Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Into Focus

I have so much to post, but not enough time to do it. Sadly, it was one of those days (more my fault than the kids', I think) and I was in great need of this particular article. It's a good one and if you don't have a moment to read it now, I hope you'll read it later. Or am I the only one who ever struggles with patience, especially in the child-rearing area? Hmmm......

As for the many things I want to post, I will say for now that for so many, many months we've been following God's leading without quite knowing where we were going. We've said to ourselves many times, "If we only knew where we were going next......"

But we didn't know. And we learned to be okay with that.

We knew bits and pieces here and there, but that was about it. Our future seemed a jumble of blurry places and plans.

But over the past week or so, it's as if God is bringing things into focus.

How very, very exciting to finally be "in the know", at least on a few things.......

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Great Grandparents

This is my great grandmother, Julia Francis, from my dad's side of the family. Isn't she beautiful? We named Julia after her. I remember when I was little she told us that they moved a lot. Some days she would just decide to move and would find a different house and then call my great grandfather and tell him the new address! I always thought that was so funny.

This is my great grandfather, Rupert Clifton. He died long before I was born so I never knew him. Rupert would make a great boy name though, don't you think? =)

I won't be blogging again until next week. John and I are going on a road trip up north. It's going to be a long weekend, but hopefully we'll accomplish what we need to. That's all I can say for now!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Casually Pondering My Four Monkeys

Is it odd that I am still - after giving birth to four children - amazed to find myself smack dab in the middle of all this motherhood stuff? It was one thing when they were just crawling around and eating goldfish as their main source of nutrition, but we're quickly moving on here. I have a feeling that I need to tighten up my seatbelt and hang on for dear life. This is going to be one heck of a ride.....


Just today my little 15 month old man learned to give me the biggest slobbery kisses ever. That is always one of my most favorite moments of babyhood. It's just heart melting.

The lazy guy still isn't walking, but I figure that's probably better anyway. Aren't they a lot harder to manage once they start walking? I think I remember learning that from before.

He says banana and dada and once he said "thank you" to Aulora when she gave him a toy. I had a witness who also heard it. Clearly, this is genius material we've got here.


This one is going to be 3 before I turn around. Her vocabulary and speaking skills blow me away. She is the sweetest thing you've ever met and is always ready to give hugs and sugar.

Aulora is a second mommy to Joshua and nothing makes her happier (well, except for maybe candy) than to bring him a toy or a bottle or to share her food with him. She's a big help to me most of the time.

She is absolutely in love with all things Dora and I often employ Swiper's help to get her dressed or to accomplish other tasks. ("Aulora, hurry and get your clothes on before Swiper gets them! I think I hear him in the hall!") Sometimes a mommy's got to do what a mommy's got to do.

She loves to sing and will frequently sit at the piano and "play" and write in my piano books. Not scribbles and not banging - neat marks and gently notes. So sweet.


I wasn't ready for how fast she is growing up and maturing. She's five, but good grief, sometimes she's like a teenager.

Lipstick, hairbrushes, jewelry, perfume, and clothes are all very important to her. She has taken to calling me "Mom" and "Mother". She often has pretend cell phone calls with her friends which are hilariously grown up sounding.

She's pretty much as picky as ever when it comes to eating (remember this and this?), but we've made some improvements. She'll eat steak and grilled chicken now. She even ate a vegetable lasagna at her grandmother's house. Wow!

Tonight we discovered she has her first two loose teeth. They are pretty loose and will probably come out before very long. Why is it that the first loose tooth seems like such a big deal?

I'm continually impressed by her ability to learn and memorize. She's a smart one!

John David

My boy is almost a third grader. That right there almost stops me in my tracks. How did this happen???

He devours books and his National Geographic magazines. He still builds legos like crazy.

He likes to sing a made up song that goes like this:

"Oh I want to eat, eat, eat the Pulias,
Cause she's so deli -i - i - i - cious!
Cious cious cious cious!"

"Pulias" is his nickname for Julia and, as you can imagine, this song usually aggravates the snot out of his intended target. You really just have to be around and hear it in person to fully appreciate it. It's usually very random and very loud. And funny. Even the "Pulias" laughs sometimes.

Daddy has had a small "talk" with him a number of months ago, but I feel "THE TALK" is coming soon. Maybe we just give him the "down and out" and "up and in" explanation my blogger friend Kristen used.

Our beloved 8 year old has also started playing with his bellybutton again. We sent him to school with tape on his belly today, but he took it off before chapel was even done. I really don't know what we're going to do about this. It's ridiculous, really.

All in all, I think our monkeys are pretty great.

Such treasures.


Gifts indeed.....

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Rainy Day Dinner

I love soup. A lot.

But I am not a soup maker. Good soup seems difficult to make and it kind of eludes me (My MIL says making soup is not hard, but this is a woman who makes pies by the hundreds - literally. She can also make gravy. Therefore, her "not hard" conclusion isn't so believable after all.)

I did make some really good potato soup once, but I don't think it counts since I was trying to make mashed potatoes and I just forgot to drain the water. Do accidents count when cooking?

On to the point (yes, I have one).

As I scoured the kitchen to find something besides pork and beans to eat tonight (my 8 year old wouldn't have complained if we had beans, but my palette required something a little more sophisticated), I was discouraged by lacking ingredients right and left.

Then I saw the can of potato soup. And the box of cornbread.

I can make some mean cornbread - just ask the 8 year old.

I made that potato soup (not as good as my MIL's, but still good!) and whipped up the cornbread, and you know what? It was a really yummy rainy day dinner.

Maybe next time I'll attempt some soup from scratch. Maybe. Campbell's is pretty good, after all.....

Am I the only one intimidated by soup and chowder and bisque?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Missing the Mischief?

Are you wondering yet why there have been no stories of messes and mischief in a few days? Well, it's because I shipped off the two main mischief makers to another state.

Seriously, I did.

Don't worry, I poked some nice breathing holes in their boxes though.

Hahahaha. I kid, I kid.

I really did send them to another state though. They are safe in the hands of their grandparents who are undoubtedly brimming with all kinds of fun stories by now.

So I've been on a vacation of sorts this week - that is if you call slave labor a vacation. I enjoy it though.

On Monday I cleaned out and organized (most of) the garage. Joshua woke up about 30 minutes too soon otherwise it would be completely done. I'm proud to say though that before it was hard to walk through it. Now, we can almost park two cars in it!

Yesterday I finished painting the patio door and the patio posts. I also did laundry and washed the car and went to Walmart.

Today I put up the new shade in the garage window (good grief, you should have seen what was their before. I'm pretty sure it had been there for at least 30 years.). I washed windows and I scraped off a tint that the previous owners had applied to one of our bedroom windows. I also put in some more of the vent registers.

I made two trips to the mall - one with John for him and one with John David. John got a Daniel Cremeux blazer/jacket regularly priced at $350 for......wait for it........$7.99! What kind of discount is that, all of you mathematicians?

Tonight I plan to reward myself by watching LOST and American Idol.

But no ice cream.

(Not because I'm good. Just because someone else - ahem, John - already ate it all up. He left a trail of drips all the way to the trash can in the process!)

Closet and Jewelry Help

One day I'll (hopefully) have my dream closet:

but in the meantime I have to be creative. I don't have a lot of room, there's not a lot of money, and there are a lot of little children around to get into things within their reach. Bottom line, I may not be in love with how it looks, but I have to do what works.

First off, although I don't have a huge jewelry collection, I do have one. There's no way the little I have would be safe if my little girls even thought they could reach it. (See here, here, here or here if you don't believe me. They're just stinkin' mischievous, I'm telling you.) So I put a bulletin board way up in my closet to hang my stuff on.

My necklaces and bracelets don't get tangled and I can actually see what I have so I don't forget about things. Some of my earrings go on the board, but I put a lot of them in that silver dish underneath the board.

I also put this shelf in my closet. We used it for books in our last house and I was about to sell it on Craigslist when I thought it might be great in my closet. I love it! The top shelf holds my underthings and the other shelves hold shoes and scarves and gloves. I frequently see these same type of shelves on Craigslist for much less than buying one new.

It's not the perfect closet design, but it was next to free and it works for me! Go to We Are THAT Family for other tips and tricks that work for other bloggers....

Here are my other Works For Me Wednesday posts....

Friday, April 10, 2009

Two All The Way

I love the age two. I think it's my favorite.

Even with all of the messes and fits and "I do it by myself" moments, it's just so wonderfully precious and sweet.

That's the age they are big enough to say "I love you" and to give you big hugs and kisses, but they're still a baby. Snuggling a two year old is the best.

They use the potty now and boy do their little bobos look cute while they're doing it!

They run, but their run is not perfected yet. It's still kind of wobbly and awkward. Adorable.

Their little hands seem to hold all the potential in the world. What will they be one day?

But, lest I forget some of the less than precious moments, I present to you some recent moments in our house......

First there's the artwork on the dresser.
(Her five year old sister joined in the fun on this one!)

Bedtime has become a little more of an issue. It doesn't help that she likes to change pajamas sometimes and of course she wants to do it by herself.

I suppose it was only a matter of time before she married her love of diaper cream with her love of coloring on the walls. She did this masterpiece in Joshua's room - this is just a small sample of the whole work.

Another medium my budding artist likes to use is toothpaste.

The best part is that there's only 9 more months before Joshua is two! I can't wait! ;)

Thursday, April 09, 2009

I LOVE Craigslist!

As I pondered what I love this particular Thursday, I was mostly thinking of my homemade maggie moo desserts.

But out of respect for all of you who may be trying to NOT love something so sinfully caloric, I decided to love something else today. Sigh.....

I've decided to swoon about my love for Craigslist. It's an outright love affair, I do believe. It's one of the first things I check in the morning when I get up (you never know what's been listed while you were sleeping!) and I check it frequently during the day.

If you've never heard of Craigslist before (is there really anyone who hasn't???) it's an online place for classifieds. It's absolutely free to buy or sell (take that Ebay!). The site is categorized geographically.

I've had great success both buying and selling. The last couple of months have been pretty slow work-wise for my husband and selling stuff on Craigslist really helped us through. We needed to clear out the garage anyway! I sold furniture, pictures, lamps, clothes, toys, baby things, a mattress set, and more.

As for buying, I found this set of bunk beds for my girls. It came with the mattresses, the bunky boards, and it matched their chest perfectly! Score!

I got couches for our front living area that was very bare (unless you count toys).

This was the MOST perfect loft bed ever for my 8 year old son. He desperately needed a place to build legos so my dining table wouldn't be covered in them. =)

My latest find was patio furniture for our front patio. How great is this??? The exact same set is still selling at the store for more than double what I paid. I can't wait to make that patio look great.

With Craigslist you have to remember:
  • Things sell fast. If you think you might want something, contact the seller immediately to set up a time to go see it.
  • Go with cash in hand.
  • Already know what it is you're looking for so that you don't need "time to think about it". You'll probably lose out to someone else if you don't buy it right then.
  • Don't be afraid to offer less, but be careful how you word it so as not to offend the seller. I had one person email me and ask, "What's the least you'll take for it?" I thought that was rude. Make an offer if you want, just do it considerately.
  • Check other nearby cities if you can't find something in your own town.
  • Get in the habit of always checking Craigslist before buying anything new (except underwear - that would be gross).
As a seller on Craigslist remember:
  • Set up an account. It makes things a little easier and it's free just like normal.
  • Take really good pictures. You can post up to four for each post.
  • Accurately describe what you're selling, flaws and all.
  • Research before setting a price. I've regretted setting my price too low a few times. Keep in mind the whole supply and demand thing. If you're selling something that is nice and isn't posted too often, you can probably ask a little more. You can always lower your price later if your item doesn't sell.
  • Include your email address and/or phone number in your post. Too often the Craigslist email system doesn't work and a buyer can't contact you.
  • Post your ad in neighboring cities.
  • It's a good idea to state in your ad that the first buyer with cash in hand will take the item. The reasons for this are numerous but my hands are tired of typing. =)
  • Only have people come to your house to get something if you're comfortable with it. I haven't had any weirdos yet, but I've made sure my husband was going to be around a few times just to be safe. If you have a smaller item you can always meet the buyer in a public place. I just prefer my home because it's hard for me to leave with all my kids.
Are you a Craigslister? What's the best find you've had??? Do you have any tips to add? Any strategies to help me score even more?

To see what other bloggers are loving today, head over to The Diaper Diaries......

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Extra Space Solution

We have four kids and even though we're lucky, no blessed, enough to have a four bedroom house, it can still be hard to find a place for everything. Seriously, where does all this stuff come from???

Up until a few months ago, we lived with my in-laws (bless their precious patient hearts!) for 14 months. Our oldest three kids shared one bedroom and space was most certainly an issue.

All three of them had to share one closet and one three drawer chest. That really cramped my shopping style! (Not really. Not a lot of money was the culprit there!) Anyway, the closet in their room didn't even have a double rod so Mommy had to come up with something.

So I went to Walmart. Did you know they make rods that hang down from your existing rod so that you'll have two? I was so excited to find this contraption and it only cost $10. (It's sold in the section with laundry stuff, rubbermaid tubs, and closet organizing things.)I bought two of them and even though they had to overlap a little bit due to the width of the closet, it still worked great!

The second thing I had to figure out was drawer space. I remembered that I had some extra rubbermaid tubs in the attic and they were a perfect fit under their bed. We put pajamas, underwear, pants, and shorts in our custom "pull-out drawers".

When we moved into our current house we bought the girls a new set of bunk beds. The bottom bed is high enough that I'm able to stack the "drawers" two high! They are perfect for clothes and toys both! For the toys we put lids on and usually pull one or two out for the day. We leave lids off of the clothes boxes just for convenience.

All I'm saying is that if I could fit three kids in one room (quite neatly I might add!), you can find room for your stuff too!

To see what's working for other bloggers this week, go check out We Are THAT Family!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Hairdresser in the Making

When Joshua woke up the other day I was in the middle of doing something. (I don't remember what it was. I promise it wasn't sleeping though!) I sent Julia in his room to play with him for a few minutes until I could get him. I thought she would give him some toys and play peek-a-boo....that kind of thing.

When I went in a few minutes later I saw this:

A closer look:

This was the final hairdo. (after Mommy quickly and secretly used a towel to dry off at least some of the poor baby's drenched head - less is more Julia, less is more!)

Not his best look, I'm thinking. =)

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Better is a dry morsel....

I read a thought provoking (and for me quite convicting) blog post today that I thought many of my own readers would enjoy. It is based on Proverbs 17:1 which says,

"Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than a house full of sacrifices with strife."

Although I can honestly say that I've made great strides lately, I'm still learning to put first things first. I'm learning gentleness and its great power in child raising. I'm learning to treasure my children and not punctuate perfection.

I'm remembering that those treasures will see (or not see) Jesus in me. I'm understanding that degree or no degree, a job with eternal value has been given to me.

None of the stuff matters. My family matters.

Mrs. Parunak says in her post:

"As is so often the case in the Christian life, attitude trumps accomplishment. We should aspire to do wonderful things with our lives and our homes, but we have to remember to start with hearts and relationships and continually put quietness before lavish sacrifice."

I hope you will read her post in its entirety and I hope it encourages you as it did me.....

A New Use For Diaper Cream?

The two year old in our house has some new obsessions.....

Coloring on the walls is great fun. Markers, crayons, pens, or pencils - it matters not. Lucky for me, it always comes off pretty easily with only a wet cloth. And lest you think I'm stupid for continuing to allow her access to writing utensils, I don't know how she finds them. She scavenges under beds and couches and in toy boxes and purses until she finds anything that
will make a mark. Precious child.

And then we have the diaper cream - "bobo cream" as we call it around here.

I don't know why, but she thinks it's a lot of fun to smear the stuff all over her face. Sadly, this was not an isolated event. Perhaps she read some of the latest beauty articles which mention that diaper cream can help prevent wrinkles and is good as a moisturizer too.

Has anyone actually tried "bobo cream" on their face before?

Friday, April 03, 2009

A Morning Picture of LaLa

My kids love me. I know they do.

They really have a way of making me feel good about myself too.

Like last night when we were reading our bedtime story about dinosaurs. There was a picture of the mommy dinosaur inside the front cover.

We laughed about how she looked and then I said, "I don't look like that in the morning, do I?"

Julia immediately responded, "No silly Mommy, Your robe isn't pink!"

My self esteem soared in that moment. Thank you, kind daughter of mine.......

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Teach Them Young

We've all heard the importance of teaching our kids the right things while they're young. Age two is a big cut off and then age 5 is another one. I was terrified of Julia turning 5 because, at the time, she was still quite a challenge. She's mellowed out a lot lately though - either that or all these years of correction finally started paying off. She's turning into a lovely little girl.

Back to the point - teaching them young. That's just so crucial. And that's why I felt it was very important to take my babies to one of America's most sacred establishments.

Am I a great mom or what? ;)

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Perfect Snack Cup

My kids LOVE to eat. Eating is one of the only ways I can get them to actually stop talking for awhile. And eating is the perfect way to keep them entertained while I'm shopping (and distracted enough to not ask for every single thing they see!).

The older ones are good to go if I give them some snacks in a baggie or small cup, but give a baby a baggie or cup and the snack is for sure going all over the floor.

It's no wonder I am totally in love with Munchkin's snack cup. I paid around $6 for two of them at Walmart (I think that was the price - I've slept since then....not much, but enough to forget). This is one of the best baby things I've ever spent money on!

I just fill it with whatever snack I want and hand it over. The little monkey is happy, I can get stuff done, and the mess is very minimal if there's any at all. Even my 2 year old uses the cup sometimes. They are also perfect for the car. I'm telling you, these are great!

If you have kids and you don't have one of these, you need to go to the store NOW!

Now, if I could only figure out how to get some pancakes in that thing for me.....

Anyway, that's what I'm loving today. To see what some others are loving, go to the diaper diaries.......