Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Pics I Promised

My husband helped me figure out how to post pictures that I've taken on my iPhone onto my blog. I have more pictures on my digital camera that I'd like to share with you, but I'll have to do that on my desktop computer someday, when I actually need to turn on my desktop computer!

Here are the pics in chronological order...
This one was taken the night before we left (well actually, hours before we left for the condo, on my iphone).

This is a picture of the lunar eclipse last Tuesday morning. The quality is poor, but you get the idea.
Here are some sunset photos I'm pretty happy with.



Can you believe that I took those sunset pics with my iPhone! Here's one from Busch Gardens... We went there on our second day of our staycation. We met our good friends who were visiting from Missouri.
Here's a pic of my oldest son showing off his creativity with raisins!
Here's a pic of my daughter's snail that her friend from MO found and let her keep in the condo during our vacation. One morning we woke up and found the snail on the OUTSIDE of the container! We were worried that it might attach onto our clothes that were laying nearby.

Here's one last pic of our Christmas morning. We got back home on Christmas Eve after attending the Christmas Eve service at our church. I hope that your Christmas was as awesome as ours. We have been blessed in so many ways this year.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Staycation Pics

I'm getting used to my new iPhone. Tonight has been the first time I've successfully checked Facebook and looked at my blog (from my phone). I'm going to try and post some pics from our staycation at the beach...

Sorry to disappoint you, but I don't know how to do that yet.

I thought it would be easy since the pics were taken with my phone (I'm typing this right now on my phone.) I'll work on this tomorrow and get back to you.

Goodnight!

Monday, December 20, 2010

CHALLENGE! part deux

I am trying really hard to keep my house (main areas that are already clean) clean!  The kids bring their toys out to the living room while watching TV, the daily newspapers are laying around on tables or kitchen counters, the mail is too, recent kid's artwork, couch pillows on the floor, etc...  I'm trying really hard to stay on top of it.  But I need YOUR help.  If you know me, AND you live locally, I want to challenge YOU to drop by my house unexpectedly, anytime!  Yes, that's right...  This is SO outside of my comfort zone, but I think it's exactly what I need.  Obviously this is a bit more difficult for some of you than others, but give it a try and see if my house is clean.  Don't worry, you can bring the kids.  You can call or text me first to see if I'll be home.  Especially if you live farther away.  May I suggest that the next time you're in the area, you drop on in and see how clean my house is.  I will rely on you (my friends) to keep me accountable.  And soon, I hope to have the bedrooms under control also.  They are really out of control right now.  Then after the bedrooms, the garage, then tackling the backyard landscaping which has been ignored for quite some time.


In other news....
I had forgotten exactly how time-consuming packing for a mini-vacation can be!  My packing began on Sunday, when I did my laundry (ever so quickly, I LOVE my new washer and dryer, thanks again Jen!)  I thought to myself, "I'm half-way done with packing.  That was the hard part."  Boy, was I off.  To save money I need to plan our meals for each day that we are there, then make sure I have the ingredients, and also plan a dish to bring to the annual Christmas cookout that the condo where we are staying has every year.  Plus I needed to pack our swimsuits, beach towels, sunscreen, beach shovels and buckets for sand castle-building, beach umbrella, floaties, etc...  You get the picture.  Even though the temperature of the gulf waters is too cold for native Floridians to get into, there is a heated pool at our disposal which I plan on frequenting each day of our even mini-er vacation.  I finished packing late this afternoon.  Then I had to make out our menu for the 4 days (now 3 days) we will be on vacation.  Then I had to go one last time to Publix to buy some of the AWESOME BOGO deals they have this week, like my favorite crackers!!!(Nabisco Thin Crisps, btw)  So I stocked up on some pantry items for the house and got a few things that we'll need while we're gone.  But by the time my two boys and I left Publix, it was late.  Not late, late, but we still had to eat dinner and I didn't want to drive to the beach and check-in in the dark.  So I (and my husband) insisted that we wait until morning. 


That gives me time to do this (post on my blog) and a few other things before bed.  I forgot to add that this morning I was busy ordering Christmas photos for our Christmas cards.  Then I paid the bills that were due this week.  On a totally unrelated note, yesterday during church I started getting another fever blister.  This one was very aggressive.  It came from out of nowhere and started getting gross.  So I slapped some medicine on it and it's starting to go away now, but I really do hate fever blisters. 


I'll post again in a few days.  After we get back.  Probably on Christmas day. 


Goodnight!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

My Christmas Party

 
These are my blog-reading friends who were able to come to my Christmas Party on Friday evening.  The adorable 3 week old baby is Ivy who's name you might remember from an earlier post where I showed pictures of her baby shower cake.
We had a wonderful time visiting and eating some DELICIOUS food.  Thank you for coming to my party and giving me the incentive to get my house cleaned up!  My family and I are enjoying our clean house!  

This afternoon I did 3 loads of laundry SO FAST I couldn't believe it!  Put together my desk in our bedroom and hooked up the computer so I could re-size this photo and post this to my blog.  I also made a quick trip to Wal-Mart to get a few things.  I've had a really productive day.  We took our family's Christmas photo after church today.  I only got one decent family photo, but good ones of each kid.  I'm going to order some prints for that tonight before bed so I can send out some Christmas cards, hopefully before Christmas!  But don't hold your breath...

I will be away from my computer until Christmas day.  Our family will be having a staycation at the beach, not too far from our house.  That means I may or may not be able to post.  I will try and see if I can do it from my new iphone (that I got yesterday as an early Christmas present from my husband).

If I am unable to post before Christmas, then "Merry Christmas to all of my readers!"  Thanks for being there!

Love,
Laura

SUCCESS!

Well, I did it.  I got the house cleaned up enough (de-cluttered) to have guests!  To some of you, who maybe don't know me very well, you might think, "Wow, this is a big deal?"  And to those who might be thinking that, I say, "Yes, yes it is."  My house/home has been in some state of mass clutter since my daughter was born in 2003.  It was then that I became overwhelmed with being a mommy AND taking care of the house.  One of those things had to go, and you guessed it, it was the house.  


It's very interesting to read the books about hoarding and see myself in the descriptions of some of the hoarders in the books.  While I agree this isn't optimal or something I would want to brag about, I've learned a lot about myself from reading/skimming these books.  I say books, because my husband checked out two more books on hoarding from the library recently.  Not for me, but for him.  He wanted to try to understand me and why I do the things I do.  


But, back to the two-week clean-up that I just completed...  I did get the main areas of the house cleaned up, but in the process I had to "stash" some of my "junk" in our bedroom and the garage.  Yes, I know, it's pretty sad.  I now need to tackle these areas of our house. Not to mention the kids' rooms.  One major problem with my record-breaking clean-up/transformation of the house was my husband helped me take apart my desk which was out in the living room and dining room (kind of like a divider) but we were pressed for time, so it's unassembled in our bedroom (taking up WAY too much room) and my computer is not set up, because I have no desk to set it on (as of right now).  So I am borrowing my husband's laptop computer to write this post.  I have a photo of my friends who were able to attend my Christmas Party yesterday, but I can't figure out how to edit it before I post it on this blog.  After I get my computer set up (hopefully tomorrow) I'll post the picture. 


I've GOT to get to sleep now.  I can barely keep my eyes open.  Health update:  no hives, one fever blister starting up, but I put some medicine on it.
Goodnight!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Procrastination vs. Priorities

It's officially the eleventh hour and I just spent quite a bit of time looking through coupons to prepare for a trip to Publix and Wal-Mart to get some ingredients to make some yummy treats for the party.  Between the two stores, I'm expecting to save $8.75 just with the coupons.  My money will go much further at Publix where I'm only buying items that are on sale as BOGO (buy one, get one free).  


You could call this procrastination...  My deadline for a clean house is tomorrow at 7:00.  Even with saving about $9, did I really come out ahead?  Probably not.  But part of my "personality" that contributes to my tendencies to hoard, is the desire to save money (save just about anything else too!  hee hee)  One of my favorite crackers is BOGO at Publix this week (starting today) and I have 3 coupons to save $1 off the purchase of 2 crackers.  This is pretty exciting, because I've been waiting for them to go on sale for about a year!  Seriously, I refuse to buy them unless they're BOGO.  Having a coupon on top of the BOGO is pure gravy!  My couponing friends know what I'm talking about.  They may, or may not think I'm CRAZY!


This directly affects my priorities.  I chose to take the time to clip coupons INSTEAD of cleaning my clutter!  My priorities SHOULD be de-cluttering right now, but I'm a bit overwhelmed with this last bit that I have to do.  I have to make the decision now whether or not to forgo the sorting and just stash the "junk."  If so, I'll have to sort at a later date.  This is not ideal, but sleeping is very desirable and very elusive during these past two weeks.  

I've been burning the candle at both ends and I have a lot to show for it, but I'm really hoping to not get sick.  I have a tendency to get hives (and fever blisters) when my body's defenses are down.  The hives is mainly on the palms of my hands and soles of my feet.  There's a specific name for this kind of hives, but I can't think of what it's called right now.  So far I've avoided the hives, but I'm on borrowed time.  I believe that God is helping me get through this "challenge" and he's keeping the hives and fever blisters and/or cold symptoms at bay while I take care of business.  


Today I was cleaning the built-in shelves where our TV, DVR and DVD player are.  It was pretty dusty!  The shelves are really deep and held a lot of stuff I hadn't used or even seen since last Christmas.  You're not going to believe what I found behind the DVR (digital video recorder/cable box)...  you'll probably never guess...  unless you've read my blog from the beginning...  THE STUPID LIBRARY BOOK (that was due last May).  I couldn't believe it was behind the DVR!  I never would have checked there!  Near it was the receipt from the library from when I originally checked it out for the kids.  I've already paid for them to replace the book ($4).  They said if I found it I could bring it in with my receipt (showing that I paid the $4) and they would reimburse me, or I could just keep it.  I don't EVER want to see that book again!  The boys really enjoyed reading it today though, so maybe I'll keep it.  

I'm really excited about tomorrow night!  Soon to be TONIGHT! (it's almost 12 am).  Today I made Creme Brulee Cheesecake Bars.  It's a new recipe that I couldn't wait to try.  I haven't sampled it yet, but it sure smelled delicious while baking.  I'm going to make my favorite spinach dip and some homemade egg nog  and a batch of white tr*sh.  I really don't like to even type those words together.  I consider it disrespectful, but until I come up with a better name for the yummy white chocolate concoction with the Chex cereals and stuff, it will have to do.  


I'm a bit anxious about having guests.  I can't remember the last time I entertained.  Seriously, I can't.  That's pretty sad :O(   I'm so looking forward to having friends over.  If you haven't contacted me and still want to come, that's okay.  The more the merrier!


I might not have time to post before the party, but will post on Saturday and let you know how it went (and if I got the house ready in time!)


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Storm Before the Calm

Yes, I realize that I've gotten the expression mixed up, but it's so true.  Each day I work on my clutter (mainly paper clutter), the dining room or living room area looks like a bomb exploded and it's messier than before I began.  Right now these areas are controlled, but only because I'm not working on the dining room/area around my desk right now.  The living room was trashed on Sunday because that was where I put my piles of paper clutter from my desk.


Today I am working in the kitchen (while homeschooling my daughter!)  So the rest of the house is looking "normal." 


I'm getting really excited about the Christmas Party on Friday at 7:00.  I don't know if anyone is coming though.  If you will be able to attend can you please leave me a comment?  I need to know so I can prepare for the party. 
Some readers have mentioned to me in the past that they didn't know how to post a comment.  If you are having problems posting a comment, there's an alternative.  

Click on the link below my picture where it says "view my complete profile."  On the left side of this profile page is a link (highlighted word) that says email.  It's under the word:  contact.  You can click on the email link and write me a quick response to let me know if you're coming.  There's no need to email if you're unable to attend.  But you're always welcome to email me, if you're unable to comment on my blog.
Thanks!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Challenge Update (4 days left, but only 3 nights)

Real quick, I want to give you a quick update on how my house cleaning/de-cluttering is going.  I don't want to spend too much time telling you about it because the clock is ticking... tick, tock, tick, tock. 


I did get my desk partially cleaned.  Let's just say I can see the top of it right now.  YEA!  My plan is to move my desk from the LR/DR area it is in now, back to our bedroom.  So tonight I will be cleaning it out and getting it ready for the move.  My husband and I spent all afternoon Saturday and a couple of hours today putting Christmas lights on our house.  I have a photo that I can post tomorrow (if I remember).  It still needs to be re-sized.  Yesterday evening we put up our Christmas tree and the kids went CRAZY decorating it.  Ever since they woke up this morning, they've been re-arranging the ornaments.  I don't think they understand that once you decorate the tree, it's done!


I'm feeling a lot of pressure to get my house in order before my Christmas Party THIS FRIDAY at 7:00 p.m.  I am not regretting my decision to undertake this "challenge," because without the "pressure" that I feel right now, nothing would get done.  I wouldn't be making any progress on my de-cluttering.  It will be an awesome Christmas present for myself and my family to have a clean house once again. 


I hope you can make it to my party.  Thanks for being my inspiration!  The blog post with the party details is HERE.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Challenge Update (6 days to go)

Last night (Friday) I began work on my desk.  The frustrating thing is, I didn't get very far.  I didn't get started as early as I had wanted to because besides my usual procrastination, my daughter pulled her second top tooth (making the grand total 6 teeth pulled so far).  She was determined to get that tooth out of her mouth.  She spent about 2 or 3 hours getting it loose enough to pull out.  I'm proud of her.  Determination is not one of her normal character traits.  She often gives up on things that are too difficult.  When she started "working it," early in the evening, it wasn't close to coming out.  She forced it out.  


So, I did my best and grabbed as much paper clutter and miscellaneous items off my desk and plopped them on the floor in the living room.  I made piles of different categories, but then got really tired.  So, even though I knew it could be messed up the next day by the kids (and husband) walking on my piles (which to them just look like random paper clutter/mess) and it did get messed up a bit.  I just left it out on the floor because it would've taken too much time to pick everything up and then get it back out this evening for more sorting.


I'm getting ready to begin, but first I had to start some laundry.  I've fallen off the laundry wagon and have been pushing my limits on how long we can go between washes.  Our family spent the entire day outside putting up our Christmas lights on the house.  Yesterday I did some trimming of our long hedge that leads to the front door to get it ready for the net lights today.  I remember now that I also pulled a BUNCH of some type of weed I hadn't seen before that was growing unchecked near this long hedge.  I even got out the rake to try and get the roots to this weed out of the ground.  That is another example of me getting sidetracked.


Oh yeah, I was talking about doing laundry...  My husband asked that I wash his jeans before church tomorrow because they had gotten soaked today when he pressure washed the front of our house and then the walk that leads to our front door.  He couldn't stop!  Anyway, I wanted to show you just how dirty our walk was.  He took this short video with his iphone4 to demonstrate just HOW dirty it was.  Check it out.
CLICK HERE

My first load of laundry is waiting for me to fold it.  So, I'm gonna go for now.  We ran out of daylight while putting up the Christmas lights today, so we'll finish it tomorrow after church.  After it's finished I'll show you a photo of our house (from the outside, that is).  

Goodnight!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Stay Focused!

That's me, talking to myself.  It's more like a mantra I've adopted.  One of my problems with collecting clutter is my superior ability to get sidetracked.  It's pretty bad.  It can undermine my cleaning efforts pretty easily (and it's so stealthy).  Like just last night, when I got distracted with throwing out, organizing and making a pile to give away/sell.  I was supposed to just do a few more dishes and then go to bed.  I'm not saying that it was a bad thing though.  It feels really good to have more storage space in some of my kitchen cabinets.  The bummer is that it doesn't really get me closer to my goal of having a clean house to invite friends to a Christmas Party in ONE WEEK!  Don't get me wrong... it's a step in the right direction, but I NEED to focus/concentrate on the living areas of the house where guests would actually see.   My plans are to get a good night's sleep tonight and then stay up late tomorrow and "attackle" the dining room once again.  After I get the dining room picked up and then clean my desk (and surrounding areas) I'm going to do some furniture rearranging (always fun) to make room for our Christmas tree and guests.  I am SO excited to have people over to my house, even if no one shows up, I'm still going to get the house ready, just in case!  I imagine there will be at least a couple people who haven't seen the inside of my house that will be interested to see what a "hoarder's" house looks like (even after it's been cleaned up).  I'm signing off for now.  I want to be well-rested (I had 3 hours of sleep this morning and a 1 hour nap this afternoon) so I can attackle the clutter once again tomorrow!
Goodnight!

It's Back to Work For Me!

Tonight while I was doing the dishes, I decided to begin throwing stuff away.  I got rid of extras of EVERYthing (plastic plates, cups, sippy cups, etc...)  I am selling my baby stuff, second-hand china, lots of crystal that we received for our wedding, but have NEVER used.  I don't even LIKE it.  It's the new me again.  I'm not going to let the "guilt" of someone/anyone finding out that I didn't like their gift and I sold it or gave it away (or in some cases threw it away).  I can't continue living life that way anymore.  Lean and mean, scaled down, less is more, minimalism and all that jazz.


So instead of doing the dishes and then going to bed early (as I had planned), I have been discarding and organizing about half of our kitchen cabinets and their contents (for 6 1/2 hours).  We'll see how the rearranging works in everyday use.  If I've thought of convenience and planned the rearranging well, or not.  If not, I can always rearrange it again.


I wanted to give you this update and shortly I'll be heading off to bed.  I need to finish some of the dishes I started and set the coffee maker for the morning.  I'M GONNA NEED IT!


Goodnight!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Going To Bed Early Tonight!

The kids and I just got back from our "field trip" to the Glazer Children's Museum in Tampa.  They have free admission from 4-8 pm on the first Tuesday of each month through March.  The promotion began in November, but one of the boys (I can't remember who) started getting sick that day and we had to cancel our plans.


I was not that impressed with the two-story "museum."  It seemed to be copying Great Explorations in St. Pete in every exhibit!  I would be embarrassed to have my brand new museum be identical to the older one in St. Pete (across the bay).  We arrived right at 4:00 and luckily didn't have to wait in a line outdoors.  The place was PACKED!  I seriously think they were over capacity and didn't make any effort to slow the tide of people entering the "museum."  The only parts that differentiated it from Great Explorations was a very large water-play area (like a water table, similar to Great Explorations, but HUGE!)  Nearby they had a "sand pit" that had "sand" consisting of tan-colored rubber cut into tiny pieces.  That was interesting.  The only other thing that was different was a water cycle climbing thingie.  It's hard to explain, you'd have to see a picture of it.  I might have one, but I can't remember.  If so, I'll post it tomorrow.


I was able to get about 1 1/2 hours sleep this morning and a one hour nap after lunch, and I'm hurting big time.  I vacuumed this morning and I am pleased with my progress so far.  My husband agreed to tuck in the kids so that I could (post this) and get to bed.  I really appreciate that, thanks honey!


Goodnight!

Monday, December 6, 2010

I'm doing it...

Well... since my announcement on Saturday about my "challenge" (skip down to Saturday's post if you don't know what I'm talking about), I haven't done very much to get this house whipped into shape....  Until NOW.  Granted, I'm getting started at 11:30 at night and that doesn't leave me a whole lot of uninterrupted time (translation:  time without kids around) to get very much done.  BUT, I AM going to get started.  I just wanted you to know that I'm tackling (or attackling, as my oldest son says) the dining room.  It occurred to me earlier this evening that I was putting too much emphasis on getting the kitchen done first and not focusing on ANYthing else UNTIL I completed that task.  (Well, I haven't completed it YET!)  I need to work on the decision-making parts of my clutter-clean-up while the kiddies are in bed, so I won't be constantly interrupted (and get sidetracked!)  So, I'm attackling the dining room and don't plan on stopping until its CLEAN!  I'll post a quick update when I'm done.


I know what you're probably thinking... "stop blogging about it and just DO IT already!"  Okay, okay... Here I go!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Update (on my Challenge)

Well, the first night of "work" on the kitchen, was cut short due to my sleepiness.  I was able to do some but not all of the dishes.  Not that there's a whole lot in there right now (compared to usual).  I'm a bit disappointed in myself, but I did get some other stuff done, I just can't remember now what it was...  pretty sad, huh?  


My day today was packed.  I got about 4 1/2 hours sleep  because I got up at 6:00 a.m.  I was going to just turn off my alarm and go back to sleep, but then I remembered that I had set the coffee maker to brew my coffee at 6.  That was my motivation to get out of bed!  So I fixed my coffee the way I like it (lots of sugar and half and half!) and downed two cups of coffee (in my eco-friendly ceramic cup with a silicone sleeve and lid, so it's like it was just ONE cup of coffee).  That gave me the energy to get moving...  


I have been putting off coloring my hair for too long, so I did it this morning (before church).  Yes, I know, pretty crazy, but I was desperate.  My hair grows really fast and I have lots of grays to cover.  I may be vain, but I just don't feel old enough to go gray.  My husband says I should just live with it (my gray hairs), but I keep telling him that I won't go ALL gray until I'm a grandma.  I guess I just don't feel old, so why look it?


Then I had a very brief prayer-time before the kids woke up.  Finished up my hair and made breakfast.  Got ready for church.  At church today I was a volunteer in the preschool section with the three and four-year olds.  I volunteer on the first and third Sundays of each month.  So I needed to be ready to memorize my "lines" and entertain those youngsters.  I don't know if I did a very good job sticking to the script, but I KNOW I definitely entertained those kiddos (and the adult helpers in the room!)  I'm pretty good at acting goofy with little kids...  Yeah, it's a gift.


Then after church on the way home we stopped and filled up our water jugs at the Publix/Glacier water dispenser that's outside of our water company's territory.  I just realized that I'm going on and on about the details of my day, and this is getting boring.  I don't have enough time to fill you in on EVERYthing.  So I'll condense, for everyone's sake.


We ate lunch, watched TV until it was time to leave for our Sunday small group.  Got home from small group, ate dinner, tucked in kids and am typing on my blog about my day today....  Well, we've caught up to real time.  Whew!


I'm SO tired from my lack of a decent night's sleep last night, I'm pretty useless for cleaning tonight.  I'm pretty mad at myself for not doing SOMEthing to help me reach my goal of a clean and clutter-free house for my Christmas party on Dec. 17th.  I will try to make up for it tomorrow, after my OTHER small group meeting and after I tuck the kids in to bed!  Sounds like a plan!


WAIT!  Before I forget... This Tuesday (12/7) from 4-8 p.m. in Tampa, the Glazer Children's Museum will have FREE admission.  The free admission is a special promotion with Target.  It is after the museum's regular operating hours.  It is only on the FIRST Tuesday of the month, through March.  TELL EVERYONE YOU KNOW (if you live in the Tampa Bay area).  It should be a blast!  We'll be there!  Click on the Museum link above for more details!

Goodnight!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

CHALLENGE!

Yes, it is a challenge.  I'm challenging myself and hopefully tricking my brain into doing some cleaning 'round these parts.  My challenge consists of a goal or event to look forward to, to get me motivated to get my house presentable for guests.  I tried to get my parents to come and visit during Christmas, but they will most likely be tied up with home remodeling.  There is still a chance that they can drive down from IL, but I'm not sure when I'll get a confirmation.  My youngest brother and his new bride (of a year) were going to come down and stay nearby over Christmas, but their plans fell through due to one of their new kittens getting hit by a car.  He's alive, but racked up some costly vet bills.  


So that leads me to my crazy idea:  the challenge.  I am extending an invitation to anyone who is reading this and who is in driving distance of my house, to come over for a Christmas party at MY HOUSE on Friday, December 17th.  I realize that a lot of people might already have plans for that night, but if you don't, come on over and check out my progress.  I promise I won't back out even if my house isn't as presentable as I had hoped (this could happen).  That means I have two weeks (approx.) to get my house cleaned up.  My invite is open to ladies only, sorry guys (I don't think many guys read my blog anyway) and no kiddos, just mommies.  I will have some yummy treats and (non-alcoholic) beverages here, and ask if you would bring either an appetizer or a dessert to share.


My plan on getting my house "in order," if you will, is to stay up each night after the kiddies are in bed for at least a few hours (maybe more) until I can tame this unruly beast which is my clutter.  You all (my loyal readers) will be my accountability partners to make sure I complete this somewhat daunting task.  I'll admit, I'm not sure if I can do this, but I CAN'T WAIT to have friends over once again.  It's been a long time :O(


If you want to come, leave me a comment and let me know if you're bringing an appetizer or dessert.  Thanks for being my friend/accountability partner!
Signing off now, to get busy on the kitchen!
Goodnight!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Too Late!

It's already 1:00 am (Tuesday morning) and I would love to write about something really profound or informative or even just entertaining, but after getting back from small group tonight and getting the kids in bed, checking emails and facebook, I just don't have it in me. 


But I am still here.  I need to get some sleep.  I'll try to post something "tonight" (Tuesday night) when I have more time and hopefully more clear thoughts.  I'm too tired to have a complete thought right now.


Goodnight!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Black Friday

This has been an interesting Thanksgiving and also the day after Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday.  Let me explain...

Money has always been tight for my husband and I.  I'm not sure why exactly, but it's a trend that resonates throughout our 13 year marriage.  As most of my friends and family know, we do not live extravagantly or own expensive toys.  Nevertheless, an abundance of money has always eluded us.  I'm not blaming my husband, I don't want anyone (including him) to think that I believe that he is responsible for our current economic situation.  I have been our money manager for the majority of our marriage, so obviously I accept partial blame.

But it hasn't been REALLY difficult until last year.  That was when financially, things got unbelievably tight around our house.  Just prior to that I started clipping coupons and continued paying very close attention to what was being spent for our monthly expenses.  Before that we had learned from Dave Ramsey and his Financial Peace University class to only use cash (or a debit card) and cut up our credit cards.  But as Dave would say, we have an "income" problem.  And as Dr. Phil would say, regarding our current financial situation, "How's that workin' for ya?"  To that (and him) I would say, "It's not!  Not at all."  And then Dr. Phil would probably say, "Well, what are you going to do about it then?"  And then I would say, "I don't have any idea!"

We, have been poor money managers.  Terrible stewards of the money God has blessed us with.  I feel pretty guilty about it, quite often.  On top of the guilt is depression.  Most recently it began in September.  I thought it was possibly due to a couple of different scenarios, which might have added to my depression, but just in the past couple of days, I realized that our lack of money was a big factor.  I never realized until a couple of days ago, that our "financial hardship" was also the cause of some of my stress.  As a stay at home mom, I don't have a whole lot of things to be stressed out about.  I couldn't figure out WHY I felt stressed.  Then, it hit me.  I was worried about money.

I tell you all of this to explain a little bit about what God has shown me during the past two weeks when we were waiting on a paycheck in the mail.  Besides Him showing me that HE is in control of EVERYthing, He challenged me to STOP what I was doing, and turn 180 degrees and do the opposite of my inclinations.  I should probably rephrase that, He didn't just challenge me, he FORCED me to change my behavior.
  
We did not have enough money to buy turkey and the usual side dishes this year.  Likewise, we didn't have enough money for me to head out to the stores this morning to find some awesome deals on Christmas presents for the kids, like I have done for the past few years.  I had to sit back on the sidelines this year, and watch it all happen, with my hands tied behind my back.  Restraint.  That's the word to describe it.  I needed some restraint, I guess.
In God's timing, we were expecting, and then received a paycheck this morning via Fed Ex from my husband's main employer, D.C. Comics.  My husband had complained to them Tuesday when we hadn't received the paycheck that should've come by Tuesday via USPS.  With some creative check-cashing and depositing at the bank, I was able to pay our mortgage, and the other bills that we missed during the middle of this month.  It was a good feeling to get that done, and even better that I was able to go grocery shopping today and re-stock our pantry and fridge.

So, why am I telling you all of this?  I guess it's because I've learned a lesson throughout all of this.  I hope that hearing my story will help you, or someone you know who might be going through a similar situation.  It's tough out there right now, but for those of us who believe in the God who created us (and all things), we have HOPE and can trust in Him to carry us through the difficult times in this life. 

God is good and He loves you. 
Goodnight.
 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Well... The kids are all nestled, snug in their beds, except for my daughter who is singing to herself in her bed (she's my night owl.)  Not one of them questioned why we didn't have a traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner today.  I'll admit, I didn't bring it up to them.  Maybe they're young enough to not expect to have turkey on Thanksgiving.  Even though we did have homemade pumpkin pie for dessert!  It followed a lovely meal of veggie fajitas (a family favorite). 

While my 3 year old took his afternoon nap, the "big" kids and I worked on some puzzles (as shown above).  Then we made the aforementioned pumpkin pie.  I'm sorry I don't have a finished pie picture to show you (not that it was that pretty). My digital camera's batteries were dead by the time we were ready to eat.  I have a picture on my husband's phone, but I have no idea how to get it onto my computer to show you (I'm not computer savvy). 

Here's my oldest son looking like a deer in the headlights.  Seconds before taking this picture, he touched the whisk with his finger and asked me if he could lick his finger.  I said he could, but then he would be done helping me.  I'm proud that he remembers, "after we touch our face or lick our fingers, we have to wash our hands (when preparing food)."  I tend to drill that into them each time they help me in the kitchen.
But our FAVORITE new tradition that we started this year was to make a Thanksgiving Tree!  Here's our finished tree...
What's a Thanksgiving tree, you ask?  Well... my good friend and neighbor, Jessica posted this craft on her blog a week or so ago, and I LOVED it.  You can see instructions at two shades of pink.

Ours is very busy compared to hers.  Jessica's is very beautiful and artistic, I admire it so.  She's so creative!
Here's a close-up of some of the many things we're thankful for this Thanksgiving.
This craft was very simple and the best part was that we had everything on hand.  It did take a while to cut the leaf shapes from the colored coffee filters, though.  The kids loved doing it and during dinner we went around the table looking at the leaves and saying a different thing that we were thankful for until we ran out.

All in all, this was a Thanksgiving to remember.  Thanks for sharing it with me.
Goodnight.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I am Thankful

Will Thanksgiving still come if there isn't any turkey on the table?....  Of course it will.  If you looked at Thanksgiving from a practical or anti-religious standpoint, it's just another day.  Right?


Well, tomorrow our Thanksgiving will be turkey-less.  No fixins, sides, rolls either; although I will make a pumpkin pie.  (I have all of the ingredients already purchased and on hand.)  Our family has been trying to make our last few dollars stretch until we receive another paycheck.


I believe that Thanksgiving similarly to Christmas has been blown way out of proportion.  The meaning of Thanksgiving is to remember the very first Thanksgiving feast of the Pilgrims and the Native Americans (Indians).  (I was trying to be politically correct.)  They came together and "gave thanks" to God for blessing them with such abundant crops from their fall harvest.
 
It's not about turkeys or pumpkin pie or over-eating until you feel sick.  It's not about watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade on TV or planning your early morning shopping spree on Black Friday.  We do keep family traditions alive though, and sometimes create new ones.

 
I don't feel bad that we can't afford a traditional Thanksgiving meal this year, it's not one of our unalienable rights.  It's a privilege to celebrate Thanksgiving with turkey and to share a meal with family.  It's not a need, by any means.  We will be having either beans and cornbread or veggie fajitas for our dinner tomorrow, I can't decide. 

 
I am planning to make more of a point this year to show the kids, the TRUE meaning of Thanksgiving, so hopefully they'll understand while they're young the MANY things we can be thankful for this year.  Here's my list (after this first one, they are in no particular order):

Jesus (I'm so very thankful for my savior)
my family, extended family and my husband's family
our friends
our church
our house
two mini-vans (even though one needs a new battery to start)
our clothes
our food
my husband's work (he has an abundance right now)
our health
to live in Florida (where it's warm/hot!)

These are from my standard list of thanks to God every evening before bed.  We are so blessed.  Blessed beyond belief.  
Thank you God.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My Newest Hobby...Fondant Cakes

This is my most recent cake which I made for a friend's baby shower last Friday.  It's a chocolate cake inside with chocolate buttercream frosting.  After cutting into it, I took a quick picture to show what it looked like underneath the fondant.

Before this cake I made a cake for another friend's baby shower two weeks prior to this one.  She is expecting a girl, named Ivy (she still hasn't arrived yet!)
This one was my most intricate design (of the recent fondant phase of mine).  They don't make cookie/fondant cutters of ivy (or at least I don't think they do) so I had studied photos of English Ivy, which I believe is the most common variety.  At least around my house it is!  I hand cut each leaf with a paring knife and then used the knife (and tried a toothpick) to make the veins on the leaves.  The vines and tendrils were made with the buttercream frosting.  The inside of the cake was a double-layer chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream frosting.  


And my very first attempt was two weeks prior to this cake.  Our small group was celebrating my friend's birthday and I offered to make the cake so I could practice using fondant for the upcoming Baby Ivy shower.  I didn't have very much time to complete this cake, so besides being my first attempt at fondant, it's not as great as it could've been if I wasn't rushed to deliver the cake (at our Monday night small group).
The inside of this cake is the same as the Baby Ivy cake:  chocolate with vanilla buttercream frosting.  I didn't get many pictures of this cake because I was so rushed.


I'm available to do more if you're local and you have an event coming up, just let me know!  I can also do cupcakes like the ones that I posted a while back for my son's 5th birthday in October.


Lots more to talk about, but not tonight.  I need my (beauty) sleep!  Goodnight!

Monday, November 1, 2010

It's the Little Things

I am blessed beyond belief.  I want to give a BIG THANK YOU to my friends who blessed me with their old washer and dryer.  I shouldn't really say "old," but maybe just say "gently-used."  We've had them in our garage for about two weeks.  We didn't have the time to take out our old washer and dryer and install the newer ones until this weekend.  On Saturday my husband worked very hard and got them installed.  He made countless trips to Home Depot and Lowe's for new hoses (ours began to leak upon hook-up) and many different PVC pipes to re-position our outside dryer vent so that it would not fill up with rain water.


I don't know how many loads of laundry I did that day, but let's just say that before I went to bed that night, there was not a dirty article of clothing in the ENTIRE house (with the exception of the clothes we were currently wearing.)  Obviously with laundry, you can only say that statement temporarily, because just like dishes, clothes get soiled daily.


Do you know HOW I was able to complete (approximately) 5 or 6 loads of laundry so quickly?  Because of the washer and dryers' awesomeness!  The washing machine has some kind of jet engine that spins the clothes practically completely dry before they leave the washer.  And the dryer is SO efficient!  It kept up with the washing machine each load, so unlike before, I never had clean, but wet clothes sitting ON TOP of the dryer WAITING to be dried.


Having an efficient washer and dryer is really exciting to me.  If you're reading this and think I'm lame, then sorry, you can read someone else's blog instead of mine.  After being married for 13 years and with three children, it's the little things like this that can make domestic life much more rewarding.  I now have no excuse not to keep up with the laundry, seriously, NO EXCUSE!  


Thank you Jen and Dave, and thank you God for blessing me (and my family) with our "new" washer and dryer!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Update(s)

I  wanted to say thank you for your prayers for my boys...  they are both doing better.  My youngest that had the fever for a few days has been fever-free for a couple of days now.  His older brother's congestion hasn't turned into an ear infection (at least he hasn't complained of ear aches) and his congestion is lessening.  


On the other hand...  I have felt like I'm coming down with a cold, so instead of blogging the past two nights, I opted for sleep instead.  It's too bad I didn't get to sleep in my own bed though.  Mental note, "get a cot or similar for the boys' room."  My body can not take another night of sleeping on the floor in the boys' room.  Last night I started out in my daughter's room (she has a futon in there temporarily, for me to sleep on).   She said when I was tucking her in that she needed me to stay in her room until she fell asleep because she was having a recurring bad dream.  I said I would and then I had planned on moving to the couch (which would be convenient for me to get up at 5 am for my workout).  But my oldest son had other plans for my sleeping arrangements. 


At around 3 am, he came into her room and said he had just had a bad dream and asked if I could sleep in his room.  I said I would since I thought it would only be for a couple hours anyway.  But when 5 am came around and my alarm went off, I WAS SOOO TIRED (and uncomfortable) that I convinced myself that I needed more sleep and moved into my bedroom (after an hour of rolling back and forth on the floor, debating whether or not I should just do my exercise DVD.)  After deciding I would just deal with the guilt, I ended up sleeping until about 8 am and felt much better than before.  


After a day off from my workout DVD (I had done workouts Mon-Wed) I feel much better.  I was EXTREMELY sore yesterday, and only mildly today.  So tomorrow morning I'll totally ROCK that exercise DVD!


Goodnight!

Monday, October 25, 2010

I'm Gonna Be Brief... (no really!)

With my new schedule (which I just started today) I needed to be in bed about 2 hours ago, but I got carried away talking to a friend after our small group ended tonight at the church.  Since all three kids stayed at home with my husband, I had no excuse NOT to stick around and get caught up on stuff (except my new early bedtime taunting me to get home).  


All I'm gonna say is that my hyper-detailed schedule that I planned last night for today went really well.  So well, in fact, that I will be hyper-scheduling everyday from now on (until I get sick of it, hee hee).  


I actually DID get up at 5 am and did my exercise DVD.  It took a bit longer than expected because my poor baby boy (3 1/2 year old) kept interrupting me because he was so uncomfortable (with the fever and all).  (I won't go into my many roundtrips into his bedroom during the night.)  

I got lots of things done today (I'm a big list-maker and checker-offer, so it feels REALLY good!)   But I did not accomplish as much as I wanted.  I realize I have to be flexible, so I bend!  (no exercising pun intended here- although this morning I did 1 1/2 hours of yoga.)


I NEED to get into bed to be physically ready to get up at 5 am again to begin my workout DVD.  It's 10 pm now, and besides taking off my makeup and brushing my teeth (and checking facebook), I'm ready to hit the sack.
Goodnight!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Disappointed...

Yep, I'm disappointed in myself.  I have all of these grandiose plans to get "organized" and to be "efficient" around the house or even to keep an exercise "schedule."  I'm failing miserably in these categories, AND MORE!  Last night I DID go to bed at a decent hour (before 9 pm) and I totally planned on waking up at 5 am to do my lengthy exercise DVD workout.  BUT, what I hadn't planned on was my poor, miserable and feverish little 3 1/2 year old wimpering in his bed, and then coming to get me in my bed.  The poor little guy.  I ended up sleeping on the floor in his room for the third night in a row.  It's really not comfortable.  He continued to wake up again on the half hour and wimper.  At least I was nearby to comfort him and get him something if he needed it.  


But because I was in the boys' room for the night I turned the alarm off so it wouldn't wake THEM up at 5 am.  Ironically I was awake at about 4:50 am or so, because the little one needed me.  But I decided to go back to bed because I could (and I deserved it, so I thought).  Even when the sun came up around 7:30 ish I told him to lay back down because I was tired!  It didn't work, and I got up.  Since I missed my window of exercise opportunity, I decided to at least get some breakfast together.  To keep the first day on my "new" schedule close to the intended times.  


After breakfast I spent time organizing my coupons.  Going through today's paper and cutting out the coupons from this Sunday's and last Sunday's (they were already selected and separated, but not cut yet).  Then I tried to organize ALL of the newspapers that were laying around (just in our eat-in kitchen area).  I can't remember what else I did, but that took us all the way to lunchtime.  


The afternoon was a blur.  I didn't do much of anything (that I remember).  The boys wouldn't take a nap (even though they're both sick and NEED it).  I had to return the movie to a Blockbuster Express and pick up a few items at Wal-Mart too.  I was getting ready to do that when a friend of my daughter's mom texted me to see if she wanted to come over for a bit.  So I took her there and then went on my errands.  Got back in time to bring in the groceries and go pick her back up.  Get dinner ready and then have some family time before getting the kids to bed.  


Sorry if the recap of my day was boring, but it's just real-life.  I need to make some TO-DO lists (I think) the night before, so that not only do I have an idea of what I want to accomplish, but I can visualize it literally, on paper.  Yes, that's what I'll do.


Tomorrow morning I'll be getting up at 5 am.  I have you to keep me accountable, right?  Exercise DVD, shower, then prayer time.  Hopefully all of these done before the boys wake up (with the sun).  I still need to picture what the rest of the day will look like.
Goodnight!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Dinner and a Movie Night (again)

At the request of my youngest (and sickest) son, we repeated the movie, How To Train Your Dragon for our weekly dinner and a movie night (sometimes game night).  Yesterday for dinner he said he wanted pizza, which was a good sign (he had an appetite).  I had to inform him that we would be having pizza the following night for "dinner and a movie night."  He said he really wanted to watch the Dragon movie again, so because there are no other decent kids movies out right now (and he feels so bad) I succumbed to his wishes.  I was worried about the older two kids protesting since we just watched the movie a week ago, but they were both excited to see it again.

We will get extra value out of this $1.00 rental since we will be staying home from church tomorrow.  My husband has lots of work and I imagine would've stayed home from church anyway.  So that means that I would need to stay home with the sick kids and my daughter wouldn't have a choice, but to stay at home with the rest of us.  I hate to stay away from church, but I'm needed at home.

We will also be grounded from our Sunday evening small group meeting and most likely from our Monday night small group.  Although I think I'll be able to go and just leave the kids with my husband.  Since I'm currently leading our small group, it's important that I'm there.

I did my 3rd exercise DVD today.  I've been averaging every other day for my workouts.  It's a real commitment because each DVD takes at LEAST one hour, some last an hour and 15 minutes.  I've decided tonight to start going to bed earlier so I can get up earlier.  It's almost impossible for me to complete the workout with the constant interruptions from the kids after they're awake.  

So right now, the kids are all tucked in (but not asleep) and I'll be following shortly.  I'm looking forward to getting a good night's sleep.  Last night (and the night before) I had to sleep in the boys' room.  Last night I started sleeping in my own bed, but my youngest kept coming in to tell me something so many times, he finally asked me to sleep on the floor in his room.  It was a good idea to be so close to him, because every half hour he would wake up and say he was going to throw up, but then change his mind.  We have a 32 ounce cup that we've dubbed, "the throw-up cup."  I would hold it over his mouth and wait, but no action.  Which I was fine with, less mess.

I was excited today to find an ibuprofen for children at CVS that was dye-free (it was their store brand).  I'm happy to give him colorless medicine, especially when there's the possibility of throwing it up.  I would normally give the kids Children's Tylenol.  But back in April (or May) they recalled almost all of the Tylenol and Motrin products.  A couple months ago I had looked for an alternative to Tylenol at Publix and all I could find (for children's pain relief) was Triaminic.  I bought the bubble gum flavor.  The picture on the front of the box showed the liquid as pink (which you'd think WOULD be the color for a bubble gum flavored medicine.)  But, no.  The actual liquid color was BRIGHT RED!  Like I said before, the reddest-red I've ever seen (in a medicine).  I looked at the ingredients and the red dye was listed somewhere in the middle of all ingredients, NOT at the end (proving that there's WAY too much dye in that medicine.)  I don't think there needs to be artificial colors in medicine.  It's not good for our bodies.


Okay, that's my diatribe on childrens' medicines and unnecessary dyes.  It's almost 8:00 p.m.  I've gotta wind up my time on the computer and hit the sack!


Goonight!

Quick Update, Then Bed

I promised myself I would TRY to go to bed early tonight (as I often promise myself about every other night).  This time because I want to stay healthy while I'm taking care of two sick boys.  But I feel a compulsion (possibly obsessive) to continue with my daily posting to my blog.  Even if no one is reading it, just because.  So it's already 12 a.m. Saturday morning and I'm going to TRY and be brief.

My youngest son who threw up yesterday, hasn't thrown up today (yet).  He slept almost all day, but did have a normal breakfast (sans his usual tall glass of milk), he skipped lunch because he was too tired and wanted to sleep, then for dinner snacked on an bottomless snack trap (I think that's what they are called) of goldfish in front of the TV.  He developed a low grade fever during the night and hasn't been able to shake it yet, but since he'd gone 24 hours without throwing up, I finally gave him some fever-reducing medicine before bed (that is the darkest red medicine I have ever seen!)  I also felt it was necessary because his fever was starting to rise.  He's had normal tinkles (#1) and poopies (#2) so I'm pretty excited there's no diarrhea or dehydration.  Thank you God!  I might as well stay up for another 20 minutes because he can have more medicine then.

Now for something completely different...  My husband says his new office is very quiet, so the kids and I are thrilled.  So is he I imagine.  The new office is working out well, I think.  I'll keep you updated if anything changes.
Goodnight!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rough Night.

I will be very brief.  Not that I want to, but need to.  My desk/computer is situated in between our living room and dining room, kind of acting as a divider.  In the living room asleep are my husband (on the couch) and the two older kids (inside play tents, the indoor kind).   My three year old son is sleeping in his own bed.  Around 8:00 tonight the youngest was a little whinier than usual and complaining that different parts of his body hurt.  I felt his forehead and cheeks and determined he didn't have a fever, but his body didn't get the memo.  Not long after the crying started he threw up all over himself and his bedding that he had dragged into his tent (our newest one, and thank goodness it had a tarp-like material on the bottom, so none of the throw up got on our carpet.)  My husband was nearby and quickly whisked him to the bathroom so he could finish what he started, this time over the toilet.  He didn't make it in time, but hey, some of it went in.  He took a quick bath and went to bed very easily.  He still didn't have a fever.  Ironically we were at the pediatrician's office today for my 5 year old son's well child visit.  I'm really hoping he didn't pick up a stomach flu virus while we were there.  Do you know if a virus could cause symptoms the same day you caught it?  


I have pictures of the tent set up.  I'll re-size them and post them tomorrow.  Goodnight!

I've Got Some Explaining To Do

My husband read my post from last night this morning.  He usually does read them and will comment on how I could've made them sound better or something like that.  He told me he felt a bit embarrassed that I "said" MY side in all caps.  Maybe because I "said" it twice during the post "speaking" about my closet cleaning frenzy yesterday.  I would like to set the record straight for my friends and family who take the time to read my humble little blog... the only reason for the caps on MY side of the closet, was to differentiate between HIS side and MY side.  That's it.  But to further clarify this point.  MY side of the closet took up about 90% of the closet.  Earlier I told him I thought it took up about 3/4 of the closet, but after removing the remaining stuff (that was MINE) on the floor today from HIS side, I think it was definitely closer to 90%.  And in case you don't believe me.  I took a photo of MY side (after cleaning up and tossing clothes) and HIS side.  Granted HE got rid of more clothes than I did.  Which is funny because I had more to start with.  But I guess that's why I'm the hoarder and he's the tosser in our family.  
Here's a picture of MY side.

Here's a picture of HIS side.
Here's a picture of both combined.
The black table that you see a corner of in the lower left part of the picture is part of his old drawing table (embellished with lots of stickers).  His desk/drawing table is the reason behind clearing out the closet.  Before yesterday, you could take about two steps into our closet.

It was being used for storage, but very disorganized.  I had a LARGE pile of CLEAN clothes on the floor that was hindering walking into our walk-in closet.  We had our dresser in there since we moved in (10/02).  This morning it finally came out (although it doesn't have a permanent home yet, that requires cleaning up the master bedroom first, YIKES!)  That will have to be put on the back burner for now.  The kitchen is overflowing with dirty dishes on the counters and in the sinks and I have a BUNCH of dirty laundry that is taunting me.  Plus there's the homeschooling.  My 7 year old daughter loathes math, and whines at just the mention of doing it.  My just turned 5 year old son LOVES anything that has to do with homeschool.  It's funny to see the differences between the two of them.  Anyway, back to the subject at hand, the closet.

Remember when I was asking in an earlier post if anyone had any leads on an inexpensive office space for my recently displaced husband?  Well last Tuesday, we (the whole family) drove around just looking for an inexpensive office space that would have most of the benefits of his last office space.  We found out that they DON'T EXIST.

Ironically there's an Executive Office Building a stones throw away from our house.  Like a five minute walk (or less).  It was advertised online as having an office for $250.  We met with the realtor and she said it had been rented recently.  I really think it was bait and switch advertising, but I kept it to myself.  The smallest office she had available started at $300/month and if we wanted to have a month-to-month lease it would be starting at $350/month.  In Palm Harbor we looked at an office building that had office spaces starting at $175/month, but it was a really old building and there were no amenities like WI-FI included.  We would've had to call BrightHouse or some other internet service provider to get a modem in his office.  That alone is about $50/month (I think).  

So...  one night after he told me about getting kicked out of his great office space, while I was drifting off to dreamland, the idea hit me.  It sounded pretty "far out" (to borrow a term from Greg Brady) but it was crazy enough that it just. might. work.  (I don't remember where that quote is from, I think from some Saturday morning cartoon?)  The idea was for him to work in our walk-in closet in our bedroom.  It would solve the main problem with him working at home, and that is that the kids (and I, yelling at them to be quiet) make too much noise!  

We have a pretty small house.  It has 3 bedrooms.  Before the boys came along, my husband had an office (in one of the bedrooms).  Now the office is our daughter's room and the two boys share a room.  My husband is now forced to work at his desk in our bedroom.  It is not ideal by any means, but we had learned to deal with it.  Until...  he was offered some extra work in August from Marvel Comics.  He got the perfect office space for an excellent price, because it was leased from his former employer who is very kind.  During the month of September my husband became ultra-productive.  It was uncanny how much work he accomplished while working at an office.  He was definitely spoiled there.  After having a perfect office space and then not having one, you realize how much you need it (or something similar to it).

The interesting thing about his NEW OFFICE SPACE in our walk-in closet, is that it is a comparable size to the offices I was shown in two different Executive Office Suite buildings (we looked at the "cheaper" office spaces, which translates into an office about the size of our closet).  We got him "moved in" to his new office space right around lunchtime today.  
Here's a picture of his NEW office!
We decided this morning (at my suggestion) to use his old drawing table for a desk instead of using his desk which has two shelves above the desk that cannot be removed.  It's hard to describe, but it's a comtemporary-styled design with black flat surfaces and silver metal poles holding up the desk's 4 shelves total (including the working surface and a shelf below the main desk).  We would've had to remove and switch around the clothes-hanging thingies (Closet Maid is the manufacturer) to fit his desk into the closet.  It would've taken a lot longer to do, so we went with the drawing table instead.  It seriously doesn't have to be fancy.  It's not like he's entertaining clients in his office (that would be funny, though, to see that).  But anyway, I thinks it's totally going to work out.  I'll let you know how it's going after he gets into a routine and we'll see if it's quiet enough in there for him to be uber-productive once again.  Btw (means by the way, for all of you non-texters who might be reading this) Marvel Comics has offered my husband a lot of stuff recently.  He is expected to do two monthly books for DC Comics, and now that Marvel is giving him some more work, we will be able to breathe a little bit easier around here (financially).  Especially when we're saving $350/month by NOT paying someone for an office space!  God is SO AWESOME!  We are SO thankful to Him for the work.  When you're a freelance artist, it's often feast or famine.  We will praise Him during both.  We are fully aware that EVERYTHING we have is a gift from God.  Amen.


I'll have to wait until tomorrow to tell you about my shopping trip to Publix this evening.  There's MORE to the story.  But here's a photo of the receipt (at least the bottom of the receipt where it shows how much money I saved!)  My personal goal when I shop there is to see if I can get the "money saved" total higher than the actual amount spent.  Which today I did!
To be continued...
P.S.  I did do the second exercise DVD this morning.  It will be fun to see how sore my muscles are when I wake up tomorrow!  (yes, that's sarcasm)




Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Clearing out the Closet

All day today I have been focused on one task (for the most part) and that is cleaning up MY side of our master bedroom closet.  The good news is that MY side is almost done, the bad news is that I don't really have space to put the "stuff" that I'm clearing out.  I don't want to or have time to go through a couple rubbermaid tubs and one large box full of junk and a few plastic Wal-Mart bags filled with mainly paper stuffs.  I was excited to find my milk crate FULL of cassette tapes (mainly from college).  Yes, I know I'm dating myself here.  I didn't own a portable CD player until I graduated from college and moved to Chicago and had my first REAL job (which was in 1992). 


I briefly looked through the top rows of tapes (that's what we used to call them) and was instantly transported back to a time where life was a whole lot simpler.  I mean A WHOLE lot simpler!  I will fill you in on my "walk down memory lane" during another post. 


Last night I stayed up WAY too late and didn't get up early enough to do my workout before the kids got up.  I was unable to find a good time to workout today and I'm sad.  Not because I love to work out, quite the contrary.  I just didn't want to "fall of the wagon" or whatever the correct usage of the phrase is, after ONE DAY of starting my exercise plan.  I am sore today though, so that's good.  Yesterday I worked out my chest and arms and abs.  I like the workout plan.  I'll feel more at ease after I've gone through each of the DVDs.  I don't like being surprised, (what the upcoming exercises will be) I like to know what exercises will be next so I can pace myself.


So, my post tonight will be short and sweet.  Just wanted to check in with you and let you know that I'm TCB (takin' care of business).  I'll take a picture tomorrow and then you can see the "after."  I'm afraid I didn't have the insight to take a "before" picture, sorry :O(

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Importance and Privilege of Voting

If you know me very well, then you would know how strongly I feel about voting.  Ironically, when my husband and I first moved to FL in August 2001 and I had to claim a political affiliation to a party, either Republican or Democrat, when I was getting my FL driver's license.  At the time, I wasn't sure which one I was (or wanted to be).  I've come a long way since 2001.

I've always voted in all elections, ever since I turned 18.  I was pretty excited to vote in a presidential election a mere 7 months after turning 18 and a brand-new college freshman.  I grew up in a small town in East Central Illinois and voted there, in Chicago, in Phoenix, AZ and in FL.  All of the different places that I've lived.  I truly believe that our chance to vote is a privilege and should NOT be taken lightly.  I believe that MY VOTE COUNTS and that my voice WILL BE HEARD.  

I don't think it was until I became a parent in Feb 2003, that I really started heavily researching the candidates.  I think becoming a parent REALLY makes you grow up (at least it did for me!)  I really (I really say really a lot, maybe I should break out my thesaurus?) wanted to make sure that MY elected officials were representing me (a conservative Christian) and not some liberal leftist. 


I learned from my mother (as a teenager and early twenty-something) the importance of standing up for your beliefs.  When I was 13, my mom became pregnant with my youngest brother, David.  Unbeknownst to me, her OB/Gyn had suggested she get an abortion because she was 39 years old.  That was the only reason.  My mom was offended and that day decided besides keeping her baby, my littlest brother, she was going to use her voice to tell others about the truth about abortion.  I remember her writing editorials to the local newspapers, and eventually becoming a counselor at the nearest Crisis Pregnancy Center (which was about 30 miles away).  The importance of her activism did not affect me until I became a mother and witnessed firsthand the miracle of life.


Which brings me to the inspiration of tonight's post.  When reading over my emails tonight (before bed) I happened to check out one from one of the conservative christian groups that sends me daily emails keeping me informed of what's going on in the news.  This story was in the middle of some other current events and I was drawn to it by the photo of the tender-looking woman (and the title of the story).  I included the link to the website (click on her name below in purple, then scroll down, it's the third story of the day) so that you could see the photo of Dr. Jefferson and you could see what else the Family Research Council is reporting.  Here is the blurb from my email...


This Jefferson Founded a Nation of Pro-Lifers
Dr. Mildred Jefferson may have been the first African-American woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School, but it was her leadership in the pro-life movement that may have been her greatest accomplishment. A founding member of the National Right to Life Committee, Dr. Jefferson served as its President three times. "I became a physician in order to help save lives," she once said. "I am at once a physician, a citizen, and a woman, and I am not willing to stand aside and allow the concept of expendable human lives to turn this great land of ours into just another exclusive reservation where only the perfect, the privileged, and the planned have the right to live." 
A trailblazer until the end, Dr. Jefferson fought for life until hers ended last Friday at the age of 84. She will be remembered not only for her contributions to our movement--but also for inspiring it. Our hearts and prayers go out to her family. May they take comfort in the tremendous legacy Dr. Jefferson left behind.


There was a link in the story that takes you to a two-page online article in the Boston Globe newspaper.  You can read the full article by clicking here.

The quote that is highlighted in lavender above is so eloquent.  I am in awe of this woman.  I had never heard of Dr. Jefferson before this evening, but I am SO inspired by her story.  She had many odds stacked against her being a black woman growing up during The Great Depression at a time where minorities did NOT have a VOICE.  She is truly an inspiration to me, because even though I did not know of her before tonight, I want my life to be a testimony to our Lord and Savior.  I don't know in what way, but only that I want to inspire others to want to know Him.  If this unsuspecting woman could do it, why can't I?

Which leads me back to the importance of voting.  In Florida we have about 2 weeks until our general election.  We will be choosing a new governor to make decisions for our state, and new U.S. Senator (to represent us in Congress).  I hope that you will take some time before now and election day (Tuesday, November 2nd) to do your homework.  Make an informed decision, and ultimately, cast your vote.  


If you'd like links to voter guides that have information on how the candidates feel or how they've voted in the past on sensitive issues, please post a comment for me and I'll include them in an upcoming post.  They also show concise information on each of the amendments on the ballot to make that part of voting easier.  Early voting started today and continues until Oct. 30.  


Please get out there and vote!  We are SO blessed to live in a country where we have the privilege to do so.  God bless America!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

She Lost It... and I'm LOSING It!!

My daughter lost her tooth today during breakfast.  It was really good timing (insert sarcasm here) because it fell out just seconds after my 5 year old son spilled the milk from his cereal bowl onto the table, then to his seat, floor and part of my seat.  We were all really excited until he told me that his undies were soaked and it felt "really cold."  Before that I didn't even know that it went on his seat.  So it was a bit difficult to stay happy that her tooth fell out while he was whining and I was cleaning up the mess.  The one redeeming factor was that he was still in his pajamas and not in his church clothes yet.  Here's a picture of my 7 1/2 year old daughter after losing her first top tooth.  She now has a temporary lisp :O)
It was a bagel with cream cheese that finally did the trick.  The tooth was FINALLY ready to come out.  

And now, why I'm LOSING IT...  My three kids will not listen to me (and obey).  I'll admit my standards are pretty high, because we've attended Growing Kids God's Way parenting classes THREE TIMES!  The last time we were even small group facilitators.  If you are familiar with the GKGW (short for Growing Kids God's Way) philosophy, then you already know that you raise your children to the standard instead of lowering the standard to the children.  At the very most basic description of the standard, I think, is obeying your parents.  The kids are now 7 1/2, 5 and about 3 1/2.  We've been attempting to follow the philosophy of GKGW for the past 6 years.  We are obviously NOT doing something right.  

The incident this evening was not as bad as it has been on other occasions.  We stopped at a Publix grocery store that has one of those GLACIER water bottle filling machines.  

It HAS TO BE at a Publix that is NO WHERE NEAR OUR WATER COMPANY'S SERVICE.  We are refusing to use our tap water for drinking because we were notified (after 3 months of using contaminated water) that the standard water sampling they do quarterly showed higher than acceptable levels of some chemical that "could" cause cancer.  We used to filter our tap water with a Brita water filter, but we threw them away and started buying bottled water, until we had enough gallon jugs to refill ourselves.  At our closest Publix/Glacier machine it only costs 25 cents to fill your own gallon-sized jug.  My theory is because the water is tainted.  Outside of the water company's radius of service the Glacier water costs 5 cents more.  Even though it is a MAJOR PAIN to fill up about 10 water jugs at a time every week.  We're saving money (and plastic) by not buying more gallons of bottled water. 

Alright, enough with my tainted water supply tirade.  Tonight on the way home from our small group meeting, the kids and I stopped at our usual Publix that is about a 15 minute drive south of our house to fill up our water jugs.  In a nutshell, I had to CONSTANTLY tell them to not do that and do this, over and over and over again.  It doesn't help that the Glacier machines are at the entrance to the store and lots of people are going in and out and in and out trying to dodge the three kids sprinting back and forth from where I am to the gigantic scale (that they thought was a jungle gym), the electric scooter shopping carts, playing with the automatic doors, sticking their hands in the box to drop off your boxtops for "cash for your school," etc...  It didn't help that I had more than the usual 10 jugs to fill.  I'm not sure how long we were there, but it was TOO LONG!  I probably looked like my head was going to explode.  While I was putting the filled water jugs into the car, I overheard my daughter say to the 5 year old son something really snotty (the tone of her voice) or condescending.  THAT was the last straw...

We had planned on watching the "Dragon" movie when we got home and eating homemade popcorn during the movie as a special treat, but I had to take away that privilege.  They freaked out at the news, but that only strengthened my resolve.  I knew I had made a good choice on a punishment.  It is physically and mentally exhausting to have to "fight" with your kids to try and get them to listen/obey you.  Tonight before bed I'm going to get out my GKGW book and start searching for the answer to this dilemma.  Let me know if you have any suggestions.

Also tomorrow morning I'm beginning a new exercise workout.  I'm pretty nervous because it's known to be REALLY hard.  I'm going to take some "before" pictures tomorrow and won't post them unless I lose the 20 pounds that I want to get rid of.  I'm going to rely on you to keep me accountable.  I'll keep you posted of my progress. Thanks!