Hearts and Hands

Well look at that, it’s me again! I found myself with a few minutes on a Saturday morning and decided to use it to share with you one more of those “things I actually did!”

Our family, like so many others, has finally found it necessary to schedule a “family night” on the weekly calendar. The truth is, we get to be together a lot – probably a lot more than the average family. But very little of that time is actually spent focusing on one another. No more! Friday night is family night; no excuses, no exceptions.

Last night, we had a great time fingerpainting with our little artist. And we even made a creation I’m proud enough of to frame! Take a look: Daddy is in blue, Mommy is in red, and Hosanna is in green. I love it, and what a great way to spend time enjoying each other!

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Star Values

Well, hello again! This song and dance is getting a bit old, isn’t it?

I have returned yet again to blogland, but this time at least I don’t have my tail between my legs. I know I’ve been away for a while, but I’m proud of it this time instead of ashamed for falling behind. You see, I’ve been out there living my real life, actually doing some of the things I’ve previously spent so much energy blogging about!

It’s ironic that now that I am finally doing the cool stuff I would have loved to show off through the blog several months ago, I don’t have the time to blog about it. 🙂

But anyway, I am making this post because I do actually have a minute, and because I accomplished something I’m proud enough of to put forth the extra effort to share with you.

Hosanna turned two a couple of weeks ago (oh, now you see why I have my hands full!) and, just like we did for her first birthday, her dad and I met for a little vision-casting for the next year of her life. We have only had two of these little meetings thus far, but I am really quite attached to them and I hope we have them to coincide with each of our children’s birthdays over the coming year. It just helps us get on the same page about where we are succeeding and failing, and some actionable things we can do to improve our parenting.

One of the topics we covered this year was getting together a more fleshed-out system for rewards and consequences. I’m also on a big kick for starting to teach our little one some Biblical values for life. And thus, I have created:

Hosanna's Star Values Chart!

We took some time and prayed over it, and these are the core values we have decided to focus on teaching our daughter for the rest of her life with us. It’s called her “star chart” because she will get a star sticker (she loves nothing more than stickers) each time she demonstrates one of these behaviors. There is a smaller version I can print out and stick up on our refrigerator (which has each value’s Bible verse printed out on it as well) where she can put her stickers, all with a great deal of pomp and circumstance of course.

For now, because she’s two and loves stickers, the stickers themselves are the rewards. We are well aware that in coming years we will have to “upgrade” the system, so that stickers can be traded for some more tangible reward, but we will enjoy this simple phase while it lasts. And if nothing else, praising her for doing good things will give us more opportunities to discuss what God expects of us (and maybe some of these values will rub off on us, too.)

Hope you enjoyed catching up! And I hope this blesses you.

A Review of The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

The Blind AssassinThe Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I have decided that books are a little like chicken. When undercooked, the color and texture are all wrong, and the experience is a risk to your health. When overcooked, they are tasteless and tough, a labor to get through.

This book is, in my opinion, well overcooked.

The plot is not a bad one – but why it took so many words to tell is beyond me. It’s not just the length, but the frills. Too many scholarly quotations (what a show-off) and stories within a story within a story. The complexity level speaks of an author trying way too hard for an award-winner instead of writing for the pleasure of telling a great story.

I have a thing about finishing books that I start; if I didn’t, I would have given up on this one almost as soon as I started. As things stand, I’m not sure I would have missed much.

View all my reviews


Mother of Pearl

I’ve been reading a lot recently – something I used to love to do and was number four on my list of things to do in the rest of 2011. It’s hard to believe it’s only been two months since I made that list…

Anyway, most recently, I finished Mother of Pearl by Melinda Haynes. I bought it at our monthly library used-book sale for a dollar. It has a little “Oprah’s Book Club” label on the front and I figured that was a good sign I might enjoy a good story and feed my female need for vicarious emotions. Here’s what I thought:


Mother of Pearl Mother of Pearl by Melinda Haynes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sometimes, people just aim too high.

The story and characters were well-crafted, I’ll grant that much – but the book gave off the distinct vibe of an author that was trying too hard for a literary masterpiece. So much was overdone: too many characters with involved story-lines, too much sexuality and crass language, too much abstract literary and poetic allusion, too much.

And yet the really big moments – the emotional pivots and climax of the book – are understated, like the author is trying to trick you. If you’re not reading closely, you’ll miss them. It seems arrogant, like she wants to catch you confused.

I loved the characters, but I am glad to be done with the book.

View all my reviews

An Unorthodox Scrapbook Tackle

Hi there, it’s me again, back from yet another unexplained, unexpected, and extended absence. Sorry about that. Sometimes life just outweighs blog, you know?

Anyway, I’m trying to get back on track after a few rather eventful weeks. This is, in fact, my Tackle-it-Tuesday post – but I think you might find it has a bit of a different feel than my previous ones have.

The task I set out for myself to complete today was a scrapbook page. I used the Urban Kiwi kit from ShabbyPrincess, and you can see it here:

I know that a miscarriage seems like an odd thing to scrapbook. Maybe you even think it’s morbid – I don’t know. But I found it was very healing for me to sit and pay tribute to my lost child this way. Like the rose-bush we planted, it is a reminder that, hey, this did happen. There was a little person beginning inside of me, and whether he could think or feel or any of that is immaterial to the fact that he existed – God gave him an individual soul – and he had an impact on our lives.

I know that I need to be able to move on from this loss, but I also know that as a mother, I can’t just ignore it. These small acts of memorial help me to feel that I am honoring his memory. They give me freedom to move on without guilt.

I am sorry if this post is a downer; it’s not meant to be. I think it is just part of my grief process.

Has anyone out there set up similar memorials for lost pregnancies? I would love it if this were a place for us to share the heartache and the healing.

Menu Plan Monday 7/18/11

My goodness, what a busy week! I haven’t posted hardly anything at all because it’s been so hectic around here. I haven’t been feeling great for one; I’ve also been traveling all over the state (visiting friends in the hospital, doing the tourism thing because I have family in town, etc) so needless to say, I got pretty off task.

One helpful side effect of all of this is that I have three leftover meals from last week I didn’t get to – so my grocery trip for the week was under $30.00! It’s the little things in life…

Here is this week’s Menu Plan Monday post.

Breakfasts:

  • Me and Hubbo: Breakfast Burritos, Cereal, Pancakes
  • Hosanna: Eggs, Veggie Sausage, Pancakes

Lunches:

  • Me: Turkey Sandwiches, Soups, Grilled Cheese, Leftovers
  • Hubbo: Frozen meals
  • Hosanna: Turkey, Peanut Butter, Leftovers

Snacks: Fruit, Raisins, Yogurt, Cheese, Cheerios

Dinners:

  • Monday: Band Practice and Dinner at the in-laws’
  • Tuesday: Grilled Breaded Pork Chops with Grilled Veggies
  • Wednesday: Bible Study night – out
  • Thursday: Pasta Alfredo with Leftover Pork Chops and Grilled Veggies
  • Friday: Rice and Beans
  • Saturday: Cookout at Church
  • Sunday: Leftover Night

Home-Stager, Rule-Breaker

A little over a year ago, right about the time I quit my job for stay-at-home motherhood, Hubbo and I decided to enroll in Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. I know I have talked about this before, but seriously, I cannot recommend this program enough.

But this post is actually not about finances.

Before he was a debt-busting financial guru, Dave Ramsey was a realtor – a very successful realtor. And one of the things he talked about in his program was how to sell a home. Like any good realtor, Dave’s recommendation is to “stage” your home when you have a showing; and one of the things I remember him saying is to never have more than two or three things on your kitchen counter.

Even though we are not trying to sell our home, I do like to “stage” it a bit for our guests and even for ourselves. There is just something about coming home to a put-together, clean, relaxing atmosphere that makes me feel more contented. Every morning, I arrange the throw pillows on our bed, adjust the curtains just-so, toss a blanket over the couch, and just generally try to spruce things up a little. It only takes a few minutes, and it does wonders for my attitude around the house.

But I have to admit, my countertops were a mess.

Next to the change jar, bottles of medicine, the dish-drying rack, the coffee pot, the can-opener, the canisters of baking essentials, the knife set, the toaster, the spice rack, the cooking utensils, the fruit bowl, and all the other things that were on my countertop on a daily basis, I hardly had any food prep area. And I have a lot of counter space. So last week, I set about a re-org. (It is Tackle-it-Tuesday, after all.)

The small-kitchen appliances I don’t use on a daily basis (even the toaster) now live on an accessible shelf in the garage. I’m drying dishes as I wash them. I cleared out a drawer for the cooking utensils. And it looks really good!

20110708-080449.jpg

But I still have more than three things on my countertop.

I almost despaired – I had gotten rid of everything that was practical! I didn’t want to lug out the can-opener every other day, and my coffee pot certainly wasn’t going anywhere. My spice rack is an organizing tool for me – where else could I keep so many spices organized? You have all seen my tiny pantry, after all.

But then I realized: I am happy with the way it looks now. I don’t need to follow an arbitrary rule about how much stuff I can have on my countertop. I just need it to be workable for me! This arrangement is functional, pretty, and it doesn’t make me want to pull my hair out when I try to find a space for a cutting board. I like it!

The moral of this story is: don’t try to re-create someone else’s organization style in your home. You are you! Do what works; break the rules.

Photo of the Day 7/11/11

Today was just too Hot. That is all.

Menu Plan Monday 7/11/11

Happy Menu Plan Monday, everyone! I had some leftover potatoes from last week’s menu and found bacon on manager’s special at the grocery store for $2.00. Of course, I made breakfast burritos, and now I have a great big bag of deliciousness in the freezer. Yum!

For the rest of the week…

Breakfasts:

  • Me and Hubbo: Breakfast Burritos, Cereal, Pancakes
  • Hosanna: Eggs, Veggie Sausage, Pancakes

Lunches:

  • Me: Leftovers, PB&J, Salads, Turkey & Avocado Sandwiches
  • Hubbo: Frozen meals
  • Hosanna: Turkey, Peanut Butter, Leftovers

Snacks: Fruit, Raisins, Yogurt, Cheese

Dinners:

  • Monday: Band Practice and Dinner at the in-laws’
  • Tuesday: Out – Hubbo and I both have meetings across town
  • Wednesday: Sandwiches (switching baby across town so I can go to Bible Study)
  • Thursday: Grilled Breaded Pork Chops and Grilled Veggies
  • Friday: Rice and Beans
  • Saturday: Cookout at Church
  • Sunday: Pasta Alfredo with leftover pork & veggies

Scripture Memory Sunday – Psalm 119:35

The women’s Bible study I lead just began an inductive study of the Spirit-Filled Life. God is teaching me so much about balancing faith and works and walking in the Truth. I love Him!

This week’s memory verse is about just that. Click “like” at the bottom of the page if you want to memorize it, too! Or, comment with the verse you are going to memorize this week.

“Direct me in the path of your commands,
for there I find delight.” – Psalm 119:35 (NIV)

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