Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thursday Thanks Tank

It's a hard week to remember to be thankful. Life keeps coming at us with both barrels.

Boogers and sore throats have plagued the house this week.

When I went to pay 1/4 of this month's bills this week, I had a whopping $49 dollars to work with.

Then, we woke up this morning to the minivan having a flat. Not something that could be patched or plugged but in the sidewall so the only choice is to replace it.

But, there were things holding my hope afloat and filling my tank...

We received a card this week for our upcoming anniversary with some money to go out to dinner.

I received another card from an old friend with a thank-you, a sweet message, and gift.

A friend of ours paid for a used tire to replace the minivan's flat one.

We were thrilled to celebrate with DaHubby late last week at honors convocation. He is graduating summa cum laude which means all A's!!

And, this Sunday is commencement!

What about you? What filled YOUR thanks tank this week?

Pam is on hiatus right now but you can see her previous Thanks Tanks here.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Have you thanked a teacher lately?

I've been doing research for a gift for Flicka's kindergarten teacher this week because Teacher Appreciation week starts next Monday.

I've always been jealous how elementary teachers seem to benefit more from this than us poor, neglected secondary teachers. LOL But, I also remember vividly how much work teaching is and I want Mrs. S to know how much Flicka and her parents appreciate all the work she does.

I've come across so many cute ideas, I made a list of links to share:

Family Fun magazine has craft links for gifts.

Here's a list of thank you's using food and cute sayings (like giving Pop Rocks and saying "You ROCK!" That kind of thing.) had an article about how to do a small little gift all 5 days next week.

This site is WAY beyond my crafty level but the ideas are really cute.

I like this long list of frugal gifts at too.

And, here are some random suggestions from actual teachers.

Finally, here is a list of suggestions from the NEA - the national teachers' organization

A (sorta) Wordless Wednesday

Miss Flicka at cherub choir at last Saturday night's church service.
She's the blond on the left end. LOL

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tuesday Tip Jar: chore cards for pre-readers

So, do your kids have chores? Daily tasks? Family contribution tasks? For money or expected?

I think chores are often one of those parent conundrums we all deal with at some point. At the Viking Hus, it was determined early that the Vikings would be responsible for their general upkeep. LOL But, how does a mom do this with preschoolers, kindergarteners, and/or young children?

The trick was I wanted something that a certain level of parental hands-off-edness. LOL I dreamed of being able say to my 4 and 6 year old "Go do chores" and the Vikings being able to do them without 64 million repeats of "now what?" and "what else do I have to do?" Having pre-readers, this presented a challenge.

So, I decided to have their chore chart "speak" to them in pictures! And, it has been wildly successful! A little card stock and some clip art and I give you the Vikings' chore card for today!


Flicka has to make her bed, wipe the dining rm and kid tables, make sure her closet area is clean (pick up clothes, put shoes back where they belong, etc), and pick up 5 toys from anywhere in the house and put them in her room.

And, Pojke has to make his bed (which consists of throwing his blanket over a toddler bed LOL), pick up his multitudinous Matchbox cars, make sure his floor is clean/clear, make sure tub toys are out of the tub, and pick up 5 additional toys.

For more TTJ, stop by Blogmommas today!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Thought in development...

Had a random thought during Pastor D's sermon last night...

I've heard people say before "I don't believe in a God that would damn anyone to hell" "God is love," and things of the like. And, as tempting and warm & fuzzy that is, it's always bothered me. Partially because it seemed like a cop-out.

First of all, how good is a parent that is all-mercy with no discipline? What do they end up with? Spoiled, self-indulgent kids. So, a holy and righteous Creator and Judge of the universe that's all mercy and no discipline? The Bible doesn't back that up.

Second, if parents ask for no accountability and answering for what you've done from their kids, what do they get? Self-centered, selfish kids. So, a holy and righteous God with no accountability? Not Biblical either.

Finally, saying God is only love seems to disqualify the wondrous sacrifice Jesus made for us. If God didn't expect our "sin accounts" to be balanced, what was the point of what Jesus did? If God is holy and righteous (and He is) , our sin deserves death. Sin and those who sin cannot be near God. Thus, Christ's redeeming gift for all of mankind. To bring us back to God.

Still pondering...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thursday Thanks Tank

"Turn that frown upside down!"

In an effort to stay on the thankful side of things, I'm taking the list of gripes I've had in my head today and choosing to put a positive spin on them.

I've got a sore throat and I think I'm getting sick:
Well, having a cold is WAY better than being hospitalized, having cancer, having something broken, or a chronic illness. There are many in the world that wish they could have "just a cold".

I'm on-call for jury duty next week:
I live in an awesome country with democratic ideals and it is a honor and privilege to participate in the process. I may not get called but, if I do, God may be placing me there for a reason. And, I want to be in God's will.

Our money situation:
Hey, food in the fridge, roof over your head, relatively reliable transportation, and even at the level of unemployment income, I'm still living better than probably 70% of world.

I have so much housework and laundry to do:
See above - at least you HAVE a home to clean, clothes to wash, and a way to wash them!

I have so much homework to catch up on with my Bible study.
Yea right - at least you HAVE a Bible, having homework means being able to read, and the privilege to gather and talk about God.

I'm PMS-ing.
Well, I guess it's too bad your body is functioning as it should and that your body is still (technically LOL) capable of one of the greatest miracles God's ever designed.

And, so ends my momentary schizophrenia. LOL It's all in how you look at it.

Pam is on hiatus right now but you can see her previous Thanks Tanks here.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Well-Needed Reminder

DaHubby and I married in 2001. We were 32. So, after the whirlwind courtship, the 11 months of wedding planning, and then the ceremony, we deemed it appropriate to jump right in with the whole makin' babies thing. (Don't worry - this is a family-friendly blog. That's as far as that chain of thought is gonna go. LOL)

However, as 2001 ended, we were completely obsessed with temperature taking, charting my cycles, and the like but still were baby-less.

Then, 2002 moved through spring, summer, and into fall. Still no luck and then we were mending our broken hearts over our first miscarriage. In the midst of that grief, I rededicated my life to the Lord and was re-baptized for the first time as an adult.

By 2003, I was completely undone again. I felt like God had left me where I was - childless and alone. It was hurting my health, my spirit, my mind, my faith, and (if I had to be honest) probably my marriage. I was depressed, gaining weight - which ironically worsened our chances of conceiving.

I remember crying at the sight of babies. Being unable to attend baby showers. Unable to hold a baby. Feeling like an awful person when I couldn't manage to be happy for yet another friend or acquaintance who was pregnant. I remember being livid at stories of parents mistreating their children. Every month was yet another disappointment. I felt like a failure. My body was betraying what I thought was my God-designed purpose.

I remember a call to prayer around that time at the church we attended. In the middle of praying about something completely unrelated, I fell apart. I recall laying on the floor face down just sobbing. My heart didn't know what to pray anymore so I just cried and repeated over and over and over "Your will be done, Lord, Your will be done."

I had been praying for over 2 years. Twenty-five cycles I spent praying for just one tiny miracle. "Let me, Lord. Please. I won't complain. I'll love him/her. Raise he/she right and to serve You. I've truly realized what a miracle it would be. I would never, ever take it for granted."

Then, the Lord granted my prayer. We found out we were pregnant in July. And, Flicka was born in March 2004. They said "take her home and love her. You'll probably never conceive again."

And, yet, I began to complain. Flicka was a colicky baby. Spent most of her first 8 weeks screaming whenever she was awake. I spent days wondering "what about ME, Lord? I'm tired!" And, even when God blessed me again with my second miracle, despite my whining and complaining, it was hard to feel grateful at the time as I was still nursing a 15 month old. After Pojke was born in 2006, I began to take it for granted.

So, six years later and earlier this week, I found myself undone again. The ongoing stress and strain of the last 2 years of DaHubby's schooling; the stress and strain of him being laid off in February and surviving on $350/week unemployment; and then the stress and strain of 2 very opinionated, also stressed out kids blowing major tantrums, ignoring me, and being generally rude - I just shut down...and cried.

"I can't do this anymore, Lord."

And, He reminded me yesterday..."But, you prayed for this."

And, I cried again. I was so embarrassed and ashamed before the Lord.

"Yes, Lord, I know. I prayed for..."

the temper tantrums
the mess
the hysterical hyena laughing that sets my teeth on edge
the non-stop talking
the unending questions
the interruptions
the pigpen rooms
the fussy eating
the momma body
the chauffeuring

"I prayed for it all. I also prayed for..."

the constant band-aid dependency
the midnight wake-up calls
the sleep deprivation
the stacks of sticky, dirty, stained laundry
the overnight "accidents"
the 2am calls to the pediatrician
the ER runs
the gum in the hair
the ruined clothes from marker fights
the whining

"Yes, Lord. I asked for all this. I even prayed for..."

the preschool attitude
the kindergarten "Diva" 'tude
the stomping of feet
the awkward questions in public
the embarrassments in stores
did I mention the tantrums?
the sibling bickering
the sibling big time baby-wrestling
the plaster ripped from the wall
the broken curtain rod

And, I even prayed for...

the "clingies"
the little person version of nagging ("Mom? Mom? Mommy? Ma? Mumma?" Repeat ad nauseum)
the God-knows-what in someone's ears
the who-know-what in someone's nose
and, the last night runs for Tylenol or Benedryl

Help me, Lord.

Just like I'm thankful for DaHubby because I vividly remember my awful single days, I just needed to be reminded where I was before God provided me with not one but TWO miracles in my life.

What would my life be like without the Vikings? My heart breaks to even think about it.

But, to remain in a state of thankfulness and gratitude, I also need to remember that I can't do this momma-parenting thing all alone.

I need Him.

Help me, Lord.

Psalms 46:1 ...God [is] our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A just reward?

I've been pondering a question posed to me yesterday and just couldn't come up with a good answer.

While at the park with the kids, another mom I know was there. As we exchanged pleasantries, she asked how things were going. I gave her my usual update: 20-some days 'til DaHubby's graduation, 9 weeks since his layoff but by God's grace we were hanging in there, paddling against the tide, keeping our heads above water.

Later, she happened to ask how long we'd be there and did we come to this park often. We haven't seen each other much lately and we both felt it would be nice to meet up again.

I said "oh, I bring the kids out as much as possible since (DaHubby's) home studying full time now."

"Well, you must be wife of the year then!" she replied.

I laughed and jokingly said, "oh yea, he's gonna owe me BIG time!"

Then, she startled me with the next question:

"If he could get you anything you wanted as a reward, what would you want? A new car? A new house? A vacation? Jewelry?"

And, I was really at a loss. While all four of us at the Viking Hus have been keeping little "wish lists" for when DaHubby graduates and gets his first big job in his new awesome career, it's never really occurred to me that I would be able to finally get what I "deserve" for dealing with everything over the last two years of DaHubby's training.

I think I mentioned "a vacation would be nice" but I was thinking more upstate and camping rather than Disney and Florida.

And, when I told DaHubby how the conversation had unfolded, he just smiled. Not sure exactly what that meant. LOL

But, my wish list has included things like a new kitchen floor, a new kitchen counter, a new wedding set to replace the ones I lost 3 years ago, some new clothes that come with TAGS and not receipts from Goodwill, some rooms painted around the house, a dinner out, new windows in the house, a compost bin...yea, I know, a compost bin.

And, if God's will is that we stay in this area and not transfer out-of-state for a new job, those are still the things I'd like.

As to what I "deserve"? I keep hearing Dave Ramsey's voice in my head from our Financial Peace University (FPU) classes.

“People think they deserve it just because they suck air, but they don’t!”

"You don't deserve anything until you save and pay for it."

"The most important business lesson my dad taught me was that money comes from work. Don’t talk to me about what you deserve or what you’re entitled to. No one is going to hand you anything. This has been true since the beginning of time: You’ve got to leave the cave, kill something, and drag it home. Then it’s yours."

Honestly? What I've done the last few years while we got our finances together ala FPU and then with DaHubby's subsequent schooling and lay off is what is expected of me in a godly marriage. To give sacrificially. To the glory of God - not myself.

I'm fortunate to know that DaHubby's looking out for me and, when the time is right, there may be some rewards for all we've been through the last 4 years. But, there was NOTHING in our marriage vows or some contract since (verbal or written) that said "well, I'll sacrifice this for you but THEN I get this."

And, there have already been rewards.

Improvement in my marriage through trial, struggle, and joint problem solving.

Improvement of my and DaHubby's character.

Improvement in our sense of contentment.

Improvement in our discernment about what's really important to us as a couple and as a family.

Increase in our faith that our Jehovah Jireh will provide.

Evidence that we have some pretty cool family and church family who will step up, walk with us, pray over us, and take care of us in times when we need them.

Considering what I've seen around me during that same time span, I think we've already been blessed WAY beyond the investment of time, money, and stress we've both put into these challenges.

So, what exactly is my "just reward"? Just what I've already received in addition to the wonderful blessings God's got planned in front of us in this new season of our lives.

To God be the glory. Amen.

Monday, April 12, 2010

One week later...

Last Monday, I bought a new housework planner. To be honest, I was desperate to find something to help me get on top of keeping my home clean. Yet, I had low expectations since I go through organizational attempts like overweight people go through diet plans - I've tried most of them.

I've read "Sidetracked Home Executives" TWICE but there was just WAY too much up-front work getting all the index cards filled out and organized by daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly. LOL

I thought about trying out FlyLady but for various reasons (the 30-day warm up, the sheer number of reminder emails, and the insistence of doing your hair and wearing shoes first thing in the morning) it just didn't seem like me. LOL

Then, one of my favorite bloggy moms mentioned recently she was using a Motivated Moms housework planner. So, I went to the site and looked at some of the sample pages here, here, and here.

I went ahead and pick the one I felt best fit me and popped for the $7 (I had an online coupon code for $1 off). When I posted on Facebook that I'd be starting the planner the following day, I got some feedback from a fellow SAHM that a list like that would completely overwhelm her at this stage of her life. And, I a point.

As an ADD-er, I'm entirely familiar with the idea of being overwhelmed. However, being the "housework boss" still leaves me in control. I just need help with the breaking down of projects into smaller, more manageable pieces.

Many of the things listed on the planner either don't apply to me or aren't a priority for us. Vacuum? I have hard wood floors. Dust the porch light? Seriously? So, I just cross it off the list. But, helping me remember to rotate out my dish cloths and towels regularly? You better believe I need help in that area.

Also, many of the everyday things are things I was already doing: running a load of laundry, running a load of dishes, rinse kitchen and bathroom sink, plan and cook dinner, etc. And, of the 5-8 things added each day, I'm practicing some new "delegation" skills and generally can hand off nearly half to DaHubby and the Vikings.

For example, my list for tomorrow has the following:

change dishcloth/towel (Flicka)
change towels in bathroom (Pojke)
inventory fridge to plan meals (me)
vacuum (the one area rug in living room - Pojke)
vacuum living rm furniture (Flicka)
clean toilets (Flicka w/vinegar and baking soda and some supervision)
replenish TP stock (Pojke)

Notice how only one of those is actually mine. LOL

So, it's one week in and what do I think? It takes me a little more time but everyone is loving the results! And, Momma's happier with the whole less clutter and cleaner-appearing environs. And, ya know the old saying: "if Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy"? The reverse is also true.

So, I'm planning to schedule another post at the one month mark and see how I feel then. If I'm still sticking to it, it may be the best thing that's happened to the Viking Hus in a while!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Things I Learned Over Spring Break

Spring Break is over as of tomorrow at the Vikings Hus. And, to be honest, I'm torn.

First, I learned things about our time management.

The ADD-er in me like the external structure Flicka's school day imposes on me. We *must* get up and be out of the house by 7:30am so much more is accomplished in the AM hours. This is one thing I noticed as I let our natural clocks take over and let the Vikings stay up 'til 9 or 9:30pm (and on one particular night 10pm) which resulted in all of us waking up between 8-9am the next morning. LOL

On the other hand, as an ADD-er, I *really* stink at sticking to a schedule and I feel extended and heightened anxiety keeping us on one. So, I admit that I love breaking from the structure and enjoying the freedom that comes with my impulsive decisions. LOL

However, I did find that the Vikings are probably not sleeping enough. Prior to vacation, the kids generally go to bed between 8-8:30 and get up between 6:45-7am, resulting in about 10-11 hours of sleep. But, when I let them stay up late and sleep in, they slept 12 hours.

Since they are resisting bedtime after the time change and the extended daylight and have long since dropped an afternoon nap, I'm at somewhat of an impasse. Our evening activities often go 'til 8pm so making their bedtime earlier isn't a realistic option. Dropping their activities altogether means no midweek church and no swim lessons. Hmmm - a momma dilemma.

Secondly, being off school also brought back the desire to homeschool. Yes, homeschool, even with said problems with schedules, structures, and such (see above LOL). While Flicka is doing well, she is the only girl remaining in her kindergarten class and there are resulting concerns as well as focusing on more of a Bible-based education.

Third, I've discovered my daughter has some *seriously* crazy planning abilities. LOL Before vacation began, I made a grid of sorts of our week off and started plugging in activities scheduled over those days. Then, we brainstormed a list of additional possibilities and tried to see if we could fit some of them in. Flicka THRIVED on knowing exactly what we were doing each day and the next. Each night ended with the question "so what's on the schedule for tomorrow, Mom?"

And, while I spent most of the week pleading with DaHubby to take a break from his studies to take the Vikings for an hour or two due to some awful demonstrations of sibling big time wrestling rivalry and flagrant disobedience, I know I also will miss having both Vikings with me over the next few weeks 'til Flicka's graduation in June...that is if I survive DaHubby's finals week and graduation May 2nd!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Thursday Thanks Tank

I don't even know where to begin this week. So, in no particular order, this is what's filling my tank this week:

Our new church. Its "upper room experience" on Maundy Thursday and its Good Friday services were A-MA-ZING!! And, the spring programming starts Monday - a new women's Bible study, the kids' midweek programming. We can't wait!

The beautiful weather that started Spring Break last week.

The wonderful all-day play date with a family from Flicka's school. A nice break from housework and to-do lists and a great time just visiting and watching the kids play.

Our local cinema's family film festival. It happens twice a year. The Vikings are free and I'm only $3.50. We've be able to see "Planet 51," "AstroBoy," and "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel" recently in the theater - something we couldn't afford otherwise.

Continuing provision from several sources. Since DaHubby was laid off the first week of February, things have been particularly hard around here financially. Living on $350/week unemployment even with the food help has pushed my thrifty skills to the limit. Our family, church family, and friends have gone above and beyond the call of duty to keep us afloat. The assistance and their help have been heaven-sent! And, it's only 25 days 'til graduation! LOL

For DaHubby - I have been reminded often lately how lucky I am to have him. My single friends, divorced friends, and even married-but-struggling friends and all their stories make me want to come home and spoil him rotten. LOL Being married to my best friend who is one of the smartest and most hard-working men I've ever met was WELL worth being single until I was 32! LOL

What about you?

Pam is on hiatus right now but you can see her previous Thanks Tanks here.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Cleaning Spurt

The spring cleaning bug has bitten here at the Viking Hus. Now, I'm not a big wall-scrubbin', toothbrush-in-the-crevices, washin'-a-whole-house-of-windows type of spring cleaner but there have been some projects pending long enough that they're irritating. LOL

So, on this rainy day during spring break, we were anticipating company this morning so we did a medium-level sweep of the house. That meeting got canceled but we were already on a roll, I decided to keep going with my new "Motivated Moms" cleaning/chore organizer. And, when I got to a moment's pause in that, I tackled an eyesore that's been buggin' me for months.

Can you believe that this:

all fit into this?

What's more amazing is that it looked like *THIS* when it was finished! *big smile*