Monday, November 30, 2009

Back to Reality

Each time we travel home, after a fun-filled weekend with family and friends, and enter the oppressive craziness of this city, I feel my relaxation slip away and my shoulders start to tense. My heart begins to feel heavy and I dread slipping back into reality. It's not that I don't like it here because most of the time I do; it's not that I don't have great friends here, because I do; it's not that there aren't really good things about our life here, because there are! It's missing having my family close by and sharing in their daily lives, it's not getting to hang out with my sister and wander around stores or watch Dr. Quinn reruns together, it's not seeing my mom more than 4 times a year and being around her comforting presence, it's not having my boys live close to their grandma and mugga, cousins and aunts and great grandparents and really get to know them.

I hate that these special times have to be smothered with this feeling because it leaves me floundering for a few days, trying to find my footing again.

If you're reading this: K, I had a lot of fun staying with you. Your home is so beautiful and you've done such a nice job fixing it up with such homey touches. I am sorry that we practically destroyed your house and left you with chaos. I'm still not sure why it happened but I'm really really sorry. I loved watching Dr. Quinn with you and playing Monopoly hours after we should've left:) I can't wait to see you again in a few weeks. I love you.

Mom, the bonfire had to have been the highlight of my weekend. I have always been sad that I could never experience that with you. You have the perfect home for a chilly autumn bonfire:) Those roasted hotdogs and s'mores couldn't have tasted any better! The boys are still talking about it. I love you.

Mama-in-love, we had SO much fun with you at Chuck-E-Cheese's on Saturday! We saw another one on the way home yesterday and the boys were really excited! They are still carrying around their little "suitcases":) It was so nice to spend time with you. Thank you for creating a special memory for our boys. You have such a pure and beautiful heart. We love you so much! And we are still really sorry for worrying you yesterday:( We can't wait to see you soon!

Grandma, I love hugging you and seeing your sweet loving smile. I love that you are still crazy enough to get up at 4 am and shop:) We have a special family, don't we? I am so glad you came to the bonfire, too, on Saturday and I hope you're finally warm now! I can't wait to see you again and hear your familiar, sweet voice and see your eyes light up just because you're with your family. I love you.

I have so much to be thankful for and that is what I will focus on as I readjust to "reality." And I do have two little boys, one in particular, who are so excited about Christmas and for whom I can create special memories in the next few weeks. Yes, that's what I'll think about today..

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday

I must confess to you: I am one of those crazy, insane people that pours over Thanksgiving ads on Thursday, wakes up at an ungodly hour on Friday and ventures out into the foray of crazy shoppers.

It's an annual tradition; usually one or two of my sisters, my mom, my grandma, my aunt and my cousin all circle the parking lots like vultures looking for the best spot. We enter the stores and stake out a spot in the lines that are usually snaking around the store and we take turns looking for the amazing after Thanksgiving deals. Do I have a lot of money to shop with? No! By no means! The best part for me is spending time with my family, laughing about how crazy we are, hurrying to get some product that we can't live without and stopping for our "mid" (early) morning breakfast at Panera. And as we are recharging with a toasted bagel and hot chocolate, we share stories of the morning, usually about people nuttier than we are, we laugh and we plan out out next attack.

Today we hit Kohl's at 4am, Target at 5am, Panera around 6:30am, Value City Furniture at 8am, Old Navy at 8:30am and Walmart around 9am and back home for naps at 11am! Whew! A whole day's work in 7 hours:)

Ben thinks I'm crazy and will probably never ever understand this hereditary insaneness that I have. But I'm okay with that. And as long as I'm okay with being crazy then he should be, too:)

I am looking forward to an early bedtime though...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lights, Camera, Action, oops!

The boys have been looking forward to tonight for days. I even had to draw a little calendar for Samuel to check off the days until today (and tomorrow) because many exciting events have been happening for them. Daddy came home late last night (that was an airplane on the calendar), there is a little car under Wednesday to signify our drive to Ohio and under Tuesday's square is a little Christmas tree.

Yes, tonight we took the plunge, entered the crazy Christmas fray and decorated our proud little 3 foot tree:) The boys were SO excited that they could not wait for Daddy to wake up from his 3 hour nap to go collect the Christmas gear from downstairs. In fact, Samuel's tears when Daddy wasn't "quite ready" to wake up (it was a very busy weekend for him!) showed me how much he had been looking forward to this. He thought that not only was it decoration night but it was Christmas, too. Imagine his disappointment when he realized not only do we have to celebrate Thanksgiving first, but there are still 4 more weeks til Christmas!

We were able to mullify him with sparkly ornaments, colorful lights and dinner while watching "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas." It was a lovely afternoon and evening. In fact, I was all prepared to document it with our camera, to share pictures of the colorful lights reflected in the bright eyes of our blondies until....

Until I grabbed the camera only to have it fly through my fingers like butter and land smack down on our cement-like floor. Oops. There was a collective silence as I retrieved the camera and battery which had flown out. "No harm done!" I said blithely, hiding my concern. I could tell Ben wasn't buying it but the boys had already turned away to complete hanging little snowmen and silver orbs on our little Thomas tree.

Sadly, I must announce that the camera which has taken us through a trip to the Holy Land (Israel), documented our first pregnancy and birth of our Samuel, followed us from Indiana to Illinois where it captured with glee the screaming arrival of Zakkai, snapping pictures of multiple birthday parties, family gatherings, travels to Ohio, Wisconsin, Missouri, and has helped me capture 5 1/2 years of precious memories....has died.

It is with much sadness that I leave for Thanksgiving without my faithful companion. Sigh. At least I have my camera phone, right?

Monday, November 23, 2009

O week!

I can't believe we're already on "O Week!" It's a little harder to do activities now that most of our week is filled up with preschool but we still manage to do little things. Here's what we came up with for this past week:

O is for:


Decorating Ornaments! Spotted these 99 cent babies at one of my favorite stores (hello, JoAnn's!) Amazingly and surprisingly, Samuel got a train ornament...or not:) He worked very carefully to color it! Zakkai went for the multi-colored look..
O is for Owls! We did an activity cutting and glueing animals that were either Daytime Animals or Nighttime animals, including owls. Z is working very hard to glue:)

Samuel coloring diligently his animals, all in red!
Owls! Their alphabet books now sport owls. Samuel, having a strange stubborn gene that did not come from me, refused to color his owl. Zakkai quickly abandoned his coloring in favor of cutting everything in site with scissors!

Their Animal craft!


O was also for: Oranges that we gobbled up for snack, Opposites (we worked hard to try and understand these), the color Orange, orangutans, books: "Owl Babies", "Owen", "One Duck Stuck", "One jar of Oil", "On our way to Sesame Street" and we say, "Marching One by One" (I totally made up that title; I have no idea what the real title is!)
I am happy that P week coincides with several Thanksgivingy (I made that one up, too:) items! We are looking forward to seeing our family this week! What are your plans?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Measuring Cup

Allow me to tell you a very short bedtime story. One that will fill you with a warm fuzzy feeling and leave you longing to spend time with small children. A-hem!

Once upon a time, I had one of these:

Such a nice glass measuring cup it is was. So sturdy. So handy for measuring liquid. So...likeable.

And then. Then I had one of these:

He was so sweet and I loved him so much and he didn't cause too much damage so I decided to have another one:

And this one was also pretty cute and did cause a lot of damage but I decided to keep him anyways.

And then this happened:

Take a closer look to my likeable, handy, very usable glass measuring cup:


I mean what is left of my measuring cup.


Any guesses on who "done" it?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Girly-ness

You know, I like being girly. Aside from the terrible physical sufferings that we must endure that men haven't an inkling of, being a girl is pretty nice. Without my femine qualities, I imagine that Ben would be living in some cold, dark, musty library apartment somewhere, probably living off of canned soup and coffee.

Instead of leading such a lonely, female-deprived life, he was crazy enough to choose the girliest of all girls to marry:) Really, being one of five sisters, I hadn't a chance of becoming a tomboy! So instead of books (well, aside from our bedroom/study) our home is infused with colors and flowers and cinnamon scented pinecones. I can't help myself! I am drawn to the beauty of fabrics and little touches to make our home warm, welcoming and...femine! Hey, what's a girl to do when she's surrounded by boys?!

I am in the process of sewing up some of last weekend's fabric finds. Check it out!



A close up of the front and back!

I was pretty excited when I found the paisley print to tie in my couch colors! The colors are a little more vibrant in person. I really like them. I have 2 1/2 done and 3 1/2 more to go! Samuel came out the next morning after I put the first two pillows out and said, "Mommy, those pillows are beautiful! I really like them." Words to warm my heart!

I'm off to sew more pillowcases since I am hubby-less this weekend. And possibly eat some chocolate cake, too. Yes, quite possibly:)

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Box Car Children!

One of my very FAVORITE series of books growing up was...The Boxcar Children. I could wait to see what kind of mystery Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny were going to solve next. There was something so fascinating and compelling about living in a boxcar and cooking wild apple pies with hunks of cheese as a side. Wait, you don't remember that? Grandfather Alden? Benny's cracked pink cup? Watch the dog?

Maybe I should keep my memories to myself.....ahem.

Moving on. The boys were so enthralled with the big box I brought home a few weeks ago, playing with it until it was in tatters, that I made a stop at Cosco yesterday just to get boxes for them. Of course I came home with milk, eggs, fruit and animal crackers, too, but that's beside the point!

The point is: 2 children, 2 boxes, 2 hours of peace and stress-free entertainment.

The boxes lined up and ready to go. Boys? Boys, where are you?

Oh, there you are! "Mommy, can we sleep in here tonight?"

"Yeah, mommy! Can we sleep in here tonight?" Um....right. And what will happen when you tell your teachers at school that you slept in a box last night?

Two little boys driving two little boxes and using two big imaginations. A world of endless possibilities!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Samuel the Teacher

This afternoon we packed up our family and headed to Samuel's school for our very first "Student-Parent Conference." Not your typical parent-teacher conferences. No, with this, your preschooler gets to be the teacher and show you lots of things that he/she has learned! Samuel has been beside himself with excitement and pride. He even came bounding out of school yesterday telling me that he had a "secret" and couldn't tell me! I can't tell you how much I love love love to see the confidence and excitement brimming on that sweet perfect little face!

And amazingly enough, Samuel managed to keep his "secret" until tonight! We were impressed that a 4 year old could keep a secret that long:) When we got to school, one of his teachers gave him a paper with his agenda of things he was going to show us. He got to choose 1 out of 3 choices in each category. He chose book/story time, blocks, snack time (one of his favorites each day!), writing his name and surprise of all surprises...computer! We were instructed to let Samuel do everything by himself and let him show us. He was so darn cute during snack time. He very carefully poured little cups of juice for each of us and laid out a little napkin in front of us. He scooped a few pretzels out of a bowls onto each napkin and sat down to enjoy:)

He is getting really good at writing his name! He is working hard on lower case letters. He couldn't wait to show us the computer. While Ben was watching that, one of his teachers, Mrs Darby, pulled me aside to explain how he was doing (great!!) and give me some papers, including a Scholastic book form! Can I tell you the great memories that brought back? Do you remember coming home from school with your Scholastic book form, excited to pick out which books you wanted? anyways...I'm digressing....

And then after he had shown us everything, his teachers said, "Now, Samuel, go show them your painting!" The teachers had such expectant, proud looks on their faces. I must admit, before you look at the picture, that I was expecting a few careless paint brush strokes or a few blobs. Samuel isn't exactly crafting-inclined! He hates to get messy and has refused to paint at school until now....

We went out into the hallways and this is what we saw:




How amazing is that?! Okay, let me be a proud parent for a minute! We were so excited and surprised to see Samuel's rendition of Thomas the Train! For his first big painting, I'd say that's pretty good! He wrote his name down in the bottom right corner with the "e" and "l" above. Pardon my phone pic:)

The look on his face when he marched up to it was absolutely priceless and is imprinted in my mind. He was so proud and it brings tears to my eyes to think of it now. He wanted to take his picture home tonight but we had to wait:) You can bet I'll be saving this one in his memory box!

Ah, the life of a school parent!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Noodle Doodle

N Week! I finally emptied my camera so I can take more pics but still don't have a lot for this week. Oh well, you can use your imagination!


N is for: New bedding! Just a sneak peak with an adorable 2 year old on top:)

N is for Noodles!
N is for Noah's Ark!
N is also for favorite Neighbors! See boys dancing with their buddy "Miss A"

video

N is also for: Noses, Nest, Nighttime (we talked about that a lot since it's so dark so early these days!), Neighborhood, Necklace, Newspaper, Noise, Nature, Naps and Numbers. We read "Night Cat", "Night in the Country", "Night Worker", and a few others that I'm blanking out on... We listened to the "Nutcracker" which is one of my absolute favorite classical CD's but one that Samuel insisted he did not like:) Food: Noodles and nuts.

I got some great suggestions from my friend for O week but will welcome any more!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

I'm Ba-ack!

I'm back to reality after a fun, girly weekend! I will have pics to post soon but since it's late, I am going to wait to upload them:)

This weekend was so inspiring! We learned so much from the classes that we took about how to develop patterns, copyrighting, marketing, bags, and a really fun class we took on saturday creating skirt yokes (the top part of a skirt)to fit us personally. I was the youngest person in the skirt yoke class and THANK GOODNESS my mom and aunt Judy were there, too. Under the requirements for the class it said, "Wear suitable undergarments." My interpretation? Wear some decent undies because you might have to unbutton your pants a bit so the yoke material can be fitted.....yeah, I about had a heart attack when the instructor (who was fantastic, by the way) told us to drop our pants! WHA-AT?! I can't believe I'm even admitting this here....you may never read again!

So most people were prepared with tights and slips and good ole' granny underpants. The lady next to me asked if I had a partner and all I could do was clutch my mom's arm and plead silently that she would say we were partners. Thankfully, she was in tune with my slight fear of the outspoken older lady:) So my aunt selflessly partnered up with June, the older lady. And suddenly there I was in a class surrounded by middle-aged to grandma-aged ladies dropping their pants. I'll stop my details there:) Once I got past my embarassment, the class was very fun and later in the evening my mama, aunt and I went and picked out skirt patterns at the fabric store. I'll post a pic when I make my first fitted skirt!

I came home full of thoughts about what I want to do to improve my crafting skills and make things to sell. I could really use the money and why not sell something I love to make??!! Nothing like a sewing/quilting expo with hundreds of crafting women in varying stages of expertise to stir up your crafting desires! I bought some material that I fell in love with and am "redoing" my living room. I'm just recovering my couch pillows and adding some new accents! I'm really excited about it. I found a cheap duvet cover at Ikea that is white and red so I am taking all of my red living room accents and switching them to my bedroom! Brilliant, I tell you! I will post pics when I'm finished...
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The boys were so excited to see me yesterday. They were practically beside themselves with wildness and silliness and showed off a great deal for me, Mugga and Aunt Judy. Zakkai kept telling me "I missed you and I wanted you to come home!" It was so nice to get big hugs and smiles from my two little men. Now I am refreshed from my girly weekend to take on being a "single mom" this next weekend. Ben is traveling to a conference this weekend and then we're off to Ohio next week for Thanksgiving. Talk about a busy month!

I'm back to posting regularly now and will have pics tomorrow, hopefully! Oh and PLEASE pass on any ideas for "O Week." Not exactly an easy letter. I need crafts, activities, snacks, books, etc. Anything will help!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Quilting!

I am off to my quilting/sewing expo! As I write, I am sitting in the hotel room with my mama (Happy Birthday, mom!!!) and my aunt Judy! We had so much fun today walking around looking at the different vedors selling materials, clothing, bags, sewing machines, bags, quilts, bags (and more bags), patterns, you name it!

I had a good time until I got stopped by some "zentherapy" vendor (not sure why they were at the quilting expo but...okay) and it started out well: me laying in a comfy chair with a spiced-stuffed warming cushion around my neck, another cooling one over my eyes, a warm muff for my hands, a boot for my foot.....I was so relaxed that the buzz of the crazy crafty people faded into the distance and I caught myself wondering what would happen if I drifted off....

And then. Then the zen-therapy guy had to get all creepy on me. First of all he had RANK breath that smelled like a dead animal (I literally almost gagged right in front of him) and THEN he got all touchy feely on me, pushing on different trigger muscles (or something like that) and telling me my clavicle was off-center and yada yada. He was trying to talk me into coming to see him after I had explained to him about my back injury last year and before I know it he pressed really hard right on the tender area (I didn't realize it was that tender) where my broken rib/bruised spine was and I was instantly in bad pain. I was so upset after walking away, with my back throbbing that I was trying not to cry. It was just discouraging to think that my back could still produce that kind of pain and that creepo had the nerve to press on it!

Thankfully my mom had some pain relieving lotion stuff with her that she rubbed on my back and it feels okay now, just a little painful. Other than THAT (you can bet I'll be staying away from that vendor tomorrow!), we are having a blast!

I'll write about our classes we're taking when I get more time! For now, I have to go read a book until I get tired because the two early birds I'm sharing a room with are already zonked out! Ciao!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dreams

I didn't have a chance to write last night between a terrible headache (which, unfortunately is still lingering) and a talk Ben and I had about the future and dreams. At one point, Ben asked the question "What is the point of dreaming?" And the first answer that came to the top of my head was "Dreaming gives you hope for the future."


It's so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of life and forget about all of those grand dreams you had when you were younger. In my case, marrying the love of my life, moving away from home, focusing on Ben's schooling and having babies earlier than expected, all conspired to put my dreams on hold. So much so, that I have even forgotten what many of them were!


As I have gone through a lot of healing and personal growth in this past year, some of those dreams and/or new ones have started creeping in. I have been thinking about dreams more so lately because of a new book we are starting in our mom's group called, "Mama's Got a Fake I.D." It's a book about how mamas tend to put everything else on the wayside while focusing on an extremely important task: raising kids! Suddenly your I.D. is "Mom." Everyone knows you as a mom, you introduce yourself or are introduced as a mom, you may even look like a mom:) (however, it has always been my goal never to dress like an old mom.....I digress...) The point is, "Mom" may be a huge part of who you are but it's not all of you. There's a lot more to the woman you were created to be!


Yesterday in our group, we started sharing more about who we are and who we were before kids. As amazing as being a parent is, it's the truth that having kids changes things and most in a really good way. It was neat to hear my friends share their hearts and what passions or gifts they have and what new ones are emerging. I am really looking forward to hearing from the rest next week.


And so I am in a place right now of learning how to dream again and not just dreaming but realizing that even though my dreams may be different than some other people, they are no less valuable. How can this new and improved me be used? What passions do I have? What do I want to do or how do I want to serve others? I am excited to find out what things lie inside of me, ready to break free! And I hope that by having dreams and pursuing them, I can be an even better mom and set a good example for my children.


So here's to all the dreamin' mama's and women out there!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Rockin' the Boat

I have a question: How in the world does a house get messy SO fast?!!! I have an answer, too. Answer: Three "men" live here!!! (I never mess up the house at all!:)

Sometimes I feel like I just cleaned the house yesterday and it's time to clean again. Oh wait...that's probably true! I am totally procrastinating sweeping and mopping right now. Instead of finishing my cleaning tonight, I watched "Biggest Loser", talked on the phone, checked my email and am half-watching "Jay Leno" while writing here! I'm hoping soon it will be time to go to bed and I can stop pretending to clean:)

Not much else going on. We had a good day today. The boys have been highly amused with a box I brought home from Cosco last week and spend their afternoons together pretending they are in a boat in the water trying to stay away from the Alligator (a.k.a. Daddy!!). It reminds me of my very favorite book written by my great-aunt: "Christina Katerina and the Box!"

Ah the joys and simplicities of childhood! Maybe I should teach my boys a new game called "Let's Mop the Floor!" What do you think?!



Monday, November 9, 2009

A Sign of Things to Come?

I have often and freely admitted to family and friends, alike, that the teenage years, or the "alien years" as my mom would say, frighten me. What happens to that sweet angelic child who only a couple of years before cuddled with you and wanted to tell you every little thing about their day? That child who wasn't afraid to hug and kiss you in public or even acknowledge you?

Something very strange happens to children during those "alien years" and I am frightened to see it happen to my own sweet angels! I am incredibly thankful that Samuel, my eldest who will be the first to test those murky teenage waters, still hugs me and blows kisses to me at school, tells me he loves me, cuddles, cries, greets me with big smiles......

However......today I experienced my first taste of the future. It went like this.

Setting: In the car, driving home from school.

Me: "What did you do today, buddy?"

Samuel: "Um....I don't know."

Me: "What do you mean you don't know? What about the computer?"(his ABSOLUTE fav thing to do at school)

Samuel: "It was closed today."

Me: "So what did you do instead?"

Samuel: "Well...um....I....played with rice."

Me: "And what else?"

Samuel: "Um...well...I don't remember."

Me: "What do you mean you don't remember?"

Samuel: "I don't know. I did somefing."

*Fast forward through several more minutes of fruitless questioning*

Samuel: "Um, I did something with Mrs. Torres today." (Score! Finally an answer!)

Me: "Oh, yea?! What did you do?"

Samuel: "Um, I don't know."

Me: "What do you mean you don't know? You just told me you did something with Mrs. Torres today! Did you read a book? (no) Did you paint or draw in your journal? (no) Did you play a game? (no)"

Samuel: "Um, we built a tower."

Me: "Oh, a tower! That's great! What did you build it with?"

Samuel: "Somefing."

Me: "Wow....somefing, huh? Hmmm...wooden blocks? Legos? (No and no). Did anyone else build with you? Did Mrs. Torres help you?"

Samuel: "Uh, no. Mrs Torres didn't help me."

Me: "I thought you just said she built a tower with you!"

Samuel: "Well...she didn't. She helped someone else."

Me: "Oh. Well. Hmm."

*I finally give up and we continue home in silence as Samuel happily munches on his lunch.*

Please tell me this won't last!!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

M Week

It's about time I write about "M Week!" With all of the recent changes in our household, M week got neglected and turned into two weeks. As Samuel informed me at the end of last week, "You didn't do a very good job on M week, mommy." You can always count on him for the truth!
I didn't take many pictures at all because I only had a few left on the camera so I'll describe what we did!
M Week was for:
Mice for their Alphabet books! I'm sure you can guess who's is who's!
Unbeknownst to me, I was celebrated and presented with a special surprise from Samuel and Daddy last week. M week is for MOMMY!!


See the beautiful fall flowers that my men gave to me!:)

M week is also for: Mugga!! (my mom), a special lunch at McDonald's (also known as Old MacDonald's!), music, mirrors, months on the calendar, the song "Three Blind Mice", Moses in the Bible. Snacks: Milk, mozzarella cheese, milkshakes and a favorite in this house:muffins! Books we read: "Meow", "Violet's Music", "Goodnight Moon", "Monsters", "Matthew's Truck", "Madeleine's Christmas" and "Maxi, the Hero." M is also for monkeys, mountains, mad and mouth!

We have been trying to plan a trip to the Museum for the past two weeks but haven't been able to fit it in. Neverless, M is for Museum, even if we have to go late!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Mawwiage

"Mawwiage is what bwings us togethah today. Wove, twue wove...." One of my favorite quotes from a wonderful classic! Still don't know where it's from?

Ben and I spent the morning with a dozen other married or about to be married couples for a marriage seminar. A couple came to speak last night and today about having an "Emotionally Healthy Marriage." One other time we went to a marriage conference, less than a year after we were married. I REALLY didn't want to go but a sweet neighbor lady bought and paid for our tickets to go.....So we went. It was okay. I don't remember much about it except for the husband of the speaker couple saying, "Neked!" yeah.....blocking memories now...


Today's topics, however, were very refreshing. Interspersed throughout the topics of discussion were 10 minute exercises between spouses to talk about things. It was really nice to take time "appreciating" each other and talking about why certain arguments might start between you or if there are certain areas of your marriage you'd like to work on, etc.


And I walked away feeling incredibly thankful for my husband and the relationship that we have. We have our faults, our fights, our annoying habits; what couple doesn't? But what we also have is the Third cord in our marriage that gives us the strength of daily and lifetime commitment no matter what we go through, laughter that ties us together through small circumstances and big ones, steadiness and complete faithfulness to each other, and the choice to love and forgive each day of our life together. We were tied together by that third strand in a way that neither one of us were prepared for when we made that step; after all, who really is?But now as we sit and reflect over the incredibly tight bond and friendship that has formed over the past 6 1/2 years of marriage, through our ups and downs, trials and joys, we can see how woven we are together. Imagine how I will feel 25 years from now? Or 50?


Thank you, God, for blessing me with an incredible man to share my life with.




Book Review

"A Man of His Word" by Kathleen Fuller was the second book I chose to review. I am an avid reader, as most of my friends and family know, and am continually looking for new books to satisfy my reading thirst. This book appealed to me because I have read many other books set in the Amish lifestyle. Compared to the other books I've read by authors such Beverly Lewis, this book was a bit of a disappointment.

Simply but predictably written, this story is about a young newly married Amish woman who is abandoned by her husband. She finds out she is expecting their first baby and spends the next several months grieving the loss of her husband while her brother-in-law tries to hide his love from her. The story is about her healing and willingness to let love give her hope again.

The story line is decent, however, the character's reactions are not always quite believable. After finishing this story, I was left with a blase reaction: Not bad, not great, just okay.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Love it!

I am lovin' my newest blog template! What about you? I thought a seasonal change would be nice and the quilt pattern is speaking cool autumn and cold winter nights quilting or snuggling beneath a quilt!

I'm also lovin' the Apple Cake that Z and I whipped up yesterday and thought I'd share!

Apple Cake and Butter Sauce

1 c. white sugar
1/4 c. butter
4 med. apples
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp gr. nutmeg
1 tsp. gr. cinnamon

SAUCE
1/4 c. butter
3/4 c. white sugar
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream (I just used 2% milk)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 in. glass pie plate.
2. Peel, core and dice the apples.
3. Cream together 1 cup sugar, 1/4 c. butter and eggs. Stir in diced apples and 1 tsp. vanilla. Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, nutmeg and cinnamon; mix into apple mixture. Pour batter into the pie pan.
4. Bake for 45 min or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
5. For sauce, melt butter on low heat in saucepan and add sugar, cream or milk and vanilla. Heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Pour over apple cake (can poke holes in cake to let soak through). Eat warm or cold!
*I kept mine in the fridge and it was DELICIOUS!! 2 thumbs up from all my men!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Old Lady Thomas

Happy Wednesday! I am enjoying a low-key day. After mom's group this morning and sending my big boy off to preschool with Daddy, Zakkai and I baked an Apple Cake (yum!) and he washed dishes while I finished up. I do have the cutest picture of him washing:) Unfortunately it's still on the camera....
Samuel is still doing fantastic at school! He is excited to go in the mornings and is already feeling quite at home there and getting into the daily routines. He wants less help doing his sign-in routine, too:) Today we opened his bookbag to look for the book he had checked out at preschool and it was gone. We asked him where it was and he looked up with his face beaming and said, "I checked it in all by myself!!" He also got a job at school yesterday to be the bellringer after playground time. He was very proud to report his job to Daddy and Z!


Zakkai seems to be feeling the effects of all this change. It is a lot of adjustment in our routine and day-to-day life, especially for him. B and I have worked out a schedule: Mondays Z comes with me and stays out with me the whole time (until we pick S up), Tuesdays he stays home with daddy, Wednesdays Daddy takes S to school and I stay home with him and Thursdays he's out with me the whole time again. Whew!!

I know it's affecting him because he says things like, "Please don't miss me again, mommy" after I told him I missed him on Tuesday and he's been sticking pretty close to me. It's hard being the little guy! One nice thing about Mondays and Thursdays is that he and S will go down for SUPER early bedtimes! Nice for me anyways:)

The time change definitely messed with the boys' sleep. They have been up really early the past 3 days twiddling their thumbs and wondering why their timed light isn't coming on at 6:20 in the morning. I'm hoping they'll figure out the time change quickly! It's amazing what one hour can do to kids!

I am really looking forward to an upcoming visit from my mom and Aunt next weekend where we will be attending a quilt convention! The only thing that would make it better would be if my sister could come:( I am going to try to finish my quilt top by next Friday so my amazingly talented mama can look at it and help me get ready to start quilting the design on it! Then I can spend my cold Chicago evenings, quilting by the fire radiator like an 80 year old woman. Such an exciting life I lead!

Until next time!

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Sounds of Silence

The only sound I hear that is louder than the silence in this house, is the ticking of the clock. The boys have been asleep since about 6:30pm, Ben is studying......silence. Sometimes our home is filled with laughter, sometimes with high-pitched little boys voices raised in merriment or argument, there is the sound of the tea kettle whistling or the phone ringing, traffic from outside or the boys racing inside. But now? Pure silence.

Samuel asked if we could take a picture together; just Samuel and Mommy:) He is a sweet boy and funny without meaning to be! I got them a special lunch for "M" week (will be posting later) from McDonalds and as we drove away, he said, "Mommy, that place is Old McDonald's just like the song 'Old MacDonald!' "

He had milk with his lunch. Several minutes later, he announced that the milk was all gone and I asked him if it was good and he said, "It was good, mommy but the milk froze in my head!"

Samuel is also convinced that we are going to have twin girls in our family someday. I mean CONVINCED! He talks about how we will get a bigger car for the many children we will have and how there will be 2 girls and 2 boys. He even asked me the other day if he and Z would be able to carry their sisters around the house.

The climax of it came when he informed his new preschool class that mommy might have a baby in her tummy soon...twins! I was quick to shake my head frantically at his teachers who smiled at me in a very curious way. Twins? Twins!

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Zakkai is absolutely obsessed with Ben's guitar ("Kintar") lately! He will stand and strum it for really long periods of time, blissfully, and has recently taken to pulling the guitar over in front of our large chair so he can sit and strum. He was listening to a song on the radio the other day in the car(only I didn't know he was listening with me:) and picked out the sound of the guitar! I have been thinking that maybe it would be a good idea to get him his own little guitar for Christmas or his bday!

It's even better to strum in your lion suit, of course! Happy Monday!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Tips by Heidi

Tips By Heidi

(Looks just like me, doesn't it?!!)

Over the past four years, I have taught myself slowly how to make/manage a budget! Let's be realistic: it's not easy to feed/clothe/clean/etc a family of 4 in a really expensive city on limited to no income!

I had very little experience with a budget but a year after moving here we had "the budget talk" which went terribly amazingly well! I realized that 2-3 trips to the outrageously expensive store 2 min down the road to get "forgotten" items off my list wasn't saving us money. I know, gasp!


I'd love to share a few tips with you even if you already figured most of this out on your own! And this comes from much trial and error, a lot of imperfection, talking to and learning from others, internet sources and I guess a good dose of common sense! (which I may or may not have needed....)

Tips:


1. Make lists, lists and more lists! I remember when I used to wing it and "pop" into a store (ahem, Target) with only a few things on my mind that I needed and walk out several bags heavier and a lot of money lighter! Never go into a store without a list and STICK TO IT! (easier said than done:)
2. Menu Plan! I sit down the night before or morning of a grocery trip and go through my cabinets and freezers to see what items I already have and may have forgotten about (hello, can of tomatoes,cream of chicken soup or dried beans!) that I can use. You can do what works for you but I menu plan for 2 full weeks of meals, which saves alot of money and time!
3. Coupons! This is a new one for me. I just found a great deal online to get the Sunday paper for 50 cents so now I can get coupons!! I also found a good website to print off coupons (free)www.couponmom.com and at this website she also can tell you about the paper's coupons and coordinating sales at your local store.4. Here is a website my mom and several other family members are using: http://www.thegrocerygame.com/. It's the same concept as the couponmom website but this lady does some serious work for you. Coordinates your coupons with store sales and store coupons. The main idea of this is to stockpile food so after a couple of months you shouldn't have much on your "need" list. You get lots of food/household items for dirt cheap (we're talking less than $1) or even free! I witnessed this first hand grocery shopping with my mom this summer. We went to two different stores and at the cash register my eyes about popped out of their sockets when she saved $70 at one store and $60 at the second. Seriously. I am trying the free 4 week trial this month!
5. And another recent change I have made is to do a cash budget. I just completed my 3rd month and am getting better at it each time! I actually look forward to the 1st of the month when I can get out my cash and divide it into the envelopes (I know, I'm a nerd!). I personally have 3 separate envelopes: a grocery/household envelope (food, household supplies, diapers, etc), a produce market envelope (I adore our produce market!) and a misc envelope (laundry money, vitamins and medicine, gifts, clothing, etc).

*Doing the cash budget has helped me SO much to know that once that budgeted money is gone...it's gone! I am so much more careful now about what I am choosing to spend our money on and can even reward us with a special treat at the end of the month if there is a little extra like pizza! (going out to eat is a RARE treat!) Also, I am now going to reduce our grocery budget by $50 a month because I realized that I am spending so much less now with the menu planning and coupons
I am probably just blabbing things that you already know but I am excited about what we are doing! It just makes me feel good to know that we are being really careful and there are ways to save money. Now if only I could figure out how to make money....


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