Sunday, July 8, 2012

Date Night and the Return of my Creativity

My husband and I got a much anticipated night with no child tonight. She went to stay with her aunt, which she has been begging to do for a while and if it wasn't done this weekend I wasn't sure when it would be because of our crazy life. And so, after church this morning, we loaded her into my sister's van, kissed her, hugged her and sent her off for a fun day with her cousins.

What did Jaime and I do with this new found freedom? Sadly nothing too terribly exciting, but we had a good time. We stopped at a friends house to pick up some books for Jaime's hobby, we went out to dinner at a little mexican fast food place that we both love (but they have nothing Alexis will eat). When we came back home we went for a walk around town, looking at houses that were for sale and daydreamed about getting to buy our first place. We talked, we laughed and we had a lot of fun.

However even the best nights must end, and Jaime has to get up and go to work in the morning. He went off to bed and I pulled out a box of fabric remnants from a home store (you know the remnants that are all glued together to show people what options they have, love those for sewing little crafty ideas together). And then my creativity sparked.

I have a few projects I need to work on immediately. I'm sure soon I'll have pictures to post of what I did, and I'll share the tutorial that I used so you can make them too. I made myself a cell phone case with a handy little strap to carry it, hold it, or hook it on something. I made a pencil pouch that I personally love.

I'm going to make my little sister (who is going to turn 19 in a week and loves music) a CD case for in her car. She has always been into animal prints and, how about that, I have a whole booklet of animal prints.

My older sister has a birthday coming up in September (a little more time but still needs thought of) and she can't drive day or night without sun glasses because even the light from headlights hurts her eyes. And so she always has her sunglasses in her car. The problem of course is that she just sets them on the dash and then they are dirty and doing her as much harm as good. So I want to make her a sunglasses case that she can stick on her dash and keep them clean. I even have awesome microfiber material that I'm going to line the case with to keep the sunglasses from getting scratched.

I also have 5 nieces and nephews who have birthdays between August 29th and October 5th. They range in age from 4 to 14. They are by far the hardest to come up with ideas for. Well the boys are. Any ideas anyone has are welcome!

I'm glad my crafty side came back, I have been out of the loop for far too long. I have missed this side of me. But now I think I'm going to crawl into bed as well, I want to get up early and get some stuff done before heading to my sister's house to pick up my pumpkin.

God bless,


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Reasonable Expectations

My daughter is 6 years old. There are times when she seems more like a teenager, blaring her music so her dad and I have to go tell her to turn it down. There are times when she seems much younger, looking at me with big eyes and asking for cuddle time. We have decided that even though she isn't a teenager by any stretch, she isn't a baby anymore either and so we need to come up with some reasonable expectations for her.

The problem comes in when we can't agree on what reasonable expectations are. My dh wants to expect her to keep her room clean with no help and no reminders, pick her dishes up, not leave food or cups out, and play quietly when he wants some quiet time.

I want to expect her to clean her room when she's told (which I think should be every night before bed), pick up her dishes, and wipe down the table after supper.

My biggest disagreements are 1) She needs gentle reminders "Alexis it's almost bedtime, pick up your room", "Did you put your dishes in the sink" while she is getting into the habit, plus she can't tell time well yet so she needs reminders of when it's getting close to bedtime. 2) We can't expect her to do things consistently if we aren't doing them consistently (putting OUR dishes in the sink when we're done eating, picking up our dirty clothes, etc)

He believes in the Do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do philosophy where I lean more towards Monkey-see-monkey-do.

So how can we find a healthy compromise. Here is what I am going to propose tomorrow, before our date night, when Alexis is at her aunt's house:

1. Get an alarm clock for in her room that has a digital display. Then write down times and things we expect to be done. Ex. 8:00 Pick up toys (with pictures to help her read)

2. Remind her at least 15 minutes before bedtime (which for the rest of this month will be 8:30 and then in August will go back to 8 which is when her bedtime is for school)

3. Daily chores: -Pick up bedroom -Wipe off table after meals -Wipe out bathtub (not clean it just run the wash cloth over it)

4. If daily chores are completed every day of the week, gets $.75

The biggest thing here is when I'm working at night he will have to remember to have her clean her room. I'm helping by giving her a way to know it's time to clean but he will still have to make sure that she does it and remind her if needed.

This is a great practice for him too. This year she will start having homework. If I am at home I will make her do it as soon as she gets home, when it is still fresh in her mind. But if I am at work then he has to remember to have her do it.

What do you think reasonable expectations are for a 6 year old, or what did you do when your child was this age? Are you a monkey see money do believer or a do as I say not as I do believer?

God bless


Friday, July 6, 2012

5 Minutes for Mom

"Mom can you help me?"
"Honey I have no socks"
"What's for dinner?"
"Mom I can't find my swim suit"
"The cat pooped on the floor"
"Can we go to the library"
"Would you pick me up today"
"What am I taking for lunch tomorrow"

There are so many things that we as moms have to get done in any given day. My list above doesn't even begin to touch what we are expected to do in any given day. I didn't talk about the disciplining of our children, the mild meltdowns when things don't go right, the sheparding of our children that we are tasked with, the run to the grocery store. It is just the standard, every day minor occurances.

If you are anything like me there are times you feel like you are meeting yourself coming and going. You feel like you need to have a couple more hands, a few more heads to answer questions, an extra brain per person in the family, and if you could have just a few more hours in the day maybe you could get not only caught up but maybe even a little bit ahead.

But there are no extras. We are just expected to be supermom. Our husbands try to help out if we're lucky but I know my husband, by about 8pm, is done. Anything after 8pm is going to be left undone. He makes up for it at other times but I am still left picking up dirty dishes, socks, and wiping up spills after he has gone to bed.

My day starts by 8 am (and that's if I had to close at work the night before), if I didn't work I'm usually up at 6. My day ends at midnight at the earliest, and that's if I didn't have to close at work that night. In between I am making meals, making snacks, watering the garden, weeding the garden, picking up after whoever is leaving a mess, laundry, helping my daughter learn and grow, and just trying to make sense of our lives. I am reading my Bible, I am checking job search boards, I am trying to come up with something of substance to blog about. I'm trying to find time to work out.

And yet when I was challenged to find 5 minutes for mom, I felt overwhelmed immediately. 5 minutes? Like in a row? Without being disturbed? And just to be quiet. To meditate on the Bible verse of the day. Are you serious?

I don't want to get up earlier. In my opinion 6 hours of sleep is adequate but I can't take any less. I don't want to stay up any later for the same reason. I don't want to take time away from my husband or my daughter. I don't want to let my housework suffer. I can imagine you are saying, it's only 5 minutes. But what I have learned is that when I take that time to meditate on a verse, 5 minutes is rarely enough. And so those 5 minutes turn into 15 to 30. Now maybe you see my issue.

I have found the perfect time. I found the time when my daughter plays the best, the house is usually at a place I can walk away without leaving things undone, I don't lose time with my husband. It's a win-win-win-win. Right after lunch, when my husband is at work, the dishes are done and usually my kitchen is clean (because this super mom cleans the kitchen as I cook) and I have already made beds and picked up around the house, I have a few minutes that are quiet.

This has become my meditation time. To think about the words that God has given me this day.

No matter how much we have on our plates, no matter how many directions we are pulled, each of us can find those few minutes of quiet time. Some it may be after the house has gone to bed. If you are an early bird, maybe first thing in the morning, with your cup of coffee, is the best time. Maybe it's while your little ones are napping. No time is wrong, it's just what's right for you. I challenge you to find a daily devotional and find 5 minutes or more that you can spend reflecting on that day's verse. If I can do it, anyone can do it. It just may take more creativity.

God bless


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Pray for Rain

Today I have to reclaim my house that was overrun a little bit yesterday. As I walk from room to room I start to feel a little overwhelmed but I know that it's not more than I can handle with a good attitude.

Here in Iowa we are asking for rain, praying for rain, begging for rain. Not only as a relief from our upper 90's temps with heat indexes from 105-110, but to save the crops in our fields. A news article the other day said if we didn't get some significant rain in the next 2 weeks all of our fields would have to be turned into the insurance company because they wouldn't produce.

I know my gardens are desperate for rain. I have been watering them but there is something about a good rain that makes those plants grow so much better.

The temperatures are nearing our records, which were set back in the mid to late 1930's during the Dust Bowl. Living in town I know I don't see nearly the effect this is having as those in the country but I know we are desperate for rain.

As I was thinking of this today, Nichole Nordeman's song Gratitude starting running through my head. Talking about giving gratitude even during the bad times because even when God doesn't give us what we want and think we need, he will provide for us in some way. I love this song. If you have a few minutes you should go listen to it.

As I pray for rain, I also am praying that the rain comes from Colorado. They could use the rain just as badly, it would help with the fires that are ravaging that state. And so I pray that we all get the rain that we need.

What are you praying for today?

God bless


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th from Smalltown, USA

It has been a crazy busy day in my household.

We got up this morning and had breakfast and then walked up to the parade. After the parade we came home and it wasn't long before my sister and her 3 kids (ages 3, 5, and 7) showed up. The kids all played in the pool and inside, more inside than out due to the temperature topping out at 97 with a heat index of 105. My brother in law came over right after work and then we made pasta salad, macaroni and cheese, and baked beans to go with the hamburgers, hot dogs, and brats my husband cooked up. I had made cake balls yesterday (sadly at this point I had to really question if it was only yesterday because between working from 2-11 last night and all that went on up until this point yesterday morning seems a very long time ago to only have been yesterday morning) which were a hit with the kids (and my BIL) Then we walked up to the park to watch the fireworks which were fabulous.

I love living in my town. It has the charm (and annoyance) of a small town. When we walked to the parade we saw Jaime's brother, old teachers from when we went to schools, friends, people we have worked with. During the parade Alexis saw a few friends, I saw a few friends from church, and Jaime saw several people he knew. The busy road in town was busy most of the day, but compared to towns with interstates running through them and roads with speed limits of 45 mph and up, it is still quiet.

I love the family owned businesses in our town. We have a Ben Franklin that we have known the owners of all of my life. Their children know take most of the shifts. We have a few hair salons that are all locally owned. We have a new market open that is all fresh produce, dairy, meat, honey, wine, etc from our state, owned by a family here in town. Even across the street is a small mini mart that sells firewood, worms, drinks, candy and some of the basics that don't go bad too fast.

I love the camaraderie and help. This morning a guy stopped at the gas station as I picked up a drink and he said that after the parade was over he would come sweep the parking lot out so the gals working wouldn't have to. He doesn't work there, isn't married to someone who works there, he was just being a nice guy. Our neighbor went out of town this weekend and his dog sitter yelled over the hedges "Hey good lookin' whatcha got cookin" when my husband and I were outside and grilling.

This is Smalltown, USA. Everything I described could probably be found in any state. And this is my home. I feel so blessed that God led me here, to this town and to this house. Living in the country all my life I missed out of learning the joys of being able to walk to the library, being able to walk to a parade and fireworks, of having neighbors who know you, your family, your parents, where you work, and when you should and shouldn't be home, of having extra hands to help out when a project is too big. I'm learning to love living in town, where I thought I could never.

I hope your Independence day was blessed and you took a few minutes to relish the freedoms that we have thanks to the men and women who have protected them for us and thank God for all that He has given to us.

God bless,


Monday, July 2, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Menu Plan Monday!!

This week I work evenings Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. So with my menu planning you'll notice my big meals I'm making at lunch, which my husband will eat for supper, and my supper plan is something quick and easy to take to work with me. Wednesday I'm also having company over so we are planning something easy to make for lots of people and pleasers for all the kids (at least 4).

Breakfast -- Eggs
Lunch -- Shepard's Pie
Dinner -- Cold meat sandwich

Breakfast -- Cereal
Lunch -- Mini Meatloaf
Dinner -- Salad with croutons (I'm going to try to make these homemade after using my bread machine to make a loaf of bread)

Breakfast -- Fireman's breakfast
Lunch -- Waffles (I have shared the recipe for our favorite waffles below)
Dinner -- Hamburgers and hot dogs

Breakfast -- Toast
Lunch -- Spaghetti
Dinner -- left overs

Breakfast -- Quiche (we'll see how this goes over)
Lunch -- Leftovers
Dinner -- Salad

Breakfast -- Cereal
Lunch -- French Toast
Dinner -- Egg Salad sandwiches\Cold meat sandwiches

Breakfast -- Donuts\muffins
Lunch -- Eating out with MIL
Dinner -- Fried chicken

I plan my leftovers into my meal plan because it is the only way that things get ate. Otherwise they get forgotten about and then we have to throw food away and this drives me crazy (but I won't get on my soap box right now).

Buttermilk Waffles

3 C. flour
1 T baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 T sugar
1\2 t salt
2 eggs beaten
3 C buttermilk
2\3 C shortening

Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt in large bowl.

Mix eggs and buttermilk in small bowl and add to dry ingredients.

Add shortening by chipping in small dots at a time. Shortening will make it lumpy.

That is the whole recipe. It makes about 4 batches of 4 waffles each. They are so delicious you might want to make a double batch!!

Happy eating!

God bless,


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Perfect Trust

As I sit here I am watching my kittens. They are running around and playing. No worries, no cares. They trust that I will feed them, I will water them, I will clean their litter box. They know they are safe because they trust us. They trust us blindly, because not everyone takes care of animals as well as others, but blindly they still trust.

This is how I wish to trust God. Unfailing, complete trust. Trust that He will provide for our family. Trust that He will keep us safe from evil. Trust that His way is the best for our family. Trust that He knows best.

How often do we question Him? Do we say "But if I tithe how will I have money to feed my family?" Or "If I give my time who will make sure everything is done in my house?" Or "If I say I am unavailable to work to attend church, how will I make enough to get by?" I know I do this. And I think to myself that is wrong, and that I need to trust God.

How about when we as wives say "How can I respect my husband when he is so blatantly disrespecting me?" As mothers say "How can I follow through with loving discipline and not feel disrespected when they are disrespecting what I have told them, even if it's only because it is what He has told me?"

We question God every day. We question where we will get the money for the bills, how we will cope with stress, what we're going to do with children, why we should have to obey when this person or that person isn't. We disobey by not believing.

If only it was as easy as it is for my kittens. If only we didn't have built into us the worries, fears and nagging doubts. If only we could block out all naysayers who say that we are wrong, that God is wrong.

But it could be easier. I know how it could be easier for myself anyway.

Shut off the TV. Don't watch the shows that make us envy those who have more than us. Don't watch the shows that don't praise the Lord. Don't listen to the music that tempts us to sin. And if I am going to listen to music, listen to music that praises Him. If I'm going to watch TV, watch shows that teach us what God wants us to learn. I have begun to rewatch old episodes of 7th Heaven. It was a great show with great values and great lessons (good grief, I used great a lot in that sentence). We don't have reruns in my area but I found a YouTube channel that has full episodes.

Pick up the Bible. What better way to grow in our faith, to trust in the Lord, to have faith in His power than to read His word.

Pick up other Christian literature. I listed my favorite books in a previous post. Check it out.

Spend time in prayer. I find myself praying while I drive, while I cook, while I clean. I pray when I go to bed. I don't pray as often as I should. I don't pray as often as I would like. But I find that when life gets crazy, even if all I can put into words is "God please help me," it brings me peace and serenity. By handing it over to God, I can let go of the stress, the frustration, the worry.

When my dd disobeys, tell her why it is disappointing and saddening to God. Not why it disappoints me, not why it upsets me, but why it upsets God. This is taking out the personal side of it, it takes me out of the equation. All I am is a steward, delivering the words of God, the message of God, as it is in the Bible.

When I wonder where the money for groceries will come from, or the money for the water bill, or the rent, I give it to God. This is not a fail safe. It may give me peace for a moment, but the worry and the stress always comes back. But if I give it God, and ask for a solution, and pray that He would lead me in the right direction, and then listen to that little niggling feeling that we all get in our heart, then I know He is leading me where I need to go.

When things don't go my way, I try to look at what I can learn from it. Going to work for a minimum wage job at a gas station when I have a college degree. I could get mad, I could rage against the universe for letting this befall me. Or I could look for a lesson, or a way it can help me grow. I've found a few. 1) I am learning humility. I am not someone special because I have a degree, and I have to learn to pay my dues, even if it's not how I thought I would be doing it. 2) I asked God to help me find new friends in town, people I could help or people who could help me. Friends with children and who were part of a couple to get my husband out of the house. He has given me one from work, and one because I have more time to look to Him. 3) I am learning how much I really had when I worked my other job. I just spent it all here and there until it was gone.

He works in mysterious ways. It is not our place to question. And the more I remind myself of this, the better off I really am. The trick is learning blind trust like the kittens, and not to doubt which is human.

Thank You Jesus for coming and dying on the cross so that my sin, the sin of doubt and fear, among so many others, could be forgiven.

God bless everyone,