Friday, May 30, 2008

Daily Schedule: Summing It Up

You all now know more about how our days run around here than you probably ever even wanted to know!

Here are some closing thoughts as I wrap up this week:

* Our basic schedule frame is:
Wake/Breakfast/Dressed for Day
Movie/Snack mid-morning
Naps/Quiet Time
Daddy Home
Clean Up/Bed

That leaves lots of space to fill in - but this is the stuff that rarely changes day by day.

* One thing that really helps us is to alternate a chore and a child-involving activity. For example, you'll notice I empty the dishwasher every morning. One morning after this chore, we take baths, then I vacuum, then we go for a walk. See how it alternates? This helps my girls so much - I've tried it other ways and this is by far the best in our home. Yes, I try to involve them in the chores too - but that can't be our sole source of fun around here!

* Planning ahead is key for me. I am nearly always working ahead on something. Rachel has a birthday in two months and I have a list of ideas already written down, some supplies already purchased and a good game plan in mind. This is the only way I can do the things I do. It doesn't work for my personality and it wouldn't work for the kind of things I'm trying to pull off. Even writing out a potential list for the next day is a huge lifesaver and guide to me. I don't have to be a slave to it - but use it as a guide.

* Dinner hour: One of you commented about how crazy it is at your house during the dinner prep hour. We have two scenarios in our home depending on the time of year. One helps this and the other makes it just like what you are describing. Right now, David's schedule allows him to get home mid-afternoon - he goes in to work really early! So, dinner hour is much calmer and smoother just by having another adult in the house! But, during baseball season - when he is coaching and doesn't get home until 5:30 - oh. my. It is crazy. I don't really have an answer - planning ahead helped me in this area too, but it did not solve it. If you've found something that works or at least helps, please leave a comment and help the rest of us out!

* Running errands: Another of you wondered about taking all three out to do errands. I do take all three with me when that is what works best in our schedule. I want them to learn how to behave while running errands and even have some fun getting out of the house. Taking a snack that is saved for the store has helped me on numerous outings! And, I have used the cart as a discipline tool - behave and you get to walk around, but if it gets out of hand or I have to warn repeatedly - in the cart for the rest of the trip. Yes, this means I have to have two carts with all three and my groceries. But, pushing one cart and pulling one cart is easier and less stressful than running after littles and wondering what might get broken or ruined in the process.

Since Samuel was born, I will try to run at least some of my errands while David is home. Obviously it is much simpler and I can get lots done in a shorter time when it is just me. Share your ideas on this too, please!

Thanks for all of your comments and questions this week! Hope you all have a great weekend!

A Day In My Life, Day Five

Planned To-Do List:

Empty Dishwasher
Mail Out
Start Laundry (Strip sheets off master bed and Rachel's bed)
Girls Dressed
Pack girls clothes for weekend trip
Pack Samuel's clothes for weekend trip
Paint fingernails and toenails for Emily and Rachel
Sort baby clothes to return to Grace
Charge DVD Player
Pack my clothes
Activity Bags
Car Packed
Drive to NC

6:00: wake; finish Shepherding A Child's Heart; read chapter one: A Life That Says Welcome
6:50: e-mail/blogs
7:05: nurse
7:25: dressed, ready for day; strip sheets
7:40: girls up; sheets started
7:50: breakfast; empty dishwasher
8:25: sheets to dryer; start laundry
8:40: girls dressed; teeth; hair
8:50: mail out - ladies helped
9:00: vacuum
9:15: pack clothes for E, R, S
9:30: paint fingernails and toenails: Emily and Rachel
9:45: switch laundry; start charge on DVD player
9:50: snack/movie; Mama - fertilize garden
10:10: put sheets back on beds
10:20: watch end of movie with Emily and Rachel
10:40: nurse; sat in car while girls played in car (a fave play time for them)
11:20: fix lunch; naps; snuggle with Emily
12:10: clean up lunch; fold laundry; switch clothes to dryer
12:25: e-mail; blog
12:55: pack my clothes; start packing car
1:30: things started falling apart here, I was planning to read a book when I heard Emily crying in her room; I snuggled with her and read a book - she still did not go to sleep, and then Rachel woke up - so they both got up around 2; I sat on the couch and tried to continue reading while they played. It was crazy.
3:30: left for weekend trip

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Life: Beautiful

Does this not look like my kind of inspiration or what?! I'd never heard of this until Eleanor Joyce commented today that she is giving a copy away over at her blog! While I'd love to win this, I am even more excited to find out about it! I wonder how many of you have heard of this before? Head over here to enter a drawing for a free copy!

A Day In My Life, Day Four

Planned To-Do List:
Empty Dishwasher
Entry Window washed
Clean Bathroom
Dust bedrooms and living room
Dust master bedroom
Dust Den
Kitchen trash out
Activity bags
Call Carrie
Make Cookies
E-mail Grace
E-mail Joy
Mail Held for weekend out of town

6:15: wake; spend time with David while getting ready for work
6:35: read chapter 18, Shepherding A Child's Heart
6:45: nurse Samuel, continue reading
7:05: quick e-mail check and Bloglines; make muffins
7:30: dressed, ready for day; make bed
7:40: girls up; breakfast
8:15: breakfast cleaned up; empty dishwasher
8:30: clean entry window; baths; clean bathroom while girls are in tub, wipe out tub after they finish; Samuel was sleeping during this
9:10: dust Samuel and girls rooms and living room
9:25: walk
9:55: trash from bathroom and Samuel's room out; movie and snack for girls; nurse Samuel
10:30: Dust master bedroom and den (not a thorough dusting); girls play; empty kitchen trash
10:40: Samuel on play mat; girls paint
11:25: lunch - ladies helped; eat, clean up, ready for naps
12:05: cleaned up another potty accident
12:10: e-mail, blog
12:50: make cookies and call Carrie; check mail
2:40: nurse; read; hostess gift for Grace
3:20: girls up
3:35: help collect trash and recycling; call Grace
3:50: David took girls to do errands; I finished thank you notes; caught up on rebates and did some clean-up
5:00: Dinner prep
5:30: nurse; dinner in oven
5:45: dinner served
6:20: clean up kitchen; fix David's lunch
6:55: begin gathering items for trip over the weekend
7:10: tidy/clean up
7:30: girls in pj's; clean up
7:50: girls to bed; nurse Samuel
8:15: read
8:45: played Castle of Carcasonne with David (we love to play games!)
9:25: read/bed
10:15: lights out

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Activity Bags

There were several questions/comments about the Activity Bags I mentioned in my daily schedule posts. I will share a few more things about these:

Do you find that both your girls like those activity bags or just the older one? I have a 2 and a half year old boy and I am thinking he would really like that! What age do you think they started enjoying those?

Emily (3 1/2) does enjoy playing with more of a variety of the bags whereas Rachel (22 months) is kind of happy playing with the scraps to the foam letters! The point is that I present it as an exciting thing to get to bring them out - we don't do it every day, etc... And, I sit and do it with them, for at least part of the time. Right now, there is a learning curve to knowing what each bag entails and how to use it - so I am participating with them. My personal thought is that Rachel is on the youngest edge of children who would enjoy these - though I think they will last us a few years of enjoyment.

I don't have much experience with these yet as we are just introducing this - any other moms want to share your thoughts?

What is in those activity bags?!

Obviously, I cannot just print a list here of all the bags or no one would purchase their book. But, here are a couple to give you an idea of what types of activities are included. One bag contains a magnifying glass and small objects to observe. Another has an ABC chart and a set of foam ABC letters, your child matches up the letter to the chart and so on.

Mary Ann shared about gathering a group of friends to do this together.

This is actually presented in detail in the book. And, is how they started assembling their own bags. I have done my set myself - but if you had a group of friends to do this with - that would be great too!

Banana Bread

We have a unique situation for breakfast around here. David leaves for work before 7 am, so he just takes his breakfast with him. His breakfast of choice is banana bread. Here are some ways I make this work:

* When I have ripe bananas, mash them and keep them in the freezer until I'm ready to make bread.
* Put the sliced loaf of banana bread in the freezer over the weekend so it stays nice and fresh for breakfasts the next week.
* Make two loaves at a time - I really only have to bake breads about twice a month.

Here's the recipe I've always made - my Mom's recipe:

3 1/2 c. flour
1 1/3 c. sugar
2/3 c. oil
4 eggs
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 c. mashed banana
walnuts or pecans, if desired

I dump all the ingredients in my Kitchen Aid and mix it together, adding the nuts last. Divide batter into two loaf pans prepared with cooking spray.

Bake about 55 minutes at 350.

Nursing my baby...

Caroline asked the following questions when I mentioned nursing as part of our daily schedule:

Do you schedule Samuel's feedings or feed him on demand?

I have been in both camps on this issue. With Emily (my first), I was strict, strict, strict about trying to get her on a schedule and keeping her on it. She did get on a schedule and it worked great - but I did try to start her on a schedule too early. We were both stressed out by this! Live and learn.

With Samuel, I have really let him set the pace. I do have certain limits - I will not nurse for an hour (ahem, Emily) and I will try to have him go at least three hours between feedings. But, he does not eat at specific and set times every day and you know, it is working and it is relaxed. He does always wake in the morning between 6 and 7 to eat and always wants to nurse around 7:30 for bed time. The rest of the day is just kind of whenever.

Having said that, I am not one to offer nursing at every little whimper. As I mentioned above, I do try to have him go at least three hours. If he is napping and goes over three hours, great - but if he wanted to eat at after two hours, I would probably try to hold him off for a little bit. Maybe five minutes at a time until he stretched it out. I would not try to hold him off if he was screaming, only if it was easy to do so.

How long do you nurse each time?

Oh, I have a history here too. Emily wanted to nurse and nurse and nurse. Seriously, she would nurse for about an hour and I thought it was my duty as a mother to let her so she would get enough. I took her to the dr. for her two month well visit and the dr. insisted I stop that (I was also very sore from this). He said to take her off after 15 minutes per side. I started it that day and have never gone back!

Both Rachel and Samuel were/are very efficient nursers. I probably only spend about 15 minutes TOTAL nursing Samuel at each feeding.

Do you supplement with formula?

I do not. I would be willing to do this of course, if there was some reason I needed to - but honestly, I love nursing and would have a hard time accepting the need to supplement. Nursing is so easy - milk is always ready, always the right temp, not messy to clean up, no bottles to wash, etc... Yes, you can not be away from your baby very long - but I don't mind that either.

Is he on any baby food yet?

No. Samuel isn't even four months and honestly, I am not big into rushing solid foods with my babies. Emily was nine months before she started eating baby food and Rachel was at least six. I am not a doctor and I know that our pediatrician suggests starting earlier - but this is what has worked for us. I do not plan to start Samuel for a few more months unless there is a more pressing reason that I need to do so.

I will say that I have learned this is a touchy subject with a lot of people. The things I share here are strictly my opinion and what I have found works for us. If something else works for you, great - go for it! I am not saying this is the only way, just our way. Also, I am not a doctor and I know that everyone will have to consider what is best for their baby and for what they are comfortable with.


Good morning!

I have been out of town for the weekend, so am not ignoring your questions left the last few days! I'll work on answering some of those this afternoon ~ thank you!

A Day In My Life, Day Three

Planned for today:
Empty Dishwasher
Dressed: E, R, S
Sweep Floor
Piano Tuner coming
Pull Weeds
Play Outside
Movie (Mama - mop)
Put Laundry Away
Finish b'day thank-you's
Thank you note to Amy
Rebates caught up
Call Grace
Continue on Activity Bags

5:30: wake/nurse Samuel
5:55: cut David's hair
6:10: read chapter 17 Shepherding A Child's Heart
6:45: e-mail; read blogs
7:10: ready for day; make bed
7:40: researched blog question for Carrie
7:55: ladies up; breakfast
8:35: clean up breakfast; empty dishwasher
8:50: girls dressed, teeth and hair brushed
9:00: Piano tuned
9:05: nurse Samuel; we sat and listened to the piano tuning for a while - girls were very interested!
9:40: outside; picked green beans, pulled weeds, had lots of help! :) Samuel came out with us and sat in bouncy chair. Grace called - bless her!
10:25: piano tuning finished, visited with neighbor; started movie and snack for ladies; quick e-mail check; put mail out
10:55: sweep kitchen and dining room floors; mop kitchen floor
11:15: wipe front of dishwasher, fridge and oven; set chicken out for dinner
11:25: practice Emily's verses; play piano - Emily danced, Rachel climbed on my lap
11:55: Lunch and clean up; naps; nurse Samuel; snuggle with Emily
1:00: check mail; e-mail; work on future blog posts
1:30: put laundry away; mop dining room floor (is it just me or how do other mothers get their floor mopped with littles awake? Mine won't stay off the floor or out of the cleaner, etc... - much easier to do during nap time!)
2:05: read
3:45: girls up; nurse Samuel
4:15: played the piano; girls danced
4:50: dinner prep and served; played the piano after dinner
7:05: clean up kitchen and potty accident
7:15: cut up chicken for tomorrow night dinner; finish cleaning up kitchen; fix David's lunch
7:30: nurse
7:50: girls in pj's; back to rock crying Samuel
8:25: to-do-list for tomorrow, read, held Samuel - tummy ache? Heard Samuel's first laugh when he quieted down!
10:00: lights out

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Day In My Life, Day Two

Planned To-Do List:

Empty Dishwasher
Start Laundry
Clean Master Bathroom
Empty Trash Cans (Hall Bath and Samuel's room)
Movie/Snack: Mama - make banana bread
Play with Activity Bags
Mama - watch movie (free Blockbuster On-line trial); during movie: iron, pluck eyebrows
Research extra house payment from 07 that is not showing on statement
Call on anesthesia bill from Rachel's birth (don't get me started)
Call Grace
Post Office

What actually happened:

5:45: wake; time with David while he gets ready for work
6:15: read Shepherding A Child's Heart finish chapter 15 and read chapter 16
6:35: e-mail, blogs, start laundry
7:05: ready for day; nurse Samuel; make bed; meditate on Proverbs 31:15
7:35: girls up; laundry switch; breakfast
8:20: empty dishwasher
8:25: Emily, Rachel, Samuel baths, hair, nails trimmed, teeth brushed; how this works is I put the girls in the tub and give Samuel a bath in the sink while they are occupied. Then I put him in the bouncy chair just outside the bathroom door and finish up with the ladies.
9:10: Vacuum and switch laundry; Rachel helped with laundry, Emily put vacuum away
9:30: took mail out; emptied trash cans; clean Master Bath - ladies helped with all of these things. Each carried out half the mail, one held the trash bag and the other emptied the can, each carried a bag to the garbage can outside; for the bathroom - Emily cleans the toilet and Rachel rinses the tub after I've scrubbed it; then we work on the sink area - Emily cleans the mirror with my help and then I scrub the sinks and Rachel rinses them. All wash hands!
9:50: snack/movie; Mama: make banana bread and tea for David; our dog caught a squirrel so I had to call and have someone help me out with that because she was trying to eat the squirrel - gross!; L/M for anesthesia office
10:15: folded two loads of laundry and sat with ladies watching movie; switched last load to dryer
10:45: Activity Bags - girls played until 11:30! I played until 11:15 and then sat with them the other 15 minutes while nursing.
11:15: nurse Samuel
11:40: fix lunch
12:15: naps; M - blog
12:30: Watch Hidden Places (movie was ok - book was much better); during the movie I folded a load of clothes, did the ironing, plucked my eyebrows and worked on a Proverbs 31 craft project
2:10: check mail; worked on 4th and 5th Proverbs 31 craft projects
2:55: nurse Samuel
3:20: ladies awake; Daddy home
3:30: went to Post Office and Staples (I know I am not the only mom who wishes there was a drive through post office! I left all three littles at home with Daddy to simplify this errand.)
4:05: home; phone calls
4:20: researched house payment; called mortgage company to try and straighten it out
4:45: ordered pizza for company coming for dinner; fumed over aggravating phone call :)
5:05: put E, R, S laundry away
5:15: Company
7:40: nurse Samuel; clean up with Emily and Rachel - ready for bed
8:10: clean up kitchen; fix David's lunch; call brother-in-law regarding aforementioned mortgage question
8:40: to-do list for tomorrow; read

Monday, May 26, 2008

A Day In My Life, Day One

As promised, here is an in-depth look at our day!

My to-do list planned the night before:

Empty Dishwasher
Dressed (E, R, S)
Water Plants
Ground Beef and Chicken Divided for Freezer
Counters Cleared
Kitchen Cleaned
Work on Activity Bags
Birthday Thank-You's finished
Carrie's box ready to mail
Call Grace
Post Office

Here's what actually happened:
5:50 am: woke up to David's alarm; nursed Samuel; woke with a headache; fixed banana bread for David's breakfast and assembled lunch since I had forgotten night before
6:10: read chapter 15, Shepherding A Child's Heart (**Note: I do not make a practice of substituting a book for the Bible in my Quiet Time. However, I have been trying to read this book for a very loooong time and I really need it right now. So, because it is that important - I am finishing it up this week in my Quiet Time.)
6:45: e-mail and blog check
7:00: shower, dressed, bed made, laid back down for a few minutes because of headache
7:30: girls up; read story; diaper/potty taken care of; cereal for breakfast; Bible story; clean up breakfast
8:10: empty Dishwasher; girls looked out window/played
8:20: E, R, S teeth, hair and clothes for day
8:40: water plants
8:45: nurse Samuel
9:00: leave house for errands; went to two grocery stores and pet store
12:30: return home; fixed lunch (diced peaches and tortilla with cheese/salsa melted in microwave); emptied car; nurse Samuel; girls down for naps
1:15: Mama eat lunch (usually I eat with ladies, but just getting home, I had to get them moving quick for nap time!) and read mail
1:35: Divide ground beef for freezer: made 9 hamburger patties (enough for three meals), one meatloaf and put two pounds in the freezer to use as desired later. I decided not to divide up the chicken since it was individually frozen pieces.
2:05: work on blog for the week
3:00: work on clearing kitchen counters
3:40: girls up from nap; nurse Samuel; girls watch movie and have snack
4:10: continue working on counters; Carrie's package - girls decorate gifts for Nathan; empty dish drainer (yes, it takes me a while to clear the counters, I am a piler!)
5:00: fix dinner; finish dish drainer; Samuel on play mat; girls played with little kitchen
5:40: serve dinner and clean up
6:20: wipe counters, scour sink, ladies played with Daddy
6:35: work on making Activity Bags
7:25: Mama and Daddy play with girls and clean up
8:05: girls lights out
I fixed David's banana bread for the morning, made my list for tomorrow, nursed Samuel and read
9:30: lights out

Listened to at home: Glory Revealed
Listened to in the car: Hide 'Em In Your Heart

Friday, May 23, 2008

Grocery Inspiration!

I have been desiring to be wiser with my grocery money lately. I have been lax about planning a menu and sticking to it when I did.

My Mom helped me clean out my freezer on her recent visit and we were able to eat out of our pantry and freezer for a full week! I realized how lazy I've become at this grocery thing.

I am continually inspired and amazed at how much Crystal can get for her dollar! So, over this past weekend - I decided to peruse all the local grocery ads. After that, I chose two where I could do the best and made my menu plan for two weeks. I will need some produce to supplement next week - but here is what I bought, how much I spent and what I will serve.

Note: In all fairness, I must include that my father-in-law's hobby is grocery shopping. He brings groceries over frequently and I know that my budget would have to increase if he wasn't doing this. I say this just to be honest and open.


B: Cereal
L: Cheese Tortillas; fruit
D: Hamburgers and Oven Fries

B: Bagels
L: Honey Sandwiches; Fruit
D: Pizza with out of town family

B: Cereal
L: Cheese and Crackers; Fruit
D: Grilled Chicken; Salad; Potato Packets

B: Apple Muffins
L: Mini Pizzas
D: Chicken Enchiladas; Chips and Salsa

B: Apple Muffins
L: Grilled Cheese; Fruit
D: driving to NC for weekend

Saturday-Tuesday lunch - traveling

D: Triple Decker Club; Chips; Fruit

B: Cereal
L: Cheese Tortillas
D: Applesauce Pancakes; Bacon

B: Muffins
L: Macaroni and Cheese
D: Ranch Chicken; Corn; Salad

B: Leftover Muffins
L: Honey Sandwiches
D: Calzones

B: Donuts
L: Wraps
D: Tacos or Enchiladas

B: Bagels or English Muffins
L: Steak; Potato; Veggie; Bread
D: Leftovers

B: Cereal

What I bought this week:

2 Sure Deodorant: $2.69 each; two $1/1 coupons; mail in rebate for $2.69 = 0.69
4 Oral B Toothbrushes: $1.99 each; two $1/2 coupons; $1 Extra Buck each = 1.96
1 Colgate 360 Toothbrush: $3.99; $3.99 Extra Bucks = free
1 snack size M&M's: 0.88
Total: Used $3/$15 coupon and $11.37 Extra Bucks; spent 0.06 out of pocket and received $7.99 in Extra Bucks and $2.69 mail-in-rebate
0.06 spent

3 boxes Kleenex: on sale for 0.89/box; used 0.50/1 coupon = $2.17
2 cans mandarin oranges: on sale for 2/$1
Bush's beans: 0.79
Bic Lighter (long - great for grill!): on sale for $2.99 - $1/1 coupon = $1.99
Reynolds Aluminum Foil: on sale for $2.50 - 0.75/1 coupon = $1.75
Total: Used $6 in Register Rewards and $2.29 rebate gift card
0.00 spent

Rite Aid:
Orajel Plaque Revealing Gel
got2B mousse
got2B gel
All free after Single Check Rebate
Paid with gift card from Prescription Transfer
0.00 spent

Hunt's Ketchup: $2.69 - $2.69 mail-in-rebate = Free
Ivory Liquid Detergent: $4.99 - $2.00 coupon - up to $3.00 mail-in-rebate = Free
Huggies Diapers: bought 3 at $9.49 - $4.00 instant savings - $5.00 in mfr. coupons - $5.00 mail-in-rebate = $14.47
Tortilla chips: $2.29
Steak: Bought 2 filets at 3/$10 for Sunday Dinner
Kraft Salad Dressing: $1.69 - free coupon = Free
Cream Cheese: $1.15
Chicken 3 lb.: $5.99
Ground Beef 5 lb.: $9.95
Turkey Lunch Meat: $3.50
Two boxes General Mills Cereal: 2/$4 - $1/2 coupon = $3.00
Total Spent: $49.38

Huggies Baby Wash and Lotion: $3.29 each - BOGO store coupon - two $1/1 coupons = $1.29
Animal Crackers: $1.00 - free coupon = Free
Beech Nut Rice Cereal: $1.59 - free coupon = Free
Plum Tomato: 0.83 - $1 off produce coupon = free plus overage
Lemon: 0.67 = 0.50 (taking into account overage from produce coupon)
Lender's Bagels: 2/$2.03 sale price - 0.50/2 coupon = $1.53
Doritos: BOGO - bought one at $1.90
Total Spent: $5.75 paid with gift card from a previous rebate; total spent out of pocket: $0.00

Total: $49.44

Note: If you live near a Publix, please make sure to sign up for the Baby Club - they send out great coupons every few months until your baby is two years old!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Daily Schedule

If there was one question I am asked over and over it is about how our daily schedule runs around here. How I get the things done that I do and what that looks like practically with three small children.

I decided to track my time all week this week and will post it all week next week. I do want to say a couple of things in advance though.

Everyone has to figure out what works for them! By sharing this, I am not pretending to have it all together or even hoping to come across that way. I actually prayed that God would help my week be as realistic as possible so that what I share will reflect reality.

Also, just because I use my time in a certain way does not make it THE way or even right for me. I am accountable for how I spend my time as each of us are. This does not mean that you take someone else's schedule and assume it is how your home should operate. Each of us must come up with what works for us, and my purpose in sharing this is to be real about how I spend my time and be open about sharing it.

Of course I hope that it provides a good idea or help to someone who might want to adjust part of their schedule or just needs ideas on getting going in their home. But, please do consider what is best for your family and season.

I will say that I have struggled with a daily schedule more since Samuel was born than I have for a long time. We are just now getting things smoothed out and now that he is sleeping through the night, I am feeling more energetic - naturally!

I do not want anything about sharing my schedule to come across prideful or boastful and hope you will see my heart in just sharing openly of myself.

One last thing - I think that one reason I am asked this question so often is because I do lots of crafty things, read and like to cook and bake. I am of the opinion (not necessarily right or wrong, just my thoughts) that doing these things makes me a better mom. When I have things I can participate in, while still at home and still contributing to our family, that are refreshing and energizing ~ it simply helps me keep going in the things that aren't as fun to do!

I did not take pictures of everything like I often do - because I did not want to be worried about making everything look fun and pretty - I wanted this week to be as real as possible.

With all that said, I hope you might actually enjoy this series next week and if you'd like to contribute your schedule or what works in your home, please let me know in the comments! I'd love to visit your post and see what works for you!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Eager Hands Thread Box

The pictures and e-mails are trickling in of the things you ladies are making from these ideas! I love seeing your completed projects - keep them coming! You've also said you can't wait for the next project! Here it is!

A Crafter's Walk Through Proverbs 31: Eager Hands Thread Box

She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.” ~ Proverbs 31:13, NIV

Eager hands. When I think of eager – I think of a dog pulling at the leash with curiosity at what is ahead, of a child who is ready to go the very second you tell them of a coming event even it if it is still days away, of a readiness accompanied by anticipation or excitement. There is no hint of drudgery here, no wishing the work away, the attitude is one of positive motivation.

My American Heritage Dictionary describes eager this way, “marked by or full of intense or enthusiastic interest or desire.

Can I truthfully say that I approach the work God has given me with “enthusiastic interest?” That is how the virtuous woman approaches her work. She is excited to work with her hands and considers it a joy to do so willingly.

I don’t know about you, but I do get great enjoyment out of using my hands to create. In this passage, the virtuous woman gathers her supplies and then eagerly works. The fruits of her labor benefit her family and bring glory to God!

In this project, we will make a box covered in wool, surrounded by God’s Word to remind us of His will. A bonus is that at the end you’ll have a great box to store supplies for crafting! And, a visible reminder for us as His women!


Pencil box: cardboard, not plastic
Scrapbook paper
Double Stick Tape
Scissors for paper and fabric
Wool sweater or craft felt
Hot glue gun and glue sticks
Scraps of light colored fabric
Pinking shears or decorative edged scissors for fabric
Felt Scraps
Templates provided
Two buttons
Needle and Thread
Washable Ink marking pen (available in the notions section of craft supply store)

* Cut out patterns for flowers, center and leaf using provided templates.

* Cut one of the larger flowers, two of the smaller flower, two centers and four leaves using desired colors of craft felt.

* Layer one large flower, one small flower and one center. Put a button in the middle of the center and stitch through all layers. Now, repeat for the second small flower and center with a second button.

* Place wool sweater (mine came from a thrift store) in the washer and wash in hot water. Dry on high heat to felt the wool.

* Line inside of box lid with scrapbook paper. Attach with double stick tape. Line the inside bottom of the box and the side just below the lid with scrapbook paper also attaching with double stick tape.

* Now, line the three remaining inside pieces as well, but cut your paper a bit longer than needed and fold it over the top edge of the box. Secure with double stick tape and hold in place with clothespins.

* Glue a length of ribbon to the top of the lid – centering it in the middle. Add a second length of ribbon just below the lid on the front of the box so that it matches up with the top piece. This will form your tie for closing the box.

* Using pinking shears, cut felt pieces to fit the box. You will need five pieces total – one for each side and one for the lid. Run a line of hot glue around the edges and attach the felt to the box.

* On a light colored piece of fabric, use your washable pen to write the word, “Thread” or other word as desired. Stitch on your writing with coordinating thread. Use a damp cloth to wash away ink. Let dry. Cut out the word using pinking shears or decorative edged scissors.

* With a drop of hot glue at each end, attach the “Thread” fabric to the top of the box. Glue two felt leaves and the largest flower as desired.

* On a long piece of fabric measured to fit around your box, write out Proverbs 31:13 with the washable pen. Leave an inch or so at the back with no writing to glue your smaller flower and leaves. Stitch around these letters as well and wash away ink. Let dry. Trim edges with pinking shears or decorative edged scissors if desired. Glue verse on around sides of box.

* Finish off the back with the two remaining leaves and small felt flower.

* Enjoy storing some of your supplies and going about your work with eager hands!

As always, please come back and let me know if you make this project - I am so enjoying seeing what you come up with!


I'm going to print this blog out some day using this and want to record these things for my children.

Emily singing in bathroom, "I may never march in the apple treet..."

Recognize the song? I may never march in the infantry...I'm in the Lord's army!

Last summer we started working on her Bible verses. One day David was trying to get an answer from her and said, "Emily, answer me yes or no?"

She replied, "A soft answer turns away wrath."

Why yes, yes it does!

Monday morning:

Emily: "What is this piece of foam for?"
Me: "I don't know, that is Daddy's - let's leave it alone."
Emily: "Oh, I know what it's for - it erases the dust!" (as she is swiping it along the top of the computer.)

Maybe I should get her a bigger one and let her loose on all the dust in our house - erase away, my dear!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Family Night: Prince of Sleepyland!

Last Wednesday night, Samuel SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT!!!!! Can you tell I'm excited?! When Emily was a baby - we decided we would have a party when she finally slept through the night. I made a little crown, we wore our pj's, listened to lullabies and crowned her the Princess of Sleepyland. We repeated this when Rachel slept through the night.

Samuel broke the crying trend (Emily and Rachel had both cried at their parties) and was as content and happy as could be for his party! I loved this idea at the Inspired Room to make the table look like a bed!We all put on our pj's, listened to lullaby music and dimmed the lights. I made pizza with moon and star shaped cheese on top - but the cheese melted into unrecognizable oblivion. Then we read the Sleep Book and had moon and star shaped sugar cookies - sprinkles courtesy of Emily. After cookies, the girls piled on the couch and watched Sleepytime Songs and Stories courtesy of Sesame Street!
Samuel, Prince of SleepylandMama is happy that he is sleeping all night!
Rachel, Princess of Sleepyland
Emily, Princess of SleepylandSamuel poses on the pillow on our table:
We love you, Samuel - hope you enjoyed your first party!

Monday, May 19, 2008

1000th Post!

Hard to believe, but this is my 1000th post! It is amazing what a blessing this little blog has been to me - each of the lovely friends who visit have made it such a place of encouragement and refreshment for me and I am so thankful. I am also thankful for my "blog-mother", Megan, who inspired me to begin this in the first place!

Dear Lord,

As I was reflecting on what to post for this "big" post ~ you brought it to my mind to offer a prayer of thanks.

Lord, I am so thankful for the wonderful friendships I have made here. It has been such a blessing to meet so many kindred spirits as we are journeying on the same path of striving to live for You and have our homes be reflections of You.

I thank You for the lovely ladies who visit here. I pray a special blessing on them today. Thank You for using them in my life and for showing me Your love and kindness through them.

I also want to offer this place for Your use. I pray that all I say here, all I represent would honor You. I pray You would be glorified and that our words to and about one another would be edifying and encouraging.

Please continue to make this little spot on the internet a place of peace and refreshment. I am so thankful for this opportunity, Lord. Thank You!

In Jesus' Name,

Friday, May 16, 2008

Making Sunday Special: Your Questions

Several of you posted great questions on this recent post. And, they are legitimate questions that I had myself when considering a big Sunday meal. How do you really make this work with toddlers and nap times? I don't want to spend my whole afternoon cooking and cleaning up! Do you prepare ahead or do the cooking when you get home?

First of all, let me say that I am still very new at this Sunday dinner idea. I've only been doing it for about two months. There are a couple of things I've learned that are helpful - but I would also love for some of you who are more seasoned at this to chime in also!

Here's our scenario: we go to the 9:15 service at church. This puts us home at around 11 am. We usually eat around noon. Sometimes earlier, sometimes later. When we finish the girls go directly to their nap time. We do not have a Sunday evening service, so until our children are old enough for Awana, we don't have anything in the evening.

I do as much prep as I can ahead of time. This is HUGE in getting a big meal on the table for me. What this means practically is that I bake a pie on Saturday, cut up veggies, etc... Let me get more practical.

After dinner on Saturday night, I clean up our dinner dishes and start prep on our Sunday dinner. I want to start the day on Sunday with a clean kitchen. I gather all recipes and think through the timing of everything. I've even been known to set out the pans, dishes and ingredients (non-refrigerated) that I will be using on Saturday night. I also like to set out our Breakfast dishes and anything that can be set out ahead of time. And, set out the pieces of china I'll need for the next day.

Now, on Sunday morning, I almost always start the meat before we go to church. This usually only takes a few minutes and goes a long way toward having a great meal ready! We eat breakfast and I tidy up those dishes and then set the table for dinner. I don't make this goal every week - but to walk in from church with a table set and the main dish smelling good is a GREAT start!

When we get home, I put on an apron and get to work completing the meal. After we have finished eating, the girls go down for their naps and I clean up. I'm usually all done by 1pm and then have time to play a game with David, read, craft, relax, or whatever.

Here are a couple of examples:

* When we did the Olive Garden dinner I made Pasta Fagioli soup in the Crock Pot - I had browned the meat and chopped the carrot and onion in advance so all I had to do was dump everything in. Garlic Herb Chicken and Broccoli: I marinated the meat overnight and it was ready to go in the skillet. I used frozen breadsticks in effort to save time. The dressing for the salad was made the day before and I used a bag of salad. It pulled together pretty quick after church.

* For our Mitford meal I made Cynthia's Roast Chicken - started before church. Puny's Creamed Corn: cut off of cob night before. Stir Fry Green Beans: cut up night before. Biscuits: made after church. Roasted Red Potatoes: Set out of fridge to come to room temp, washed before. Cut up quickly after church and they went right in the oven. Pecan Pie: made the day before.

This book offers some great suggestions along with the recipes of what can be done ahead.

Now, let's think about some ideas for those of you who go to a later service or who go back to church in the evening and don't want a lot of work in the afternoon:
* Maybe your tradition could be to have a nice Sunday breakfast before you go to church. It would still be something special for Sunday and you would not have to worry about it when you got home.
* Have your big meal at a different time: Sunday or Saturday evening - whatever suits your family and situation.
* Stick to a simpler big Sunday dinner. For example: put a roast with carrots and potatoes in the crock pot. Serve with salad, bread and/or fruit. Everything in the crock pot is ready when you walk in the door and the salad and bread can be set out in just a couple of minutes.

Still not sure how to create this tradition in your home? Leave a comment with your scenario and let's offer suggestions together!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Crafty Afternoon

Oh my, it had been over a week since I did anything crafty - and for those of you who know me, that means I was having withdrawals. So, yesterday afternoon, everyone was sleeping and I decided to whip out a couple of projects!

First, I decided to get out this yummy fabric from ReproDepot and make an apron for a swap I recently signed up for. You can find two great apron tutorials here and here (note: I am not endorsing everything on her site, but these are great patterns and I thought some of you might enjoy the tutorials.)

Next, I wanted to make some more hair bows for my little ladies. Target has some great ribbon in their Dollar Spot section right now - all these bows cost $2 for ribbon and I still have some leftover! I made nine bows all together from the ribbon. You can only get two loops on each side with the 18 inch pieces, but I was still pleased at how they turned out. Also, I wanted to let you know that these can be safely put through the washer and dryer. Several of ours have made their way into the laundry without my knowing and came out just fine!

I also started on the next Proverbs 31 project! Any of you up to anything crafty? I'd love to hear your project ideas!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fun Mail!

My friend, Angela, surprised me recently with a really fun box! She included some of the maple syrup that she and her family make! She also sent me pictures of how they do it, a copy of Sugar Snow - a Little House on the Prairie book and some wonderful snow pictures for when I miss snow. I am so amazed at her special thoughtfulness and it was definitely a bright spot in my day! We had pancakes with this delicious syrup last night and I read the Sugar Snow book to the ladies!! Thank you, Angela!

Another fun box I received recently was a Pajama Gram! My Mom sent me this for my birthday - a cute box ...:
... with another cute box inside ...:... and cute jammies inside all that!Thank you, ladies, for such fun mail!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mother's Day Picnic

My Mom was here for Mother's Day and I wanted to plan something really special for her. There is a neighborhood nearby that we all love and we usually drive through once while she is here. Well, I have some friends that live there and asked if we could gain permission to take a picnic out there. Permission was graciously granted and here is what I planned:

A picnic! Instructions for the garland are here and instructions for the bench cushions are here. The tablecloth was a thrifted bed skirt with a vintage embroidered topper angled in the middle. I used milk glass brunch plates from my friend's yard sale (thanks, Kelly!) and serving pieces from my everyday stash!

At my Mom's place, I printed out this greeting and made a special little booklet (program of sorts) using this artwork and the same shape template as this banner. The booklet included a note from my sister and I, a mothering quote, Scripture, etc...

Chicken Salad on mini croissants with sugared pecans
Strawberry Bread Salad (my revisions below)
Cheese and Crackers (oops, I forgot to bring the cheese!)
Fruit Salad
Almond Cornmeal Shortcakes with strawberries and whipped cream
Sweet Tea

My Mom and I!

Rachel and Grammie

Emily and Grammie

Happy Rachel!

Happy Emily!

Mama, Emily, Rachel and Samuel

There was a playground just across the lawn and the girls had fun playing! We made lots of new and fun memories and it was extremely relaxing and refreshing!

I hope you all had a Happy Mother's Day. It was a special day for us to be together!

Strawberry Bread Salad - I'll just make a couple of notes here on changes I made to this recipe.

* I could not find Challah bread, so used Texas toast bread instead. It worked great!
* I substituted sugared pecans for this spiced pecan recipe.
* I substituted plain white vinegar for the balsamic white vinegar in the dressing - it was very tasty!
* I also omitted the orange peel from the dressing simply because I didn't have any.

This recipe is from the May 2008 issue of Country Home.