Monday, August 29, 2011

Sundays Unplugged

This Sunday we are contentedly tired.  Birthday celebrations continue.  Preparations for school for Little Man continue. 

Grateful that God draws me nearer to Him throughout our daily activities.  To be unplugged and turn my thoughts solely to Him is refreshing. 

How do you get refreshed for the week to come?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Cracking the Coupon Code. Again.

Is there anyone else out there that is on and off the coupon wagon so much, your head's spinning?

School's in for the big girl.  School's almost in for the little man.  And I am determined to crack the code on this coupon thing.  Again.  I was doing pretty good with it in the spring.  But wasn't touching any of the drug stores.

A friend put me on to Southern Savers website. 

Southern Savers: Southern Deals and Frugal Steals.

All the codes are pretty confusing, until you read Jenny's tutorial on what it all means.  I had my toe in the water already on this part.  At the beginning of the year I bought the digital download of Grocery University.  I think you can still Google the promo code I used to get a little money off, but it is money WELL spent.  I learned so much!  And I refer to the information a lot, especially now that I'm diving back in.

So here's my new goal for the rest of this month:
1.  Shop two grocery stores.
2.  Shop two pharmacy stores.

I want to see where that puts me.  If I plan ahead (a MUST with this stuff) I can get each of these stores on my route for that day anyway.  I could add one more pharmacy, if it looked like I could save even more.

I just don't want to be driving all over town, spending gas, trying to save pennies here and there.  But I want to give a true fair shake!  So here I go!  Where are my scissors...

Friday, August 19, 2011


I am joining The Gypsy Mama today for my first Five Minute Friday.  Five minutes of thoughts and creativity that is unedited and uncriticized by me.  Sounds great!

Our given topic this morning is New.

Each day is new. This topic makes me so grateful.  When yesterday was a struggle, today is new.  When I was nervous and anxious, I don't have to carry that to today.  When I said the wrong thing or acted terribly, today is the chance to start new. 

A new cup of coffee.  A new start.  Breathing in and out and embracing this day.  The chance to be my best.  To change the things I didn't like about myself yesterday.  And to be grateful.  For this new day.  A renewal of energy and perspective.  I can do it!  Today I have the opportunity again to embrace what God has given me.  And He has equipped me to thrive in my circumstances.

Have a New Day!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sundays Unplugged

Allowing church family into the inner circle of our family.  Not easy for a very private person.

We talked in SS about forgiveness and how it's such a challenge to forgive ourselves.  And also that we are thinking about our particular situation a whole lot more than the person we need to forgive is.

John 14:27 NIV

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Peace.  Peace comes in His presence.  Peace comes from knowledge and preparation, also.  Lord, equip me to be the advocate I need to be.
Grateful for the gift of fun family moments.  Dancing in the living room to cartoon music.  Celebrating the life we have!!!
How did you celebrate your Sunday this week?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sundays Unplugged

Had to swallow a lot of pride today.  And, in a way, a lot of privacy.  Yet another step in acceptance of our new diagnosis.

How do you handle a sudden public announcement of something you have kept quite private? 

You trust.

You must.  After the tears subside and the selfishness of the desire for privacy is over, God steps in.  He says, "Trust me.  Don't rely so much on yourself.  Allow your church family to pray for you.  They want to love on your family."

Then the peace comes.  Slowly I remember the events of the morning.  Both kiddos have "moved up" in their Sunday School classes, even though the little boy is still working on that potty.  Even though mommy doesn't think he can handle it.  Then a wonderful gentle man takes little boy under his wing.  And success happens!  Peace.

Then little boy escapes the room.  Panic.  Where is he?  God protects me from all of it by removing me to serve elsewhere.  And the congregation enjoys some surprise comic relief when he makes it all the way to the drums.  Daddy's drums.  So familiar.  So fun!  One loud noise of praise.  He's found.  Safe.  Peace.

One loving church member's words keep ringing- "We aren't going to let you fail."

I trust you, Lord.  I swallow pride.  I feel lost at times with all these terms and appointments.  All of the education I've had so far about this mysterious and broad Autism.  And now the church family wants to be educated.  Step up.  Trust.  Be little boy's advocate.  Biggest fan. 

But remember that no one can be a bigger fan of him than God. 

And God is my biggest fan, too. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I've learned a lot this week!

Dana over at Made is celebrating three years on her blog!  To celebrate, she launched a contest last week asking for folks to make a new header for her.

 Now, I am not a graphic designer.  I'm barely a blogger!  But Dana typed a few words that really inspired me to give this contest a try. 

You. Can. Do it.
You don't have to be a graphic designer to create a spiffy blog. Most of what I've done to my site, I learned by reading online tutorials about html, how to tweak it, and how to add things to make the blog just what I want.
So I've been playing.  For a week!  And thinking to myself, "This is nuts.  There are real graphic designers out there who are going to enter this thing to win these SUPAH prizes (they are big-time super).  What am I thinking?" 

However, after sufficiently neglecting my family with phrases like, "In just a minute, honey, I'm trying to crop this one...thing..."  I decided I'd enter anyway.  Be Brave Jen!  Whatcha got to lose??

Now that the pressure I've put on myself is off, this has really been fun.  I'm learning a lot!  Mostly that Word is a challenge to use if you want to get really creative, but totally workable if you want to keep things simple. 

So I've thrown my graphic name in the hat.  I might enter two more (there's a limit of three entries).  I certainly have ideas saved away in this good ol' laptop!  But I'm ever grateful for the little push from Dana to try.  And to tell me "I can do it!" 

Have you tried something totally out of your box lately?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Sundays: Unplugged

A quiet ride to church.

Our annual "fancy dinner" to celebrate the First Day of School.

A little boy finding his words.  And using them to say, "Come on sis, let's play!"

Fun bath time.  Barbies, goggles, and one pool mask.

A loose tooth.

Excitement as we all try to sleep.

~Psalm 23:3 He restores my soul.~

Monday, July 18, 2011


A dear friend of mine is moving.

My heart hurts.  Even though I've tried to prepare myself that this could happen, as it is the nature of her husband's business.
This is one of those "grown up" moments.  You can't prepare for this fully.  This is one of those moments where your faith is strengthened. 
Where God dwells.

I know our friendship will continue.  Our children will still grow up knowing one another.  We'll just drive to visit now.  That's the special thing about dear friends.  They will always be dear friends.  Most folks only have one or two of those.

When God brings a friend like mine into my world, you just know it's special.  A person that makes me a better Believer.  A better mother.  A better friend. 

Lord, help me to be a friend she can always rely on, whether she lives near or not.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Things I Like about Me Challenge with C Mom

I came across this challenge this morning on Twitter. 

I love it! 

We don't toot our own horns nearly enough.  I am the QUEEN of beating myself up.  Just ask my husband.  I can tear up an idea all by myself in under a minute.  The great news is I'm getting better at not doing this.  And getting better at remembering that I am "Fearfully and wonderfully made" by my God.  So I accept this challenge of listing some of the things I like about myself.

  1. I love my faith.  Jesus Christ has taught me so much about life and myself.
  2. I can make others laugh.   I have the gift of goofy.
  3. I like the size of my fingers.  They are long and slender.  Who doesn't love that?
  4. I am smart.  I never really had to work in school to get good grades.  Except for that B in Advanced English...earned that one proudly.
  5. I'm a fast learner. 
  6. I love to learn something new.  It makes me feel alive.
  7. I love technology.  It always amazes and challenges me.
  8. I am creative.  I love to create new things.
  9. I am a talented musician.  God gave me that gift early on.  It was my first career.
  10. I empathize with others.  I'm a good ear.
  11. I am a good wife and mommy.  They are my world!

Wow!  That was so cleansing!  And surprisingly tough.  I kept deleting the little editorial comments I added to each one that were negative.  Very telling, don't you think?  Make your own list-you won't regret it!

Monday, June 20, 2011

This Lazy Day

This has been the best day so far.

We haven't done a thing!  No pressure to be anywhere or do anything.  I'm still in my nightgown!  We've vegged as a family.  Three of the four of us are feeling punky, so a day to sit on our tails was much needed to keep the summer rolling!

Going to head to the library and renew some books, check out a few new ones, and grab an armload for the kiddos.  Reading Carol Higgins Clark right now.  She's super!  Just finished this one:
It made me Google Santa Barbara and drool over the pictures.  I now want to own a vineyard, make my own wine, and seize the day! 

I've discovered that I'm reading these all out of order, but that seems to make them more endearing to me.  I already know some things about the characters' backgrounds that they don't even know!  Great summer reading.

I have a feeling my creative streak is going to explode all over me after this lazy day.  Can't wait!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Loving My Blog For ME

I started my little blog because I have fallen in love with the blog world. 

So many people who like what I like.  Who challenge my creativity.  Who inspire.

I don't necessarily want to change the world with my blog.  I thought I wanted to inspire just as much as I was being inspired. 

What I've discovered is-all of those things are good.  But they are me trying too hard.  And trying to be someone else.  I want my blog to be a place I love to come to!  And be happy when I think about it.  And when I visit.  And when I leave.  Not a pressure cooker.

So let the creativity flow.  Or not!  I'm visiting and writing because I want to.  And I can't wait to visit again.

I am rejoicing.  It's a happy place to be!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Summer is Here!

Our summer has begun here at our house.  Kids are out and hubby is out.  We are counting down the days to the beach!  Can't wait to post some pictures of our camping trip to the beach.  Our kids are young enough that each trip is drastically different from the last one. 

This year we have made a count down chain that hangs on the back door.  Little Girl tears off a link before bed each night.  Can't believe how fast that seems to be making the time go by!

This year, Little Boy is moving out of the pack and play and into a bed.  Some bed.  We aren't sure where yet.  Maybe the bunk.  Possibly the table made down.  He's going to choose!  All I know is I can hear the surf in my ears, feel the sand in my toes, and smell the coffee brewing early in the morning throughout the camper.  Already!  And each tear off of the countdown chain makes my heart leap, too!  It's like being a kid again.  And it feels grrrreat!

Monday, May 23, 2011

A New Chapter is Here!

I stumbled upon a website a few weeks ago as a result of a powerful testimony I read. 
(Read that here) from Emily at Chatting At the Sky.  A brave question and answer moment about Emily's decision to travel to the Philippines with Compassion International as one of a few talented bloggers that will be writing about the trip.

Well.  At the end of this article were these words:
And if you’re inspired to take a couple steps outside your comfort zone into the action, we’ll start registration this weekend for the next session of the Maximize Your Mornings Challenge. Stay tuned.

Hmm.  A challenge.  I don't need another challenge in my life.  But this one leads me right to God's feet.  I need that.  Every morning!  With accountability?  I really need that.  I know it won't be easy.  We are getting ready for summer break here with my one school aged child and a teacher husband.  But I am committed!

Here's the most exciting part for me.  I began this journey last week.  Monday-check.  Tuesday-check.  Tuesday afternoon-internet out.  Caput.  Gone.  We just finished the final repairs and are back online today.  I see that as a perfect confirmation that this challenge is for me!  The devil tried to discourage and distract with the computer, colds, and commitments other than this challenge.  I persevered.  If the devil is after it, it's got God's plan all over it!

I'm meeting new ladies from all over the world on FB and Twitter that are commited to this as well.  Their encouragement is awesome.  So many different situations and so many strong women coming together to draw closer to Christ.  I'm honored to be a part of that!

Inspired to Action is overwhelming me with support for this Maximize Your Mornings challenge, too.  So blessed to have found this wonderful blog!  God continues to make Himself real to me.  Intentionally making myself available to Him.  Praise God!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Yard Sale tray

Little girl and I found this tray on our "Girls with Girls" date a couple weekends ago.

It needed some love and was screaming for sandpaper and a facelift!

Hubby thought I'd bought a drawer.  Must have been the handles.

These handles had seen better days.  And they weren't really speaking to me.  So...

I took a good look at the screws and went for my favorite screwdriver:  Philipe

And made quick work of the handles.

This is also a good shot of the questionable black stuff under the screws on this side.  Probably some moisture had gotten into that crack at some point.  Didn't bother me, since I plan to use this for drinks and it's gonna get messy.  BUT-I brought some tough grit to get most of that gone if I could.

This is a small tray, so I just folded over a sheet of sandpaper and sanded by hand.  There was also a shiney finish to it, so I chose medium to get that off quickly.  Or because I'm lazy and the medium made the sanding go a lot faster.

Once sanded, I hit it with a base layer of spray paint.

But it seemed too light to me, so I grabbed another can I had and layered it on.  (I think it was Krylon Pebble).  The real fun began when I started shopping for the new handles.  I hit a few different favorite stores before settling on these.  They didn't come with screws, so I then hit up my dad's awesome stash and found four that worked and four nuts to hold them on.  Daddy helped me saw off the extra length on the screws, and this was where I learned that metal work is not for me.  (Can you say sparks on my arms and legs?  Yeah, done.)  Then I touched up the inside where it had gotten scored a little from sawing off the screws.

And here she is!

The perfect start to my day is a peaceful cup of coffee and some time uninterrupted with the Lord.  I love it when that actually happens, too!

I left the extra hole in the top open for future ribbons, string, or cute "accessorization."

I am digging the tray on the deck, too.  Every southern gal needs a way to get her refreshing sweet tea outside. 

And there's no better friend to sweet tea than Banana Cake with Quick Caramel Frosting, right?

Occasionally there's a little girl lurking around the freshly cut cake slice, too...
It didn't last long!

A small project that is already bringing a lot of pleasure to our family!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Cord capers

Last year I bought this lovely lamp base at a yard sale.

I just loved the different colors of green and gold. 

I bought the shade at another yard sale the same day.

Which just solidified my LOVE for this lamp!  I thought the narrow shade was perfect for this little nook in my kitchen. 

The warmth this little light gives first thing in the morning, on a dark afternoon, or at night cozies up the place.  Sometimes it's on just for funzies.  ;) It's the first thing I turn on in the morning, before coffee starts brewing and kiddos start asking.

Now.  On to the issue at hand.

Yes, cord.  The spotlight is on you.  We all see you.  You aren't even trying to hide.

What to do??  I am not loving this cord.  I tried to hide it this way:

but I think it looks cluttery with the long box.  And a smaller box isn't heavy enough to push the cord back.

The cord plugs in here:

Hmm...should have wiped the counter before I took this one...
The only other plug is on the other side of the sink.  The cord will stretch over there, but then it's all in my business on the sink (tangled in the soap and faucet).

Is there a better way to hide this sucker?  Help! 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Final Frontier

We have lived in this house for twelve years.

It took me a veeeeery long time to be brave enough to paint. 

Too long.

I started in the guest bathroom.  (AKA:  Small).  Waited until the hubs had gone out of town and went mad with a too-bright yellow.  But it's still the same yellow and I am crazy about it.  That room is now the kids' bathroom, and I found the perfect shower curtain to tone down the yellow madness.  Most importantly, though, was that it made me brave.

Each room we've painted over time has been the exact same process.  Paint swatches.  Samples on the wall.  Jump in.  PURE PANIC THAT IT'S TOO DARK.  Eventually, love! 

Everything is going to look drastic when you are painting over builder off-white.  At least I keep telling myself that.  It doesn't seem to change the process for me, though.

So, finally we come to the last room in the house that needs (desperate) attention.  (OK, we aren't going to count the laundry room yet.  The paint swatches are taped up in there, though...that counts, right?)  Drum roll..........
The dining room! 
I've been so scared of this room because of those high ceilings.  I've always wondered How in the blazes are we gonna get up there???

When I painted the master bath, I found this lovely friend:

He's my dear friend.  We're close.  And holy moly, did you know there was a Mr Long Arm website???  Oh, I will be checking out this guy next.  And these would run circles around my plastic Walmart-bag-in-the-fridge method right now, don't ya think?  Technology...amazing...


So I thought this would be the perfect time to buy myself some tools  try my hand at chair rail.  That's to come!  (It's sitting in the garage crying at the neglect it's experiencing.  I'm coming, lovely chair rail!)  Can't WAIT to break in my new compressor and nail gun.  Yeah!

But first, must.  Finish.  Painting.

Here's another look at our colors:

Love love love to peel the tape.  Couldn't wait-had to see the chair rail line...

And here's how we are living right now.


Really tired of that.  The kids love it, though.


Dreaming of the first meal in this new room...Can't wait!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Style Study

I have a very traditional home.  I think.  I have a very traditional style.  I think.  I choose traditional furniture.  I think...

Do you see a trend here?

I'm not exactly sure what style is, per se.  So I have an idea!  I'd like to do a series on the study of style.  Traditional, modern, contemporary, California Cottage Chic...ya know, the normal stuff...

Once I have a grip on this style thing, I'm gonna fling it all out the window and go with what I like. 

Pottery Barn

Now I know what you're thinking:
Seriously.  There are books for this kind of thing.
Wouldn't that just be too easy?  To the easy and obvious, I say "Pshhh!"  Hang on, let me wipe the keyboard...I think I'd retain the info better if I do the research.  I have mentioned that I'm a nerd, right?  Information absorber?  Reader of all the signs at the museums and parks?  Much to my family's dismay...  how many times to I hear,  "Mom, come on..."  I know.  I call it my "knowledge."  Yo.  It's how I roll.

So!  Knowledge, here I come!  Want to join me?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

the evolution of my camera

I have always loved taking pictures.  I remember my very first camera as a girl.  It was my mum's cast off Vivitar film camera.  I loved how it loaded the film with the bar bell looking case.  And I loved advancing the film to the next exposure. 
It looked a lot like this one! I took that thing on all our trips.  It was super special to have my own camera!  I can still hear what the flash sounded like when it was revving up while I waited for the orange light...

Then there was the "fancy film camera" that my older sister and I were allowed to only look at.  I don't remember Daddy ever using it, really.  But it had the manual focus lens.  I thought that was so cool.  Especially when my pictures sometimes came out blurry.  I always thought about that camera when I got a bad picture back.

Alas, my sister got that camera.  She got interested in photography and got really good!  It led to a job for her for a while and I forgot all about the fancy camera.  It was always in the back of my mind, though.

A number of cameras later, I've always liked taking pictures.  (Storing or displaying them is a whole other post...) I won a cool book at a mommy meeting once on taking better pictures.  That was a great win!  I learned a lot about what I was doing right and what would look even better.

My appreciation for beautiful pictures fueled my enjoyment of the blog world.  I love to look at other people's pictures!  There are some seriously talented folks out there, too.  And just a click away?  Get out! 

I am a stay at home mom.  So any splurges on "gadgets" (as my husband calls them) have to be planned out and saved for.  I've been drooling over smart phones for EVER.  But adding to our budget monthly just isn't smart.  So I'd been hording my moolah a little each month since my birthday in July.  When we agreed that the smart phone wasn't, well, smart (har har), I kept saving with my sights set on a camera.

New?  Used?  New?  Used?  Decisions!  (I think that one came down to patience).  Brands.  Way-out-of-my-league models.  Opinions!  Fortunately, (nerd alert) I LOVE research.  Maybe just another reason to click away on the computer after the kiddos are in bed...I digress...

WELL.  March was my month!  Yippeeeeeeeee!  The camera of my dreams was delivered by my lovely postmistress.  (She thought I was nuts when I opened the door squealing at her).  The kids were jumping up and down with me-having no idea why!  I may have heard some singing as I unpacked my brand new (to me) Nikon d40!!!
I'm still so excited I can't stand it.  I actually have a fancy camera like the one I drooled over as a kid!  I'm taking pictures of everything in sight.  I sleep with my manual.  It's a dry read.  And I don't know what most of it means.  But I have reenrolled myself in the 31 day series (remember?  The one I loved so much back in October on some amazing bloggers' sites?) on Life With My 3 Boybarians all about taking better pictures.  I tried to hang with her in October, but I knew my little point and shoot that never held a charge on the rechargeable batteries I fed it wasn't exactly what she was focused on.  I'm in the game now!  Darcy-thank you.  I'm learning so much!

What are you learning that's new and exciting to you?

Monday, April 11, 2011

True Confessions

It's true.  I've been a lurker. 

*Hangs head in shame*

I began my blog reading last fall.  Saw an article in a magazine about organizing and a blog to go with.  I'd never read blogs, so I thought I'd check her page out.  (That dear writer has since taken some time off-hence no link).  Maybe I'd get some new tips!  Oh my.  Did I ever!  One thing lead to another and I began a folder in my favorites for these blogs I found myself checking on a couple times a day.  Silly novice lurker!  There are RSS feeds for that!

I really loved the pictures that were included in everyone's blogs.  Artistic.  Different.  Inspiring. 

Oh my, then October hit.  And my favorite blogger extraordinaire The Nester introduced me to a 31 day series that opened my eyes to a host of other talented women!  I couldn't wait to log on each morning and check what each had to say.  Coffee time was filled with "reheat" sessions in October.

I've gone back and forth on starting my own blog.  What do I have to share?  Maybe nothing new, maybe nothing surprising.  But my excitement overfloweth!  (Careful you don't get something on ya).
I'm just learning so much from my favorite blogs.  So, here I go!  Dipping my toes in and taking some risks in this house that is mine.  Lent to us to be blessed by for a season.  Rejoicing in what God has given us! 

Thanks for reading!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Spring benchmark

Around these parts, there are a few things that scream "Spring!"  Pollen is, of course, at the top of the list.  So are the blooms that take my breath away.  (More of that coming later!)  And lastly, my husband delivered the precious third item that we just love.  LOVE.  Starburst jellybeans.

Have you tried them?

We have discovered that it's a new heaven if you combine flavors.  Like lemon and orange.  Yippee!  I've always been a "one flavor at a time" gal.  That's what kids will do to ya.  They stretch your boundaries.  And taste buds.  Going to grab a handful!


Monday, April 4, 2011

Under construction

Alrighty then.  I need to jump in and post something so I know what it will look like out there!  I have waaaay too many ideas for this blog!  House, wood working, photography, children, and all things in between.  Pretty sure I need to narrow it down so the site doesn't explode.
More to come!