Sunday, May 27, 2012

When it feels like too much to carry...





Feeling like I am spinning my wheels.

This has been me lately. 

A four year old with an attitude who has decided that sleeping at night is not really that fun.  An 18 month old who likes to nurse a few times at night, often clamping down when she is finished.  A house that really needs a deep clean.  Noisy kids that don't allow me to get a word in with my husband.  Another meal needing to be planned, prepared or cleaned up after.  You get the idea. 

Things could be so much harder, I know.  But without a real break or real night of sleep in months (18 possibly) I have felt like my patience is wearing thin, my fuse is getting short and my joy is faded.

Then my hope was restored.

Today I was listening to a service from an awesome church in LA, Expression 58.  Shawn Bolz, the pastor, was sharing a testimony about a business person who gave the management of her business over to the Holy Spirit.  Immediately I realized that is what I had to do.  I know that God alone holds the wisdom I need for every decision I make in life- parenting, household managing and being a wife, friend, and daughter.  So right then I prayed and asked Him to have my life fully and to give me the wisdom I need for my children, my home and my marriage.

What freedom I immediately felt!  Hope and joy returned because I am confident that God is able and willing to help me in all things.  Tonight as I was bathing that sleepy 4 year old it was like time stood still as I looked into her eyes and realized I had the perfect opportunity to pray over her as I shampooed and conditioned her hair.  Instead of feeling resentful at how fussy she has been lately I saw my unique position in her life as her mom to be able to speak a blessing over her and call forth the good things that God destined her for. 

It was powerful and I know it was His leading me. I am confident that if I look to Him and listen for Him, His grace will take me to new places of breakthrough in all that concerns me.

If you are feeling run down, overwhelmed and frustrated I encourage you to do this too.  Give the Holy Spirit your parenting, your home managing, your marriage, your career.  Ask Him to show you how to do things and to impart His perfect wisdom for your situation.  You will be amazed at how much He cares!

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)

Until recently I always thought about verse 30 pertaining to oxen and didn't really get it.  I heard someone say it is like a person who is carrying two water jugs with a yolk or beam across their shoulders that balances the weights.  By dispersing the load it is easier to carry more weight.  His yolk is easy and His burden light; He makes it easier for us and lightens our load.  He promises that if we will come to Him with our burden He will give us rest!  Thank you Jesus for your rest and for lightening my load!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pinterest to Real Life

Isn't Pinterest the best thing ever!  I love all the fabulous ideas that are just waiting to be discovered.  Usually the things I pin don't make it into my real life but it is always so fun when they do.

I just came across this Pinterest to Real Life link up over at Simple Organic and thought I would share one of my favorite creations that came from a Pinterest idea.

It is a canvas that I stretched myself in college oil painting class and never loved what was painted on it.  So after coming across this pin for a wall paper pattern template, courtesy of Jones Design Company, I thought why not do it on the canvas and see how it looks.

I painted over the previous mistake of a painting with acrylic paint.  Since the original art was done in oil, some of the previous color bleed through which was an unexpected but nice effect.  Once it dried I traced the template onto the canvas.  The template was super easy to trace with a pencil and then trace again with a paintbrush.  After it was dry I traced again with my Krylon Gold Leafing Pen (which is awesome!) and voila!  A really cheap and really big piece of original art for my bare wall!  Thanks Pinterest!!

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Book Review: Just Being Audrey by Margaret Cardillo

My oldest daughter's name is Audrey.  We chose her name because we liked it and liked the meaning (noble strength), not because of any celebrity association.  However, after learning more about Audrey Hepburn I am pleased for my daughter to share her name and was so happy to come across this lovely book.

Just Being Audrey is beautifully illustrated and tells the story of Audrey Hepburn's life from difficult childhood to iconic legacy.  It celebrates uniqueness and kindness as more desirable than outward beauty.  It deals with the difficult subjects of war and human suffering in a way that children can grasp while keeping an optimistic tone.  Accepting one's self, working hard and being kind are the primary themes that make this book an excellent quick read.  My three year old has it memorized and I know she will enjoy it for years to come.  It is available through Amazon here.

Consignment Sale Tips

Audrey Sporting a Consignment Hat, Skirt and Shoes

Spring is right around the corner and what a welcome change it brings!  One thing I really look forward to with each change of season is new clothes for the kids since they outgrow everything every year.  Although it is fun to buy new (or new to you) clothes, an entirely new wardrobe for little people can cost a fortune!  The twice a year overhaul of clothing for each child can really get out of hand, especially if you gravitate towards brand name clothing and shoes.

In light of this, I have found my new obsession- Consignment Sales!  I have been shopping various sales over the past 4 or 5 years and have learned some lessons along the way.  I have more than once ended up with a closet full of clothes with very few "cute" outfits to make from it all.  I have gotten home with something that should fit my child only to discover that this particular brand (Kissy Kissy or Ralph Lauren for instance) runs a good size smaller than most.  And the mistake I have made most often is failure to take inventory of things that do still fit or things that were purchased ahead of time to know what is needed and what would be a waste of money.

So here are a few tips from my lessons learned that I hope can help you make the most of Consignment sales!  To find consignment sales in your area check out  Happy Shopping!
  •  Have a plan:
    • As I mentioned above, inventory what you have.  A good time to do this is when you sort through clothes to find any that you can consign, separate all the clothes that might work for the upcoming season. Have your child try on anything that you are unsure about and make note of anything that is needed in order to create outfits.  Note what size shoes they will need also and when in doubt buy slightly bigger than you think you will need.  Most consignment sales are held a few months before the seasons change and children grow fast so make sure you are looking for things that will fit all season long.
    • Evaluate what items of clothing and shoes your child really needs based on how you live- and be honest with yourself.  I know I usually end up with too many dressy clothes with few opportunities for them to be worn.  I usually don't have enough play clothes for my girls that they can get messy in without me stressing.  Looking ahead to a summer full of outside play, homemade popsicles and messy crafts I know I need to look for more clothes that fit well but aren't anything too fancy.
    • Do your homework. Check online auction sites and retailers that you buy from to know what prices are acceptable for the clothes and toys that you will be searching for as well as for help pricing what you are selling.  A fair sale price increases your odds of getting a little money for something and not having to see it again!  When shopping and trying to make lots of decisions it is important to know the going rate for things so you don't end up getting ripped off.  It can seem like something is a deal but it is really being sold for close to the retail price.  I see this a lot with brands like Circo and Cherokee that start out pretty inexpensive to begin with and are often being sold for 75% of the original price. This kind of preparation is especially helpful if you are looking for a particular item like a jogging stroller or specific toy- you want to know if you are getting a fair price.  Consignment is final sale so you want to make sure you don't leave with any buyers remorse! 
    • Know the specifics of each sale before you go or consign.  Most sales have info available online such as payment methods they accept, whether or not they allow children to attend, and specifics on their consignment policies.
  • Shop Early: To avoid missing out on all the best deals, consider consigning or volunteering to earn a presale pass.
    • Consign any items that you don't love or use.  Just be honest with yourself!  If you rarely reached for it amid all your other choices of clothes you probably won't miss it.  You would be better off with a few dollars in your pocket and space in the closet.  By consigning you will earn money and more importantly, you will get a pass to shop at the consignor presale.   
    • If you are going to shop a sale that you know is excellent (large number of participants, upscale items) you may consider signing up to volunteer.  Volunteers get to shop first (usually before the consignors) and that is certainly worth your time if it is a great sale and you have arrangements for childcare.
    • If you are new to the mommy thing you can usually shop early also at a special time set aside for first time moms.  This is usually after the volunteers and consignors but still before the public sale.
  • At the sale:
    • You may want to bring a laundry basket or rolling tote if you are planning to buy a lot or are buying bulky items.
    • Shop in order of importance to you.  Large items go first.  If you are looking for that double jogging stroller or ride on toy look for it first!  Chances are lots of other moms are looking for the same thing so you want to be quick!  Some sales have you bring large items to be held at the front, others ask you to just remove the tag for purchase so it is good to find out ahead of time or ask a volunteer.  Next, items such as electronics that are pricy and really worth buying second hand should be what you look for before heading to the shoes and clothes.  I start out in the size that my oldest will need since her little sister mostly wears hand me downs.  I also look through the next 2 or 3 sizes for her and grab anything that I will be glad to have stashed away for the future.  I just grab anything that looks like a possibility and then spend time before checking out examining everything and deciding what to discard.  Some sales have such long lines that there is plenty of time for this in line.  Often times there will be discard racks near the checkout to place things as you change your mind- this is also a great place to find something you might not have seen before.  Last week I found a beautiful Baby Lulu dress with legging in excellent condition for $3 on the discard rack!
    • Inspect everything!  It can be hard in gymnasium or warehouse lighting, but do your best to look for stains and holes.  For baby clothes look closely for yellowing near the neck and diaper leak stains too!  For older children look closely at the knees for wear or grass stains. 
    • Listen to your intuition.  I usually regret the purchases that I went ahead and made despite being a little unsure.  That seems obvious, but I often feel like I need to get something in order to not regret missing out.  Go with what your gut is telling you!  And if you do make a buying mistake, make a note of what you paid and set it aside to consign next time.  Chances are you will be able to get your money back.
Did I leave off anything that you would like to add?  Please share any tips or info that has helped you!

    Tuesday, September 14, 2010

    An Organized Home: Creating a Chore Schedule

    When my home is clean and decluttered it gives me a deep sense of peace and certainly more energy.  I feel like the day holds more options and potential when I wake up to a clean home with everything in its place.  Unfortunately this does not happen often enough!  I have found that between caring for a toddler and trying to feed our family three wholesome meals each day, keeping up with the laundry and dishes are sometimes all more than I can manage.  I knew I had to find a way to schedule all the chores that I want to have done into my week, especially before welcoming a new little one into our family in November.  I came up with a list of all the things that I want to do each week and then a smaller list of all the things that should be done monthly.  I then ordered the weekly chores into a Monday through Saturday list, assigning smaller tasks to days that are more hectic than others. 

    Here is what it looks like:
    • Monday:
      • Vacuum
      • Clean out refrigerator (our CSA pickup is Monday afternoon)
    • Tuesday:
      • Meal Plan for the week
      • Clean mirrors, sinks, tubs and toilets
      • Empty trash
    • Wednesday:
      • Water plants
    • Thursday:
      • Dust and clean surfaces
      • Dry Mop floors
    • Friday:
      • Pay bills and update budget
    • Saturday:
      • Change all linens
      • Catch up on laundry
    For my monthly list I have included:
    • Mop floors
    • Wipe down entire kitchen
    • Dust blinds
    • Dust light fixtures
    • Vacuum upholstery
    I have been using this plan for a few weeks now and love it!  Even when I miss a day I am still getting so much more done than I used to.  I no longer feel overwhelmed not knowing where to begin and I no longer feel guilty that my house is dirty!  Even my husband has let me know how much he appreciates the extra effort I have been putting in lately.  Housework is never fun, but by breaking it down into manageable daily tasks it is so much easier!

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010

    A Soup That Restores Health

    Lately I have gotten tired and run down and have not stopped and taken the time to care for myself.  I noticed the first signs of a sore throat but just made sure to cut back on sugar.  A few days later I could feel something really coming on.  Being pregnant and caring for a two year old doesn't make sickness very easy to live with so I immediately pulled out all my health boosting remedies that are safe during pregnancy.  I took some homeopathic remedies, drank lots of water with olive leaf complex mixed in and made a pot of this soup.  I also had my husband and daughter pray for me and I got to bed a little earlier (not that I could sleep, but that is just pregnancy I guess).  Now it is two days later and I feel completely fine!  I am sold on this soup for whenever my immune system needs a boost.

    As usual, I don't measure anything (especially not when making soup!) but here is the general idea.  I strain my soup before drinking it so I don't worry about cutting things uniformly and even leave the thyme leaves on the stem.

    Combine the following in a pot and simmer until desired doneness:
    • Chicken broth (home made bone broth is ideal)
    • lots of garlic, roughly chopped
    • diced onion
    • lots of crushed red pepper and freshly ground black pepper
    • salt to taste
    • fresh thyme (or dried is fine)
    • bay leaf
    Once everything has had time to mingle, add fresh lemon juice to taste.  You can also add more (minced) garlic towards the end of the cooking for an extra garlicky kick (yes, you will have horrible breath!).  I like to drink mine strained in a mug.  It stays warmer this way and is easy to drink a lot at once.  It will be spicy (the peppers and garlic make it therapeutically hot) but should not be uncomfortable to drink.  Dilute with water if necessary.  I like mine really spicy and strong and feel like I have really helped out my immune system after a few cups of this soup!  Enjoy!

    Tuesday, August 31, 2010

    Home Education for Preschoolers

    Little ones are like sponges!  I am constantly amazed at what my two year old daughter retains, often after only hearing or seeing something once!  She is eager to learn and I want to take full advantage of this time and not miss a precious opportunity to teach her about God, about creation and about life. 

    I was inspired by reading about what other moms are doing with their preschoolers but didn't want to pay for a curriculum just yet.  I also wanted to have the flexibility to come up with my own plan and not feel like I needed to adhere to someone else's lesson plan.  I wanted the teaching to center around God and give Him credit for all He has made.  I came up with five categories that I wanted to teach Audrey more about:
    • God Made Animals
    • God Made Plants
    • God Made Our Bodies
    • God Made Our Earth
    • God Made Our Day

    Some categories will take longer to cover while others will be only a week or two.  Under each category I came up with subcategories and we will cover one each week.  For each subcategory I make a list of crafts to do together, books we own to read, themes to discuss, field trip ideas and also music or videos to listen to or watch.  We also go to the library each week and pick up quite a few books that correspond with the topics we are learning about.  I try to find a few titles that are educational and a few that are just fun or fiction.  I want this to create a love of reading and learning and not feel like work at all.  I am also giving myself lots of grace- if one week is too hectic to take on a new category we will just put it off a week and maybe continue to review last week's theme.

    The Internet has been such a help in coming up with ideas!  I search Google Images for line drawings that can be traced for coloring pages.  There are so many websites offering preschool craft ideas.  When I am feeling not so creative these have been really helpful!  I look for videos on Youtube that would be educational (always preview first!).  There are all kinds of sites like the National Wildlife Federation that offer tools for teaching children.  Whenever I come across something useful I save it to a special folder in my favorites so I know right where it is when I need to refer back to it.

    I find that the hands on learning experiences are the most fun and memorable.  Making a craft together, going to a farm or even a trip to the pet store will make such an impression on a little one!  It really doesn't take much to engage your child and make learning so fun.

    So far our home education has been such a treat for both of us!  Now every day Audrey asks when we are going to do our craft.  I know I will look back and be so glad I was intentional about teaching her things and spending quality time with her!