Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Favorite Dave Ramsey Quotes of 2009

"Too much drama-like a bunch of 13-year-old girls running the planet!" - Dave Ramsey on the negative hype about the current recession

"Work is a surefire money-making scheme."

"If you want something you've never had, you'll have to do something you've never done." (I think this is one of DaHubby's current favorites)

"You wanna blow money? Put it in a 'blow' category in your budget. But at least admit it on paper!"

"Success is a pile of failure that you are standing on."

"Poor is a state of mind. Broke is, 'I'm just passing through.'" (My current favorite)

"Pray like it all depends on God, but work like it all depends on you."

"Broke people giving financial advice is like a shop teacher with missing fingers."

"You can't work three hours a week and make $100,000. Get rich quick doesn't work. Crock pot mentality always defeats microwave mentality!"

"Not until the pain of the same is greater than the pain of change will you embrace change."

Hat tip to daveramsey.com.

Wordless Wednesday: Christmas Eve Flicka

For more WW, go here or here.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Looking forward to looking back

This Thursday night, we at the Viking Hus will be sitting down to go through our 2009 can. LOL (I talked about our 2008 can here.)

Each January, I buy an empty new paint can from Lowes. And, every other year or so I've bought some small address number stickers. And, we put the New Year's name on the new can.

Then, during the year, we fill it with the little trinkets we pick up in our travels: movie stubs, brochures, pictures, postcards, whatever small things we stumble across while we're out enjoying an event or location.

On New Year's Eve, we open the can and go through all the mementos of the year gone by. And, due to its small size, it will go up on the shelf in the basement next to the last 3 years of its siblings. LOL

And, with the Vikings growing as quickly as they are, we'll be lucky they recognize themselves in the pictures from last winter! LOL

Looking forward to seeing what all we saved and remembered.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Yooper fun? LOL


What Yoopers do for fun when there's not enough snow in the Lower Peninsula! LOL

Sunday, December 27, 2009

It's been worth it.

As a mom with little ones, we're often faced with the question "is the mess worth it?" Is the joy that the kids' experiencing worth the mess, the money, whatever?

In this category for me personally are times like when I made the Vikings a rice table in the house or let them "finger paint" with pudding or play with shaving cream outside. It's often the suspension of "being a mom" and jumping in on the fun or allowing a little "organized chaos" enter into a regular day.

If I was being transparent, I often have trouble with this. I often see more of the laborious prep and clean up rather than the joy something will bring the Vikings...but I'm working on that. And, the last 3 days are a testimony to that effort.

I haven't cooked a "regular" sit-down meal in 3 days. We've grazing as we are hungry, eating sandwiches and leftovers, completely off our schedule. We've had a breakfast at 11am and a dinner at 8pm.

We are watching more TV than DaHubby and I would normally allow but have been snuggling more. And, that's not including the brand-new Wii which joined the family Friday and has over 9 hours of use on it.

We've spent all but a few hours since Thursday in our PJ's. We've only left the house once...to treat ourselves to a McDonald's breakfast and visit DaGrandparents for a while yesterday.

We've not taken our vitamins in a week! *gasp* LOL

The only "work" I've done in a load of dishes each day while DaHubby has "only" shoveled and snowblowed.

We haven't woke up before 8am since Thursday.

Last Friday's clean laundry is still in a basket in the hallway, there's a load of whites "missing", we're low on underwear and socks but I still might not get to laundry today.

The kids' rooms are TRASHED as is the living room except for the once-a-day, midday clean up that I still insist on.

But what was the return on this investment of laziness? Three days of giggling, snuggling, laughing, overeating, and spending long stretches of uninterrupted quality time with DaHubby who heads back to work tomorrow and to a full load of school commitments in 2 weeks.

As an organizationally-challenged adult ADD-er, it is gonna take me WEEKS to get us back on track. But, that's OK.

It's been worth it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ho, ho, ho!

Another guest post at lakemichiganfamily.com is up today. Go check it out!

Fall Reading Challenege wrap-up

I can't believe this challenge is over already! I wrote here in September that I was going to take it easy this time around. I usually over-commit myself in life - even more so in reading. So, I pledged to only read 2 nonfiction and 2 fiction during the 13-week challenge.

Well.....

I got more reading done than I planned because my plans were thwarted by paperbackswap.com. LOL They just kept sending me good books to distract me from my original plan.

The one book from my original list I *did* complete was The House on Sugar Beach by Helene Cooper. It was a weird, differently-handled memoir that was slow at times but wonderful and revealing at others.

I also started A Walk With Jane Austen by Lori Smith but couldn't get myself to finish it. Too much of the author and not enough of the Austen analysis I was expecting.

So, it was the other unexpected joys of the following that kept me curled up on the couch:

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (weird, mushy, a bit confusing by a good "brain candy")

Best Intentions: A Novel by Emily Listfield (slow starter but fantastic ending)

The Heretic's Daughter: A Novel by Kathleen Kent (Got completely absorbed in this one. This is the one of the six that I would recommend the most.)

Magi by Daniel Gilbert (A historically-accurate yet fictitious account from the magis' point of view in the year of Christ's birth. Read it in a day - loved it!)

So, I consider this challenge a success despite the fiction-heavy list & throwing my reading plan to the wind. LOL Thank you, Katrina, for continuing to do these challenges. It helps snap my bee-hind in gear and keeps me from forgeting how much I truly love getting lost in a great book!

And, see what else everyone accomplished here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: My little St Lucia


(In a hat tip to DaHub's Swedish heritage, Flicka dresses up each December 13th for St Lucia Day and takes goodies to her grandparents. However, Grandpa was too sick this year so Flicka took her show on the road...to school! LOL I doubt St Lucia had the red glittery dress-up shoes though. :))

For more WW, go here or here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Seven days of fun; seven more to come.

Please stop by Lake Michigan Family today to see my guest post about our ongoing adventures with the Vikings Family Advent Calendar. Go now...please? LOL

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ya know you're a true Yooper when...

(in honor of my hubby's Yooper upbringing...)

1. Your idea of a traffic jam is ten cars waiting to pass a tractor on the highway.

2. "Vacation" means going down south past Petosky or Green Bay for the weekend.
3. You measure distance in hours.
4. You know several people who have hit deer more than once!
5. You often switch from "heat" to "A/C" in the same day and back again.
6. You find 0 degrees "a little chilly."
7. You can drive 65 mph through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard without flinching.
8. You see people wearing hunting clothes at social events.
9. You install security lights on your house and garage and leave both unlocked.
10. You think of the major food groups as beer, fish, and venison.
11. You carry jumper cables in your car & your girlfriend knows how to use them.
12. There are seven empty cars running in the parking lot at Pamida at any given time.
13. You have more miles on your snow blower than your car.
14. Driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow.
15. You refer to the Watersmeet Nimrods as "we."
16. All 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter and road construction.
17. You can identify an Ohio and Wisconsin accent.
18. You have no problem spelling Escanaba.
19. You consider the lower Peninsula exotic. ya hey!
20. You don't have a coughing fit from one sip of Stroh's.

hat tip to the Guest House of Majestic Point's Facebook page.

Thursday Thanks Tank

We're home on a snow day today, snuggled up with many blankets and favorite warm clothes. So, in no particular order...
  • a roof over our heads
  • new well-insulated windows keep out the drafts
  • food in fridge despite being grocery day
  • vehicles which are fairly reliable LOL
  • DaHubby - where do I start? He blesses me and inspires me so much daily reminding me why I choose him and how lucky I am that we are a team!
  • health - at least for the time being LOL
  • no traveling for Cmas - for the first time in 40-some years, my parents are coming to me! LOL
  • for a family prodigal who's in the process of traveling home - hopefully she'll be around through the holidays
  • my adopted community - I grew up in Metro Detroit but this little city where I live in feels more like "me" than any other place I've lived!
  • girlfriends - this week particularly Melanie, Melissa C., and Elizabeth. You ladies were the smiles in my week
  • more old friends found on Facebook
  • another "clear of cancer" report for a Viking family member and continued good reports for my SIL Peggy who is the only known survivor at this time of her type of leukemia!
  • our new church - who is being kind and gentle to the newbie learning the ropes during the holidays
  • our old church - whose Christmas party the kids and I will be joyfully attending Sunday evening, I hope.
  • Advent devotions - seeing the arrival of Baby Jesus from the different points of view as well as reading "Magi" this week have blessed my sock off!

So, that's what filling my tank this week. How 'bout you? And, stop by Pam's place to see what she's thankful for lately.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Coco Chanel WATCH OUT!

This is the outfit Flicka put together for church Sunday!
For more WW, go here or here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Week 2 Preview

We're already into week to of our 5th annual Viking Family Advent Calendar. I'm guest posting over at Lake Michigan Family about it. See what we'll be up to the next 7 days here. Go...now...pretty please?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Flown By

The first week of our Vikings Family Advent Calendar is complete. My guest post at Lake Michigan Family has all the details! Go there...now....please? LOL

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Praying in the Moment

I don't pray the way I "should"

I don't even pray the way I would want to.

But, I do want to learn...

And, I'm taking baby steps to get prayer into my everyday life in addition to the quiet time one spends with God each day.

Three things that I do daily:

1. It's something I learned from a kindergarten teacher who worked in the same building as me when I taught 7th/8th grade English. Every time the class heard a siren (which considering the school is about 3 blocks from the police station and the biggest fire station in town), he corralled his little ones, they would stop what they were doing, and pray.

As a former law enforcement person, this really appeals to me. I've even gotten the Vikings to start the habit. We pray for the first responders and we pray for those they are going to serve - regardless of whether they're the injured/hurt or the suspect in a crime. Auditory clues work well with me since my ADD picks up every little nuance that could distract me so I made it into a silver lining and as a clue to pray.

2. I pray over Flicka as she exits the van every morning at school drop-off. At this point, I still get out of the minivan and walk around to unbuckle her, help her with her backpack, etc. So, as she steps down from the car seat but has yet to jump down to the ground, I put both hands on her face to kiss her, then pull her close and whisper in her ear my prayer over her. We mostly pray for her, her classmates, and her teacher. Nothing major but it's in the moment.

3. Finally, almost every morning - depending on what's going on with his schedule - I walk DaHubby to the door when he leaves for work. And, as is habit in his extended family and has become one with us, I stand at the door 'til he pulls away. Then, as I shut the door, I have a visual cue at eye level to remind me. So, as DaHubby drives down to the corner, I'm praying for him. I stand at the door with my hand on it for some extra time deliberately covering him with prayer.

I don't share these to be all "high and mighty" but to share what I'm doing so others can provide additional suggestions. So, how do YOU pray in the moment each day?

Wordless Wednesday: Dress Up TIme

For more WW, go here or here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tuesday Tip Jar

Been out of the loop lately in my little corner of the blogosphere so just jumping back in (again) with a TTJ tip. This has worked well for me the last two years. While I'm not doing it this year, I would definitely still recommend it to anyone who asks.

Keeping in mind the economy and its effects on most everyone I know plus the added benefit of handmade vs. store-bought presents, in terms of extended family Christmas gifts, try giving everyone the same thing!

Two years ago, many of my extended family got an individual Christmas ornament picked out just for them. Last year, I went all crafty and made about about 12 to 15 corn pillows out of regular placemats from Big Lot for all the all the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and such.

Now, I'm about the frugal, homemade, and sincere. I'm not talking about taking this route only to make your life easier but it does have that added benefit since you can do all your gifts at once (either at home or in one store). In addition, for those of us on tight budgets, you have a relatively fixed cost of what to expect at the cash register.

For more TTJ's, go to Blogmommas today.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Hey - look over here!

I'm guest posting at Lake Michigan Family, talking about the 5th annual Vikings family Advent calendar. Please, go now. *wink*

Sunday, November 29, 2009

5th Annual Vikings Family Advent Calendar

I'm guest posting several times in December at Lake Michigan Family with the previews and wrap-ups but those interested in our full list...this is what we'll be doing around the Viking Hus the next 25 days:

1 paper snowflakes
2 walk-in crafts at Lincoln Twsp library 6-8pm
3 GSBC holiday party
4 hosting MOMS Club craft/Light Up the Bluff 7pm
5 Reindog parade/Maud Preston Library sweet shoppe
6 put up Cmas tree
7 wreaths from paper plates
8 see downtown snowman
9 Swedish paper hearts for tree
10 make hot chocolate mix
11 YMCA family night
12 Curious Kids crafting
13 St Lucia Day
14 SJ schools holiday concert at Mendel
15 Parents As Teachers holiday party at the RESA
16 red/green RC treats
17 school donation
18 make Scottish bannock cake/Y family night
19 ice skating? Or Barker mansion light display? Lake Michigan Admirals game?
20 Polish star craft
21 Cmas cookies
22 Grinch 1pm @ Linc Twsp library
23 something for birds
24 Jesus b-day party - cake/balloons/the whole sh-bang!
25 Christmas

Saturday, November 28, 2009

It's nearly that time again...

So, I've got the 5th annual Vikings family advent calendar ready to go starting Tuesday. But, this year, there's a little twist on things. Meagan at Lake Michigan Family wants me to guest post our adventure this year.

Since so many of the activities included this year have to do with many of the wonderful (and often free) activities in Southwest Michigan, she'd like me to share with her readers as well.

I will be posting there but will be linking to it from here starting Monday. If you are interested in peeking at our previous attempts, I have three of them. (I wasn't blogging in 2005.) But, I DO have them for 2006, 2007, and 2008.

Please meander through the old posts and come back Mondays and Tuesdays in December see a preview or a wrap-up of what we've been doing.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pre-Reform Rationing

I've been following the health care reform stuff sporadically. At this point, I'm just praising God I have ANY health insurance at all particularly with the number of checks for co-pays and scripts I've written lately.

However, twice in the last 2 days, we've had to make a call: do we or don't we go to the doctor?

Pojke and I spent 6 hours in our local emergency room Saturday night as a result of him trying to see how far he could push a Polly Pocket shoe up his nose. Initially, DaHubby and I went around and around about whether to head to the ER or not. We tried everything we could think of to NOT have to take him. Because Pojke might be scared and/or traumatized? No, because we can't afford our co-pays and deductibles. Fortunately, due to a strange stream of events, we came out not owing a dime (yet) but DaHubby and I haggled for several minutes trying to assess how in the world we'd pay for it. That sense of financial insecurity and that awful sense of not being able to "provide" for one of the Vikings shakes a momma at her soul.

Then, this morning, I woke up barely able to swallow, feeling like my left eardrum might pop from pressure, my left eyes bloodshot to the point people were staring, and a sinus headache unlike anything I've had in a really long time. I called my regular doc and the whole practice was booked solid this morning. So, I called DaHubby at work to see what our co-pay was for the walk-in clinic. In the meantime, I spent nearly a half hour sitting int he parking lot of the clinic waiting to hear from DaHubs so I could know whether I could go in. If it was the more expensive co-pay, i was very seriously considering not going in and just sucking it up and going home. We just can't afford it with our situation right now and without knowing what any hidden costs may arise from Pojke's visit to ER not 36 hours earlier.

Now, I keep hearing people in the press complaining about the rationing of care under this new plan. If anyone thinks that it isn't already happening, they haven't been in someone's shoes like mine in a while.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Listening when Someone talks

(My apologies in advance for hijacking Third Day's song for my illustration. LOL)

Tell me to slow down if you think
That the road that I'm on's goin' nowhere
Tell me to slow down if you know
That I'm goin' too fast for my own good.
Tell me to slow down
If the way is leadin' to a dead end
Tell me to slow down turn around
Let me change the way I'm goin'.

I would like to think someone would stop me before I crashed. I would like to think that there's someone who would care enough about me to step up to me and say "hey, slow down!" It's comforting to know that in most cases the person most likely to do that for me is DaHubby.

DaHubby has an uncanny ability to read situations and the people in them. He's constantly putting words to and making sense of my unending yet unspoken internal angst. It's like that when you say someone really *gets* you, ya know? LOL Like finishing my sentences.

Hindsight being what it is, I've learned that about 95% of the time I should have listened to him because the situation (in which he might be involved or just be observing) turned out exactly as he said it would.

Tell me to slow down if you see
That I'm runnin too fast in the wrong race.
Tell me to slow down if you think
That I can't keep up with my own pace.
Tell me to slow down 'cause you know
If there's ever any question
Tell me to slow down, turn around
Let me change my direction.

Not to minimize how valuable DaHubby's skill is to me, I was thinking how much God is even better than him at it! LOL So, when God send His "nudges" as I call them, why don't I listen to Him as often as I listen to DaHubby?

Prayer is funny that way. We pray for direction, for patience, for guidance, for strength but are we listening when God answers? Do we run off our laundry list of concerns but not take any time to just *sit* and *LISTEN*?

Do we ask God to come and change us, mold us, make us better but then don't take the time to hear what He has to say about how to DO it!?

Oh, I don't want to let go
Of all the things that I know
Are keepin me away from my life.
Oh, I don't want to slow down.
No, I don't want to look around,
But I can't seem to work it out,
So help me God.

Now, my life (especially with little ones) can be as crazy as the next person. My schedule's packed with ALL sorts of things (real and imagined) that I think need to be done. Repeatedly this week I heard people pray for help because they are letting their quiet time with God slip away into the hurried-ness of life. People (including myself) often just rush through our God time and check it off our to-do list. We punched our clock so God will be happy with us.

And, I got to thinking...how would our kids feel if we just punch a time clock with them? How would we feel if our spouse simply "clocked time" with us. More than once, DaHubby's teased me saying "hey, can you add ME to your to-do list?"

And, again, how much more must God feel when we just clock in with Him instead of spending serious time in His presence?

Be still, and know that I [am] God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! Psalms 46:10 NKJV

God WILL be exalted - are you gonna be there, waiting, listening when He is?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thursday Thanks Tank

There have been so many things going on and issues flying around here that I *really* need to consciously do my thanks tank today. It's my "mind focuser" for the week...

So, in no particular order:

I'm thankful (and THRILLED) that the kids appear to mostly healthy again...FINALLY!

I'm thankful that my "offline" time has provided a chance to step back from & re-assess my online life on Facebook and Twitter.

I'm thankful for an "early" Thanksgiving. My mom and step-dad will be here Sunday and she's bringing the food with her! LOL All I have to make is desserts which will be a surprise - (one) because one of them is a favorite of the Vikings and DaHubby and (two) the other is a first-time recipe I'm attempting. LOL

I'm thankful for a brilliant, patient, and understanding hubby who doesn't blow his top when I locked us outta the house when we walked down to our neighborhood park this past week. He just shrugged and started popping off the screen of one of the new windows he's installed. Flicka was at first very upset...until she realized that Daddy was gonna be putting HER through the window to unlock the front door. I'm also thankful for neighbors with a sense of humor who came out to watch "the show" LOL

I'm thankful my first-ever trip to our local Panera which turned into a wonderful unexpected morning of visiting with 3 ladies I really like but I don't get to spend nearly enough time with. Mel, Melissa, and Shelly - you made my day!

I'm thankful for a locally-run bank who was able to work with us (again) when our current financial situation found us short (again) for the minivan payment. Praise God for these folks who listen first and don't assume folks coming to them for help are just bad with their money. Within 48 hours, we're breathing easier with a new arrangement. I'm also thankful that this new arrangement allowed us to better participate in our new church's food drive as well as keep the few dollars we've saved up for the Vikings' Christmas presents in the bank!

I'm thankful for our YMCA scholarship. Those of you who donate to your local Y for situations just like this...THANK YOU!! It's because of people like you that my babies are still in swimming lessons, still going to family gym nights, and family swims with Daddy...not to mention the child care so Momma can spend some time getting some much-needed exercise and stress relief as well.

I'm thankful for choir...I guess I'm just a big ol' music/band/singing geek but there are few things I have more fun doing than singing - particularly for church. By Wednesday, my bee-hind is starting to drag but choir practice ALWAYS makes me glad that I persisted through my day and went. We have an anthem on Sunday to open service...praying that it goes well.

I'm thankful for the 4 hours I spent in prayer and fasting with some local Moms In Touch International folks. Thinking about leading a group at Flicka's school.

I'm thankful for being able to go on the second of Flicka's school field trips last Friday. This one to the local nature center.

For more TTT, stop by Pam's place and see what she's got filling her thanks tank.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Looking Back

On this day in 2004:



On this day 2006:
For more WW, go here or here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Enduring

Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See [how] the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end [intended by] the Lord -- that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful. James 5.7-11

To endure: "to hold out against; sustain without impairment or yielding; undergo"

I will endure.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mama Bears and Jehovah Nissi

I've been spending a lot of time lately thinking about this "mama bear" instinct. It keeps coming up in different circumstances - and not all of them related to the Vikings.

In my Bible study group which was reading Esther, we talked about how in chapter 9, Esther asks King Xerxes for another day for the Jews to defend themselves against Haman's decree. We talked about why she would make such a request. Possible bad reason? She was getting used to being in power and was wielding it rashly. Possible good reason? She was feeling a little "mama bear-ish" about her people and wanted to make sure all the enemies of the Jews were annihilated.

Then, there's a well-meaning friend of the family that has taken to teasing Pojke lately. Asking to see his ever-present "beep beeps" (aka toy trucks) he carries everywhere with him and occasionally his lovey, "Susie". The man has taken the toys and/or Susie when left unattended and wants Pojke to give him a hug to get it back. He's called him a sissy and a mama's boy when Pojke turns to me for help. He's called him a baby for having Susie at all. Things like that.

Initially, it wasn't bad but it crossed the line somewhere and now is very upsetting to Pojke. Since this is a friend of the family, I've hesitated to say anything so far. But, as it has continued, I find my "mama bear" rising up in defense.

And, lately, there have been friends of DaHubby's who poke fun at him. For being "too smart", for going to school while working, for allowing me to handle the finances, for not doing more of the typically man-like things in which they feel DaHubby should be participating. And, again, I feel my "mama bear" bearing her teeth.

Then, while attending my last Beth Moore session for that study of Esther, she mentioned the following verse of Scripture:

To the woman He said: "I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire [shall be] for your husband, And he shall rule over you." Genesis 3:16 (NKJV)

Beth Moore talked about how we should pay less attention to what society says about beauty, femininity, and being desirable and focus more about what God say about our value and beauty as well as what our hubbies think. We should be desiring after THEM not society.

My desire should be for DaHubby - and it is. My desire to love and defend him flows naturally from that. And, those little sweet Vikings, I love them that dearly. Thus, I also feel the need to defend and protect. All things come from that love...even that mama bear instinct. The challenge is to reign it in so as to still remain Christ-like.

Jesus loves us ever-so-much more than we love our hubbies and children. How much MORE "mama bear" feelings does He have towards us? While we refer to God as "Abba Father", I think it would be good to remember that He also has a large dose of "mama bear-ish" feelings for us as well. We need to remember that He is standing between us and those things which would hurt us.

Jehovah Nissi - My Banner and Protector!

And Moses built an altar and called its name, The-LORD-Is-My-Banner; Exodus 17:15 (NKJV)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

(Belated) Wordless Wednesday: Vikings at Rest

Two days of couch snuggling due to sickness haven't really been all that bad:

For more WW, go here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thursday Thanks Tank

Without further ado...

...thankful that DaHubby's still working - even if his hours have been cut and we don't know week-to-week how many hours he'll be able to work

...thankful for DaHubby's scholarship which covers his textbooks - especially when I hear him say he's taking chemistry (*ching*), physics (*ching, ching*), mechanical operations (*cha-ching*), and pre-calc (*KA-CHING*) winter semester.

...thankful that DaHubby's emergency root canal Monday morning relieved his pain and that our dentist was able to get the tooth into such a state (albeit temporary) that the remaining procedures can wait a few weeks 'til (hopefully) we're more financially able to deal with it.

...thankful for all our healthiness...so far.

...thankful for the roof over my head, my utilities, a working furnace, and "warmer" (i.e. better insulated) windows.

...thankful for a fridge full of food including 2 drawers of produce and a freezer with several containers of chicken stock and gallons of milk.

...thankful (OH so thankful) that we went through Financial Peace University in the fall of 2007 because, as a result, we've been able to keep up on our payments in spite of DaHubby's hours fluctuating between 24-45 hrs/week for the last 9 months.

...thankful for my almost four-year-old "littlest man of the house" who has begun to open and hold doors for me.

...thankful for my big girl who can make me cry when she can already recite her Pledge of Allegiance perfectly thanks to her AWESOME kindergarten teacher

...thankful for the small moments - like when Pojke receives a treat and says "I'm gonna save some of this for (Flicka)" or when he starts spontaneously singing "oh no, You never let go...through the calm and through the storm..." or spouts out "I can do all things through Christ...flip-ee-ans four dot, dot thirteen"

...thankful for kids who are "getting it" and are thrilled with simply spending time together with a $1 DVD and some ice cream.

...thankful for the shower of comments this week about how cute, how well behaved, etc. the Vikings are. I *really* needed to hear that lately. A little validation goes a long way in my momma world.

...but most of all this week I find myself in wonder and utterly thankful for all the wonderful women God has placed in and around my life lately. The ladies from my Bible study group, MOMS Club, choir, my sisters-in-law, and online buds have no idea how they have lighten my load this week. So, a shout out to the Wednesday morning "Esther" ladies, Melanie, Amy, Melissa, the alto section, Susie, Peg, Heather, Shellie, and all my sweet friends/family on Facebook. THANK YOU!!

For more TTT, stop by Pam's place.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tuesday Tip Jar

Not exactly brain surgery but it's workin' for us this week...

A couple months back, I got a secondhand iPod Touch from a friend who was upgrading to an iPhone. Thanks to lots of free apps from Apple's app store, it's the gadget of choice for everyone in the house! LOL I gave DaHubby his own "page" of apps to play with as well as a page for the Vikings which contains some phonics games, some puzzles, and such along with some short Sesame Street podcasts that will keep one of them busy for 8-10 min of downtime. LOL

Well, combing and "doing" Flicka's hair each morning for school was becoming a real pain. The tangles, the whining, the actual doing, which accessories to use, etc. was just too much to deal with at 7:15 in the morning. LOL

One morning, I was trying to finish her hair as she was finishing her breakfast. And, my iPod happened to be on the dining room table since I had been getting my to-do list together for the day.

"Momma, can I play a game on your iPod?"

And, the lightning bolt struck...."sure, baby."

No more problems doing her hair! LOL The iPod was the perfect distraction from the de-tangling and doing and has got us out the door on time for over a week now!

For more Tuesday Tip Jar ideas, stop by Blogmommas today!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thursday Tanks Tank

Short and sweet...

Thankful for the Vikings - both miracles in their own way. Years of prayer, procedures, and medications preceded Flicka; Pojke proof to the contrary of my OB's advice that I'd likely have no more kids.

Thankful for my husband - who continues to amaze me with all he's juggling. The stress and anxiety must be so great. Money worries, unhappiness with his current job situation, full load of classes, barely any sleep. I don't know how he does it.

I have been waiting all year for this one - I'm thankful for my neighbor's "burning bush" which FINALLY I will now get to enjoy looking at out my window over my sink for the next few weeks. Absolutely beautiful.

Thankful...OH so thankful...for our emergency fund which apparently will be undergoing another test of its solvency since it appears DaHubby's work hours will be cut again soon.

For my Beth Moore Esther study and the ladies in my discussion group. The last 5 weeks have been AMAZING.

For Flicka's school, her teacher, and the rest of the staff. These people LOVE our kids and LOVE teaching. And, we're really enjoying the family feel...which is easier to achieve when there are only 70-some kids kindergarten through eighth grade LOL

And, for the wonderful people who watching over both Vikings at church. They are some of the best children's ministry people I have ever seen!

While we are exhausted juggling everything life is throwing at us, I think I'm more at peace right now than I've been in a long time. God is good. Our life is crazy but all in His hands. Praise Him!

Check our Pam's Thursday Thanks Tank archives here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: That's My Fish! LOL



For more WW, go here or here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tuesday Tip Jar

I've had two requests on Twitter this past week about the refried bean recipe I use to I thought it would be worthwhile to just make it a post...

We eat A LOT of refried beans around here. Quesadillas and bean dip are two of our favorites. After buying cans and cans of store-bought stuff filled with tons of sodium and who-know-what, I decided to try making them myself. I started with the Happy Housewife's recipe and have gone from there.

So, basically, this is it:

7am Day One
One half a bag of dry pinto beans in several cups of water in my OFF crockpot. Soak for 12 hours.

7pm Day One
Check water level, turn crockpot on low.

7am Day Two
Turn off crockpot and let cool. Then, place in fridge.

Dinner time Day Two
Pour about 1-2 T of oil or butter (your choice, we use olive oil) in large pot or pan.

Scoop batches of beans into blender, adding water from crockpot as needed to desired consistency.

I also throw a small chopped onion into one blender batch.

Pour into pot or pan. Heat to simmer.

I add 1-2 tablespoon EACH of cumin, garlic powder, and chili pepper.

Stir frequently until desired consistency. Use for dinner that night or store for later meals.

Enjoy! To see more TTJ, go to Blogmommas today.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tuesday Tip Jar

Necessity is the mother of invention - and when you are traveling with young ones, out of necessity you get REAL inventive! LOL

The Vikings and I made a one-day road trip across the state to visit my best-est friend of 30+ years and her daughter who had just had a major surgery. And, from experience I knew we'd have "down time" here and there at the hospital in addition to the 3-hour travel time.

A year or so ago, I ordered some plain canvas bags from Oriental Trading. I took two of them and customized them for each Viking with their name. Then, I dubbed them their "busy bags". They can fill them with whatever toys, crafts, cars, etc. to bring along with them. And, they can't bring more than will fit in the bag easily.

We've used this idea when we travel as well as when I've had to take the Vikings unexpectedly to a meeting I attended. We've taken the bags to choir and praise & worship practice when DaHubby and/or I are on stage but the Vikings need something to keep them occupied.

It's has been a HUGE help in nearly every case!

For more TTJ, stop by Blogmommas.com today.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Which side of the comma are YOU living on?

Just a short blurb this morning:

This has been rattling around in my head since it was presented by our new pastor yesterday during his sermon. His new series is about "living like you're dying" - focusing on what's important, what's eternal while bettering situations and relationships here.

He cited John 10.10 during his sermon:

"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have [it] more abundantly."

He had us look at that last comma. So, being the good English teacher, I did...

"...that they may have life [comma] and that they may have it more abundantly"

And, then he asked us - "which side of the comma are YOU living on?"

Do you just have life? Are you just breathin'?

OR

are you living it more abundantly through Christ?

Wow!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Random Beliefs Meme

I was tagged by Carmen at In The Open Spaces for this and it is probably the best (and hardest) meme I've seen in a while...

“Here’s the idea. Post a collection of 10 things you believe, ethical, philosophical or theological. You choose how much to connect them or make them coherent: do you want people to know where you belong, or do you want to mix and match to keep them guessing? I encourage you not to aim for a totally coherent credal statement of faith, and I also encourage you to put one or two in about controversial topics.”

1. I believe that God still does miracles.

2. I believe that God can deliver anyone from any bondage in a split second.

3. I believe that being in relationship with God should be something about which you can get excited!

4. I believe that people in general need to quit worrying about what clothes, what makeup, what hairdo, what school, what car, what TV show, which Hollywood whoever or whatever else influences you and start worrying more about treating your family and those close to you as politely as you do to impress strangers.

5. Speaking of family, I believe "family" is made up of more than blood and marriage. I think it's also about kindred spirits who fill in those little Swiss cheese holes in your soul as well.

6. I believe that we are made up of millions and millions of small and large decisions we have made and that assuming that any one person's experience was *just* like yours is ludicrous. The fact that any of us have anything truly in common is a miracle from Heaven. Because of this, there is no way to truly understand what a person's history is, the repercussions/consequences of that history, or what he/she is thinking, going through, etc. So, when you start to look down your nose at someone who is different - STOP IT!

6. I believe cussing (beyond the religious objection of taking the Lord's name in vain) simply shows a lack of vocabulary and a laziness about learning to express oneself effectively.

7. I believe in a marriage policy of "do not let the sun go down on your anger" even if it requires instances where neither of you sleep until it's resolved.

8. I believe that if one wants a spouse who is honest, faithful, and trustworthy then one should consider being COMPLETELY honest, COMPLETELY faithful, and COMPLETELY trustworthy (avoiding even the slightest appearance of inappropriate behavior) in all things oneself first.

9. While I believe that "all men" share some similar characteristics due to the way God built them, I also believe it is just as offensive to make statements that start with "all men..." as we women find statements offensive that start with "all women..."

10. And, I believe that intelligent people of different faiths, backgrounds, and worldviews can still have a civil conversation and agree to disagree.

For the tagging part...I know y'all are busy but I love how these ladies' minds work so I tag Anita, Sara, and Heather.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Lake Michigan

I couldn't capture what I thought was cool in just one shot...

so here's another option...


For more WW, go here or here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tuesday Tip Jar

As the season changes and the accompanying wardrobe with it, I've stumbled onto a few things in my closet I haven't seen for several months...which serves as a memory jog for today's tip.

At the suggestion of an article or blog post I had seen awhile back, I tried this de-cluttering idea last year. It's a good one but you have to be patient.

Take all the clothes hanging in your closet. Turn the hangers around so that they hook from behind. Then, go about dressing yourself as normal. After wearing an item, return it to the closet with the hanger facing the regular way. Then, make yourself a note somewhere that in 6 months time whatever hangers aren't turned around are clothes you can donate and/or pass along.

If you make it through a whole season without wearing an item, chances are you don't need it, don't want it, or are hanging on to it for the wrong reasons.

For more TTJ, stop by Blogmomma's today.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

You Capture - Happiness

Couldn't catch a new one this week better than this blurry one of Flicka from summer 2005.

For more You Capture, stop by Beth's place at I Should Be Doing Laundry today.

Thursday Thanks Tank

In no particular order...

just realized this morning, despite the chaos that's been our lives the last 3 weeks, I've taken no ADD meds for 16 days! Woo-hoo!

it seriously blessed my socks off running into a friend that I don't talk to in person NEARLY enough! Plus, she's an AWESOME momma coach and an encourager like none other I know!

the Beth Moore Esther study on Wednesday morning is testing my patience by going soooooo ssllooww through each verse and chapter but I'm being rewarded WAY beyond the wait.

the Bill Hybels study on "Living Beyond Myself" and a discussion on serving others has opened my mind's doors to some new ministry opportunities.

for singing and praising God in choir

for the church child care workers (angels on earth - I'm tellin' ya) that make the last three new things possible

for Flicka's teacher and principal

for the leaves changing - not much is prettier than a Michigan fall

DaHubby and I ran away from home last weekend and went on a 24 hour excursion which included a 6 hour canoe trip that was (almost) worth a week's vacation.

As hard as it is to say this because we miss him like crazy, I'm thankful for more hours at DaHubby's work. In exchange for seeing him even less, at least some of the financial stress is eased up.

My marriage - as we look around those we know, there have been several separations lately.

So, that's what's fillin' my tank this week.How about you? And, stop by Pam's place to see what's filling her tank.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Practical Application

When I wrote last night about my attempt to be more flexible with our schedule, I didn't think I'd be presented with an opportunity so quickly so to share. LOL

But, tonight is a perfect example. And, in the last hour since we got home from midweek church events, my entire attitude has changed.

I haven't been feeling particularly well today thanks to a bad case of the monthly grouchies. Wednesday is one of our busiest days between kindergarten, errands, my morning Bible study, choir practice, and midweek evening church stuff. In addition, bills are to be paid on Wednesdays. And, I'm supposed to prep for grocery shopping since that's been moved to Thursday mornings. And, I had to finish prepping for Pojke's preschool for the rest of the week.

So, I felt awful and was grumbling and stressed all the way home tonight about how I just wanted to go to bed but the bills, school prep, and grocery prep were still on my to-do list. I got myself all worked up about what to move where to get it all done. I could feel myself getting angry and frustrated.

On top of everything else, a meeting I wanted to go to popped up unexpectedly for tomorrow plus I had promised Flicka the afternoon at the kids' museum. *sigh* So, (grumble, grumble, grumble), Momma would just have to suck it up and stay up 'til midnight AGAIN as well as give up a moms night out so the master schedule could run smoothly.

*the sound of screeching brakes*

Now, just hold on. This is a dance I do with myself several times a week. And, to be blunt, it stinks. So...why not let go of all these "shouldas" and see what else can be done? Do I NEED to go grocery shopping tomorrow - not really. I can scrape by for another day. And, who says I couldn't run to the store? Well, DUH!

Long story short? I'm going to bed as soon as I post this (or maybe after I finish NCIS: LA that I DVR'd the other night LOL). I finished school prep while the Vikings got ready for bed. The boy and I will make the Moms In Touch meeting as well as do bills while Flicka's in school in the morning. And, I'll do as much grocery prep as I can, and IF I get it done, we'll go shopping. If not, SO WHAT!? I'll take the kids to the museum and go shopping Friday.

Within 60 minutes, I am no longer a resentful, grumbling, unthankful loony toon! Just for changing my attitude and outlook as well as using some out-of-the-box-for-me thinking.

Now, for those of you with these skills naturally or have already acquired them, you are probably rolling your eyes. And, that's OK too. But, my control freak tendencies need to learn that if Plan A (or even B or C) don't work, our whole world will not collapse around me.

And, that my friends is my example for the day! LOL

Live near SW Michigan?

A great site at which I'm coincidentally guest posting today.

Schedule AND an Attitude Change

As I've mentioned several times before, Change and I are not on very good terms. And, this transition to Flicka's kindergarten year has not been a smooth one.

Every plan we made failed. Talking about school in August put her in a panic. Checked out books about school? Made her cry. Made a countdown paper chain - each night she cried harder as the chain shortened.

Then, school actually started.

It took until day 10 of the new school year before Flicka didn't throw a 8.5 on the Richter scale level tantrum about getting up, getting dressed, eating breakfast, going to school, getting in the van, and getting out of the van every. single. morning. And, the first four days her teacher or the principal had to come get Flicka from the parking lot and escort her to class because she refused to get out of the van.

And, don't get me started with about getting her dressed. I tried to make it her "big girl" decision about what she could wear from her new selection of school clothes. First week, we tried picking out a week's worth of clothes and putting them in a cute little storage thingy I devised. That failed. Tantrum city. Second week, we went to picking out the outfit the night before. Still tantrums. Finally, this week, *I* pick out two outfits and she gets to pick from those...still fits of whining but definitely some improvement.

In the middle of the second week, I came to a realization. I needed to just let go of the process. I'd like to say this was easy but apparently my control freak tendencies have a sturdy grip of my psyche. I'm never without a plan. Never NOT thinking 30-60 minutes ahead. My tendency for conflict-avoidance along with my ADD-induced hyper-organized attempts to keep everything together keeps my brain working at 110% from the moment my feet hit the floor 'til I collapse into bed. Those of you who know me IRL can testify to this in great detail, I'm sure.

I've always been envious of my friends and fellow moms who have all their little charts and stars and new plans ready to go this time of the year. But, it was just TOO much change for us to cope.

So, I let go.

And, we took it day by day. Hour by hour. Minute by minute.

And, ya know what? Things got better. *I* felt better. Flicka got better. Pojke still rolled with it like he always does - bless his little heart. And, I felt happier. I began to be able to enjoy the one-on-one time with Pojke. A little 3-hour-a-day distance made the time with Flicka more enjoyable. Everything just didn't feel *so* intense any more.

I have also started to roll with our schedule better. And, I'm getting more done with the "free time" I have. I've added some "mommy-only" time which will better help me keep my head above water while DaHubby finishes another year of full time school while working 45+ hours a week. Blogging is coming easier. I've been asked to write a few guest posts on another site. I'm into the 3rd week of homeschool preschool with Pojke. And, DaHubby and I got away for a parent-only mini-vacation when we ran away from home last weekend to go canoeing! LOL

My housework schedule hasn't gotten back on track. And, our meals are still a little chaotic - we're kind of eating in shifts...something I didn't really ever want to do. But, it's all a work in progress. And, I'm cutting myself more slack.

How's that for adapting to change? Just don't check back here the first day one of the Vikings gets sick! LOL

Wordless Wednesday: Ouch!

OK, that just LOOKS like it hurts! LOL

For more WW, check here or here.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tuesday Tip Jar

While my impression tells me that this may make some folks uncomfortable, it really is the best tip working for us at this moment and I wanted to share it.

For whatever reason, both Vikings and I have had plantar warts in the last year. After having mine treated 3 times at my doctor's office, she mentioned that the freezing didn't appear to be working and asked if I was willing to try a possible low-tech alternative. Being all about the frugal and more natural treatments, I said sure!

Duct tape.

Yea, I know. I have had more rolled eyes at this than most of my other parenting decisions. "There's no proof...It's an old wives' tale...There's no scientific correlation between duct tape and healing warts...It's a virus that will go away on its own so why treat it." Blah blah blah. There's also conflicting research for and against it. Even the Mayo Clinic is on the fence but says to give it a try

All I know is that I wasn't ready to subject either Vikings to the pain of having them frozen off and I never had any success myself with OTC meds like Compound W.

So what did I have to lose?

The theory is that the virus that causes plantar warts (a strain of papillomavirus but NOT the one that contributes to cervical cancer) is so relatively mild to our system that the body just doesn't consider it a threat. The duct tape supposedly irritates the skin enough to tell the immune system "hey, something's goin' on over here" and the body takes over from there.

It started last year with Flicka's foot. Then, two on my heel. So far, we have a three-for-three success rate. Currently, we're treating one on Pojke's finger and one on his heel. And, just in the last week, both have significantly decreased in size.

After every bath, I put a nickle-sized piece of duct tape on Pojke's finger and heel. Then, cover it with "skin tape" or a Band-aid. It could take a few weeks but I figure it's WAY better than a trip to the doctor's and any other treatment currently offered...and it cost me nothing to try.

For other TTJ tips, stop by Blogmommas today!

Fall Reading Challenge: Takin' It Easy

OK, I'm all about reading. I'm a semi-retired English teacher, for pete's sake! I'm creating a second generation of little ones addicted to Scholastic Book Clubs. LOL

But, I also have two small children, two Bible classes, and a wicked case of unmedicated ADD. LOL

I've participated in Katrina's challenges before - some successfully, some not so much. So, with the upheaval of the last year, I'm back to baby steps.

It's not much but I'm committing to 2 nonfiction and 2 fiction.

Nonfiction:
A Walk With Jane Austin by Lori Smith

Grace Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel

Fiction:
House on Sugar Beach by Helene Cooper

Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

So, check in at Katrina's today to see what everyone else is gonna be tackling.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thursday Thanks Tank

I'm having a really hard time staying positive lately. My everyday life just seems one struggle after another with one overemotional, anxious kindergartener and one loud and sassy preschooler. No matter what we've tried, nearly every decision, every transition, every event is met with defiance at worst and whining/crying at the most irritating.

To be honest, doing Thanks Tank has become a bit of a chore. I don't FEEL like searching for a few glimmers of hope much less have the time to do so when everything is taking twice as long as planned.

But, I think that's the point.

I know I'm blessed. I feel guilty constantly that I'm not more thankful, that I find it so difficult to write these posts lately. It' feels nearly impossible for me to get out-of-the-chaotic-moment and raises my eyes...much less raise them to the hill from where my Help comes.

But, I have to.

I've had more "momma time" than usual lately with the complete upending of our schedule with Flicka starting kindergarten and DaHubby returning to school for fall semester. I've carved out 3 hours of time each week (coincidentally all on Wednesday) where I am kid-free and able to get join with some of my new church's folks and read/listen/watch in two new classes.

That momma/church time along with DaHubby's unwavering ability to make me laugh - even after only 5 hrs of sleep - are what's keeping me sane.

Some other "perks" to the week? The last 10 minutes of the drive to Flicka's school is just BEAUTIFUL in all its Michigander wonderfulness! LOL Trees are changing color, the morning fog, the turkeys or deer in the field, the winding road, the rising sun all lift my spirit to face the upcoming drama of trying to pry Flicka out of the van once we reach her school. LOL

And, finally, that while our poor garden didn't do very well this summer, what onions, peppers, and tomatoes we *did* manage to save are making a WONDERFUL freezer salsa that we're eating nearly as fast as I can make it! LOL

Mostly everything else is in a state of upheaval but a routine will come (one can only hope! LOL) in the next few weeks.

So, for more TTT, check out Pam's musings and thankfulness here.

You Capture - Macro

Thought I'd give Beth's meme at I Should Be Folding Laundry a shot this week. We were supposed to get up close and personal with something...and in the meantime, I learned a lot more about workin' my camera in "manual" mode! LOL Thanks, DaHubby!



Beth's post for today isn't up yet so I'll link up later but stop by and see some of her other You Capture stuff here.