Saturday, January 31, 2009

Happy Birthday, Samuel!

Happy Birthday, you sweet little man!
We love you so much and are so thankful for the joy you are in our family!

Photo credit: Heather Bauers

Friday, January 30, 2009

Confession and Comments

Good afternoon!

Ok, I have a confession. After I posted this morning that I wasn't going to do any crafting until the littles were in bed, I spent my hour of quiet time crafting today.

{Emily isn't taking much of a nap anymore, so we've instituted quiet time each day for one hour. She plays quietly in her room and I set the timer, when it goes off - she may get up.}

I forgot that my mother-in-law was taking the ladies out for the morning so got myself in high gear and tidied and cleaned up and got things looking much better! After having a tidy living room, clear dining room table, laundry caught up, ironing done - I decided to spend a little over an hour doing something crafty this afternoon.

Right before we went to Colorado, my friend Kelly brought me this neat kit:

Immediately, I thought it would be great for bringing a little Valentine color into my home. And, now that it is done - I still think it does! Tulips made out of crepe paper - they don't look completely real - but aren't tacky either.

Thanks for so many great comments today. Obviously this is an area that lots of us are growing in! I will look forward to learning together.

To those who mentioned that I haven't seemed "real" - I apologize for giving that impression. I have always made every effort to be completely honest here on my blog and to be the same person on screen and off.

There is one comment that stands out to me today. It is from my friend, Angie:

Even though we've never met, you give me the impression (through your posts) that you are terribly hard on yourself. I don't doubt that you/I need to focus on discipline. As children of God, we all strive to be more like him, which requires discipline. However, I bet you are doing so much better in prioritizing your days than you think right now. You are very intentional in your roles as wife, mother, and child of God. Perhaps you need to restructure your day so that certain things get done. But I can't imagine how discouraged you would feel if you drastically curtailed your crafting and creating. It is in your personality to create, usually with the purpose of blessing someone. I'm sure your littles will recall all of the family fun you created for them and forget (or not even realize) that the pantry was out of order.
I will pray for God to give you a plan and peace in your heart.

David agreed with every word as I was telling him about it over the phone today. I have always been a firm believer in doing my crafts or my blog as a way of being re-energized for the tasks of home and mothering. Yes, sometimes I let them become an escape. But I'm talking as a general rule here.

I think it is important for us to have things we enjoy - God is the one who made us the way we are with the talents and gifts He has given us. To not use them is to dishonor the way He made us. A couple of you mentioned the idea of balance in your comments as well and I think this is key.

After a full week of being fully devoted to my home and chores - I have learned quickly that I need to be able to do some creative and crafty things.

Another thing is that I am consistently very hard on myself. Several of you know this about me and a few more of you have just picked up on it here on my blog. I don't know how not to be that way. It can be good and bad at times.

I've been enjoying studying the idea of living with discipline in my quiet times this week and will be sharing more in the days ahead.

Have a great weekend!

Living with Discipline

This word, discipline, has been on my heart quite a bit the past week. We arrived home, unloaded our car ~ and I felt completely overwhelmed at what lie ahead for me in terms of getting our home in order again.

As I sat on the couch that first night in tears, my "aunt" Julie was here with me having traveled all those miles from CO to SC to help me with my littles, she was such an encouragement and help to me to think through some of what I was struggling with.

I explained to her that what I was feeling was not new - but that I'd been struggling with feeling like I could not keep up even before we went on our trip. Then, it just was sort of forgotten while we were away, but hit me in the face when we got home.

She gently pointed out that she knows I have lots of ideas, enjoy doing creative things for my family and crafting ~ but that maybe I had been undisciplined in doing too many of those things and not putting my home ahead of all of that.

She was exactly right. Why else would I have time to complete a craft project yet have to stay up until 11:30 or 12 just to begin the ironing?! I admit this to you for not only being honest, but I am afraid that I have given some of you the idea that you can easily complete all of your chores and still have hours a day to craft or whatever. I want to be open about this for multiple reasons and I am hoping we can encourage each other to put God, our husbands, our families and our homes first.

The challenge she gave me was to commit to two weeks (or whatever I chose) to do no crafting until the littles were in bed and focus my entire days on getting our home in order again. And, I am doing this. I think it may take longer than two weeks! Every cabinet, drawer, closet or space I go to put something away - I see that each space needs reorganized and cleaned out, purged, straightened as well. So, the work begins. I have finished half of my kitchen, one drawer, one cabinet, and a few other small areas. But, it is a start.

That word "disciplined" though has really been filling my thoughts. How many other areas am I undisciplined in? Have I been faithful in my quiet time each day? How about in finances or taking care of myself in exercise or the way I eat? Am I truly living my life in moderation or more like extremes?

When I sent out my Christmas letter this year, I thought that my word(s) for this year were "pursuing righteousness" and that could certainly still apply. However, like last year where I focused on "clean heart" this year it will be "living with discipline".

I don't know if there will be one more post on this topic or ten more - but I will share what I am learning along the way as it comes.

Meanwhile, how are you doing at living with discipline?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Clean Swap!

It’s time for another swap! Our theme is clean, so please keep that in mind when selecting items for your partner. As usual, please limit your gifts to what can fit in a shoebox.

Please read the following details carefully.

1. In order to participate, you must either have swapped successfully with us before, or you must be a regular commenter on one of our blogs (The Homespun Heart/with all that I’ve been given). We have many people write and ask what qualifies a regular commenter. You don't need to comment daily, or even weekly, but we need to recognize your name when you sign up.

Before you send us an e-mail, please consider if you have the time and resources to fulfill your swap. Every time, we have at least one person who writes to say they’ll be late in sending their box because they can’t afford the shipping. We want to respect your financial situation, and ask that you consider joining in next time instead so no one is disappointed.

2. You need to fill out your questionnaire as part of the sign-up. In order to sign up for this swap, please e-mail with the following info:

complete mailing address
e-mail address
blog site, if you have one

If you would be willing to ship internationally, please indicate that specifically. If you don't mention it, we'll assume it's your preference to ship within the U.S.

Also, please answer the following questions in your sign-up e-mail. The more thorough your answers, the better we can match you with someone complementary.

What is your favorite and least favorite household task?
What scent says "clean" to you?
If you had a "clean schedule" for a day (a day of free time!), how would you choose to spend it?
How would you rank the cleanliness of your house overall on a scale of 1-10? Do you wish it was a different ranking?
What would make cleaning/household tasks more enjoyable for you?
What is your favorite cleaning or organizing tip?

Sign-up entries must be complete to be included. Even if you’ve swapped with us before, please send all of the information requested above.

Important dates to consider:

Sign-ups due by 8 a.m. (CST) Friday, January 30, or when 40 people have signed up.
Partner info will be e-mailed to you by Tuesday, February 3.
Please send your shoebox by Monday, February 24.

If you have not received an e-mail with partner info from us by February 6, please check your “junk” folder, and then contact us if needed.

Thanks, and happy swapping!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

This & That

Day one was a day of nesting and clearing clutter as well as cleaning! I told David I was going to avoid crafting until I got things caught up around here - and somehow ended up making new valances for the kitchen. When I confessed, he said that wasn't crafting but homekeeping. I am glad they are done and love how they turned out!

My kitchen windows really just needed to grow up a little bit. For five years, I've had no valances or anything in them and just a few feathery butterflies hanging in them. These were finally beyond my dusting abilities and I decided it was time for them to go.

Then, I found some valances at Goodwill which I was not sure would match or not. I put them up before Christmas and no, they did not work for me. Yesterday I took them down. And, took The Nester's mistreatment idea to heart.

I found this wonderful sage and brown toile at Joann's in Colorado and the pom fringe at Hobby Lobby.

All I did was fold the fabric to desired length. Trim remaining three edges. Iron. Hot glue pom trim on and hang with thumb tacks. I love it!

I also rearranged the pretties on my windowsill and added the lamp to the counter space. I found this lamp at a thrift store in Kansas City last week for less than $3. I took a shade I already had and hot glued the fabric and trim on to remake it. The keys just added a great touch, I thought - a gift from my friend Melissa.

Anyway, I'm feeling good about the one half of the kitchen I've worked on so far, there is so much to do - I have to take my victories where they are!

Two other things to share -

For those who asked, you can find the Virtuous Woman cross stitch sampler pattern here for $3.99.

I got a note from my blog friend, Sarah, sharing the following. I've already voted, if you have a minute, please hop over here and vote for her little Noah!

My son Noah was born on December 30th and I was able to enter him in a contest that TurboTax is offering for the Cutest Last Minute Tax Deduction.

The baby had to be born in December to qualify. They had over 300 entries and they narrowed it down to 5 finalist and my son is one of those. The winner gets a $5,000 savings bond that matures to $10,000. He just needs the most votes to win. The voting is very easy just go to and vote, no registering.

Here is a brief bio on Noah that my husband wrote:

Our son Noah was born Dec. 30, and was quickly taken to the NICU with respiratory distress. The next day, they discovered he had a pneumothorax (or hole) in each lung, resulting in an air leak.

So, Noah had to get two chest tubes inserted — one on each side. The chest tubes removed the air that had gathered outside his lungs, thus allowing his lungs to expand and to heal. He spent six nights in NICU before we were able to bring him home on Jan. 5.

The Lord was most gracious to us in healing little Noah. A friend of my wife's works in an NICU at a different hospital, and she said it's not uncommon for this kind of situation to require a much lengthier stay.

So, we're so grateful to the Lord for healing Noah as quickly as he did. God is indeed good.

Have a great day everyone!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Home ...

We made it!

Now I am fairly well buried in things to catch up on around here! I am dedicating the next 1-2 weeks to getting unpacked, caught up from our trip and trying to get our home back in order. I may be a bit more scarce as I am diligent to accomplish these things, but hope to get back in the groove here very soon!

In the meantime, I am enjoying reading The Ministry of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson. Oh, it is speaking deeply to my heart and soul and I've only just begun reading it!

And, I am feeling challenged to simplify our life and to be more disciplined in the way I live. I will be sharing more on these thoughts in the days ahead. I've enjoyed your comments lately and for those of you awaiting a response - I will be wading through my full inbox as well!

PS: My possibility of a free grain mill fell through this past week - does anyone have one they aren't using that they would be willing to sell? I'd be willing to purchase a used one, but am hoping not to have to buy a new one. Thanks!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Putting my husband first...

When more than one of you mentioned wanting me to share how I put my husband first - I couldn't decide if I should laugh or cry. You see, I don't feel good at this at all! This season of life is very taxing and I don't feel like I save very much for my husband.

But, this is something I've been thinking about - and I decided to start by asking David his thoughts on this.

Here are the things David shared:

* little things that let him know I love him and to make him feel good or make life easier for him
* fix food that he likes
* taking good care of him: clothes, food, attention
* being kind
* being understanding
* being thoughtful
* being a good steward of your money; faithful with what God has provided
* fun to be with
* a good friend and companion

I thought of a couple more things:

* order your schedule to make time for him; don't be out every evening or all weekend. He is not a built in babysitter - spend time together at home.
* order your chores around his work schedule; I do most of my chores during the day and leave evenings for family time.
* make a little extra effort to choose foods he likes, keep his favorite drink in the fridge and anything else he uses regularly on hand. For example, David's pager is frequently running a low battery - I make an effort to keep those extra batteries on hand to simplify his life.

If you were out working all day - what kind of home would you want to come to? Are you creating a haven for him?

Last week, I heard a pastor speak on Genesis 3 ~ and one of his points was that women are created to be helpers. That is my calling - to be David's helper and partner.

Being gone for a few weeks has allowed me to see one thing from his perspective. I hear in his voice that there is something missing from his life - he tells me it is me. Do I realize what influence my presence, attitude, laugh, smile and help bring to his days?

Next I will share a few more things I could be doing or improving upon. For today, would you consider asking your husband if there are some things that you are currently doing that helps him to feel like you put him first?

Any other thoughts on putting our husbands first? I feel like I have so much to learn in this area!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Glimpses of Grammie's

I had fun going around my Mom's house and capturing a few pictures of things I have grown up seeing or things that remind me of her - or just things I like!

Her signature fragrance ~ this scent will forever remind me of my Mom:

I was with my Mom when she found this sled and I love seeing it on her porch this time of year!

I remember watching this shelf fill up as I've grown up - and I've brought my mom some of these spoons from travels!
My mom made this cross stitch of the Virtuous Woman scripture. I love each little picture that goes with each phrase of the passage.
Can you tell where I got a love of simple pleasures?
A pretty jar of thread ~ with her corsage from my wedding at the base:
A neat old jar filled with vintage sewing supplies~
I can't wait to get home and repurpose my Scrabble game into one of these little message boards! My mom stores the tiles in a cute French jelly jar:

... and keeps a tray on her window sill to leave messages or words!

Here is one I did to greet them Friday when they got home from work ~ later in the weekend, my Dad changed it to "legacy".

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Last week we read the book Corduroy! We had so much fun doing activities that went with the story!

Our first day plan was changed by some snow - so we ended up making a teddy bear out of snow and playing with buttons while enjoying Teddy Graham cookies!

Another day we headed to the Build-A-Bear store at the mall. We'd never done this before and I wasn't too excited about adding more stuffed animals to our toy family, so came up with a creative solution of enjoying the experience and sharing it with someone else. Plus, I found a coupon on the box of Teddy Grahams which made it a better deal!

Emily named her bear Pinky and Rachel named hers Ellie! They were very pleased with the results! Rachel's favorite part was giving her bear a bath!

While at the mall - we enjoyed riding the escalator - just as Corduroy did!

The next day, we took the bears to their new home! We delivered them to the local Ronald McDonald house. Emily wanted to give hers right to a little girl - but the two youngest girls staying at the house that day were over at the hospital when we were there. I hope the bears were a fun surprise and sweet blessing during their time of difficulty.

Emily pointed to the page with all the lamps and beds and said she wanted to see a store like that - so we visited a furniture store. The sales people caught wind of why we were there and we found teddy bears hidden under covers and on beds. They played along like it was Corduroy himself. And, just as we were leaving - a salesman approached us saying that if we liked that book, we'd probably enjoy Goodnight Bear and Goodnight Bunny - books written by Margaret Wise Brown but not found until after she died (I think). Anyway, his wife was the illustrator of the books! Obviously, we had a very positive experience here and the little ladies enjoyed their visit!

We felt corduroy and talked about saving money with these neat banks we got for Christmas! It was such a fun week!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Easter Dresses

I know, this is extremely early to be talking about Easter dresses - but since I found cute fabric and had time in CO - I made them one snowy afternoon!

A long time ago, I bookmarked this pattern and have been anxious to use it! After finding cute fabric at Hobby Lobby - I was ready to go!

Monday, January 19, 2009

A few little updates...

Thanks for all the great post ideas you shared recently - they are simmering in my mind and I'll be posting as I can on those topics.

We leave tomorrow morning for a loooong drive home - we have had such a good time in Colorado and are anxious to see Daddy!

It has been so fun to meet several of you during my visit in the Springs!

Heather: Thank you for the wonderful family photos and for the great experience of working together with you - we love the pictures and memories! Any of you who may ever need a photographer in the Springs area - I highly recommend Heather!

Paula: Thanks for meeting up at the mall and sharing a wonderful little store with us and your sweet family! We were so blessed by being with you.

Lynn: Thank you for your faithful service in Emily's Sunday School class while we were here! I appreciated your sweet smile each week!

Phebe: You can imagine my surprise when I was recognized in the Wal-Mart restroom! I was a little sheepish as I had gone in there to give some discipline! So nice to meet you and your very sweet little ladies! Thank you so much for kindly introducing yourself!!

Amy: It was fun to meet Isabelle and enjoy Odyssey with you!

Rebecca: A long time friend - neither of us live in the Springs any more yet it was so nice to have a chance to visit even for a short time. You are a kindred spirit!

Several of you have asked how my Dad is - Carrie recently posted a little update - but here are a few observations of my own.

He is feeling good and seems, to me, to be his normal self!

After x-rays and meetings with a great doctor - they do not feel that radiation would be beneficial to him right now - his bones are strong enough as they are!! This is great news for a marathoner! Yes, he is planning to run a marathon this June!

Here's how I look at it: he's much younger than most patients with this diagnosis and much more physically fit and strong. I have this analogy in mind ~ you have a savings account with quite a hefty amount in it. Something comes along that is expensive and must be paid. But, since you have it in your account, it is not the end of the world to cover it. My Dad has a lot in his "account" stored away - his age, physical shape, attitude and strength. So, even though this has cost him - it hasn't depleted him the way it would some.

Speaking of his attitude, it has rubbed off on me. I could hardly talk about his diagnosis before we left to come out to Colorado, but I have caught his content and positive attitude! One of his x-ray technicians asked if he had considered a support group. My Dad was thoughtfully quiet for a moment not sure what to say to which the tech responded, "Oh, not for you! For the other people in it!" My first response to that was, "well, you've already done that for me, Dad!"

With all of that good news, the diagnosis still remains that his case is incurable. While doing everything they can, it does not feel like enough and will not cure his cancer. We are thankful for this time where he is feeling pretty good and able to continue working, running and enjoying life.

We appreciate your thoughtfulness to be thinking of and praying for all of us. And, we are so grateful for the encouragement we are feeling right now. Thank you!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Restoring Order

In a continuing thought from yesterday - I have been feeling like things in my life are out of order.

For one who is used to having many systems and much order in place - I have let many of these things slide in recent weeks (before our trip). I am eager to get some of these systems revamped and some of them whipped back into shape.

And, like so many things - it is somewhat overwhelming to think of the enormity of this task. Being away from my house for a bit has allowed me to simplify my days and sort of step back and take a look at what needs to change in my home - what needs to be reinstated and what needs to go!

Some things I am planning to do away with:

* Shopping at multiple stores. I have realized how much time this sucks out of my days. And, by using coupons and watching sales - it really will not effect my grocery budget all that much. I plan to choose one grocery store to call my main store and shop there every other week. I used to do this and it worked great, then I got sort of pulled into running around to get the deals at multiple stores. It simply is not worth it to me in this season.

* Doing all the drug store deals. Again, I am going to choose one store (probably CVS, though it may rotate one week or another if there is something I can use at a different one) to go to each week and get the deals I can or what our family can use of give away.

* Outside commitments. When I return home, the only commitments I will have are taking Emily to ballet once a week, nursery once every eight weeks and taking cookies to the childrens shelter once a month. Right now, this is all I can manage. I need to be home and my family needs to be home - and we will be.

What will stay or be reinstated:

* Sunday afternoon/evening planning time. Every Sunday afternoon, I pull out the ads, plan my menu, sort of make a rough schedule for the week and definitely a plan for Monday. This has served us very well and I will continue to do this weekly.

* Cooking ahead for freezer. I used to have cookie dough in the freezer, cooked and diced chicken in the freezer, etc... I've let many of these things ago and they were a blessing to have - so I am eager to get back to this.

* Mother's helper: We have a teenage girl from church who comes over two Thursday mornings a month and helps me with the littles so I can get a few things done. I am there with her - but she usually is in another room where I can accomplish more. I've been sort of torn about this - I feel like I shouldn't need the help, wonder if I should have someone help with the chores rather than the playing since I am the mom, but in the end - this is what has helped me and worked for us, so I want to continue doing it.

* My cleaning schedule. I have a schedule for chores each week that rotates each day - and I've been extremely lax about cleaning of any kind! I want to return to this schedule:

Monday: clean kitchen and water plants
Tuesday: laundry, iron, clean master bath and vacuum
Wednesday: sweep and mop floors
Thursday: clean entry window, dust, clean hall bath
Friday: laundry, sheets, vacuum

* Family Nights: I have found that when I am planning lots of creative things for homeschooling or during the day, that my energy for Family Night planning is low or zero. I'm not sure what it looks like to reinstate this, but it is something I want to do.

What will be added:

* Date night: We have not been good at taking time just for the two of us. And, we agreed on a date night just after Christmas that this is something we want and need. We can't manage once a week practically or otherwise, but are thinking twice a month at this point.

* Family prayer time: It is on my heart to teach my children the benefits and disciplines of prayer - even in a very simple way for their age. I don't know what this looks like yet - but it is something I want to pursue.

* Planning, cultivating and enjoying a garden. Last year our garden was a complete flop - because I did not invest much time or energy in it. I desire this to be different this year - Lord, please help the bugs to stay away from me or make me not afraid of them.

I'm sure there are other things that should be on these lists - but this is all I can think of at the moment. Regardless, it is a great place to start and will spur some other ideas as well I'm sure!

How about you? Are your home systems keeping things in order - what needs to stay and what needs to go?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Fresh Beginning

I just love the way a new year stretches out before me like a blank canvas waiting to be painted. It has a fresh feel - a feel of a new beginning. It evokes feelings in me of things I want to change, improve, continue, focus on and persevere in.

Words like clean, tidy and organize take on a new desire this time of year and I'm planning a major cleaning out when we return home.

This year, I have been feeling buried and overwhelmed under the weight of mothering littles. The demands that this season has on me physically, spiritually and mentally are taxing to say the least. In addition, it is a season that I don't want to wish away or forget to enjoy.

My list of things I'd like to change or work on this year is mountainous in size - as usual. So, I won't burden myself by even beginning to write it out - that would turn me away faster than anything! I do think it is good to have goals - to not become stagnant, but to grow in where we are in life. Yet - I know that personally, I see so many areas I want to grow in that I feel overwhelmed at my needs to change and grow. That is what God is for isn't it!? He knows how we need to grow and learn and I can trust this completely to Him!

What I do want to do is slow down, live simply, enjoy the little pleasures and peaceful moments in life. I want to grow in my love for God and honor Him with my life. And, of course, I want to continue to learn to love my family and contribute to them knowing our Lord and living for Him.

What does the idea of a new year stir in your heart?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

An Adventure in Odyssey

We were excited for an opportunity to met Amy and her sweet Isabelle up at Focus on the Family and enjoy the Whit's End/Odyssey area! If you are ever in Colorado Springs, their visitor center is definitely worth making time for! It would be especially neat if your children were already familiar with Odyssey and the radio programs as mine are a bit young for this still!

First, hop aboard the Imagination Station elevator and transport yourself to the land of Odyssey!
The entire downstairs is decorated like Odyssey - it is so neat!

There is a fun airplane that you can climb in and it leads to a tunnel that comes out in another part of Odyssey!

Toddler soft play room:

Puppet theatre and puppets:

A wall of Odyssey charachters without faces so you can pose as your favorite!

A fun reading area:

A stage and costumes ~ older visitors can enjoy script books and sound effects as well!

We finished up our visit by eating lunch at Whit's End soda fountain!