Thursday, July 28, 2011

Color My World

One of my children's favorite pastimes is coloring.  They drag out the dozens of coloring books, flip through the hundreds of pages and select the perfect picture.  Then, of course, they must color it.  The crayons are scattered across the table and many are on the floor, but this is serious business!  Daniel can finally be trusted not to eat the crayons, or break them into tiny pieces.  He still takes the paper off of them sometimes, but that is becoming less of an issue.  The boys were coloring the other day, and I caught Daniel's expression of intense concentration as he was working on his picture.  It was adorable. ( Okay - that's the mom in me coming out).  I have realized how quickly my children grow up, and I want to remember the everyday things that, too many times, I take for granted.  It's not the big vacations and once-a-year activities that we tend to miss - it is the little things of every day.  So, take a minute and document that ordinary moment that will soon be just a memory - a saying, a habit, or everyday event.  This is what makes life precious.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Something Old, Something New

The last few days have been so very hot and humid that I have stayed indoors as much as possible.  I don't particularly enjoy getting all hot and sweaty.  The meeting in Elkton, SD has been going well.  The Lord is working in hearts and opening doors of opportunity to witness each day.  Yesterday while Paul was out visiting with the pastor, I carted all my scrapbook supplies to the church and set up in a vacant room.  The girls were all gung-ho about scrapping with me, so I allowed them to come, too.  In spite of the girls, I was able to get three pages done!  I tend to find what I like and stick to it, without much variation ( I like routine and organization) except when it comes to scrapbooking.  I enjoy trying new things (within my budget, of course) and yesterday, I went out on a limb and thought "outside the box."  Instead of doing a 12x12 square page, I broke the mold and (gasp) made a round page!  I had been saving this particular piece of paper for something very special, and when I received my pictures from Snapfish, I knew what I wanted to do with it.  It was a challenge, but I found that I loved the result! BTW, Snapfish is having another great deal - if you buy $10 of merchandise, you get 100 free 4x6 prints, and $15 of merchandise will get you 200 free prints.  You can get caught up on all that printing and snag a few personalized items in the process ( good for gifts). 

I haven't said anything about Swagbucks lately, but I have been busy.  I was able to procure another gift card today, so I am well on my way to purchasing my "big item" Christmas gifts.  I love getting things for free!  If you haven't signed up for Swagbucks yet, today is the day to do it!  You have time to earn a lot before the holidays.  Pinch that budget just a little tighter with Swagbucks.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Me Time

Guess what I have been doing this afternoon?  Yep!  Scrapbooking!  I decided that since I didn't have to fix dinner tonight (we are going over to some friends' for dinner), I would seize the moment and put together a few layouts.  The kids were all busy with their own interests, so I have had a very nice little session of "Me Time!"  Every mom needs a little of that now and then!  As you can see from my picture, there is some serious creativity going on!  I'm so thankful for the opportunity to do something that I enjoy!

By the way, Snapfish is having another awesome sale!  You can order 200 4x6 prints for only $2.00 or 100 prints for $1.00!  Use the code JULY200PRNTS  for 200 or JULY100PRNTS for 100 and get those summer memories in your album!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

18 Days and Counting

My summer freedom is coming to an end.  I can hardly believe that School is just around the corner, but the pile of boxes in my living room is rather convincing.  We received our final box of school books yesterday afternoon.  Josiah and Abigail eyed them warily.  "That's a lot of school books," commented Abigail.  Esther, on the other hand laughed and danced around the kitchen in joyful anticipation of the upcoming school year.  I had to laugh at her.  She has wanted to go to school for the last two years, and her day of reckoning approaches!  There is something rather exciting about the first day of school - even the first week, but after that, it seems to lose its charm.  I think it has something to do with homework... :)  Whatever the reason, I am gearing up for three students this fall, and a very active toddler.  I am excited about all the new things we will be learning this year. 

Josiah will be entering fifth grade (I love this age), Abigail is going into second and cannot wait to learn cursive, and Esther is chomping at the bit to start kindergarten.  This will be my sixth year of home-schooling (if you discount the nine years I was a home-school student).  I consider myself a school "Nazi" - by that I mean nothing interferes with school.  We do not take random days off for no reason, or even have "snow days" (much to the horror of our winter-loving friends).  We have field trips to interesting places, but school always comes first in my schedule.  This is a discipline that I consider very crucial to our home.  It is too easy to just let things slide a bit, and before you know it, summer is here, and the school work is not done.  Not me - I need my summer vacation!  So, all you home-schooling moms out there, do yourself a favor and buckle down this year!  It makes for a wonderful, long summer!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Back to the Scrapping Board

It has been months - literally - since I have had a chance to sit down and scrapbook.  I have had the urge lately to sit down and play with my pictures and papers (Paul refers to it as Kindergarten for adults) and make beautiful layouts.  Several days I have almost done it, but most days other things take precedence!  Imagine - the rest of my family would rather eat than scrapbook!  I don't understand, but since the majority vote is not on my side, I have conceded.  I am getting desperate because I know my summer break is coming to an end.  School starts in less than three weeks!  Last week, I dragged out all my favorite things and attempted to do a few pages.  It was sad... it took me so long to just get the LO to look just like I wanted it that I took a whole afternoon to get one page done!  I need to get back in the habit.  Those of you who scrapbook know what I am talking about.  If you don't use it, you lose it.  So, I think I will get back to the scrapping board in the next few weeks and see if I can get my scrapping skills back in shape.  Plus, I just received my latest prints from Snapfish - they have a great 99 prints for $.99 every summer.  Here is the page I so painstakingly completed last week.  I hope to put up a few more in the near future.  Maybe I will even post a few of the girls' pages.  They are beginning scrapbookers, and we enjoy working together.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My New Toy

I do not play much with toys any more, for the obvious reason that I have outgrown most toys.  I consider my scrapbook supplies to be toys in a sense, but I don't play with them often due to time constraints.  I have been saving for quite some time in order to buy a Kindle.  One of my greatest passions is reading, and I have discovered that it is difficult to carry as many books with me as I could read, just during our road trips.  My wonderful husband purchased a Kindle for me two weeks ago, and it came in the mail this week.  I love it!  I am shuffling all my books around and finding all my favorite classics (most of which are free, by the way) to download.  There are even a few games that will be good for the road!  So, my voracious reading habits might finally be appeased!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Promises

Tonight after our closing VBS service, the rain finally let up a bit and there was the most beautiful double rainbow arched across the sky.  I quickly snapped a picture, and in a few minutes, the bow was gone, but the reminder of its significance remained.  Here in flooded Minot, the "never flood the world again" promise was probably a reason to smile.  However, I took just a moment to reflect on a few other promises that God has given.  Here is a short list - you may add your own, since it is by no means exhaustive.  God promises to:
Forgive our sins when we confess
Give guidance for our lives
Supply our needs
Never leave or forsake us
Never tempt us above our ability to resist
Provide a way of escape in temptation
Give grace unto the humble
Hear us when we pray
Give us everlasting life

While the list could go on and on, I challenge you to claim the promises of God and watch Him work in your life.  He always keeps His promises.  So stop a moment and reflect on the goodness and faithfulness of our God!

It's That Time Again!

I look forward to it every week : Mega Swagbucks Day!  It is a chance to earn more Swagbucks than you normally would during the rest of the week.  All you need to do is sign up and start earning SwagbucksSwagbucks is a search engine similar to Google, but with the added benefit of earning rewards for every search you do!  You can earn Swagbucks by searching, playing games, inviting others, taking surveys, daily polls, redeeming coupons, and so much more!  I was thrilled to redeem several of my Amazon gift cards last week for some much-coveted items (more about this later).  They have dozens of gift cards available (Bass Pro Shops, Apple Store, Amazon, and many more) and you can get them all by doing what you normally do online - it's the same as getting them FREE!  If you haven't signed up yet, start today!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Friend Amy

For some time, my friend Amy has battled with cancer.  Her testimony has been so amazing - the honesty with which she faces her struggles and the confidence that characterizes her posts.  I was moved to tears this morning as I read what may be her last post.  I wanted to share it with my readers in the hope that not only will you pray for her and her family, but that it will encourage you to live your life the way God would have you to live - with as few regrets as you possibly can.  Her life has been such a challenge to me.  Here is the link to Amy's blog.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hi-tech Love

I must admit a love for the hi-tech age in which we live.  Without it, you wouldn't be reading any of this! :)  It makes keeping in touch with friends and family so much easier.  I cannot imagine writing a letter by snail mail any time I needed to update someone.  So, I have entered into the world of cell phones, computers, e-mail, and texting with gusto.  I can spend a few minutes online and come up with great meal ideas, organizational plans, recipes, and so much more.  One of my "tune out the world" strategies is to plug into my portable MP3 player while I do my housework.  I pick my list of favorite tunes, ranging from inspirational hymns to peppy classical, and hit play.  And no one complains if I want to repeat the same song five times in a row, just because I like it!  (This drives Paul crazy - he can't stand to listen to the same CD twice in a row, let alone the same song!)  So, as I wander about my housework and chores, I am thankful for the technology we have today...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Bouquets of Love

Summer - the time of heat and humidity, vacations, barbecues, picnics, and dandelions.  Yes, dandelions!  My children gather hundreds of dandelions during the summer and present them to me with smiles and affectionate hugs.  These bright, cheery weeds have brought many smiles to my own face due to the enthusiasm with which they are given, not to mention the love that motivates the giving.  I took the time to play around a little with a few recent photos of Abigail, Esther, and Daniel gathering their bouquets of love, and created this collage.  Take time to enjoy the simple pleasures - sunshine, smiles, and dandelions!

Monday, July 4, 2011

If One Is Good...

Then two are better, and fourteen is - tremendous!  Due to our recent move ( from trailer to trailer), I had to go through a lot of cupboards, drawers, and other storage places.  I was amazed to find that I had fourteen denim skirts!  While that may seem like overkill to some, it is my favorite article of clothing, and I have various styles to accommodate the seasons as well as my personal taste.  I have straight skirts and A-lines, long and short, dark and light, old and new.  I love the variety and the durability of denim, and I think it is the perfect garment for my everyday activities.  So, I am celebrating my denim skirt collection, just because it makes me smile to think of the neatly folded stack of blues on my closet shelf.  What is your private obsession?

With Liberty and Justice for All!

I cannot let the day pass without saying "Happy 235th Birthday, America!"  I am so thankful for the country God has given us, and for the freedoms that we enjoy.  I want to thank all of our military and veterans for the sacrifices they have made and continue to make that we might enjoy a life of freedom.  Their service is not unappreciated - Thank you! 

I had the great chore of ordering my school books today.  I did some figuring this past week and realized that we will be starting school in about five weeks!  NOOOOOOOOO!!!!  Where has the summer gone?  I will have the distinct pleasure of teaching three of my children at home this year.  Josiah will be in fifth grade, Abigail in second (learning cursive), and Esther beginning her educational career in K-5.  Daniel will probably just terrorize us all as usual. 

I also made a wonderful discovery.  For some time, my girls have wanted to get an American Girl Doll, but I really balked at the $100 price tag.  I was doing some research online, and found 18" Madame Alexander dolls that look remarkably like the AG dolls and are of similar construction for only $34 on Amazon.com.  I used some of my amazon gift cards (courtesy of Swagbucks) to buy one for Esther's birthday.  I also found some free patterns to make doll clothes for them, so I was quite pleased!  I know she will be thrilled with her new friend!  Now all I have to do is save enough to get one for Abigail for Christmas!

We participated in a church picnic/barbecue today, and are looking forward to watching the fireworks tonight. They don't start until quite late (11:00p.m.) due to the loooooong days here in ND!  The locals have been shooting fireworks off all weekend, so we have already seen several decent displays, but I know tonight will be spectacular because of the nearby military base. (They always put on a good show.)  The weather here has been very nice, although it was so windy today they couldn't put the volleyball net up on the church lawn.  The water is receding, and things are getting back to normal for a lot of people.  We still have to boil all drinking water, so I am quite glad that we will only be here for a week!  Tomorrow we begin the VBS program, so we are praying that there will be a good turnout of children, and that we will see several saved this week.  Pray with us for souls.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Water, Water, Everywhere...

Minot, ND- Flood of 2011
And not a drop to drink."  That is the phrase that came to my mind as we pulled into Minot, ND yesterday afternoon.  The area has been hit by the worst flood since 1881, surpassing several other major floods in the 1900's.  The water has receded quite a bit in the last few days of good weather, but there are still a lot of areas underwater, and the damage to the residential areas is amazing.  Right now, there is only one north/south road to get into the city, so, as you can imagine, the traffic is, as the old Christmas song states, terrific!  In addition to being flooded, the city has been on water conservation measures, so any unnecessary water use is discouraged - such as washing cars, etc.  There was some water contamination because of the flooding, so all water must be boiled before drinking, washing dishes, brushing teeth, and cooking.  I am very thankful that we have a tank full of Wyoming water in our trailer!  I won't have to worry about boiling all our water for a few days.  They expect that the ban on drinking the water will be lifted in the next few days, since they are testing it several times a day.  The weather is beautiful, and as we anticipate celebrating Independence Day, we can be thankful for the wonderful country God has given us, and the freedom we enjoy.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Confessions of Junior Camper

Three weeks ago, my son boarded a bus and headed off to church camp.  It was a heart-rending moment for me as a mother.  Although it was his second year to attend camp, I was not going to be present for the week as I was last year.  I knew he would have a wonderful time, but I was worried about his health - because of all the allergy issues.  I consoled myself that all would be well since my husband was to be the speaker for the week.  I was almost entirely right, but I would not find this out until he returned home.  It is just as well, I would have been unnecessarily worried about him! :)

As soon as he returned the following Saturday, it was evident that he had enjoyed every moment of camp.  He was more tanned and his face was smeared with dirt and dust.  He began regaling his sisters and me with tales of his adventures almost as soon as he got in the door.  His sisters listened with awe and wonder as he described the chicken wrangling event, the singing contest, and his near-drowning episode (in a shallow water tank).

I took his bag and emptied all the dirty (and was it ever dirty) laundry into the washer.  I was relieved to see that, contrary to my previous experience with junior boy campers, he had actually changed his clothes during the week.  I then asked the following question:
"Did you take a shower this week?"
"Yes," he replied.  "On Tuesday... but I forgot my soap."
"Oh!?" I stifled a grin.
"Well," he continued in a matter of fact way, "Mama, it was so dusty up there that as soon as you took a shower, you got dirty again, so it was kind of a waste of time."
"I see," I replied.  "Did you brush your teeth?"
The only answer I received was a rather sheepish grin, which told me way more than I wanted to know.  Gotta love that boy!