Friday, January 30, 2009

Hanging out in Pittsburgh

fooling with the camera

Dinner out with the boys

Ready to go to dinner - all slicked up
Daniel thought playing in my drawer was fun
He loves this little police car, a Christmas present from Amma

View from our hotel room

I saw deer up on the hill (above photo) every day. Doesn't our camera have great zoom?

He's been attached to that pacifier all week

Daniel and Mommy hanging out in hotel room

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Mom's Christmas Quilt

I surprised my mom with a quilt of her own for Christmas. I actually bought the fabric last Spring, but the day I planned to start it, mom and dad were in the accident. So I didn't get to start it until late fall of last year (2008). I thought there was no way I would finish it in time for Christmas, but I did. I know she wondered what I was doing with myself all of December - obviously I wasn't doing dishes, cleaning the house, making dinner, or Christmas cookies, for that matter! But each day she came home and I was exhausted. Well, it finally made sense Christmas morning. She loved it (and still does!) I took the quilt to Appoquinimink Quilting to have it quilted. Deanna was so kind, fast, and I must say, she did a beautiful job on the quilt. I don't think I will be able to go back to tying my quilts ever again! In fact, I am almost done with the top of a quilt for Daniel and I am thinking of taking it to her to quilt stars or horses onto it. Here are some photos of Mom's quilt (taken by Deanna - I have yet to take any of my own!)

here it is folded and hanging on the wall
one block up close

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Random Picture Challenge

This was certainly a challenge. First of all, I was not digital until 2008. So I decided to go with the 30th photo from my August 2008 file. Well, that was a nudie. So I figured I shouldn't post it. (not of me, of course, of Daniel!) So then I did find two files from 2007 that I had gotten put on CD. They were December, but oh well. And it was a really REALLY bad picture of me just after Daniel was born. So I am being a rule-breaker today!! I chose the one after it. So here it is, my 31st photo of my Decemeber 2007 file!

I actually love this photo. It was taken just minutes after Daniel was born. What a precious few moments those are. Meeting your new little one for the first time - examining their little fingers and toes; seeing if he has Grandad's chin or hairline or Daddy's eyes; getting to know this little person. (sigh) It is just an amazing moment in time. I would love to do it again. I think what is hardest for me about not having any more kids is missing out on experiencing those special moments just after birth again. And the newborn phase too - I just enjoy it so much. But I have to remind myself that I have 4 little ones that I can snuggle and study and get to know on a daily basis right now. Such a blessing.

To play along, or see other bloggers who have, check out 4 Little Men and Girly Twins!

Ab and Liv

Abby earned her first badge in Awana! Great job Abs!

Doesn't she look like a cute little gnome in this hat?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Walgreen's Savings

My visit to Walgreen's this morning was quite a success! I got all you see in the picture for $68.36. I did two separate purchases. Walgreen's has the Huggies on sale for $9.99 and then you get a $1 register reward back. Unfortunately the nighttime Pull-ups that I bought were not included in the sale, but I didn't know until I got to the register. The manager price adjusted it for me, so I could get them for the $8.99 price (reg. $12.50)! All 3 packages! Then I found out that you only get one register reward back per transaction. So I lost out on 1 register reward. But since she price adjusted the pull-ups I didn't ask her to give me the extra $1 from the register reward. On top of the sale and rewards, I had coupons for $2 off each of the pull-ups and $1.50 off each of the diapers. (I bought 3 packages of each) Oh and the wipes were on sale for $5.99 (reg $7.99) and I had a $1 coupon off.

The formula was on sale for $12.99 (reg $14.99/2) and I generally pay $12 for that at Target and it saved me a drive. The dish detergent was on sale for 99 cents each. I had a $1 off the Dawn (so earned a penny) and $1 off 3 of the Joy. So they were 3 for $1.98. The laundry detergent was on sale for $4.99 and I had a coupon for $1 off of 2.

Plus there is a $3 coupon out (ends today) on any purchase over $10. I guess I could have broken this down into multiple purchases to keep using the $3 coupon but I didn't think of it until later. Plus I feel kind of bad - like I'm ripping them off! Anyways, I was pleased with my purchases.

I'm so glad to be doing this - I feel like I am really helping my family out. And last night, I was able to bag up some things - soap, toothpaste, lotion, shampoo, and conditioner - and give to a family in our church that could use it. It's nice to do this and be able to share the excess with others.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


A few years ago, in Colarado, a woman named Terry Barton was burning a letter from her husband. She was careful to put the fire out, but still sparks blew up into the air and away from her. One of those sparks started a fire that burned down 140,000 acres of forest, including 600 buildings and 300 homes. Just one spark.

The Bible says the tongue is like a fire. "Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire..." James 3:5 Isn't that amazing - how realistic the Bible is regarding the great forest being set on fire by a small spark. It's also true how our tongues can act as fire - setting fires in the hearts and minds of those who hear us.

What kind of fires have I set with my tongue? It says in Ephesians 4:29, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up, according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Are others better off because of listening to me? Am I ministering to others, according to their needs?

(FYI - Those of you who think I don't ever yell at my kids might appreciate reading this brutally honest portrayal of who I can sometimes be)

I tend to yell at my kids when they don't clean their room. Oh, not at first. At first, I say (in a sing-songy voice) "Guess what? You're going to clean your room today! And if you all work together, it won't take long at all! And when you finish getting everything off your floor, you get to vacuum!" (yes, that used to work) Then I leave them to it.

About half an hour later, I go to see how they are doing and their floor looks remarkable picked up and they are lounging on their beds. "Wow," I say, "Where'd you put everything?" Then I look under their beds. "I said to clean your room, not shove everything under your beds! Put your things where they belong!" (this is said with a bit of force - not quite yelling yet.)

Within the next ten minutes, each girl has come out to complain that one of the others isn't helping, or to tell me she desperately needs to use the bathroom, or to ask me if they can be done yet - they've been working all day, you know, and they're tired and hungry. Poor little things. Then my voice gets a bit louder. "Get your room cleaned up or else!" Yes, I do resort to threats. "Stop whining and get along!" "I don't care what she's doing, I care about what you are doing - clean up your mess!"

Then my rants start to follow me around, (as I pick up things around the house and throw them where they belong) "Why am I the only one who ever cleans up around here? My goodness, do you really think I want to spend my whole day picking up after 6 people! You are old enough to help!" And finally, I go into their room, and either growl or yell at the top of my lungs, "If this isn't picked up in 10 minutes, everything I can see that is not put away will go into the trash can and you will never get it back!"

When I go in with the vacuum 10 minutes later, everything is put away and I start vacuuming with steam coming out of my ears, and my kids scurry off to get away from me. Not exactly how I pictured our happy little life when they were babes in their cribs.

Do you think last Sunday's sermon spoke to me a bit? Yeah, I'd say so. I already knew this wasn't how I wanted to handle room cleaning, and raising my kids in general, but what to do instead? These kids don't respond until I start yelling and making threats. (yes, I realize some of you will say I trained them to be like that)

To add insult to injury, I remembered this verse from James 3:9. "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be." Ow.

As a child, my favorite hymn was, "Pass It On." The lyrics go like this:

It only takes a spark to get a fire going
and soon all those around will warm up in its glowing
That's how it is with God's love
once you've experienced it
You spread His love to everyone
You want to pass it on.

So I guess what I'm getting at is I want the sparks coming off my tongue to be igniting a warm glow of God's love in the people around me. I don't want to be burning down their houses, or scorching their spirits. I want my sparks to be building them up according to their needs.

My daughter Olivia, is having an awful time going to school right now. I get so frustrated with her whining and tears every morning, "I don't want to go!" But is my yelling at her to "be quiet and deal with it!" building her up? How can I talk her through this, while building her up, and meeting her needs? She needs me to love her and she needs me to find out what is causing this sudden dislike of school.

And for getting the kids to clean their room without yelling, whining, or tears? I'm still working on that. But I know how I don't want to do it. And I know it may take biting my tongue. I was talking to a friend of mine a few years ago about the disrespectful way she spoke to her husband. She told me she couldn't help herself. My advice? Every time you are about to say something mean or disrespectful, literally bite your tongue. After a while, your tongue will hurt so bad, it won't be worth your pain. And you will stop causing pain to your husband, not to mention the little ears listening. So I guess it's time I swallow a spoonful of my own advice and bite my tongue.

Here's my criteria for deciding what I should say:
Is this going to benefit and build up the person listening?
Is what I am about to say going to meet that person's needs?
How would I feel if someone said this to me?

Thanks Dad, for setting a spark in my heart with your sermon on Sunday. Love you.

Monday, January 19, 2009

My Daddy

This is my daddy, (the blonde on the right) on his 16th birthday, with his best friend Denny.
I love this picture of him.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Daniel's Favorite Christmas Gift

Out of all of Daniel's Christmas gifts, this ball was probably his favorite. He had the cutest reaction to it. He liked all of his gifts and has played with some more than others. (Other favorites include nesting blocks, magnetic blocks, and cars that take off when pulled back.) He definitely wanted to play with each gift as he opened them, much to the chagrin of his sisters who wanted him to keep opening! Daniel ended up opening gifts all day, one or two at a time. In the end, Livy and I opened his last couple because he just wasn't into it anymore. (Most of his gifts were toys I had picked up at yard sales or were given to us from friends throughout the year - I just saved them in a box downstairs and then wrapped them up for Christmas morning.)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Random Picture Challenge

I decided to take part in the Random Picture Challenge by 4 Little Men and Girly Twins. It seems like fun! This is the 8th picture in my January folder. Yes, a bit strange, huh? Well, I had been meaning to blog about this anyways. Since the New Year, I have been working hard to try and save us money. I can't really work outside the home (except for my occasional sales job), so I needed to find something I can do at home. I decided a great first step would be lowering our grocery bill. I don't know about you, but ours can get unreal sometimes. So I set a budget ($100/week - includes formula, diapers, personal products, meds, etc.) Many of you know that we live with my parents so my mom also contributes a percentage on top of the $100. In order to get our budget down to this, I have begun getting serious about coupons and sales flyers. Hence the above picture.
That was my first trip to Walgreen's, using coupons and sales. I spent $20 on all the products above. I'm not convinced it was the best I could do. I definitely learned some things - for instance, the toothpaste and toothbrush was not the deal I thought it was. I bought it anyways, but regretted it later because I know I could have gotten a better deal. The Tylenol PM that you see is $14.99 all by itself normally, so spending $20 on everything isn't too bad. The Garnier Fructis was probably the best buy of the day. Walgreens had it on sale for $2.99. Then they had a store coupons for -$2.00. Then I had a manufacturer coupon for -$1.00. So they ended up oweing me a penny for each product you see. (Yes, you can combine manufacturer coupons and store coupons on a single item.)
Here's an idea of how I have started out. First, I sit down with all the local sales flyers. I go through them one by one and circle what looks good to me. Then I go through my coupons to see what I have that matches what's on sale. I probably won't buy an item just because it's on sale (unless we really need it) if I don't have a coupon too. The first time I did this I went through all the flyers and then through my coupons. It was too confusing because I couldn't remember which store had which product on sale. Going through one flyer and comparing the coupons then tackling the next is much better.
This does involve going to multiple stores, which takes time. But I just look at it as a part time job. Jobs take time, right? And I try to go to some of the stores when Garr can keep the kids. Also, you have to be careful to make a list and stick to it or you will be three or four times as likely to impulse buy (depending on how many stores you go to)!
This is my third week and although it does take quite a bit of time, I am excited about how we are sticking to our budget and even have extra food at the end of the week! There are also some good coupon sites where someone else does the work for you - you just read on their site what the deal is and which coupons to use. I think my friend, Danielle, has that info on her blog. You can check it out there. :)

Homemade Frozen Yogurt

My MIL gave us some of her homemade cherry frozen yogurt and I fell in love. :) Sure enough, the next time I was at Target there was an ice cream maker in the clearance section - we got it for $7. However, once I got home, washed it, and froze the canister, life got crazy again. Finally after two or three months, we made ice cream for the first time. Abby doesn't like the cherry kind too much so we made strawberry instead. I had a bit of trouble. Usually I am all about reading the directions, but I thought

"Oh how difficult can it be? You pour the ice cream in, plug the machine in, and turn it on."

So, that's what I did. Then my mom pointed out that there ought to be a paddle in there.
A paddle?

Yeah, for churning the ice cream.

So she went through the box, and sure enough, there was a paddle. At this point, the ice cream was already frozen to the sides of the canister (but still liquidy in the middle). So this meant the paddle didn't fit and wouldn't turn. So I'm scraping the sides and trying to get that paddle to move! After a while it did move a little, but it was so much work that the thing eventually overheated and shut down.


In the end, we did get to have frozen yogurt, it just wasn't so frozen. More milk-shaky. It was still yummy though. So if you decide to try this - put the paddle in and turn the machine on before you add the ice cream! :)
2 cups low-fat yogurt (we use Stonyfield!)
1-12oz bag frozen berries to your desired consistency (whole, chopped, diced, pureed, strained)
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
Combine all ingredients.
Turn on your machine :)
Pour ingredients in.
20-30 minutes and voila!
Frozen yogurt!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I'm back!

So I am finally getting back to blogging. We had a great Christmas (except Garr was very sick) but the rest was fun. I have had a bunch of blog ideas, but we have been without a computer blogging. Now that we have one again, I am going to be catching up. :) For starters, here are some photos of the last two months (with captions.) :)

Christmas Eve - Abby, Daniel, Emelyn, Olivia
Christmas morning - Daniel was still sleeping
Garr insisted I put this one on

Daniel shaking finger and saying "No, no!"


Checking out the Christmas tree ornaments - a favorite game

Another game - He grabs his head like he has an awful headache and puts it down on the table. Then looks up at everyone and laughs. over and over again.

Here's the famous "uh-oh" game.
Garr's Mom and her friend, Buddy, came for Thanksgiving. We had a great time.