Thursday, December 11, 2008

And Now For the Stuffing Part

The stockings are hung. (Not by the chimney though, we don't have one.) They're hung you say? Aren't you supposed to hang them Christmas Eve? Okay, so that was the way we did it growing up. We'd set out the milk and cookies and then hang the stockings and then read the Christmas Story out of Luke.

Around here, we don't do Santa, so the stockings are hung as soon as the tree goes up! It gives me joy just to look at them for the entire Advent season! Now, the stuffing part, that comes on Christmas morning!

Our "stuffers" as a child were filled with fruit and candy and small gifts. Occasionally there would be a really big gift in them, like a certificate saying that we were going on a trip to DisneyWorld. Okay, so that only happened once, but it is still remembered as THE BEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT EVER!

I really enjoyed the stocking stuffers. In fact, I always found it to be more fun than the presents. Now that I'm the one stuffing them, I find that I am a much more practical stuffer than my mother was. Stocking stuffers around here tend to be things that the kids need rather than want. Don't get me wrong, we throw in a few fun things too, just cheap fun things!

Here are some ideas for practical stocking stuffers. We're only spending $10 per stocking this year, so they won't all have every one of the following. Keep in mind our oldest is 5, so the "shock" factor hasn't set in yet. Accompanied with the fact that we have always done practical stockings, they have come to expect practical and they get just as excited as if they were filled with toys!

1. Toothbrushes. I typically buy the cheapest I can, but for stuffers I look for CVS or Walgreens bargains and get a character toothbrush for them.

2. Socks or underwear. Seriously, they always need these!

3. Hair accessories. Where do all the pink ones go? Did you see that episode of Jon and Kate Plus 8? So true.

4. Pencils or crayons or any other school supplies needed. We homeschool so I always know what they could use! When I was little, my mother gave us personalized pencils with our names on them one year and I still remember them!

5. Shampoo, conditioner, bath soap. They're girls, they ooh and aah over the smells and then we put them in the bathroom for later use. Probably not a good idea for boys.

6. Highlights magazines or a Fun Book or other magazine.

7. Gloves or mittens if needed.

8. Chapstick or nail polish. Again, ooh and aah, then off to the closet for later use.

9. Instead of candy, I tend to do 100 calorie pack snacks and fruit that they snack on until brunch is ready.

10. An age-appropriate book or reader.

When we were teens, Mom would put things like razors, hairspray, makeup, nail files, etc. in our stockings. Oh, and pantyhose. I loved getting pantyhose! :)

So, does your family do stockings? Are you a practical stuffer or a just-for-fun stuffer? Do you have any more practical ideas?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Motivate Me Monday and Memory Monday: The Restoration of Joy

MamaHenClucks wrote about the 5:16 Club last Monday over at her Hen house. I immediately knew that I wanted to be a member. It's a group of women who are committed to rising early every morning in order to start their days' with God to be intentional about spending time with Him each and every morning.

I will tell you that the times in my life when I have been most consistent and successful at spending time with God each and every day, are the times that I have committed to getting up before everyone else in the family and doing it first thing! Even when I had newborns! (I was up anyway with the 5 am feeding right?)

Anyway, I'll admit that over the last 6 weeks or so, I have become rather slack on this. Okay, not even slack, just not getting up! I've been rolling out of bed when my kids do and my entire day is thrown off because of it. I've been planning to get back into the 5 o'clock wake up routine again, so now that we're home from our Thanksgiving trip, I'm joining the club. I'll be setting my alarm clock for 5:16 and rising early to spend time with God before the rest of the family awakens.

I'm looking forward to meeting and enjoying some encouraging bloggy-fellowship with the rest of the 5:16 Club. Just check out the other posts over at Like a Warm Cup of Coffee.

In addition, I've decided to join Memory Monday over at The Simple Wife to help motivate me to memorize a scripture a week. I love what these two ladies are doing with their blogs and bringing women together to study and encourage each other. Way to go ladies!

Now that you know what my new Monday posts will be about, let me give you my encouragement for this week. I chose to memorize 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."

See, I've been working on some posts for my testimony blog Healing Hope this week. I know so many dear friends and family who are spending this Thanksgiving and Christmas season in a season of grief. They have lost precious family members this year and their hearts are broken and having a difficult time finding joy in this holiday season.

This particular scripture is one that God has been "writing" on my heart for several years, yet I've never memorized it word-for-word. He's brought me back around to it again in the process of writing these posts.

First of all, I want to encourage any of you who are currently in a season of grief. Joy will return. It may not be this month. It may not be this year. But it will come.

Psalm 16:9-11 states, "Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand."

It's easy for those who trust God to believe what He says and believe that we will have joy again, but for those who have experienced such pain that doubt has become more of a friend than trust has, these words are hard to believe.

It personally took me several years of "wrestling" with God to come to a point of believing Him again, believing that His Word is true. There are still times when I have unbelief, but they are much less frequent now. One of the examples in the Bible of someone who has an incredible amount of belief that wows me with delight is Mary the Mother of Jesus in her response to being told that she was carrying The Christ Child. She says in Luke 1:45, "Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!"

My prayer for all you who are in a season of grief and possibly unbelief this Christmas is that you will spend precious time with the Father each day and be overwhelmed with belief in all that He will accomplish, including the restoration of your joy! May you have a spirit of belief like that of Mary as we celebrate Jesus Christ this month.

To those of you who know someone who is going through a season of grief, may I encourage you to take 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 and put it into practice this Christmas. Visit with or send an encouragement to the friend or family member who is grieving. Through your visit or message, they may be comforted by The God of all comfort!

May His Joy fill you throughout this Christmas season (and especially when you are waking before everyone else in the house and awaiting your first cup of coffee!)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Christmas Tag!

I LOVE Christmas! I got tagged twice for this one (by Heather and MaryLou) and I would do it twice I like Christmas so much, but I'll just answer it once so as not to bore everyone.

The rules:
1. Post the rules on your blog.
2. Fill out the questions below
3. Tag 5-7 people at the end of your post.
4. Pass on the tag.
Have FUN!!

1.Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
Um, Hot Chocolate, although I can't really say I've ever tried egg nog. The idea of egg nog just grosses me out.

2.Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
No Santa here, but definitely wrapped by me. I LOVE wrapping presents! I'm always offering to help wrap other people's presents because I love it.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
None on the house, but if I were to actually have money and energy to decorate the outside of the house, they would be white. My attention-to-detail-personality has difficulty with the randomness of colored lights. :) Obviously, the tree lights are white.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
No. I don't believe in PDA. :)

5. When do you put your decorations up?
Our tradition is to put them up the day after Thanksgiving and then watch "It's A Wonderful Life." This year, we are still out of town, so the tree won't be up until Dec. 1.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
One dish? I can't pick one dish, it's about the meal as a whole. The husband doesn't like turkey and ham, so that's pretty much the only time I get it. I will second Heather's answer of Mom's homemade potato rolls. I loved waking up to the smell of those rolls cooking and sneaking one as soon as they came out of the oven!

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child:
Ditto Heather's response, "Oh, I can’t pick just one.. cutting down the tree each year, building the nativity stable with dad and adding the life - size figures - Christmas Eve pajamas and reading the nativity story. The year mom and dad pulled off the biggest surprise ever - a trip to Disney World! We left the next day." Holidays were pretty good in our house!

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I don’t remember. However, Heather, I didn't know that you got to help fill stockings! How did I miss that?

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
We've carried on the Christmas Eve pajama gifts also. Mom made the girls Star Wars pajama pants this year. (Yes, I said made the GIRLS Star Wars pajama pants. They love Star Wars.)

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?
White lights (I hate that part, one day we'll buy a pre-lit); red and gold ribbon; red, white, and gold ornaments, red tree skirt. I try to hide the "homemade" and Star Wars ornaments on the back of the tree, but somehow they always sneak to the front. Hmmm.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
Love it as long as I don't have to drive anywhere!

12. Can you ice skate?
Never tried. Pathetic huh?

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
The Disney World Trip! Hands down! Mom wrapped a "Good for One Trip to DisneyWorld" coupon in a jewelry box and we opened it and they told us we would be leaving the next day! I hope to surprise my children with a fun gift like that someday.

14. What is the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
Celebrating Jesus' birth and spending time with family. Creating great Christ-centered traditions and fun for my family.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
Pumpkin Pie with whipped topping and a good cup of coffee!

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
The Advent Calendar, driving through the Christmas light displays, setting up the nativity scene in the front yard, watching Christmas movies throughout the season. I obviously can't pick a favorite. I love everything about Christmas!

17. What tops your tree?
A gold star.

18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving?
They are both fun, but Giving is the best! It's so fun to shop for other people!

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
"Go Tell It On the Mountain" Though, I'm a self-proclaimed Christmas music junkie. I'll be putting up a post about this later this week!

20. Candy​ Canes​!​ Yuck or Yum?
Yuck.

21. What do you want for Christmas?
A new necklace for my Jael pendant, a stand mixer, Rachael Ray pots and pans, a new electric knife, a camera case, stuff to decorate my house, a Wii for the family, books. My list is kind of long this year because I'm missing MOST kitchen utensils after moving!

22. Do you attend an annual Christmas Party?
We haven't in the past, but will be with the Media Team this year. The girls and I are going to start a new "Christmas Tea" tradition with all our girl friends.

23. Do you dress up on Christmas or wear PJs?
It used to be pajamas for most of the morning and then change into casual clothes the rest of the day. Now, I tend to shower and get dressed as soon as I get up. Just depends on where we are and what we're doing.

24. Do you own a santa hat?
Nope. Don't promote the man here.

25. Who do you normally spend Christmas with?
Changes from year-to-year. Sometimes we go to the in-laws, sometimes my family, sometimes we stay at home. I usually try to invite Mom and Dad to at least join us so they don't have to spend the morning by themselves, and so that Mom can make her traditional ginormous Christmas brunch! :)

This was fun! I got kind of teary-eyed remembering some of the things! I'm looking forward to hearing your answers! I'm tagging.

1. Kim
2. Meghan
3. Sarah
4. MamaHenClucks
5. Carrie
6. Tyler
7. Aimee

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Biggest Loser Thanksgiving Live Blog

1. Oh, I miss Coleen too. Absolutely, Vicky will be after Amy. She missed her chance to take Vicky out! Bob, we don't like Vicky! We wanted her gone! I guess now we know that Bob probably pressured Amy into voting for Coleen. Heba is right, Vicky is still out to get Amy. Did you see those evil glances from Vicky? I'm sick to my stomach seeing Vicky put on her sweet face for the NFL players. I would so be flat on my face on that rope course. Too funny that they have football week and there is only one guy left on the ranch!

COMMERCIAL BREAK: I REALLY want to see Four Christmases. I wonder if I can cram that in this weekend somehow? OH, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade! I love it!

2. Michelle's legs are looking skinny in those tight black pants. Ugh, Vicky is so manipulative! Right on Renee, Vicky should have been gone! Whatever, it totally mattered to you who won this prize.

COMMERCIAL BREAK: I'm cold. Going to get some coffee. I'm back. Make that coffee and a cupcake. :)

3. Ed, the only man in the house. Poor guy. Seriously. I don't think I could handle living in that house! What's up with Bob biting Ed's head off? The only attitude I heard was Bob's. I'm sorry, I love you Bob. I really do. Amy is so cute. I don't know how to play football either, honey. Oh man, I was hoping for some tackle football. I wanted to see Michelle and Renee take down Vicky. Well, the challenge actually sounds fun for once anyway. I wouldn't mind 4 nights in Honolulu, though I probably would skip the Probowl and stay on the beach. :) OH my, Heba looks like she was born to wear a football uniform. Ed is funny. I'd be all about catching the balls too. Okay, maybe not. Looks a little harder than I thought. Ha ha, "Heba had already spent that money as soon as it touched my hands." Yep, we can tell she wears the pants in the family. I was hoping Renee was going to tackle Heba to get that ball. Oh, Amy, I can't believe you thought you and Vicky had patched things up. I sure hope Vicky is below the line again this week.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

4. Um, hello, did everyone else in the house really not see the Ed, Heba, Vicky alliance? Oh, Amy. There's something about two malicious women being friends that scares me. Anyone else? I don't want to talk about it either Michelle. I'm not sure I want to see "the crazy side" of Jillian. "No one bullies my team, except for me." That's funny. I do hope Michelle, Renee, and Amy win this weigh-in! Does Amy have a crush on Rocco? That turkey looks nasty. Not as good as the one I'll be making Thursday. :) Ham hocks? I just finished making my stuffing today. I can't wait to eat it Thursday!

COMMERCIAL BREAK: We would love a Wii this year. Maybe next year. I don't like K-Mart, too much bad customer service. Every time I go I swear I'll never go again.

5. Amy does have a thing for Rocco, I thought so! I hate touching raw meat. I can't stand cleaning the turkey. Good thing Mom will be here to help! Can you make pumpkin pie with a crumble? Who am I kidding? The crust is the best part. It's not worth eating without the crust! Traditional turkey has 480 calories per serving? That's crazy! New family? You all don't even like each other! That was a sweet speech from Rocco. Does it make anyone else sad that Vicky is a mother and the example she is setting in her manipulative/vindictive attitudes? Thank you Renee, for actually mentioning God!

COMMERCIAL BREAK

6. When did they record this Thanksgiving stuff anyway? I never noticed Amy's tattoo before. I love her Mom. Aw, Michelle's Dad is so sweet. Wow, how young is Renee's husband? Those were sweet videos! Oh, Vicky and Brady's little boy is so cute! More than one leaving the ranch? Oh, maybe Vicky and Heba? I suppose that would be a little too much to ask wouldn't it?

COMMERCIAL BREAK: I don't do Black Friday. Me and crowds don't get along very well. It totally drains me and makes me crabby for the entire day. I prefer the online shopping. Yep, I'm an introvert!

7. Oh Bob, drop the four-strong thing please!

COMMERCIAL BREAK: I put that girl to bed an hour ago, why oh why is she screaming at me instead of sleeping? Why don't they make one-piece pajamas that two-year-olds can't unzip? She's been tucked for the fifth time now.

8. Finally, we're to the one-piece weigh-in shirts for the girls. Why can't they just do that from the beginning? Wow, 5 pounds for Amy. I wonder how that will play out? It's amazing how Heba is just now getting to where the other ladies were at the beginning. That's a huge mountain to climb. Even though I don't like her, good for her!

COMMERCIAL BREAK: Teasing me with Four Christmases again. Did I mention that I really want to see that? That commercial was gross, kind of makes me want to use Dove, even though I've never liked it. I think that Diamond ring is actually ugly. Oh, toilet cleaning, I have to do that tomorrow and showers and floors and kitchen. I'm tired already. Here we go with Rosie again. Anyone else can't stand her like me? No thanks. I won't be tuning in to that show.

9. I think Vicky is grinning seeing Amy's name move down the list. Ugh. Let's hope Vicky has less than 5 pounds this week. Shucks. One of our three will probably be going home. :( Awesome Renee! But darn, that pushes Amy below the line! Okay Michelle, let's push Heba below the line! She looks so much smaller than 186 to me. I wonder how tall she is?

COMMERCIAL BREAK: Those earrings are ugly too. Can you tell I'm not really a jewelry person?

10. I'm nervous. Holy Moly! I think Bob might throw up! Actually he looks mad! That Heba hug makes me mad, she's totally going to vote Amy off. But wait, where's the twist? So, they'll vote two and two. How do they decide who goes? Wait, Vicky might just vote off Heba? She is manipulative. Maybe Vicky wants to break up Ed and Heba over getting revenge on Amy? Hmmm, interesting. I can't believe this is in the hands of Vicky. Revenge? Made promises to both of them? Oh isn't that convenient?

COMMERCIAL BREAK: Crying again? Seriously, just go to sleep baby girl! I'll be back. "Mommy, I need chap-stick on my lips." Well, if you would stop crying, you wouldn't need chap-stick! I'm a very sympathetic mother, can you tell?

11. Surprise Surprise, Revenge wins out in Vicky's world. Okay, who else is going home? Just cut to it! Did you see the smirk on Vicky's face when Amy walked out of the room? It made me cringe. Oh, I love the makeover shows. Vicky looks awesome! Shellay looks tiny running! I didn't know she can sing! I don't like Tyra either. Okay, did I miss something? Didn't they say two people would be going home tonight? What's up with that?

DISCLAIMER: Remember, all in the spirit of reality TV. Not usually mean and bitter like this. Just talking some smack and rooting for the nice ones. :)

Monday, November 24, 2008

December: Planned and Purposeful

I know, it's not even Thanksgiving yet. I'll get back to Thanksgiving tomorrow. I just wanted to put this post up in case some of you wanted to do something similar. With Thanksgiving being so close to December this year, I thought I should give you some time to plan.

Every year it seems that we anticipate the Christmas season and then it is gone before we know it. We meant to take the girls to the live nativity. We meant to read those scriptures as a family. We meant to make cookies together. We meant to do that Advent wreath. We meant to make it more about Jesus. But somehow we didn't.

I decided this year to plan ahead to make sure that our Christmas is purposeful. To make sure that December doesn't come and go and we've lost focus again. This year, I have a plan to stay focused.

We used to do the Advent Calendar that you hang on the wall and open a door for each day. The girls loved it, but I felt like something was missing. So, I decided to make it more than an Advent Calendar, but an interactive Christmas where we spend time worshipping and celebrating together. I put together a list of all the things we want to do together and then "planned" my December. Here's what we're doing.

My mother got us one of these. I'm not sure exactly what it looks like, because she is bringing it up on Thanksgiving. Anyway, there are tons of different kinds (even a church). I love that we can use this year after year.


We also have a Nativity Set. In each box of the calendar, there will be a clue to find a present somewhere in the house. The present will include one piece of the nativity set, a scripture from the Christmas Story, a Christmas book, and a card explaining an activity that we are going to do that day, and the name of a family member or friend. (Don't worry, I'm making them one day at a time so the girls don't find them ahead of time. Don't ask why I know to do it that way.)


Each day, we will start with our Calendar. Find the present. Put the nativity piece in the set. Read the scripture verse. Pray for the family member. Read a Christmas book. Then, we will do our activity sometime during the day. Of course, the final nativity piece will be Jesus, which they will unwrap and add to the nativity set on Christmas Morning before we open any presents to ourselves.


I'll be doing a post about the books we will read later, but here are the activities we will be doing. I hope to do some more research this year and have a better idea of events that happen in our local community next year!



November 30
ADVENT WREATH AND SING CHRISTMAS CAROLS WITH DADDY ON GUITAR
DECORATE HOUSE-PUT UP TREES AND STOCKINGS
ORDER PIZZA AND WATCH IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE

December


1 --START ADVENT CALENDAR/FAMILY GAME NIGHT
2 --CHRISTMAS TREASURE HUNT
3 --MAKE CARDS FOR GRANDMA AND PAPA AND GREAT-GRANDMA JENNY
4 --GO TO LIBRARY FOR CHRISTMAS BOOKS
5 --BAKE CHRISTMAS COOKIES
6 --WATCH ELF
7 --ADVENT WREATH/A NIGHT IN BETHLEHEM (Children's event at church)
8 --FAMILY GAME NIGHT
9 --MAKE TREATS FOR NEIGHBORS AND DELIVER
10 --MAKE CARDS FOR GRANDMA AND GRANDAD
11 --HOT CHOCOLATE AND CANDY CANES FOR DESSERT
12 --MAKE TREATS FOR CHURCH STAFF AND DELIVER/VISIT LIVE NATIVITY
13 --WATCH HOME ALONE
14 --ADVENT WREATH AND SING CHRISTMAS CAROLS
15 --SHOP FOR MOMMY/FAMILY GAME NIGHT
16 --SHOP FOR DADDY AND WRAP PRESENTS
17 --GO OUT TO BREAKFAST
18 --BAKE CHRISTMAS COOKIES
19 --CHRISTMAS TEA PARTY!
20 --WATCH A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS
21 --ADVENT WREATH AND SING CHRISTMAS CAROLS
22 --DINNER OUT/DRIVE THROUGH CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
23 --CANDLELIGHT DINNER AND CHRISTMAS CAROLS
24 --ADVENT WREATH/OPEN ONE PRESENT (PAJAMAS) AND READ LUKE STORY
25 --SPECIAL BREAKFAST WITH HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS PARTY


That's what our activities will be. I'll be putting up a post about the books we will read later. I hope you will have a planned and purposeful December as well.


What special things do you have planned to do with your family this year? I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thanksgiving Fun

Another great thing about homeschooling is that we get to make our own schedule. When I made our schedule for this school year, I intentionally took the entire week of Thanksgiving off so that we could just have fun with learning about The First Thanksgiving, doing crafts, cooking, and well, doing all things Thanksgiving!

It ends up that we will be hosting a small amount of family for Thanksgiving this year, so this will be a great time for the girls to create the decorations as their craft projects as well as share with others what they are thankful for. I thought I would share what we are going to be doing with you and see if you have any more suggestions.
To start the week, we will read the book. "Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving." This is a great book for teaching about the first Thanksgiving. We also have the book, "Give Thanks to the Lord." We're going to make a trip to the library this Friday to find some more. Any suggestions for a good chapter book to read together this week about Thanksgiving? Age-appropriate for 4 and 5 year olds?
We're going to make these fun turkey cupcakes.


And maybe even these fun turkey cookies because we have a whole bag of candy corn to use, why not?



And then maybe we will deliver some to the neighbors because we DO NOT need that many sweets in this house!

We're going to make these coloring books to learn more about The First Thanksgiving.

Of course, we'll do a Tree of Thanksgiving. That's pretty much a tree made of construction paper and we will cut out leaves from all different colors of paper and write things that we are thankful for on the leaves and then "decorate" our tree with our thanksgiving messages. We'll put this on our dining room wall so that we can share it with our guests and even leave some blank leaves for them to add to it.

We're going to make placemats with scripture verses about Thanksgiving to use all week.

We might make Pilgrim Hat placecards for our actual Thanksgiving Dinner. We'll have to see if there is time for that!

A Pilgrim Scavenger Hunt is scheduled for Tuesday. We'll talk about things that the Pilgrims would have had at the first Thanksgiving and then have them go throughout the house finding items we have hidden such as corn, pumpkins, a small boat, turkeys, etc.

We'll read Bible stories about giving Thanks, such as Luke 17:11-19.

There are TONS of printable crosswords and word searches and coloring pages all over the internet. We might do some.

I'm hoping to make this centerpiece and fill it with something?


A tradition I started a few years ago, is to cover the Thanksgiving Table with butcher paper instead of a tablecloth. Then we leave crayons all over the place for people to write on the table what they are thankful for. We may just do this on the kid table this year? Might be a little too much with the Tree of Thanksgiving there too.

I'll use these as the kids' placemats because that'll keep them out of the kitchen for awhile. :)

That ought to keep us busy most of the week!

I've been serving Frozen waffles cut into the shape of a turkey for several years, so that will be breakfast on Thanksgiving. Unless I switch to the cinnamon rolls in the shape of a turkey I saw somewhere? After our bellies are full, it's time for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and waiting for Lunch to be ready. Yes, we're doing our meal at lunch this year.

A few years ago, when I hosted my first Thanksgiving, I found a great article in a magazine that gave recipes and talked about how to bake a few side dishes each day of the week in order to make Thanksgiving Day less stressful. It was a wonderful article. I used their "schedule" and it worked beautifully. I plan to do the same thing this year. Here's what I'll be cooking each day so that the only things we have to make on Thanksgiving are the turkey, mashed potatoes, and rolls!

Monday: Make bacon-pear stuffing. (This stuff is good!)

Tuesday: Make mashed sweet potatoes.

Wednesday: Assemble green bean casserole for baking on Thursday. Make cranberry sauce.

Thursday: Turkey and Gravy, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin rolls (I can't wait to try these!)

Our guests will probably be bringing dessert, so I'm off the hook on that one! :)

So, what will you be doing and what's on your menu?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Biggest Loser: I'm So Excited

Okay, I love each new season of TBL, but it always takes me a while to get into it. I have to get to know the contestants before I really care. Well, get to know them as much as the editors of the show want me to that is!

In the first few weeks, I thought the brown team looked so sweet and I was rooting for them. Over the course of the last few weeks, I'm totally down on brown! I cannot stand their bad attitudes and the fact that they have said they are only there to win the money! Ugh. They just don't get it and nothing about their "game play" and attitudes are making me like them.

That's why I was sooooooooo thrilled about Amy C's decision last week. I've been very excited to see this week to see the "aftermath" or "Vicky's revenge" shall we call it?

So, I'm sort of live-blogging here. A recap after each commercial break.

1. Oh Vicky get over yourself! You are not the only one who knows how to play this game. Amy has a better brain than you do because she figured out how to debunk your plan and you didn't even see it coming! Best part is, Amy didn't do it out of evil intentions, she saw an opportunity and took it. You're going down girl! And I've been down on Heba for a long time. So, as much as I love Bob, Amy is the ONLY blue team member I still want in this game. She's a sweetie!

COMMERCIAL BREAK

2. I love the 80s! But I don't think I could have ever put those outfits on! Bob was hysterical! I'm still laughing.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

3. Allison makes a great 80s girl! What a dumb challenge. I don't care to see Ed's abs through his cut-up T-shirt. I love Coleen too, though I think they should have teamed up against Vicky! Hee. Hee.

COMMERCIAL BREAK.

4. Yeah, Michelle won! I love her too. I still think it was a dumb challenge though. Alright, gotta go get me a snack. Why does watching fat people work out make me want to eat? That's sick and twisted sister. (I told you I love the 80s!)

COMMERCIAL BREAK. GETTING ME SOME SNACKAGE. (How cruel is that to have so many McDonald's commercials? And by the way, double cheeseburgers used to be on the dollar menu, so 1.29, not a good deal. Thanks alot McD's. Don't ask me why I know that.)

5. I would love to take a spin class, just not with Jillian. :) I love Michelle, but I'm tired of her crying and hearing about her issues with her Mom. Don't even get me started on Jillian's advice-giving again.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

6. I want to be in a medium shirt in 9 weeks. You go Coleen! Amy, you are sweet. That was a nice apology. Vicky took it better than I thought she would. I need some produce bags. I already have all those snacks Bob, they just don't taste as good as chocolate! :0)

COMMERCIAL BREAK I've got a few minutes. I guess you want to know what my snack was. Oooh, I want to see Four Christmases. I'm a sucker for Christmas movies and Reese Witherspoon movies. Maybe I should start calling for babysitters. Snack, um, it was a bowl of Raisin Nut Bran. Not the M&Ms and Cherry Coke of choice, but I've officially given up soda. Oh yes I have, and I'm actually not even crabby about it. Well, I'm allowing myself one a week, which is a ginormous improvement from one a day or two a day.

7. Do we really have to wear the 80s clothes all week? That can't be comfortable workout attire. I like Ed, too bad he's married to Heba, because I don't want her to win any money. I wish they didn't make the girls wear sports bras to the weigh-ins. Seriously.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

8. Wooohooooo, Vicky gets the penalty! Go Michelle, that was a gooooooood choice! Awesome weight loss too, 8 pounds? Sweeeeeet! Oh yeah, 8 pounds for Mommy-dearest too! Good job Ed. Aww, shocker, another commercial break.

COMMERCIAL BREAK (This is becoming the longest post ever!) Rosie, give it up. We don't care to see you on TV anymore. You did yourself in with your bad attitude and in-your-face liberalism. Oh, we're back. Off my Rosie soapbox.

9. Aw shucks, Heba didn't do as well. Crap, only 3 for Coleen. She made Jillian cry. Cool. I'm getting nervous for Amy. Come on more than 5! Ohhhhh baby, 8 pounds! Yipppeeee! I'm excited too Amy! Yeah, Bob is happy too! Deep down, I don't think he likes Vicky either. ;) More than 6 pounds. Come on 5. Yep. Commercial Break.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

10. Yippeeeeeeeeeeeeee, only 6 pounds. :) That's the way, uh huh,uh huh, I like it, uh huh, uh huh. 2 children and 60 hours a week, that's your rebuttle? Pu-lease! I sure hope she goes home, I don't think I can take another episode with her.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

11. Two votes Vicky. Two votes Coleen. Of course. Go Amy, take her out! No, Amy, No!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You just dug your own grave! The blue team will vote you out as soon as they have an opportunity! Coleen looks a little bit like Reese Witherspoon now. Anyone else think that?

Got to turn the TV off before I get sucked into Law & Order. Making myself go to bed early to get up and workout with Jillian, via DVD that is.

DISCLAIMER: I'm usually not this cruel or bitter. I just like to talk smack in competitive situations. :) It's all in the spirit of reality TV.

Swagbucks


Search & Win


I was just reading MamaHenClucks post yesterday about how she has all of her Christmas shopping done. Oh.yes.she.does. I admire her. I've been planning to do that for the last few years now because I cannot stand crowded stores. I'd rather shop at midnight than share the aisles with ten other carts and their pushers. Yes, I am an introvert. :)

Anyway, my favorite store is amazon.com. LOVE IT! So, I was very intrigued when I saw this post this morning. I had two thoughts.

1. I could do this because I could use me some amazon.com gift cards AND earn them for doing something that I already do (searching the internet and SHOPPING FROM HOME!)

2. I could do this so that MoneySavingMom gets my referral points because I think she deserves it with all the help she gives us frugal-learners every day!

We've had an interesting year financially this year with the whole career change and move. As a result, we will be having a very small Christmas budget (if any) this year. I don't expect to get a ton of gift cards this way, but every little bit could help! It's worth a shot!

I went ahead and signed up. It was super easy. I downloaded the toolbar too so that every time I search online it will automatically earn me points. If you are interested in this, you can go here and sign up or click the bar at the top of this post. Happy searching and shopping! Well, to those of you who aren't already DONE with your shopping that is!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Good Gifts from a GRAND God!

"What's in the box?"

You didn't really think I would answer you that easy did you? How 'bout a little back-story? It'll be so much more exciting that way.

To start off with, did you know that God sends gifts via USPS? Well, He does, in fact. How do I know? Because I got one! Intrigued yet?

Do you remember the post about what I pray? Well, I've got a whole bunch of people and things I've been praying about since July and I've seen many prayers answered. There were a few things on that list that might seem kind of selfish. I'll admit it. I thought they were pretty selfish too.

However, I know that God wants to give us good gifts. I know that He cares intimately for each and every one of us. I know that He already knows what is on our hearts, but He wants to hear it too. It's just part of the conversation I have with Him.

So, the thing in the box is a gift from Him, an answered prayer. Now that we've narrowed it down to something on that list, I think maybe we're going to have to take the story back further.

I haven't had a camera for 7 years. Okay, minus the BlackBerry phone that takes pics that is. We've had 4 children in that time and borrowed a camera for each and every birth. I've longed to take pics of my children and often felt guilty for not taking them. The only pictures I have of my children are ones other people have taken and given to me. Sad huh?

So, I really wanted to get a camera. I researched and found exactly the one I wanted to get. A Canon Digital Rebel. I started saving my money.

Then, God told us to sell everything we had, including our house and most of our belongings. He told us to move in with our in-laws. He told my husband to quit his job. He told us to wait on Him and He would show us where to go. I must admit, I felt rather well-connected to Abraham and Sarah.

Nearly 18 months later, we had enough money for one month's expenses left. We had hardly any money coming in. Almost every dime had been spent, including the money for the camera. Then, God did it. He showed us where to go. We've been here since February and are still blown away at just how much He has provided the details. How much He intimately cares for our needs. And sometimes our wants.

I still had a strong desire for a camera. I was missing documenting precious moments with our children. So, I started to pray for one. Often times, my prayer went something like this...

"God, I know that there are far more important things to pray for and far more important needs to fill. If it is not too selfish a prayer, I pray that you will provide a camera for our family." Ever prayed a prayer like that? Ever thought, He COULD answer it, but SHOULD he?

I kept praying nonetheless, I mean He knows my heart anyway. Why not express it directly to Him?

If you've been reading my blog, you've seen me apologize for the crummy pics from my phone and yearn for the day when I would have a camera to take better pics. Right?

Someone else read my blog too. I got an email from a blog-friend who wanted to know why I didn't have a camera. Just so happens she had a camera she wasn't using. When she read my post about the camera, she just felt like she NEEDED to give me that camera. She couldn't explain it.

So, she stepped out of her comfort zone. She asked the awkward questions. She did the hard part. She offered to GIVE me her camera because she wanted to and because God was telling her to.

My heart skipped a beat when I read her email. The camera she wanted to give to me? A Canon Digital Rebel. The exact camera I had been dreaming about.

Oh, friends. God cares about the details. He cares about our desires. He wants to make us smile. He wants to show us just how much He intimately loves us. He wants to give us good gifts.

I shudder to think of the times when I have thought that maybe God was asking me to give something away and I didn't. Because it was too awkward. Because I was just sure I did not hear Him right. No more. Thank you blog-friend for listening to God. Thank you for giving our family such a wonderful gift. Thank you for being a vessel in which God used to teach me about His love. His provision. His delighting in His children.

So, what's in the box? A Canon Digital Rebel. A good gift from a GRAND God. Thank you God! You are worthy to be praised.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Have you ever been prodded by Him to give a gift? Did you do it? Have you ever received a gift that blew you away at how much God really does care for you? Share it in the comments. I love a good God Story!

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Fall Blessing

Okay, so this was sort of at the top of what you wanted to hear. Thanks so much for helping me with my writer's block. Maybe the floodgates have opened? I'll be getting the other nine posts up in the next few weeks. I'm going with your advice and doing Fall, Good Gift, Thanksgiving, and December. The rest will just follow up after those are done. Aren't you just downright intrigued with my ambiguity? Fascinating.

Alright, A Fall Blessing. Here you have it. I believe I have mentioned before that fall is my absolute favorite time of year? Well, in case I haven't, it is. (Um, tied with Christmas maybe?) Okay, so fall is my favorite SEASON. Yes, it is.

Because fall is my favorite season, I have always dreamed of having a beautiful tree in my front yard. You know, the ones that stand out when you drive down a street and make you want to pull over and stare at it for a while, marveling at God's awesome handiwork? That kind of tree.

Our first house had no trees in the yard because it was a new house in a brand new subdivision, the kind where they tear down everything considered nature into a big flat piece of land, build as many houses as possible, and then attempt to plant a few new baby trees that will take years to grow in an effort to make you feel like you don't live in a subdivision. Yep, that kind. So obviously, no trees.

We sold that house and lived with family for awhile as we were waiting for God to show us where to go. This past February He showed us where to go and we started house hunting. In February. I kept telling my husband that I wished we were house hunting in the fall so I could see what color the trees would be. Because I had always dreamed of having a beautiful tree in my front yard, you know the staring kind. Bright yellowish orange. So beautiful you can't help but look at it. Clearly I am not a botanist or I might have been able to at least guess based on the type of tree in the yard, maybe? Is that possible? Any botanists out there?

Anywho, we had a total of two weeks to house hunt. In February. There were only two houses for sale in our price range that met our criteria at least a little bit. We bought one. There's not much we like about it. Other than a small mortgage payment to fit within our budget, shelter from storms, and a yard to play in. There's not much to like about it.

Sounds whiny doesn't it? Sounds ungrateful doesn't it? That's what I was thinking.

Then God showed me this. The trees in my front yard.


They're totally staring trees. And they are right out my front window. I sort of want to go ask the neighbors what color those trees used to be. Ugly brown? Never had color until this year?

See, I believe God made those trees bright yellowish-orange, gotta-stop-and-look-at-them, beautiful just for ME! I believe that those trees are God's reminder to me that this house is exactly the house He wanted to give me. This house is exactly what I NEED. This house is a gift from Him. I live in a house given to me by God. Suddenly there is much less to complain about. How about you? Has God given you any fall blessings this season to remind you of His provision and His handiwork? Oh, I hope so. It just downright make me smile.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What do You Want To Hear?

I sat down with the computer. I wrote about all the things I want to tell you. I didn't like how it turned out. I erased it. I was too tired to try again. I looked at the clock. I closed the computer. I went to bed.

That happened about six nights in a row.

Now it's been over a week since I posted.

I still don't feel like writing.

Have you ever been there before? You have so many things to post about that you don't know where to start?

So you start by catching up on reading all the other blogs and then realize that their lives are so much more interesting than what you were going to write about.

Yep. Still haven't written anything worthwhile have I?

Here's what I'm gonna do. I have ten things to write about. Here's the list. You pick what you want me to write about. We'll do one at a time. What do you want to hear about first?

1. Good Gifts from a GRAND God.
2. A Fall Blessing.
3. Thanksgiving Fun?
4. December, Planned and Purposeful.
5. Blogging: To Be or Not To Be, That Is The Question.
6. A Month of Meals?
7. No Other Gods.
8. It Was a Media Party! Do Try This At Home!
9. For Such A Time As This?
10. Biggest Loser. Down on Brown. Need I Say More?

Let me hear it. What's up first?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

No Other Gods-Week Seven

I'm sitting here on a BEAUTIFUL fall Saturday morning. I just had a cup of coffee and a fantastic apple cinnamon muffin (fresh from a local bakery from a friend). We've been outside for a short game of family soccer. The girls are coloring here at the table, well two of them anyway. The other has thrown all her crayons on the floor and is currently "hopping" on them. Life is good. It's easy to trust God this morning.

This past week was stage change week at the church. My husband didn't get home before 2:00 a.m. a single night and was even out until 4:30 a.m. one night. I haven't seen my husband for most of the week. The girls allergies are in full-swing. I was having some health problems of my own this week. We were exhausted. It wasn't so easy to trust God this week.

Isn't it amazing what a little perspective will do? One day trusting God is difficult because things aren't going my way. The next day, trust comes easy because things are going my way (except for the "crayon hopping"). Now, I'm definitely not saying that trust should be based on our circumstances. It shouldn't. Trust is something I've been wrestling with God over for the last seven years, so this week's study was tugging at me tremendously!
It's so cool to open my Bible study and read and study about Jonah, Paul, Abraham, Sarah, and others and see just how much my present-day life relates to their Bible-times lives. I've been angry like Jonah. I've been frustrated like Paul. I've been confused like Abraham. I've been unbelieving like Sarah. I've been obedient. I've been disobedient. I can look back at all the things in their lives and in my life and see without a shadow of a doubt the overwhelming power of God in my life. I can see His compassion, His grace, His unfailing love, His strength in my weakness, His power over all circumstances, His trustworthiness, His faithfulness, His protection; all in times of hardship and in times of tranquility.

I sure hope that this week in scripture gave you some new perspective too. I hope that you related to these stories as much as I did. I wish we could sit down with a cup of coffee and talk through the things we learned. I've so enjoyed sharing with you ladies and can't believe we are almost done. I've chosen lots of questions this week that might allow us to share some of our life experiences with each other. Remember, you don't have to answer them all!

Alright, grab a cup of coffee or tea or whatever you like and let's have ourselves a little "chat" over our questions. Love you ladies!

1. Can you think of a time when God asked you to turn from something but wasn't specific as to what He wanted you to move toward? (Page 148)

2. What was your definition of legalism on page 150? How did you tie Matthew 23:25-26 into your definition?

3. Can you think of a time in your life when God used something that was intended for harm to bring about good? (Page 154)

4. Do you agree that surrender is about the will and trust is about the heart? Why or why not?
About our get-together, I think we were all in unison to bring our favorite brunch food and that we should include the pumpkin muffins. Anyone ready to try the pumpkin muffins? I can't wait to see you all Saturday! I'll be emailing you directions and specifics. Have a good last week in this study!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Brown Bagel Bears

Can you guess what letter of the alphabet we were studying when we did this snack? Oh, homeschooling has so many perks! Why else would a mother actually purchase Cookie Crisp? Well, other than the fact that it is Daddy's favorite cereal.



Saturday, October 25, 2008

No Other Gods-Week 6 and a Get-Together!

Okay, this week was all about focusing on the God of Gods. Let's talk about Him first and then I'll give you some get-together info. :) Here are your discussion questions for this week.

1. What practical steps can we take toward improving our ability to sit, listen, and call on God? Has anything specifically worked for you? Can you tell a big difference when you do those things?

2. Have you ever had an experience with a physical idol, similar to Alli's experience with the Athena statue? How does it make you feel about your idols?

3. What attributes of God have shown themselves to you this week?

I can't wait to read your responses! Now, onto the party!

Can you believe this is already week 6? We only have two weeks left! You know what that means don't you? A Get-Together! Any of you located anywhere near St. Louis, we'll be getting together at Dianna's place for brunch on November 8th. So I have a few questions for you about our Get-Together, of course, involving food! :) To the Central-ladies, I'll be sending you info with time and directions, etc. If you aren't a Central girl, but would like to come, email me at hdvogel@gmail.com and I'll include you in the details!

This book has lots of recipes in it and they sound so scrumptious to try. We already have expressed desire for the pumpkin muffins and pot roast, but that doesn't necessarily sound like brunch? Maybe it does to you? Okay, so I'm thinking either we all pick a recipe from the book to try and bring it to the brunch or we all bring our favorite brunch food to share. Which would you rather do? Any other suggestions? Include your answers in the comments below and whether or not you will be attending. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it. Good thing it's almost lunch time. Love you ladies! Have a wonderful week!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

E-I-E-I-O and U and A and Sometimes Y

I picked these up last year to help Miss A with learning her short vowels. She loved them. Now that Miss A is actually reading this year, she picked them up and wanted to do the whole box (at the same time). She did it! In about 10 minutes! They are a fantastic way to reinforce or teach reading skills. Looks like I'll be getting these soon or maybe these.









Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?

Have I told you there's no one else above you
Fill my heart with gladness
Take away all my sadness
Ease my troubles thats what you do

Okay, so I'm not really a Rod Stewart fan, but the lyrics are fitting. I feel so honored to have been given some awards and I want to pass them along to a few of you. First of all, Mama Hen over at Clucks from the Henhouse gave me this award. Isn't it pretty?
To translate the gift from Portuguese to English, it means:
This blog invests and believes, the proximity. [meaning, that blogging makes us 'close' -being close through proxy]. They all are charmed with the blogs, where in the majority of its aims are to show the marvels and to do friendship; there are persons who are not interested when we give them a prize, and then they help to cut these bows; do we want that they are cut, or that they propagate? Then let’s try to give more attention to them! So with this prize we must deliver it to 8 bloggers that in turn must make the same thing and put this text.

So, I'm supposed to send this to eight other bloggers. I'm going to break the rules and do three. These are the three bloggers who I miss dearly in real life and enjoy their blogging so much to keep in "close proximity." Heather, Chandra, and Meghan, this award is for you too! I love you ladies!

1. Life with the Jenkins
2. Little Boys Blue Crew
3. The Bumgarner Family


The next award came from Tyler at Titus 2:3-5. It's the BFF award. I wish I could give her a second one of these, because I really enjoy her blog. We have many things in common, including a love for Women's Ministry, and I would just love to meet her in real life sometime. Thanks for the award!


I'm passing this one along to two women who I also would love to meet in real life sometime.

First of all, Lindsey at The Carlson Crew. We share a kindred bond in the loss of our children and I just want to wrap my arms around her and give her a hug! She has had a really difficult year, yet her blog is so inspirational. We have a secret plan to meet at Cinderella's Castle in DisneyWorld. We're just waiting patiently for God's provision. :)

Second, Carrie at Life is Like a Mountain Railway. You know why I want to meet you! ;) Carrie stumbled across my blog and started communicating to do the No Other Gods Study with me. She has a great love for God, her children, homeschooling, organizing, bargain shopping, and is one of the most generous women I know! I would love to meet her in real life and give her a big hug too!

Monday, October 20, 2008

All Good Things Must...

Come to an end. Let the new phase begin. Sigh.






Saturday, October 18, 2008

No Other Gods-Week Five

Oh I pray that you all have had a great week doing this study! This was a week rich in scriptures that speak to me in new ways each time that I read them. Maybe you feel the same way.

The Israelites in the desert. Joshua and Caleb. The Rich Young Ruler. Abraham and Sarah and Isaac. All these stories I've heard time and time again, yet they spoke to me anew.

Let's get started with the questions this week. There were too many great ones to choose from. Decide which ones speak most to you and comment on those or just comment on something that really struck you this week. Basically, say whatever you want to, we're listening!

1. Without getting into specific idols, unless you feel that pull, discuss how craving an idol is different than wanting it or needing it. (Page 103)

2. What does it mean to say God "over-fills" our desire for sin (page 105)? Is God just being spiteful? What are some good reasons that He might "over-fill" our lusts? Have there been times when this has happened to you? If so, share as you are willing.

3. Have you ever tasted or brought back fruit from a future promise that had not been fully realized? In other words, have you ever experienced a glimpse of what God promised you would eventually have in full? If so, describe your experience and whether or not it gave you the faith to keep pressing on. (Page 108)

I'll be back tomorrow to post my answers. We've got groceries and parades and banks and bills to contend with today.

By the way, you all had wonderful and insightful answers last week and I really enjoyed reading them. Thanks so much for sharing in this study with me and for your perseverance. Oh, and I totally forgot to post my answers last week. I'll go comment on last week tomorrow too!

Check back in later this week because I'm going to put up a post about our little get-together! Have a wonderful fall weekend!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Best Part of Baking Apple Pie

Why is it that I give them an apple to eat and they ask me to peel it. Then, we peel a ton of apples for apple pie and they ask if they can eat the peels?

By the way, the pies were fabulous, but I forgot to take a finished picture! We used this recipe. I mean, if someone can bake an apple pie, wouldn't it be Paula? They looked beautiful and were delish! Um, we cheated and used refrigerated roll out pie crusts! Please don't tell Paula. :)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

No Other Gods-Week Four

Aimee had her baby this week! Click here to meet Grant and send Aimee some love. She had just finally gotten her book a week ago and then had a very busy week this week with a family member's surgery and the birth of her baby, so continue lifting her family up in prayer this week. Congratulations Aimee!

This week's study probably stepped on a lot of our toes. I know it did mine! I have always loved the story of Rachel and Leah and for the exact reasons of what we studied this week. Why is it that we can't seem to get past the fact that the grass is NOT always greener on the other side? It always seems like it is, but it never is! We get to the other side and get everything we want, and then suddenly we look back over the fence at the very side we just came from and it looks greener over there!

This idea is true in so many areas of our lives, but as women I think marriage vs. singleness and pregnancy vs. infertility is one area that affects every single one of us at different times in our lives. Ooh to be content with the portion that I am given and fill myself up with Him alone! It is a daily battle and one that I will never give up on! Let's continue to battle it together!

Here's this week's questions. I'll be back this afternoon to give my answers. "Talk" to you then. Have a wonderful Saturday ladies!

1. Describe a time when you finally got the very thing/person you had longed for and it didn't make you as happy as you thought it would. (page 89)

2. Write about something/someone you don't have but are convinced would make you happy if you could obtain it. (page 89)

3. On page 93 you read, "People will do far crazier things when something threatens their ultimate thing." Can you think of examples from the Bible or from current news?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Swatting Sounds

This is another "game" we've been doing in school. That pretty flower there that Miss A is holding is actually a fly swatter that my mom gave us. It was too pretty for me to use on the flies, so we went with the sweet revenge instead. Anyway, that left me trying to find a good way to use the swatter. So, we came up with a little game that is adaptable for many different things. Here's how we're using it.



Miss C. is still learning letter sounds and matching capital and lowercase together. So, she spreads all her letter cards on the floor and Miss A and I yell out either a letter or it's sound. She runs around the room until she finds it and then swats it with the too-pretty-for-flies-fly-swatter. They laugh hysterically and she LOVES IT.

Miss A loved it so much that she wanted to play, so we came up with a more sophisticated game for her. Since she is learning to read, we used her sight word flashcards. She spread them all over the floor and then I yelled out a different word and she had to go swat it.

It is a fantastic game, though I don't recommend doing it before naptime as it is NOT a "calming" game. Oh, and you might want to reinforce the swatter with a little duct tape. Not that I had to do that or anything. Maybe I should do a lesson on the art of gentle swatting. Gentle swatting, is that an oxymoron?

We might even start using this game for math. This would be a great way to practice math facts too. Anyone else have an idea for how to use the too-pretty-for-flies-fly-swatter-now-reinforced-with-duct-tape?

Friday, October 3, 2008

No Other Gods-Week Three

Is it just me or is it easier to see the false gods in other people's lives than it is to see the ones in your own life? I spent this week traveling with my children to visit my family and help with some "family projects" while my husband stayed home to work. I was gone for five days and four nights.

While doing my studies in the evenings, for whatever reason, all the things of the day related to other people's gods were the first things that came to mind. I had to spend some time really focusing on setting aside all of their false gods to hear God talking to me about my own false gods.

It's amazing how many different things we can make into gods and how easily we do it. If you don't believe that, just spend some time with family and you'll see it!

I'm really enjoying this study and enjoying your comments, but can I just say that tearing down these lies and idols is hard work! I'm getting more and more excited about the day that there will be no gods to tear down, no temptations to have other gods, only satisfaction in the one true God!

I don't want to miss the process of putting Him first though. That's why I really loved this quote from this week's study. On page 70, Kelly writes, "Of course, we may feel grief when parting with something we enjoy, but if true conviction is present, we will begin to look at that thing as something that was taking the place of God, something that was stealing from us. As we rid it from our lives we will be hopeful with anticipation, anxious to see what God will do in this newly-created space. We will not look for loopholes. We will be resolved. We will know that we are in a position to gain, not to be stolen from any longer."

I want to not be stolen from any longer. I want my family to not be stolen from any longer, but I can only tear down the false gods in my own life. It's not easy, but I am hopeful about what God will create in those spaces. Let's get busy making some space. :)

Thanks so much for your comments last week, I can't wait to hear from you this week! Here are our questions.


1. Look back at the first few questions on day 2 (p. 61). Were all three things that the serpent said about the fruit true? If you answered yes, why is that a frightening fact?


2. Sometimes we second guess our ability to hear God, wondering, "Did I really hear God right when He said...?" How do you deal with such questions?

3. Is there anything you've been convinced to give up this week? Is so, tell about it.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Friday Night Church

I was sitting in Friday Night Church two weeks ago with Miss A who is 5 years old now. It was time for communion and the poor girl was just famished. She was whining, I mean, asking me why I wouldn't let her have any bread and juice, because she was just starving. I politely told her to be quiet and that we would talk to Daddy about it when we got home.

Fast Forward a few hours....

Daddy has a lovely and very heartfelt conversation with Miss A about how you have to believe in Jesus and accept Him as your Savior before you can do communion. She says, "I believe in Jesus." So, they have a lengthy discussion about how you can say you believe in Jesus, but do you really know what it means, etc. She is adamant, "I believe in Jesus. I'm ready to take communion."

Then the conversation moves to baptism and when you are ready to be baptized and what it means, etc. I interject a lovely little story about how Mommy got baptized when she was 6-years-old. I talked to our pastor and answered all the questions the right way, but I wasn't quite sure now that I really understood what it meant at the time. So she needed to make sure that she knew exactly what it means first.

Daddy told the story of how he was baptized when he was 11 years old and it was because he did something wrong and knew that he had done something wrong and needed Jesus as his Savior.

She insisted, "Then I will get baptized when I am 10. Is 10 okay?" More discussion followed, as you can imagine.

Fast Forward a week...

We're getting ready to go to Friday Night Church again. On her way out to the van I catch Miss A saying this to Miss C. "I get to sit in church with Mommy again tonight. I have to be quiet and just sit there. And, I can't take communion because I haven't been baporated."

Baporated? Obviously she understands it all perfectly.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Talk Amongst Yourselves Tuesday

Miss C wants to know, "Do you see God on TV?"

Friday, September 26, 2008

No Other Gods-Week 2

Hey ladies! I'm putting this up a little early this week because I have a house full of people coming and know I won't have time to get it up tomorrow. As it goes today I've been reminded of my internal battle between my Mary and my Martha.

I've got brownies baked, apple pies cooling on the counter, chili in the crock-pot, a sparkling clean house, and here I am trying to "squeeze" in time to post the Bible Study questions. I wish I could say that I put this first today, but instead I find that I let myself get all the other "gods" done before I sat down to honor My God! Another learning experience and reason I am so grateful that you all have joined me in this study. This is definitely a phase of my life where I need to do some god de-throning! Thanks so much for studying this with me!

I really enjoyed your comments last week. God always amazes me in how much I can learn from other women. We all have struggles and yet they all are different, but we can come together and read the same scriptures and God will speak to each one of us in an entirely different way. What a wonderful God we serve!

I just want to encourage you this week to do as Kelly mentioned and make sure to set aside time five different days this week to do your study. Put Him first! Alright, here are this week's discussion questions. Again, answer as many as you desire. I'll be back Sunday to post my answers! Love you all and loving learning about you through your comments!

1. Is there one thing you've always thought might help you gain identity? From this week's study, how have you been convicted that this one thing may not deliver what it promises?

2. From page 41, describe a time when God was not showing up fast enough for you and you were convinced you had to fix things on your own.

3. What are some says that we turn God's gifts into gods as the Israelites did in Exodus 12?

4. Which verses on page 50 (about fear) struck you the most. What touched you? How did a verse or verses relate to your idols and/or fears?


If you recognized any fears in your life this week, send me and email and we'll pray for them with you! I can't wait to hear your comments!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Family Field Trip: It's Golden!

Remember the Red Plate and all the accomplishments we plan to use it for?


First day of Kindergarten: Check.


First Olympic Gold Medal: Check.



That's right, Olympic Gold! As her father says, "She won it in the 300 meter individual medley relay." Here's a closer look.

You looked too close, didn't you? Yes, it actually says Men's Volleyball on it. ;) Okay, so here's the guy who really earned it. His name is Scott Touzinsky. You can read all about him here. That's his wife Angel in the background. She's my husband's cousin, so we now have an Olympic Gold Medalist in our family. We are so proud of him!


They were visiting his family in St. Louis and were able to find some time in between an interview with local radio and throwing out the first pitch at the Cardinals game, to meet all of us and share the medal with us. He is a wonderful guy and we had a great time getting to see them (and the medal of course!)

Thanks so much Scott and Angel for sharing your medal with us! We enjoyed getting to see you! Hopefully we'll see you again before your next gold medal!

The girls were really into watching the Olympics with us this summer and we've studied about the history of the Olympics in our homeschooling, so this was a great field trip to get to see and hold one in real life! The girls thought it was so cool to get to actually see one of the medals they had been seeing on TV!

So, what is your favorite Olympic sport to watch? I'm all about the gymnastics and swimming, what about you?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Loser Lowdown List

1. I love The Biggest Loser. Have I mentioned that before?

2. What's with Jillian giving marriage/life counseling? I love Jillian, but I was really disappointed in the pathetic advice she gave Michelle. "Her mother did the best thing she could by leaving her father because she wasn't happy?" Hello? For better or worse? How about, you are not to blame for your parents' divorce. You can CHOOSE to forgive her, forget the past because you cannot change it, and work on the relationship NOW.

3. The Grey Team and The Yellow Team really needed to be at the ranch longer, I didn't want either team to leave.

4. Having said #3, I thought the Yellow Team should have gone because they were the ones who "gambled" to put themselves under the yellow line.

5. Having said #4, I thought the Grey Team should have gone because they technically had the lowest weight loss for the week.

6. I'm obviously torn about the decision.

7. I'm obviously a little too into the whole show.

8. Instead of my typical ice cream snack while watching the show, I chugged the rest of my water for the day!

9. I spent the whole night getting up to pee.

10. That was way too much information and not about The Biggest Loser at all.

11. I want a big hill, a big water slide, and a big clock. That workout looked like a lot more fun than my treadmill and weights! :)

12. I always thought "The Ranch" was out in the middle of nowhere. Funny, seemed to be a lot of traffic on the street at the end of the water slides!

13. The husband actually watched this episode with me. He got all excited about Rocco's cheap recipes, added up how much it would cost to just repeat the seven recipes four times a month. Didn't say another word about it once they showed what the recipes were. Did anyone else find that none of the recipes looked even remotely appetizing?

14. I loved that Bob removed the yellow line in the gym. However, I think he was a little too worked up over a big piece of tape.

15. I could do without Jillian's cursing at the contestants.

16. I could do without the contestants cursing back at Jillian.

17. I think the lack of ice cream and chocolate is making me a little too opinionated.

18. I couldn't end on an odd number, does that make me odd or just a big loser?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Learning with Finger Paints

What a little finger paint won't do for motivation! It looks like a huge chunk of snot on Miss O's paper, but that is just what yellow finger paint looks like if you don't use it within the first year, apparently.
Miss C practicing handwriting with finger paints. She's right-handed. I wonder what her left hand was getting paint for, hmmm?

Miss A doing her spelling words and sight words with finger paints. Spatial relations aren't really her specialty. Miss O doing what she does best with finger paints, milk, yogurt, snot, poop, you know anything squishy and smearable.


Monday, September 22, 2008

I'm Just Sayin'

I saw Miss O doing this at lunch yesterday. I thought to myself, "Self, what on earth is your child doing putting a carrot in her eye?"

Then, I remembered this...

Maybe I'll stop pushing the whole carrots are good for your eyes thing, at least until I get a new type of mascara. I'm Just Sayin'.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

No Other Gods-Week 1

Are you ready for this? I am super pumped about this study. God's really been working on me in some specific areas of my life and I anticipate that He is just going to make it even clearer through this study. I'm sure I'll be sharing more about that in the weeks to come, but for now, I want to welcome you!

Aimee-I am so glad you are joining us, and we can't wait to celebrate the birth of your baby with you! I hope that you are able to kick your feet up these last few weeks and really soak God in with us!

Nancy-I so enjoy seeing your beautiful face every week at church. I'm praying for you in the adoption process and hope to be celebrating with you too soon! Oh, and we can totally hold you accountable, if you really want us to. :)

Carrie-I'm glad you stumbled upon my blog too! You're probably the most sleepless one of us right now, so we'll forgive any grammar and spelling errors in your comments, though Aimee will be rivaling you for that position soon. :) With your husband doing school and working, I'm sure it is difficult to have a break from the kiddos. I hope that you will be able to find some special time for you to grow in Him each week with this study and with us here on the blog!

Kim-I'm looking forward to doing this study with you too. I've already been enjoying your blog and getting to know you some that way! You'll be our resident NOG expert, so please feel free to impart any wisdom you have from doing this a second time. I love how much God can give us a fresh perspective each time we study His Word.

Dianna-I hope the family travel has been going well and pray you will make it safely home. I miss your joyful presence on Monday nights, and I'm totally looking forward to what God does through this Bible Study too!

Kari-Kari didn't make it to the roll call because she is having some technical difficulties, but she will be joining us also. I'll let her introduce herself in her first comment, but I'll just tell you that she is another one of my Monday night Bible Study friends from this summer and she is the sweetest thing! She's a teacher and in the throws of a new school year, so I'll be praying for her to find time too. I can't wait to see how God works in your life through this study as well Kari!

Okay, so that makes seven of us. I think that is a great number. We should have a wonderful time getting to know each other and really be able to pray for each other and learn from each other over the next 8 weeks. I would really like to make prayer an important part of this study, so if you would like, please send me a brief email each week telling me a specific way we can all be praying for YOU. I'll then put them all together and send out a group email so that we can be praying together. Send them to hdvogel@gmail.com Alrighty then, let's get started...

Here are this week's discussion questions. Feel free to answer any or all of them as you feel led.

1. Think of a few examples of functional gods in our society. (top of page 15) Are there any new functional gods you've come across this week?

2. Can you think of any biblical character who had the same plight or idol you are dealing with? How can this person's story help you to put aside your idol?

3. Share the situation you wrote about in response to the Personal Reflection prompt on page 20. Did reading about the Israelites make you feel any better or give you any comfort about your situation?

4. Share your answers from the bottom of page 23. What skills do you have that you can use for God's glory? Help one another think how you can use your skills in your church or community.

5. At the very end of the week on page 27, we were given a Creative Reflection challenge. If you came up with one, share it with us!

See you in the comments, and remember to check back often to add more to the discussion! Have a great week in the Word!