Friday, May 28, 2010

Score!

Last week when my dad was here, I was able to squeeze in a check-up at the dentist's office. (Since I've written on that recently, I will share that it was overall a good report, considering I'd not been in 3 years! I have no cavities, but my teeth do show considerable wear from grinding at night. I was proud--for the first time ever--to say that I've been flossing regularly!)

Anyways, the dentist's office is in a neighboring town, and there is a bakery down the road. When I'm over there, I like to stop in and check out their day-old rack. They usually have nice bread and other goodies marked down to 80 cents a package. I was perusing the rack next to a couple of other people, and my eye drifted to the bottom shelf, where I saw this:
I did a double-take because it looked to me like this enormous bag of bread cost just $1.75. I quickly grabbed the large package and hauled it over to the counter. The clerk confirmed that the price was accurate, and I could barely contain my excitement at such a bargain!

When I got home, I spread everything out on the counter, and being the nerd that I am, I even pulled out my calculator to add up the original sticker prices of each item. I ended up with about $25 worth of bread, including the exact kind of buns I'd intended to purchase in the first place. Since we have a deep freezer, we have plenty of space to store these goodies until their time is right!
Have any of you found a fun bargain lately? I'd love to hear!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Good times

It was wonderful to have my parents here recently. My mom came for a long weekend, and then my dad was able to stay an entire week after that. Here are some pictures from our time together:

We went to a special pancake breakfast at our small local airport, and Nathan loved watching all the planes land and take off.
I love this pic of my dad and Natalie walking together
Natalie showing off her cute new t-shirt!
Nathan and Grandpa at the zoo

Thanks for coming, Mom and Dad. Love you!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Femininity and stewardship

My blog friend Katie has been writing a series on the topic of femininity, and she asked me to write a post about femininity and stewardship. You can read my post here. (And while I'm mentioning Katie, she recently created this lovely award, which I was honored to receive. Thanks, Katie!)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sisters' Shoebox Swap: You Pick the Theme!

It’s (finally) time for another swap! We've had quite a few people write and ask when we'd be doing another one, and we hope you will join us. Usually we choose a specific theme for our swaps, such as harvest or haven, but this time around, you get to choose the theme. Each swapper will be matched with a partner, and using their questionnaire, we hope you'll craft a box you think that person would enjoy. You're welcome to use any of our past themes (click here for inspiration), but we're excited to see what you come up with. As always, please limit your gifts to what can fit in a shoebox.

Please read the following details carefully.

1. In order to participate, you must be a subscriber or regular reader of either The Homespun Heart or with all that I’ve been given.

2. You need to fill out your questionnaire as part of the sign-up. In order to sign up for this swap, please e-mail sisterswaps@hotmail.com with the following info:

name
complete mailing address
e-mail address
blog site, if you have one

Please indicate if you would be willing to ship internationally. If you don't mention this, we will assume you would prefer to ship within the U.S.

Also, please answer the following questions in the e-mail. The more thorough your answers, the better we can match you with someone complementary.

What is your favorite color?
Favorite season?
Do you collect anything?
Describe your style (classic, eclectic, neutral, etc.)
If you were to receive a gift basket full of goodies, what kinds of things would you like to be included? (lotion, candles, notecards, etc.)

Please indicate your preferences, and feel free to elaborate on your choices:

Hot weather or cold
Tea or coffee
Cake or pie
Buy it or make it
Book or movie

Sign-up entries must be complete to be included. Even if you’ve swapped with us before, please send all of the information requested above.

Important dates to consider:

Sign-ups are due by 8 a.m. (CST) Wednesday, May 19, or when 40 people have signed up.
Partner info will be e-mailed to you by May 24.
Please send your shoebox by Monday, June 14.

If you have not received an e-mail from us by May 25, please check your “junk” folder.

Thanks, and happy swapping!

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Ministry of Motherhood

Several months ago I read this post, which led me to this one, where I was blown away by the letter written by another mother of young kids. I connected with--and was convicted by--several things she said. Near the bottom of her letter, I read this: "I'm halfway through with Ministry of Motherhood - reading it is like having a loving mentor by my side teaching me how to be a Godly Mom. One who is real and genuine and humble and full of stories and who doesn't always have all the answers but has a lot of them and knows the one who does have them all." That quote, buoyed by the rest of this precious woman's testimony, nudged me to order the book on-line that same day.


I recently finished the book, and wanted to share some of my favorite quotes with you.


*The tag line alone is inspirational: "Following Christ's example in reaching the hearts of our children." May it be so, Lord!


*"This commandment [to love God and our neighbors] sums up the first gift we can give to our children--the desire and ability to understand and receive the grace of God and to give it to the rest of the world."


*"As I look to the hearts of my own children and seek to teach them about the grace of God, I realize my love and service to them must come before any of my great words, my teaching and training."


*"As mothers and fathers, it is so easy to get distracted by the details of our lives. We have so much to do! We must feed our children well and take care of their health. We must oversee their education and their training to make sure they will be able to take care of themselves and live in a civilized society. We train them in righteousness so they may understand how God wants them to live. We try to relate to them in mature ways and help them learn to have healthy relationships.

Yet often, I think, we get lost in these multitudinous tasks that rule our lives, and we lose sight of the underlying purpose behind all these tasks, which is to prepare our children to go into the world and make disciples for our Lord."

*"'The Holy Spirit is in your life to give you His strength in these situations so that you can reflect His supernatural responses to life's demands. It's natural to let life irritate you and to get angry. It is supernatural to be patient and loving and gracious. That's really the secret to the Christian life--to learn to yield our lives and our emotions and our actions moment by moment to Him.'" How often I choose the "natural" choice, though I want so much to yield my selfish tendencies!

*As I've mentioned my discouragement in training Nathan, I appreciated Clarkson's reminder that "we must persevere in hope, even when we don't seem to be going anywhere."

*"Giving our children the gift of service is not really a matter of teaching them what to do. It's more a matter of helping them look at other people through Jesus' eyes and respond as He did. It really is that simple--though it's often not easy."

*And in closing, "This is the true ministry of motherhood--to usher my children into the living presence of God, to nurture in them a heart for Jesus and the Great Commission He has called each of us to fulfill."

Has anyone else read this book? If you could use some inspiration as a mother, it will both challenge and encourage you!

Monday, May 10, 2010

10 on the 10th: grammar notes

I've been thinking about writing a post on grammar for awhile, and got a big kick out of the fact that Mer (the 10 on the 10th hostess herself!) posted about her grammar pet peeves a couple of weeks ago! As a former English major and teacher, I've always had an eye for proofreading. This does not, however, mean I never make mistakes! I don't claim to be an expert on this subject, and one of my "fears" in writing this post is that now my blunders will be even more noticeable. (And heaven forbid, there may even be errors in this post!) Regardless of all that, I thought it would be fun--and hopefully somewhat educational--to post 10 "grammar notes" today:

1. When addressing an envelope, please do not use an apostrophe between the person's last name and an "s." Instead of "the Baker's," it should read "the Bakers." I see this mistake all the time on mail I receive, and it always bothers me!

2. People seem to think it is most proper to say "I" instead of "me" when paired with another person. The way I remember correct usage is this: take out the other person's name and determine which personal pronoun is most appropriate. "Alex and I" went to the store; the chocolates were given to "Marcy and me."

3. When referring to multiple extended family members, you should always make the most important part of the phrase plural. Instead of saying "my sister-in-laws," you should say "my sisters-in-law."

4. This is a helpful explanation regarding split infinitives. I can't explain them very well myself, probably because this is an area where I often show blatant disregard for traditional grammar rules. (italics=case in point!)

5. After working in a public relations office that used AP style, I quickly adopted a new approach to capital letters. Traditionally, most job titles and college majors/school subjects are capitalized. However, in AP style, you would write, "Eric majored in math and now works as a financial advisor." I know it's hard for some people to make that switch, but it seems much more streamlined to me.

I should note that some of you have probably noticed I take certain "creative liberties" in my writing. For example, I often write my name with a lowercase "c," and I also make up words like "misc.-y" and "snuggly." Call me fickle, I guess, though of course I use these only in non-professional settings.

6. Don't even get me started on they're/there/their or then/than!

7. I remember reading a version of this list in school--it's an astute and humorous way to remember certain grammar rules.

8. One area of grammar in which I feel less confident than others: quotation marks. I'm often unsure of using them properly next to other punctuation, as in #5 above. On a lighthearted note, this hilarious blog is devoted to their constant misuse.

9. I often read paragraphs that are totally peppered with exclamation points!!!!! I find it very distracting. The point, if you will, of said punctuation is to set a statement apart. It's a matter of personal preference, I suppose, but I rarely compose two exclamatory sentences back-to-back.

10. Ive racked my brain and I can't not come up with any other grammer things that bug me, if you want to read more fun lists; click hear.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Review: Super Sounds Soccer

Monica recently did a giveaway of a fun soccer toy, and the company offered her the same item to review herself. Being the gracious sister she is, she asked if I could do the review instead. She knew Nathan would enjoy playing with the soccer goal, which was very thoughtful indeed.

Here are my pros and cons about Super Sounds Soccer, which comes with a goal, target and ball.

Pros
+Goalposts are sturdy. We live on a windy corner, and Eric and I were both impressed that the small goal stayed standing during strong gusts.
+The goal is a nice size--large enough to have a good shot, but compact for storage and carrying around.
+Nathan likes that the target makes a sound whenever the ball goes into the net. (Though, unfortunately, he is quite distraught at every miss!)
+The target is moveable and can accomodate two players if you want to keep score. It also has two levels if the child wants to aim at the target itself instead of the entire net.

Cons
-Eric said the instructions for putting the goal together were poorly written.
-Due to the aforementioned windy corner, the target makes its cheering sounds even when we aren't shooting the ball.

Eric and I thought the retail price seemed a little high, until I compared it to similar products. You can obviously create a makeshift goal for much less, or even free, but if you're in the market for something more official, this is a good starter set.
Nathan has been more excited about playing soccer now, and taking after his father's side of the family, he is an amazing shot already! Eric and I have had fun with this new toy, as well, and we are thankful for the opportunity to write a review. (And if you're interested in purchasing this toy, you can find it here--with a price lower than the suggested retail!)

Top photo: He shoots! Bottom photo: He scores!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Little updates

*The winner of my blogiversary giveaway is Kali! She chose an immersion blender (or money towards it) for her prize. Thanks to all who entered--it was fun to see your choices!


*If anyone is interested, I have a promotion code for $15 off of a $75 Lands' End order through May 31. Just e-mail me, and I'll send you the info. First come, first served.


*Thanks to The Millennial Housewife for honoring me with the Sunshine Award. If you live in IA, check out her blog, as she dishes up great deals in our state!


*As an update to my dental hygiene post, I wanted to let you know that I called around and made an appointment. Shockingly, the first available time at my chosen office is in September, but they put my name on the cancellation list in case. I've started (and pretty well kept) a flossing habit 2-3 times a week. While my kids are taking a bath is an easy time for me to remember to do it, and I'm starting small so I'll stick with it! Eric also scheduled a check-up, so I was glad my little post impacted someone else, as well! Anyone else have any updates in this regard?

Monday, May 3, 2010

3 years! (and a giveaway)

It's hard for me to believe that it's been 3 years since I wrote my first blog post, a list of 100 random things about myself. Since then, I've written 535 entries, met many amazing people, and learned so much from your own posts and comments. Thank you for being part of this community with me!

I've done book giveaways for my first two blogiversarys, and this year I thought I'd spice it up a bit. I'm going to let you choose the prize. The catch? It has to be something I've reviewed or recommended on my blog over the last three years. That gives you tons of choices, from amazing books to some of my favorite kitchen gadgets. (The item should be $15 or less from an on-line store like Amazon, and this giveaway is only open to U.S. and Canadian addresses.)

To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment telling what you would choose if your name is selected. I'll leave the comments open until Wednesday, May 5 at 2:00 CST. Thanks for reading!

Photo credit: Flickr