Friday, April 27, 2012

My Top 10 of Music

I LOVE music!  I have always loved music.  It soothes my soul, lifts my spirits, makes me laugh, makes me cry, and makes me wish I could actually sing, but I can't.  So I just settle for listening to music and singing along when no one is around.  For the last few years I have listened to Christian music.  I decided one day that even though I (use to) love the latest and greatest hits on secular radio, they weren't doing me any good and they were filled with things that just didn't matter to me.  I switched the dial to our local Christian radio station and have never looked back.  Christian music just speaks to me and moves me.  It encourages me, fills my thoughts with God, and gives me the little pep in my step I am looking for.  So I thought I would share with you my top 10 favorite Christian music artists right now.

  1. Jeremy Camp - Love, love, love his music!  I remember the first time I really listened to the words from the song "I Still Believe."  I was on my way home from a class and had to stop driving because the words just hit me that hard.  No matter where I have been in my life I have always believed in God and God has always been waiting for me with open arms.
  2.  Mandisa - What a girl, what a voice!  I love her songs, especially "Voice of a Savior," "He is With You," "Stronger," and "Waiting for Tomorrow."
  3. Casting Crowns - I love so many of their songs, I can't even begin to name the ones I love ("Praise You in This Storm," "Blessed Redeemer," "If We've Ever Needed You," the list is endless).  Their music just moves me.  It touches the depths of my soul.
  4. TobyMac - I love the way he combines just the right words with just the right beats.  "Made to Love You" is one of my very favorites, but I really love all of his music.
  5. Chris Tomlin - I don't think I have ever heard the song "I Will Rise" without at least tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat, but usually the tears are rolling down my cheeks.  God's love is AMAZING.  There are several other songs by Chris Tomlin that I love too like "I Will Follow" and "Our God."
  6. Sanctus Real - I love their song "Lead Me."  It just really captures how I feel about our family.
  7. NeedToBreathe - This is a FANTASTIC band!  I love their sound and how soulful it is.  My favorites are "Lay 'Em Down" and "Something Beautiful."
  8. Mercy Me - I think we all know the song, "I Can Only Imagine."  That was the first one I heard by Mercy Me and I have loved them ever since.
  9. Natalie Grant - Her song "Held" makes me cry every time I hear it.  Who am I to question God?  I just need to let Him hold me and take care of me like He wants to.
  10. Francesca Battistelli - She is a newer artist, but I love her music.  It sticks in my head and I find myself singing it throughout the day.  I love her songs "Free to Be Me" and "This is the Stuff."
So what do you listen to?  Who are your favorite artists?  What are your favorite songs?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Random Thoughts for Wednesday

There is so much going on and so little going on at the same time.  Ever felt that way?  That is how I am feeling right now.  I just feel like we have a bazillion things going on with everything moving in slow motion.  When life is like this it is hard to gather my thoughts to post on my blog, but I am trying.  So for today I am just posting some randomness that is going on around here, I guess it is truly a Glimpse of our Normal.

  • My mom and step-dad are sort of living with us right now.  They are in the process of trying to move where we are and my step-dad has a job in this area, but it doesn't pay so well.  If they had to pay for gas to drive back and forth each day (2 hour total commute), there would be no paycheck.  So it is nice to have them here.  They stay with us during the work week and then go home on the weekends and continue packing and trying to sell their house.  They are having a lot of fun playing with the kids, helping with school, and just blending into our normal everyday routine. 
  • My mom created a monster when she taught Baby Bear to play "Membory" (Memory to the rest of us) with Baby Bear's princess cards instead of just the Memory game.  Now Baby Bear requires no less than 10 games of  "Membory" each day.  I warned her that she was going down a dangerous path, but she wouldn't listen.  :)
  • I broke my van last week.  I broke some part of the sway bar.  Thank God my hubby is super handy and was able to fix it.
  • Buddy Bear has had a couple of soccer games now.  He is getting better.  I wish that the weather was better for the games.  The first game was wet, it had POURED that morning just before the game.  Last week's game was COLD.  The wind blew across the open field and it froze us.  This week's game promises to be another cold one and it could be FRIGID as the game is at 9 am and the high temperature for the day is supposed to be 50.
  • We have only 2 1/2 weeks of school left.  This year has flown by.  I am trying to get it all finished up, figure out my curriculum for next year, and get grading entered into the computer.
  • I have been off of my game lately.  I think it is because everything has been so different and it makes me feel overwhelmed.  I really just need to get back on track and back on my schedule.  It works when I stick to it.  So I am just going to take a few deep breaths and jump in where I am at.
  • I really want to do some crafting, but it is hard to take time to do that when I feel like there are other areas of my house that need attention.  Crafting is my stress relief, but I have to get everything back in its place first.
  • The next room we are going to make over is Buddy Bear's.  It is long over due, but I think I am struggling to come up with good ideas for what he wants because it means that he is growing up.  It will change from a little boy room to a big boy room.  I am not sure if my heart is ready for that yet, but I guess as a mom I have to let him grow up.  Any ideas for a forest room?
  • I have been having the same computer issues I had before.  I think my computer is slowly dying, but I am trying to convince it to hold on for awhile longer. 
  • I have some great ideas for blogs coming up.  I promise.  I just have to get caught up in life a little before I can post some of them.  I'll be back after I get some work done.  :)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Double Duty Tip #2

I have another double duty tip for you today.  I guess it is actually a multi-purpose double duty tip.  It involves an ingredient in your refrigerator.  The first time I used this ingredient it was out of desperation, I had forgotten to pick up something at the store and was looking for a quick fix for my spaghetti sauce to thicken it.  The second way I use this ingredient is to cool down foods that are a little to spicy for my kiddos.  The third way you can use this ingredient is to polish silver.  Have you guessed what my double duty, multipurpose tip ingredient is?


That's right, ketchup is my double duty, multipurpose tip ingredient.  I use it to thicken up spaghetti sauce (I make my own) if I am out of tomato paste.  Just add a dollop or two to your sauce, stir, and it will thicken.  I use it to cool down spicy dishes for my kiddos.  My hubby and I like spicy food and every once in awhile the meals I make like chili get a little too spicy for the kids so they reach for the ketchup.  They add a squirt, stir, and it cuts down the spice.  I don't have any silver to polish but I have read in several magazines and on several websites that you can polish your silver with ketchup.  Who knew that a simple ingredient I keep on hand for burgers, hot dogs, and tater tots could do so many other things too?  I am glad I reached for it out of desperation one day and figured out what it can do.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Book That is Changing Me

Lately I have been reading "The Resolution for Women" by Priscilla Shier. It is an amazing book, a definite must read if you are looking to change your life. It is based on the resolution that was made in the movie Courageous, the resolution to stop being "good enough" and to start living according to how God calls us to live, to give our best all the time. I can tell you I have struggled reading this book. After reading the first chapter of the book, I expected it to challenge me, make me dig deep and search for the truth, and to help me make the changes I have been trying to make. I didn't expect this book to stop me in my tracks (in a good way), but it has. I read a chapter and then I have to put the book down and really think about what I have read. I have to process what I've read and figure out how God is calling me to change in that area. Sometimes I have to read, re-read, and re-read a chapter to get it all. I have felt convicted reading this book, compelled to change, and called to action. It is great because the book and God are helping me make the changes I have been wanting to make anyway. I know that I have been living my life "good enough" for a long time and I really want to be more of who God is calling me to be and less of the old me who I was before I truly began living for God. While I have struggled through reading this book, it is a good struggle, one that produces change even if the change is ever so slight at the beginning. I guess you just need to make a slight change to begin with and then let that change grow which is what I have been working on. I can't say I always do the best at the changes I have been making, but I continue working on them because I am a work in progress. The book has helped me get the ball rolling on the changes I have been wanting to make and God helps me keep going and growing. I am happy that I picked it up and started reading. I recommend it to anyone wanting to make some changes to their life and their walk with God.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Spring Chick - Kids Craft Tutorial

Here is a fun little craft that I did with my kids using the Cricut and you can too.

1.  Cut out a chick.  I used my Cricut with the Stretch Your Imagination Cartridge.  I cut the chick to be 7" and it had musical notes with it, but I didn't use those for this project so I just set them aside for later.

2.  I gathered all my supplies - glue, cotton balls (not pictured), paper piercer, needle, extra embroidery thread, ribbon, and a pencil.

3.  I wrote on the chick, Happy Spring.  This was originally going to be an Easter project, but as time got away from me it turned into a spring project.  It was also going to be done a little differently, but what I pictured in my head didn't work in reality so I altered the project and that is why you see so many extra chicks in the picture.

4.  Using my paper piercing tool, I poked holes where I had written Happy Spring and threaded a needle with leftover embroidery floss.  My kids then worked with Gigi (my mom) to sew the words Happy Spring on the chick.

6.  Once we had sewn on the words and then I tried my original idea and failed, I came up with the idea to make it into a chick coming out of the egg.  I made the egg by applying  glue to the bottom portion of the chick and then pulling apart cotton balls and pushing them into the glue.

7.  Cut a length of ribbon about 3-4 inches.  Fold in half and glue on the backside of the top of the chick's head.  

8.  Lastly we grabbed some markers and colored in the chick's eyes and nose for a bit more color and hung him on the door.

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Blog Hop for Tuesday

A blog hop is a "virtual party" where you go from blog to blog finding blogs you like, blogs that are helpful, blogs that are fun, and so much more.  Of course there has to be a blog that is willing to be the host of the blog hop and I have found a fun Tuesday Blog Hop over at Mom's Best Nest. Mikki has been kind enough to start a fun Flock Together Blog Hop on Tuesdays and I always find the best blogs by checking out the blog hop, of course Mom's Best Nest is one of my favorite blogs too that I check regularly.  So today I encourage you to check out the Flock Together Blog Hop and show some love (by leaving comments) on the awesome blogs listed on the blog hop.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

My Son Shocked Us

Yesterday was an exciting day for us.  My son absolutely shocked us.  I am still sitting here in shock as I think about yesterday.  It started off as just a normal day.  We had Buddy Bear's first Upwards Soccer game.  This is the first time he has ever played soccer and he loves it.  He loves to run so this is a perfect sport for him.  The only thing he really needs to work on is being a little more aggressive when it comes to getting in the pack to get the ball.  It is really hard to teach a boy that it is finally okay if you kick someone.  So the Spartans, my son's team, did okay for their first game.  They all played hard and tried their best.  They lost, but they are a team where only 1 or 2 of the boys have played soccer before and most of the boys on the other team had played before.

Yesterday afternoon we headed to a friend's house for their son's birthday party.  We have been up to their house before and we know that the boys in that family are into dirt biking.  We have chatted about it with them many times as there is a big group of families in our church that is really into dirt biking and they are one of those families.  My hubby has always really been into the idea of trying dirt biking as it sounds like a blast to him, but my very conservative Buddy Bear was never really sure.  He had decided maybe he would wait on the dirt bikes and just try out the 4-Wheeler.  We kept telling Buddy maybe he should just consider it since all the other boys in the group we hang out with love dirt bikes so much.  The other boys are always telling stories of the fun they have on their dirt bikes.  Not that Buddy has to do what they do, but sometimes he misses out on the really fun stuff because he is SO conservative.  

So yesterday we were getting ready to leave and our friend asked my hubby if he wanted to try out the small dirt bike they had.  Hubby said sure as he has been wanting to try it out and our friend has been hanging on to the bike he tried because it is a good learning bike.  Hubby had a lot of fun and Buddy Bear was watching him the whole time.  The boys were chatting with Buddy and all of a sudden I heard him say, "Yeah, I want to try it."  What?  Is that my boy?  The ultra conservative one?  The one it took 2 full days to convince him to try a water slide on our cruise last year?  Is this the same boy who told me earlier this year that he wouldn't try a dirt bike only a 4-Wheeler?  Yep, that's my boy.  Before I knew it the other boys were finding him a helmet and getting him into safety gear.  He was ready and although I was nervous for him, I couldn't show it.  I had to encourage him to try the dirt bikes he had previously said he would never try.  He hopped on they showed him what to do and I could see him listening intently.  I watched as he re-told our friend exactly how to use the bike.  Then with his Daddy right by his side, Buddy Bear started the dirt bike and off he went.  It was a matter of minutes until he had it all down and Daddy no longer had to run beside him.  Buddy did fantastic!  He was a natural and our friends offered to let us borrow their dirt bike so he could practice some more.  Now my conservative Buddy Bear, is super excited about learning how to ride dirt bikes.  He can't wait to finish school and start dirt biking.  I couldn't be more excited that Buddy was being brave and conquered one of his fears.  He stepped out of his comfort zone and it paid off for him.  I'm shocked he tried something new so bravely, but he did it and we are proud parents.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bathroom Remodel Part 2 - After

I wanted to get this post done yesterday, but yesterday my computer decided it needed a break.  I got up yesterday morning and it wouldn't turn on.  I could hear the fan running, see a flashing orange light, but there was only a black screen.  Then all of a sudden last night, my hubby pushed the on button, walked away and the computer booted.  Woo Hoo!  Now I can do some serious backing up of our computer and share my bathroom remodel with you.

Last week I told you of our plans to remodel our second bathroom.  You can read about it and see the before pictures by clicking here.  I thought we were just painting the bathroom, replacing the toilet that didn't work quite right, and putting up all the new things I had bought for the bathroom.  On our way to the home improvement store, my wonderful hubby said, "What do you think about replacing the floor too?"  I was a little shocked because I didn't even think we were even thinking of that, but my hubby keeps telling me that if we are going to do some remodeling this year we are going to do it completely.  I guess I never thought that completely meant the floor too.  I have dreamed of replacing the linoleum that is through out the dining room, kitchen, hallway, laundry area, and second bathroom.  It is white and green and gets dirty the second after I clean it.  It drives me insane, because I clean it and turn around and find dirt again.  So I was in a little bit of shock at the mere thought of picking out a floor that I like for the bathroom because I know that the bathroom is just the start of replacing the floor.  I knew that if we replaced the bathroom floor we will want to replace the rest of the linoleum too eventually.  Anyway, after spending many hours Friday at the home improvement store, we settled on a new tile for the floor, picked up the paint I had picked out, and some of the other things we needed for the remodel.

Helping rip off the old wallpaper border
Saturday morning we started our project.  We got to rip off the old wall paper border (WOO HOO) and my hubby took out the trim for painting.  We put the new paint color on the walls and WOW!!!! What a difference.  I had my moments of doubt about the paint I chose when I first started trimming the room, but when both coats of paint were on, I fell in love with the color and knew it was a great choice.  In the afternoon once my hubby had put the primer on the floor for the tile, we were off to the home improvement store again, but this time it was the one on the other side of one of the towns around us.  We were in search of the toilet we wanted, but it had been out of stock at the first store on Friday night because it happened to be on sale (yippee - sales are good, if only they would make coupons for toilets).  When we got to the store for the toilet on Saturday, my hubby threw in another bonus, he told me to go and pick out a new faucet citing if we are going to do this, let's do it all.  The only thing we didn't replace in the bathroom was the tub, counter with the sink, and the mirror/medicine cabinet.  These things are still in good shape and I do like them.  So then we went home and my hubby got to work on installing the floor.  After the floor was all in, it was my turn again, I had to make my stencil for my circles on the wall since I couldn't find the one I wanted.  I made my stencil and got to work putting on my blue circles to draw out the circles in the shower curtain.  Then my hubby (have I mentioned how AWESOME he is?) grouted the floor.  On Sunday after church, my hubby cleaned up the floor, installed the toilet, and the new faucet.  I hung up the accessories and add the new towels and cloth shower curtain.
Hubby putting in the floor
New color and new floor vs.old floor
We are super happy with the new look of the bathroom.  I am so excited that the vision I saw in my head for the bathroom is what turned out (normally my hubby is the one who can see how it will turn out and I can't, but this time it was the other way around).  It looks SO much better.  The paint makes the small bathroom look bigger, brighter, and rich.  It turned out beautifully and I am so excited to say I love it and the kids do to which is good because it is their bathroom.  What do you think?
The circles on the wall

Finished product

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

He is Risen!!!

I am so happy this Easter morning that I serve a risen Savior.  The tomb was empty.  Jesus defeated death.  He died on the cross for my sins and your sins, He was buried, and three days later He was resurrected.  He is preparing His Kingdom for us.  I am so glad that my Savior died for me so that I may live through Him.  You can too!  Happy Easter!!!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday

Today is Good Friday.  It is the day that my Savior died on the cross for me and my sins.  It is the day Jesus Christ willingly gave His life in exchange for my sin.  He shed His blood to pay the ultimate price for sin.  Jesus died because it was His Father's will for Him.

Luke 22:41-43 And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done."  And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.

It was not an easy death.  It was brutal.  Jesus was accused, beaten, whipped, tortured, mocked, spit on, and ultimately He was unrecognizable as he made His way to Golgotha to be put upon the cross.  He was even so weak that Simon of Cyrene was pulled from the crowd to carry Jesus' cross.

Matthew 27:26-31  Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.  Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor's headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him.  And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!"  And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head.  And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him. 

Jesus was laid upon the cross and nailed to it.  He, who was innocent, was crucified between two robbers who were not innocent.  He suffered upon the cross as the soldiers cast lots for His clothes, the crowd mocked Him, and even one of the robbers being crucified with Him mocked Him.  Ultimately at just the right moment, Jesus breathed His last breath and committed His Spirit to God.

Luke 23:44-46  It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun's light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.  Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!" And having said this he breathed his last. 

It was after Jesus was dead that some people realized that He was indeed innocent (other people already knew) .

Luke 23:47  Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, "Certainly this man was innocent!" 

The wonderful news is that it didn't end there.  Jesus did die on the cross and was laid in a tomb, but three days later the tomb was empty.  Jesus had risen!  He is alive!  We serve a risen Savior!

Luke 24:1-7  But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared.  And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.  While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel.  And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, "Why do you seek the living among the dead?  He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise." 

Today as I go through my day, I will be thinking of how Jesus died on the cross for me.  He paid the debt for my sin so that I can join Him one day in Heaven.  I am not worthy of the suffering He endured for me, but He did it anyway because He loves me.  He loves me that much and so much more.  It is an awesome thing to know, to accept, and to believe.  I gave my life to Christ a long time ago, but I continue giving my life to Him every day by living for Him.  I am so glad that I serve a risen Savior and I am an heiress to the King.  I know that Jesus is the only way for me and while His death was tragic, it was necessary and I am so happy that He died to save me.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Strawberry Yogurt Popsicles

So I haven't reinvented the wheel or anything, but I did decide that I was tired of giving my kids popsicles that were just full of sugar and empty calories.  I got the idea from a friend of my husband's.  By day she works in a company that makes some pretty cool building products, but in her spare time she makes Wholly Pops and sells them at her local farmers markets.  Too bad she lives in Georgia, because I love the idea of all natural, healthy popsicles which are what her Wholly Pops are.  She told us how easy healthy popsicles are to make and it started my wheels turning.  Last year I made Minty Peach Pops and the kids loved them.  They didn't even realize that there wasn't much sugar, it was just mostly fruit, but I am lucky and my kids always devour anything fruit.  So last week when I was at the grocery store and saw that the strawberries were on sale, I bought a couple of containers knowing if we didn't eat them right away I could turn them in to some tasty popsicles.  So a day or two went by and I was busy and forgot I had the strawberries in the fridge.  I saw them, pulled them out and saw they needed to be used ASAP so I whipped up a batch of Strawberry Yogurt Popsicles.  WARNING:  These are tasty and it will be hard to stop with just one, but whatever you do just don't tell your kids that they are healthy it will take away their fun of eating a popsicle.  :)

Strawberry Yogurt Popsicles
Popsicle containers
2 containers of Strawberries
1 16 oz container of Plain Yogurt
Fresh Mint (to taste so the amount will vary)
Agave Syrup (to taste so the amount will vary)
Food processor or blender
The ingredients (ignore the extras on the counter in the background)
1.  Dice up your strawberries, according to the texture you desire.  If you want nice chunks of strawberries in the popsicle just dice them, if you want them finer run them through a food processor, or if you want you can throw them in the blender and blend them up.  I used my mini food processor and diced them pretty fine because I wanted tiny chunks of strawberries in my popsicles.

2.  Once the strawberries are all cut up, finely chop up the mint leaves.  (I threw mine in the food processor with one of the batches of strawberries to assure that the mint was chopped into super fine pieces.)

Diced strawberries and mint
3.  Mix the yogurt into the strawberries and mint and stir well.

4.  This is the step where you get to play.  Taste the strawberry yogurt mixture.  You can leave out the agave syrup if you choose to, I thought the mixture tasted pretty good at this point, but I knew my kids would be expecting a little bit of sweetness in their popsicles.  Add a little bit of the agave syrup at a time, mix well and taste until you get the desired sweetness for your popsicles.
The mixed ingredients.  I admit, it doesn't look so tasty here, but it really does taste good.
5.  Spoon the mixture into the popsicle containers and pop them in to the freezer.
Almost ready for the freezer
6.  Once the popsicles are frozen, ENJOY!!!  I made 20 popsicles out of this recipe and had plenty of left over mixture to make more.
Tasty Strawberry Yogurt Popsicles with a cheesy grin :)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Bathroom Remodel Part 1 - Before

I am the one that found the cute little frog wall paper border.  I am the one who thought it would be cute to sponge paint the bottom half of the wall with colors from the border.  I am the one (along with help from my sister) who painted it.  I am the one who has disliked the bathroom since I finished it.  I am the one who has wanted to remodel it for 6 years.  The time for that has finally come.  Over the last 6 months I have used coupons and sales to pick up a new shower curtain, a cloth shower curtain, a new rug, new towels, and new accessories and they have patiently waited for me to find the time to put them all together.  This coming weekend is the weekend!  I can't wait.  I have the paint colors all picked out and now I just have to make the stencil I want with my Cricut and go buy the paint.  I can't wait to strip off the old border and throw it away.  I can't wait to cover up the painting I have hated for so long.  I can't wait to make the bathroom look a little more enjoyable for guests and just a little more grown up.  So with all that being said I will show you the before pictures.  Please note that the shower curtain does not match the bathroom currently because it is the new shower curtain that will remain up after the remodel.  Our old shower curtain needed to be replaced before I could get around to refinishing the rest of the bathroom.  So I guess it is like a little sneak peek of what will be.
View one (new shower curtain)
Another view, see the ugly painting?
The border and sponge painting have to go, but I love the colors of the new shower curtain.
The peeling border.