Monday, June 30, 2008

Clean Heart: Part Twenty One

Do my goals reflect a clean heart?

What are my goals? I've always wanted to truly be a Proverbs 31 woman, but lately God has been increasing my thinking on this.

My goals:
* to be a Proverbs 31 woman
* to please and glorify God rather than man
* to be a godly wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend
* to use the gifts and talents He has given me for His glory and my enjoyment
* to be involved in ministry
* to take good care of my home and family
* to do what is right

Looking over this list and inside my heart, I can say that right now, my goals do reflect a clean heart. I know that I can say this only because of God's work in me, the way He orders my steps and the fact that these are the goals He has for me.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Swimsuit Q&A

I can hardly believe I have posted a photo of myself in a swim suit - but that should tell you how much I love this one! I have never had a love of swim suits and have struggled with how unflattering they feel on me. I would avoid going swimming or the beach, because I did not want to feel so bad about myself.

Until now. I love this one! I love wearing it and I don't even have to swim - I just like wearing it! I got it last summer through Land's End and a wonderful gift my Mom gave me for my birthday!

I know it would have been super easy to answer this question in the comments. But, as I lay in bed the night after posting our Family Night at the beach, I thought how fun it would be if Land's End would agree to host a giveaway here so that one of you could get a new suit and enjoy it as much as I've enjoyed mine!

So, I wrote and asked them - and their director was out of town at the time, hence the delay in posting this. As of now, I have heard from them - but not with a definite answer - and I think it silly to keep you all waiting over a week just to know where I bought my suit. So, if Land's End comes through with a giveaway - there will be an update to this post!

I love this suit because it is flattering and modest, but still cute and comfortable. It is two piece - a tank top (link is to the same cut/style mine is, though not the pattern obviously) and Swim Mini skirt (navy).

Yes, I am able to nurse while wearing this - though I won't say that it is made for that, and since I don't usually wear special nursing attire, it fits fine with my style.

This suit washes well also - I simply toss in the washer and hang to dry. Another thing I love about Land's End suits is all the options. You get to pick your style, your bra type, your size including petites and talls. Their catalog and web site are full of flattering and modest options made out of cute fabrics. I liked the above option also because of the mix and match options. So, you can get colors you like that look good on you!

While browsing the other day, I noticed that there are some great swimsuit options in their Overstock Clearance - so you might even be able to snag a pretty good deal! I also stumbled upon the fact that they have maternity suits and look at this darling maternity swim top!

Any other suggestions out there on finding a cute, flattering and modest suit?

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Remember when I asked for suggestions on books to read? Well, you all really answered! I've been enjoying lots of new books lately and at your request, will share what I've read these past few months.

I've always enjoyed seeing Megan's book list by month, so I've been keeping a similar list in a Word document.

Here are the books I've read this year:

Colorado Christmas by Rosey Dow (compilation of three short stories): I enjoyed this for it's title and there was one story in particular that I enjoyed. Having lived in Colorado Springs, where her first story was set, I could not make a connection between what she wrote and even a historical perspective of this city I love. But, I did enjoy the short stories.
Living Simply by Joanne Heim read my review here
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo: I do enjoy this author - though this was not my favorite of her books.
The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo: a quick read, but not my favorite
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder: a consistent re-read around my house!
Desperaux by Kate DiCamillo*: this is probably my favorite of her books
Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern: lots and lots of info on organizing! Don't read this while you are on bed rest and can't do any organizing!
Mitford Bedside Companion by Jan Karon: a great compilation of the Mitford series
Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder: I think this is my favorite book in this series. I love this particular book and all the things they accomplish in one day!
Hidden Places by Lynn Austin*: I really enjoyed this one! The movie does not do it justice, so I would choose to read the book instead.
On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder: another consistent re-read
The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook by Dr. Raymond and Dorothy Moore (partially skimmed/read about half): I borrowed this book as we plan to begin homeschooling. There were things I liked about it, but the fact that I didn't finish it tells me it was a bit overwhelming to me.
Though None Go With Me by Jerry Jenkins: I'm interested to see this one made into a movie.

Home to Holly Springs by Jan Karon: a very different tone from the Mitford books, but a good read from this well loved author.
Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo: this is one of Emily's favorite movies, I did enjoy this one!
Willow Springs by Jan Watson*: This is the second in a series I had started before Christmas. Another one I really enjoyed.

Peace Like A River by Lief Enger: I must admit, this was not one of my favorite books I've read this year. Books like this make me feel like I am not very smart - I had a hard time getting into the writing style and it was heavy material. But, I did finish it, which should say something right there.
The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall*: I loved this book! I can't wait to read it with Emily and Rachel.

A Woman’s Place by Lynn Austin*: I liked this one because it followed the lives of four women, and how they eventually interconnected.
Rekindled by Tamera Alexander*: I really enjoyed all three in the series by this author and am anxious to pursue any other books she may have written. The stories were intricate enough to keep me guessing, I really enjoyed her style. These books were also set in Colorado Springs in its frontier days. Of course, I really liked that and the author described the air, the mountains and trees so beautifully I missed them!
Shepherding A Child’s Heart by Ted Tripp*: Oh, how I needed this one. It is really right where we are at right now raising young children. This is one of those books I'll read again and again for wisdom and help in the training of children according to God's Word. I was challenged and inspired.
Revealed by Tamera Alexander*: see above

All She Ever Wanted by Lynn Austin: Again, some heavy material - life is hard. Not my favorite of her books.
A Life That Says Welcome by Karen Ehman*: read a few thoughts here - book review coming on this one. I LOVED this book!
Remembered by Tamera Alexander*: see above
The Storekeeper's Daughter by Wanda E. Brunstetter: Another one that I wasn't a huge fan of. I do enjoy reading about the Amish - but this wasn't my favorite.

Currently Reading:
The Family Meal Table by Nancy Campbell (I haven't been able to find a link for this one): I am really enjoying this one a lot! I will share more about it when I finish but it fits really well with our hospitality theme going on here!
The Scent of Lilacs by Ann H. Gabhart: I am basically just finishing this one to see what happens at the end. I had a very hard time getting into it and thought about not finishing it at all.

Of all of these, I would say that there are some that stand out above others. I have put a star next to my favorites. Of course, I read so many in January because I was on bed rest. And, it is hard for me to write a synopsis of these now that it has been several months. I have made notes on the books that I can remember enough about them to share. Plus, you can read a short synopsis on each at the provided link.

Note - it is hard for me to be so honest about some of these books. I wish I could find something wonderful and charming to say about each one. I also want to be careful suggesting books that I liked and then you read them and don't like them. As with all things, use your own judgment and discernment on choosing books rather than taking my word for them.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Worth Reading

This post called, A Mother's Touch, is beautiful and very worth the read!

Hospitality with Littles

How do you get past the fear of having a not quite perfect home (not picked up) with three littles and still welcoming drop in friends?

This comment was left on my recent post about hospitality. And, it is a great question! In a lot of ways, I think we have to get over wanting our house to be perfect when people come over. Our children are simply not going to keep every little thing put away!

I have come a long way in this area - maybe even too far to the other extreme now, where when a guest stops by I don't usually think about all the clutter on my counters or how many dust bunnies are on my kitchen floor.

If the guests drop in - there should be less expectations on our home. We did not know they were coming and our lives are lived in our homes. Do you have any suggestions to share on drop in company?

If I know we are having guests, obviously I will take some extra measures to present our home than when someone stops by unannounced. What comes to my mind is productively occupying our children so that once we've tidied the home for coming guests, they are not undoing it all!

Here are some ideas:

* Involve children in the welcoming of company: let them help in ch
oosing who comes, color a welcoming picture or decorate a sign or chalkboard you've written on. If you have a sign welcoming them - this will draw their attention up rather than to dirt on the floor! And, will give them a big welcome and let them know you are glad they are there. You could also provide a sheet of paper and just ask your child to color on it. It could be cut into place cards which you add the names to!

* Set out the dishes and then have children help set the table while you are preparing the meal. How I often do this is to hand Emily one plate and say, "This one is for Daddy's place." When she comes back we repeat this for each plate, napkin, fork, knife, spoon, etc... it takes longer and she really can't handle multiple plates right now anyway!

* Write or print up a small drink order form and let your young children go around with a pen and take drink orders! They will feel very important and it will give them something productive to do! Click to enlarge and print the drink order form.

* Think of your home with your ears - I recently had a friend stop by with her fiancee who could not see. I thought of our home so differently as I "saw" it through my ears and the way he saw it. He did not see one speck of dust or clutter, he heard happy and chattering children, heard them play on the piano and sing songs, heard them talk about God. This made me feel a lot better about our home and the state of chaos it was in when they dropped by. Now, I know that most of us can see when we go into each others homes, but let's think about the important things!

* Be responsible for your own stuff - yes, kids are going to make a mess, but they don't make piles on the kitchen counter. This is our domain and we can take control of these areas. And, I am speaking to myself on this one!

* Let children play outside or color at the table to keep out of the toys. Let them watch a movie shortly before guests arrive if you need a few more minutes to prepare your home and heart.

* Think about what you'd expect visiting a friend with young children - chances are, she has similar expectations. Life is lived in our homes and we truly do not expect them to look magazine quality when we arrive. Wouldn't you wonder what life was really like at that home? It probably isn't as inviting as the one with signs of life nearby.

If you still aren't comfortable having guests over right now - try inviting some friends for a picnic and meet them at a nearby park - you can bring a pretty tablecloth or flowers for the table to pretty it up! There are lots of ways to be hospitable! But, our homes are the center of this.

I'd love to hear from you on how you manage hospitality with littles in your homes. Hospitality is something God desires for us to do, so I know it is possible to do it with our children helping alongside us. I can't wait to read your thoughts and ideas!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Family Night: Old Fashioned Picnic

I had planned a Family Night to take a picnic out to the place where David proposed since that was five years ago on June 20. However, it was thundering and lightening out there, so we had to change our plans! Instead, we went to a park nearby that has covered gazebos, the girls love to play here!Dinner included fried chicken (from the grocery store), potato salad, rolls and watermelon. On the way home, we stopped at Wal-Mart and got some popsicles for $0.50 (thanks, Crystal, for the link to this coupon!) and let them have a popsicle on the porch when we got home.

As usual, Samuel is the mellow one in the bunch!

Rachel seemed to have a particularly good time - look at all her antics!
Both girls enjoyed hanging out with their brother!Emily enjoys watermelon!Rachel has fun helping pick out the popsicles!
Perfect way to end our First Day of Summer celebration (of course, a bath followed!)

Monday, June 23, 2008

First Day of Summer!

Thank you all for your great ideas on what to do for our First Day of Summer! There were some very creative suggestions! I changed my mind every time I read a new idea - but ended up having to go with what was easy since we've had a busy week!

I did decide to go with ice cream for breakfast (easy) and gathered toppings and
served with bananas.
Each of the girls received a bubble wand (Target Dollar Spot) to use with
homemade bubbles after breakfast!
These flowers were from our yard:Emily helps Rachel put sprinkles on her ice cream!

Rachel enjoys her ice cream! It is running down the edge of her mouth and I love how her little ankles are crossed under the table!Fun with bubbles!

Look at all those bubbles!

Rachel had more fun dumping the bubbles out, swishing her feet in them, etc than she did blowing them!

After playing with bubbles and cleaning up breakfast, we headed over to a friend's house - a teenager from church comes over about twice a month to help me with the girls. She plays with them while I clean or we go to the park or whatever. Today, she came over and
we went swimming in our neighbor's pool!

After swimming and getting all cleaned up and changed, we took our friend and helper home and took lunch to Daddy at work! We took hot dogs wrapped in foil, watermelon, chips and brownies. I also took a jug of lemonade which we had also had at the pool!

Saturday, June 21, 2008


My favorite dessert is brownies and ice cream and I've tried lots of recipes for brownies! But, this is by far my favorite recipe and the only one I've used for several years now. These turn out delicious every time! I originally found the recipe in an issue of Taste of Home.

Fudge Brownies
1 1/3 c. flour
2 c. sugar
3/4 c. cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. chopped nuts
2/3 c. vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla

Combine ingredients, do not overmix. Spread in a prepared 9x13 pan. Sprinkle with additional nuts if desired. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.


Straight lemonade is usually a bit too tart for me - but I tasted this at a luncheon one time and asked the hostess her secret - I made it for our First Day of Summer and it was as delicious as I remembered!

Monica's Favorite Lemonade
1 can frozen lemonade concentrate
1 can frozen white grape juice concentrate
1 can gingerale or lemon-lime soda

Mix lemonade and juice concentrates in a pitcher and add six cans of water. Mix and add soda. Yummy!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Blueberry Patch

Wednesday, we headed out to a local place to pick blueberries! We were joined by my friend Melissa and her little baby! Thanks for going with us!

The set up here is great because the berries are free - you pick what you want and then you pick that many again. One batch you take home and the other you leave on their porch and they sell them. Labor is the payment for the berries you take!

I had grand ideas of getting twice as many blueberries and making it into a charming outing. And, overall it was fun. But, I don't want to pretend that everything is always charming around here. The girls were whiny, hot, crabby and tired. They did not want to help pick more than a few blueberries and I realized that we probably stayed too long for their short attention spans.

I know they are little - I know it was hot - ok, I'll move on. Also, I'm not complaining - just being realistic about our morning. My biggest concern is that they grow up with happy memories and not with memories of me growing frustrated.

Here are some pictures from our day:

Arriving at the blueberry patch.

Emily shows Rachel how to pick the blue ones leaving the light ones to ripen.

Picking berries.

I love this one!

I had packed this enamelware pail with bowls, spoons, blanket, hydrangea, towel and colander to aid in a fun snack!

I spread out the blanket for the ladies, flipped the pail over and set out the hydrangea. I tried to make it charming though things were falling apart around this time!

Banana bread topped with a little whipped cream and some fresh-from-the-bush berries! A big jug of water was really more of a draw for their attention!

When we got home and had lunch and naps started, I made Blueberry Jelly and this yummy Blueberry Honey Butter (shown above) and doesn't this Blueberry Lemonade sound good?!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Upcoming Posts

Hi Ladies! (and the occasional male who visits too!)

I'm a bit behind in responding to all the questions and ideas for posts lately! So, I thought I'd let you know that I have posts in mind on the following:

* my bathing suit: where I got it, why I love it, answering your questions
* books I've read lately, especially after you gave such great suggestions
* book review of A Life That Says Welcome
* hospitality with littles

Am I forgetting any? Want to add an idea to my queue?

Thanks so much for your friendships and for reading here regularly! I appreciate you!

Jar of Shells

With the shells we collected at the beach, I wanted to make a small decoration for our table for summer!

I am so pleased with how this turned out! Just fill a pint size canning jar about half full with shells. Tie a ribbon around the neck of the jar and pick out one shell that already has a hole in it - thread onto the ribbon and knot. Set a glass flowerpot with candle in the top and place on top of fabric or doily!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Family Night: Beach

Last Friday, for Family Night we decided to head to our local beach. I am ashamed to say Rachel had never been there - and we live so close! Yes, she had been to a beach - but it was when we were traveling out of town. And, in our defense - every time we have taken our little ladies to a beach, they have not had fun. They didn't want to play in water or dig in the sand. This time was very different - they had a ball and did not want to leave!

We played in the water, played in the sand, collected shells, had a picnic supper and I even got a little reading in! It was a very fun and successful Family Night idea! We now have a pass good for one year - so we promised them we'd go back soon!

Samuel was a trooper and hung out in his car seat watching us all have a lot of fun!

Rachel enjoys the water...

... and a stick!

Emily had fun jumping!
And splashing!All the girls...
Mama and Emily!
Rachel enjoyed sitting at the edge of the water and letting the waves come to her!
Ok, they just had fun all around!
Tomorrow - a summer idea using the shells we picked up!