350F for about 35 mins. Serve warm.

*options: -drizzle caramel ice cream topping while still hot
-serve with vanilla ice cream


Mommy's Little Helpers

Here's a pic "Aunt Kwis-a-Becca" took when they
spent the day with her a couple weeks ago.
Gotta harness the "I want to help" energy
they have in abundance at this age.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Congrats Cassandra!

Cassandra is now (finally) taking a bottle!

She's still exclusively breastfed, but about 1-1/2 weeks ago RD and I put her in what we call "Baby Bootcamp" and forced her to take a bottle. She had her last nursing at 3am and was only given the choice of breast milk from a bottle for the rest of the day (while I pumped). At about 12:30pm, she finally gave in and took a bottle. For two days straight, she got milk from a bottle and was only allowed the breast at her last PM feeding. She now takes a bottle like a pro! We're so proud of you, baby girl!

*pros:
- RD gets to bond with her during feeding times (which he loves)
- I get to have some alone time/time out with girlfriends
- RD and I get some real alone time JUST the two of us
- other people get to feed her/spend longer periods of time with her/babysit

For those of you who are considering purchasing a breast pump, may I suggest the Medela electric double breast pump. I kid you not, the Pump In Style that I'm currently using has been through 8 kids! Of course, the breast attachments/collection bottles have changed per woman, but the actual pump itself is still going strong! I highly recommend it! (They even have an attachment for your car that plugs into the lighter!)

6 Signs of Maturity

*by Dr. David Jeremiah (May 2002)*

1. The ability to deal with reality- you don't blame others and you don't kid yourself

2. The ability to adapt to change quickly

3. The ability to be free from anxiety and tension- you trust God

4. The ability to know that you receive more joy from giving than receiving

5. The ability to relate to all and give help, not just be a part of the problem

6. The ability to use adrenaline from anger constructively

Friday, September 29, 2006

Hypothyroidism: Part 2

Got the results of my bloodwork yesterday and boy was I surprised. Apparently, I'm currently over-medicated! My first and most natural assumption was that if you're overdosing on your meds you'd have hyperthyroidism. Quite the opposite, I've since found out. Check out this article. They simply cut my dose in half and hopefully starting tomorrow, I'll be making my slow return to the land of "normal" (if such a place exists, -wink-). I wonder if my hypothyroid thing is merely pregnancy induced/related? I haven't really given my body much of a chance to find out otherwise. Hmmmm....

New kid pics

Check out the Duckwall Family weblog for pics of Benjamin's 2-yr. Birthday. More pics soon to come!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Modesty

Here's a cool article on modesty.

Hypothyroidism

Symptoms:

- fatigue
- weakness
- weight gain or increased difficulty losing weight
- coarse, dry hair
- hair loss
- cold intolerance (can't tolerate the cold like other's around you)
- muscle cramps and frequent muscle aches
- constipation
- depression
- irritability
- memory loss
- abnormal menstrual cycles
- decreased libido

Sometime during my pregnancy with Benjamin, my thyroid stopped working like it should. This under-active thyroid thing runs rampant in the females on my mother's side of the family so I suppose I was bound to have problems myself. Once diagnosed and treated, my thyroid's been working fine... that is, until Cassandra was born. I have REALLY been struggling physically, emotionally and spiritually since her birth. Then it sort of dawned on me today that -duh- I should probably get my thyroid checked again, especially since I am experiencing 11 out of these 14 symptoms. It amazes me to see how one itty-bitty gland can affect a person so much.

Hi ho Hi ho- it's off to the doc I go tomorrow to get bloodwork done.

If some of you women are experiencing any of these symptoms, you may want to get your blood tested, too. Super easy to test for/treat. Left untreated and things like mental retardation (in children), infertility, miscarriages, etc. can occur. Here and here and here are some good articles to read if you're interested.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Interesting

Got a link to this article the other day. Very thought-provoking. I wanted to share it with you.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Hymn for the "Wife and Mom"

I Surrender All- by Judson W. VanDeVenter & Winfield S. Weeden

All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give
I will ever love and trust Him
In His presence daily live

All to Jesus I surrender, humbly at His feet I bow
Worldly pleasures all forsaken
Take me Jesus, take me now

All to Jesus I surrender, make me Savior wholly Thine
May Thy Holy Spirit fill me
May I know Thy pow'r divine

All to Jesus I surrender, Lord, I give myself to Thee
Fill me with Thy love and power
Let Thy blessing fall on me

I surrender all, I surrender all
All to Thee my blessed Savior
I surrender all

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Making Choices

Was reading through parts of 1 Corinthians and saw a little chart in the commentary that I thought was really cool. Here's what it said:

If I choose one course of action:

1) does it help my witness for Christ? (9:19-22)
2) am I motivated by a desire to help others to know Christ? (9:23; 10:33)
3) does it help me do my best? (9:25)
4) is it against a specific command in Scripture and would thus cause me to sin? (10:12)
5) is it the best and most benefitial course of action? (10:23, 33)
6) am I thinking only of myself, or do I truly care about the other person? (10:24)
7) am I acting lovingly or selfishly? (10:28-31)
8) does it glorify God? (10:31)
9) will it cause someone else to sin? (10:32)

I know we make all sorts of peripheral decisions everyday that have no eternal bearing: what to eat, what restaurant to pick, what color should I paint my toenails, which brand of hair products to buy, what store to purchase deoderant, etc. But as women, there are other decisions we make that are a bit weightier: what kind of clothing should I be wearing, how should I act around men, should I gossip with the girls at work, do I cave to peer pressure so I fit in, do I make decisions without discussing it first with my husband, should I work or stay home, what extra curricular things should I get involved in, how do I use my money, etc..

We as Christians shouldn't look like the world because the world is following "self" and the "flesh"... not God. Not that we should stick out like a sore thumb on purpose, but we shouldn't do as the world does without carefully examining it against Scripture. We sorta got on a rant about feminism not too long ago and all the freedoms that we as women have been granted. Yes, feminism has given us options and choices as women, but as Christian women, we need to thoroughly question those freedoms to see if it's "ok" in the Bible.

Take working outside the home, for example. No where in Scripture does it say, "Thou woman, must not worketh outsideth the home, but stayeth ye home; only bearing and raising children". So, what do we do now that our options are so diverse? I REALLY like this list of questions because it can help us as we make hard decisions. If working outside the home is a decision you're facing, between your husband and you, start asking yourselves these questions: does working outside the home help my witness for Christ? Am I motivated by a desire to help others know Christ? Does it help me do my best? Is it against a specific command in Scripture and would thus cause me to sin? Is it the best and most benefitial course of action? Am I thinking only of myself, or do I truly care about the other people involved? Am I acting lovingly or selfishly? Does it glorify God? Will it cause someone else to sin? Etc. After answering yes or no to these questions, pray. Then listen to the Lord. He'll lead you.

Ask yourselves these questions anytime you need to make a difficult decision. Then wait on the Lord to reveal what you should do. If we're truly seeking His face and waiting upon Him for answers, He will be faithful in leading and guiding us.

Life Action Revival Ministries

Last Sunday, during both the AM and PM services, our church was priviledged to be ministered to by the Life Action Revival Ministries. Wow, if you ever get a chance to attend one of their meetings, revivals, or camps, I would highly recommend it. It was a great ministry!

Some of you may have heard about it through Nancy Leigh DeMoss' radio show called "Revive Our Hearts". It's all part of the same ministry (based out of Buchanan, MI).

Solid teaching. Intense passion for God's Word and spreading revival within the Church. Hearts for sharing Jesus' salvation. Incredible music. Family-friendly.

Kinda got RD and thinking about missions a little bit. Neither of us have a passion to go over seas to like Africa or China or Russia. But, being a part of something like this within the States?... Maybe... But, it would have to be in the future. Gave us a little more motivation to be rid of the school/business debt we have so we could be available for this sort of service to the Lord.

Monday, September 18, 2006

"Tolerance"

"Tolerance"... after thinking about this word for some time now, I've come to the conclusion that it's a terribly one-sided issue.

The secular world keeps telling conservative Christians that we're "intolerant", "ignorant", "judgemental", and "offensive". I scratch my head when I hear that.

Aren't they themselves being "intolerant" (that is, of us Christians and our convictions)? What if we think they're being "ignorant", "judgemental", and "offensive"? Why are we the only one's who are expected to be "tolerant"? Seems they can't practice what they're preaching. Double-standard, I suppose.

It's kind of like when someone says, "There's no absolutes!" Hmmm... isn't that statement an absolute in and of itself?

How silly is that?...

The Case Against Soda

My sister sent me this convincing article. (Rebekah, you'll love it!) I'm not a big soda drinker, but it got me to maybe think twice before slurping a can down. If you're a frequent soda consumer, you might want to read it.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Blessed "timers"

My new best friend... the Kitchen Timer.

Kinda spurred from the FlyLady, but I've been using the concept for all sorts of different things. The kids love it, too.

Anybody can do anything for 15 mins., right?
Or for toddlers, it's more like 5-10 min.s.

I use it for "clean up, clean up", reading time, quiet time, naptime, fun time, helping in the kitchen, home blessing (aka "chores")... it's a wonderful tool. Sometimes it's even a race for the clock, to see who can get what done the fastest. It helps all of us focus on the task at hand and we can work hard knowing that there's an end near in sight.

Thanks, FlyLady.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Need a laugh?

WHY DID THE CHICKEN CROSS THE ROAD?

Jerry Falwell:
Because the chicken was gay! Isn't it obvious? Can't you people see the plain truth in front of your face? The chicken was going to the "other side". That's what "they" call it: the "other side". Yes, my friends, that chicken was gay. And if you eat that chicken, you will become gay too. I say we boycott all chickens until we sort out this abomination that the liberal media whitewashes with seemingly harmless prases like "the other side". That chicken should not be free to cross the road. It's as plain and simple as that.

Pat Buchanan:
To steal a job from a decent, hardworking American.

Dr Seuss:
Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes, the chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed, I've not been told!

Ernest Hemingway:
To die. In the rain.

Martin Luther King, Jr.:
I envision a world where all chickens will be free to cross the road without having their motives called into question.

Grandpa:
In my day, we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Someone told us that the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough for us.

Aristotle:
It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.

Karl Marx:
It was a historical inevitability.

Ronald Reagan:
What chicken?

Captain James T. Kirk:
To boldly go where no chicken has gone before.

Fox Mulder:
You saw it cross the road with your own eyes. How many more chickens have to cross before you believe it?

Freud:
The fact that you are concerned that the chicken crossed the road reveals your underlying sexual insecurity.

Bill Gates:
I have just released eChicken 2000, which will not only cross the road but also will lay eggs, file you important documents, and balance your checkbook. Internet Explorer is an inextricable part of eChicken.

Einstein:
Did the chicken really cross the road or did the road move beneath the chicken?

Louis Farrakhan:
The road, you see, represents the black man. The chicken crossed the "black man" in order to trample him and keep him down.

Colonel Sanders:
I missed one?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Laughing babies

This brightened my day. Thanks, Cyndi.


Sunday, September 03, 2006

Woo hoo!

Weighed in this morning and smiled as I realized I only have to lose 11 more pounds to get to my pre-pregnancy weight! woo hoo!

MOPS

Mothers Of Preschoolers... Has anyone heard of it? Better yet, has anyone ever been a part of it, either as a member or part of the Steering Team? We're thinking about starting a MOPS group at my church and I was wanting to talk with anyone who's been a part of one.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Currently reading & watching

Moved onto "Monk, Season Two" :



Started reading Karen Kingsbury's "Waiting For Morning":

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Date night with the hubby

I look SO forward to Thursday nights. It's date night for RD and I!!! Now, I know that a late night run to Applebee's and Wal-Mart may not sound like a load of fun to the average couple, but it has become the highlight of our week. It makes Monday thru Thursday a little more bearible for the two of us. FINALLY, some alone time, which is a rarity at this stage of our marriage.

I just love spending quality time with my hubby. He is such a perfect fit for me. I'm high strung; he's incredibly laid back. I've taught him to not be too laid back (aka "lazy"); he's taught me to stop and smell the roses, to have a little rest and fun in life. I take things personally; he lets things roll off his back. I'm book smart; he's "common sense" smart. I'm incompetent in regard to technology; RD's saavy with anthing electronic. Another quality about RD that I adore is that he is solid/unwavering in his convictions. He's my "rock" (lowercase "r"). He helps me make decisions based on fact/conviction rather than on emotion (which is hard being female). And the #1 most coolest part about RD is that he's a solid Christian and is the leader of this family. A lot of people bawk at the idea of women being submissive to their husbands. I guess it would be hard if he were mean, nasty, and tyrranical. But if he's truly seeking the Lord (like RD is), it's a joy to be submissive under his authority.

Hmmm... that's an interesting topic to blog about in the future, that is, male headship and female submission. Look for that one on a later blog.

Anywho's, I basically wanted to blog and gush about my stud of a husband. If you girls want to blog/gush about your hubby's, I'd love to hear about it. What makes your husband awesome?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Homeschooling Preschool

Yesterday I was doing some research on homeschooling preschool and came across an interesting article. I think it was more of a parenting/schooling forum but what they said was facinating. They said that what parents think a preschooler should know is completely different than what educators want a preschooler to know. Parents work diligently to get their three and for year olds to learn their ABC's, numbers, and colors (which is good), but apparently that's not what's really important to know going into kindergarten. Across the board, what teachers/educators want their students to know is basic life/social skills such as sharing, listening to/following directions, patience, being able to sit still, being organized, having a desire to learn, etc. and fine motor skills such as knowing how to cut paper with scissors, how to hold/use a pencil, how to paint/mold clay, how to "stay within the lines", etc. If kids have these basic social/fine motor skills, then the letter/number/color recognition stuff will come naturally. The writers of this forum were actually suggesting that children not attend a formal "preschool" but to keep their kids home and teach them these social/fine motor skills there. Have them do chores, read to them, have them help with the cooking, take them to the library, play with balls outside, read books, have them paint and play with clay/play-doh... oh, and did I mention reading to them? They said one of the best things you can do with and for your preschooler is to READ to them. This teaches them patience, word recognition, comprehension skills, developes imagination, etc. That and doing whatever you can to instill a desire to learn. Take them to the zoo or to museums. Involve them in things like dance or music or playing an instrument.

This was so cool to read yesterday. I've been in the mindset that Arianna HAS to know her alphabet, numbers, and colors... but she just doesn't "get it". As soon as something gets too hard, she shuts down mentally and it's impossible to get her to continue. She's just not ready for preschool stuff yet. It was refreshing to know that that's not what's really important yet. To know that we can still just play for another year or two was a cool thing to learn. We'll still go through flashcards and workbooks every once in a while, but I'm not going to push/force her like I have been. I'm trying hard now to focus more on reading to her, giving her "home blessings" (aka chores) to do, having her help with dishes/cooking, etc. She had a blast yesterday helping me load/unload the dishwasher, setting the table, and helping me make bread. And it rests me at ease knowing that those skills are what really counts.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

YEAH!

Cassandra took a bottle of sugar water this evening from RD!!! I think we're going to start her off with one bottle of sugar water a day from RD until she gets used to it. Then maybe she'll take breastmilk or fruit juice (later on). YEAH!

Currently reading & watching

Currently reading:

*Nancy Leigh DeMoss' book entitled "The Lies Women Believe"

Currently reading:

*MOPS' "What Every Mom Needs"


Currently watching:

*Monk (season one)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

What to do when at fast food?

On Friday, when RD and I went up to Ft. Wayne to drop Charles off at college, we stopped at Burger King for lunch. We didn't know where/what we were going to eat until we got there. When we got there, we didn't have much time. The closest/quickest thing we saw was Burger King. My mind started reeling. What on EARTH am I going to eat here? We were first in line and there were quite a few people in line after us. I felt rushed. The salads in the pictures looked gross. What am I going to do? I panicked. I caved. I order a chicken sandwich meal... and I ate it.

The entire time I ate it, I knew I was going to regret it... which I did about an hour later when the food expanded in my stomach and I felt sick to my stomach and couldn't eat another bite of food until 9pm that evening.

But what was I going to do? I didn't have time to make a wise choice, and seriously, the salads looked totally barfy. In hindsight, I should have ordered the chili and a grilled chicken salad (to make a mock taco salad) and had water.

RD suggested I make a plan ahead of time for what to eat at certain restaurants. Our hotspots are: Burger King, Wendy's, McDonald's, and Applebees.

Anybody have suggestions on eating healthy at restaurants, esp. fast-food? Normally, we rarely even eat out, but I need an action plan prior so that if we do have to eat out, I know I can choose something healthy and filling and I won't be tempted to eat something I shouldn't.

What do you guys do? What do you eat?
----------------------------------------

Our time in Ft. Wayne was SO fun. It was just RD, me, Cassandra, and Charles. Arianna and Benjamin went to uncle Kris and aunt Rebekah's house for the entire day- which they had a total blast. But for RD and I, it was so refreshing to be almost alone together and to have time to focus on one another. Kind of weird... we don't even know marriage apart from having children. We had our dating/courtship time and then about 3 weeks after the wedding together before the concept of children came into the picture (when I was heaving in the toilet with morning sickness... ahh... wedded bliss... -wink-). The times we get together alone are few and far between. Don't get me wrong... I see a lot of RD, he is totally involved in parenting with me, and we do a lot of stuff together as a family. But just him and I time... it's pretty rare. Nap times and after the kids go to bed at night is really the only time we get alone. But then there's Cassandra. Almost always when the two older ones are taken care of, she beckons for our attention. Sometimes, right up until the late hours of the evening. I'm not complaining in any way, but I sure do enjoy those moments when him and I get to be away from it all and have some fun time apart from the kids. I guess that's why I really want Cassandra to learn to drink from a bottle... it's mostly so RD and I can totally be alone sometimes. Anyway, I'm getting tired of thinking so I'm going to sign off now. G'night.

"Do I have to tell you again?"

I've been a "flybaby" since about January of this year. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the FlyLady, you should really check out her site: FlyLady.net. Incredible. She helps you learn "baby steps" to take control of your home and get it clean/orderly with only 15 mins a day. Not that my home is spotless, but I've been slowly taking my baby steps and my house is so much more in order/decluttered than ever.

Anywho, her concept of baby stepping can apply to pretty much any/every area of our lives, whether it be keeping your house clean, keeping on top of finances, losing weight, etc. To make long-lasting changes in your life, you cannot change completely overnight. We have to make a little change here and a little change there and over time, we'll get used to our new "habits" and they will eventually be engrained into our way of thinking. It will stick.

If you get on her site, you can sign up for free daily e-mails from the Fly Crew. In each of these e-mails, you get testimonials from other fly babies and a BUNCH of reminders (like "dress to your shoes", "do one load of laundry today", "drink your water", "do your morning/before bed routines", "Swish and Swipe the bathroom", etc.) These reminders are in EVERY e-mail. It gets annoying reading them day-in and day-out... but today, I sorta had one of those "God breezes" she talks about. HUMANS LEARN THROUGH REPETITION.

hmmmmm.

She has a point there. There are LOTS of things that we know we should do but for some reason we just forget. We need those precious reminders (as annoying as they can be sometimes).

I got to thinking about my daily routines. I forget to drink my water. I forget to do things for 15 mins at a time. I forget to get dressed to my shoes every morning. I forget to my 1 load of laundry every day. I get distracted and/or sidetracked ALL the time....

If I need daily reminders (and I'm an adult), then HOW IN THE WORLD can I expect my children (who are only 3 and 2) to remember to do what I tell them without constant reminders? That's the part of parenting that drives me absolutely ape wild. I say the same things all day/every day to my children. Don't fight. Stop playing with your food. Tell me when you go poo-poo. Put your plate down. Stop dropping your sippy off the table. Don't chew on your books. Stop stealing from him/her. Stop whining. No, you can't have dessert until you eat your food. Put your toys away. Don't walk on your toys/books. I get so annoyed that I keep working on the same things with them ALL the time.

But if I can't seem to "get it" right away, then why do I get so frustrated at my kids when they don't "get it" right away? Sometimes, I need to hear the same thing 20+ times and I STILL don't get it. Why would it be any easier for a toddler?

....

One of the FlyLady testimonials I read this morning said something that got me thinking of yet another aspect of parenting. She said that "if we talked to our friends' kids like we talk to our own, how many of us would still have any friends?" Ouch. One of the things that I hear myself saying is "I can't help it! I can't control my anger! They drive me crazy and I can't stifle the frustration inside me!" BALOGNA! Then why is that in a instant, I can go from raging bull to absolute gentleness when the phone rings and it's for me? Why is it that I can get to the point of blowing a gasket while I babysit someone else's kid but I don't snap at the child/yell and lose my cool? Why is it that I can be self-controlled while administering discipline when we're at church? So I CAN control it. I'm simply choosing to let my emotions rule over me.

Oh Lord, never before in my life have I EVER had to deal with my sin as I do now as a mom. There has never been anything so difficult in my life. I can't run from my problems... I am forced to deal with them. PLEASE help me. I am so utterly selfish. I never saw the depth of my depravity until I started having children... then, all of a sudden, the total ugliness of mySELF came to the surface. I CAN control my anger. I CAN control my words. Please, by the power of the Holy Spirit within me, change me... one baby step at a time... until righteousness become a life-long "habit". Even though some of this has been painful to see, I thank You for revealing it. Amen.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Something to celebrate about!

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, Mom and Dad E.!!! We love you!

Weight loss challenge

For Halloween this year, RD and I plan to dress to the nines and go out on a "special date" down in Indy. RD wants me to get a super cute (ok, his exact words were "super HOT") dress to wear that night. I was getting really excited, that is, until I looked at myself in the mirror. Hmmm. Ok, I'm no where near being considered "fat" but I'm still carrying about 15 lbs of leftover baby "girth". So I made a commitment to myself and to RD that I'd shed those 15 lbs before our date, which will put me at my pre-pregnancy/college weight of 130 lbs. So... I've got a little over 2 months. My plan: cut out all the non-essentials from my diet (pop, desserts, my beloved Cheez-its... sigh..., etc.), limit carb intake, drink lots of water, and exercise at least 5x's/wk. RD plans to hold me accountable... and now I'm asking YOU guys to keep me accountable, too. Feel free to check on me and my progress at any time.

*Just making lunch the biggest meal of the day & keeping supper light and low-carb has helped a lot. I've already lost 10lbs!

PS- for you fitness nuts out there, what aerobic and or toning fitness videos do you like to do? I've been doing Leslie Sansone's "3-mi. Walk Away the Pounds" and her "Pilates" workouts and I also have Cindy Crawford's "Shape Your Body" video (a little old, I know... but it's really hard).

While we're on the subject....

What are your top (5) favorite appliances/kitchen utencils?

Here are mine:

1) obviously, my KitchenAid stand mixer
2) coffee pot (couldn't live without it... and just in case something happens to my coffee pot and is out of service, I even have a back-up coffee press... I'm not addicted... really...) :-)
3) crockpot (awesome during hot summer days)
4) outdoor grill
5) dishwasher (what did I ever do without it?)