more happy mail!

First, FYI, I've added a super sunshiney print to the shop! Next best thing, right?
And, my current obsession is something I am calling "will it ship".  First eggs, now onto recycled Crystal Lite containers. 
First I filled it with a mug rug that I made...added some Via, chocolate, a couple of candies and a note. 
I sealed it closed with some polka dot duct tape and printed my shipping label.  Believe it or not it only cost me .03c more to mail this than it did the eggs! :)

And for the record...the eggs worked!  I've heard that all but one so far has arrived. 

I'll let you know when this makes it.  And now my eyes are peeled for the next "will it ship" victim...
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what i made for monday- white queso dip


I know...I usually make sweet treats but this week I decided to take the day off.  Don't worry I have some tasty treats coming up...

But to not leave you completely in the lurch, I'll share this tasty dip that I found via Recipe for Crazy

YUMMY white queso dip! :) It was SO good!

Here is how I made it:
1/2 lb of white American cheese (I got it from the deli)
1/2c of water
1 heaping tablespoon of minced white onion
1 heaping tablespoon of green chiles in your preference of hotness. (Lesley used 1/2 tbl "pickled jalepenos" but the only option I could find for this was a jar that would take me YEARS to use and was almost $5.  The chiles came in a tiny can and cost much less).
I also added a dash of garlic power.  Just a smidge, but you could leave this out. 

In a double boiler (or a pyrex type bowl sitting on top of a pan of water) heat up water to simmering and melt cheese.  Stir consistently.  Once it is all melted give it a couple more minutes of flavor "gelling" time. :)

Eat with tortilla chips.  YUM!  It was so good!  Go! Make this!  Eat it for lunch all by itself, I say it's ok! :)

xo
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Oh Happy Day! reclaimed wood art

OH it's been a good morning.
Two days ago I saw this post on Life as a Thrifter.
And immediately set out to make my own.
Like, I walked from the computer to the backyard to dig wood out from under my shed, immediately. 
It turned out more magnificent than I hoped.  
It's happy and sunny and I can't help but sing the song when I see it. 
It's old and splintered and worn and sanded and loaded with character.  
Making your own is more simple than you think.
You just need some old wood, nails, hammer and a hand saw.  
I cut the front pieces to the same length as each other, you can make yours as big and as small as you want.  Mine is a monster...4 1/2ft by almost 3ft.  Just build it to the size you want. 
Here's how I assembled it with my master craftsman skills.  I used three shorter boards to brace it and nailed two nails in each horizontal board through each vertical board.   Then I flipped it over and put a single nail through each horizontal board into the vertical ones.  I was clearly not going for perfection.
Then, I drew my design.  I searched the house for the just right sized circle and settled on a laundry basket to trace...then used a yard stick to draw the rays.
Paint colors are by valspar: egg yolk, morning sunrise, elizabethan yellow and turquoise tint. 
Then I escaped reality and colored each section in randomly.
I did not worry about perfect.  I wanted a worn beachy look.  
Ahh...happiness. 
Next up, the lettering.  The font I used was free from Dafont.com and it is called ARB 85 Posterscript
To make my stencil, I used my standard method.  I created the words in Pages and printed them out on card stock in light grey to save ink. 
I cut them out and used a pencil to trace them.  Then filled them in with the turquoise.
Then I stood back and went in to let it dry.  I turned my attention to getting some work done at the computer.  It started to rain.  I said out loud to Doug "Oh it's raining hard"....then it hit me "OH IT'S RAINING!!!! HELP ME!!!"  I ran outside to save my love...and hauled that thing in...all 40-50 awkward pounds of it.    
Once it dried from rain and paint I gave it a good sanding.  
I went over the whole thing...revealing layers and wearing out the edges.  
I could just look at it all day. 
I've had several requests to make people one...well, I would have to sell my firstborn to ship it and really, it's not in the cards but I will make a print of it to add to the shop!?

Almost as good right?  And definitely lighter and easier to ship. :)

Now, you, go dig up some old wood! :)
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Stubborn trust.

He's been at it again.

Just when I thought I was getting to a good place, God continues to reveal areas to me that need work.  I love that we have a God who loves us so much that He is not willing to let go the stuff that we don't even see.  The stuff that holds us back like an invisible anchor in our souls.

Let's go back a few days...it hit me...my kids are mirror images of my husband and I.  You have Moses, heart strong, sensitive, quiet, empathetic to others, obviously loving and tender hearted.  A sweet rule follower who stays well within the safe boundaries of the rules set out for him.  He feels ALL things very deeply...from losing to the "wrong" thing for dinner to having to come in from playtime. 

Then there is Aaron.  Stubborn, hard headed, does not like being told what to do but who is also very loving, considerate of others, kind, quick to help and more internally very loving.  He does things the hard way, the way that makes sense to HIM, if not to anyone else.  He is helpful and obedient, eventually.  He doesn't worry about anything.  Very laid back and hard to stress out.   

Aaron is me.  Moses is Doug.  We didn't set out to make them this way.  They are who God wants them to because if it was solely our doing, they would be identical little people right?  I mean they have the same parents, same kind of nurturing in babyhood, same diet, same household.  If it was all our doing they would be more similar than they are.  

I have no doubt that if we give them to God, each and every trait will be used for His glory.  If we seek out God in all of our decisions on how to parent and discipline and structure their little lives.  If rely on HIM and put their best interests ahead of our own, then each and every aspect of who they are will be used for His good.

I want there to be a major difference between Aaron and I.

I believe that there are turning points in every life.  Places that you visit that spin you around and set you off in a different direction than you were previously heading.  Sometimes we can control theses turning points, sometimes they happen TO us and sometimes they happen BECAUSE of us.  Part of being a parent is teaching our children how to recover from these pivots and still manage to be setting off for the right destinations even if the direction has shifted.  Once you are an adult, you glean from what your parents taught you and do it on your own.  Part of this teaching as a parent is to learn who your kids are, teach them life skills that accentuate who God made them to be, learning how to work with traits like being stubborn and turning them into a positive like never giving up.     

Embracing who they are, who GOD made them, and making it your job to help them learn how to make the best of that. 

I have a choice with Aaron's stubborn nature. 

I can try to change it by whatever means necessary through use of words, actions and an environment that lets him know that I am NOT ok with who he is, that he is not good enough as is, that his trait is a flaw and that it's my job to fix it.  Of course I will not come right out and say that but you know how things can be implied so a message gets through right?  I can demean him and hurt him so that stubbornness begins to flow from a fountain of mistrust as well as from its original source.  I can make sure his self-confidence takes a good few blows so that once out in the real world he has a hard time thinking he is worth anything because, man, if his parents didn't think him good enough, then who would? If he can't trust his parents to be a safe place then WHERE is?  I can give him flawed logic and teach him terrible self-talk that will set him up for heartache and pain beyond anything that God would ever want from him.  I can make sure that it will take him a good 18 years to undo the damage that I've done, to clear the webs of hurt and wrong words of planted in his soul. 

OR

I ask God how to handle it.  To give me grace and wisdom.  To love the little boy God gave me and embrace his spunky little self.  To see the joy in his eye (or is that mischief?).  I can look past the naughty and see the kind heart.  I can look past the defiance and see a kid who just wants to make sure that I mean what I say because THEN he feels safe.  Then he trusts me to say what I mean and mean what I say.  I can teach him that I am his safe place, that I can take it all and still love him unconditionally and wholeheartedly.  I can teach him how to be selfless for the ones we love or want to love on.  I can do my very best to send him into the world, confident of who God made him, how to use his traits for God's glory and knowing that he is very much loved as he is. 

One of the above is my childhood and one will belong to Aaron. 

When I was telling Doug about my realization with our boys...how Moses is quiet and sensitive like him and how Aaron is stubborn and doesn't like to be told what to do like me...he said "YOU don't like to be told what to do?  I had no idea".  Sass. 

I've been thinking about it ever since...where does my stubbornness and not enjoying being told what to do come from?  Why am I so fiercely independent?  As I pondered it all...God totally spoke to me.  Trust.  In general, still at this point in my thirties, I don't have a whole lot of trust in people.  At the just right age I was taught to not have that trust.  I was taught that people will hurt you and be selfish and not do the things they say they will. 

What it comes down to, I think, is that I am still learning to trust.  I have very many people in my life now who are trust WORTHY but you know what they say...it takes a lot of good to undo the bad.  It's going to take a lot of people keeping their word, and not being hurtful and not being selfish for me to overcome my aversion to not trusting.  And I have a huge mountain to level out to get there.  I've had a lot of hurt from people I trusted...or people I should have been able to trust or people that should have just been nice to me but weren't.

Essentially, I'm at the same stage as Aaron is with his stubbornness and I am learning how to use my traits for His good.  I am doing some un-wiring and I am thankful that God is not content to leave me where I am. 

Being aware is a good place to start. 

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huggies num 3!


I've been asked by BlogHer and Huggies to take some walks down memory lane and explore some (what I think will be) FUN subjects surrounding babies and having them and getting ready for them and all the fun stuff that goes with THEM! :) I volunteered for this series for selfish reasons...I think it will be a great way to document some thoughts and feelings that maybe I haven't before but should have. I hope you will enjoy them, too! :)
This week's subject is maternity clothes! Oh, maternity clothes...how I loved and hated you. I don't know about all of you, but I just didn't have it in the budget to buy a series of new wardrobes for all of the stages of my ever-growing belly. It just wasn't happening.
Lucky for me, when I was pregnant with Moses, baggy gauchos were really in style, readily available, cheap and THE most comfortable thing that an ever-fattening girl could wear. I bought a pair in every color. I was pregnant for the entire duration of the spring and summer with Moses. With Aaron I was pregnant in the fall and winter, not that it mattered because I still stuck to the gauchos.
If you are a newly pregnant lady or looking to be so soon, here was my strategy for clothing my plumping body while still saving money for diapers. Aside from the multitude of gauchos, I invested in the following:
One pair of maternity jeans, to be worn a million times. They could be dressed up and down and made into different outfits by changing tops, which were much cheaper than changing jeans.
One basic pair of black maternity pants.
Loads of long tank tops one size up from what I normally wore.
Elastic-waisted skirts. I already had loads of these but I stayed on the lookout for more that could work before and after baby.
Lots of granny panties. I was dealing with enough, my undies NEEDED to not give me grief. Get over your pride and do it. You will thank me.
In that same vein...nursing bras = well worth the extra money spent on them. I would pay full price for a good nursing bra again and again.
Stretchy long shirts a size larger than my normal size.
I only bought maternity items, other than the jeans and black pants, IF I could get them on super clearance, but overall I didn't buy many. I was able to wear cardigans and such over all of my shirts and tanks, making it really easy to change up the outfits without breaking the bank.
After the baby came I was left with a lot of clothes that I could still wear until I got back to my normal clothes, and I had no guilt over having spent money on an entire wardrobe that was now useless to me. In fact, shhhhh, I still wear some of the shirts and skirts that I wore when I was pregnant with BOTH boys. :)
So that was how I stayed clothed without breaking the bank. What was your strategy for not being nude while pregnant?

Be sure to check out my first posts in this series HERE!

Check out the Huggies Mommy Answers Facebook app!
Find more posts from bloggers sharing their experiences of motherhood on the Huggies page on BlogHer.com.
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20 minute crafter-how to make fabric covered buttons!

Every so often I dismiss a 20 minute crafter idea because I think it's too simple or that everyone already knows how to do THAT.  And then I reconsider when I remember that just a few years ago, I would have had no idea how to do almost anything I can do now...I learned from Google.  I often say "With Jesus and Google I can do all things". :)

So here is a very simple 20 minute crafter...how to make those super cute fabric covered buttons that you can use for any number of things...from magnets to dresses.  It's a great way to use up your scraps...depending on the size you make you can use scraps as small as 1in squared!  Want to know how easy it is to make them? 
First, you need a kit like this.  You can buy it any any craft store for a couple of dollars.  MY favorite place to buy them is online at Tobysmom on Etsy.  They come in all sizes from bitty to huge!
Now, don't hate me, but I got a HUGE bag of multiple sizes at goodwill for less than $1. 
You'll need some scraps...
You start like this...you want enough so that the two sides almost touch if you were to fold them towards each other with the button blank in the middle.  
With the button still centered, push it into the white rubbery part of the kit. 
Trim the corners...
Fold the edges in...
Grab a button backing and...
...push down into the button blank...it may make a little "click".  
Pop the button out and you are done! 
It's a great little task to do while watching TV.  You can make these into barrettes and pins and magnets...add them to hoops, make them into earrings.

Easy!  Have fun making some!
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what i made for monday- white chocolate and toffee oatmeal squares

I don't have a photo of the final product but just know that they are AMAZING.  I found the recipe right up there on the lid of the oatmeal container...they call it "Disappearing Oatmeal Cookies" but I always make them in bar form...I've made them for years now.

You can swap out the raisins for what you have in the cabinets...in this case, I had white chocolate chips and heath toffee pieces.  I've made these with raisins, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, nuts, etc...there is no wrong way to mix it up.

Here's what you need:
  • 1/2  cup (1 stick) plus 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3/4  cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2  cup granulated sugar
  • 2  eggs
  • 1  teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-1/2  cups all-purpose flour
  • 1  teaspoon baking soda
  • 1  teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2  teaspoon sal
  • 3  cups Quaker® Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
  • 1  cup raisins (or sub another ingredient.  for the white chocolate/toffee ones I added one cup of each)
Preparation:
Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed of electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Add oats and raisins; mix well. 

Bar Cookies: Press dough onto bottom of ungreased 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars. Store tightly covered.


Also, I am so thrilled to hear from so many of you that because of "What I made for Mondays" you have started baking things for YOUR husband to take into work!  Yay!

Let me tell you about a little of the impact that "What I made for Mondays" has had in my little world.  I started doing this as a way to extend love to Doug's coworkers.  Just love.  No strings attached, no expectations or reciprocation expected OR desired.  I've been doing it for almost two years now and it's reach is growing.  People look forward to Mondays just a little to see what I will make, they skip lunch to save room, the treats have been conversation starters and welcomes to new people.  The impact at Doug's work has been worth it alone.

But it doesn't stop there.  Since Moses started school I have also taken a portion of the treats and sent a little to each of Moses' wonderful teachers.  This has helped Moses to become a little more confident, shown him how to show gratefulness and thanks to others and has helped him in his social skills just a bit since I make HIM take them in and present them to his teachers.  His teachers LOVE the weekly treats and are always asking for the recipes.  And not only do the teachers love them...but they take the treats home for lunch to share with their husbands, too!  And now their husbands get excited for Mondays, too!

All that and more from a little nudge I was given by God to serve my husband in a simple way.  I'm thankful that God chooses to love me and allow me to serve in a way that I LOVE!

I've always said that "food" is my love language!  


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On parenting...

I told you some time back that I was reading some new parenting books (Grace Based Parenting and How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk) and that those books turned my parenting strategy on its head. 

I thought I would elaborate just a little in case it would be beneficial to anyone else out there. 

Grace Based Parenting is such an excellent read.  SO very good and wonderful.  It's like before reading this book, I had the right tools and ideas, but no idea how to use them and this book taught me how to do that. 

Some points that changed me the most:

Encouragement to parent my kids the way God parents us.  Are they any less worthy to be held to God's standards?  Should I be any less forgiving of wrongs or mess-ups than God is with me?   Think forgiveness over and over and over and over.  Or having to say the same things over and over and over and over...we aren't so different than our kids really.

It's helped us to aim the majority of our parenting energies on things that are of MORAL issue.  Allowing them to express themselves in ways that make them happy but have no moral wrongness is OK.  These actions include things like wearing what they want to church and school(thankfully I have boys otherwise this would be trickier), whatever random things they want to do with their hair, things they do that may be embarrassing to US or just plain weird to US but aren't morally BAD.  Allowing these things to take place in a safe, secure environment where they are loved, opens up doors of communication, sets them up to be secure in themselves and who they really are (NOT who we want them to be) and will hopefully help them to find their acceptance with the Lord rather than with people. 

In other words we pay more attention to the HEART issues and less on behavior.  With that said, our boys are not allowed to run crazy, there are standards of behavior in certain settings (NOT with certain PEOPLE-meaning I will not be teaching my kids that they have to act certain ways around certain people) but those issues are simply redirected in appropriate ways.  Being respectful and obedient is a HEART issue.  :)

My friend Aaron said something to me the last time I saw him.  Aaron and his wife Joanna are in the top ten of people I look up to, respect and admire and his words summed up the heart of the book and our new(ish) parenting direction: discipline ATTITUDES and not ACTIONS.  

Any issues that come up will brought to the Word.  If an action or behavior is in question we take it there and see what God says about it.  While the worlds standards of what is OK changes by the hour Gods word NEVER changes and we want that to be their rudder in life and NOT what the world tells us is acceptable.

For example, some may claim that dressing up for church is a Biblical and moral MUST but where in the Bible does it say that?  I say, God cares more that you are there than if you are wearing a suit and tie or dress.  Of course some occasions deem a dressy attire more appropriate and consideration should be shown to those who would be affected...therefore making it a HEART issue, in love, dressing in a way that may make grandma a little more happy on that special occasion is more important because you are showing love and respect for grandma.  Now if you went to church with grandma every week and she tried to insist it was necessary all the time...that would be a different issue.  (Also, not OUR grandma just "grandma" in general. :)   

In general we are teaching our kids to be loving, respectful, authentic, kind people who are NOT tolerant of moral issues but who from experience with their parents, can deal with those issues in a loving, godly way.  We are teaching them to be loving to all but not accepting of all sin.  We are teaching them to let others and themselves BE themselves but to love them in a way that can address sin if needed in an appropriate way.  We are teaching them to go to God if there is a question they don't know the answer to or a standard that has been presented as morally OK but the Bible says otherwise. 

I'm so glad to have found this book at this stage of our parenting, in a time where we are just past the baby stage and are really starting to see them become the people they will be.

Somehow this book has helped me to be more grace-FULL with my kids, more patient, more loving, less stressed and more focused on the important things. 

If your parenting goals are in the same range as mine I would highly recommend taking the time to read it. :) I would love to hear what you think!

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mailing eggs.

For the boys sake, I pulled out some Easter decorations.  Not much, but enough to make them happy.
Aaron has been asking for "Easter egg hunting" for weeks now, both boys were delighted to see the little chicks and Easter grass and played for hours with the empty Easter eggs from last year. 
 Even our resident Wookie likes Easter decorating.
Do you love this cake carrier or what?  My husband is good to me.  Get your hubby to get you one from World Market.  It's made of tin, vintagey and the best shade of aqua.  
I've been in a serious creative funk lately.  Total blah. 
To conquer the road blocks I usually clean house and do things for others.  Works every time.
So I spent the majority of my afternoon writing to pen pals...
(yes!!! I have a few penpals...wanna be one?)
and filling and addressing Easter eggs to put in the mail. :)
I got the idea from Giverslog and since seeing it there, have been dying to try it AND keeping my eye out on other fun things to mail!
I can't wait to see the look on my mail lady's face when I hand her these! :) 

I used the larger Easter eggs...not the small ones.  Each one weighed about 2oz and required &1.95 in postage. I mailed them to kids and adults alike and will be looking forward to hearing about them arriving at their destinations. :)You can do this with almost anything that is 13oz or less!

How are you?  Doing well?  Say hello and tell me what YOU would like to get in the mail that is 13oz or less?
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huggies num 2


I've been asked by BlogHer and Huggies to take some walks down memory lane and explore some (what I think will be) FUN subjects surrounding babies and having them and getting ready for them and all the fun stuff that goes with THEM! I volunteered for this series for selfish reasons...I think it will be a great way to document some thoughts and feelings that maybe I haven't before but should have. I hope you will enjoy them, too!
This week's topic is all about the week after delivery! My best piece of advice? Well, two pieces really...Number one: Have a really great mother-in-law. Honestly, my mother-in-law was the BEST for the week after we came home from the hospital with Aaron. She basically came home from the hospital with us and took care of our every need. If you need an example of how you should serve a postpartum household, she could teach you all you need to know. She selflessly served our family in the best of ways...practically. She did laundry, took out trash, fed us, played with Moses and then would disappear into her room for a while to give us time to just "be." She gave us the perfect amount of help and family time. We were so sad to see her go away. It was wonderful and something that we are still so grateful for to this day. Number two: Be part of a really great church or women's group. Obviously don't join one just for that, but because of those two things, we had meals to last us a MONTH. A month of no cooking, no planning meals and nearly no shopping. It was a huge blessing. If you know someone who just had a baby, a meal is huge. Pack it in throw-away containers. Include dessert. Trying to regain balance in a new life with a baby is tricky, and having one fewer crucial thing to think about is big. I was so thankful to our church family and my MOPS group for the countless meals they provided. These two things were the biggest factors contributing to our successful transition to a family of four. I'm convinced that if either of these were missing, there would have been serious struggles. While I don't think that this is something you can create non-organically, I do think you can be an example of this in your own circle by selflessly serving a new mom in ways that she might not ask you, and bring her a meal, too! These two things made the weeks after having Aaron great weeks, mostly stress free and definitely more enjoyable!

What is your best advice for surviving the week after baby? 

Be sure to check out my first post on this series HERE!!

Find more posts from bloggers sharing their experiences of motherhood on the Huggies page on BlogHer.com.
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the sass i have to deal with.

Doug and I are both very sarcastic, quick witted people...you either get us or you don't.  All I know is that more often than not, not a day goes by without sore cheeks from laughing.  I also know that we have passed a certain amount of sass onto our kids...who seem to be able to toe the line in their quick wittedness as well...as seen in this conversation:
aaron: don't wook at me MOM!!
me: i can look at you if i want to, i made you.
aaron: no you didn't...JESUS did.
aaron whispers defiantly to his brother: mom didn't make us...Jesus did, right mimi ?
sigh...it will be a funny journey in this house. :)
 
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