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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Christmas in July


Ok – if you know me at all, you know that I can’t get through the month of July without a “Christmas in July” post.  I’m lucky to get through a normal month without talking about Christmas, and if July is going to give me a reason to talk about it, by golly, I’m going to do it. 

Now – I can go on and on and on about how much I love Christmas, and about how I look forward to it for months before it’s even upon us.  Or I could tell you about some of my favorite traditions including decorating our tree, making my mom’s special recipe ‘Snowball cookies’ (which I plan to share with you soon), or even some of the new traditions we have as ‘our little family’ like the kids each getting an ornament to contribute to the tree each year, opening one present on Christmas eve (pajamas to wear on Christmas Eve night), and of course, the Christmas classics Elf and Christmas Vacation.  

 (Our Fam for B's 2nd Christmas)

I can taste the white hot chocolate right now (you did know that real chocolate gives me migraines, right?).  Mmmm, mmmmm good!

::But::

Rather than tell you all of those things, how about some practical steps to keep you in the Christmas spirit from this point on through Christmas!  (At least – this is how I do it.)

  1. Believe it or not – many chains of stores already have out Christmas items.  I’m not even kidding.  Shelves and sections stocked full of, yes, you guessed it, Christmas trees, tableware, Christmas lights, tinsel, stockings, and all of the rest of your Christmas d├ęcor needs!  Unbelievable, yes.  But also handy!  I was just in Hobby Lobby this past week and saw that all Christmas stuff was already marked down – some 30%, some 50%!  I can assure you that prices will certainly go up just prior to Christmas season, so pick up some of those things you know you may need or want now before you have to pay full price for them before Christmas, or wait until after Christmas sales and store them for a year before using them!

  1. Go ahead and experiment with some recipes.  Really.  It’s okay.  I’m the type that I don’t like going overboard with a season favorite because it kind of takes the nostalgia out of it.  Like, if I have my mom’s snowballs every year for Christmas, I don’t want them randomly in February for no apparent reason.  Snowballs mean it’s Christmas.  However, who says you can’t check out a few of those never tried recipes that you never get around to because you are too unsure if they’ll be liked or not, and whip ‘em up for a taste test!  You never know what new dish you may be able to bring to the holiday table this year!

  1. This one is my all time favorite.  Get your Christmas list ready now.  I have a list (and have had since about February – I’m not going to lie) made out of everyone’s names whom we buy for and as the year goes on I keep my eyes peeled for things they may like (when I can hit them at really good prices).  Then – when I purchase something I write what it was next to their name, so I know what I’ve bought and whom I’ve bought for.  NOTE:  I do ‘save’ some gifts to buy during the Christmas season.  Specifically for the hubs and the kiddos.  They are the most enjoyable to buy for and we cherish the time of getting to pick out gifts for them and shop for them, so it’s worth it to have our other shopping done so we can enjoy spending the money on our kids at Christmas time.  It just isn’t so much at once. 

Awww... bliss.  It’s a rainy, dreary day in our neck of the woods, and I can almost envision the snow falling (unless I go outside where it’s still 95 degrees despite the rain).

-A

Friday, July 29, 2011

An Olympic Sized Revelation

Let me paint a picture for you, may I?

It's August 2008.  Aaron and I were just settling back into ministry here in our where-abouts after being gone for a couple years.  We were staying in an upstairs (ahem - 27 stairs to be exact) apartment while we were waiting for our house up north to sale.  Did I mention I was pregnant with Bryton at this time?  Because I was.  About 7 months pregnant to be exact. 

Anyway - a family from our church had graciously let us stay in said apartment since we just couldn't afford two mortgages. 

Anyway.  I really have these warm, fuzzy memories (and it's not just because I was 7 months pregnant and it was August) of sitting on our couch with my feet up, seeing the street down below, and watching the summer Olympics from the comfort of our living room, all while snacking out on some yogurt covered raisins.  (But I seriously had no cravings with Bryton... ahem.) 

This is what we did the entire time the Olympics were on.  We'd come home from whatever church activity there was, or if there wasn't one, we'd have dinner and get it cleaned up, and we'd turn on the Olympics.  We'd break periodically to watch Bryton put on his own show in my belly, turning and jabbing all over the place (though enjoyable, unlike Ansley who was brutal).  I can, even, vividly remember watching Michael Phelps swim, and gymnasts and runners, you name it.  Somehow - it feels as if it were yesterday. 

I remember thinking, while sitting on that couch, "The next time there is a summer Olympics, my life will look totally different," and all I could do was think about what that word 'totally' could possibly mean. 

And yesterday I was blindsided by an Olympic sized revelation:  The Olympics are only one. year. away.  (Which in the Olympic world is a really big deal, they have all the buildin' of stuff to do!)  It was major news on the Today show yesterday as I sat holding a new baby in my lap and carrying on a conversation with my two year old, and all I could think back to was, "This is partially what 'totally' looks like." 

Granted - a lot changes in four years when you aren't at this age in your life, but four years during child - rearing, work finding, house shopping years means big ole' change, and for us, good, blessed change. 

As I sat there thinking, "Holy cow - this is exactly what I was thinking when I thought those thoughts eating my yogurt covered raisins 3 years ago," I realized that there is still another year left in the 4 year wait to the next Olympics.

Next year at this time, God willing, I'll be sitting with my *gasp* almost four year old (seriously, I may just cry that I'm writing that.  I'm not even kidding), and my 1.5 year old watching the Olympics together.  Amazing.

Time really does fly, and I thought, before I had kids, that they'd make me feel younger, but I'm pretty sure they are just speeding up my life as they grow like little weeds... good, wonderful weeds. 

Ansley's eating peas and carrots now.  I just had her yesterday.  That is not even possible. 

So - my big discovery - if you want to see your life flash before your eyes, use the Olympics as how you gauge what has happened in your life.  You'll see how fast it is all going!

-A

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Missing the Forest

Because of the tree.  (Afterall - if the tree falls in the forest and no one hears it - it still falls, and the rest of the forest still stands...)

This post could be full of all kind of analogy.  I'll try to refrain, but in case it gets out of hand, I'll apologize in advance.

Those of you who read me often have noticed a transparency lately regarding the urgency I'm feeling for parents to step up (a nice way of saying 'stop being lazy' - and I'm speaking to me), take heed of their responsibility (and gift), and spiritually lead their families.

It's literally making me laugh how much God is drilling this into my being.  This has been a project God started on me several months back when, somehow, I started learning about the Shema (which is Jewish, and to be honest, I don't even know where I was introduced to this), but it struck me instantly.  (Go read Deuteronomy 6 - the Shema is the "you tell your family and talk about it all the time" verses.)  Anyway - I've not been able to shake the idea since then.

Then - in November, a youth pastor's conference we attend every year yielded a completely revamped idea of youth ministry.  The program driven / attraction youth ministry idea that has been pushed for so long was suddenly being rammed aside and almost every message and idea revolved around not being program driven and being inter-generational.  Ok.

Then - Aaron randomly gets these books in the mail from Amazon one day.  Seriously.  He called me and asked if I had ordered them.  Nope.  He was overly certain he hadn't, and it took a whole morning of research and a call to Amazon to figure out where they'd come from.  (And we found that they'd come from people who don't even personally know us.  Seriously.)  That's when I read ApParent Privilege.

Then - Posting about ApParent Privilege, a good blog friend of mine commented and posted a link to a documentary.  Go here to check it out.  It's an hour long, but worth every second.

Did I mention God is trying to drive home a point?

Then - (yes, there's another then) our Fuel driven youth lessons have been hitting the exact. same. topics.  Just tonight we talked about how the family provides the foundation of faith, not the church.

I'm loving the direction God is leading all of this in my life, and tonight, He started building, yet again, on the principles.

For several years - probably since we've been in youth ministry - the question has been tackled about whether a family should force their children to come to youth.  Now - it's a no brainer for me regarding children's ministry.  (Assuming a church separates by age groups - as many do.)  If parents are going to church then one would assume that children would accompany their parents to what is available for them.

Youth gets fishy, though, for a lot of reasons.  Youth age are old enough to stay at home (with the excuse of doing homework, of course).  Youth age have athletic practices and events, extra-curricular activities, and jobs.  Youth also have their licenses and other interests.  In other words - the youth age can more easily 'get out of church' (assuming that the way we are 'doing' church is appropriate - but I'll touch that in a moment.)

And I'll be honest - Aaron and I have both been on both sides of this argument from time to time.  It's a hard argument!  Of course we want to force our kids to go to hear about Jesus (bear with me)!  But then we don't want to force them because it may push them further away.  It's a lively debate, but we've always said, "Our kids won't have an option."  I'll be honest, saying this has always made me... well... nervous.

But tonight a thought struck me.  Who cares if they want to go to youth or not?  Their spiritual nourishment happens at home!  Now don't misunderstand me!  I'm not saying that church is bad or that we shouldn't go.  We should go!  What I am saying is - if your kid doesn't want to go to youth and you don't feel like forcing him / her is the answer... it's really not a question of whether to send him, it's a call to live out, talk about, and love on Jesus at home, something we should be doing anyway.  Afterall - if we are living like Jesus and loving on Jesus at home in such a way that we are displaying faith to our children, then the urgency of 3 hours of youth group a week doesn't seem near as, well, urgent.

Again - I say please don't misunderstand.  What your church offers is important, and if God has called you to a particular church He has called you to be a part.  In fact, the church was established in New Testament times and God ordained it's establishment, making church important.

What I am saying is that church (even in it's original idea) was never meant to take the place of the discipleship and 'passing down' of one's faith that happens in families.  It was created to compliment it, not abolish it.  Thus - the emphasis, once again, is on family worship, discipleship, and basically, ya'll, us parents loving Jesus in such a way that it is obvious and contagious to our children.

When reading the Shema the first time I got this picture in my head of families back in OT times walking long distances or sitting around in their tents, and in no real rhyme or reason, dad saying something like, "Man, son, did I ever tell you about how God rescued us from Pharaoh?  Man - I wish you could have seen all of those bugs.  Our God is so faithful, son, I love Him so much.  He is so good to us."

That's how I envision it.  I envision a passionate parent so in love with God that they couldn't help but speak of it.

I wonder what would happen in our families if we (I am totally included in this) loved Jesus so much that the overflow of heart was this praise and thankfulness to Him that came out naturally in conversation.  It would come out in a way that is relational, not rigid or religious.  It wouldn't be forced, but our love for Him would seem natural.  Wouldn't it make our children want to know this Jesus more?  Wouldn't it make them trust Him more if we shared our own stories of God's faithfulness throughout our own lives.

Our God still lives and He still moves, and when our children can see God living and breathing through the change He's made in our lives, what more proof do they need?  They can see how God is directly affecting their lives and the lives of their parents... not some dude sitting on a cloud thousands of miles away being unreachable and being completely unrelated to His creation. 

I don't know - again, folks - just thoughts, and by no means perfected, but God is developing some things within me.  Maybe we're missing the forest (family discipleship and spiritual leadership) because all we can see is the tree (church). 

-A

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

All Kinds of Deals for Moms and Kids

I just have to share this site with you.  I scour it every day for great deals on incredibly cute stuff for the kiddos (and myself from time to time).  The site is called Zulily, and they have everything from toys (really great prices on Melissa and Doug today!) to boutique style clothing (go check out Jelly the Pug today!) and handbags and nursing bras, and just handy stuff for mom (there was bamboo kitchen supplies on there a few days ago!)!  Seriously, go check it out and see what all of the fuss is about! :)

I love this site!

St. Mary Alicia

And we stayed up almost all night talking.  Seriously.  It was great fun just laughing with my husband, reminiscing about our day, our wedding day. 

And the night wandered on as we talked and talked... until finally we decided we needed to get some sleep since our alarm was set for 3:30 a.m. to get on the shuttle to the airport for a flight leaving at 6.  And it was already 1:30 a.m.

And so we slept shortly, got ready, and off we were to our honeymoon in Flagstaff, AZ.  Nothing was going to bring us down.  (But little did we know all that would happen to try to bring us down.)

The day started off great.  We got to the airport early, got through security no problem, and we were on our plane and telling everyone we encountered that we were newlyweds.  (It's amazing how much joy that gives other people!)

We had a layover in Dallas when Aaron realized that he hadn't brought his insurance card for our rental car (ahem - I was only 20 and was five years from legally being able to even rent a car at most places, so I was exempt from this responsibility.)  He panicked shortly - called his parents (who had access to our car), and had them available to fax it to the rental car company if need be.  (Which they did anyway after he called the company to tell them it was coming.)  Crisis averted.  Phew.

On to Phoenix and we were excited to get our bags, get our rental car, and take the two hour car ride to Flagstaff to get checked into our condo for the week.  We jetted through the small airport to the carousel where the luggage was already flooding the conveyor and we waited.  And we waited.  And we waited. 

We had checked two bags and Aaron's golf clubs.  The golf clubs were the only thing that made it.  Before we knew it we had spent 30 minutes in line at the 'you lost my luggage' counter explaining size, shape, content and departure destination to a woman who seemed like she could care less.  Aaron was on the verge of fuming.  I, on the other hand, well, it was our honeymoon - and there ain't nothing that was gonna rain on my parade. 

So we left the airport with zero luggage (well, ok - our tennis shoes were in the golf bag, so we had tennis shoes and golf clubs!  Woot Woot!) and just the glimmer of a promise that if they found it we'd work out gaining possession of it.  (Did I mention it was a two hour drive one direction to our destination?)

And then was the renting of the car.  The renting of the car had been a breeze.  Thank goodness we had thought early about that insurance card!  Wouldn't have wanted to deal with that right after finding our our luggage was MIA.  So we hopped in our Nissan Maxima and were on our way.

After two hours through beautiful country we reached our condos!  Aaron had finally cooled a little bit (after I convinced him that it was our honeymoon - shouldn't be anything to frustrate us!  Also mentioned that it was our honeymoon... the luggage wasn't exactly necessity.  Ahem.) and I was as excited as I had been.  We walked in to the check - in area, hand in hand, and Aaron went to the counter to get our condo.  The lady asked Aaron for his driver's license and a credit card for incidentals.  He pulled out the driver's license and immediately turned to me  with fear in his eyes.  "My credit card is gone," he says. 

Now - I must explain.  Aaron was 34 when we married, and he had never owned a credit card.  He got a credit card specifically to rent the car for our honeymoon.  So he had possession of one.  So his panic came from a place of "what are we going to do now."

But you know me!  I was on my honeymoon!  Wasn't nothing going to stop us!  Luckily - I, too, had a credit card and passed mine over for our incidentals as Aaron stood frustrated and shaking his head trying to figure out where his could be.

We checked the car, his pockets, etc... and finally traced it back to the last place we saw it, the car rental counter.

A call back to the car rental establishment confirmed that they did, indeed, have his credit card in possession.  (Yay for it not being in some thief's hands!)  They were going to 'overnight' it to him, but it was Sunday, so it technically wouldn't overnight until Monday, which meant he would get it on Tuesday.  Phew. 

Hours went by and Aaron finally decided to call the number he got about our luggage.  The first lady was no help whatsoever.  Again, lacking compassion, she told him that the luggage had been found and that she was looking right at it.  Aaron asked her where she was and she replied, 'Dallas, your luggage didn't make the flight change.'  An hour later, we still hadn't heard about the luggage (and were supposed to in moments after he talked to the lady), so he called back and the foreign gentleman on the phone assured Aaron that they had finally found our luggage and it had skipped the Dallas destination all together, with, apparently, several other individual's luggage. 

All we knew was that someone was lying to us.  It wasn't until about 9:00 p.m. that we received a phone call from a 20 - something male saying that he had our luggage and was leaving Phoenix with it then.  He'd drop ours off first and it'd be about midnight when he got there. 

So - did this guy really have our luggage?  He did, along with about 40 other peoples.  In fact, he was driving a 15 passenger van with every seat removed and luggage stacked to the ceiling.  He would spend the next 4 hours driving all over Arizona delivering luggage. 

Sucked to be him that day.  Apparently the airline made MAJOR mistakes with luggage somehow. 

But we got through it all :)  And I with, apparently, a saintly attitude, because as the day continued to throw us curve balls and Aaron proceeded to get more and more angry, and (by no power of my own) continued to show grace and cheer, to the point that Aaron deemed me 'Saint Mary Alicia,' and referred to me as such for the entirety of the trip. 

Of all of our traveling we've done (and we traveled on the road for 17 months) this trip, by far, threw us the most obstacles at once. 

But it was fun, and a trip I'll never forget!

-A

Shoe Deal

So - B has needed new shoes for some time.  He hasn't totally outgrown his tennis shoes yet, but we're getting close.  But - as is the trend here - you all know me, I wouldn't ever let my baby boy's toes be cramped in his shoes, so I've been searching for a good shoe deal on tennis shoes. 

Yay for today!  Groupon is offering up a deal today for $20 for $40 worth of product on Shoe Buy!  If you check out shoebuy's website, you'll find that everything ships free, there's no sales tax, and they have quite a few cute shoes for kiddos (and adults - think purses, etc too!) for under $40! 

Also - check out Retail Me Not to find coupon codes that may combine to give you even a greater deal! 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Mini Wheats and Potstickers - A Wedding Day to Remember

So I left off with the inevitable - the skatin' rink guy and the girl from the youth group he pastored were destined to be.  God had ordained some craziness (for our entertainment, I'm sure), and there was to be a wedding. 

Or should I back up just briefly.  Skatin' rink guy did have to pop the proverbial question and had an entire affair planned out, but kidney stones cramped (rather literally) his style, and he took me out to dinner with both sets of our parents instead.  (A dinner that I very much tried to get out of, btw, knowing how much pain my future fiance was fighting... with the help of hyrdocodone.  To this day I'm not sure he really meant to propose.  I'm only half kidding, he did have a ring and all.) 

So anyway - he dropped to one knee in that Italian restaurant and the entire restaurant erupted in clapter (and yes, this word does exist.  I invented it after said event.)

And so - wedding planning started rather quickly.  An evangelist friend of ours had always wanted to marry us and we called to say 'get your calendar ready', only kidding of course, but before we could clarify, he had dropped the phone to get said calendar, returning with two dates.  One in May and one in August.  Being that it was already mid - December, August felt safer for planning purposes.  So - 2 hours after our engagement, a date was set.

Still in college, I wanted to get as much of my wedding planning accomplished as possible during winter break, and so as I returned back to school on the 15th of January (one month and one day after the engagement), everything was planned.  My dress was even in my possession.  Seems May would have worked fine afterall - oh well.

And there were showers and parties and swimming and fun and a Cardinal game bachelor / bachelorette party (we have some of the most amazing friends in the world!) and then we were a week out. 

I had taken summer school in the weeks proceeding the wedding (what was I thinking?) and had finals Monday, Tuesday and Thursday before my Saturday wedding (again, really?).  The Sunday before these finals I started feeling... under the weather.  The Monday before, a two final day, I was feeling awful, but I drove all the way to school (40 minute haul one way) with my sniffly sneeziness and sore throat, only to decide upon pulling in the parking lot that my wedding was Saturday, and if it meant failing some classes, I could not be sick on my wedding day.  So I literally turned around in that parking lot and drove all the way back home to my family doctor. 

The nurse misunderstood when I told her I had a wedding on Saturday and I couldn't be sick, and when my DR asked what I was in the wedding all I could say was, "Bride."  Needless to say, that kicked things up a notch and I left with a steroid shot to the arm, a kick of antibiotics in the rear and a prescription for a z-pac. 

I later made up said finals with no problem.

Minus the ginormous bruise on my arm, the sickness got better so I could enjoy the rest of the week.  Sweet bridesmaids took me to get my nails did (and treated me to a homemade crepe' breakfast) the day before the big day, and we spent the rest of the day setting up.

At this point - I had moved everything into my soon-to-be husband's home, and that evening after our rehearsal dinner, I returned to my parent's house only to discover that the ONLY thing I had to sleep in was, well, nothing.  The only clothes I had were the clothes to wear to the church the next morning and my wedding dress.  Everything else was unpacked at the future hubs' house or packed for the honeymoon. 

So - I slept in one of my dad's old t-shirts.  Aww the memories.

I took a little nyquil before bed (I use the excuse that I was still fighting some sickness, but really, who can sleep the night before their wedding night?), and had some of the best sleep of my life.

I awoke the next morning, as if it were any other day, ate my frosted mini-wheats, took my shower, and went to get my hair done.  I then went and bought my girl's a Subway lunch, and met at the church where the dressing took place. 

It sounds sad - but my wedding day felt like any other day, in the sense that there were no nerves, I wasn't scared, or hesitant, or anything,  just excited.  It wasn't until I was walking down the aisle with my teary father that I realized what exactly was happening. 

And it was good.

The ceremony was perfect.  Evangelist guy impressed us more that day than he ever had.  Only he could prepare a message that highlighted Jesus above all else, mentioned Wal-Mart, and even brought him to tears.  I'm serious. 

And we were married - and we walked out to the Happy Song.  Again, I'm serious.  It is all about Jesus, right? And people had clappers instead of bubbles or rice outside.  I did mention that I married the skatin' rink guy, right?  Ok, just checking.

And we had a right quick cake reception in the church that afternoon, and before we knew it we were out and on our way to our hotel (no need for dancing - we had other things to move on to if ya know what I mean... we'd waited that long, c'mon now.)  And after arriving at said hotel, Aaron's phone proceeded to blow up with calls and texts.  Calls from the evangelist (who should have known better) and texts from our youth kids that read, "Hey - it's 9:30 on your wedding night, what are you doing?"  Seriously.  I told him to tell them, but he didn't. 

There happened to be a TGIFridays in our hotel, so rather than go out, we ordered room service, and I experienced Potstickers for the first time ever.  Yum!  

So anyway - there's the day... wait til you hear about the day after, it's a doozie ;)

-A


Free Amazon E-Book

I'll be honest, I haven't read it yet - but it looked intriguing, has great reviews, and so I went ahead and spent my $0 to get it ;) 

Here's the link for you to do so as well: When I Lay My Isaac Down


Be fast!  Amazon prices are subject to change at any moment! 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Here's a Deal For Ya

Go to the Pier 1 Facebook Page, 'like' them, and you can print a coupon for $10 off a purchase of $10 or more.  I scored this deal YEARS ago (obviously not on fb), and scored the flowers seen in my cupcake photos awhile back! :) See the yellow ones there with the flags :)  They are made of wood! 

Anyway - go score some free (or really cheap) deals!


Gettin' Together

Six years!  That's right, folks!  We've almost been married six years!  It still blows my mind a little, I'm not going to lie.  They say that if you make it to seven you're golden, because the first seven are the most difficult.  I'd say the first two were the most difficult, but who knows what year six may be like.  We shall see.

Anyway - it's all got me thinking about where this all began!  And, let's be honest, we have a somewhat unique relationship because of our age difference gap.  I mean, c'mon, for those of you who know us, it's a pretty huge gap.  (And a pretty funny unique story.  Only God could ordain this, I mean, seriously.)

So - I've decided to throw in some anniversary funness for you and for us to reminisce about the days of past. This will be a 3 part series, just so ya know ;)

Gettin' Together
It all started in a time long ago,   (ten stinkin' years ago!  Man, am I old!)  when I met him.  He was the skatin' rink guy (self-proclaimed), and I was a high school student.  (For - real, a just licensed HS student!)  I still remember being introduced by our good ole pal Kristin (ahem - thanks for that, btw).  She had something to discuss with said male and I was along for the ride.  I think they were making plans to play tennis?  Who knows.  

Anyway.  

He was down the side aisle of the town skatin' rink that he managed.  He was wearing some khaki cargo pants (because they were cool then - again, ahem), a button up collared shirt and a visor with a Jesus fish on it.  I loved Jesus, so that was pretty cool.  I stood there rather awkwardly (I mean, c'mon - I was a HS student, remember.  We didn't exactly hang out at the skatin' rink.)  He introduced himself, shook hands, and moved on with life.

All that really happened from that night - we both found out two things, I thought he was much younger, he thought I was much older (ouch.)  No feelings.  No thoughts. Nada.  (I was 'taken' at the moment, anyway.)

Turns out - more mutual friends worked for him at his skatin' establishment, and I found myself visiting more often to see youth group friends.

As some time went on he started hanging out with our church group some, eventually taking a position helping in the youth group (which I just happened to be in - again, ahem) and then being hired on part time in that position and worship.  Still no feelings, but friendship grew, I became single... and we were ICQ buddies.  (Uh-oh! Tee hee. Ok, that's only funny for those of you who knew ICQ.)

Anyway.  In this whole process I became employed by Aaron.  (Isn't there some unspoken rule that you should never have relationships with your employer or your youth pastor?  Ooops :) I should state that we did wait until I had graduated from the youth group!)  So we worked alongside one another a lot.

Also - in the meantime, Jesus and I were building this incredible relationship in my singleness!  I had been single for the first extended period of time since the 5th grade.  Seriously.  And though I may not have appreciated my singleness at that point, it developed me spiritually for what was getting ready to happen in my life.

And then the weirdness started.  It was my senior year of high school, in late fall at some point.  I'd known Aaron for a good period of time at that point, and I was feeling these, well, feelings start to develop and didn't have a clue what to do with them.  I mean - he was my employer and my youth pastor.  How taboo is that!? 

And so I started my quest to pray myself out of the feelings.  I mean, this couldn't be of God!  He'd never put us in such an awkward position, and I just knew he couldn't feel the same.  (What kind of person would that make him!?)  And so I prayed night after night, day after day, "God, please take these feelings away."  And I trusted that He would... and I re-directed the feelings I had into giving myself a great idea of what qualities I wanted my future husband to have.  (You know, the 'no exceptions' kind of qualities like loving Jesus above all else, even me.) 

And I prayed that for a long, long time.  Months.  And honestly, working so closely with Aaron, who I had before shared everything with (in our friendship), I found myself in awkward conversations with him where he would ask if I were interested in anyone, had anyone in my radar... etc.  Did I mention how awkward this was?  I couldn't lie to him, but I certainly couldn't tell him the truth!  So I told him that I wasn't pursuing anything, but that I'd let him in on all of it 'someday' (you know, when God finally took the feelings away, and I could tell him about the crush I once had on him and we could both laugh about it.) 

And it got more weird.  I loved spending time with him, mostly for the friendship, and people started picking up on things.  I'll never forget that a certain male (who will remain nameless in this particular post) sat in front of me in my Senior English class, turned to me in the middle of class one day, and asked if Aaron and I were dating.  Obviously, we were not, but what was it that he was seeing?  The conversation was short, but it ended with him telling me that he thought it'd be 'pretty cool' and he thought Aaron was a great guy.  (Seriously, would have never guessed this out of this particular individual.)  Our conversation left me with just one thought, "maybe people wouldn't think this was so taboo..."

And the 'someday' comments progressed with Aaron.  It turned into a game.  A very weird game.  A game that eventually felt like we both 'knew' something without 'knowing it.'  I valued his friendship to much to make things weird, so I was not talking, but God was not being faithful about taking those feelings away either.  If anything, they were getting worse.

Then the day came.  Aaron was, apparently, tired with the 'someday' comment, and when I mentioned it he was ready to talk.  I was not.  I fought the conversation for some time until I figured it wasn't worth fighting anymore. 

It took about 2 minutes to realize that God hadn't taken my feelings away, but had given Aaron reciprocating ones.  Great.  (I say this sarcastically.  We obviously couldn't be together.)

But Aaron had a different idea about it - and within a week or so we were sitting down with our Pastor to fill him in on this new information, and to tell him not to worry, we'd be waiting until I was high school.  (The longest six months ever.)

And the rest, they say, is history. 

Next up:  our wedding day.  Get us out of here!


Motivate Me Monday





My weekly 'lay out some goals' post is taking on an interesting feat this week as I'm minus one child in the mornings due to VBS!  I'd be lying if I said I'm not a little sad, and I don't miss him a little, but I'm hoping this allows me to get a LOT done this week (though Ans is down for her nap and I've not even showered yet.  *Sigh* I'll put that as my unofficial number 1 on the to-do for the day.)  Anyway - here's the list for the week:

1.  Bills Paid / Menu Planning for the first two weeks of August

2.  Trip logistics worked out and laundry kept done up.

3.  I will get the chore chart developed for B this week.  I'm still having issues with what he's expected to do and what he has 'options' to do in order to earn some change here or there. 

4.  Working on fruit of the spirit art project this week.  I have 7 pictures left to snag (though I think I have one that will work for love.  Okay, I should have several to work for love.  So I'm going to attempt to get through the week with just 2 or 3 left.  We'll see how that turns out.  My biggest thing about these pictures is that I don't really want them staged.  I want to see them happening naturally.  Which is hard with a two year old (do two year olds even know self control? Just kidding.  B actually does pretty good.)

5.  I'm bringing you guys more deals this week... in addition to my normal posting.  I like the mix of life and frugality, I'm just dedicating some time to bring you some more frugality.  So be checking back for multiple posts a day!

-A

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Anniversary Craziness

You ever get a wild hair to just do something crazy?

Not, crazy crazy, ya know?  Just something, different?

Maybe it's because I'm still young (and I am still young, just so you know.) 

Maybe it's because I've never really done things just spontaneously.  (Unless you call getting married at 20 spontaneous and crazy... and some people would... not me.)

But for some reason, I just want to do something, well, different. 

And our anniversary is coming up - and I thought to myself, "Self, what a great opportunity to do something you don't normally do with your husband!"

So - I've been racking my brain for fun ideas - things we don't normally do - for our anniversary. 

Here's what I've considered so far:

-Tattoos.  Yeah, yeah.  I know.  Bet you didn't see that one coming!  Truth is, tattoos are still out because I don't know how I feel about them in a spiritual sense (I've not really looked into it, to be honest), and I'm not a big fan of tattoos in a physical sense, but Aaron and I have joked from time to time about getting our wedding bands tattooed on, and what a great time to do it!  That'd be the only one I would ever really consider.

- Pedicures.  Don't laugh.  My husband my kill me for telling you this, but he's wanted to try it.  (Turns out a lot of guys we know do it... weird, huh?)  Anyway... that would definitely be something we haven't done together.)

- Going dancing.  I suck at dancing, did I mention that?  I'm a total white girl (no offense to my white sister friends out there who have rhythm, but judging that many of the white girls I know can't even clap to a beat, it's safe to say we can't dance all that well either.)  So it'd have to be a lot of slow dancing (and I rock at that, I must say). 

- Canoeing, or zip lining (except it's out because we've done it before... so as much as I'd love to do it again... it'll have to be at some other time.) or some other experiential 'date'.   Any suggestions?  Because I'm up for suggestions!

I just want away from the hum-drum of normal life.  In other words, I really don't want dinner and a movie.

Okay, friends - Ideas that will give us togetherness fun (without conviction - lol)?

-A


Friday, July 22, 2011

Weigh Day Friday


Well I skipped a week or two - but I really have to start watching it.

So just a weight update - 132.8... lower than what it was last time I weighed.  Shooting for 125.  That'd make me happy... we'll see how long it takes to get there.

-A

An Arsenal of Recipes

I feel like women need an arsenal of recipes.  Seriously, we get married, some of us have little idea as to what we are doing (I was a pro at sweet stuff, just mediocre at real stuff, and can you believe my husband hates sweets.... world of hurt, I'm in, I tell you.) or how to please everyone (when kids come along of course.)

And I'll tell you - if you were like me (which many of you reading are not like me in this accord - ya'll are home-makey and good at this sort of thing... this girl just took practice) you came upon every good recipe you had after a great deal of hard work and trial and error.

Now don't get me wrong, I'd have a bagillion great recipes from my mom (whose cooking, even after 6 years of marriage, I miss) if only the woman had recipes!  (Can I get an amen? Amen.)  Seriously - what is it with women and having this complex system to how they do their cooking but their system includes throw in some of this and if you don't have that you can add this totally unrelated ingredient and I'm not really sure how much of anything and somehow it turns out exactly. the. same. each. time.  

Really?  I think they are just lying to us because they don't want their secret out.  I'm on to you.

So - as I'm menu planning, etc, I usually find myself racking my brain as to what I can prepare with the ingredients I have on hand (or mostly on hand), and a year or so ago I started a binder of recipes, for myself, by myself, that I've prepared and have been deemed successful in our household (this is an important step.)

Time got in the way and the project fell on the back burner, until I got a crazy hair and decided today to fill it in.  The result?  14 pages worth of recipes = 40+ recipes of things I fix that my family actually eats.

Well, praise Jesus!  I think I'm going to like how this little project pays off.

The other reason for this project?  If you're like me (and in this way you might be) you know what it's like to love your momma's cooking, and my prayer is that my kids will love mine (someone's got to), and in praying that they do, I'll have all of my recipes in one central location, with notes and what not written in, so my kids, if they desire, can photocopy and own for themselves.

I don't know about you - but I like the idea of my recipes being passed to my kids and grandkids.

Now, if I can just figure out my mom's Italian beef recipe...

-A

SIL Golf Deal


For you southern Illinois golfers - Governor's Run in Carlyle has a groupon special for $35 for a round of golf for TWO people, includes your cart.  To get the deal you need to do this:

1.  Go here to sign up for a free Groupon account (and get lots of deals in the STL area from here on out, too!)

2.  Select St. Louis as your city.

3.  To save even extra money go here and sign up for an ebates account (you even get a $10 gift card or $5 in cash just for signing up!!!)

4.  On ebates home page (after you've signed in) go to 'groupon' in your searching for stores option.  This allows you to earn 3% cashback (just over $1 on this purchase).  It will direct you to groupons website, complete your deal (if it's not the main deal on the page, look to the sidebar and you'll see it by Carlyle), and you're good to go!!

Don't forget to shop through ebates for any future online purchases (from an array of different retailers), to earn cashback on all kinds of purchases! 

Enjoy your golf!!!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What to do when you just "need" something...

It's been awhile since I've had a frugal post, but now seems as good a time as any. 

You all have heard me talk a lot about watching for deals and buying things in advance, but sometimes, you don't realize you have a need for something until you really need it. 

It makes it hard to buy these things in advance, but it doesn't mean you can't get a deal on it. 

Today was one of those days for us. 

3 short points you need to know as background information:
  • We've been having issues keeping Bryton in his big boy bed to go to sleep.  Once he's asleep, it's fine, but up until that point, he likes to get up.  
  • Potty training is going remarkably (and a little bit unbelievably) well, so much that Bryton has been successfully dry all the way through the night into the wee hours of the morning, and when I say wee, I mean he's started waking up at 5:45 or 6 to go to the bathroom.  Not a bad thing, actually, it's a great thing, except that he won't go back to sleep after he's gone... 
  • I've been considering one of those 'ok to wake' products (the ones that have a time that you set and some kind of signal telling kids it's okay for them to get out of bed) for some time, but didn't feel as if we needed it... until now. 
And after two early mornings in a row where we've tried our little hearts out to get Bryton to stay back in bed... I decided it's worth a shot, and I started doing research.

Turns out they sell this cute (and possibly oh - so - helpful on a lot of levels) clock on amazon. 

Isn't he cute?  I feel like he needs a name... (I'm all about naming inanimate objects today...)

Anyway - this darling little clock is a clock (obviously), an alarm clock (for later on in life), displays both a manual clock and digital clock (for time learning), talks, serves as a nightlight, and has a feature that allows parents to set a time for an 'okay to wake' time and it remains yellow until that time and then it turns green.  I like this little guy.  Very helpful and educational. 

The problem: he's $40.  And okay, I know, he's $40 and will last through a kid's childhood, but really, $40?  On a clock?  So I discussed it with the hubs and decided that the $40 would probably be worth it in case the 5:45 a.m. wake up calls persist through the next few years of life, and then if Ansley starts them at that point.  We decided to make the splurge.

But you know I'm not satisfied with that... so - though I'm an avid 'amazoner' I decided to 'shop around' and see if I could find a place that had it at a reasonable price, that I could get cashback from ebates and had a coupon code.  (This is the whole point of this post, folks.)

Literally ten minutes of research turned up the fact that Barnes and Noble (seriously?) has this product in their gift section, $4 cheaper than Amazon, still with free shipping (because it's over $25), and there was a 15% off code, as well as 6% cashback from ebates!  I paid just at $32 to have this little darling guy shipped to my door (as opposed to $40) and will earn basically $2 back for the sale... a total savings of 25% just for 10 minutes of my time.

So, friends, if you have 10 minutes in your day and are looking to purchase something specific, it's worth it to at least give a valiant effort checking around!

Until next time-
A



Excuses Come in All Kinds of Pretty Packaging

And my current excuse looks like this:





She's pretty, isn't she?  Allow me to introduce you.  Blog friends, this is Iris, an ESV Study Bible who makes her public debut on August 31, 2011.  Iris, these are my blog friends. 

Seriously, though.  I've been looking forward to this Bible coming out for months.  No, really, I have. 

In fact, I've been so waiting for this Bible to come out, that every time I have read my own I've thought to myself, "Man, I can't wait to read these same passages in my new ESV Study Bible with the pretty Iris pattern."  

Now, let me defend myself a little.  Overall - the design of a Bible is of least importance to me, and when I went searching for a new Bible (it would be fair to mention that I own, ahem, 8 different Bibles in a paraphrase and in 5 different translations... though none of them are ESV) I was looking for a Study Bible (which I don't own) in the ESV translation.  Now, let me tell you - all I found with these particular specifics were hardcover (yuck) or MacArthur versions.  And, I said before that looks aren't everything for a Bible, but let me tell you, when I saw how much these cost, I wanted something that I was completely happy with, and said Bible up top there is the one that seemed to 'have it all'.   Except, however, the ability to be sitting in my hand at the moment.

So - as I mentioned before, I've had these thoughts while doing my reading about how I'd love to be reading in my new ESV Bible.  Then - it has progressed to, "I'll really enjoy reading my Bible when I have the ESV study Bible."  And now, I'm finding myself relying on getting the Bible to make sure I'm in my Bible every day rather than sporadically.

How do we get here?

How do good things become such horrible excuses?

ESV, NLT, or NIV (though my least favorite aside from KJV), they are all God's word, inspired and relevant to our lives today.  The study notes, though helpful, are not God's direct instruction to us.  I've let a tool become an idol.

And though I'm really excited about the study Bible - my goal is to become more excited about God's word - even in the form I have now.  God has transformed a great deal of my life through the reading of His word, without a study Bible to help me through.  I can make it another month I think, God is faithful.

-A

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Children

Allow me to get on a soapbox for a moment, may I?

"Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
    the fruit of the womb a reward."  - Psalm 127:3

I'll be honest.  I'm not even sure where to start this post.  I have so much to say and can't find the words or the organization, or something.  So, as much as I try to keep things clean and fluffy, this may all just spill out of me.

Undoubtedly - I believe parenting may be one of the most demanding and exhausting responsibilities a human being may ever hold.  There is just so much vested in the task.  Our greatest priority, growing our children spiritually to know and love Jesus is followed by the responsibility to physically and emotionally meet the needs of our children, to raise them in such a way that they are upstanding contributors to society, can adequately care for themselves, provide for themselves, and if at all possible, like us a little bit during the process.  The need for spiritual leadership alone (which requires our walking out our faith physically, verbally, and visually and nurturing theirs to the point of allowing them to own their own faith) in and of itself is demanding.  Add on the stressors of living together with several people in a household, dealing with laundry, meal preparation, tantrums (can I get an 'amen') and spit up - and you've got one major task on your hands.  Not to mention that every failure and every success made by your offspring resonates with your heart.  You're emotionally attached in such a way that it's almost frightful to allow our children to fail.

All of that said to say this:
 
The enemy is stealing the family.  He's stealing the idea of family.  He's thieving from us the rewards of family, and he is instilling within us self-centeredness and greed.

You'd never think these two paragraphs would be interconnected, but they are.

Somewhere, our children have begun to be perceived as an inconvenience.  Where once, not long ago, there was a time where men and women married young and started families, now there is question as to whether couples even desire families now.  (And I'm not knocking you if you are one of those - but the point is this is the day and time in which we live.)

There's an idea of 'sowing ones wild oats' while they are young and waiting until later in life to have children so that children don't interfere in their happenings.

It becomes a problem when people have children and still perceive them as an inconvenience.  For myself, something changed in me immediately after holding B when he was born... a major priority shift that leveled me down on the hierarchy of importance.  God, marriage, and this new little boy were priorities, not only because I consciously thought they should be, but but because my driving 'gut' and motivation felt that they were.  This makes it hard for me to understand the need many parents have to get away from their children.  I've seen too many girls in the youth group raising the babies of older friends of theirs, because they had 'better' things to be doing.

I'll be honest... dvr is a great thing in our home during The Biggest Loser - because it's the one show I care to watch on tv... ever, and I fear I'd view my kids in such a way if they were louder than the tv while it was on.  Sad.  Thankfully - my perspective is shifting.  

And we don't just do this in our home.  We carry this perception everywhere.

Snarling looks from the couple in the neighboring booth when a baby is whimpering tells us our children are an inconvenience.  The yelling mom in the grocery store who is ripping her crying kid through the aisle tells us our kids are an inconvenience.  People in our churches even tell us our kids are an inconvenience, directing us to the nearest nursery to drop off the talking toddler, some even expecting the church itself to do the spiritual nurturing of our kids.  (This is not the soapbox I want to get on at the moment, but let me just leave a few scriptures as food for thought:  Exodus 10:2, Exodus 12:26-28, Deuteronomy 11:19,  Joshua 24:15, Psalm 78:5-6, Proverbs 22:6, Luke 1:17, Ephesians 6:4, 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12, 2 Timothy 1:5 and 3:5)

And God tells us they are a gift... our heritage from the Lord.  God designed the act of parenting as one of the most difficult and thus the most rewarding responsibilities a person can encounter.  God promises there will be fruit in our laboring through the development and discipline and tantrums of life, but many parents aren't up for the challenge.  They can't see the blessings being worth the investment.  We live in a society where we want blessings handed to us on silver platters with little work involved.

No wonder our children face the challenges they do today.  Society and parents show kids through words and actions that they get in the way of the lives they really want.  I don't know about you - but feeling like I was more of a hindrance than a blessing would leave me bitter, rebellious, and looking for another god or religion that loved better.

And being that this is all being brought to the surface in my life, seeing that parents are still the driving force and influence in the lives of their kids (studies have shown this to be true), I want my kids to know, undoubtedly, regardless of circumstances that they are loved more than they will ever realize, that our discipline and instruction are bi-products of that love, and that they are our greatest blessings, a gift to us from God.

I don't know about you, but to genuinely feel like I was a gift from God to anyone, would dramatically and positively change the way I viewed both that person and God.

-Praying for a shift of perspective for our society...

A






Monies

I told ya, when things change it all happens at once! And children are the definition of change!


So - Bryton has graduated from M&M's for using the potty to money (pennies and nickles).  At the end of each week I'm going to take him and let him spend the money he has earned.  (LOL - I crack up using the word earned in this context!) 


Anyway - since he has sparked such an interest in money - and he's going to be handling a great deal of it (in pennies, of course), I figure it's time to teach him the 'give, save, spend' method of money.  We want giving and saving to be core in how our kids manage money.  So, starting tomorrow, we'll learn about putting money in three different places... his piggy bank (save), a tithe envelope (give), and a pocket of sorts (may be a craft project for the day).  I'm sure it may take several weeks for him to 'get' this idea (as we'll take the money to church and put in the offering plate his tithe money, and he'll get to spend his spend money, and we'll take his piggy bank money to the real bank... eventually), but I figure there's no better time to start than now. 


Now - since Bryton is two and a half (some people may find this ridiculous, I say there's no greater time to start), I feel it's time to start him on some chores and small jobs around the house. 


He picks up on his own.  He can put his dirty dishes in the sink (and does on his own mostly).  He helps get us things for Ansley.  Etc.  I want there to be things he does just because he's a part of this family and he is expected to be a contributor to this family.  (Yes, even at two and a half.)  He's even helped put his laundry away! 


Now, I'm wondering if any of you blog moms out there have any suggestions as to what to do for 'allowance' related jobs? 


I'm in the process of considering several options... like just offering him odd jobs as I come across them... or maybe offering things he can do each day to earn a specific amount of money... and I've even seen the idea of setting a specific amount for certain tasks and if he does it, he gets that amount, but if he doesn't want to do it that day, he has to pay someone else that amount to do it.  (Actually just saw this on a blog tonight - the idea was that if he was expected to walk the dog for .25 and didn't want to walk the dog that day, then he had to pay someone .25 to do it for him.)  And I'm not throwing that idea out yet either.  This may take a little bit of time to perfect, and even then may be a changing system over the years. 


What do you guys think? 


If we're going to teach him about money he has to have money.  My goals are:


  1. Teach him about how to manage money, with giving, saving and spending each being important to our financial health. 
  2. Expecting certain things of him around the house because he is a part of our family.  
  3. Not just giving him an allowance... teaching that money is something that must be earned.   
 Suggestions?


-A

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

You Know What I Need?

I need a random, unload my brain kind of post that isn't related to any thing life.  Why?  Because life was exhausting today... and I use words to escape instead of alcohol, food and the drive I have at times to run away from home (I wouldn't really do that... without the kids in good care, that is.)

So here's my random post... of all the junk floating around in my head right now.

- So I bought myself a new Scentsy smell that I covet every time someone else orders it.  I started burning it today, and I figured out why I love it so much.  It smells like Mambas.  You remember Mamabas?  Only the world's greatest candy!  I gotta get me some of those!  It's been years!

- I think Bryton's favorite color is yellow.  He has smiley faces for his sticker chart, and it seems to be the dominate color he chooses.

- I'm jonesing for a date with the hubs.  A real date.  Like, a hibachi and a movie.  Or you know what, just a movie (because if you go to a movie you have to eat popcorn... and who can eat popcorn and gorge yourself at a hibachi?  Okay, I can.  But I shouldn't.)  Larry Crowne sounds good!


- Has any other female considered shaving their heads?  I don't know how it is physically possible for a person to lose as much hair as I've been losing and still have any on their heads.  Like, for real.  We're four months postpartum, here, this should be slowing up by now!  Cleaning my bathroom post hair drying is making me nuts!

- A friend sent me a really cute DIY bracelet idea here.
We think it'd be fun, but maybe with something in place of the hex nut?

- How sad is this?  I already have a Christmas list going.  Seriously.  I do.  For myself.  How selfish is that?

- So - the many hairstyles of Alicia have taken a severe turn... I got tired of growing the bangs out so I cut them.  And I cut them TOOOO short.  Seriously.  It's sad how much my hair has changed in just the amount of time we've been married:
You can't tell - but my hair was extremely long and no bangs on our wedding day...
Huge gap in between here with short hair, long hair, bangs, no bangs, trendy, straight... even a perm (bleh! it was awful)... all before Bryton was born.  I had shoulder length hair, no bangs when B was born...
And this is what happened WEEKS after he was born...
Stopped fixing it like this and moved the bangs over more by 6 months...
 And was back long again by Christmas...
  By the time Ansley got here, I'd went short and long several times, and had started growing the bangs out again...
 And now the bangs are back... 
No pic yet.  I hate them.  Maybe soon I'll be brave enough... 

- An update about my "Weigh Day Friday" blogs... I missed one because we were out of town and missed last week because I forgot.  Also stopped going to the gym, for multiple reasons.  It was necessary... so I don't feel bad about it, but want to replace it with something.  Also want to shed these last few pounds.  Ugh. 

Well - that's all I have at the moment.  

I have some heart blogs coming up - we'll see how they end up!

-A


Monday, July 18, 2011

Excerpt Worth Quoting

Note:  The following is no words of mine, but is a direct quote from ApParent Privilege by Steve Wright (with Chris Graves).  (page 115-116) I hope it resonates with your heart as it does mine.

"Many parents today mistakenly believe the answer to keeping their children in the faith begins and ends with a dynamic children's and youth ministry. For many the end-all is a youth ministry with exciting worship, relevant events, relational youth workers, personal mentoring, and a charismatic pastor. Sounds reasonable, right? But it doesn't work. Dr. Richard Ross, an expert in youth ministry of four decades says,

"This model of student ministry has allowed us to maintain very strong participation for the sum total of two years of middle school, then we lose the first group on the way to high school, the next group when they get their driver's license, and the last group in the spring of their senior year. The fact that most now sleep off hangovers in their dorms suggest our model, though well intentioned, has generally been a failed experiment. Scripture, research, and observation by seasoned youth leaders suggest it's time for a new model."

*This is me saying AMEN!  Aaron and I have talked about these exact 'stages' for YEARS!*

Our current model of educational formation in church isn't producing lasting disciples even if we get a sharper pastor, newer gimmicks, a better youth band, more volunteers, a bigger budget, or even our own youth building. Unfortunately, pastors who work with students are gauged by their coolness factor and their ability to entertain and act as a kid magnet. What if our ministries had no lights, no shows, no gimmicks, no Christian celebrities, no budgets, but had prayerful and humble leaders? What if prayer was primary, Scripture was central, and sharing one's faith was the norm? What if moms and dads were teaching the Word at home, living daily as attractive models to follow? What if these parents understood that, biblically, it's not the job of a professional pastor to disciple their children for them? 
 
I've been a student pastor for 20 years. If someone were to ask me what is the one thing I want to accomplish in my ministry, the answer would be easy. My goal is to resource, train, and involve parents so they begin to open the Scriptures at home and pray with their children. I want parents to see their role as the most significant and influential in their God - given task to disciple their children. 
 
Parents must take ownership of the responsibility to be the disciplers of their child. Pastors want to help and support parents, but when pastors try to do it alone we see 2 /3rds of students walk away from church after high school. Parent, take hold of your privilege."

Motivate Me Mondays


So I'm late in the day on posting this week's edition of Motivate Me Monday, but there's a reason why.  I was tired of putting 'cleaning' on my list so I'd do it at some point through the week, and so today, I just did it.  :)

So the entire house was cleaned from top to bottom this morning.  Ahhh, doesn't that feel good!  (I must say, there was a much greater feeling of satisfaction when cleaning A) Didn't take me as long,  B) When I knew I could sit down and enjoy it afterwords, and C.) When it stayed that way for any period of time.  With toys out and the dog dragging his food around everywhere, I resent the fact that I spent 3 1/2 hours cleaning just for dog food to be strewn about.  Ok, I really don't mind the toys so much.) 

Anyway, I've crossed 4 different things off of today's to do list... so let's get one created for the week :)

  1. I have one Scentsy party that needs to be closed this week. 
  2. I'm getting that desk painted!!! (If I can brave what is supposed to be between 110 - 120 degree heat indexes again... phew.)
  3. I'm working on some girls things for the youth ministry.
  4. And lastly - this is a 'for me' addition - I have like 3 books waiting for me to read them.  I'm at least finishing ONE!  
So there ya have it.  Let's see how I do!

-A

Sunday, July 17, 2011

As Promised - A little late...

Yesterday was a long day... not bad, just long, and *gasp* I didn't get around to posting. 

So I'll keep it short and sweet today - but I will deliver pictures, as promised ;)

Here's Ans Mak with her Dolly.  I'll be honest, Bryton never had a 'lovey', and I think it's precious when kiddos have loveys... so I have let Ans have her dolly early, hoping she'll get attached to it.  (Remind me of this in a year or so when my blog is about losing the lovey and her not being able to function without it...)


Random picture of Bryton that holds lots of significance in this family.  Bryton with his Cars balloon and Mickey Mouse ball.  "Why?" you ask?  Because he got to pick out a toy and a balloon, because he earned them...


 With this!  He's done so well! 

And Miss Ans Mak chilling at the park.  I love those cheeks.

And so - I went scouring yard sales one day and found nothing... all day long, until I hit up the last one and I found this.  I've been looking for one of these for Bryton for a very. long. time.  I thought surely they'd have a nice price tag on it, and when I got up there (long past the peak hours of yard sale shopping) it only said $5.  $5?  I scooped it up as quick as I could.  A little coat of paint and this baby is perfect!  We're going for fire engine red - I'll keep you posted!

And here's something I don't blog about real often... for lots of reasons, but these here folk are dear to my heart... some of our youth kids at a baseball game and concert the other night.


With a... blue... man...

And with the lead singer of Remedy Drive.  Interesting band, I say, but they have some good stuff.  (I will say - with no mentioned names - that one of the females in the below picture was quite disappointed to see the ring on said sweaty males finger ;)  Silly girls.)  They just agreed it'd be nice to marry a band dude - and who am I kidding - it is :)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Some New Winds are Churning

Like, for real. 

You ever notice that when things change everything changes.  Like, nothing can ever happen a little bit at a time, ya know what I mean? 

And, as much as I can say that I love change (and sometimes, trust me, I love change - like getting off the road, great change - getting married, great change, etc etc etc), but sometimes, I can be a little bit of a traditionalist (and sometimes - the change is good, and I'm glad I've made the change after the fact... it just took doing it.)  

Like - with potty training.  He's done phenomenal the last three days.  Not one accident.  Crazy.  And - today we were gone, out of the house, for 3 hours.  Once he told me he had to pee, and we just happened to be near my moms so he was able to go in and do his business.  Another time he did his business in a Chili's bathroom stall.  Yay for being able to potty out of the house!  That has calmed my 'change anxiety' immensely regarding potty training.  Perfect example of change that is great once it happens! (Not that we in any way have this licked yet.)

And then there's Ansley.  I remember this 'phase' with Bryton.  It's the phase of multiple phases.  It's the 'don't get used to this, it won't last long' phase.  It's one week doing one thing and a week later everything is different. 

Good Ansley change:  she's taking longer naps in the afternoon, praise Jesus.  3 days in a row now.   (I'm not holding my breath that this will last... I can hope it does, but I'm sure not counting on it.)

Ansley change that is good, but I'm having to adjust to it:  We're having success with life outside of the swaddle.  Everyone pat me on the back, I've started the transition a full 3 months sooner than I did with Bryton.  We started with naps, and just last night we moved to not swaddling at bedtime either.  Goodness... so much change for this little closet traditionalist (about some things) to wrap her little emotions around. 

Add on to that that we are trying to introduce cereal into Ansley's diet (am I the only horrible mother who does it sporadically some days and doesn't others - sometimes for the sheer ease of just being able to give her a bottle.  Sad, isn't it?) 

And of course she's changing what she likes and doesn't like to do at the same time.  Where in times past she loved her swing, she's starting to prefer her bumbo and her jumper a little bit more, but she doesn't last long in either, half because she looks so uncomfortable, so who knows how long those will last...

Oh, and did I mention that she's starting to get herself sideways in her pack n play?  I am foreseeing a change to the crib soon - and I'm not sure how well that is going to go over with the kids having to share a room at the moment.  Another good change but exhausting one. 

We need a new house.  Did I mention change??? 

Yeesh.

On a more random note - I've been given the urge to blog each month in pictures at the end of the months... you know... one picture for each day, all month long.  But - since I'm OCD about everything, I can't start in the middle of the month (and that'd be too much change for this month anyway ;), so I'll start that in August.  Should be a good month for it!

So - there's my mini - vent.  I've got a fun idea for a post tomorrow... including pictures :)  It may be up tomorrow night - make sure to check it out tomorrow night, or Sunday :)

-A

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Potty Training Update


Okay - first, I must confess.  This picture is old.  It's actually from the last time we attempted potty training, but I so didn't want to jinx any chance of it being successful this time, so I have not taken even one picture.  Honest. (Though I'd be lying if I said I haven't wanted to a time or two.)

So - here's how this attempt is going.  Overall, it has been very successful so far.  The first day was lots of accidents.  In fact, I think he ended up about 30% for the day (or so), and I wondered if he was getting it or if I should back off.  But, being that he seemed more successful at the end of the day than the beginning, I chose to at least give him one more day. 

Day number 2 had four accidents total = 75% success.  Yay!  Go B!  Day 3 = 100% success.  Yep, not one accident, same underwear all day.  And - so far, for today he's 100% (though he is napping right now in his underwear - we'll see how that goes) and that was with being gone and out of town for about 2 hours.  (Though he refused to pee while we were gone.)

So all in all - he's getting it.  And now it's time that I fess up:

-  I expected this to be time consuming and difficult, and for a lot of other things to be on the back burner, and it's been exactly what I've expected it to be.  And to be quite honest... trying to figure it all out, myself, has me more than a little bit exhausted.  I went to bed at 9:30 last night and got up at 7:00, and I'm still tired.  I expected it to be time consuming, but not nearly so draining. 

-  I've seen more of the bathroom in the last few days than I care to see for a long, long time.  AND - furthermore, two bathrooms will be a necessity once Ansley starts on the bandwagon.

-  And, half of what has left me so exhausted is the whirlwind of questions I have now!!!  Here's what has been littering my mind the past few days: 

What do I do for nap and bedtime?  He can't make it through the night, but I really don't want him to get up either (selfish, I know).  Everyone says no diapers, so do I do pull-ups?  Or underwear and hope that he can hold it? 

And what about going out?  He's peeing on a potty seat at home... do I have to take that with me everywhere now?  And he wouldn't pee on it in a public bathroom today?  How do I combat that?  And if he learns to pee standing up, how does he reach the toilet in a public bathroom with no stool.  It'd be really beneficial if I shared the same 'parts' as him at this point... there are some things I obviously don't get.

And when will he ever be able to go to the bathroom on his own?  Is that something he's capable of now? 

How long do I need to do the sticker charts / m&ms before it's second nature and he does what he's supposed to because he knows he's supposed to? 

And WHEN will he stop peeing every 30 or 45 minutes?  Granted, I know he's little and has a small bladder and what not - but my goodness - he went 17 times yesterday!  In 9 hours (since he was dry through all of his nap...) 

- And here's this for my last confession:  I am very happy that we are tackling this now, but, by golly, diapers sure seemed a whole lot easier than this :(  (And I'm saying all of this, and he's doing well!  Don't know how I'd be if he was doing poorly.)  I'm more happy than anything right now, but I'm wondering how we make life work now, like it did before, with his new found skill. 

Any words of wisdom are appreciated!

-A


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Happy Birth Day, Sam

A dear friend is having her precious baby boy today, in fact, she may have already had him.

Sam was a baby who has been prayed for and yearned for long before he even existed in his momma's womb. 

I grew up and realized how very real infertility is.  I think it's safe to say that Aaron and I took for granted the fact that both times we tried to get pregnant, we got pregnant very easily.  For so many that is not the case. 

And sometimes - God ordains other ways for momma's to have babies... and His hand is in those medical interventions that give us precious, wonderful children. 

I have several friends who have precious children because they loved them enough to long for them, yearn for them, and endure for them. 

As much as I cherish and find the birth of my children precious, I can only imagine what it's like to hold a baby you've yearned for and prayed for and worried for and endured for  - for so very long. 

Sarah gets to experience that today. 

Happy Birthday, Sam!  Your parents love you dearly. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Family Fun

You don't have to know me for very long to know that I'm a huge baseball fan, more specifically, a St. Louis Cardinals fan. 

In our family it is I, not my husband, who would gladly accept season tickets to see our Cards play.  It is I who covets the smell of hot dogs, the sound of the fans, the roar of the crowd.  It is by far my favorite thing about summer.  *Gasp* I will even watch them on tv.  On purpose.  That must tell you something. 

So - we take every opportunity we can to watch our Cardinals play, and just a few years back, 2006 to be exact, our Cardinals got a new stadium. 

I'll be honest.  It was bittersweet.  I loved the old round stadium.  I loved it's oldness, it's character, the sentimental value it held.  I really didn't believe anything could compare. 

And then we visited the new Busch, and I love it.  Yes.  I love it, not like I love my husband or how I love my kids, but kind of how I love ice cream, except more.  I love it. 

So - when the hubs said that he'd love to take a tour of the stadium, I was on the ball to check out the possibilities, and as it turns out, they offer tours everyday! 

(Side-note:  Information that must be noted is that Aaron and I are the ones who talk about things like what the clubhouses look like, where the interviews take place, and where the players park their cars.  In fact, I'm pretty sure at any major sporting event we've been to we have talked about where they park their cars.  A year or so into dating, Aaron and I went to the PGA's Senior Open, and we even talked about this there.  Just sayin'.)

So - the last time we were in town - we packed B up and took a tour of Busch.  Here's our trip in pictures: 

On our walk up to the stadium, statues we see every time we go, but never have the opportunity to see without a huge crowd around! This is the hubs and B with Ozzie Smith!


We lucked out.  We were going for an 11 o'clock tour which just happened to be sold out.  Luckily, they'd added an 11:20 tour.  This is B being stir crazy outside the gates waiting to go in! 


We're proud of our 10 time World Champions!

The three of us in some of the standing room only 'seating' right before our tour started.  Left field side. 

We normally have the same seats at Cards' games, as Aaron's parents buy into a group of season tickets and get us a couple games every year (I'll show you the location of those later), so it was neat to see so many different areas in the ballpark.  We found a left field patio area where we went later that night to have dinner and hang out before the game! 
The below picture is of A and B in the Champion's Club (you can get tickets for this all-inclusive, air conditioned area!).  Right to the left of B's head is the 2006 World Series Trophy! 


 I believe this area is the Cardinal Club (don't hold me to that), I know where it is relative to everything else.  Lots of blown up images of real baseball cards.  B and I are pictured with Stan the Man Musial! :) 


This was really incredible!  You're looking at hubs and B pictured in the box where all of the radio announcing is done for the Cardinal games.  Great view of the field!

All of the technology in the room.

Aaron and B looking at a picture in the room.  Cardinal trivia, know who that is? :)

And my two favorite moments of the day.  This picture is of the three of us in... yes, the Cardinal dugout.  How stinkin' cool is that?!  At the game later that night I watched Albert, Yadi and the like sitting in this very spot, and I thought to myself, "Seriously, I bet my dead skin cells are laying there... how cool is that!"  I'm weird, I know.  (And while I was in there I was thinking to myself, "They spit in here, this is so cool.")

This is a view of Bryton (who is on the field) right behind home plate. 

So, when you see the next Cardinal game on tv, and you see the advertisement boards behind the batter, yep, that's what B is jumping off of here.  He may be the only person ever with a picture like this.  He was bored waiting for everyone else to get their pictures taken... 

And here is our picture.  Love this place.  Love these people.  What a great day!  I'd totally recommend this tour.  $10 a person... an hour long!  Go on game day and you might run in (almost literally) to some players there working out like we did.  (Not our players, unfortunately, but players none the less.)  And we got to watch them manicure the lawn (see the mower in the picture?  He's draggin the infield.)... which in itself is a process.  We learned that the sprinkler system has the water set on exactly 39 degrees.  Crazy, huh?  (And they do not want you on the grass... like I said, it's a process.  Oh - and we aren't on the grass here... just looks like it ;))

And we went to the game later that night.  Awww, root root root for the home - team!  (They didn't win, bummer.)  Anyway... I told you I'd show you our seats:



So there you have it.  Busch stadium!  Love love this place!  Mostly love the family time spent at this place!  Oh - and by the way, we asked, players park in the gated parking just north of Paddy O's :)  Couldn't leave without that information! 

-A