Sunday, January 30, 2011

Preparing My Heart

As some of you know, I am leaving on a trip to go to El Salvador this week on a mission trip with my church. I have been in the process this past 6 weeks, and especially this past weekend, of preparing my heart to go.

This is not my first mission trip. I went to Mexico in 2008:

This is me being goofy and tourist-y on our one "tourist day". :)

Back then I had no idea why I was going on that trip. I just knew I wanted to go somewhere to hopefully do some good, and God didn't stop me. When I look back now, I know exactly why I went. At that time in my life I needed some mature Christian role models to observe, and I certainly got my fair share. I also was getting close to entering into motherhood, and there was at least one mother on that trip who is absolutely amazing, and one specifically who I learned more from than I even knew at the time. Those are the personal facts about my trip - they are usually what I share with others, and they are what I recognized first. But none of that compares to what I recognized recently, three years later.

Going somewhere else, going completely out of your comfort zone, trying to communicate in another culture . . . all of that changes you no matter who you are or what you are doing. What I am remembering this weekend is a child who I came into contact with in a house that we served at one evening while I was down in Mexico. I would describe him as extremely poor. Something that I have discovered in preparing for this trip is that I cannot feel like I am doing enough for children like him. There is more work than one person can do. But the reason that I am the way I am, the reason that I am preparing myself like I am, is because to me poverty has a face - and that face is back in my life full force this weekend in the form of a photo of that poor child that I took while in Mexico on my last trip. This weekend I have been remembering the smell of his house, the dirt on his feet, the simple kitchen in his home. It's all so personal to me because I look at that photo, and I am reminded very easily of my own daughter Nora. He was about Nora's current age back then, and has a pacifier in his mouth and an expression that you would see on the face of any toddler - one that constantly flashes with wild independence, while still looking over his shoulder to make sure you are there watching and protecting.

I have been worried since I signed up to go on this current trip about "how Nora will do". I tell myself she will do just fine, and most of the time I believe it. Thinking of that child from Mexico is putting things into perspective a bit more. Nora really will be fine. She will have her basic needs met, she will be clean, and in good health (God-willing). I will likely miss her way more than she misses me, and her biggest worry will not be where her next meal will come from. She will look through her many books, and eat some yummy food on Superbowl Sunday. She will be OK.

Of course, even knowing that, it will still be hard to leave her. Hey, I am her mommy. :)

I have been packing for this trip almost like I am going to meet that Mexican child again, even though I am going to a completely different country. However, I am fairly certain that I will meet other children just like him. And giving them as much as I can won't be enough, but . . . it will be something. At least it will be that.

I am not really sure what exactly God has in mind for me this time, and I am not sure I will even know for sure when I get back in a little over a week. I will see many things that will forever remind me, just like that Mexican child is reminding me today, that there are always children out there who need to be "blessed by those who have been blessed".

Anyway, if you are the praying type and you could be in prayer for those of us who are going this week, that would be great. I will update again in about 10 days . . . unless I can get Cory to make a "guest post". :)

Until next time . . .

Friday, January 28, 2011

Work on the mudroom

So, I just thought I would update you all on the progress of our mudroom:

We had been putting off work on the mudroom because our old computer decided to go ka-put on us. If you are keeping track, that is the second appliance that has gone out on us this year so far. And it's not even February yet! Anyway, we put off work on the mudroom because Cory bought this new computer and was very busy building it; while I was watching Nora, making food, keeping up with housework, doing laundry, and all the usual stuff that needs done. As you can imagine, there was no time slot in there for either of us to do any work on the mudroom.

So this week, we finally rolled the walls. I was so relieved because I was worried that the color would look pink. But it's definitely lilac:

I am really digging it all together like that. The dark plum color is the perfect coordinating color.

Now Cory will be moving on to flooring while I am gone, but before I leave we need to pick it out. We are definitely tiling, but we're not really sure what color tile to put in there just yet. After looking at the color of the paint, I was thinking a dark grey-toned flooring, but the counter for the soon-to-be-plum-colored cabinet is beige. The counter will not be replaced, but possibly could be painted if needed. The metal in the room will all be black (black hooks on the wall, and probably black hardware on the cabinet.) I am thinking of just keeping everything easy: going with a beige floor to match the counter. As you can see, the floor is currently greyish, and it doesn't look good. Anyone have a thought on this?

Also, after seeing this painted wall paper tutorial, I am seriously thinking about doing this in plum on the back wall (the wall with the door on it, behind the appliances in the picture.) Why this wall? Because you can see it directly when looking through the door into the room. No really - because it's the smallest wall without any stairs! :) I could do the left side wall, but that will already be busy with hooks and possibly shelves on it eventually, maybe even a vinyl decal or two. Plus, I am not a glutton for punishment!! - that wall would take FOR-EV-ER to paint with a pattern. Either way, if I do this it will not get done until I am back from El Sal, so I have plenty of time to think about it - and talk Cory into it, if needed. :)


Until next time . . .

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

17 Month Update

Nora's hair is getting really long. The other day I was able to really put it in pigtails for the first time:
I call them "party pigtails". :)

Anyway, she continues to grow beautifully. She still has only the two bottom teeth and no real sign of getting anymore . . . or at least not that I can tell besides her totally cranky attitude lately!! Everytime I try to check for teeth she about bites my finger off and starts yelling "NOOOOOOO!!" She didn't want me to feel around in her mouth when she got teeth the first time, so who knows. We are hoping for her to have two top ones by her second birthday. *fingers crossed* don't laugh - it's a legitamate hope!

She likes to watch T.V. and I have to limit it, or else she would watch all day! She gets very excited when "Super Why" comes on (PBS Kids show) - she starts dancing around and saying "YAY WHY!" when it starts to come on. She's a dancing queen, and honestly has really good musical taste! She LOVES to dance. Any little tune comes on, and she will start to dance around. There is NO timid dancing for her anymore either - the girl rocks out! She just loves music.

She's learned to tell us what she wants and is telling us firmly. She is also getting pretty smart from all the books we read daily. She can identify almost every letter of the alphabet and can actually say about 20 of them. She can recognize her name, although if you ask her to say it she will say something sounding like "Na na". Ask her any animal sound and she could probably tell you it, with exception of course for the ones that are tougher to say like a rooster sound and a frog sound. She's a pretty good communicator, although a lot of the things that come out of her mouth sound alike. For example, most folks can't tell the difference between her saying "up" or "help", or saying "more" or "milk". She talks a LOT though, and continues to shock me by saying things that sound like sentences: "I'll get it."; etc.

Eating-wise, she continues to be exceptionally picky. She has her 10-15 things she will eat and doesn't want anything else. She will usually try something new for me, but usually spits it out and says "ah-cky". She still sleeps great through the night, but naps have changed. She sometimes takes two naps per day, sometimes just one. She still goes to bed about 8:30.

She. LOVES. babies. She plays with her baby dolls all day long. She feeds them food, gives them bottles AND cups, burps them, puts them to sleep, covers them up, brings them to me to be re-wrapped up, pretends they are crying, and on and on! You have never seen such a little momma. The cool thing about Nora is this: she also likes trains, buses, cars, and playing ball. I love that about her. She's kind of got cabin fever right now (like all of us) but on the upside she's enjoying learning to color and write. She holds a pen/pencil really well already (mostly in her left hand), and I didn't even teach her how to hold it, so that's nice! She prefers to draw with pens and pencils instead of crayons, and she likes me to write her name on her paper and draw faces and things.

She's become a LOT more social lately - she used to hate going to church with me and I would drop her off screaming. However, last time she went she was SO EXCITED TO GO and play with the other kids! She's still learning to be a good friend and not hit or push. She also goes through phases with sharing - one day she will give everything she's got to another kid, but the next day she doesn't want to give up anything. Typical toddler really!

Until next time . . .

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

First post . . .

. . . from the new computer! YAY!

Cory bought parts for and then built this entire thing himself, and therefore it has everything we need. Like 10 times the storage of our last computer. Who knew there was anything larger than a gigabyte?! Not this chick. Anyway, he's totally awesome (but we knew that already) and this computer is great!

Side Note: Nora is completely enamored with the lights on this computer. Her response was "Oooooh, blue!" :)

I have a couple of posts planned for this week - including Nora's 17-month update. Also planned is getting my photos organized. DOOOOOOOOM. They are at least labeled somewhat well. :)

Until next time! :) . . .

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Inspired By Charm

This guy is amazing. You need no other reason to go look at his blog . . . except that it may help me win his giveaway. :) Check him out!

Computer is still down . . . hope to be back up and running this next week!

Until next time . . .

Thursday, January 20, 2011


our computer is currently not turning on. we have ordered another one, but until it gets here and cory builds it . . . *eep* . . . the blog entries will be short and sweet.

sorry for the commercial break. :)

Until next time . . .

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Recycled Baby Food Jars

I like to recycle certain things. I keep what I call "strategic trash" for this exact purpose. It served me well when I worked at a daycare because I had "just the right things" to make a telescope, or an art desk caddy, or puppets, or a terrarium, or - you name it!

I have been sitting on some glass baby food jars for awhile now. And this is after I already gave 1-2 diaper boxes full to my cousin who owns her own candle business to use in candle making. Recently both Nora and the child I sit for have stopped eating baby food, which left me with about 50 jars "leftover" that I was determined to put to use as "something else".

I decided awhile ago that I would like bigger spice jars. The ones we got for our wedding, while adequate, didn't always fit an entire refill jar, and didn't have a wide enough mouth to put a spoon in. This became even more important to me . . . when I started actually USING spices in my cooking. Until this past year, I hardly touched the spice rack. However, my infatuation with Paula Deen, increased watching of the Food Network, discovery of Penzey's Spice Store, and a subscription to "Food and Family" magazine (among other food magazines) definitely increased my spice usage. To give you an example: in the 5 years that I owned the previous spice rack I never once had to refill anything. This year, not only did I refill EVERYTHING (who knew spices went bad??) but I had to refill my parsley jar 3 times.

I know making spice jars from baby food jars is a typical "baby food jar" recycling project, but I had a few specific requirements before I would even begin:

1.) I had to find labels. I refused to put in the effort to make my own or paint the jars because I change out spices a lot.
2.) They had to look good!
3.) I had to find or make a good way to store them.

The first two requirements were easy. I found labels for about 2 bucks at the kitchen store in town, and I felt confident in my ability to make these things cute. The third one was tricky. I have very little woodworking skills, and wall space is at a premium in my kitchen. I started my search for storage with magnets and magnetic boards, and ended it . . . at the best place EVER . . . my one true "store love" . . .

IKEA. (*fanfare*)

IKEA happened to have the perfect rack for my spice jars. Literally perfect. Not only would it hold 6 large jars on it, but the wood could also be sanded and finished in anyway that I choose. So for 4 bucks a pop . . . I wanted 4! AT LEAST! But . . . the nearest IKEA is 5 hours from my house, and they didn't ship them. :( Hmmmm . . .

Just when I was looking into companies that make bi-monthly trips to IKEA in this area, a friend on Facebook said her and her husband were heading up there that very weekend. She graciously offered to take my shopping list with her, that included some really neat things:
(This bar system is awesome. It may not be the prettiest, but you should have seen this spot before!)

And of course, 4 spice racks, 2 of which were meant to hold my newest project:




I painted the racks with the same paint that is around our counter, an almond color from Valspar. Then I filled the jars with my spices, and . . . perfect. :)

I have enough jars for a second set, and two extra spice racks. I was thinking of putting them on the other side of my stove and filling them with more spices . . . but I can't. There is an outlet on the other side that I can't afford to lose. :( But who knows - I may try and work it out. Or, I may sell the other set on Etsy to fulfill one of my New Year's Resolutions. Not sure just yet what I will do.

I used the spice jars last night and they are exactly what I wanted. I was able to put spoons right inside and get spices out. And I think they look great. This project was totally worth it . . . and cost me less than 15 bucks. :)

Until next time . . .

Linked up HERE at the DIY SHOW OFF.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Weekend, Warmers, Sling . . .

This weekend I realized something: I will be out of the country on Super Bowl Sunday. DOH! And here I was, planning my first Super Bowl party and everything. (Because for some reason, this year we not only watched a little football on TV, but also went to TWO Rams games. This is very out of the ordinary.)

Anyway, so that's why this weekend we invited over my sister and her husband on Sunday to watch some playoff football, eat some wings, drink a few beers, and have some dinner. Minus the party, it really wasn't all that different than the Super Bowl for me. Oh yeah - no Black-Eyed Peas either! Of course, I probably could have rectified that by turning on Z107.7 or something (is it even still Z107.7? . . . )

This weekend I was able to get a little crafting done as well. I mentioned last week how I got a huge chunk of my arm warmers knitted, and Friday night I was able to sit and finish them while Cory played video games. And . . . TA-DA!:
I attribute my completion of these to my awesome knitting teacher. Though now there's only one problem: what to knit next?? Anyone got any good ideas?? I guess I will be heading over to Ravelry today . . .

Saturday during nap time I attempted to de-rust the plant stand I was working on. Not sure that is EVER going to happen. There is rust under the fading paint that the rust retardant was unable to get to, and I am not willing to sand the whole thing. So I may have to scrap that project . . . but we'll see. Maybe I will get to it after I get back from El Sal.

Saturday night after bedtime when Cory was digging into a new video game I thought I would try to sew the book sling from this tutorial. I am NOT great at sewing, but this looked easy enough to complete. Honestly, I was most nervous about . . . cutting the fabric square. Seriously. Cutting took me only an hour and a half. (!!!) Yep, that was time spent wisely. Sewing the darn thing afterward took me only about 30-45 minutes.

Anyway, when all was said and done . . .
It's a very neat little thing. The opening for books is very narrow, however, so it doesn't hold as much as I thought. I don't know if they make curtain rod holders that are spaced further apart or not. Also, unless I decide to sew it shallower, it only holds Nora's "tall" books effectively. I think it will work just fine for now though.

Until next time . . .

Friday, January 14, 2011

What went on this week!

Gratuitous cute Nora pic!:

Isn't she getting so big?! I cannot even describe for you her awesomeness.

This week has been relatively quiet thanks to the massive amounts of snow, so I have been using my free time to work on a few projects. Here's an updated project list:

1.) Recycled Spice Jars - almost finished
2.) Knit a second arm warmer (one completed). - second one 75% done thanks to Thursday Night Knit Night
3.) Color magnets for Nora. - the idea I had did not work. I may try something else, or not do these at all.
4.) Spring countdown blocks. - FINISHED! :)
Aren't they neat? I made them "neutral" colors, if you will, so that I can countdown anything with these blocks. Also I saw some great January decor here and of course I went right out and bought some epsom salt to use as snow. It's SO CHEAP folks. Love, love it!
5.) Possibly a spring banner with some cutouts that I bought for a dollar at Michael's. - haven't started it yet. This is still a "maybe" project.
6.) Valentines. - haven't started yet.
7.) Flower pots for outside bench. - couldn't find flowerpots yet. :)
8.) Hopefully find cheap, cute fabric for book slings. - found some for Nora's room. I hadn't decided to make her any at all until I saw some perfect fabric at Wal-Mart. I hope to knock those out this weekend.

We hope to get some major work done on the mudroom this weekend. Cory will be flooring, and I will be cleaning up this little beauty:
When trying to decide on what to do for storage, I remembered that we had this plant stand that the previous owners of our house left in the basement. Suddenly it went from "that rusty, useless plant stand that used to hold stuff in my art studio" to "that little beauty with hopefully hidden potential". :) Hopefully I am able to de-rust it, repaint it, and find some cute baskets to set on it. We'll see if it works out!

Until next time . . .

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What's This?

Another update this week already? Yes folks! I am waiting for paint to dry, and Nora decided to take a morning nap again today. So I get to spoil ya. :)

Anyway, I just wanted to share a few things. First, the snow!:
I bet we got at least four inches, and it's still falling. I opened up my back door and snapped this picture. Isn't it amazing?? Cory will be happy to use his Wovel. (Side note: That was last year's strange thing that he wanted for Christmas. Every time it snows, I can see the wheels turning, so to speak!)

Another thing I wanted to share is what I am making for dinner tonight. Doesn't this sound yummy?? I am very excited. :)

Here's a picture I took yesterday that made me feel like our baby girl is getting too big:
Thought she might be closer to 5 years old before I saw her with a backpack on. Of course, the girl is 16-months-going-on-16-years. She already knows more letters than many 5 year olds do. Where the heck is the time going??

The final thing I wanted to share is something I found on EBay two weeks ago:
I found these wall baskets on EBay for a steal of a deal. I knew the minute that I saw them that they would solve the "where to put the produce?" problem that we always have around here. And of course, they are brown metal. There is literally brown metal in every room of our house (which is also once of the reasons why I LOVE the new AtHome America Catalog.) I just think they are the perfect solution, and they happen to fit perfectly on our cabinet wall.
I stalked the mail-people for days until these came. Cory says that I squealed yesterday when they arrived with the box. It's likely true.

Until next time . . .

Monday, January 10, 2011

Update on the Re-Do, etc.!

New dishwasher is here! YAY! It's wonderful! It took Cory and I a few tries to get the hang of working it, but we've got it down now. I personally cannot believe how QUIET it is compared to the old one! The noise has literally been cut down to at least a quarter of what it was before. It's so amazing! Plus it matches the rest of the kitchen. Bonus. :)

We haven't really gotten a whole lot done on the mudroom this week. I attribute it to this section right here:
This section was difficult to edge. It's hard to see, but there are stairs at the bottom of this picture. For me, little-miss-afraid-of-heights, it was impossible. Earlier in this paint job, I got up on a step stool that was near those steps, and I was shaking so bad that it was difficult to hold a paintbrush steady. So . . . the task fell to Cory to edge this part. We tried to figure out a safe way to do it, but in the end he just had to kneel on the ledge and brace himself over the stairs to paint it. There are no pictures of him edging this area because I was holding his paint tray and brushes, praying that he would not fall, and on-call to call 911 in case he did.

However, painting the wall corner was kind of fun for me because I had to fashion a way to do it with our roller extender pole. I ended up zip-tying a regular paintbrush to the extender pole to get into that corner. It was interesting to say the very least, but hey - it worked! :)

What else . . . I am working on a bunch of different crafty projects . . . mostly in my head though! I haven't had much craft time now that Nora is taking one nap per day, and also since I have been trying to study Spanish in my free time in preparation for my trip to El Salvador. Here's what I am going to try and finish before I leave (HA!):

1.) Recycled Spice Jars
2.) Knit a second arm warmer (one completed).
3.) Color magnets for Nora.
4.) Spring countdown blocks.
5.) Possibly a spring banner with some cutouts that I bought for a dollar at Michael's.
6.) Valentines.
7.) Flower pots for outside bench.
8.) Hopefully find cheap, cute fabric for book slings. I cannot bring myself at this moment to spend nearly $10/yard for the fabric I really want so I am on a mission to find cheaper fabric. I might not find anything, but I have plenty of time to find it!

Until next time . . .

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A renovation in progress.

I have a feeling this year will be tough. The floor in our mudroom needs replacing because it's falling apart. Our dishwasher just stopped working effectively because of the detergent door. The oven door is breaking. Cory's car just hit 220,000 miles. We will be re-doing the basement (among other things, possibly) to accommodate my sister-in-law, who's coming to live with us next fall. I may be totally wrong, but I just have a feeling that the things that were financially simple before will be a stretch for us now. Even more so because a lot of simple purchases are a stretch when you only have one solid income anyway.

Which is why I am praying A LOT recently for God to help me not to want things. Especially these. And a few yards of this to make those book slings I want for the next child. And let's not forget this. And how about one of these while we're at it?? (In "Sangria Red", of course.) And, and, and, and . . .

It's really hard when we just had Christmas and I was totally spoiled. :) It's even harder when I made the decision to give away almost entirely ALL of my Christmas money that I received to go to El Salvador on a mission trip in February. I drool at what I could have used that money for. I know I made the right decision, and I absolutely do not regret it, however it didn't make writing that check any easier. There go my new shoes. There goes summer clothes . . .

There go the THINGS. Here comes the experience!! See? I have the right attitude. . . . well, mostly. I made the right decision and I am sticking to it.

Anyway, I wanted to post some "before" pics because some of the above-mentioned problems are (thankfully) being fixed this week. I am so grateful for this. You really have no idea. The fact that we are even able to fix these is a blessing in and of itself.

As previously mentioned, the dishwasher detergent cup malfunctioned on our old dishwasher. After trying several things to fix it, we finally decided it was ka-put. It just wasn't cleaning anything. Cory removed it last night and it's ready to be hauled away . . .

. . . AND the new dishwasher is being delivered tonight. I am ready to use it. :)

Also our mud room floor is coming apart. We have had this problem in other rooms as well, and the floors have already been replaced. We are using our Christmas gift cards get this final floor taken care of.

. . . Of course if we are fixing that problem, we may as well paint the mud room as well. It's a horrid sunshine yellow that just doesn't go with the "earthy" rest of the house. We are painting it lilac, with dark purple accents. :) It will be the only room in our house that is close to a "pastel" kind of color. (Just for the record - it's not pastel. It's a "Dusty Purple". Refer to it as a pastel and you will pay dearly.)

So that's what we are up to. Look for the "after" photos soon.

Until next time . . .

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year's 2011

I don't often take out the time to write out resolutions. This year I did, but more simply to just have some goals. It's very easy to feel like you are not working towards anything in your own personal life when you are a stay-at-home mom. Very easy. Because your life is your job, your job your life. Housework, kids, laundry - this is not your normal 9 to 5, it all runs together. Sometimes a trip to the bathroom, a shower, or a short drive to the grocery store (when your child is actually miraculously being quiet) can feel like a mini-vacation only because you have time to yourself for once. When life runs this way, "me" gets lost in the shuffle more often than not. Of course, it's all entirely and completely worth every minute to do what I do, but it also makes goals all the more important.

Below are my 2011 Goals. Cory has at least one as well that he'd rather not share, and we are formulating a couple of family ones in regards to our home that aren't concrete yet, but I will share what I have come up with.

*Keep track of Weight Watchers Points online again. Lose that last 10 pounds of baby weight!!
*Bake at least one loaf of bread per week. (Side note: I had originally thought I might bake all the bread for our family from now on in my new amazing bread machine, but Cory's not sure this is an economical idea. Anyone care to weigh in? Have you tried this?)
*(If needed) Eat better while pregnant. (Side note: I am NOT pregnant, nor are we trying right now. This is a "just in case" goal because I really want to be sure I don't just eat anything when I am hungry like I did with Nora.)
*Go to the doctor, speak up, and get my issues sorted out.

*Cory and I have decided that "Every little bit helps." when it comes to making and saving money. I will stick to this.
*Sell something handmade. :)
*Budget better at Christmas.

*Read though the Bible again.
*Be a blessing to those around me.
*Get out of God's way!

*Be more patient with my husband and child.
*Have Nora spend the night at Rachel's house a few times. (Side note: I am terrible about this.)
*Do one thing specifically for Cory alone once per week. Or at least twice per month. :)

*Knit 5-10 things. Give most away as gifts.

We spent this New Year's at one of our neighbor's houses, since that's what we usually do. They had a "bad sweater" competition, but Cory and I are not really "sweater" people. :) Well, I am not. As you can see, Cory "always has a sweater on" . . .

Until next time . . .