Monday, October 31, 2011

Day Seven of Thanksgiving

See my original explanation for my 30 Days of Thanksgiving here.

21. for the children's ministry at our local church
22. for a true day of rest for all four of us on Sunday
23. for music and a message that fits *exactly* with the worries and concerns I've been having
24. for the innocence of my children...
25. ...and the recent encouragement of several fronts to defend that innocence.
26. the most amazing start-gazing reward for taking out the trash the morning of instead of the evening before
27. the ladies of my Bible study who make this newbie feel welcome by having someone saying "hello" each Sunday
28. for lil' ones who were thrilled with their "Dollar Store"/homemade costumes
29. for new friends found here who make us laugh and remind us all is well
30. for a good landlord (can I get an amen? LOL)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Day Three of Thanksgiving

My original explanation is here.

11. productive quiet time
12. time alone with DaHubby while kids are in school
13. Pojke's teacher who has been a Godsend this year during his difficult transition from being home all day with me in Michigan to full-day kindergarten without me here in Illinois
14. that Pojke was able to go back to bed for another 2 hrs after waking up yet again during the night as has been his habit since school started
15. for friends who FedEx missing papers from Michigan so I can get my new IL license plates :)
16. "open sky" which seems increased after the local corn and soybean harvest
17. the smell of onions, garlic, and sausage browning while I made jambalaya tonight
18. 100% on Flicka's spelling test so she experiences the "return" for working and studying hard
19. a little more "financial comfort" than we've been used to the last few years
20. friendly state employees at our local branch of the IL Secretary of State :)

What was in my hand THIS week?

Just like I've mentioned before, I really like the idea of using what you have to recycle or "up-cycle" into something else.

A recent problem? We needed curtains for the our bedroom. Not only did we need curtains but DaHubby really needs black-out curtains for the days after he works an overnight shift. But, ones from the store were still more expensive than what we wanted to part with.

Plus, we would still be using my frugal solution to curtain rods and didn't really want to invest in something expensive and then hang them from dowel rods. LOL

Meanwhile, my mom passed on a fleece blanket she had bought to keep dog hair off her couch but it wasn't working for them. We have several of these type of blankets so we put it aside. DaHubby came across it after the move...and wouldn't ya know it? It matched our bedspread perfectly!

Initially, we simply slit the blanket in two and tacked up each piece over our bedroom windows with small finish nails. Functional but not an ideal long term solution.

So, today, I had the sewing machine out for "mending day" and to make Pojke's Halloween costume. I took down the two panels DaHubby created, hemmed them and made a slot for the curtain/dowel rod, installed my 3M Command Hooks, and VOILA!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Day Two of Thanksgiving

See my original explanation here of how I'm trying to be more thankful daily (using this as my inspiration) for the 30 days before Thanksgiving. My goal is 100 things. What will YOURS be?

1.Sun and rain at the same time
2.The sound of my kids laughing
3. Feeling crafty
4.Working in kitchen with DaHubby
5.The way DaHubby problem solves
6.The smell of bananas
7. DaHubby building stuff
8.The feel of fleece on a damp day
9.The maple-red of autumn
10.People who donate their time to kids

"God Makes Lemonade" Blog Tour

When I was blogging more often, I got hooked up with with Glass Road Public Relations and their book promotions. Now that life has slowed down (a little), I wanted to get back in the swing of things so I jumped on board for a recent blog tour.

"God Makes Lemonade" seemed like a book I could really appreciate in this season of life. After all we've been through recently, I thought I'd find camaraderie, smiles, head nods, faith building, and tears reading this book.

Not so much.

And, since I was provided with a free copy to review, it pains me to say that.

While the formatting reminded me of the "Chicken Soup for the (Fill-in-the-Blank) Soul" series, "God Makes Lemonade" just didn't grab me the same way. It was difficult to finish. I was bored after getting about halfway through.

And, for having "God..." in the title, I didn't see the faith, the prayer, the leaps I had hoped for.

However, each story WAS a great example of looking positively and searching for silver linings in all circumstances and how, in hindsight, one can see great good coming out of heart-breaking and/or challenging circumstances.

Since 2008 since our trials began, I've been clinging to Romans 8.28 ("...we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to [His] purpose") but, with the challenges still ahead of us, I didn't find the book particularly encouraging but more of a awkward "atta girl" punch in the shoulder to tough it out and have some hope that things would turn out eventually.

Now, according to the Amazon reviews, I am in the minority opinion here. Don Jacobson (the creator of this book) has more than 25 years of publishing experience so he probably knows what he's doing. LOL So, if you liked the "Chicken Soup" books, this one may be right up your alley.

Disclosure: as I said above, I was provided a copy of this book for free to review. However, the opinions herein are my own.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

30 Days of Thanksgiving

In 2007 and 2010, this was the bloggy home of "30 Days of Thanksgiving" (30DOT). I've organized it different could be the 30 days including the weekends or one year I did it without.

I've also participated with my dear bloggy friend,
Pam, who hosts her weekly Thursday Thanks Tank. And, I've made it a habit for several years to challenge myself to write down 100 things I'm thankful for each Thanksgiving.

And, then I found
A Holy Experience and fell in love with Ann Voskamp's writing. And, I've having spent the last three weeks trying to get through her book "One Thousand Gifts" which has re-ignited a desire in me to try to be thankful on a daily basis.

This quote from Ann's book reminds me of the heart behind what Pam does on her blog:

"Now, in the Bible a name...reveals the very essence of a thing, or rather its essence as God's gift...To name a thing is to manifest the meaning and value God gave it, to know it as coming from God and to know its place and function within the cosmos created by God. To name a thing, in other words, is to bless God for it and in it."
LinkAnd, I was so convicted over this quote as well:

"I, too, had read it often, the oft-quoted verse: 'And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ' (Ephesians 5.20. And, I too would nod and say straight-faced, "I'm thankful for everything." But in this counting gifts, to one thousand, more, I discover that slapping a sloppy brush of thanksgiving over everything in my life leaves me deeply thankful for very few things in my life."

So, I'm combining it all together.

Over the next 30 days, I'm going to start counting up my (at least) 100 things I see around me each day for which I am thankful.

Will you join me?

Wordless Wednesday

Another generation of "gymp"/ laynards dedication! LOL

For more WW, go here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

$10 no-damage curatin rods

We are renting our new place in IL since we haven't sold our former home in MI yet. And, in the interest of being good and responsible tenants, we are trying to wreck as little havoc on this house while we live here.

I've been wanting to put up curtains in the bedrooms (for starters) because it make a room feel cozier than mini-blinds. However, we didn't want to have to drill a bunch of holes and nail a bunch of curtain rod supplies into the bumpy, stucco-looking walls or window frames.

So I cruised Google last week looking for a solution...and TA DA! For $10 in dowel rods and 3M Command hooks, I give you...the Vikings new bedroom curtains!


Found on FB at Laugh It Out!

Monday, October 24, 2011

The things you can do with paint chips...

More Pinterest-inspired crafty goodness...

One for Momma

One for Flicka

One for Pojke

Friday, October 21, 2011

FIR book reviews: the Kindle edition

I'm still chugging my way through my Fall Into Reading challenge hosted by Katrina at Callapidder Days. If you check out my original book list, there were no Kindle books on there. LOL Unfortunately, my darling hubby tempted me off the straight and narrow path of hard-copy book reading by getting me a new tablet running Android with a Kindle for Android app! LOL

And, my new addiction to the
Free Books for Kindle page on Facebook offered me even more temptation! LOL So, while I'm working on two black-and-white hard copy books off my list, I managed to complete four more novels on my tablet. (If you follow the Amazon links and are interested in downloading, keep in mind that these titles were free at the time I downloaded them - some as a limtited time offers - and may not be free now.)

The Brotherhood by Jerry Jenkins I read the Left Behind series that Jenkins co-wrote but nothing else from him. I was interested what "regular" fiction might look like plus it was a cop story so I gave it a chance. It started off good - plot, characters, and even the faith-based stuff was handled well. Didn't feel much for the main character, Boone, but saw in him much of the same stoic nature I saw around me in the years I worked in law enforcement. Then, there was a catastrophic accident that rocks the Boone's world and challenges his faith. And, it was brutal to endure but the writing was so real that I couldn't stop myself. Watching Boone dig back out left me anticipating the next chapters but ended up leaving me going "huh?" All the momentum built up just kind of fell apart and got tied up a little too neatly at the end.

The Choice by Suzanne Woods Fisher Giving the Amish Christian genre another chance...and this one was pretty good. Lots of extra drama constructed by a high number of chance occurrences but well worth a "brain candy" status for a quick read.

Love Finds You in Homestead Iowa by Melanie Dobson Wasn't sure I was going to like this one either but the story of a father and daughter taken in by Mennonite community was a little different twist.

Throwaway by Heather Huffman This one reminded me a lot of Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers but with a modern twist where a struggling prostitute joins forces with an undercover cop to get out of the life. The change in both is remarkable, believable, and makes it a page-turner.

So...six books down, two in progress, four to go. I'm "halfway" done...assuming I'm not overtaken by my Kindle again! :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

10 Ways To Love

as seen on Tully NewsInfo on FB

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

A favorite spot in a new favorite park...

For more WW, go here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Parenting in Tough Times

We were doing all right until recently. My kids were floating through all the changes with relative ease.

The kids missed DaHubby during all the hours he put in working full time while schooling full time but they seemed to cope well. They fussed significantly less than expected when DaHubs was laid off and we had to say "no" to SO many splurges, purchases, and events.

Flicka leaving her old school and her Daisy Scout troop didn't result in one tear. News of the move? Barely anything more than "I'm gonna miss our old house" or "...miss our old town" out of either of them. New school? Timid but OK.

The actual move was uneventful. Our new rental was not ready so the four of us lived in DaHub's one-bedroom apartment for a month even with him on different days working and different shifts on a rotating schedule.

While it doesn't feel like it most days, my kids really are good kids. Pretty compliant on the whole. Questioning in a non-bratty way the majority of the time. Tantrums have been getting rarer and rarer. Discipline is more of a "as needed" thing as issues arise, are explained, and then corrected.

Then, school started. And, the bus riding. And, the bullying.

And, with DaHubs still working rotating days and shifts, I'm still the primary disciplinarian along with in-house psychologist. And, I'm really starting to feel VERY under-equipped.

We are seven weeks into school and Pojke is still crying at bedtime and/or every morning because he doesn't want to get on the bus. Teachers says he's fine, polite, productive, and on-task when he gets there but, the last two days, school staff has had to physically pick him up to get him either on the bus or into class.

Flicka is faring better but her behavior is all over the place emotionally. Dramatic highs and lows (more than usual LOL) and lots of crying and drama especially over a daily spelling words worksheet.

And, in the midst of this, I am losing my way on how to discipline with love. I want what appears to be irrational behavior to cease but also know it's likely a result of a tidal wave of stress they are both feeling.

While I don't mind easing off the discipline during this season of transition for them, I also don't want to inadvertently endorse new bad habits to form that will be harder to break later when things even out.

When I read
this article about real solutions for parents, it struck me that both the Vikings are showing significant physiological and psychological signs of stress. But, the author also offers some suggestions for solutions using the following steps:

1. Early intervention
ID the reason
Get enough sleep
ID potential stressors
Cut one thing
Keep to family routines
Monitor TV viewing
Help child learn their stress signs
Don't overprotect

I've done pretty well with those listed above. Finding the real reasons, getting them to bed early, our schedule is SUPER pared down due to the move, our routine pretty strict but still flexible due to DaHub's schedule, and other than some cartoons on Netflix, they don't watch a lot of TV. The only one I could really improve on is helping the Vikings learn their stress signals.

As for the "don't overprotect" suggestion, when I had to call the head of school transportation for the THIRD time that someone was laying hands on my kids (including an older kids writing "shut up" on Pojke's forehead during his bus ride home), the fact I kept it together and acted like a rational human being is the best I can manage.

2. Rapid response
Stay calm
Melt the tension
Use a positive phrase
Teach "elevator breathing"
Visualize a calm place

This is where I think most of my work is going to be. My fuse is short lately as well. The tension level in our home is often off the charts and gets that way from zero to full blast in about 5 seconds. We could ALL benefit from these.

3. Develop habits for change
Reduce stress as a family
Label emotions
Find a relaxer
Open communication
Model how to cope

Same with these ideas. While I feel like I label emotions I'm having and say things like "it's sounds like you're angry about..." and such, the older the Vikings get the more shades of gray are appearing. "Sad," "mad," "angry," "scared" don't always cut it anymore and things are getting way more complicated lately. But, most of these are do-able and I need to make them a priority ASAP.

I've needed a lifeline of sorts with parenting lately and I'm hoping this is a step in the right direction. Kids are resilient. And I know God puts things in our path to help us grow and learn. And, as a parent, sometimes I'm going to have to let the Vikings walk through some tough stuff but I want this change to be a positive one in the end and not one that did some irreversible damage.

Monday, October 3, 2011

What "obedience" means?

I'm starting the Priscilla Shirer study Discerning the Voice of God at my new church. And, when I sat down to do my homework tonight, the word "obedience" kept jumping out at me.

We are still working through the first five lessons but belief that God still speaks, that one must expect God will speak, and one must be obedient to hear God speak have been the general theme.

So, I sat down and used "obedience" as a mnemonic to review the things we talked about so far...

O bey His will
B elieve in God's goodness
E xpect to hear from Him in His timing
D evote time to spend with Him
I mmerse yourself in His Word
E ntrust your troubles to Him
N uture and serve those around you while you wait
C ommune with Him and other believers
E mbrace what's going on NOW while you are waiting

Just wanted to share.

Can I get an AMEN!?

source: kushandwizdom.tumblr

Fall Into Reading book review #2: Safe From the Sea

I love northern Michigan. Most Michiganders do. I love it so much that I married someone from the Upper Peninsula! LOL

The fascination and mystique about Lake Superior, Sault Ste Marie, Marquette, Calumet, Thunder Bay, and Duluth is hard to explain. And, the love of Great Lakes freighters is one many people around the Great Lakes can attest to. I'd bet more than half have wondered what it would be like to be on those grand iron ore hauling queens grandly sailing through weather so horrible that it's unseen anywhere on inland lakes and rarely seen on the ocean. And, the shipwrecks! Oh! In those five lakes, there have been approximately 6,000 shipwrecks recorded.

"Safe from the Sea" by Peter Geye is a fictional account of a Superior Steel employee who was one of only three survivors of a Great Lakes freighter shipwreck near Isle Royale. The Torr family is based in Duluth and, like many immigrants from that area as well as the U.P., they were of Norweigian descent. Olaf's career was spent out on the ore ship leaving his wife, his son Noah, and his daughter alone for weeks and months at a time.

After many years of estrangement, Noah receives a call from his father. Olaf is sick and at their rustic cabin in need of some help before winter sets in. Noah finds his way to Duluth and then to his father farther north where they awkwardly begin to sort through years of misunderstanding and resentment.

This book was as near to perfect as I could imagine. The detail was amazing but not so deep that the story was lost. Geye's descriptions of Lake Superior life and the strange beauty of the lake in the winter was spot-on and made me re-think all the times I thought I'd never want to spend a winter upstate.

The reconciliation between Noah and his father was honest, real, awkward but so rewarding. Geye's also allows a peek any Great Lakes buff would appreciate into the life upon an ore freighter.

And, the description of the sinking of Olaf's ship, the Ragnarok, makes you mystified and terrified for anyone whose ever faced a November storm on Lake Superior.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone whose heart belongs to the Great Lakes area.