Thursday, August 28, 2008

What Else Can Go Wrong?

I shouldn't even ask that question since we still have 1 1/2 hours until departure (for yet another trip). Why do things always go wrong when it's actually important that they not? In other words, why is it the day we're about to leave on a trip that the following things happen? (Mind you, it's not even 10:00 a.m.)
  • 1 twin dumps dogs' water bowl out...all over kitchen floor, himself (of course, he's already in his travel clothes), and the other twin (also in travel clothes)
  • daughter (who's potty trained) poops in her pants (her travel clothes)
  • daughter spills yogurt all over her shirt because she disobeyed Mommy and didn't put her bib on first (or wait for it to be put on)
  • all three kids get into the plastic wrap drawer: all ziploc bags (approximately 150) were pulled out of their boxes, saran wrap pulled off roll, foil in process of being pulled off roll....
  • 1 twin rips two pages out of daughter's favorite Curious George book
I still have booster seats to clean, pac-n-plays to fold down, car to pack, lunch to get, sippy cups to wash and refill..... (sigh)

Just had to sit down and regroup for a minute--thought someone out there might be laughing to herself and knowing that these things happen to other people!

Postscript: We eventually made it out the door in one piece, but Chick-Fil-A forgot the fries I ordered through the drive thru shortly thereafter. Once we made it to our destination, things went pretty smoothly and my daughter was the cutest flower girl ever!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Road Trip!

Carrie and I (bravely) took our five children (need I remind you that they are ages 1, 1, 2, 2, and 5?) in ONE CAR to visit our parents this week. Everyone survived and had a great time (zoo, pool time, parks, reading stories, horsing around, etc.). Everyone is also pooped!

But, we learned something rather interesting to pass on: go to Cracker Barrel for your trip meals if you have young kids!!! We went to Wendy's on the way. It took us exactly 1 hour from getting out of the car to getting back in. The kids ate okay--but the food they did consume included chicken nuggets of questionable origin, milkshakes, mandarin oranges....

On the way back, we hit Cracker Barrel. We spent almost exactly the same amount--pennies different including the tip! And, we ate much more food--we all got breakfast. The kids ate more food than they'd consumed at Wendy's, it was brought to us (and the table cleaned up for us), and it was real food: eggs, biscuits, milk, etc. It took us about 20 minutes longer than our Wendy's stop, but it was well worth it. In addition, unless it's a super peak travel day, most Cracker Barrels I've been in have clean restrooms, and all have a place to change a diaper.

Bonus: we got each kid (that was old enough) a piece of candy for the road. Mmmm.... sugar.

We highly recommend Cracker Barrel for your next road trip!

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Great Gardening Game: the Harvest Continues

From my meager, bare ground beginnings, I'm now reaping a nice little harvest of tomatoes, cucumbers, hot peppers, green beans, and the beginnings of bell/sweet peppers! It's been lots of fun and... family members and close friends may want to sit down for this... I'm learning to like and enjoy fresh tomatoes!!!!!!!

My little garden has necessitated minimal work on my part these past few weeks. I'm only harvesting and pouring over cookbooks to see what new cucumber salad I can drum up or what new tomato sauce we can try. Our current (and very easy) favorite is a simple tomato basil sauce for sauteed chicken, compliments of Joy of Cooking. When I get a chance I'll post that at full tummies. Our cucumber salads and at least one tomato sauce recipe will be posted this week, so check it out!

You might consider putting in a garden next summer if you didn't this year. It's been quite rewarding! It's also been a good reminder that the Lord does indeed provide our food--when I just buy it at the supermarket, that's easy to forget. When I'm hoping for rain and trying to imagine what life would be like were I actually dependent on the garden for my food, then I remember that the Lord is indeed in control of our food and the curse was a real curse! (to work by the sweat of our brow)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Struggle of Becoming Mom-Part 3

A long time ago, I started my series on the Struggle of Becoming Mom. My idea on part 3 was to talk about the loss of a child. Those that struggle with it. However, it is not always easiest to put into words what you do feel and what happens. And situations can be so different, each of us experience things differently. My hope for each of you is that if you do lose a child (miscarriage or other) that you too would experience God's "peace that surpasses ALL understanding." And would be surrounded by a body of Christ to meet your needs. My Bible study right now is going through a book and there was a story in it of a lady who had lost a baby. Another mother had written her a note, and it was so powerful to me that I thought I would let it speak for me. I don't know who wrote it.

This is the part of the letter:

"At the loss of a child find comfort in the sovereignty of God. There is no lost potential, no purpose unaccomplished, there is only the glorious plan of God perfectly fulfilled in a precious little life. With prayers that God will comfort your sorrow as we await the day when all things will be clearly understood."

Saturday, August 16, 2008

New Teabag 1

Scripture for Student (insert their name if applies.)

Psalm 119:73-74
Your hands made ________ and formed him/her; give ________ understanding to learn your commands. May those who fear you rejoice when they see _________ for he/she has put his/her hope in your word. May your unfailing love be ________'s comfort, according to your promise to your servant.

Scripture for Mom

Psalm 145:2-7
Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever. Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty and I will mediatate on your wonderful works. They will tell of the power of your awesome works and I will proclaim your great deeds. I will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Quicky Devotions

I am always learning something new teaching my Sunday school class. Most of you know you can read through a Proverb a day and you would finish in a month. (And they aren't that long!)

You can also do the same with Psalms. You can read one a day and finish in 3-5 months (many of the Psalms are really short). It is a quick read and many hymns are based off the Psalms.

If you want to make them longer, you can write them down in a journal and comment on them, how they pertain to your life, any relevant verses, etc.

New Kind of Teabag

Yeah, I know I have been absent yet again. I have been gearing up and drowning myself in starting homeschooling. Our local group met for a mom's night and one of the mom's there shared something with us. Several years ago, she was stuck in her prayer life and started taking verses from the Bible and using them to pray for herself and children. She would personalize them with their names. This is so great for anyone. It doesn't matter where your child goes to school, you can still have a prayer for them for the year. You know where they are, what they are struggling with and where they need to be. You can also have a prayer for yourself. Something you want to remember about God, his love for us, or how he cares for us.

So I am going to list the verses, one for student and mom each time. Not all will apply for you or your children. Some will. And if none do, find your own! Might be good to dust off your Bible for some extra study right!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I Used to Say...

I thought it might be fun (and humbling) to start a running list of things I used to say I would never do, my kids would never do, or other edicts I issued along similar lines. I'll just republish this list occasionally with new ones added. I should point out that these charming assessments of the way my life would look once I had a husband and children were usually formed and voiced with my similarly single friends during and after college as we watched our newly married friends become parents themselves. Somehow, pre-marriage and pre-kids, we have all the wisdom of the ages, right? When reality hits, it's often hard to know what was a legitimate (i.e. Biblical) goal and what was just nuts!

1. My kid will never throw a tantrum at someone else's house.
2. My kid will eat her/his vegetables without complaining.
3. My kid will go to bed (or to nap) without issue because that's just the way it will be. We'll raise him/her to be like that.
4. My kids will never eat in the car.
5. My kids won't eat hot dogs frequently--what poor nutrition (I should point out here that I stock up on hot dogs when they're on sale...).
6. My kids will all love to read (thankfully, one does so far and the other two might come around).
7. I will never do natural child birth (before I decided to do natural child birth with my first).
8. I will never have a medicated delivery (after natural childbirth with baby number one and before I got pregnant with babies number 2/3 and had a vaginal delivery followed by an emergency C-section).
9. I will never have a blog.
10. My kids will never watch TV, certainly not until they're at least 2.
11. My kids will be toilet trained easily.
12. My kids will obey me in the park and come when I call.
13. I'll never threaten and not follow through.
14. I'll never bribe my kid to eat dinner by offering dessert as a reward.
15. We'll never have toys strewn about the house--how hard can it be to pick everything up before someone comes over?
16. I'll lovingly guide and nurture my children at all times; no yelling in this house (ha ha ha ha).
17. I won't lower my standards for babies after child #1 (well, let me tell you--the floors didn't get mopped daily when the twins started crawling; the twins haven't been read to every night of their little lives; the twins haven't had any professional photos taken; etc.)
18. I'll only breast feed my babies. (never anticipated twins; tried it and had to give it up)
19. I'll make everything from scratch.
20. I'll regain my pre-pregnancy shape easily because I'll exercise (when? What was I thinking? what's exercise?)

There are lots more! Feel free to comment with some of your own "I used to say..."

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Savoring a Cup of Tea: Fruit of the Spirit (Gentleness)

For the other fruit of the Spirit posts, check the series index in the margin.

When I think of gentleness, I think of women tenderly nursing sick children (or their husbands), older children gently leading younger children, young adults patiently listening to the elderly tell their short, I think of areas or tasks that involve a great deal of patience and kindness mixed together. I think gentleness includes these two traits, but it must be more or it wouldn't have its own separate place in the list, right?

I think gentleness ultimately reflects quiet spirit. When I am truly seeking the Lord, spending time before him in prayer and reading Scripture, being still and knowing he is the Lord, then I begin to gain a small understanding of gentleness. As a parent, I have unlimited opportunities to demonstrate gentleness to my children--opportunities at which I fail usually. It seems to me that gentleness comes when we are quiet before the Lord and take that quietness and serenity into every area of our lives. When my oldest toddler spills her milk on the floor while she is practicing drinking out of a "big girl" glass, I can react gently when I correct her and clean up the spill (instead of overreacting and fuming at her and the general situation). When we are running late (usually my fault in the first place), I can gently nudge my three charges to the door rather than ranting and raving. Why do I want to rant and rave (besides my lack of self control)? I think it is because I haven't been quiet before the Lord; I'm letting the circumstances of my day "get to me" and fretting, fuming, stressing about it all. Instead, if I'd left my burdens with the Lord, ceased striving and rested in the knowledge that he is the Lord, then I probably wouldn't get bent out of shape as much. I'd be more equipped to be gentle in my interactions with those around me.

Gentleness also seems to come into play when we must correct someone or share some hard truth with someone we love. This occurs frequently when we are mothering young children; less frequently, we must correct an adult whom we love--perhaps a husband or family member. Rather than "blowing up" or reacting in the heat of the moment, we should pray about the issue and seek the Lord's guidance. Then, we should gently seek to restore that soul to Lord and/or to fellowship. We should let gentleness pervade our attempts at all reconciliation, no matter who the offended party is.

As I've reflected on parenting this year in particular, I've come again and again to the conclusion that if our goals are truly to grow more Christlike, to know him better each and every day, and to see those whom we love also come to know Christ better, then our actions will no doubt reflect the fruit of the Spirit more and more. This may sound obvious, but I think the more subtle fruit of the Spirit, like gentleness, will become more and more noticeable. The fruit of the Spirit often involve dying to self and looking to another's interest and to the glory of God. Keeping this perspective helps us be gentle when we might otherwise be frustrated, angry, or simply self-centered.

I think I have a long way to go in understanding and demonstrating gentleness. It's something I think about often--especially in connection with self control! When I pack my day too full of events, write a to do list impossibly long, create a list of unreachable expectations, start focusing on what others think of me (perhaps because of the way my children are acting), then gentleness goes out the window. In short, whenever I am trying to control my own life instead of seeking the glory of the Lord and the edification of my family, then it's nearly impossible for me to maintain a gentle and quiet spirit. As I pray for this fruit of the Spirit, I'm realizing that I can set myself up for failure by not recognizing the sacrifices I must make in certain areas of my life. So instead of merely praying for gentleness, I also need to pray for wisdom and the ability to set aside activities and interests which are cluttering up my life.

Friday, August 8, 2008

You Can Buy Coupons!

I had a whole post devoted to saving money on groceries without using coupons (haven't posted it yet). I figured that I couldn't be bothered with buying the Sunday paper, flipping through for the one or two coupons I might actually use, and then keeping up with those one or two coupons.... We just don't use many products that we need coupons for, and I can often beat the deal with the in store specials on generic products.

Or so I thought. Enter the new coupon clipping system: you can buy the coupons you want over the internet! Someone else is clipping all those coupons, organizing them, and selling them for about a dime apiece. When the coupon you want is for $1 off a certain product, you're still coming out ahead after you've forked over the dime. Both of these sites I'm going to link below also charge roughly a dollar or so extra for the total order by the time the shipping and handling is factored in. Not a problem if you're ordering a lot of coupons.

I ordered coupons for products I actually use--brands I'm committed to and such. Now, I'll wait for them to go on sale at the local stores. If they haven't by the time the expiration date is nearing, I'll just use them on the regular priced product. Every coupon I ordered was either $1 off or more, once doubling was factored in (Kroger doubles up to $0.50). Pretty neat, huh? I even ordered 12 coupons for my favorite organic peanut butter which I never, ever buy because it's too expensive. Just so happens that the local co-op has it on sale this month plus my new $1 off coupons! Brings it down to the price I normally pay for the inferior store brand!!! Hooray!

Here are the sites in case you're interested in computer-style coupon clipping:

The Coupon Clippers
The Coupon Master

I thought The Coupon Master was a bit pricier, but they have different stuff. So, check them both out! You can probably search your local grocery store flyer online as early as Saturday, then order corresponding coupons and have them by the end of the week.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Transition to Toddler-dom

We've arrived!!!! I no longer can say my "babies" because I now technically have three toddlers!!!! The dynamic duo has begun walking in earnest; their sister will graduate to "preschool" category soon since she turns three in October. But, for now, I have three toddlers with all that connotes. This is why I do nothing other than referee, rescue my house from the toddlers, and rescue the toddlers from the house (today's favorite scenario: twin B trying to play with a plug that was plugged into an outlet while big toddler sister tries to push him over and twin A is toddling over rapidly to see what all the fun is about....). It's a wonderful life (and never, ever boring).

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

What's for Dinner?

Published simultaneously at full tummies

School days are just around the corner! Many moms work these days, but even if you don't, chances are good that you are just as swamped with homework help, running errands, and taking care of your family; it seems that almost everyone needs help with healthy, affordable meal planning.

If you don't want to utilize the drive-thru, the processed grocery store food, or take out, what are your options for quick meals? You can cook for you freezer like I've been discussing at full tummies. Or, you can opt for a service that tells you what to cook and gives you your shopping list. These two websites are worth checking out if you're interested in a prepared menu and shopping list:

Saving Dinner (See my earlier review)
E-Mealz (Not tried yet, but intrigued by its link to grocery store deals!)

However you choose to go about it, feeding your family healthy food is important, but not the only thing in life. Try to find a plan that enables you to enjoy dinner time with your family, not spend all day in the kitchen, and works for your budget. Sometimes, shortcuts are worth paying for--especially if you are in a major life transition (new baby/babies, new job, recent move, etc.).

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Emergency Bag and the ER

My friend Lisa came up with this idea initially, but I have stolen it and used it as well! For 1 year old birthday gifts, she creates an emergency bag for the mom: a large tote bag into which is unceremoniously dumped an assortment of odds and ends the mother might need for a toddler emergency (don't get too organized with this because the bag won't stay that way). The idea is to leave this bag in the car. When you are stranded in traffic and need an extra snack...emergency bag. When Jr. has a "blowout" in the car on the way to the beach...emergency bag. When you suddenly decide to eat out and don't have a bib...emergency bag. When you decide to stop at the park without advance warning and it's 100 degrees outside...emergency bag. You get the picture.

A sampling of items to include:

Extra wipes
Extra diapers
Extra onesie or t-shirt
Extra plastic bag or two
Old handtowel or something similar
Travel size sunscreen
Travel size bandaids
Travel size neosporin
Travel size hand sanitizer
Snacks (packs of crackers, pretzels, etc.)
Small juice boxes
Bottle of water (to use in clean up)
Index cards and pen (in case you have to call the doctor and need to write something down)

The tot's mom should replace everything they use as soon as she gets home. We've come to depend on ours and use it all the time--even when it's not an "emergency."

That being said, I had to help my friend (visiting from out of town) take her 5-year-old to the ER on Friday night. I grabbed the equivalent of an emergency bag for us: caffeinated drinks and a big bag of animal crackers. Since we left at 1:20 a.m., we certainly needed the caffeine and the little girl appreciated the animal crackers while we sat and waited in the ER (she clearly wasn't in life or death straits since we were thinking of vittles on our way out the door). It's worth taking a minute or two to think of these things if you can!

Happy Emergency Bag Packing!