Sunday, November 27, 2011


I have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. God is so good, so loving, so gracious and so giving to me that it's often overwhelming. How much He loves us!
This year was special for several reasons, one was the fact that my parents were able to come visit us over the holiday. This in itself was a direct answer to prayer. I had been asking God to somehow be able to see them soon- for Oliver to meet his grandpa. The answer came through some friends of ours that offered their sky miles to us- so that we could fly my parents in. How amazing it is when you know that God gave you a very clear answer. He provided a way and took care of all the details.
It was very special to see my mom and dad in the airport, and to have Oliver welcome them with a hug. Very special memories that we will always cherish- we even have it on video.
These younger years in our sons life seem to fly by too quickly. It has made me realize how important it is to stop and enjoy the simple moments, and to remember to see things through his eyes. What may not seem all that exciting to me, may be something that completely thrills him! Jonah and I are slowly starting our own traditions that we can share with Oliver (and any future children in our lives).
I loved the time with family though, it went smoothly for the most part, and we all had a great time together. We also welcomed my sister and her daughter into our home for part of the week as well. A full house of family for sure! It was so nice to catch up with everyone and just spend time together.
The Thanksgiving dinner was my first- first time cooking it ALL anyways. I was happy to have my mom there to help me prepare everything, she has many years of experience at this, and I came to appreciate that even more after I finished all the cooking and baking for the day!
Did you know turkeys come with a little flap of skin to tuck over the legs? Gross yes, but also very handy when you are roasting the bird! Our turkey came out golden brown and was moist and delicious!
oliver was hanging out in the kitchen waiting while we prepared the big meal

And even though it took some work and time, I was happy with how everything came out, it was delicious. Everyone seemed to enjoy the food and we had a lot of leftovers that carried over into sandwiches, soup and more to come! Pie is always wonderful to have leftover too since I don't make pies that often. A yummy treat.

Our menu: herb roasted turkey, cornbread sausage stuffing, sweet potato casserole, cheesy mashed potatoes, bacon wrapped green beans, whole wheat rolls, cranberry sauce, green and black olives, cran-apple pie and pumpkin pie.

I have much to be thankful for as I mentioned earlier, and this bountiful table filled with savory delicious foods is one big thing to give thanks to God for. His provision is so evident. As I looked around that table at those beside me I can see God's hand on us. It is so evident that He will take care of us. I am reminded of this when I think back over this past week. I don't take for granted the food on our table, and the roof over our head. I know that there are so many in the world that go without because they don't have a choice. And I am mindful of this as we head into the next holiday season.
Each year I feel like I am prodded to do more for others, to give more, to love more, to be less selfish...and it seems I fail. I get wrapped up in the spirit of Christmas as forget the very reason we celebrate this upcoming day.
I pray that as we leave Thanksgiving behind we don't forget how much we have in our lives that we are thankful for. Our freedom, both physically and spiritually, our shelter, our food, our family, friends, clothing, salvation, and our relationship with Christ. To whom much is given, much is required. May I not miss what is required of me!

thank you Lord for this special reunion and abundant meal

thank you Lord for black olives!

reason to celebrate, seeing my mom and dad!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Well it's been quite a week.
We've all been sickie sickies here at home.
It started Monday night when we heard Oliver crying in his crib only to discover he had thrown up. I was hoping it was something he'd eaten and not that dreaded virus that threatens to turn everyone in the family ill.
Well it was the latter.
I ended up sick a couple days later, followed by Jonah the day after me.
It was not fun.
Cleaning up after Oliver was tough, but not as hard with my sweet husband right beside me. Five times we had to get up and get Oliver, strip him, the bed and put him back down with wonder that he may or may not throw up again. Vomit is a hard thing to deal with- at least for me. It makes me queasy to even think about it, let alone see it. But God is gracious and provided a wonderful mate in my life that jumps right in without hesitation, and we got through it.
I am also so thankful we weren't all sick at one time with a little 1 1/2 year old underfoot. We were able to trade off watching Oliver while one of us was upstairs sick. Right about the time I was recovering, Jonah became sick so we swapped places.
Now here we are on the tail end, recovering. It was a rough sickness as our appetites are still not where they normally are. It kind of just lingers on.
I was able to disinfect the house yesterday, and today I'm cleaning our bedding again. I may run through and clean the house again in a couple days.
Because it's Thanksgiving week!
I have MUCH to be thankful for, but this week we are welcoming my parents into our home. A long awaited visit that was orchestrated right down the very details by God.
This is another post that is sure to come sometime soon.
For now just another day at home, resting up and playing with a very bouncy happy little boy.

new fascination with his sunglasses!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

going on strike

For some reason months 16 and 17 in the life of our son have brought on some new behavior.
Dinner strike.
I'm not sure what it is exactly about dinner time, the food is still good, colorful appetizing. And Oliver loves to eat.
Breakfast- favorite for him.
Lunch- gone just as quick.
But dinner.
Alas dinner hour brings a challenge. To EAT. Maybe it's the lateness of the hour. 5 o'clock may be late to some you know.
Maybe it's the evenings fare. Although I don't claim to be a fancy or gourmet cook.
Maybe it's the approaching bed time that seems to cloud Oliver's mind and distracts him to the point of just saying no to food.
Whatever it may be, we have found ourselves searching for ways to encourage him to eat. I understand that he will not starve if he sits through and entire meal staring at his food, only to have his tray cleared away at the end, touched or untouched by him.
But if it's becoming a nightly ritual for him I can't allow him to skip too many times. After all this seems to be developing into a pattern.
And so on this particular night he was given his dinner- fish cakes, green beans and mashed potatoes along with a baked apple.
Well the apple was of course the one thing that he wanted. Great to eat fruit, but not until the rest of the food has been eaten. Sweets (apples with cinnamon and sucanat ) are desserts.
So we tried removing the apple from sight. To no avail.
And we brought the apple back in, within view, with the rest of his food on his tray.
The approach this time- and no I don't believe you can reason with a 17 month old, that is not our parenting style- was choice.
Our conversation, " Oliver you have to eat these green beans and fish before you can have apple".
And guess what?
He started shoveling in those greens so fast we had to slow him down. Hand over fist, bean after bean and a frantic pointing at the apple when he arrived at the last bean. He was saying " dis, dis, dis!" his word for "this", while pointing at the apple hoping he could now have a delicious bite of that wonderful food!
A bite of apple later, we had him eat all of his fish before he was given the rest of his apple.
I still can't believe that he understood the concept of logic and reason. He is 17 months old.
We have to be careful here about approaching this sort of thing. We don't want him to learn that he will always receive a reward for obeying, because he won't. Encouragement and praise yes, but not special treats.
But you know what? As new parents, being first time at so many things is challenging. What exactly is the best approach for .....well whatever new situation we encounter. It's tough, and very much a daily learning experience and a daily dependence on God for wisdom in the moments!
And throughout all of it, he ate his dinner.

Operation Christmas Child- our box

Well we did it. We successfully wrapped and packed our box for Operation Christmas Child this year. It was fun shopping for items as I had to be creative with dollars that went towards it. I was able to pick up mostly almost free items using coupons and sales at some nearby stores. I found that my Rite Aid had some great deals (believe it or not) when you take advantage of items on sale with what they call "UP's" on items that equal store dollars.
Having collected all our items we sat down and wrapped the box. I think that was probably the hardest part of the whole project. It's not easy to cleanly wrap a box bottom and lid separately. I found gaps in the corners and covered those with more tape and paper.
Oh well, at least it's now wrapped, and I did the best I could. I know one thing- those corners are NOT coming unwrapped on route to it's destination!
I reallly wanted Oliver to watch and help as much as he could. I know at 17 months his helping may be more like orchestrating on my part but it was fun to have there. I know if we continue to do this yearly (I'm thinking it will be a great tradition to start) he will become more aware of what we are doing and be able to join in more.
The wrapping was a process, but we did it. Oliver helped tape it up, sort of. I think he was weirded out by the stickiness of the tape.
I then had him help me fill it up with our items.
Unfortunately when it came time to put the shiny red car in, he didn't want to let go of it. I know it was a wonderful car to play with for his little hands, but after some tears and encouragement, and me stepping in to drop it in...we finished it. (Perhaps we can look for a shiny little car for him for Christmas)
Oliver helped push the lid down.
Jonah willingly took some photos of us.
And I'm excited to send it out! I'm thankful for some images from this process as I'm excited to be able to do something small for a child in the world that has little to nothing this Christmas.
I well remember the faces of all those kids in the DR and how they simply had nothing. What a wonderful blessing it is to be able to give. And we can all give.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Today is a special day.
Veterans Day, yes. I am so thankful for those that sacrificed sooo much for me to enjoy the liberties I do.
Happy Birthday too- to my older sister, who lives far far away as a missionary overseas. I love her and I'm so thankful for her in my life!
But today also marks a milestone for me. 11/11/11, what a perfect day to celebrate my completion of reading through the Bible this year!
I started out at the beginning of the year with determination and hope that I would finish. In all my life I was never able to say I had read through this dear Book from God. I had never finished it cover to cover.
As it happened, I was reading a fellow bloggers post and she shared a Bible reading plan that she had just finished. I clicked the link, downloaded it, printed it and that was it. I began my reading.
I really loved the plan as it lets you check each box as you finish, giving a real sense of satisfaction :)
I have to say that it was wonderful reading through it all. God spoke to me in different passages and verses, and my printout of my plan is filled with scratchings and scribbles of verses that meant so much for so many different reasons. Now I look back over my plan and I am really glad I took some notes of different verses- I will save it for future reference as I again read through His Word.
So, why not begin again? It's been such a huge blessing to read through it daily. Sometimes I missed a day or two, but it was easy to get back on track and the plan helped me refocus and follow through.
My next goal is to read through in chronological order. The Bible isn't actually laid out this way, so reading in chronological will be interesting indeed. It's a history book after all and I think it will be interesting to read it as it all took place.
But I may not do that just yet, I may wait until the New Year...and I may not.
My thoughts right now are to do some studying over the next couple months, maybe focusing on a certain passage. I'm not sure what it will be yet. I'm praying for some guidance here.
One area that I have been really wanting to dive into personally is to become more learned about Theology. To know more about His Word, to have more knowledge.
In my church we have a women's Bible study every other week and I have really really enjoyed it. It's been a rich time of learning, and many of the women that share have been given so much godly wisdom, not because of their laziness, but because of their diligence in the Word.
One lady encouraged us to become diligent in studying the Bible. To be theological. Sure our husbands may be this, but why do we as women think it's too hard, too complicated to dive in and really study?
I feel I use that excuse in my own life- the books written about doctrine, beliefs ect. can be a bit daunting. So I remain in the dark.
Is this right?
To further challenge us, my friend also went onto say that we are teachers in our own homes. Raising our children, guiding them in the way they should go, and also being there to give an answer to Bible questions. We are counsellors to our husbands, the ones they seek out when they are needing encouragement, and wisdom in life.
We are also called to offer encouragement, wisdom, and sometimes strong guidance to friends that need it, and how in the world can we do all this if we are not seeking out His wisdom?
To me this was something I felt convicted about. How can I possibly think I can offer council of any sort if I'm not studying what His Word says? I don't want to be the one to offer worldly advice to others.
And so, I have been challenged in this area personally. To dive in, to absorb. Who says it's too late to learn? Thats foolish. You can always start right where you are- and I think God will bless your efforts.
If you would like  to read my reading plan it's found here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Giving a gift for Operation Christmas Child

Operation Christmas Child.
It's that time of year.
I hear about this every year. And yet that's all it ever amounts to. I just hear it and go on with our lives. Ho hum.
Well this year I actually stopped, clicked on the link (not sure where I saw it posted online, I think a fellow blogger) and read about what all it entailed.
After I read through what all is involved I was surprised at how relatively simple- easy it was to make a shoebox for a child. And what a fun box to pack. This year they are even offering a tracking option in which you pay $7 to allow tracking on your box. You can see where in the world your box ends up- which is pretty cool.
I know we don't have extra (well, isn't that an understatement compared to the rest of the world?), but we are to be generous with what we have, and I'm going to shop smart to pick up some items to fill up a box for a special child somewhere out in the world!
The collection week is coming up quick (November 14-21) so we don't have a lot of time to pack a box, but really a shoebox can't take that much time.
I'm so excited to do this as a family and even though Oliver doesn't really understand, perhaps it will be a new tradition for us.
I love this time of year!

Friday, November 4, 2011


I have been diligently working away at couponing, meal planning and grocery lists this past week.
All of which are not exactly something I would choose to do willingly. I really have a hard time with each of these. But I have been challenged lately to work harder at these things because they are some thing I not only need to do but must do. They are my responsibility.
My job, given by God, is to run the home. To be the home maker. Not lead the home- that is my husband's God given gift, but to organize and efficiently keep it in order. It's something I think some women shy away from, or procrastinate or somehow justify not doing for the sake of so many excuses. I fit right in there.
It's easy to put other things ahead of these tasks that, well are not exactly my favorite. I have laundry to finish, a little boy to teach, emails to respond to, bathrooms to clean, meals to cook...and on goes my list.
Yes these items need to be done too, but along with the ones that I well, dislike.
But I know that I am more than capable, and God is willing to help with each task He has expected me to do.
I'm not a failure. In fact I can be pretty determined when I set my mind to doing something. Firm even.
So I jumped in this past week. I knew the road before me would be long and frustrating as I planned out meals, researched sales and coupons and wrote my grocery list.
And guess what? I finished it. (meal plan here if you'd like to look)
I was determined to finish no matter how long it took. And I did. Thank you God for helping.
I prayed over the time I invested as I headed to the store and I feel God blessed the efforts I put in.
Will it get easier? I am hoping so. I'm starting to see a reason to all the madness.
Meal plans= less stress each day, less money on store trips, and more time for other things. So it does make sense. I think I forget that planning always equals more time in the long run.
And the coupons.
I struggled using coupons for the fact that I try hard to keep our foods more whole food based, or with as little processed foods as possible. It's tough to do this on a small budget but also with coupons as so many of them are for boxed, canned, packaged processed junk that really shouldn't even be on the shelves, because of the unhealthy things that are in them. (thinking of sugary cereals, microwave meals...etc.)
But I was again challenging myself to find the best deals, whole food or organic, without stocking up on things that were unhealthy.
The first thing I did when I was researching coupon deals was to look for all the free things. By free I mean the things that you end up getting free when you use the coupons combined with sales. Now these items can often be junk items if they are food, but not always. Free things were also toiletries or paper products such as toothpaste, kleenex, cough drops, soaps etc. When I saw those as free I knew that even if we didn't use some of them, I could still pick them up and donate them to others. Now that is awesome! Also, some of the freebies actually make you a little money when you have coupons that pay for it, with overage. So even if you don't use the items, buy them to make the little overage and donate them.
After I found all the free items and made sure I had the coupons necessary (that's key), I then looked at sales for things we could use.
After shopping between Kroger and Publix (they are minutes from each other where I live) I was able to stock up on some great items including: organic soup, organic broths, organic granola, annie's mac and cheese, natural eggs, salsa for cheap! I also picked up some other basic groceries including produce, which I could spend a little more on with the savings. I picked up a turkey for a great deal at .79 lb for Thanksgiving. Overall between the two stores I spent roughly $58 or so. $19 at Publix (saving over $19) and $38 at Kroger (saving $25 or so).
Also for the free things I headed out to Kroger on a special trip just for those. My total from that trip? I was paid over $7 back. That was pretty awesome. I think that was what encouraged me to try a little harder at coupons. A word of encouragement- you can coupon, save and still buy healthy good food for your family.
Shop sales, in season, and stock up when you have coupons combined with sales on good foods. I thought it was kind of like hoarding to stock, but you want to buy a bunch when it's at it's lowest price so that you are well stocked until the next sale. And I don't greedily buy things we don't use. If something is free, I'll pick it up to donate if we don't use it.
It's a lot of fun to chip away at our budget and get things as low as I can. We don't have wiggle room when it comes to going over so I have to shop smart, there isn't an option here!
Here are the groceries from my two grocery trips:

Also I stick to one site for all this-
I think this helps me tremendously, otherwise I'd be all over the internet searching for sales.
I also shop at Aldi for things, and CVS- but that's another story for another day.
Be encouraged women, you were made for the calling God has on your life- being a home maker, managing all the tasks at home, training up your children, what a huge blessing and honor it is! You are capable of doing all this too, with God's help, don't give up.
Psalm 128:2 
For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.
I also like the translation in the ESV that says:
You shall eat of the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.

So don't give up! It will be worth it.

wedding, family, and beach fun

We've been busy this past month.
Oliver had his first long car ride. First trip to the beach too. And first time sitting through a wedding. My brother in law got married to a lovely new sister in law, so we made the drive to Florida last week...wait, I mean the week before that (what day is this?). The 7 hour car ride started to get a little hairy at the end, but overall Oliver did great. And he successfully sat quietly through the wedding- my biggest fear. I was praying for him and for me :) My sister in law saved the day with some goldfish crackers. I have never given him these (I'm pretty choosy about what he eats, and I try to avoid processed foods whenever we can). BUT let me just say, thank you Jesus for goldfish crackers. They were a wonderfully quieting food. And Oliver sat and chomped while I held him in the back, and watched the ceremony.
The reception was at a Bed and Breakfast that had a lovely little outdoor area for tables and dancing. We stayed there overnight that last night and loved it. It was my second time staying at a B&B and I have got to say I am loving the experience you get at them, in comparison to a hotel. The personal attention and the food....oh my the food! always sooo good. My mind had visions of Jonah and I running our own little B&B somewhere tucked away...minus all the work, time and patience it must take to make it work! It just looks like such a fun job to meet so many people in their own walks of life and to cook too...
I think I was drooling a little over the massive kitchen that the owner cooked all our food in! I am so thankful for our own home, and our own kitchen, I truly am, but it was fun to take in all the space, the deep sinks, huge stainless steel fridge and ginormous center island. Think of all the meals you could make- at once!
We also had such a great time staying with family and visiting with everyone. It's not often we all get to get together on Jonah's side, so it made it even more special.
Oliver loved seeing everyone, exploring new spaces (hmm, must take after Jonah who easily adapts to change and traveling) and playing with his cousins. His first experience at the beach was a lot of fun too, he loved it. Loved the water, loved the shells, loved the sand- and ate it too.
It was sad to say goodbye to the time away, to family. But we were thankful it went so well, and thankful we could be there.
Great memories! We have many photos from the week, too many to post. I'll have to add some photos in another post, such sweet ones!