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
*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.
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...
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbls. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
4 medium tart apples (we prefer Granny Smith)

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!

- 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