Sunday, November 20, 2011

My Coupon Experiment

I have started a six month coupon experiment. I don't know how I stumbled on the couponing website I started reading a few weeks ago, but it changed my attitude about couponing quickly. Some friends asked me where I was learning about coupons, so I wrote an email to compile the information I was using to help them explore the world of couponing. I thought I would put that information on my blog, too, in case anyone else might like to check it out.

Here is the Fabulessly Frugal website I have been checking out. It is a little crazy right now, because they are posting a whole lot of deals for Christmas presents and sales that only happen at this time of the year. So, there are more entries per day than normal. Here are some of the articles that got me thinking:

Getting Started -
If you want to understand the acronyms, you need to read this -
FAQ’s -
Stock up Prices -
Sample Store Match-Up -
Example of Multiple-Transaction Shopping Trip -

There are a few other sites that made me want to try this out. Check out the videos on this page:
Extreme couponing TV show vs. Reality -

Both Fabulessly Frugal and Jill Cataldo have DVD "classes" that teach couponing.   I bought the Fabulessly Frugal one, and I felt it was good for getting started with organization.  I think, just based on the videos above, that the Jill Cataldo one might be more in depth on the couponing transactions themselves. They also both have information on saving money in other areas.  So, if you decide not to coupon, you can still see great deals on everything from jeans to camera lenses to household appliances.

So, here is what I have been doing the last two weeks.

1 – Organize my Coupons - I use the organization system described here, with one difference. The coupon lists they put out on their site are not always directly related to the coupons in our paper. We will have the same companies, but the amounts or conditions are different. So, I have tried writing in the corrections, typing up my own list, and next I am going to try downloading their spreadsheet and making changes to that.
2 – Visit Fabulessly Frugal and check out the “Stores” section – This section has the sales at Rite Aid (sign up for the wellness+ card online), Walgreens, Target and WalMart. They also have a “More Stores” section that includes CVS (get the Extra Care Card) and Giant (Same as Stop & Shop). Each page will have the top sales and coupon match ups for that week. These first few weeks, I have not had all the coupons for the deals as they were in the paper before I started saving coupons. I still look at them, though, because it is helping me to get an idea of what prices people are paying for different items. I think this is good because I don’t have pressure to do all the deals. I just do the few I can and see how it goes.
3 – Check out for other match-ups. – You have to create a login to look at the matchups, but it is free. I like this site because I can see the sales for the local stores more easily. So, even if it doesn’t end up on the “Pink Star” stock up price list for the Fabulessly Frugal website, I know how the sales in the area compare to each other for the things I need. I noticed something new when I signed in now, as opposed to a year ago when I signed up – they have a “Deals over 50% off” link for both national drugstores and national grocery chains so you can see the best deals across stores more easily. They also have a spot to choose your state and see the match ups locally.
4 – Make my Master Shopping List – This is the part I am still working on. I built a database a while back that makes my shopping list for me, but you could make the list on paper. I have a list for each store with the prices advertised and what coupons I will be using and can expect back on my receipt. This helps me to know where I am going while I am out and which things I am getting from each store.
5 – Get my List & Coupons together – I paper clip together the coupons for each store so that I can just grab the pile I need when I go in. I think I am going to bring my coupon binder in the stores with me in the future, though. I missed out on some sales last week because they were unadvertised and I didn’t have my binder with me.

I also just tried some things this week that you may have never done, either. I just did my first “Multiple Transaction” trip to CVS this last week and I was really nervous that the cashier would hate me! However, she was very sweet and seemed to be used to people using the coupons that printed on the first transaction receipt toward their next transaction. In all, I did three transactions and it went fine. Hopefully, it will always go that smoothly! I also just purchased my first coupons on ebay this week, so I will let you know how that goes. (After reading this article tonight, I may not do it again. I will have to look into it more.)

This is still a learning process for me, but last week I saved $50 in coupons alone - not counting that I grouped them together with good sales.  I will be keeping track to see how worthwhile it is to spend the time doing this.  Right now, I feel like I spend a LOT of time because I am on a learning curve.  I will have to update to let you all know how it goes over time.  I think it will take much less time as I get used to it.  Hopefully, I will be able to say that I saved a ton of money by the end of this six months!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Treehouse News - Up to speed...

Yes, I know.  I have definitely failed in updating here over the last few months.  I just looked at the last entry I had started in here and it was cut short by a hard drive failure.  I never really caught up after that.  Although, I have been trying to keep my priorities in line, as I said here a few months ago, so my kitchen has been cleaner.  *smile*

I decided not to try getting everything in here, but thought an update on the kids was way overdue.  Here are some of my favorite moments of the last few months.

Yep, we started school!

The new school space

My Second Grader
Princess has grown so much. She lost all her front teeth, and as her new ones are growing in she is looking more and more mature to me. Here are some of my favorite moments from her:

Princess was showing off her new toothless spot in her mouth to our neighbor.  Then, our neighbor shared that their puppy had just lost some puppy teeth, too.   Princess giggled, “Did he leave them for the doggie tooth fairy?"

While watching Pixar shorts, Princess concluded, “That Jack-a-lope is like God.”  I wasn't sure how to take that, so I asked her how.  She said that the jack-a-lope was like God because he accepted the sheep no matter what, whether he had fleece or was shorn.

Little Man drew me a picture of me driving in an 18 wheeler through the country, with lines in the back to indicate speed. I asked, “How fast am I going?” He answered, “About 150.” Princess said, “I guess the speed limit is fast in the country!”

I added red pepper to a dish, and Princess’ reaction was, “The peppers touch only the nerves that say, ‘I don’t like them!’”

We had been reading a biography on George Mueller who started his life as a swindler, but was a changed man when he became a Christian. One night, after reading only about the start of his life, this was our dinner conversation:
Me to Princess: “Where did your manners go tonight?”
Princess: “I don’t know. Maybe to a big beer party that lasted seven days.”
Ryan: “Good homeschooling, hon. I bet they don’t advertise that on the Sonlight website!”

One of the things we have covered in Language Arts recently is Compound Words. Princess’ eyes lit up after talking about them for a few minutes: “Mom! A lot of times we use Compound Words in knock knock jokes!”

One evening, the lights suddenly went out in Princess' room because she tripped the breaker.  She said, "Did I have a blackout in just my room? Am I gonna have to sleep somewhere else?"

Princess and Little Man were looking at books in the car.  Little Man asked what a "wosset" was.  Her response was, "That, apparently, is a wosset."

The kids wanted to play a joke on Daddy.  They asked if he ever played tricks on me.  I said, "Yeah, but not in a long time."  A short while later, they were planning their joke and asked me what I thought we should do.  I said, "I can't even tell you the last trick daddy played on me."  Princess said, "Well, I can tell you he next one we are going to play on him!"

Princess was not speaking very respectfully in her request one night at the dinner table, and I asked her to reword her request in a more respectful manner.  She complied and then said, "Do you want me to do an example of the really rude way of saying it?"  I said, "No."  She replied, "Okay. Well I'll be right here if you change your mind."

"I think I'm going to name my 105th child Dora."  I am not sure what she is planning on naming the other 104!

"Christ died to save us from our skins."  Princess immediately caught her error, but it has been repeated over and over ever since!

Little Man
My Kindergartener
Little Man is just starting Kindergarten. Some of the things he comes out with are hysterical, but I don't always share them here. Some things are just better to tell about in know…with facial expressions and body language!  Here are some of the things I think will be fun even in type.

Ryan:  What would mommy do if we came home with a Puppy?
Little Man:  Run away.

I think Little Man will definitely be the strong, sensitive type. I was comforting him one day when he was upset and, true to his nature, he said, “What do you do when you cry? Does Daddy pick you up?” I love this boy! He is so sweet!

I can’t remember what question I asked, but I had asked about what someone wore for some reason. Little Man said, “I know! Whitie Tighties!” He had just heard the term, "Tighty Whities" for the first time a few days before and, clearly, he likes the term - even if he doesn't quite have it right!

I went to Starbucks to get my regular and Little Man said, “I think they are almost out of those…You keep on taking them!”

Ryan: Wow. you're doing a great job (on that puzzle).
Little Man: Thanks. It'd be better if I had a giant octopus helping me.

"You don't touch that. Even though it looks like a's not." (In case you hadn't guessed...he is talking about poop!)

Princess was saying she wanted to be an explorer and go all over the world.  Little Man's concerns were natural, "You would need to pack a big lunch for that!"

A few years ago, we drove along the local river to explore the different parts of a river up close and personal.  Every so often, I will ask the kids if they remember anything about it.  Recently, I was checking with them again to see if they knew the name of the river.
Me:  "Do you know what it is?"
Princess:  "The mouth?"
Me:  "No, but good guess. The mouth is on the other side. Do you know what it is though?"
Little Man:  "It's nose? It has a mouth, it must have a nose!"

One night at dinner, Little Man prayed, "Please help mom to let go of her control and help us to be more obedient." We have been learning about character traits, like "self-control" and "obedience" but I thought his misstatement to "let go of her control" was probably a pretty accurate description of what I actually need.  Out of the mouths of babes...

While practicing his memory verses, Little man said, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only forgotten son..."  He, unlike Princess, does not generally catch his mistake in this one.  hehehe

My Preschooler
Pookie is an amazing beam of light everywhere she goes.  Sometimes it is like sunshine and rainbows, other days more like lightning!  She is always trying to make people smile and laugh.  As she learns more, it is fun to watch her try to explain things.  She doesn't always get the words right, but she gets her point across.  Here are some examples:

We went on a walk during one of the nicer days in May, and it was new for Pookie because we were letting her walk instead of riding in the stroller. We don’t have sidewalks, so we have to be very watchful of the kids and are training them how to take a walk safely through the neighborhood. After Pookie stepped out on the road, I picked her up to carry her. She was trying to convince me that I could let her walk, and she said, “I gonna try not to break my heart.”

Ryan told Pookie one day, “You’re a piece of work!” She replied, “A piece of work?!! I (Pookie)!”

Pookie has been getting better at letter recognition, but she misheard me one day:
Me: Look, it’s a ‘W’
Pookie: “It’s not that a double me!”

I have mentioned before that I like cooking shows, and that Princess has given me critiques on my “presentation,” but there are other ways this has infiltrated our house. Pookie’s new request is that she be permitted to “go to the dessert round”!

We were on our way out one day and Pookie asked, "Can I bring Anna?" (You know...Anna Green Gables). Hehehe

Pookie was frustrated with trying to eat corn on the cob.  Her way of telling us was to exclaim, "I can't eat it...the buttons."

Pookie got stung by a bee...because I put her down in the grass and didn't see the bee.  She had been playing in the pool, and between the cold of being wet and being upset by the sting, she was chattering.  She started to laugh, "I make clicking noise with my teeth!  See?"

Pookie still loves footprints.  After playing in the pool, she was walking on the driveway.  She was showing off to me, "Fooprintz. I made it out of my feet!"

For Pookie's 3rd birthday, I gave out kaleidoscopes for favors.  The day after her party, she wanted her "Ida-cope."  Even after she slowed it down for me, "Ide-a-cope," I didn't understand what she was looking for.  I don't think I figured out until a few hours later what she was so upset about losing!  Now, she has started calling it her "Telescope."  At least I know what she means!

"I am gonna leave that for people...little people."  Pookie said this about the bib at the restaurant on the way to visit Ryan's family.  You know, the little people, not like her...she is big now.

Pookie's favorite birthday present, by far, was a little lip gloss purse.  "I can't find my lip gloss anywhere. I looked all over...downstairs,upstairs. I can't find my lip gloss anywhere!"  I also heard her singing "oh where oh where are you my lip gloss purse!"

Pookie has been having a difficult time in the car, because Little Man and Princess are in the back and she is in the middle.  I am always calling to the two in the back to give her a chance to talk, and working with her to make sure that she is asking politely for her turn to talk.  One day, I heard her say, "Uh, excuse me, Evan. I am going to talk to myself."  Gotta work on her understanding of when to ask them to be quiet...

Pookie also has interesting solutions for things:  "Little girls twirl (their hair). See? Like that. Every time they don't get hiccups by doing that."  I have heard of a lot of solutions to hiccups, but never that one!

After asking what happened to Little Man, Pookie said, "(Little Man) hurt himself by me."  She had been jumping on his belly while he was laying in bed.

When I said that someone turned up the chapstick too much, Pookie said "It wasn't me. It wasn't you. It wasn't a fox..." then proceeded to list everyone else in the family. 

Pookie has been enamored with butterflies lately.  She did a sponge capsule one day and thought it might be a butterfly. I said, "I think it is a farm animal." She said, "Yeah. It is a farm butterfly." (Thankfully, she was happy with the rabbit it actually became.) this was long, but I am glad I will be able to remember these stories in the years to come.  I hope you enjoyed them, as well!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Happy Birthday Princess!

Happy Birthday to my Princess, who seven years ago rocked my world by making my dream of being a mommy come true.  As a baby, she was content and quiet...until she just didn't like something!  She still screams the loudest when she is just. not. happy.  But she also tends to walk through life content and joyful.  I thank God for that because she weathered my "mommy ignorance" pretty well.  We looked at some of her baby pictures today and I thought I would share some of my favorite pictures and memories of her first few years...

  • When getting my ultrasound, we decided to find out the sex of the baby.  She was turned the wrong way and we had to move on, with the promise we would check one more time before leaving.  I said, "Come on, baby, turn around so we can see what you are."  A minute later, she moved and we were able to easily see that she was a girl.  =0)
  • Here she is less than two weeks old. Smiling already!
  • While watching Baby Einstein farm animals for the first time, she LOVED when the kids would start to sing.  I have a video of her sitting studying the screen until they would sing, then she would look at me and give me a BIG smile as if to say, "Did you hear that, mom?"  They would stop singing and she would go back to soon as the voices started again she would look at me with that BIG smile again.
  • Baby Einstein age
  • When Little Man was still laying on his blanket at two months, not even rolling yet, Princess was coloring and came over to give him some crayons to play with, too.
  • At sharing, she's a natural!
  • Little Man had an infection that made him cry all the time as a baby.  I was frustrated and sad for him as he cried one day, and Princess (around 2 years old) said, "That's okay mommy, that's what babies do."  Yeah, she has always been articulate!
  • No one believed me that she was
    loud at home...
  • Our neighbors had some work done on their driveway, and she LOVED to watch the backhoe!
  • "I wanna see the backhoe!"
  • Princess is a natural momma...she wonders aloud how she will juggle being both Mom and a veterinarian.
  • Little Mom
  • Princess was so affectionate toward Little Man that she even wanted to be close to him when they were both buckled in at meal times.  Her solution was to "hold feet" with him.
  • Meal times are still time to be close...
  • She has always had her own sense of style.  As we looked through pictures, it was all about the layering...
  • Pajama shirt, Bathing suit, Jean shorts...
Here are some of my other favorites from the first few years:

Three Months

18 months...this is a week before Little Man was born.

Bounce house fun! 2 1/2 years old.

Loving Big Sister
Loving Big sister, again!

If you have any memories of her you would like to share, leave them in the comments here or on Facebook and I will share them with her!

Friday, July 22, 2011


I wish I could remember the exact quote, but I don't.  It went something like this, "If you are going to live for Christ, you have to be willing to be misunderstood." One of my dearest friends, Andi, shared with me this quote which she had been challenged by.  I just remember thinking, "Wow!  That is hard."  This whole idea of being misunderstood is still hard for me.

I love words.  Anyone that knows me knows that I will tell the whole backstory to any little thing just so you understand why I am telling you about something.  I remember my first Christmas with my husband's family...I think I wore some of them out trying to share with them why some of the items he gave me were so funny.  I just wanted them to know a little about me, a little about us.  They lived far away and didn't really get to see us in our new life together, and they didn't really know me at all.  In addition to backstory, I also tend to replay past conversations in my head trying to find what else I could have said to get my point across more effectively.  I think I want to learn from those conversations so I don't make the same mistake again.

I realized after my last post that if my blog is going to reflect me, and my relationship with Christ, I am going to have to be okay with the fact that I am not perfect and with people possibly misunderstanding my words or motives.  My last post referenced a song that I love.  It is a reminder to me of the reason I work at my marriage, and why I need to be diligent in guarding my thoughts and actions in every area.  Although I usually think about my posts for quite a while and edit and re-edit them over and over (I am currently on my fourth time reading through this one, and this is just a note in my iPod right now!), in that post I thought I would share what I was thinking without the barrage of edits and re-writes.  When I looked the next day, I had a few comments.  One was from a friend that was a great reminder along the lines of the adage "when you point the finger at someone else, there are three more pointing at you".  I don't think she meant it as a rebuttal of anything I had said, but I immediately thought, "oh, that is not what I meant by...". I went back and typed up a comment that explained the "back story".  I still think that my heart in the whole matter could be misunderstood if you were reading my blog from a different background or point of view.  So, in five years you may find me with a thoughtful look on my face...I will be trying to figure out what my post or follow up comment should have said.

Am I okay with being misunderstood?  It  was a little surprising to me to find that I am still struggling with that question.  Who knew I still wanted everyone to be happy with me and to like me?  Didn't that insecurity end with adulthood?  Shouldn't it have ended when I realized I was blessed and contented with my life?  I guess not.

So, I just want to say:  I am going to write what I think and what I feel.  I will not always be right.  I may sound judgmental. I once took a character test to see who I was most like in the Bible...I didn't even know who Deborah was, at the time. She was a judge, and I can't say that I am really surprised that answer came up for me. I see issues in black and white, so sounding judgemental when I talk about them is just one of the rough spots God is still working on in me.  While I see issues in black and white, I don't see people that way.  I may disagree with you, but I will still accept you.  I may heatedly debate a point, only to see your side later.  It is just the way my mind works.  I am always open to feedback that I will carry into my prayer closet and ask God about.  I trust Him to guide me into all truth, even if it turns out that I was wrong about something.

So, I will keep writing.  I will keep sharing my thoughts.  Just don't be surprised if you see them change and shift over time.  God isn't finished with me, yet, and I am so grateful for his patient guidance.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Guard Your Hearts, People...

This song has been on my heart, lately. 

Ryan and I have always held that it is the small things that have the potential to lead to big problems in our marriage.  So, we try to carefully guard our marriage in the little things.  I think, though, that this is true of any area of sin.  When you see someone do something and think, "How could you DO that?  What were you thinking?" I believe the answer is very simple.  Look at the small, everyday, insignificant choices in their life, and they will point to the end result.

Guard your thoughts.  Guard your mind.  "The journey from your mind to your hands is shorter than you're thinking..."  And when you sin, "it's the little feet behind you that are sure to follow..." and suffer.

"Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life." Prov. 4:23 (NLT)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Treehouse News - February

So, after hard drive issues on my computer, I think I am finally up and running again.  This blogging thing is turning into a once a month deal!  Oh, well.  I will just hope and pray that it gets better.  =0)

Just like January, February could pretty much be summed up in one word:  Coughing.  I was sick the whole month of February into the beginning of March.  I survived, and managed to write down just a few things of note for each of the children.  There were not too many pictures from that month, though.  I had to cheat and use a photo from the beginning of March for Evan for this month!

All I want for Christmas...
Princess *finally* lost that second top tooth on Valentine’s Day!  She was so excited that she broke out into “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth” as soon as she could.  Here are some other quotes from her:

"Your kids are going to have a silly dad, Evan"

“Dad-nabik!” - I didn't realize that I had been saying, "Dag-nabit!" until she came up with her own version of it. She had the inflection right, though!
Princess and Little Man have really been into jokes, lately.  This is the progression I heard one day at lunch:
Little Man – What kind of a bagel isn’t a bagel?  A donut!

Princess – What kind of a donut isn’t a donut?  A bagel!

Little Man - What kind of a bagel isn’t a bagel?  A donut!

Princess – (Rolls eyes) I just heard that one.

Princess is really enjoying cooking shows lately, but I have never watched 30 minute meals with would never know it by this next conversation:

“Oh, this is DELISH!  I love it!”
(Me to Ryan) – “What, no reaction?”
R: "I am crying on the inside"
R to Princess: "Could Mom be on Worst Cooks (in America)?"
Princess: "No." 
R: "Because this is too good?" 
Princess: "Yep."

Little Man
A Boy and his Buzz
I didn't have much written down for Little Man this month.  I know that we spent a lot of time talking about his upcoming birthday party.  So, one of the things I recorded during this time was his list:

- A remote control car.
- A Castle, not a Little People one, a real knight one.
- A knight costume.
- All kinds of cool stuff.

Here are a few more quotes from him.

"And we didn’t even plan it!" – Little Man said this when he found out that we were both the second children in our family.  He was so excited that he then came over and gave me a big hug!

“There’s also bumps to let you know there’s a chocolate chip around!” - Little Man's explanation of how you can tell a chocolate chip cookie is the real deal.

We sing to Pookie when she goes to the bathroom on the potty.  After singing her the song, Little Man said, “Now you say, ‘That’s my line!’”

Bright Eyes
Pookie continues to amaze me with how much she understands and how she communicates those things to us.  Here are a few things she said during February:

“Uh, you have orange on your head.”  She saw my orange headphones in my ears.

“We are in the ‘dimin’ room!” -  This started a discussion between Princess and Little Man of what “Dining” means.  After discussion, they decided the dining room should be called the “Eating room” and the living room should be called the “Talking Room.”

“3…2…1…blastoff…to infini and eyon!” - This is Pookie's version of "To infinity...and beyond!" from Buzz Lightyear.

I told Pookie I was jealous of something, and she responded, “Why you are jealous?”  I thought her grammar was pretty good for a 2 ½ year old!

“Dad is my friend.  I want my friend…I want Daddy!”

It is so much fun to watch the kids grow and change - and it is fun re-living some of their stories as I record them here.  I am so glad I can share them with you!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Treehouse News - January

So, this is my way of getting everyone caught up with all that happened in our lives the last four months...I will just give you a quick synopsis of each month.  (Well, after typing this one, I think some entries will be quicker than others...)

For the month of January, this is really easy.  The whole month can be summed up in one word...SNOW!!!

Can you find the rock wall?  That is at "ground-level"

And, boy, did we have a lot of it! It is funny to look at these pictures now, because it has been so beautiful here, now. But, in January, it felt like we would never see the yard again!

Back Porch
Front Steps

This was a great time for the kids, though.  They loved playing in the snow, and it was so peaceful outside that I (almost) enjoyed being out there, too.  The snowpants I got last year for Christmas made a huge difference.  If it were not for those, we not have any pictures of the kids playing outside!  I don't do least not well.

Sitting in a Winter Wonderland

Princess' big news for January was that she lost the first of her two front teeth.  Both front teeth were wiggly all through December, so she was pretty happy.  Here are some other "quote-ables" from the month.
"I'm growing up like you, Mom.  A couple is a LOT."  - Ryan always picks on me because I use a couple to describe a "few."  Princess must have heard us talking about that at some point.  I am glad to see that she agrees with me.  ha!

Little Man woke up one morning and exclaimed, "Where did all this snow come from?"  Princess answered, "God!"

Pookie was having a rough time, and was crying...loudly.  Princess couldn't take it anymore, she said, "She is screaming so loud it is like a hundred bees all buzzing in my ear at once!"

The girls were playing together in their room, and Princess decided to have "school" for Pookie.  Here is what I overheard, "Now, you know that this is the prince and princess preschool, but it is also church.  Now, there is a library here, but there are a lot more libraries...this is our library, there aren't many books, but it is fun!"

Princess is also starting to really think ahead.  She started getting dressed, folding her pajamas and making her bed before going to sleep on top of her blankets.  You know, to save time for the next day - so she doesn't have to do chores in the morning.  Ah...a girl after my own heart...I am definitely a night owl!

While explaining to Little Man what a "Tall Tale" was, Princess got a little mixed up.  "...then they get exhausting"  I think she meant "exaggerated".

Little Man
Playing in the tunnel Dad made

Little Man didn't really have any big changes in January, but he did have some fun quotes!

Little Man likes to sneak into our bed sometimes, and on one night he was tossing and turning and waking me up.  I was pretty annoyed, and asked him the next day what he had been doing.  "I was looking for a cold spot on the pillow."  So much like his Dad!

One night, Ryan was contemplating out loud whether or not Little Man should have dessert.  He said, "Is it going to make him all crazy?"   Little Man responded, "No, it will make me all s-l-e-e-p-y...(snore)"  I think he knows what we want to hear!

While having Bible time, we were talking about Jesus walking on the water.  I asked the kids how they thought Peter was able to walk on the water.  His answer?  "Maybe they had water skis."

There is a diner that the women in my family go to every so often for breakfast, while the guys go somewhere else.  One night, we decided to have dinner there.  Little man said, "That's not a restaurant, that's the women's breakfast!"  While trying to explain to him why it was okay, he said, "There's a grandfather in there, I guess that is okay."

One day, we were looking out at the snow piling up after Ryan had shoveled.  I told the kids that I might go out later and shovel so Ryan didn't have to go out again.  Little Man said, "You should do that!  That will make his feelings better!"

While gazing out at the snow one morning, Princess said, "I want to go out there today!"  Little Man responded, "Me, too, too!"


Pookie had a great winter!  She has grown so much in her communication and is a lot of fun to listen to.  Here are some quotes from her in January:

For the first story, I have to give two background points. The first is that Pookie owns a doll called "Kimochi Cloud" that helps preschoolers to understand emotions.  She hugs "Mochi" any time she is unhappy.  Second, this was said while watching Mater's Tall Tales.  There is a scene where McQueen is chasing after a Mater fan and trying to give him an autograph, the fan clearly wants nothing to do with McQueen.  Here is what she said:  "Poor 'queen.  He needs a hug (she puts out her hands to the TV).  He needs Mochi!"

Pookie is still working out pronunciation of some things.  She was very excited about the "Foofritz" (footprints) in the yard and told us every morning that the ones left in the snow outside the window (by the oil delivery guy) were actually hers.

I heard "I want lipgloss, mom" just about everyday this winter.  So, it made me laugh when she said, "I want lipgloss, Mom.  I want lipgloss all the time!"

Pookie was very excited about the prospect of losing teeth.  One night, after bath, she looked in her mouth in the mirror and said, astonishingly, "Oh!  Teeth!  Two...lost!  I need them!"

I know that Pookie knows that I love her because she tells me all the time, "Mom, I wuv you."  I am apparently doing okay with encouragement, too.  After making them hot cocoa one day, she said, "I so proud you, Mommy." 

We were getting ready to wash our hands, and Pookie didn't want the foaming soap, she wanted the moisturizing soap from Bath & Body Works.  She said, "I want the one with sprinkles."

This little lady LOVES to sing.  She just sings whatever comes to mind.  One of my favorites was a cross between the ABC's, the ones that she could remember, with Baa Baa Black Sheep.  It went like this, "Abcdefg...wxyz...yes sir, yes sir, three bags FUUULLLLL!"

And, if you have gotten all the way here, you get to hear from Ryan, too.  As he was trying to convince me that leaving the heat off for the first floor all day was the wise choice, his argument was, "Think with your wallet, woman!"

I am surprised that I had so much material for January!  I know that I was not really good about writing stuff down in the months that followed, so this may be the longest post.  But, all in all, I would say January was a good...albeit, cold...time.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Bible in 90 Days - What was it like?

I did not intend for my 90 days of Bible reading to turn into a 90+ day sabbatical from blogging, but that is what it turned into.  It was not all because of the dedication to reading, though that did take up much of my time.  I just found to be true what my husband said before I started - "You are going to have to give something up."  Blogging is just one of those things I gave up.

So, what was it like?  Well, reading the Bible in 90 days was, in a word, intense!  It was overwhelming, wonderful, difficult, enlightening and joyful.  Although I gave things up that I enjoy in order to read, I am so glad that I did it.  I did fall behind from time to time, and on the last week I was two weeks behind schedule.  I did some really intense reading and finished on my deadline.  I did mess up my deadline, though.  For some reason, I had put in April 4th, instead of April 2nd.  So, technically, I did the reading in 92 days!  I wanted to write down some of the thoughts that I had about the experience so that I would remember it.  I am also hoping that it might be an encouragement to someone else to take the challenge on, even if they think it will be hard.  Here are some of my reflections on this time:
  • There is a LOT of repetition in the Bible
      I knew that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all told the same story in different ways, and from different perspectives, but I don't know that I put together how much of the Old Testament repeats the same information in different ways.  I read a lot on my iPod (more on that, later) and I found that it was better to start new books by reading the synopsis of the purpose of the book in my Study Bible before reading the whole book.  It helped to frame out what the book was and why it was important, so I knew why I was reading about the same King for the third time!
    • I don't need an "Aha!" moment every time I read the Bible for it to affect my life
        I am used to reading the Bible for study purposes or to meditate on it.  I would get really disappointed if I didn't feel I had gotten some sort of revelation from my time reading.  In this challenge, I had to let go of that because I had to just try to keep up with the reading.  What I found, though, was that just reading the Bible each day affected my attitudes, my speech, my thought life...It really brought home that God's Word is truly alive and active (Heb 4:12).  My mind does not have to understand it any better for it to change my life.
      • I never found my "groove"
          When I began this challenge, I was hoping that I would be forced to find a time in my day that would be consistent to read.  Instead, I found that I had to find time wherever I could.  I sometimes had to make decisions to skip housework in the evenings to catch up, or grab my iPod whenever I could get a few words read; but I never did really find a consistent reading time.  I also learned, though, that that is okay.  If all I can do is read a little every chance I get, it is enough!
        • I could not have done it without support. 
            Ryan was a great supporter during this time.  He did extra housework for me and encouraged me when I wasn't sure how I would catch up.  The last night that I read, Ryan actually took over all the night time duties with the kids so that I could finish.
              I am also so glad that I had to be accountable.  I am grateful for my team leader, Laura, and Amy at Mom's Toolbox who provided the challenge and check-in opportunities.  I would never have finished without them.
            • Tools
                As I said, before, I read a lot of my readings on my iPod.  I found a website and iPod app called "You Version."  I was able to sign up for the "Bible in 90 Days" reading plan right from their website and it would check off the chapters for me as I read them on my iPod.  You can also change the dates for the reading plans to customize them even further.  There were a few glitches with getting started and using the app, but overall it was a great help.  I would have liked having the plan from You Version printable, but I was able to print the copy from Mom's toolbox.  I found that keeping the printed reading plan in multiple places was helpful.  I had Bibles in different parts of the house and it was helpful to have a copy of the reading plan with it to help me remember approximately where I was.
              • The pressure of not finishing is gone!
                  I have tried to read the Bible cover to cover so many times and never actually finished.  Upon finishing the 90 days, Ryan and I began reading through the Bible together on the Chronological plan and I am finding there is not the same pressure to "perform" as I have had in the past.  I am not afraid of not finishing.  I am not afraid I won't be able to do it.  If I fall behind, I know I can catch up - I have done it now on a much tighter schedule.  I also am finding that I am putting people and places together more than I have before.  Reading it all in such a tight time frame gives a perspective on people and places because you have not forgotten the background and history before you move on to the next parts of the Bible.
                I enjoyed this experience on so many levels.  I am covering Greek history with Princess in school right now, and it was amazing to read through the New Testament while reviewing the history of the time period.  It changed the experience of reading it.  There were also times that I read things and thought, "Wow!  The kids just asked me about that and now I have an answer from the Bible that I can point them to."  Ryan and I chose the Chronological plan this time because I want to see how the overlapping history of the Old Testament looks side by side.  We are about one month in, and I can already tell it is going to be a good experience for us both.  I am excited to see what the experience will bring out of God's Word this time around.

                In the time I have been "gone" from my little bloggy world, so many things have happened!  I look forward to sharing some of the things we have done around here over the last few months, as we have had some good times.  I also have been using the last month to read some of the books I skipped out on during my Bible reading months, so I hope to share my thoughts on those, too. is good to be back!

                Thursday, January 6, 2011

                Bible in 90 Days challenge

                I had decided in December that I was not going to make any resolutions for the new year.  I just wanted to refocus on the goals I was already working toward.  So, no real changes...just back to life after vacation.  There are a few areas I will continue to focus on:  Making sure to actually eat during the day, paying attention to our budget so that we can plan better, planning my time instead of reacting, and getting the schoolroom more organized and streamlined.  As January approached, I read from Amy at Raising Olives about reading the Bible in 90 days.  I had never heard of that reading plan before.  I was intrigued.  I decided to check it out.

                My first reaction to the idea of reading the Bible in 90 days was that if I started it, I may actually get through the Bible in a year.  The more I thought about it, though, the more I thought maybe this was a good idea for me.  Here are some of the questions and thoughts that have come up as I embark on this challenge.

                Why read the entire Bible, just to say you did it?  - Although I have not actually read the Bible cover to cover, this is not the primary reason why I am reading it.  I think that we are affected by everything that we put into our minds - TV, movies, books, magazines, even conversations we have with others.  I have had a difficult time really studying the bible, of late, so I haven't been reading very much of it at all.  I liked the idea of reading "straight through from Genesis to Revelation, just a like a novel."  This is not a study program, it is a reading program.  I think this is good because we are told in 1 John 4:1 to "test the spirits" to see if they are of God; but how are we to know if something lines up with the word of God if we are not familiar with it?  I want to read the whole Bible so that I will be familiar with the word of God, so  I will know Him more fully.

                Why try to finish in 90 days?  As I said before, I hoped that by setting the goal of 90 days I would actually finish sometime this year.  However, as I have read more, and started the challenge, I think I might actually make my goal of 90 days.  One of the reasons for this is just my nature.  When I have a difficult deadline, I usually accomplish more.  I think that is why I liked my accelerated degree program when I was in college and why I find life easier with three children than just two (most days... *smile*).  I also signed up early enough to have a mentor, which builds in accountability.  I need this!  Knowing that I have a group of people doing this with me, and that I need to check in every week, gives me motivation.  I love that they are encouraging whether you are up to date or not.  Amy at Mom's Toolbox, whose blog is the hub of this challenge, took 97 days to read it the first time.  My mentor, Laura, fell behind and ended up reading about 2/3 in 30 days.  So, I know that I will not be condemned if I fall behind.

                When I told my husband that I wanted to do this challenge, his response was, "You are going to have to give something up."  He is right...I will have to give up time spent on other things to accomplish this.  I think this will be good, too.  I have wanted to have a consistent quiet time, but have not found my groove with that.  It takes 20 days to make a habit, so I am hoping 90 days will really make it stick!

                I don't really think of this as a "resolution," but it is a commitment.  I am four days into the challenge, and I am really enjoying it.  It is not too late to join, there is plenty of time to catch up or go a few days over the end date set.  If you are interested in learning more, you can visit the FAQ page at Mom's Toolbox to see how to link up.  I don't think there are mentor groups to join, but I think you still check in on the main page.  They also have connections through Twitter and Facebook that are helpful reminders.  If you do decide to do the challenge, let me know.  I would love to have some friends do it with me.

                Tuesday, January 4, 2011

                Treehouse News - Christmas Memories

                What a great Christmas season this was for us. I collected a few quotes, photos and memories from this season that I wanted to share.

                The Advent activities were all so much fun. It was so precious to see the kids get just as excited over buying food for the food bank as they were over having sleepovers in each others' rooms.

                This is how they were sleeping on sleep-over night

                One morning the scroll read, "Ice Cream for Dinner Tonight!" This meant that we were going to a restaurant and they could just have ice cream if they wanted. Afterward, I heard Little Man having a conversation with himself in his room:
                Little Man: Guess what? I'm having ice cream for dinner!
                Reply (to himself): What???
                Little Man: Yep, a calendar of mine said so.
                Reply: (Little Man)?
                Little Man: Yes?
                Reply: Don't you have ice cream for dessert?
                I didn't catch his answer, but it included an emphatic confirmation of the plan.

                We ALL got in our PJ's for the Christmas Light Drive!

                "They gave him SAP???" - This comment came from Little Man upon learning that Myrrh was the sap from a tree.  Did you know that?  I know I didn't!  =0)

                If you are my friend on Facebook, you may have seen the video of the kids singing their carols. What you may have missed are some of the lyrics. Little Man sang "Angels We Have Heard on High" and here are some of the creative lyrics:

                "Angels we have heard on high, sweetly singing bore the things.
                And the mountains in reply echoing their joyous springs.
                Glow we are in excelsis deo."

                He also likes to sing, "Re-keep, Re-keep the sounding joy!"

                One of the days of Advent, we were making cookies for friends. However, Little Man kept sneezing all over the dough as we decorated. We decided we were going to have to think of something else to give our friends.  Princess said, "Playing together is a good can't wrap that, though!"

                Decorating the tainted cookies.  ;0)

                I thought our Advent Calendar ended up very unique...with flying donkeys, Mary praying to a Palm tree, camels sitting on people's heads, and Baby Jesus floating in the middle.  Here is the final scene:

                Advent Calendar Scene

                We traveled to see Ryan's family, and there were a few memories I recorded from Christmas there, too.

                Pookie was so excited while opening her presents that it was a joy for everyone to listen to her. I can't copy the inflection, but here is what she said while opening her first present - it was a bath time art set:

                "I got sumpin! I got sumpin! I got yellow! Green! Orange! Blue! Pink! I love yellow."  (She gave herself a hug on that last statement.  So cute!)

                Her next present, she said, "I got sumpin! I got a box! I got flowers!" She hadn't even found the present, yet. She was just so excited about the box it came in. =0)

                Little Man just kept saying, "That's AMAZING!" with every present he really liked. Princess was not very vocal, but did exclaim, "That's just what I wanted!" when she opened her Twister Hopscotch game.

                Little Man was so sweet Christmas evening. The kids were done with presents, but Great Grampy, Great Grammie and Nanny (their Great Aunt) came and the kids got to open the cards from them. Ryan read Little Man's card to him from Nanny, which had a comment that she hoped he was a good boy and that Santa didn't forget him. Before running back downstairs to play with his toys, he went over to Nanny and said, "He didn't forget me."  It was the perfect example of just how much he cares about people.

                Princess with Nanny

                At Christmas dinner, the kids asked me if they could sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus.  It was so cute that they thought of that themselves.  Great Grampy was sitting next to me and asked, "Whose birthday is it?"  When I told him, he just smiled a little.  This may be a tradition the kids start all on their own.
                Teaching Gr. Grampy about Superheros!

                Reading a book to Gr. Grammie

                A few days after Christmas, it was finally white with snow and we went on a sleigh ride.  The kids had a great time.  Then, we came home for some crazy carpet fun!

                Crazy carpets in the driveway!

                When we returned home, we had present opening time with my family. I missed most of what was said there, I am sure. Someone told me that Pookie said, upon opening her Kimochi cloud, "I found you!"


                The other notable quote I caught was actually from their cousin. He saw Pookie take a chocolate out of the bowl, and wanted it. She wouldn't give it to him, but turned around and got one for him and gave it to him. He said to Princess and Little Man, "Look what your baby gave me." I don't think he knows her name. =0)

                If you remember things the kids said or did, I would love to hear about them. Please post a comment below, or maybe on Facebook.  If any of you want to guess why this guy is so grumpy, you can post a comment for that, to.  Hehehe!

                Grumpy Sheep