Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Linkadoos, etc.

*Thank you so much to all who responded to my question about transitioning to two kids. You gave some wonderful advice and suggestions--in fact, I'm going to print them out so I can keep reviewing them!


*Since I said I'd update you, I spent a third of my birthday money this weekend--$8 on a sweater here (it's not maternity, though it is a verstile enough style and fit that I can wear it now and later--yay!) and $4 on this cereal (used a $1 coupon). That might sound strange to use my fun money to buy cereal, but I'm very practical and I have a personal spend limit of $2.50 per box, so buying this flavor is a rare splurge.


*I just received my first check from Ebates--I love that program! It's such an easy way to earn a little cash back if you're already making on-line purchases--I really recommend them.


*I recently signed up for this free program--it's basically a "virtual notebook," which is pretty high-tech for this pen and paper girl. I heard about it from Real Simple, and have enjoyed experimenting with saving links and articles I want to keep filed.


*Last but not least, many thanks to Debra and Nicol for recently honoring me with blog awards. I appreciate your thoughtfulness!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Input requested!

As the arrival of our baby approaches, I'd like to tap into your collective wisdom and experience regarding the transition to two kids. I would love to hear your stories and advice--anything related to preparing, initial adjustments and beyond. What has worked (or not) for you and your family? Any ideas for helping Nathan (age 2) with the transition?

Thank you so much for taking the time to share--I really appreciate it!

Speaking of babies, we welcomed a new niece into our family yesterday--we can't wait to meet you, Addison!

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Wild Honeys

After I graduated from college in Iowa, I moved back home to Colorado to teach middle school English. It was one of the most challenging times in my life, and God knew I needed special support that year.

My long-time friend Allison invited me to join a small group with some other women who had just completed this study. I remember feeling a little awkward at the first gathering since most of the ladies already knew each other, and I wondered where I would fit into such a random group. I was the youngest of the seven women (ages 22-36), but we were all single and all loved the Lord.

I don't recall how we decided what to read together that year, but somehow we selected a book called The Allure of Hope, written by a compassionate local woman with whom I'd had a couple ties in the past. This book deeply resonated with all of us, and we became close spiritual sisters as the result of our conversations. We met every Tuesday night to discuss a chapter from the book, and to spend time in heartfelt prayer for one another. Once a month or so, we'd have a fun social event--ice cream, a slumber party or a night on the town. Along the way, we dubbed ourselves The Wild Honeys. It was such an appropriate name for a vibrant group of women!

It's hard for me to believe we only met together for one year before I decided to return to Iowa to be the director of a women's dorm. Since that time, 5 of us have gotten married, and there are currently 3 "little honeys" with 3 more on the way! Four of us have moved away from Colorado, so staying in touch has become much more difficult, but I'm always glad to hear from them. I was so honored when these fabulous ladies road tripped out here for my wedding several years ago. We have many memories together, involving much laughter and tears, and I remain thankful for their friendship.

The Wild Honeys, circa 2002: (front) Susan, me, Allison; (middle) Jenny, Rebecca, Amy; (back) Donna Rene

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Lifegiving

Two years ago, I went through the Five Aspects of Woman study with a small group of women. What a challenging and solidly biblical course!

One of my favorite lessons focused on how God created every woman to be a lifegiver. According to author Barbara Mouser, "One of the traditional ways that women have given life to others is through their homes. Whether single or married, we all influence our loved ones through the environments we create."

To help us better identify our role in the home, Barbara gives the following definitions of homebuilding, and I really like how she describes them.

Housekeeping: daily mundane duties in the house such as making beds, washing dishes, dusting, etc.

Homemaking: habitually creating an atmosphere at home that is conducive to rest, fellowship, love, learning, security

House-building: the long-term lifework of helping a man, creating and nurturing a family, producing wealth, earning a reputation, blessing the local church and community, strengthening the nation, and thus influencing the world (Gen. 24:60; Ruth 4:1-12; Prov. 14:1)

Barbara encourages us to balance all of the above definitions in our homebuilding, and continues to define lifegiving by saying that "All women give life in one way or another. Lifegiving is anything which raises life above mere existence. Physically, we are invigorated with food, clothing, shelter, and health care. Spiritual lifegivers nurture the soul and spirit with words of love and truth and through gifts of heritage, traditions, culture, the arts, and holidays."

What an awesome privilege and responsibility we have--I am thankful God created me to be a lifegiver!

Note: Most of this post was originally published on May 22, 2007. I felt led in my latest retreat to review my notes from this portion of the study, and was blessed to be reminded of my role as a lifegiver, so I wanted to re-post these concepts. In looking through my notebook, I was startled to come across this prayer I wrote when I was a month away from delivering Nathan:

"Father, as I anticipate childbirth and becoming a mom, help me rely on You. I can do none of this without You. Help me accept that there will be pain and struggle, but to find joy in what You will bring us through." To which I now add, Amen!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Updates

*Thank you for your thoughts and prayers for my dad. His pain is still being managed pretty well, though he has experienced a decrease in energy. The biggest news is that he and my mom just decided he will retire at the end of March, enabling him to rest, volunteer and travel as he feels led. I rejoice that they are in a position that this is possible. I hear in his voice an excitement for what he will do with this new freedom and time, and I'm sure this move will have a positive effect on how he's feeling!


*We're just 4 weeks away from meeting our daughter--it's gone so fast up until this point, but I have to admit it's hard to maintain a consistently cheerful attitude in the midst of the discomforts that come with (late) pregnancy!


*I finished my work at the college a couple of weeks ago. I'm so thankful God provided those opportunities, but am also glad that I will have more flexibility in my schedule these final weeks before we go through a major transition!


*As for blogging, it was totally the right decision to cut back a few weeks ago. I continue to take Thursdays off from blog stuff altogether, and that just makes me look more forward to checking in on Fridays! Makes me think of the adage "less is more"--it's certainly been true for me.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Gorgeously Green

"My motto is one change makes a difference, and if you can make two, that's even better!"

"I had to realize that I couldn't change everything at once and that all I had to do was change one tiny thing a day."

--quotes from Sophie Uliano, author of Gorgeously Green

My friend Amy recommended I read this book, so I checked it out for almost 2 months (!) from our local library. It didn't take me very long to read--just that long to get around to writing about it!

I would say the book is written to more of what I would consider a trendy and affluent audience, and there were definitely sections I did not connect with. But overall, I think Uliano's "green transformation" is inspiring.

Rather than re-invent the wheel in discussing a couple of the chapters, I'm going to point you to (Mom Advice) Amy's articulate posts inspired by this book: "Becoming Aware" and "Green Your Personal Care."

A few highlights from my own notes:

*After reading the chapter on beauty products, I started typing the names of my toiletries into this database, and was horrified to find the most offending items I use on a regular basis come from this company, in particular my favorite soap and lotion.

*This book inspired me to add some eco-friendly ideas to my gift list this year:
--a BPA-free water bottle to replace my Nalgenes (It's taken some getting used to as it "tastes" a little funny to me to drink out of a metal cup, but I'm glad to know it's safer than the #7 plastic bottles I've used for so long.)
--this toothpaste (I have to use Nathan's expression and admit I think "it's not so yummy," but I had to try it to find that out.)
--a second loaf-size container for my homemade bread so I can reduce my usage of plastic bags

*Another thing the book finally motivated me to look into was an insulating blanket for our hot water heater. It's an easy, inexpensive solution that will save you up to 10% in water heating costs. We got one for about $20 at Lowe's, and we could instantly tell a difference. (Startling fact from the book: "Eighty to ninety percent of energy for washing clothes goes into the heating of the water." I find that astonishing!)

*I also appreciated the section about the high and hidden "cost" of heavy beef consumption. I became a vegetarian in high school (I now eat poultry, but only a few times a week), and one of the reasons I stick with this decision (besides that I am honestly not a fan of the taste) is that it takes so much grain to feed just one cow. Consider this from the book: "Seventy percent of all agricultural land in the world is used to raise farm animals. The rest is used to grow crops, a third of which is used to feed the animals . . . If all of us would reduce our meat consumption by only 10 percent, enough grain would be saved to feed 60 million people." It's certainly some food for thought.

So, there's another one of my "hodge podge" book summaries. I am glad I read GG, because it inspired me to take some baby steps in the right direction, and as the quote at the top of this post says, "One change makes a difference!"

Environmental stewardship is an area I continue to think a lot about. Remember this book? I'm very excited, because the author's wife will be publishing a book of her own this spring. (And since I have a sister-in-law who works for the publishing company, I managed to snag an advanced copy. Let me tell you--I'm only in the second chapter, and learning so much already! I'll be sure to share more soon.)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Photo shoot, according to Nathan

"Who is this lady, and why is she making me sit still?"
"This is not so fun."
"Running down a ramp, now this is more like it!"
"OK, I'll smile if Daddy promises I can have a piece of candy afterwards."

Monday, February 9, 2009

Photo shoot

After we received the troubling news of my dad's diagnosis, my mom had a great idea to do a family photo shoot while we'd all be together at Christmas. She asked Monica and I if we knew any local photographers, and we both wrote back with the same suggestion: Heather, a mutual pal of our long-time friend, Rebecca.

Heather was awesome to work with, we had decent weather, and you can't beat the scenery of a Colorado castle, which happens to be where Monica and David were married 5 years ago this month.

I wanted to share my favorite shots from the morning:

a rare view of the whole crew
capturing my pregnancy (Heather saw my belly, and got really excited because she loves taking maternity photos!)
all smiles
the golden shot--one I'll always treasure

Thank you so much, Heather, for all you did for us. If you'd like to see more pictures, Monica posted her favorites here. I'll share a few more tomorrow, accompanied by captions "written" by Nathan.

Friday, February 6, 2009

"New" chairs!

It was almost a year ago that I posted a pic of our falling-apart dining room chairs. Much to my surprise, one of my Christmas presents from Eric was to re-cover them with new fabric. What a wonderful gift! I would not have been ambitious enough to conquer such a task, and Eric did all the work--my only job was to select the fabric, and I am so pleased with the results:
Another fun little furniture makeover involved this bench that used to belong to Eric's grandparents. It came with a rust-orange cushion, and I asked my talented sister if she'd be willing to re-cover it for me. Well, she did, of course, and gave me this darling result for Christmas:
I'd requested denim for the new cushion, and I love that she used blue and white ticking for the edging, and even added cute matching pillows! Thanks to Eric and Monica for these wonderful gifts!

One more new-to-us piece of furniture that I'm really excited about--a glider and ottoman for the baby's room. I was mourning the fact that we were going to move our other rocker out of Nathan's room, because we often sit there to read books. Eric and I agreed that if we could find a good deal on something we liked, that we'd get a second chair so each kid could have one. Well, it's a longer story than this, but the bottom line is we found this one within a week's time at a good price and from someone who really needed to sell it--yet another example to me of God's (creative) providence.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Bearing fruit

While I was pregnant with Nathan, Eric and I selected three very specific traits to pray for regarding his character. One of those traits is that Nathan would be someone who is compassionate and sensitive to the needs of others. We continue to pray for Nathan to develop these same traits, and yesterday I saw some beautiful "fruit" of those prayers.

To set the stage a bit, Nathan is usually quite fussy when we first get home from any kind of errand or outing. We'd just walked in the door from church and he was whining about pretty much everything. I was feeling discouraged about the way he was acting, and said a quick prayer that God would help me.

A little later, I started crying about something that had touched my heart, and Nathan came over to me and said, "Mommy's crying." I told him that sometimes Mommy and Daddy get sad just like he does. Nathan responded by handing me his bear, aka his favorite thing in the world. I tearfully thanked him for being so kind, but what he did next made me cry even harder. He grabbed a pillow and blanket and brought them to where I was sitting, then climbed into my lap and said "Let's snuggle, Mommy." I wept for his sensitivity and compassion, for the Lord's faithfulness in developing our son's character, and for the comfort Nathan extended to me in my sadness.

You answered my prayer for help and encouragement, Lord, and in such a beautiful way. Thank You for Your faithfulness, and for reminding me to be faithful in praying for my children.