Friday, December 3, 2010


Advent is the season which we wait for the coming Christ child. We wait with anticipation for the fulfilment of hope. Each Sunday we light just one more candle, never all of them, and it doesn't look quite right to our eyes. We want it to be finished and complete all at once. The one candle looks too lonely, two lacks balance, and three is almost right but not quite. But on Christmas Eve, all is made complete. God says, "When the days were completed..."

I eagerly anticipate decorating for Christmas. I plan crafty things I want to do, what theme I want and where everything will go. For me, everything needs to go a certain way for "the mood" Christmas to feel right and it starts with the tree and decorations going up Thanksgiving weekend. The six or seven weeks of twinkling light is the best part of the season for me. But this year it will be a little different.

School and studying for finals have taken all of Chad's time. Before he started studying he had one request- to decorate the tree and hang the lights outside. Which means it won't happen in my "perfect" timing but in all likelyhood when he is finished with finals, only one week before Christmas.

This was hard for me. In this time of living on a little, it's the little things that mean the most. And for me, Christmas means peace and rest that is not found the rest of the year. And as much as I hate to admit it, I find most of the peace and rest in the lighted tree and other things of Christmas.

While waiting for Christmas to "start" I'm finding myself focusing on Advent more than ever before. I am listening more attentively to the Advent readings about waiting for the Promise to be fulfilled. I am finding more meaning in Sarah's waiting for the son she was promised in her old age. I'm feeling a bit of the anticipation the Children of Israel felt while waiting for the Messiah's arrival. It's seems silly but in the absence of lights and a tree, I am feeling Christ more.

And it feel just right.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A little Fall decorating...

...just in time for everyone else to put up their Christmas bling! I waited to pull out all the Fall decor until after Jordan was finished with boot camp since the mantle was for him. So despite the lateness of the pictures, the house was decorated for fall for the whole month of November. Honest!

Our mantle, was very simply decorated with some Indian Corn, warty gourds and candles. I was able to get the corn and gourds very inexpensively on the Manager's special rack at the grocery store. The two bags of corn and one bag of gourds (there were nine!) was...$3!!! Just my price.

The larger candles were a wedding gift from one of Chad's aunts. The gift card said "may your marriage have all of the heat-and none of the burn"! We still laugh about it!
I love traditional candles with flames but with a busy, little one who is into everything right now, this has been a great alternative. All of the heat-and none of the burn!
And speaking of little ones with busy hands- We found Bram chewing on this lovely. When we jumped up and down, trying to explain that it was yucky and not to eat, he signed "candy". We're not sure if it tastes like candy to him (it's a scented candle) or if he thought "candle" was "candy". Anyway, some serious teeth marks!
Everything in the house is baby-proofed but some areas need to be more proofed, if you know what I mean. This is one such area. Bram plays around , behind and under this table so the pumpkin is fake and the flowers are from a field. Nothing fancy, just fall-ish. And safe.
And last, the other corner in the room. The is one of the two pumpkins from our trip to the pumpkin patch, they lasted beautifully through the season. As I'm writing, they are roasting in the oven. Here we go Pumpkin Doughnut Muffins! My samovar is from Russia and it's one of my favorite things! I love how it just stands out and says "Hello! I'm not from here!".
So there it is, the little bit of fall decorating over here. This weekend, I'll start the Christmas decorating but I think it will go a little slower than previous years since Chad wants to help but is gearing up to having a very busy and full finals season.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

With a thankful heart

This Thanksgiving has been unexpectedly stressful for us. We're all still trying to get over our respective sicknesses, while Chad has been cranking out papers, with two more due the Tuesday and Wednesday after Thanksgiving weekend. This year, we had planned to gather with my family in Ohio for the holiday, but when the time came, there simply was no way for us to go, between money being tight, the mountain of papers and the weekend being too short. My sister and her husband drove up to my mother's from Nashville and I have a strong case of the "wish I was there's".

But despite all of this, I am so thankful. As the verse above says, the Lord has done great things for us and as a result, I am filled with joy. When you are able to recognize who the Giver of all good gifts is, your life is filled with peace and joy. The kind of joy that allows you to rest from the grasping at empty things and find contentment in your present circumstances. Which, of course, leads you right back to having a thankful heart. A beautiful circle.

So this holiday season I've been working on recognizing as many of the good gifts and "great things" the Lord has done for me. It's been slow and sweet. And my joy is waking back after what seemed like a very long slumber.

It is yet another gift which I am thankful for.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sickness Abounding

We almost never get sick, over here. Chad and I very rarely get any sickness involving vomiting, though every winter I get at least one or two of the upper-respiratory type sicknesses. But this one has hit us hard.

Monday night, we woke up to hear Bram miserably being sick in his room. His first ever, flu. The rest of the night was so sad. By morning, there was a mountain of laundry. He was sick all day, barely sleeping but only able if he was right next to me. But by evening he seemed much better and by Wednesday you'd never know he had been sick at all! Praise the Lord!

Last night, before we went to bed, Chad told me he wasn't feeling so great. I thought it probably was just the pizza not sitting right in his stomach. "He never gets sick" I thought. FAMOUS LAST WORDS.... He was so very sick, allllll night long. And even now, he's sleeping on the couch, shivering and fighting waves of sick feelings. Poor, sweet man.

So I guess this means I'll get it. At this rate it will be sometime over the weekend. Yuck, yuck, double yuck. But better now than over the holidays I say.

Hope you all are doing well and HEALTHY!!!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Hallowe'en

This year marked our first "real" Hallowe'en. Last year, I had big plans to dress Bram up and show him off to all the cute kids that came Trick or Treating but whatya you know, that silly, little five month old baby couldn't even stay up for the festivities. And only one group of kids came to our door. I was very sad.

This year, however, he was big enough to participate AND stayed up the whole time! Way to go kiddo!

Since neither Chad nor my parents let us Trick or Treat, it was a whole new experience for us as well. We did not dress up (though next year I might try it!) and since we had been out of town for the better part of last week and weren't sure we'd make it back in time, we didn't have a plan for Abraham. SO we headed to the Dollar Store.

The first plan we came up with was to use a large teddy bear and turn it into "Max" from Where the Wild Things Are but when I started make the costume I realized that we had remembered wrong and Max was a wolf not a bear with a tail. (I know, silly thought. But in my defense, it has been over 10 years since I'd read the book!)

But while at the Dollar Store we passed by the costume section and Bram grabbed a fireman helmet and wore it the whole time! A huge first for him! So after Max fizzled we decided to do a fireman instead. With Duct Tape. The tutorial we used can be found here. But it wouldn't be that hard to do without one.

So here's the boy-- very excited for his first Trick or Treating!

Trying on the costume for size...

I just love this kid so much!

"Daddy, what's going on?"

Virginia Beach Fire Department's little hero...

All the kids we went Trick or Treating with. And yes, there's another fireman! They were a huge hit togther.

He got so tired of walking around that he sat down in the middle of the street!

The Loot! Chad was so surprised at how much candy Bram got. Suprised but enjoying it!

Of course now the reality sets in--we have to/get to eat all the candy now. A week of alternating sugar rush and crashes. And then trying to squeeze into my skinny jeans again. Blah.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pumpkin Patch Kid

Yesterday was the long awaited day at the Pumpkin Patch! We had so much fun with all the kids and discovering what a hayride was, what pumpkins are, and visiting the animals. The day itself was absolutely perfect. Here area few of the highlights:

Hello Goats!

Making friends with Mr. Scarecrow.

Come play with me little chicken!

He was a little confused as to what the pumpkins were. He would just walk around and sign "what is it?"

I tried so hard to get one of those adorable pictures with the cornstalks and pumpkins but he wouldn't look at me the whole time I was taking pictures!

This was the closest he came to looking and smiling all day. What a serious little guy!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

This Week's Best

(This is this week's best picture of Abraham. Love the turned in toes!)

So after compiling this post I've realized something has to change.

I've been wanting to do a link-y post on blog for some time, preferably on a regular basis. I wanted something I could look back on and find some of my favorite posts, from my favorite blogs at any time. But the time involved is WAY more than I'm able to commit to.

Like four hours too long.

I know it will get faster and I'll figure out all kinds of awesome tricks that will shorten the time involved but I know I don't even have the time for the learning curve. Plus, I think it's a bit overwhelming. Just a little bit.

So something is going to change. But I don't know what.

Anyhoo.... Super Fun Links!!!!!

Awesome craftiness-
Ana White/Knock off Wood- She does it again! Picture Ledges, Ladder Shelves and a High Chair, oh my!!!
Cluck, Cluck Sew- A cute chunky fabric watchband tutorial
Grosgain- Thrift Store Thursday and the cute pencil skirt.
How about Orange- Super cute Recycled Paper Flowers! I'll have to use this at Christmas...
Adventures in Dressmaking- How to take in a sweater

Yummy food-
A Year of Crockpotting- Oreo Cheesecake
(in the post she also has a link for Pumpkin Cheesecake in the crockpot. Imagine the thanks at Thanksgiving this year!)
Pioneer Woman- Corn Chowder with Chilis and Stuffed Shells. Need I say more?
Deliciously Organic- I probably won't make this organic but I could not resist Peanut Butter Bread Pudding.
Good Cheap Eats- I've been very lax on my salad intake lately. This looks like a good way to start back up! Orchard Chicken Salad.
Lick the Bowl Good- Mocha Frappe' Pie. Must. make. this.
Bakerella- Can you imagine how fun it would be to go to Cupcake Camp?!
The Nourished Kitchen- I may have to try this: Triple Beet Salad.

Great thoughts-
Life as Mom- Frugal Fridays: Saving my Milk Money.
MADE- Celebrate YELLOW! A sweet mama story about popcorn.
The Nester- Make man corner. Brilliant!
Passionate Homemaking- Let your work be your worship.
Simple Mom- What is simple living? Choosing your priorities.
Simple Organic- Staying healthy this winter by eating whole foods and using home remedies .
The Lettered Cottage- They've got a new look. Look!
V and Co.- Hello and Goodbye.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Joke

I know I've been out (as my mother says) "out of commish" for the last week but its been a really busy one and I've barely been on the internet much less been able to write anything. But I had to write this story, before I forget to, for posterity's sake.

What does this....

...have to do with this?

So this past Sunday, we got up a bit late, I had to rush through my shower and instead of blowing my hair dry (or not, as is usually the case) I put in a set of Japanese hair sticks and ran out the door. When we got to church, I went to take Bram out of the car and he started waving his arms and pointing at my head. I signed "what?" to him and asked what he was pointing at. He kept pointing at my head and finally he signed "bunny"!

We laughed and laughed! To him my hairsticks looked like bunny ears! It was his first joke. So cute.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

It's back!

It's that time of year again. The days are shorter, the nights are colder, our drinks are pumkpin-ier. Is that a real word? I don't know but in my house it is!

Anyway.... I love the Pumpkin Spice Mocha at Starbuck's. Yes, you heard me right. NOT the Latte' but the Mocha. It's like a decadent creamy pumpkin pie with a chocolate crust. Or Pumpkin Cheesecake with a chocolate espresso sauce drizzled over top. Or heaven in a cup, if you really want to know how I feel about it.

Sooo.... Starbuck's has the delicious, wonderful, nectar of the gods beverages for the very affordable price of...$6.00 a cup. WHAT!?!?!!!! (yes, it the Grande)

That is not in my budget, not even a little bit. So I've been scouring the internet for an alternative I can make at home. So far I've found a few delicious Latte's but still no pumpkin mochas. I guess I could put some chocolate in my homemade latte if I have to.

Here are a few of the yummy Latte' recipes I've found.

Made it in the blender for frothy goodness!
The Kitchn- DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte'

Make it with a homemade vanilla syrup!
Smith Bites- Starbuck's Pumpkin Spice Latte'

The best part of making your cup of loveliness at home? You can stay home a do this....

(did you notice, they're making a list of their dreams...hmmm...)

Ahh... who are we kidding. We'll actually be doing this...

Have a great day!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Happy Anniversary Babe!

In our house, we celebrate many things and many "holidays". Today is one such day!

It's the 4th anniversary of the day Chad asked me to be his wife!!!!
(this is not our wedding. It's another celebration!)

It was a lovely day, full of unexpected surprises (I knew it was going to happen, so there were many other weird surprises instead!)and interrupting foreign tourists.

When it actually happened, it was so funny and obvious what was going on that afterwards we realized he never actually said " will you marry me?" and I never said "yes"! Some how we communicated our intentions anyway and it was wonderful.

Sweetie, I'm so glad you asked me to share your life. There has never been a day or moment in the past four years that I've regretted it or even wondered if I made the right choice. The only thing I've wondered was what it would have been like to marry you sooner! I love everything about you including (but not limited to)- your curly hair, attached ear lobes, and brown eyes. Without you I would never have learned so many things about the world of science, history, the Navy and love.
(this is Chad with Nicola Tesla)

I love you wonderful, handsome, hubby! Here's to our forever!

Grocery Shopping and Menu Planning for Dummies (Like me!) Pt.1

So being a competitive grocery shopper is a big deal on the Internet, if you haven't noticed. It seems like every where I turn is some new way to cut your grocery bill by "(enter obscene number of $$$)". But most of the help found on the front page of Yahoo isn't really helpful to the family who's trying to REALLY cut their grocery bills. People who are not doing it because its a fun hobby in a time of economic crisis but because they have no other option in their current financial situation.

So I headed over to the blogging world.

There are thousand upon thousands of blogs out there advocating extreme couponing, playing the "drugstore game", and becoming an tightwad of Olympic proportions. Not that there's anything wrong with those money saving measures but...they're not for me. Especially, if I need to practice them on a longer term basis, like the duration of Law School.

If you are at all inclined to research those methods of saving money, you need to consider a few things first-

1) What is your personality?
Are you very competitive? Are you motivated by a feeling of victory when you get a deal others might feel guilty about getting? (I'm not saying you are doing something wrong but some people feel guilty for various reasons in that situation. I am one of them.) Do you like the idea of cooking more than scouting for coupons? Are you a homebody? Are you easily overwhelmed or confused? Does the grocery store stress you out?

2) What is your Husband's personality?
Does he think this would be a huge waste of your time? Even after showing him how great the deals are? Does he disagree with stockpiling items you might not need in order to get a deal you do need? Does he like home cooked food or convenience foods? Is he willing to join in a grab deals when you can't make it out? Is he willing to learn the ropes too?

3)What stage is your family in right now?
Can you afford the time to learn the ropes of competitive shopping? Can you afford the inevitable mistakes you will make? Do you have to much on your plate already, be it that you're in the toddler stage or the driving your teens all over creation stage? Do you live in the city/suburbs or in the country? Do you know how to cook or do use a lot of convenience foods? Will this be a short term adjustment or will you have to practice it long term? Do you a car available for you?

All these things are very important to consider when choosing how you will attack your grocery bill. After struggling with trying to be like those amazing extreme shoppers, I've finally made peace with where we are right now. And surprisingly, our target budget and bills are comparable to the extreme shoppers without the hassle!

So I'm going to try and explain in the next few weeks/posts how I do it. Hopefully, it will be helpful to you.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Red, White and Fall

This autumn my fireplace mantle has taken a less than "fall-ish" feel. But I'm okay with that.
This summer I decorated my mantle for the 4th of July and not long after that my oldest, younger brother (does that make any sense? For some reason it does to me!) finally fullfilled a dream to join the Army and left for bootcamp. I decided to leave it up for him until he came back.

How amazing is it that there are still young men who dream of serving their country by voluntarily joining during a time of war. I'm so proud of my kid brother.

The mantle has been the perfect reminder of the sacrifice many families are making this fall so we can have the freedom to celebrate the upcoming holidays in our own homes.

Lord of the Rings has nothing to do with 4th of July, BootCamp or the American Flag. My brother Jordan is a big geek and loves it sooo much. He'd read the books and play LOTR Risk all day if we let him. (We don't. We avoid it at all cost) It reminds me of him so much.

I love you kid brother! Thank you for making such a sacrifice for all the people you know and all those you don't know by defending your country. I can't wait to see you at Graduation!

I've linked up to The Nester's Mantle Party. Check out the other great ladies linked up there too! Later this week I should have all my other Fall decorating done so come back and see me then!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Rainy Day Blues

(Rain, rain go away...Little Bram and I want to play!)

Why is it that as soon as you decide you're going to make a change for the better, something gets in your way?

I told myself that this year I was going to build the discipline of exercise in my life. I decided walking would be the easiest and most consistent way to accomplish with a very active tiny toddler. I even bought a stroller because Bram was getting too heavy for the slings. But after a couple of weeks of doing pretty good...rain, rain, and more rain! I forgot how rainy the fall is!

So I guess it's back to squeezing in a Yoga video! Wish me luck in attempting Downward Dog with a helpful partner...

P.S. The clouds parted this afternoon and we were able to squeeze in a walk! Yipee!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Why Blog?

Or more accurately- why should I blog?

When I started blogging, I really didn't know why I was doing it. Worse still, I didn't know what direction I wanted the blog to go. I though it would just fall together and produce lots of readers (!) and lots of money (!!!). Dream on!

What happened instead was a mis-mash of posts that didn't connect and didn't reflect me as person. I was trying to be a copy cat of other successful blogs but without taking into consideration who I was and more importantly, what stage of life I was in.

After Christmas last year, I took a break and got a glimpse of what might be off. My other blog Use What You Have, was an attempt to remedy the situation. But by then my life had changed and I wasn't able to keep up with regular posts. My baby was older and needing more of my time. My hubby was going though a rough patch at school. I was barely able to get dinner on the table, besides trying to make freezer meals, and blog about it. It was a hard place. It was very discouraging.

By the summer I had (mostly) made peace with not regularly blogging. It was an increadibly busy summer. Lots of visits and visitors. Quite a few stressful situations that needed to be resolved. My husband worked at an internship. By the time I felt like I was able to breathe again, it was time to start school.

A couple weeks ago, Pioneer Woman wrote a list of what she's learned about blogging that resonated with me, especially #1- "Be Your self. Write in your voice. Write as if you're talking to your sister."

That's what I wanted to do but frankly was too nervous to do it. You see, I'm actually a very private person in real life. If you were to meet me, I'm pretty shy and don't like to talk about myself. I like to hide at home and watch movies, cook lots of dessert, drink coffee and hang with my husband.

So what on earth am I doing blogging?!

I ask myself that all the time.

I've come to the conclusion that what I really want for this blog is to be a record of the victories and special moments that we have while going through "the three most difficult years of your life". I want it to be a kind of scrapbook of what I've learned from all the wonderful, talented women in the bloggingsphere. I really want to "bless the Lord with my efforts". I want to be authentic here.

So I'm going to be doing things a bit differently. On the surface it might not look terribly different but the motivation and attitude are and in the end that's all that matters.

P.S. Another great article on the "how" and "why" of blogging was posted on Simple Mom. Check it out!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Megan Neilson Rocks!

There are just some sewing bloggers that seem to have endless creativity and an eye for beauty that one can only aspire to. Meg Neilson is one of those bloggers.
Since discovering her on Wardrobe Re-Fashion, I have been inspired and amazed every time I visit her blog. Originally hailing from Australia, she has moved to Iowa (IOWA!!!) and brought her know how and ingenuity with her to the good ole' USA.

Her designs clearly show she believes a woman should feel as beautiful as she dreamed she would be, when playing dress up as a little girl. All her designs are ultra feminine and sweet as pie but yet comfortable enough to wear when chasing children. She proves this by wearing many of her own designs daily- and almost always in heels!

The other day I was bemoaning (yet again) the dearth of cute, modern nursing dresses. I am sooo tired of wearing separates only! I want to wear sundresses and maxi dresses, like everyone else, and still be able to nurse in them, without breaking the bank. Is that too much to ask? Apparently it is.

I thought for sure, I'd have to design something myself but Meg has come to the rescue!

She has designed an adorable dress that could be easily worn while pregnant, nursing, or anytime. It's just that cute! The pattern can be made as a top or dress, with three sleeve lengths- short, three-quarter or long. And because she loves all things pretty, there is even an optional ruffle for the hem! So awesome! I couldn't have come up with something this great if I had tried.

So check out Meg's blog and sign up for the giveaway today.

All pictures are from Meg Nielson's blog, and are of Meg herself! They were taken by her. I claim no credit for anything.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What kind of mama are you?

I just finished taking the Mothering Styles personality quiz. Not surprisingly, I was an INTP (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving) or as they described it "The Love of Learning" mother.

Its always surprising to me how close these tests come to describing me and this test was no different. The results describe me exactly as a mother, even a brand, spankin' new mama!

So what does a "Love of Learning" mama look like? She:

* fills her house with books and directs her children towards them for answers.
* encourages her children to discover their world on their own terms and lets them build confidence by making their own mistakes and discovering their own solutions.
* enjoys watching her children grow into emotionally intelligent persons and learns as much from them as she tries to impart to them.
* does not handle the craziness and confusion that frequently comes with family life very well.
* frequently struggles to maintain a routine or build the consistent structure needed in a family life.
* loses herself in her own INTP needs and worries that she is distant or detached from her children.

The tips they gave for INTP mamas were spot on.
1) set aside regular times for "mind time' doing things you can lose yourself in, like, knitting, reading, thinking, etc. This time is NOT a luxury but instead a necessity. It's what recharges and INTP mama and enables her to give to her family.
2) Many INTP mamas need to get up earlier than their children, stay up later or use nap times for this necessary recharge time.
3) Most INTP mamas feel they are very different than traditional mothers so need to trust their instincts and simply enjoy the relationship they have with their child.

Wow! This is me to "T"! Many of these very things are struggles I've had recently and am trying to implement solutions for right now.

Take the quiz and let me know what you get!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy Valen-Birtha-Versary!!!!

Today is my birthday. Yesterday was Valentine's Day, next week is my husband and my's 3rd anniversary. We call this busy time of year "Happy Valen-Birtha-Versary"!!! It's full of kisses, hugs, and a few sneaky tushy pinches.

Today my hubby went out of his way to make sure he gave me a nice day. Since Abraham woke up several times last night he skipped this...

and let me do this...

And then he bought me one of these:

And he made me one of these:

I think it's going to be a good day!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Love, Love, Love...

We've been working on getting Bram to sleep through the night (or at least longer!) for the past few weeks. Last night, we put him to bed at his new official bedtime of 8pm and he fell asleep very well. But at 11, he was back awake and trying very hard to stay that way.

So I climbed into bed with him and tried to nurse him a bit, hoping he would fall back asleep soon. He did, and what happened next is one of those wonderful "mommy moments" you will never forget.

He was sleeping, snuggled next to me and he began to stir like he was dreaming. And then he reached up and signed "mama" several times! My heart melted! It was the sweetest thing I had ever seen. He was "talking" in his sleep!

It was especially wonderful for me because although I knew he knew the sign for mama, he never signs it around me, only with Chad when he wants me.

So wonderful!
(While I never see Abraham sign my name, I managed to get a picture of him signing "daddy")

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Grocery shopping- my way.

I wish I loved grocery shopping. I really do. I wish when I walked through the store I looked happy, relaxed and stress-free. Something like this:

Instead, it takes me days to complete a menu, scour the internet for the best possible deals, and assemble the shopping lists to the various stores. By the time I get to actually do the shopping I feel more like this:

(I love the eloquence of Fry!)

I guess I just wish there was a better system. One that involved unlimited cash and home delivery. But until that magical day comes, I'll have to keep doing it the best I can.