Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I'm currently...

*going crazy with this formatting... oh well!

Listening tothe quiet sounds of a little one sleeping while my husband is in class

Planning: what we'll eat next week, birthday gifts to buy, and bills to pay

for a glimpse into our last after Matt's graduation in May,
for now I can trust the Lord, cling to Him, and enjoy living life today

Thinking about: 
the next season, while wanting to cherish now,
I'm not so good at the leaving transition I've realized, I usually rush ahead to the "next stage" and forget to really
think about all that's ending or changing, 

weeks or months into the "next stage" I get sad about all that's different,
and wish I'd savored it more,
hopefully now I am

a little something sweet, there may be a Girl Scout cookie is in my future

Looking forward to:
the spring/summer children's consignment sale next week

Working on:
my walk with the Lord, trying a new Bible reading plan (Dr. Horner's - 2 days in),
and desiring greater consistency in prayer,
asking the Lord to cause my heart to be satisfied only in Him longing for nothing else

the Bible in bigger chunks than I ever have before,hoping the change will be profitable for seeing the Lord afresh,Elisabeth Elliot's "Keep A Quiet Heart" 

one short article at a time as practical life/devotion building,
a library book, fun to read but not too gripping or particularly intentional, 
I'll probably read it half way then move on (at least I'm honest!)

thankful for life now and all the Lord has done

Making me happy: 
Matt and Moriah's play times squeezed in before he's off to work in the morning,
or as soon as he steps in the door at night,
read aloud times with Moriah (Dr. Seuss this week),
talking with my sweet girl all day long
(lately most conversations start like this,
"Mama, talk about something..."
"What Moriah?"
"Talk about frogs..."
(or puppies, or firemen, or snow, etc. as vast as a 2 1/2 year old mind can go!)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Oh give thanks to the Lord...

"Oh give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name,
make known His deeds among the peoples.
Sing to Him, sing praises to Him,
tell of all His wondrous works.
Glory in His holy name,
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
Seek the Lord and His strength,
seek His presence continually.
Remember the wondrous works that He has done,
his miracles and the judgments He uttered."
~Psalm 105:1-5

1326. accountability for Scripture memory, Truth on my mind changes my thinking so much
1327. learning more about prayer from two godly women who've been faithful
1328. a weekend at home, to rest and recover from a cold
1329. playtime for Matt and Moriah (even though she was so excited Saturday that she didn't nap!)
1330. Moriah's new favorite game, "play fire girl", as we climb on the couch "firetruck" use the spray bottle "fire hose" and put out fires here and there all over the house!
1331. time to clean a bit around the house
1332. snuggled up to watch a little Friday night movie with Moriah while Matt's away
1333. Saturday morning's donuts, and a new discovery - homemade donuts just down the street!
1334. knowing that God knows and has good planned, even if I don't always know His ways
1335. a sweet church of people we love
1336. Google maps, street view, little glimpses of a place we'll see soon
1337. time for Matt and I to rest together without studying!
1338. seeing God change my desires
1339. Dr. Horner's Bible Reading Plan, a new method of encouragement to read the Word
1340. free laundry while I work, so helpful!
1341. the idea of "future grace", in Christ we can long for and look forward to God's continuing grace to us, it's not just something we've seen in the past, that may not last, it will be for all of eternity!
1342. catching up with a friend, even with a hoarse voice
1343. cooking on the weekend, enjoying the meals throughout the week
1344. community group pot-lucks
1345. the need for confession, often, God's grace and forgiveness lived out through those around me
1346. a read aloud for Moriah that's just right for her, lately the veterinary stories for children from James Harriot
1347. consignment sale season, items priced and ready for drop off
1348. a silhouette of Moriah, her curls and sweet profile, remembering her 2 1/2 year old face for days to come
1349. sunny, blue skies in Louisville, mild weather
1350. wise doctors who counsel with care
1351. Matt's faithful preaching, even in hard passages, knowing he's sought the Lord and desires to proclaim the Bible for God's glory
1352. friends who will baby-sit
1353. Moriah's memory, wild all she's stored away!
1354. a mom who checks in when I've been sick
1355. practical ways to love my family, the gift of time to do so
1356. a weekend with naps for me
1357. starting the week with clean laundry for all
1358. birthday parties for little friends, celebrating life
1359. God's provision in our taxes, refunds and taxes owed balance in my self-employed situation
1360. creative little minds to watch and enjoy as they play together

Friday, February 22, 2013

Thinking of Easter

Easter for Toddlers

As Lent continues, we long for Easter and the victory Jesus won over death.  I hope to teach Moriah more about Easter this year, as she was especially interested in Christmas and the birth of baby Jesus.  We enjoyed focusing on the arrival of our Savior at Christmas, and she was thrilled to consider that He came as a baby.  As a 2 1/2 year old she asks lots of questions, and can retain what we're teaching much more than she could last Easter.  While Christmas offers many opportunities to teach, I'm thankful that we can choose to teach throughout Holy Week leading up to Easter as well.  After all, without the Resurrection at Easter, our Christmas celebrations of the baby Jesus would be in vain!

These are some ideas we hope to try this year as we celebrate with our busy toddler.  
Of course we'll be flexible, and I won't promise or expect everything to happen :)  

I'd love to build a collection of more Easter books based upon the
Biblical Easter story.  This list is full of titles that sound great!

from HeartFelt Truths
First, I plan to purchase this banner which we'll use throughout the Holy Week. 
I especially love the helpful illustration of the dark felt being laid over the scene on
Good Friday, and the "He is Risen" yellow felt being displayed on Easter morning.
I made my own Advent scene using their free patterns,
but purchasing this one seems like a good idea since it's slightly more involved.

from Impress Your Kids

On Palm Sunday, I hope to make these hand print palm leaves,
to use as we learn some Easter songs.

from Catholic Icing

If I can print these pictures in color I think the toilet paper roll "puppets"
would be helpful to use as props throughout the week as we discuss the Easter story.

from Gretchen Reads
On Wednesday, we'll make this play dough Easter Mountain as Noel Piper suggests
in "Treasuring God in Our Traditions".  I was a bit intimidated by the thought of the
pipe cleaner figurines she described making, so I think we'll photo copy a Jesus
picture from one of Moriah's children's Bibles.  Gretchen did that in the picture
above, and it seemed like a great idea so that Moriah can recognize a familiar picture.

from Thalita Dol

On Good Friday this cross craft with wooden popsicle sticks and a heart in the middle
helps describe that out of His love for us Christ died on the cross in our place.

from Totally Tots

On Easter Sunday this simple craft clearly shows that Jesus isn't in the tomb
any more!  He's risen, praise the Lord!

from Eat at Allie's

We'll also make Resurrection rolls again this year,
but I'll be certain to seal the crescent rolls better than I did last year. 
The object lesson is off a bit when there's no hollow middle :)

If you're curious about other Easter ideas,
check out my "Spring Is Here" Pinterest board,
where I've been busy storing ideas for this year and the future!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Play Simply at Home

Play Simply!

As a mom to a 2 1/2 year old little girl, and a nanny to a 4 1/2 year old boy and an almost 2 year old girl, I spend lots of time playing and/or supervising play.  I'm not a "home body" by nature, though I'm growing in my contentment at home, as long as I know what our day might look like.  I tend to prefer going out (even to run errands, or take the kids to play) because my little friends seem to enjoy breaking up the day that way.  We all tend to get restless and stir crazy when we're at home ALL day!

On to thriftiness though... going out to a variety of children's activities isn't totally thrifty.  While some outings are free (library story time, nature center, park, etc.) the cost of gasoline is a deterrent.  Instead of insisting that we find daily activities away, and to save money here are some of our at home activities.  You may have similar toys laying around that have been overlooked lately, or you might find inspiration to make a "toy" out of something you certainly have or could easily obtain.

I compiled this list for my mom when we recently went out of town, leaving our daughter in our home with grandma.  Grandma's rarely need ideas, but I hoped it would help if she did :)

·         paint her toenails
·         make a smoothie
·         play “I Spy”
·         change Baby Jane’s clothes
·         listen to music 
·         Play-Doh (store bought or home made - find inspiration on Pinterest)

in motion, making "apple pie" with homemade
cinnamon play dough
·         rubber stamps
·         markers, crayons, dry erase crayons and board, window crayons, etc. 
·         construction paper, coloring books 
·         play Curious George board game
·         spray shaving cream on high chair tray to play in,
trace with fingers to make letter, shapes, etc.
(wear a smock, encourage her not to worry about messy hands!)
·         play with buttons
(sort by color, shape, size or scoop, and pour them into cups, etc.)
·         play with magnets and cookie sheet or refrigerator
(matching letter magnets to her written name,
or a sheet of paper with the alphabet written)
·         paint on easel 

·         thread beads 
·         build a zoo with little wooden animals and blocks
·         watch a Scholastic storybook DVD
(I've found these at TJ Maxx for around $5 in the past)
·         play grocery store
(use paper bag, baskets, shopping cart, purse, coins, list, receipts)
·         play doctor 
·         play “Ring Around the Rosie” on our bed
·         set up the tent and tunnel

·         have a tea party with all stuffed animals and dolls
·         play ambulance with couch (or call it the “purple car” or “ship”)
·         toss rolled up toddler socks or bean bags into laundry basket
·         climb the “mountain” (a hill near our apartment)
·         play with any toys in her closet
(I rotate toys, so some are stashed away and can be "new" again, when I
switch them - this also helps with the limited space available for toys!)
·         use your fabric letters and match toys to each letter
·         write cards and letters to mail in little red mailbox
·         cook together

·         work on puzzles
·         play with felt farm 
·         play with dry feed corn or dry beans and John Deere tractors,
Gator, and farm animals
·         read!  
·         take baby Jane for a walk outside with the plastic stroller
·         blow bubbles outside 
·         play instruments 
·         make an obstacle course, or balance beam with masking tape on the carpet
·         play with pasta in box
(add scoops, spoons, bowls, cups, etc. from kitchen or play kitchen)

·         make Valentine cards (her favorite activity with Grandma most recently!)
·         make paper snowflakes, or paper doll garland
·         make hair bows
·         listen to a book on CD

Hope these are helpful and thrifty thoughts for any stir crazy
cold days you may have with your little ones!


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Food Lately...

Simple Dinners

I've been behind in blogging lately, and may get back to it gradually!  For the last two weeks or so, we've had some pretty flexible meal plans.  We were out of town for a short trip, and kept things simple before we left (while we were gone for my mom and Moriah who stayed together), and when we returned.  I've also been trying to use up miscellaneous things that have been in the pantry for long enough!

So, here are a few of my simple dinners...

Chicken Nachos from Amy at He Graces
These are becoming a new "go-to" dinner... easy and delicious :) I love Crock-Pot cooking.

from He Graces

This can take lots of forms, and that's a good thing!  Banana Pancakes from Pinterest have been a recent hit. English muffins with scrambled eggs, cheese, and bacon are quick and easy.  We also loved enjoying our English muffins with eggs and avocado slices.  

from Hott Mama in the City

Sometimes it's frozen leftovers of Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup from 100 Day of Real Food, using our homemade stock and Crock Pot Whole chicken.  Other times, not homemade at all!  Campbell's comes in handy, and I've loved making a can of tomato soup by adding whole milk and dried basil lately.  It's extra creamy that way, and tastes great with Parmesan cheese on top.  Having a grilled cheese sandwich on the side rounds it out!  We've also enjoyed our Crock-Pot chicken tortilla soup from allrecipes.com with sour cream, avocado, chips and Jiffy cornbread muffins. 

from 100 Days of Real Food

chili & Jiffy cornbread muffins

Using our homemade spaghetti sauce from Passionate Homemaking, I can add any pasta needed to the sauce I've frozen to keep on hand.  It's quick and full of veggies!

from Passionate Homemaking

While this isn't quick in my mind, it's do-able for me over the weekend, and gives us LOTS of leftovers to have for dinners or lunches throughout the week.  I'm happy to invest a little more time for the ease of reheating later on busy nights!

One night this week we'll make homemade pizza (with mushrooms, olives, onions, peppers, and pepperoni), but we've also been thankful for some Papa John's promos lately that have earned us free pizza!  I predicted the Super Bowl coin toss correctly, and Matt received a $10 gift card from a bank customer.  Pizza nights are always nice.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

checking in on goals 2013...

I set goals this year, and want to check in each month as a source of accountability for myself. 

Here's a wrap-up of January's progress...

- Exercise (pilates on YouTube, toning, strength) 4 mornings weekly building up to 30 minutes or so
*didn't happen very regularly at all, with sickness, and too many late nights/late mornings I got out of a good routine, next week I plan to start again (post-vacation!)
- Spend time on-line only when Moriah is sleeping and fast from computer usage once a month for a week
*while I wouldn't say I met this goal perfectly, setting it was so helpful, as I thought more about whether or not I really needed "to look that up" right then... oftentimes not, it's also really helped me enjoy more time with Moriah while generally wasting less time
- READ from my book lists (new-to-me reading and re-reading), hoping to complete them both
*I've enjoyed 6 books this month!  I'm also getting ready to head out for a restful vacation at the beach where I look forward to more time with good books :)
- Complete three mornings (30 minutes each) of lessons weekly with Moriah from our ABC Jesus Loves me curriculum
*This has been my least met goal... I'm still re-thinking our "school time" and would love your input, Moriah's 2 1/2 and doing most of the things suggested by the inexpesive and well organized ABC Jesus Loves Me curriculum, because it's not particularly challenging I've been pretty lax with it... I really like some components and hope to integrate them more, we also spend lots of time playing in constructive ways and read tons of books so while "school time" isn't very rigid at all it happens all day which is more important at this age to me

- Continue daily Bible readings with She Reads Truth plans on YouVersion
*I've been SO thankful for these Bible reading plans and have been able to keep up with them
- Grow in prayer time using a prayer notebook and prayer calendars for mothers and wives
(I'm also taking a Seminary Wives class called "Lessons in Prayer" which will offer additional application I'm sure!)

*As expected, my Seminary Wives class is perfectly timed and so helpful, even one week in :) 
- Disciple a new believer in our congregation, meeting once a week (details TBD though I'm planning to read through "Big Truths for Young Hearts" with her as a general overview of systematic theology which will cover all areas of life - while it can be used with children the foreword also suggests it's useful for teaching young Christians of all ages as well)
*After talking with this friend in our church, she's explained this to be a too-full season, and can't add an additional time commitment, I don't want to be discouraged and hope her schedule will be freed to pursue this in a month or so

- Pay off remaining medical debt
*After this month's payment, we're only about 1 more payment away from our original debt, unfortunately early January required more doctor visits and tests due to illness for me, but we've yet to see those bills... we'll set up another payment plan for them, and hope to be diligent in repaying them, before Seminary graduation if possible
- Pay remaining Seminary expenses by semester's due date
*Praise the Lord!  We did :)  What seemed insurmountable 4 years ago has been done by God's grace and faithful providence, Seminary is paid!
- Save! (in general and specifically for our Florida vacation in February and children's consignment shopping)
*Our upcoming Florida trip is fully paid, and money was set aside for travel expenses, we're so thankful for time to rest and celebrate our anniversary and Matt's upcoming graduation as a couple
- Maintain a financial journal of God's faithful provision throughout the year, updating as He graces us
*A simple and encouraging blessing to me, I'm thankful for such a record to remind myself of God's faithfulness in the future, we're so quick to forget, and are exhorted to "remember" throughout Scripture

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Request Free Samples!

Thrifty Thursday - Free Samples

I've found that requesting free samples of various products (that will be useful to our family) is a great way to try new things and enjoy different things with no risk or money wasted.  It's also fun to check the mail and see what will arrive :)

Almost a year ago, I subscribed to All You's Daily Free Sample e-mail (enter your e-mail address to subscribe).  While I don't check many advertisement e-mails, I almost always check this one.  Some days the samples are simple and require only that I submit my mailing information.  Other days samples can be received at various stores, so I don't participate.  Occasionally the samples aren't relevant for our family, then I skip it.  Oftentimes however I'm thrilled by the chance to "splurge" and enjoy a free sample!  Money Saving Mom's blog also lists a variety of free samples (look for the "Freebies and Giveaways" page along the top menu) along with other excellent information.  If you're not reading it, subscribe soon!

Lately I've received a small bag of ground Seattle's Best coffee.  I've also received Tide Pods for the laundry as well as the fabric softener beads.  I've enjoyed free tea bags from lovely Bigelow tea and others.  My husband just used four free Airborne samples I'd requested (he promises they ward off the germs he encounters as a bank teller).  I receive various toiletries frequently, and have found them perfect for creating a bag of items for out of town guests who may stay with us.  These necessities are used often when visitors come and can be easily replenished with more samples!

Last week my husband brought the mail home including a sample of Method laundry detergent.  As I opened the box I realized it was a laundry night (we use the campus laundromat-style facilities and he's great to haul them back and forth in the freezing cold for me!).  Next, I realized we were out of detergent and couldn't have washed our mountain of laundry without that sample.  What sweet timing of the Lord.  When samples are requested I never know if I'll really receive them or how long they may take (most forms say 6-8 weeks).  I certainly didn't plan to receive this sample at this time, but God knew and cares about even our smallest needs.

Try requesting free samples for yourself.  You never know when the Lord's timing will be perfect!