12.07.2009

Wordpress!!!!

You'll notice my blog has reverted back to kimmama.blogspot.com... that's because I moved over to Wordpress. Everything is moved over, including comments, so nothing has been lost. If you visit www.kimmama.com like you have in the past, you'll end up in the right spot. The only thing is you have to re-subscribe if you were using Google connect to follow me. Stay with me! Visit kimmama.com and sub :) Or just click here to subscribe to the rss feed.

12.05.2009

Men...

Eric was helping me out since I had my hands full. I sat down in the arm chair with Micah wrapped up in his favorite blanket. He was overtired and just sobbing so pitifully. As soon as he settled in to nurse, he was half asleep already, and Eric moved around the room, switching off all the lights.

"Could you lower the crib rail for me, too?" I can't reach the mattress with it raised, not when I'm holding my little guy to my chest to keep him warm during the "transfer." I instantly realized Eric had never done this, and I wondered how long it would take him to figure it out. He fidgeted with the top, finally just pushed on it and it lowered.

"It says 'PUSH' right there on the bottom in huge letters."

Glancing at the rail again, he said, "I don't read instructions."

"Even when it's just ONE WORD?"

"Yeah?"

Oh my goodness.... [needless to say, I laughed pretty hard at that one.]



Look at this cutie: I crocheted an adorable little Santa hat. It's for sale! I'm going to add it to my Etsy store.




The little guy got his first taste of snow today, too... literally!

11.30.2009

7 1/2 Months Old and Driving Already


Ready for December

Over the past week we have celebrated Thanksgiving twice (Thursday & Saturday), my birthday twice (the previous Saturday and Wednesday) and found time to decorate for Christmas and snag a few deals on Black Friday. We've been busy. This time of year is always exciting for me. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and decorating for Christmas is one of my favorite things to do. Plus, my birthday is usually sandwiched in between. Occasionally it lands on Thanksgiving, which is even more fun.

When I was younger, my birthday was probably the highlight of November, but now that I'm an adult, decorating my house is definitely my favorite part of this month. I look forward to pulling out all the decorations from the basement each year and transforming my living room for the month of December. I always decorate on the day after Thanksgiving, and this year was no exception, although I did have to wait until Saturday night to finish the tree. I have to give credit to my husband for all the hard work of digging out the boxes of decorations from under the stairs in the basement and carrying them all upstairs for me.

This year I did a few things differently. I built a platform for the tree to keep little hands from pulling it over. I used the box from our TV and an empty computer case to set up a double tiered "stage" and covered it with my holiday table cloth and the tree skirt. It turned out pretty well. I also like the fact that it makes the tree appear taller, showcasing it in our big front window.




I also made an original centerpiece for our coffee table. I used the glass bowl that usually holds some artificial flowers and filled the bottom with mini ornaments. I also put some bendable wreath snaffoos (I have no idea what to call them!) around the inside of the bowl and placed a candle holder with a red pillar candle in the center. I placed the entire thing on a decorative mirror. I can't help but think that this would be an amazing centerpiece for a Christmas wedding. Feel free to steal my idea if you are getting married in December!



Unfortunately, one thing is missing... I put up my Nativity scene on the mantle and discovered the manger is missing! I got it as a gift last year and this is the first time I have opened it. I ended up propping baby Jesus against Mary and he looks like he is standing up. I decided that Nativity scenes never feature a true newborn anyway; this baby is way too big to be a day old! Proportionally, he is bigger than Micah, so it's not surprising that he can stand up. Ha!



Now that the house is decorated, I'm in the Christmas mood. We were invited to a Christmas party today that I am really looking forward to: the annual Tacky Christmas Sweater Party! Yay!

11.23.2009

Children's Wear Outlet Sale

The Childrens Wear Outlet

I got an e-mail from The Childrens Wear Outlet today; they will be offering Free Shipping from Nov 26th - Dec 3rd. This offer will be on all orders over $30 and there will not be a limit to the amount of orders placed. There will not be a code for this offer, it will be applied to every order placed. Click on the cute baby above to start shopping!

11.22.2009

To Save or Borrow for a Home?

Let's say two families would each like to buy a nice house for $250,000. Both families have about $2000 that they can put towards housing each month. Family A, the Anderson's, decide they would like to save up for their house and pay for it in cash. They rent an apartment for $750 per month and save the rest in a regular old savings account. (They are afraid of high risk investment, you see.) Family B, the Bailey's, can't wait that long to move into their house and everyone has told them that buying a house is an investment. They decide to take out a mortgage. They get a decent 7% interest rate on a 30-fixed-rate mortgage. The monthly payment is $1663.26 plus (the national average) property taxes of about 300 each month. So they are paying $1963.26 on their house each month and have $36.74 left over to put in their savings. They bank at the same place as the Anderson's so they all have the same annual interest rate (compounded monthly) of .58 percent. The Anderson's move into their nice little apartment and the Bailey's move into their nice big house and life goes on as usual.

Fast forward 16 years assuming status quo on the property taxes, rent, income, etc. Who is doing better? Who made the better decision?

Here's a little chart to keep things straight:



Do you think you know the answer? You might be surprised.


16 years later...

Savings:
The Anderson's have saved up $252,796.52, quite enough to purchase the house they dreamed of with cash, with enough change to buy some new drapes and maybe a sofa. The Bailey's have a whopping $7430.20 in savings. They decide to blow it on a used car for their teenage son. (Or not, you decide.)

(You might say, "hey dummy, that means after the Anderson's buy their $250K house, the Bailey's have more." Well... let's do some more math, shall we? Stay with me, you'll love this.)

Housing:
Both families own a home originally valued at $250,000. To be fair, the Anderson's house might be a little smaller because of inflation. The difference is, the Anderson's own their home free and clear. From now on, they can pay their little $300 a month on property tax and continue to save the remaining $1700 of their budget or spend it on whatever they wish.

Meanwhile, the Bailey's still have a loan balance of $231,728.88. Even if the Bailey's won the lottery and were able to pay off the balance immediately, they have already shelled out 16 years worth of payments, putting their total at $608,674.80.

 


I don't care how much their house has appreciated in value over the past 16 years, they'll never be able to sell if for that figure! They have paid $101,483.33 in interest. In comparison, the Anderson's have spent $144,000 in rent. (Before you say, "The Anderson's have nothing to show for their rent," please keep reading.)

 



Let me recap. Both families are living in a house now, since the Anderson's have just moved in and just about depleted their savings. Both families have put $2000 a month into housing (whether into a mortgage, rent, or savings account) for the past 16 years. But one family completely owns their home, and the other still owes 93% of the original purchase price.

Another 14 years later...


Savings:
For the next 14 years, the Bailey's will continue to shell out $1963.26 on their house each month and have $36.74 left over to put in their savings. The Anderson's have the option of saving $1700 each month for the next 14 years at the same low interest rate.

If they both continued to save the remainder of their $2000 housing budget, the Anderson's will have $300,473.86 (assuming they didn't spend the $2796.52 left over from their home purchase) at the end of 30 years and the Bailey's will have $14,486.76 (assuming they never spent their savings at all).

Housing:
At the end of 30 years, the Anderson's and Bailey's will both own their home free and clear. The Anderson's will have paid $250,000 for their home (or $300,400 if you add in property taxes) and the Bailey's will have paid $598,773.60 (or $706,773.60 with property taxes). Someone would have to rent a $750 apartment for 78 and a half years to match what the Bailey's have spent over 30 years on their house.


Let me recap yet again.... Anderson's: House + $300K vs. Bailey's: House + $14K

Even if the Bailey's were some how able to increase their monthly payment by $500 and completely pay off their mortgage during those first those 16 years while the Anderson's were penny pinching, they still would have paid $167,033.13 in interest. Can a house appreciate that much in 16 years without any renovations or additions or changes to the home? I doubt it.

The Moral of the Story Is....

Despite common assumption, it is better to rent and save than to borrow. (Obviously, you need to save more than you spend on rent for it to be timely.)

I did not know this 2 years ago when we bought our house. Now that we are trying to move to a new town, if we are able to sell and move, rather than take out another mortgage for another house, we plan on renting and saving up for our second home. After seeing these figures, I just can't justify doing it any other way. Maybe getting to live in a house right now is worth paying double for some people, but I'd rather put my quarter of a million dollars towards something else. If for some reason, we cannot move, I plan on doing everything I can to send in extra payments and decrease the amount of interest we pay on this house.

And by all means, internet, please, if you can give me a reason - and show me the math - of why it's better to take out a mortgage than to live in an apartment while you save for a house, do it. 

Disclaimer: I based all my figures on average prices of rent and homes in my city. All calculations were done on Bankrate.com. I am not a financial advisor, I'm just a woman who knows how to use a calculator.

11.18.2009

Love and Gratitude




This post is about how much I love (LOVE!!) my husband. I would say something really poignant about how our love "withstands the fire and trials of life" to go with the above picture, but then you would hear me laughing across the expanse of the internet. Not that it isn't true...

Eric and I are certainly not the only people holding on for dear life during this economical death wave the news is calling a recession. You know, the one which is supposedly over? Yesterday I saw a man driving down our street in a white van with our city's logo plastered on the side. He parked across the street to slip a red notice over the neighbor's door handle. I'm assuming that means we are not the only ones struggling to pay our water bill (among others). I paid mine online yesterday morning, otherwise that might have been our door he tagged. It was probably just a scary threat... "YOU'LL NEVER HAVE RUNNING WATER AGAIN if you don't pay the $18.53 that is 30 DAYS delinquent." That pretty much sums up the attitude my city has towards its residents.

Despite the drama of bill collectors and the tears we've shed over not being able to eat at the Chinese Buffet anymore, our money "problems" have only united us. A lot of couples end up fighting, but some how we've managed to learn how to laugh at our situation. We also share a perspective in that we recognize that we have led privileged lives, and the luxuries we've been forced to give up have never been a reality for many.

Most of the credit goes to Eric. He is the calm one.  In the five years that I have known him, he's lost his temper maybe one time and even then it paled in comparison to my past explosions. He's also very level headed and always has the perfect words to immediately extinguish any panic or frustration on my part. God created hot springs, sunsets, soft breezes, and crackling fires... and then he created Eric.

On top of that, he adores our baby, and everyone knows that while a way to a man's heart is through his stomach, the way to a woman's heart is through her children. When he comes home for lunch, Micah lights up and can't take his eyes off of him, and neither can I. He swoops Micah up to play airplane and the little guy can't stop grinning from ear to ear. In a few years, they'll be inseparable; there's no doubt in my mind.

As Thanksgiving approaches, I want to take time to really consider how the Lord has blessed me and sincerely thank Him for everything. By far, one of the biggest gifts in my life is Eric. Not only is he the love of my life, but God has used him to mold me and teach me over the years. He has helped me to become more disciplined and more patient. Through our marriage, God has blessed us with an adorable son, who steals my heart every morning when he greets me with smiles and squeals of delight. I have found a life-long friend in my husband; a person who I can count on and love for the long haul. Even though we are broke (for now), we have the Lord, our health and our family, and that carries much more value than all the money in the bank.

11.16.2009

Pain

A good friend of mine (who takes amazing pictures - you'll often see them on here...) is in social work and lost a client this weekend. After reading her post, I began to dwell on pain. No sooner did I begin to ponder the scope and purpose when I realized I was trying to view an entire mountain with my nose pressed to the rock. The questions are overwhelming. My heart threatened to burst in comprehending the intensity of a pain so deep that it would push a woman over the edge into a fatal and frigid body of water, and then just as my eyes begin to open to the reality, my heart became colder than the water that consumed this woman.

Why have I become so dulled to pain? In fear of feeling too much, my mind shuts every door that leads to anguish. I feel empathy... I feel pain... but only to a certain point. "It's not real." Of course it's real, but that mantra, that phrase that you repeat to yourself subconsciously when you're watching a tragic drama or a tearful scene in a TV show, does it penetrate the line between fiction and reality? That switch you flip to keep yourself from crying in the back of the movie theater, does it flip itself when you're listening to something real? Do you find yourself switching off emotion when it gets to be too much, even when what you're witnessing is no longer fiction?

When I'm reading scripture, and I'm dwelling on the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, and when I'm trying to allow the weight of that sacrifice to soften my pride and break my heart, I find myself visualizing the story on a mental screen. As it flickers in front of my mind's eye (likely scenes from The Passion), it happens. I'm on the verge of breaking down, feeling something, and the switch flips again. I coldly watch, the image fades, and I'm back in my bedroom with a bible in my lap, and I cannot. Even. Cry. I'm cold.

This woman felt pain at a level so deep, that she was able to overcome what keeps the rest of us above water: that powerful fear and will to live that forces us to swim up and take a breath. I cannot feel a fraction of that pain. I do not want to feel the kind of pain that leads to death. But I do want to feel the kind of pain that leads to repentance. I want to feel anguish because anguish leads to that tight relationship with the Lord that I so desire. You can't experience true passion without anguish.

We watched a sermon on anguish in Sunday school a while back and it has really stuck with me.



I am asking the Lord to remove the frigid exterior from my heart and open it up to the pain that I know will save me from worldliness and apathy. I'm tearful for the thought of being so self centered that I cannot truly empathize. If I cannot feel the pain of the cross, I will never truly bind myself to the message of the cross. If I cannot feel the pain of the lost, I will never evangelize the way I was called. If I cannot feel the pain of the weary and burdened, how will I serve with a pure heart? How will I live out what Jesus called me to do? My motives will be sinful and impure until I can truly feel the anguish that leads us all to action.

11.15.2009

Who's Been in My House?

For those of you who don't know, our house has been on the market for about a month now. This afternoon another Realtor showed it to some people. It was our first showing. My generous in-laws helped us spiff the place up real quick. It was pretty clean to begin with, but we made it really sparkle. Then we all took off. Eric and I took Micah to the mall to walk around. We taste-tested bourbon chicken, checked out the game store, and gawked at expensive stoves and dreamed about buying giant tool chests and deluxe washer-and-dryer sets in Sears. (Okay, so only I was dreaming of deluxe washers and dryers.) We stopped at McDonalds for some dollar menu goodies afterward. We laughed at Micah sitting in the high chair. He gets a kick out of sitting in his own seat. While I munched on french fries, he gnawed on my purse. Such is life with a 7-month-old.

When we got home, our house shown like a beacon on a hill. Literally. All the lights were still on and all the blinds were open. In a dark neighborhood, it really stuck out. I made a mental note to always close the blinds when the lights are on at night... you can see everything.

Inside, it was weird knowing someone had been there, especially because there was evidence. When we walked in, some doors were open and I found shower curtains pulled aside. Some of the lights were dimmed because they must have been testing the dimmers. And the Realtor left a business card on the kitchen table. Eric and I joked that we'd walk in and find them watching the Packer game on the flat screen.

I hope they didn't look at our photos on the mantle or on the walls and think, "what a weird family." I wonder if they read the titles on our bookshelf. Do you think they used the bathroom?

Showing your house is very nerve wracking. It's also weird coming home knowing complete strangers were walking around your house and judging it.

11.14.2009

My How Time Flies



We met at Chapter Focus Week in 2004. This picture was taken at Chapter Focus Week (at a different camp) in 2005, five months into our relationship. I remember at this point, we already knew we were going to get married. We made the engagement official a month or so later when we finally bought the ring... but we didn't care about making if official. It was real enough already. It's funny looking at these pictures because we look so different now, I think. I can't believe we are approaching five years since our first date. It's not so hard to believe that we have been together that long... but it is hard to believe all of the things we have gone through in that time frame... especially the fact that we are parents now! Our biggest stress at the time was getting through college. Now our trials are so much more... grown up!

Let the Baby Proofing Begin

Over the past few days, my little man has started lifting himself up off the floor and scooting backwards. I'm sure it won't be too long before he finally figures out how to go forward and then we'll all be chasing after him. He already knows how to open cupboard doors and drawers. We're in trouble!



Today he did something that just cracked me up. He was sitting by the window and he squashed a fly with his thumb. You know it's getting cold outside when the flies are moving around so slow that a baby can kill one with his bare hands! Way to go Micah! I think he was trying to pick it up. I'm sure he would have tried to eat it, too, if he was able. Gross!

Today has been really difficult for me. I have been battling this head cold, and today it reached the peak of intensity. My face was throbbing from sinus pressure and all I wanted to do was sleep, but guess what.... mommies don't get a day off! Fortunately, a Motrin made the sinus pressure bearable. I have a lot of catching up to do now with my Pregnancy blog and laundry, now that I'm coming out of my coma. I really hate colds. I haven't had one in over a year. Yuck!

My husband really helped me out today, though. He did the grocery shopping for me!! Wow, he did a great job, too! He got everything we needed  (for the rest of the month, probably) and a little extra for about $105. Hmm... maybe he should do the shopping all the time. He is really good at finding deals!

I need to add more movies to my Netflix cue. Any suggestions?

11.07.2009

Lucky Seven



The kiddo turned seven months old yesterday. The biggest change I've noticed is his sudden focus on everything around him. His eyes have been opened up to a whole new world around him, full of items he's not allowed to touch and places he's not able to get to. The latter has been the driving force behind his frustrated attempts to crawl, walk, or otherwise move around the room. He can push himself backwards and turn, dive from sitting on his bottom to "crawling position" but he doesn't get much farther than that. Our 7-Month photo shoot was a little trickier than months past; he was more interested in the grass than smiling at me.

I can't believe that the most intense day of my life is seven months behind me already. Time sped up after I finished college, but now days feel like blinks. From 7am-7pm, my life is nonstop. Then I breath, blog, (sometimes read or crochet) and go to bed. I love the afternoons when Micah decides that all he wants to do is snuggle up next to me for two hours and sleep. I rest, read, catch up on my shows, and I feel refreshed afterward. I'm going to enjoy this season, because I know I won't have that luxury forever. Life is simple with one child.

11.04.2009

How Personal is Too Personal on the Internet?

I try to keep things on the DL when it comes to blogging. I want to remain somewhat anonymous while still sharing my life on a meaningful level. I don't share (anymore) my location, last name or diatribes on my latest marital argument, health issues, etc. It's not so much that I'm worried about what happen (though things do happen), but there is so much information* on the internet already. Do I really need to add more? I only want to add things that have value. How is posting my hernia surgery on Facebook valuable, for example. (Yes, I did see this recently. And no, it was not me. Ha! Ha! And yes, it was quite gross!)

For those of you that are just tuning in, I blog for a site called Families.com. If you have not visited the site before, please do so now! It's a great site with tons of valuable advice and community centered around family life. I write about pregnancy. It's a fun topic since 1) I have been pregnant before, 2) I loved being pregnant, and 3) I plan on being pregnant many times in the future. (I'm not sure how many children "many" entails - we'll see what God has planned for us!)

Recently I blogged about an interesting story I picked up about a woman named Lynsee who is going to broadcast the birth of her first child, LIVE, on the internet. You can read my blog on the topic here.

The more I think about it, the more it makes me think. Where are the boundaries? Sharing a pregnancy or a birth story is a wonderful thing, but when you bring the whole world into the delivery room, you lose your ability to filter out what you don't want to share. People always feel like they're entitled to the whole story, but guess what, when it comes to a person's personal experience, they are not! Even if that person is a celebrity. You should censor your Twitter, your Facebook, your blog... whatever it might be. Don't be the poster girl/boy for "TMI."

Another thing to consider is what I'll call "familiar privilege." I will define it as the unique privilege of those closest to us to share our most intimate experiences. If we keep a small circle and choose to share our private life within that circle, we experience strong community and tight friendship. The larger our circle, however, the less special our experiences become. It's inevitable. The knowledge of our experiences and the intimacy of sharing them with our community becomes cheapened. Secrets are more precious than public knowledge. To overcome this, we must either limit our circle, or limit what we share with our larger circle.

My challenge to everyone is not to completely remove ourselves from the socialsphere of the internet, but to practice safe and respectful censorship of what we publish, broadcast, blog or tweet. Let's consider the value of what we're adding to the internet. Let's treasure our most personal experiences and perhaps reserve those for the ones closest to us.

By all means, share the story of the birth of your child; but let there be secrets, known only by those who were present. Let the sound of those first cries only be known by you and your husband; a joyous and private moment between the two of you, the moment you became parents. Let your husband have that exhilarating moment all to himself; when he first embraces his wife and his new child. Let his first words to his son or daughter be heard only by you and you alone. Let these things remain sacred between you.


*useless

11.03.2009

Easy Peasy Pizza Sauce

This sauce is the ONE. Eric and I have been trying to come up with the perfect sauce for our homemade pizza for ages. I'd like to say that I came up with this recipe because I'm just that great of a cook; but like many fine inventions, this was more of a stroke of luck than anything else.

I was just going to use marinara straight from the jar like we always do, but while I was looking in my pantry I noticed that I had a jar of Hunts tomato paste and also a jar of diced tomatoes. The wheels in my head started turning. I wasn't sure if it would work, but I knew that if it tasted horrible, I still had the marinara.



Shown above are all the ingredients I used. First I mixed the two cans together in a mixing bowl. (Note that both are already seasoned with Basil, Garlic & Oregano.) I added just a little squirt of EVOO to make it the right consistency. Then I added a generous pinch of sugar, a pinch of garlic salt, and a pinch of dried tomato & garlic pesto mix (available from Tastefully Simple).

No cooking, no nothing. Just mix it together and smear it onto your pizza crust. It was so delicious and the texture and consistency were perfect

10.31.2009

Boo!


10.30.2009

Majesty



The picture just can't do it justice.

For one, I wasn't even looking through the viewfinder when I took it, I was driving. Two, there's just no way I could get all the color in just a second of exposure. Three, God's creation cannot be interpreted by a digital camera. My eyes could scarcely take it in. My mind was blown by the beauty. My heart overflowed.

Above me, the backdrop of bright blue was barely peeking through a looming curtain of blue-black, turbulant storm clouds. They spread their rippling fingers down into the blazing stripes of orange, yellow and red that were smeared across the horizon at a slight angle. The land was flat, unobtrustive, and I could almost imagine my car flying into the hemisphere without a road beneath it, about to crash into the majestic view before me. The entire span was so full of drama and movement, so full of contrast and visual power, I was humbled by the site of it.

The fact is, God did not have to paint the sky this way. We could have existed under an umbrella of black or white, never knowing the force or beauty of the plummeting sun. You have to ask yourself the question: Why? God has already given us the answer:

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.
-Psalm 8:1

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
-Psalm 19:1

10.29.2009

Great Recipes to Try

Here are some recipes I've discovered lately that I really love:

Taco Seasoning (Just like Taco Bell's!)
We actually had this for dinner tonight. It really did taste a lot like Taco Bell's seasoning. My mom gave me a box of mini taco shells that she wasn't going to eat and I had half a bag of shredded lettuce left over from sub sandwiches, as well as half a tomato, so I decided to make Tacos. The shells were a little small for eating the usual way, so we made taco salad instead, crunching up the shells for the topping. It was really good!

Whole Foods Hot Chocolate Mix
I found the link to this recipe on a friend's blog - and for some reason I cannot find the link to it right now.... I loooove hot chocolate. Especially when it's homemade!

Classic Baked Acorn Squash
This recipe makes amazing squash. I love acorn squash to begin with, but this makes it taste like dessert.

Pumpkin Pie Dip
I made this for a fall party I went to a few weeks ago. Despite the fact I made a huge batch, the majority of it was gone by the time we left. I still have a few spoonfuls left and I love dipping mini pretzels in it. You can never go wrong with Taste of Home!

10.28.2009

Jesus Loves Me! Loves Me Still...

Sometimes it's hard for me to get into the message or the worship music at church. I listen and I try to let it sink in, and I know I learn, but it often fails to stir me up. I leave feeling informed, but not convicted. But then I come home, and I'm reading Max Lucado's children's books to Micah as he falls asleep, and I'm singing "Jesus Loves Me" to him.... and there it is. God is working through these small things intended for children and babies to call me home, to correct me, and to chisel away at my heart. Did I just need to get back to the basics? Back to the heart of things? Had my foundation cracked? Were the meatier messages at church slipping through my fingers because my hands had become too weak to receive them?

I think singing the lyrics to a song I've known since I was two years old (at least the first verse - my dad taught it to me while my mom was in the hospital having my sister) reminds me that God is the same today as he was 24 years ago, and he has been beside me this whole time.

Jesus loves me! this I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong;
they are weak but He is strong.


Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.


Jesus loves me! loves me still,
'tho I'm very weak and ill,
that I might from sin be free,
bled and died upon the tree.


Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.


Jesus loves me! He who died
heaven's gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin,
let His little child come in.


Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.


Jesus loves me! He will stay
close beside me all the way.
Thou hast bled and died for me,
I will henceforth live for Thee.


Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

10.26.2009

My Little "Soapasaurus"



That's what it says on Micah's bathrobe. I haven't used these much until lately. I've found they are a great way to keep him warm while I put his baby lotion on after a bath. Tonight he wore his robe for a while because his pajamas were still in the dryer. I just bought him a new pair (size 12 months!!) and they have monsters on them. They are his first pair of jammies that are not one piece with footies. They should fit him a little longer. I'm hoping so.

Micah is changing so much every week, I thought I'd write down some current "facts" about him before I forget.
  • He could care less about solid foods. He still prefers breastmilk and will only eat about a tablespoon of baby food on any given day, if that.
  • He has been sitting up on his own for a few weeks, but he still requires some type of "crash pad" behind him for those times when he feels like arching his back all of a sudden!
  • He has one tiny little tooth - the bottom right one.
  • He loves the blanket that I crocheted for him while I was pregnant. I love this.
  • His favorite toy is his food bowl.
  • He likes to be carried on my hip, facing in. (That's a big change from before, when he only wanted to be carried in front of me, facing out.)
  • He loves to grab our faces.
  • He giggles when you say "bloop bloop" or make a popping sound with your lips.
  • He loves taking baths!
  • He no longer cries when he's wet, which means now we have to actually check.
  • He likes to fall asleep with a blanket over his head (don't worry, his blankie is "holey")
  • He screams a lot when he is laughing and playing. It's very high pitched and loud!
  • He likes to chew on wet washcloths. 
  • He can push himself up on his arms all the way and roll over both ways, as well as turn around on his belly.
  • He thinks trees are funny... and laughs at them when the wind blows.
  • He always wants to hold my fingers when he's tired.
  • He grunts as he's falling asleep.
  • He loves wearing his snowsuit: it always puts him to sleep.
  • He is fascinated by books and enjoys opening and closing them over and over.
  • He loves taking naps next to me on the couch while I watch TV.
  • He loves hugs and kisses!
  • He loves dogs!

10.22.2009

Creative Play





I've gotten bored of the same baby toys and games, day in and day out. Today I was on a mission to do something "new" with Micah. I pulled out a cookie sheet and filled it with just enough warm water to cover the bottom. Then I laid that on top of a beach towel on the kitchen floor. I put a handful of bath toys on the cookie sheet and let him loose! It was so funny to watch him spend the first ten minutes staring into the water. He would place his hands in the water for a few moments and then take them back out. Periodically he would lower his face to a few inches above the water and stare at the reflection of the kitchen lights. The ripples in the water caused by moving toys around really caught his attention. We played for quite a while! He didn't even make that much of a mess, either!

What are some creative games you've played with your babies? I'm looking for more ideas!

Baking Things



I've never been much of a baker or a cook, but lately I've come to the realization that there is a whole lot more food in my pantry than what meets the eye... I just have to make it!

From fried rice to giant ginger cookies (shown in the photo above), there of tons of things I can make from scratch and save a lot of money in the process. It just requires a little extra creativity and a little searching (through my cookbooks) to find what I can make from the various basic ingredients I already have.

10.18.2009

Another Season



In my last post I mentioned that Micah had no teeth yet. I spoke too soon! Saturday afternoon, I noticed that my fussy little boy had a "split" gum - and in that little opening was a tiny tooth coming through! This morning he was in much better spirits; the hardest part is over. Today I could feel the sharp little point with my finger. Pretty soon it will be big enough for me to take a photo. I can't believe it's happening already! People always tell you how fast children grow, but you never realize how true this is until they sprout right before your eyes.

The temperature around here is dropping fast. I pulled out Micah's snowsuit and we wore it to church this morning. I discovered that he loves it, and it is a surefire way to get him to doze off. He is so snuggly in that thing! We went to a harvest party last night and our little guy didn't end up going to bed until 10pm or so. As a result he was very tired today, and ended up passing out for over three hours this afternoon. For a little boy who usually sleeps 30-40 minutes at a time, this was shocking! I didn't know what to do with myself during that time. I ended up reading an entire magazine while waiting for him to wake up. My house was already clean so basically I had nothing to do but lounge and wait for him to wake up. I guess I can't complain about that!

Our family is going through some big changes right now. We are hoping to move 30-45 minutes north of where we are currently, but the housing market may prevent that. I want to live closer to our parents now that we have a son. He needs to be close to his grandparents! We have also been hit pretty hard by the recession. The increased cost of living combined with me working only part time from home has made things financially tricky. Moving would mean lower expenses, as well, so I'm hoping that works out. But, I know that God has everything under control and he might have something better in mind for us, so I'm keeping an open mind. In the meantime, having our house listed means it has to be spotless 24/7. This is perfect for me - it will force me to make keeping my house clean a habit, something I've been wanting to do for a while. I'm tired of cleaning in spurts and then letting things get messy again. I have found that it's much easier to maintain a spotless house than a "ruffled" one.

I am really looking forward to November. Not only is Thanksgiving in November (my favorite holiday), but my birthday is in November as well. It's not the same as it was when I was a kid, but it's a fun excuse to get together with my family, eat my favorite dinner and indulge in birthday cake.

10.17.2009

What a Chunk!


This was taken on September 25th.


This was taken today.

The weight gain in his face (and everywhere else) is crazy! We started solid foods around that time as well... I'm thinking that might have something to do with it.

No teeth yet!

Face of His Father

So this afternoon I was taking pictures of my little man and he was really hamming it up for the camera.



He is really cute. I'm not just saying that because I'm his mama. I know from the very core of my left brain that he is extremely cute. My right brain practically seizes every time he smiles from cute overload.



All of a sudden he whips out this face of shock or horror. I have no idea what was going on in that mind of his, but it exploded all over his face, I happened to catch it on camera, and I proceeded to laugh uncontrollably until moments later when Eric walked in. Of course, upon seeing the photo, he reenacted the face.



This only proves how much our little man looks like Eric. It's amazing. And of course that face makes me laugh just as much when Eric does it.



I captured another "look-alike" moment while Eric ate a bagel and Micah ate a.... binkie. Yeah. I promise you; this was not posed!

10.11.2009

One Year Ago



One year ago, I was expecting! It's hard to believe that I am a mother now - and that my baby is six months old already! I can't believe how much I love him. I always knew I would love my children, but I never anticipated that my heart would break every time I picked him up or looked at his sweet little face. I'm so full of joy.

10.08.2009

Metaphorically Speaking...

If you want an apple, you can do one of three things.

1. Sit at your table and pray for an apple.
2. Plant some apple tree seeds, care for the seedling every day and pray that it will bear fruit.
3. Go out and buy an apple (but you only get one.)

10.03.2009

Winners!

Congratulations to Danielle, Tracey and Lindsay, (entries 23, 12 and 7, respectively) who are the lucky winners of a free canister of Wet Ones Antibacterial Hand Wipes. I will be notifying these ladies via e-mail of their prize, and as stated in the rules, they have three days to respond, otherwise the prize will go to the next person in the randomly generated sequence.

10.01.2009

FREEBIE!! (Wet Ones)


It's FLU season! As if we weren't worried enough about our kids and family members catching the seasonal flu, now we're running around, trying not to catch H1N1 ("Swine Flu"), too!

What's the number one rule? WASH THOSE HANDS!

But what if you are in your car? The park? The pumpkin patch? What are you supposed to do then?

The answer: use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or antibacterial hand wipe. There are a lot of products out there to choose from, I'll admit, but Wet Ones happen to be my favorite, and that's why I agreed to do this giveaway. Why do I love Wet Ones?

Once upon a time, I had a travel size bottle of hand sanitizer in my purse. While getting into my car, I noticed a really strong odor coming from the passenger seat. I looked over to see the bottom of my purse completely soaked! Upon opening my purse I discovered that my bottle of hand sanitizer had broke and spilled everywhere. Fortunately it didn't ruin my cell phone, but it was a close call! The bad news is my purse and its contents stunk for a week!

Wet Ones Antibacterial Wipes come in a canister that fits perfectly in your cup holder, meaning you'll never deal with the hassle of hand sanitizer spilling all over your stuff like I did. They also clean up gunk while they sanitize, so they are perfect for kids' messy hands - you can't say that about hand gel.

I was thrilled to receive two free samples of Wet Ones. (Now I have one for the car and for the diaper bag.) I also have a FREE canister of Wet Ones to give out to three lucky readers. To enter, all you have to do is fill out the form below. Spread the word!


[This contest is now closed! Thanks for entering!]

A big thank you to GolinHarris for contacting me for this giveway!

9.30.2009

The Peach Fiasco

Part of me is excited to start giving my son solid foods (he'll be six months old on Tuesday) and the other part of me hesitates because it means a lot more food prep, a lot more laundry, and a lot more time in general. Up until now, feeding him has been so easy and convenient. No warming up bottles, no pureeing vegetables, no bibs, not post-lunch bath, no nothing!


Freebie Tomorrow!

I just want to give you all a heads up that I am doing a giveaway (my first) tomorrow! I will be giving away three free canisters of Wet Ones to three very lucky readers. More details tomorrow. Spread the word!

9.28.2009

Amazing Eggs

The average cost of a dozen eggs this year is about $2.89. I can make four huge omelets (three eggs each) with a carton of eggs, meaning each one costs me about 80 cents if you account for a little shredded cheese and seasonings. That's cheap!

9.26.2009

Anything with Buttons



When he couldn't figure out how to order pizza, he decided to eat the phone instead.

9.23.2009

WAHM

So you want to stay home with your kids, but you can't afford it? I can totally sympathize. Our journey has been a difficult one, and making it work is a continuous battle. Despite the stress of learning how to live on a single income, I would not return to work for anything. I love being a full time mom.

The Secret to LIKING Your Husband (Again)

Ladies, if you've ever gritted your teeth in frustration and felt yourself growing increasingly irritated with your husband, whether it's a bad habit, annoying behavior or a repeated "mistake," I have the answer that will change your marriage. And no... I'm not going to call your husband and tell him to get his act together! I don't have two tickets to Dr. Phil to give away. I'm not even going to teach you how to change him.

9.22.2009

Stuffed Croissants: Pizza Style!





I've been on a stuffed-anything kick lately. It all started with the feta, mozzarella, turkey and spinach Stromboli that I made with my mom a few weeks ago. We used croissants instead of pizza dough and dipped them in warm marinara sauce.

A few days later, I made a breakfast variation of stuffed croissants, using cheddar, sausage and egg. I glazed them with maple syrup right out of the oven. They were heavenly!

Then I made pizza croissants, as shown above. (Tonight I made homemade hot pockets with mixed veggies and cheddar.)

I'm going to tell you how I made the pizza croissants, since they turned out pretty good. You can make these with pizza dough, but since I love croissants (just ask my sister), I love this version even more.

  1. Buy the ready-to-bake croissant dough in the canister to make things quick. 
  2. Layer with mozzarella and your favorite pizza toppings (sans the sauce) and roll them up. 
  3. Bake according to the package directions, adding a few minutes for the stuffing. 
  4. Allow them to sit for a couple minutes once you remove them from the oven and serve with warm marinara sauce

They are delectable and fast!

Quick Clean-Up Tip: As you can see from my photo, I always line my cookie sheets with aluminum foil to save myself from having to wash the pans every time I use them. As long as nothing runs off the side of the foil, all I have to do is crumple the foil and toss. Usually the pan is clean and ready for the next use!

I'm linking this recipe to Tempt My Tummy Tuesday

9.19.2009

Cupid (Without the Wings)



I took Micah's five-month portraits yesterday morning in our living room. The first hour of the day is great for lighting... and a happy baby! Someday, when he's a senior, I'll make sure this gets in the yearbook.

Thoughts on Hard Work

"Time stays long enough for anyone who will use it." -- Leonardo Da Vinci

"She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness." -- Proverbs 31:27

Out With the Old

I've never been very motivated when it comes to housework. I'm not talking about just cleaning, but all things pertaining to maintaining a household: paying bills, organizing, cooking, shopping (groceries), yard work, etc. When I got married and got my own place for the first time, I had to pick up the slack and take some initiative in the home department, otherwise there wasn't going to be anything to eat or wear. I wasn't very successful; many times the sink was overflowing with dishes and Eric had to throw shirt in the dryer to freshen it up before work. Those weren't exactly my glory days as a wife, or even as a human being.

9.16.2009

Roll Over, Micah!

He is SO CLOSE to rolling all over the house. I watch these attempts with such anticipation and excitement, I feel like I am watching football. Will he make it? Almost! Almost! Awww. Not quite. The funny part is, I know he can do it because he rolled over when I wasn't looking yesterday. I laid him on his back, turned around, and when I looked back he was on his belly. This afternoon he rolled onto his back from his tummy! He didn't just roll: he pulled his legs up underneath him and pushed his butt up in the air like he was doing "down dog" with his face planted on the floor. Then he pushed with his left foot and flipped over onto his back. I was impressed. Watch Micah's acrobatics (and fascination with his new "Cars" book) after the jump.

9.14.2009

We Are Not Immune

This past week was an adventure, to say the least. We're pretty sure my husband contracted the swine flu (don't worry, he's recovered now.) When he went to the doctor they gave him a face mask, told him to stay home and said there was basically nothing else they could do for him. They didn't even give him a blood test to confirm because so many people were coming into the clinic with the same symptoms.

My baby seemed to have a cold for a day or two. I was worried he had caught something from Eric, but all he had was a clear runny nose. It disappeared and he never seemed to notice. He was still as playful and happy as ever!

I came down with something, but I'm not sure if it's a milder version of what Eric got or something completely different. Needless to say, we've been going through antibacterial stuff like crazy and on Sunday afternoon we disinfected the entire house. I am beginning to feel better. Mostly I'm just exhausted considering our dear little one woke up every hour, on the hour, last night. Not sure what THAT was all about, but considering he has been asleep now for three hours, I'm assuming it's not going to be a repeat night tonight.

The moral of the story is... the swine flu is not as sensational as I suspected; a lot of people are getting it. But, it's also not as bad as the media would like you to think. As the doctor told Eric, for most people, it's a mild illness.

9.09.2009

The Power of Prayer

Tonight I am reminded of the incredible power of prayer. As I cried out to the Lord yesterday morning for help, I had no idea that so many things would begin to happen over the past 48 hours. Our life, like an episode of Grey's Anatomy, has had numerous sub-plots unfolding and intertwining over the past few years, building in intensity and drama, and reaching a point over the past few weeks that I felt it was all going to unravel at once. I was afraid to ask for it to all go away, as though it were too much to ask of God, who had already blessed us with so much. Who am I kidding? Who am I to stuff such a powerful and loving God into my small box, labeled "expectations." But at my breaking point, with solutions so far out of reach that I could almost laugh at the thought of trying to fix this on my own, I finally said it....

God, I'm tired of praying small prayers. This is a big one.....

And I won't go into detail about what I asked for, because you are the internet and this is much too private for you to hear, but suffice it to say that I was not only bold, but specific. I also confessed a lot of things that might have been preventing an answer (pride, lack of faith, etc.) I was also very confident that God would do something because he doesn't throw you into these situations unless he has a great plan to get you out of them (all for His Glory, of course.)

Boy, it does appear that he has a FANTASTIC plan to get us out of these messes. So for the past 48 hours I have watched in amazement as things have been HAPPENING. Left and right, things appear to be turning around and it reaffirms that I am not serving a powerless God or an unloving or uncaring God. They may not be changing the way I planned, but God's ways are always better than mine.

How fitting that the daily verse in my inbox this morning would read:

Deuteronomy 31:8--"The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." (NIV)

9.05.2009

The First of Many


We found the cutest park near our neighborhood. With brand new equipment and plenty of space to play, I foresee many trips there in the future. Micah was mostly interested in grabbing at the various surfaces. He didn't think much of the swings or slides. We'll be back next summer, for sure. By then we won't be able to get him off the swing or coax him from the slide. Playgrounds are just too much fun! I can't wait!

9.03.2009

How To Get a Free Bouquet


Step 1: Shed those PJ's and pull on some neighborhood worthy pants. Put some warm clothes on that baby. Grab the stroller, a pair of sharp wire cutters, a vase filled with water, and a pair of garden gloves.

Step 2: Grab your keys and head outside. Breathe in the crisp morning air. Wonder what the crew is doing to the house across the street. Put the pacifier back in your baby's mouth and realize the sun is in his eyes. Put the shade down on the stroller.

Step 3: Keep walking until you reach the outer corners of your subdivision where neither mower nor backhoe have crawled. Scan the field for your favorite colors.

Step 4: Cut a variety of wild flowers, interesting twigs and grasses with your wire cutters. Wear your garden gloves to protect your hands from prickles. Fill up your vase. Worry about arrangement later.

Step 5: Head back to the house. Realize the crew is resealing the driveway to make the unsold house look newer. Wonder if the housing market is ever going to turn around in your area. Wonder if you're unknowingly bringing pests into your home.

Step 6: Unload the baby, the vase, your unsightly "mom" sweatshirt and the garden gloves. Arrange the wildflowers while your baby stares. Top off the vase with water, hoping they will not wilt by tomorrow. Take a few photos since you know they will be wilted by tomorrow. Find a sneaky little lady bug in your bouquet. Decide he's harmless and spare his life.

Step 7: Thank the Lord for gorgeous flowers to brighten your home and your day...

9.02.2009

We Had No Idea

In May of 2004, Eric and I spent a week walking the same beaches, eating in the same mess hall, listening to the same speakers, hanging out with the same people (specifically my best friends from college), and frequently being photographed by the same girl (Jenny, who took the photos below). We only met once: a group of us gathered one evening in the mess hall, crowded around the coffee station, mixing hot chocolate with raspberry coffee creamer. The kitchen was dimly lit and shadows were cast across his features. I didn't even recognize him as the same guy later in the week when a friend pointed him out. I absolutely had no idea I had met my husband... 500 miles away from home... and we grew up 35 minutes apart on either side of the state line.




Hundreds of college students were gathered at Cedar Campus that week. In a sea of denim and sweatshirts, I stuck out wearing a pair of bright yellow pants with a Wisconsin Dells logo plastered across the butt. The yellow pants, the freckles, the everything else... it left a lasting impression on Eric. Me? I didn't give him a second thought. I wish I could go back... it would have been a fun week knowing what I know now.

Fast forward to the year's end. Clicked on his screen name in my friend's buddy list just for fun, and I found myself talking to the most awesome person on the planet. Loved what he had to say. Loved the way he made me laugh. Had no idea who he was. He knew exactly who I was. He had been reading my blog on and off the whole summer. He was interested in me. A few hours into the conversation, my friend and I pulled up pictures from the conference and I realized that this screen name had a face... and his face was fine.

Five years later, I look back at these pictures and laugh at how I could spend a whole week crossing paths with my future husband and not even realize it. I have so many pictures of him from that week because he hung out with my friends the entire time. How come I didn't notice him? Why wasn't there this big arrow pointing at his head, saying "this is the one, dummy, stop flirting with that other guy and pay attention to this one!" What was wrong with May? Why did I have to wait until January 7th to have dinner with the man who would hold my heart forever? Why did I date that other guy in the meantime? What was the purpose?

I may not know the answers to any of these questions, but it doesn't matter. Tonight we took our son to the park for the first time, we tag teamed dinner, we managed to get the little guy to bed by 7 and spent the next hour cuddling and laughing our heads off at AFV. We shared mini marshmallows and chocolate chips. I am so blessed, I cannot even begin to comprehend the depth of the Father's love, knowing I deserve none of this.

8.31.2009

Being a Parent Hurts Sometimes

While my roast beef, Swiss and horsey sauce sandwich browns in the toaster oven, the timer's steady ticking provides the background music to my somber thoughts.

(I fully intended that to be over-dramatic.)

I realized today that my parents probably didn't enjoy disappointing me. They really did have my best interests at heart when they said no. They did not enjoy seeing me cry about it. No, this is not the first time I have realized this fact, but it is the first time I have really understood it from their end.

My son is evolving before my eyes and I have noticed a subtle shift in his behavior. No longer just an infant, he's displaying wants as well as needs. For example, he was eating my mother-in-law's hair the other day... had a huge clump of it in his mouth. When we took it out of his mouth he tried to grab it again. When she pulled her hair back where he couldn't reach it, he screamed in protest. He threw a fit because we wouldn't let him chew on grandma's hair. Babies need to eat. Babies need to sleep. Babies need their diapers changed. I'm sorry, but babies do not need to suck on hair as opposed to their pacifiers, which clipped on their shirts, are more than available for all their sucking and chewing needs.

This was the context in which I decided it was time to begin sleep training my son.

(Oh my gosh, this horsey sauce is burning a hole through my nose and opening up the floodgates behind my tear ducts!)

The same changes in his little brain that allow him to prefer hair to a pacifier and pitch a fit about it, also allow him to choose to stay awake when he needs to sleep. Over the past few weeks, he has repeatedly made this choice, and he has gotten more and more tired to the point of screaming for no reason. It has become a battle of wills. Parents versus Baby. Play versus Sleep.

Last night I finally gave in to the nagging voice that kept tell me to "be the parent and make him go to bed when he needs to, not when he wants to." I was fully prepared to hear his cries for hours. Except... he only cried for 15 minutes, maybe 20. Tonight he only cried for 18 minutes exactly. He slept. And slept. And slept. If's he's sleeping, he must really need to sleep, which means he hasn't been getting the sleep he needs for several weeks now. No wonder he had such a short little temper - he was always tired like me. Now I'm slapping myself for not recognizing this sooner.

I still don't like hearing him cry, and he protests for a lot longer during the day when I try to get him down for a nap. I think he's just not used to sleeping in his crib during the day and that is what needs to change. I want him to associate his crib with sleeping to the point that just looking at his bed makes him think, "Hmm, I'm kind of tired, I think I'll take a nap."

We'll see about that....

8.27.2009

The Baby Whisperer

In my family, we refer to Barry White as the "baby whisperer." It started in the car on the way to a friend's house. My baby was really tired, but was too fussy to fall asleep. The radio was all commercials and silence was unbearable with a screaming baby in the backseat. Shuffling through the glove compartment, I came across a CD I had completely forgotten about. Barry White's Greatest Hits. No sooner did the word "baby" slip out of the car's speakers in Barry's signature velvety deep voice, when my pumpkin promptly fell asleep without an ounce of protest.

Don't ask me why I had Barry White sitting in my glove compartment; I'll never tell. And don't ask me why Barry White is so good at putting babies to sleep; I'll never understand it myself. Ever since that day, Barry White has been our go-to-guy when our little man is fussy. Barry never fails us. His CD is always packed when we're planning a long car trip. In a pinch, we'll create a "Barry White" station on Pandora. Our favorite lyric repeats something we find ourselves saying all the time as new parents:

"Baby, sweet baby... what am I going to do with you?"

The only problem we have with Barry White is the nature of his music. Barry White is great for babies. I believe there are a lot of babies out there who wouldn't be here today if it weren't for Barry White. I'm just not sure I want my little boy singing about how those babies got here, if you catch my drift. I wish he sang about horses, angels, lambs and twinkling stars. If he had put out a lullaby album during his lifetime, I bet it would have made it onto every pregnant woman's registry.

I'll keep turning to Barry when my baby's got the blues, but in the meantime I'll be looking for a replacement. Any suggestions?

8.25.2009

Unconventional

Everyone knows that when a baby falls asleep, you should put him in his crib and either take a nap yourself or do one of the other million things on your list... but I often don't.

I don't know how many more chances I will have to look down and gaze at this tiny face in my arms. I might blink and realize he is fifteen and too big or too cool to fall asleep in my lap. If I don't listen, I might forget what it sounds like to hear these tiny puffs of breath, breath that smells something like sugar or hazelnut. It's no wonder they've named a flower after it. How is it that babies smell so good?

If I lay him in his crib, I would miss the occasional happy sigh, the sleepy smile that flickers across his peaceful face as he dreams (of what, I wonder?). I wouldn't feel his tiny fingers search for a fold of my shirt or my thumb to grasp. I might not catch that first waking glimpse or the grin that follows when he realizes I'm still there.

So even though there are dishes to wash and laundry to fold, I hold my child instead, watching him sleep, whispering a prayer of gratitude.

Thank you, Lord, for this child, this blessing.
Keep him safe and show me how to raise him.
Let him always know how much he is loved.

8.24.2009

A Birthday Cake that Says "I Love You"

Last summer I took up cake decorating as a new hobby when I offered to make a wedding cake for a friend. The wedding cake turned out wonderful and I decided I would like to make more cakes. Since then I've made a few birthday cakes and a few just for fun. I'd like to think I'm getting better at it. I would love to take a cake decorating class and learn how to make those gorgeous flowers out of frosting. One thing I do not want to learn is how to work with fondant. I know it is all the rage right now, but I hate the taste, so I'd rather not go there. I don't want to spend hours working on a cake that I won't enjoy eating afterward.



This is the cake I made for my mom's birthday this weekend. It's so colorful - an experiment with food coloring. I baked two 9" rounds and cut them with a big heart mold that is supposed to go with my cheesecake pan. I used a Duncan Hines mix (coconut) and made my own frosting (buttercream). It was really tasty - I had two pieces! I think coconut cake is my new favorite!!

8.21.2009

Purple Pizza

A.K.A "Adventures in Food Coloring"

Bought a few boxes of food coloring last week for the birthday cake I made for my mom's birthday (which is on Sunday). We love to make homemade pizza, and when I was making the dough the other night, I had the urge to squirt purple into the bread machine at the last moment. It made for one really weird looking pizza. I decided I must do this again when Micah is old enough to appreciate it.




I'll post pictures of the cake after my mom sees it first. It turned out really cute!

8.18.2009

Enjoying the Journey

This week I blogged about the importance of "Daddy Time" on the Families Baby blog. My inspiration came from my husband and my son playing in the next room...

My husband will be the first to tell you that playing with his little man is no small task. Thinking of silly ways to entertain our four-month-old comes much easier to me. I can move quickly from one trick to the next, while my husband struggles to keep up with Micah's 5 minute attention span. "I can't wait for him to get older" is his mantra. He wants him to be able to say what he wants instead of cry. He also wants him to be able to move around on his own. Women cringe at this sentiment, knowing how quickly babies grow into the next stage, which has its own difficulties, but I understand his frustration. I felt the same way when we were dating. (I can't wait to get married - I'm tired of driving home every night!!) There are just certain stages in life that we can't wait to finish - college, looking for a spouse, planning a wedding - and it's hard to enjoy them, even if there are plenty of things to appreciate about each stage. We begin to focus on certain goals so much that we start to resent the journey. Before we know it, our goal is achieved and a fragment of history, and what is left? Did we waste all that time waiting for the next big thing and miss out on all the fun in between?

God enjoys the journey. You can tell just by looking around at creation. He could have populated the earth with a bunch of full grown adults, but instead he created pregnancy, babies, children, and childhood. In fact nearly everything in creation starts out small and grows. There is a reason trees take decades to reach their full height. There is a reason he doesn't wave a magic wand when we begin a relationship with him and turn us into the perfect Christian. We reach full maturity in Christ when we enter the gates of heaven; until then we embark on a spiritual journey of epic proportions. He slowly molds us through life's experiences, His perfect wisdom (the Word) and the power of His Holy Spirit. I think we should take a cue from creation and savor every bite of life. Every breath is a gift from God, who is the giver of life itself. Every moment deserves our full gratitude and appreciation for everything we receive.

Whenever I'm tempted to wish any part of Micah's "babyhood" away, I try to focus on all the good aspects (he can't run away or talk back, for example) that are unique to this season. I am trying to share these with my husband as well. In the meantime, I enjoy watching Micah bore a soft spot into Eric's heart with all his cute little antics.

8.14.2009

I'm a Better Mama When I'm a Better Daughter

While perusing blogs tonight, I found something that really struck a chord.

The Barefoot Mama: "It's important to identify what impedes you as a mom and then prayerfully and purposefully design ways to fulfill those needs and structure your time in the home in order to attain a balance for yourself"

I've just discovered Kelly's blog through comments and I must pause and say, "Lord, you really know how to introduce me to the right people at the right time."

For me, "those needs" are primarily spiritual - specifically time spent in prayer and studying God's word. I'm a much better mama when I'm a better daughter. Spending time with my heavenly father each morning sets the tone for the entire day. It determines whether I stick to my priorities, the measure of patience I have for life's everyday hangups, the peace in my heart, and the smile on my face. I don't want Micah to know a mommy who doesn't intimately know her Savior. I desperately want him to know a mommy who will teach him, through example, what it means to love and serve the Lord with all his heart and soul... to find strength in God alone.

Reading Kelly's blog cemented a decision I made yesterday to sacrifice that last hour of sleep in the morning. Micah's naps were becoming too unpredictable to count on them for quiet time. Quiet times fell by the wayside for a while because of this, and my heart suffered greatly. You can only go so long on your own strength before life's stresses begin to eat away at your peace and joy. Who on earth lives a life without some type of stress or ongoing problem? In a sin-plagued world: no one. We were never meant to live a solitary life - we were created to live in relationship to our creator. You can only talk on your cell for so long before you need to plug it in - and spiritually, we are all living on a very short battery life. Jesus said "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." Apart from Jesus, YOU CAN DO NOTHING. You may think you are doing all kinds of things, but is it fruitful? Is it meaningful?

For me, skipping my time with God each morning greatly impedes my success as both a mom and a wife. Sacrificing that hour of sleep in the morning not only gives me an opportunity to worship God with my obedience and devotion, but forces me to trust him to provide me with the energy to get through the day. I'm not going to lie, I don't think it's a coincidence that the rare opportunity to nap in the afternoon magically appears when I start the day off right. My little guy will decide the only place he wants to take his afternoon nap is right by his mama, and his tired little mama is only too happy to oblige.


8.12.2009

Best Picture EVER



This is by far my favorite picture of Micah... in his little four month life.

8.10.2009

Tempt My Tummy Tuesday - Pecan Banana Bread

This recipe is part of Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, hosted by Blessed With Grace. I found this banana bread recipe on Taste of Home's website, but it originally called for walnuts. I substituted 2 ounces of chopped pecans. It turned out amazing! I made it just the other day and it's almost gone already.

Best Ever Banana Bread

INGREDIENTS

* 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1-1/2 cups sugar
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 2 eggs
* 2 medium ripe bananas, mashed (1 cup)
* 1/2 cup vegetable oil
* 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk**
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 2-ounce package of chopped pecans

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, combine the eggs, bananas, oil, buttermilk and vanilla; add to flour mixture, stirring just until combined. Fold in nuts.
Pour into a greased 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pan. Bake at 325° for 1 hour 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Yield: 1 loaf.

**Don't have buttermilk? Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup, then add enough milk to make 1 cup. Let it sit for five minutes and then use however much the recipe calls for.

8.08.2009

Quality Time

Eric and I were discussing ways we could spend more quality time together. Our problem, like many other married couples I'm sure, is that our hobbies are... different. You will never catch me on a computer playing Counterstrike. You will never see Eric with a ball of yarn and a hook in his hands unless you travel back in time to his childhood when his grandmother taught him how to crochet. We can't figure out what brought us together except for the fact that we think the same jokes are funny and the same goals in life are worth pursuing. We are also incredibly attracted to each other, physically, but that is not something I want to publish on the internet for my son and his friends to read in fifteen years and become horribly embarrassed about. Or maybe I do.

Micah, your father and I are extremely attracted to each other in the physical sense.



As far as hobbies are concerned, we have found common ground on the following territories:

1. Cribbage
2. Ping Pong
3. Movies
4. Scrabble
5. Yahoo Euchre

Often our conversations go something like this:

Me: "Do you want to do something?"

Eric: (Picturing the scrabble board or some other activity I'm likely to suggest) "No, that's okay, babe."

Isn't that horribly sad and pathetic?!

So. Quality Time... we decided to see if we could use his parents' old PlayStation since his sister, who still lives at home, really wants a new system. I think she wants an X Box. I think Eric will compromise his Gamers' Integrity by playing a little Wheel of Fortune, Packman, and Bejeweled with me.

What kinds of hobbies do you share with your spouse?