Monday, December 31, 2007

Monica's Favorite Things 2007

We really don't watch much television since the only channels we receive are the local station that may or may not be visible on any given day. So we have become fans of the library and $1 "Nearly New" rentals at the corner rental store. But this past year we've taken a step up to Netflix. We have thousands of choices right at our fingertips and an unlimited amount of time to return them. No more late fees. No more getting out of the warm bed to return the DVD. We have enjoyed some classics and documentaries that would not be available anywhere else. We are slowly working our way through the Heartland Film Festival award winners and loving it.

This is the only TV series that I am currently still trying to watch. Watching The Unit is like watching an action movie every week that's neatly tied up within the hour without the shock factor gore. It's a little bit MacGuyverish which is fun. And the good guys always win. But I mostly appreciate how it supports our military and the hard choices they make in fulfilling their duty as well as the story line that revolves around these men and their wives. The biggest bonus is that this is a series that Sean and I enjoy watching together.

This book has been the most challenging to me this year. I have begun to work through it with a friend that is currently in nursing school. It is refocusing me in my Christian worldview as it relates to the nursing care that I give each week. And I've only read the first few chapters! The way it's going, it might be on my list again in 2008.

This Bible Study is one that I am going through with my oldest daughter and another mom/daughter from church. It is a study centered around Proverbs 11:22 "Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion". Each chapter expands on this theme as well as introduces a different way to dig deep into the Word. It has been a great platform for discussions and convicted me personally of areas in which I lack discretion.

I have been a longtime fan of the beauty school to access affordable hair cuts for my family. The Regency Beauty Institute moved into our neck of the woods this year and it exeeded my expectations. It was classy, professional and cheap! $9.00 for a wash, cut and style. They gave my kids the royal treatment and even served me something to drink.

SO3(g) + H2O(l) H2SO4 H2SO4(l)

This is my long lost friend sulfuric acid. If I had only known the powers available to me via this small white bottle than my life would have been so much easier this year. Beginning in July we've had a toilet problem in our master bathroom that has been my nemesis. It constantly backed up it's putrid contents to the point that we stopped using it all together. (This however, did not prevent the children from doing so). All I could imagine was a Thomas the Train stuck sideways in the "S" curve of the toilet being a gatekeeper to all that might pass by. We had done everything short of taking the thing apart. I do, however, attribute my strong right arm to the workout afforded me by plunging the thing. I discovered the sulfuric acid wrapped in thick plastic at WalMart and decided to give it a go. After being nearly scared to death by the warning label, I poured, heard some terrible bubbling noises and waited the fifteen minutes. ( I did spend those fifteen minutes rinsing my hand with cold water because one minuscule drop splashed on my finger and nearly ate a hole in my hand). But when it was time, the toilet flushed like a dream and has ever since.

Out on DVD this year, Miss Potter. It was nothing short of delightful. I laughed and cried and found myself swept away into the story of Beatrix Potter. I even watched it a second time (a rarity for me) with my older girls. They loved it, too. This is a DVD that I'd be proud to own.

My kitchen floor is white vinyl and a thorn in my side. Even when it's clean it doesn't look that way. It had turned a dingy and faded until....Armstrong floor stripper and cleaner. It's like a whole new lease on life when I wake up in the morning and my floor smiles back:)

This is the product that has rocked the world of this curly headed family. Aquage is the product that I have waited for my whole life. I could go on and on, but I already have.

Before this year CVS was just another corner store of overpriced goods. I was quite familiar with the pharmacy drive through, but little did I know the deals which were waiting inside! I started blogging to have a forum to bless my family, but I had no idea all that it would entail. Through the savvy of other bloggers I've been challenged and guided through the process of living well within our budget. CVS has been a huge part of that. Since beginning shopping there in late October we have purchased roughly $200 at CVS on everything from diapers to photobooks to dish soap to Diet coke and milk. And we've saved over $650!! What a blessing.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Giver of all good things

Great wealth is in the house of the righteous,
But trouble is in the income of the wicked. -Proverbs 15:6

When I look around our home I am constantly reminded of God's goodness. Sean and I married while in college and Hannah was born 18 months later. In the next 10 years we welcomed six more little ones. There's never been time to get financially ahead, but we've always worked hard and together to make ends meet. To look at our paychecks or bank accounts on any given day it would be hard to convince anyone that we are rich, but I know that we are. We don't have many investments to account for, no resort trips planned or luxury cars. There are several everyday things like cable and cell phones that we live without. But what we do have is priceless in my eyes. We have a home full of love and security. And more importantly we serve a God who is the owner of all things.

Today I made a purchase at Khol's of two couch slip covers. They were marked $176.00 a piece originally and I paid $32.00 for each. It was deal beyond my expectations. Tonight I came home and pulled back the old covers (finding many hidden crayons, pens, crumbs and coins) and was brought to tears as I looked at the old couches underneath. One is a "white" couch that Sean purchased his senior year of college for $15. He hauled all the way from Florida to Indiana on an open trailer behind his car. The other I bought at an auction in 1996 after sitting on it all day in the July sun in while being 7 months pregnant. Very hot and very sunburnt was I. I always thought that these would be "temporary" because someday we would remodel and update.

We never have and likely won't for many, many years. But, you know what? I'm blessed. I know that the things we have are what God has specifically provided and that brings me peace. Joy even. This is what brings tears to my eyes. We have purchased some things for our home, but most have been passed on to us and we consider each of those a gift from God. There have been times where we have prayed for new plates and silverware and then been able to purchase them on sale. This, too, we know is God's provision. Other times there have been odd jobs for Sean or unexepcted call hours at work for me. We recognize that these are ways God is providing for our needs as well.

It is so good to be cared for personally by a loving God. He calls us to work with our hands with diligence. (Colossians 3:23-24) He instructs us to pray for our daily bread. (Mt 6:11) He teaches us to wait for His best. (Ps 33:19-21) He commands us not to worry. (Mt. 6:30-32) And He has a way of making all things new and beautiful. (Isaiah 61:3)

So I will relish my "new couches". The color is perfect. There are no stains. They are soft and fit like a glove. Sean was shocked and amazed when he came in tonight. We sat on them and adored their loveliness. We opened the mail and found to our delight a $75 check. A gift from a friend he had helped a few months ago. Quite unexpected, but it was as if God was saying, "This one's on me".

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Starting off great update

Well, the dreaded task is over and I am giving myself a big pat on the back. On Monday Sean took the kids out of the house for two hours so that I could do this in "peace".

First, I found every toy box, basket, bag and tote and dumped it into a heaping mound.

Here I am trying to capture the height of this mound, though the picture does not do it justice.

Organizing, Organizing, Organizing. I became quite good at hurling toys through the air into the correct container.

Ah, bliss. The room put back together and clean for 10 minutes.

I was hoping to find some big uncashed check or buried treasure, but I did not. Instead I found one bottle of very fermented juice, about half of my seven year old's wardrobe, the long lost pink shoe, a bag of trash for the curb and a few boxes for Goodwill. The whole time I kept thinking about poor Mr. Squeaky on Toy Story who was almost discarded by that mean, old mom.

The clock is ticking and I have just a few more days to complete my list.
Tomorrow I'll be spending the day on homeschool materials, organizing the linens and getting our CDs and photos in order. We'll see how far I get.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Good for a laugh

I usually post about how such witty and cute things come out of the kid's mouths. I on the other hand am always unknowingly putting my foot in mine. I love nothing more than laughing at myself, however, and will find myself sometimes laughing in my sleep at the crazy things I've said. Then I wake myself up and think that's funny, too. Weird, I know.

I thought I'd share them with you with the disclaimer that I seriously don't plan to say these things in advance, they just come out of my mouth:

Sean and I were discussing what to have for lunch with some family we are having over:

Sean: I think we should have poor man's steak. Everyone always likes it.

Me: Uh...I don't know....if ground beef's not on sale I think that it will be too expensive.

Sean and I talking about how everyone is getting dizzy and feverish this evening:

Sean: It's like an epidemic. No, it's like a pandemic.

Monica: Well let's hope it's not the bird flu. (Those of you who know us personally will find that funny. It's an inside joke. Sorry.)

I was trying to make a friendly compliment on a blog about how the floor cleaner she recommended was so wonderful. I wrote:

"I put your suggestion to the teat and was amazed by the result."

A week later I went back to her blog and saw it posted there for all the world to read! Sean was reading along with me and we were in hysterics! I quickly threw that one in the trash and changed that word to "test".

And now for funny pictures of our six year old Elizabeth. We are making a scrapbook and quickly realized that when it comes to her there is a theme: Odd Drama.

Miss Elizabeth

Somehow her hair has formed pig ears.

She stops to share her corn with the hungry pig at the fair.

Elizabeth, Super Hero. The Red Flame.

Walking a tightrope with a bucket on her head.

Under the Sea... Under the Sea....

At the US Space and Rocket Center, Betsy poses with a replica of, Albert, the first monkey astronaut in his tiny capsule.

Reaching out to pet the hatching dinosaur.

Stopping to pet another friendly pig.

A kiddy ride at Holiday World. High drama.

Hi sweet Betsy!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Veggie Tales

Broccoli! Celery! Gotta be VeggieTales! Cauliflower! Sweet and sour! Half and hour!VeggieTales!

Thanks to my new favorite store Super Target I have been learning a bit about freezing fresh vegetables. With Target coupons I was able get this for free!! Yes, that would be 7 heads of broccoli, 3 heads of cauliflower and 6 packages of Huggies wipes.

To make the veggies freezer ready I steamed the broccoli for 6 minutes and then set them in a pan to cool.

I cooked the cauliflower in a large pot of boiling water with 4 Tbs of salt for 4 minutes and drained.

When the vegetables had cooled completely I placed them in quart sized bags to be frozen. When it's time I'll just remove, defrost and reheat. This took me less than 30 minutes to do and saved me loads of money!! I'm going back tomorrow to try to repeat the deal.

"Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy." Acts 14:17

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Starting off great update

So I got a little distracted from my list with the laundry that has been on my couch for way too long, unmatched socks and scrubbing my bathroom clean. I have knocked down #2 and #3 this week. I fear it to be so, but the toys must be next. We have little kid guests coming in and out this next week and if I don't tackle the toys now I fear for what will happen.

For me this will involve emptying all of the toys boxes and baskets into the middle of the room. Relabeling the containers and sorting. This is not my idea of fun by any stretch of the imagination. Then I will put them on a high, high shelf (though I know a 3 and 4 year old who can construct a ladder) and hope that they don't get drug back out before the new toys make their grand appearance. Ugh.

I'll have to take a picture to give you an idea of my definition of overwhelming.

I've heard from several of you of the great progress you are making on the home front. Heather is organizing 8 closets, Mindi is on the toy purge, Monica (my blogging long lost twin) has conquered her kitchen junk drawer and reclaimed some cabinet space.

Keep up the great work and I'll be thinking of you as I sort Polly Pocket shoes and Lego pieces tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Intercessor and Friend

Job 16

Then Job replied:

2 "I have heard many things like these;
miserable comforters are you all!

3 Will your long-winded speeches never end?
What ails you that you keep on arguing?

4 I also could speak like you,
if you were in my place;
I could make fine speeches against you
and shake my head at you.

5 But my mouth would encourage you;
comfort from my lips would bring you relief.

6 "Yet if I speak, my pain is not relieved;
and if I refrain, it does not go away.

7 Surely, O God, you have worn me out;
you have devastated my entire household.

8 You have bound me—and it has become a witness;
my gauntness rises up and testifies against me.

9 God assails me and tears me in his anger
and gnashes his teeth at me;
my opponent fastens on me his piercing eyes.

10 Men open their mouths to jeer at me;
they strike my cheek in scorn
and unite together against me.

11 God has turned me over to evil men
and thrown me into the clutches of the wicked.

12 All was well with me, but he shattered me;
he seized me by the neck and crushed me.
He has made me his target;

13 his archers surround me.
Without pity, he pierces my kidneys
and spills my gall on the ground.

14 Again and again he bursts upon me;
he rushes at me like a warrior.

15 "I have sewed sackcloth over my skin
and buried my brow in the dust.

16 My face is red with weeping,
deep shadows ring my eyes;

17 yet my hands have been free of violence
and my prayer is pure.

18 "O earth, do not cover my blood;
may my cry never be laid to rest!

19 Even now my witness is in heaven;
my advocate is on high.

20 My intercessor is my friend
as my eyes pour out tears to God;

21 on behalf of a man he pleads with God
as a man pleads for his friend.

22 "Only a few years will pass
before I go on the journey of no return.

Tonight as I was leaving to go home a co-worker came into the break room on the verge of tears. Susan has had a year that would be by anyone's standards inconceivable. Her husband left her a year ago with four teen aged/college children and mound of debt. The day he came to gather his things she was standing at the door crying, felt a lump which was diagnosed as breast cancer within the week. She's had two surgeries, chemotherapy and is now undergoing radiation. She has lost her hair and is struggling with radiation burns. Her oldest daughter now has a baby. She is working 12 hour nights to pay the bills. Her house is on the market and needs to sell so that she doesn't loose it. She is sick, exhausted and a mere picture of who she was. And tonight before work she received a call from the school principle regarding her son and needs to be in the office at 8am. He'll probably be expelled. The only hope she has is what God has promised. And tonight that looked pretty dim.

So we sat and I listened. I kept praying for some great words of comfort to roll off of my tongue. But there was nothing there. I was just sad with her.

One thing that I love most about God's Word is that it is not cliche or trite. I was driven to read some of Job when I got home and came across Job 16. This is not something that you would find on the inside of a greeting cared. It might as well have been a word for word rendition of our conversation. I was initially looking for what I could have said/should have said. But instead I was convicted of this:

Even now my witness is in heaven;
my advocate is on high.

20 My intercessor is my friend
as my eyes pour out tears to God;

21 on behalf of a man he pleads with God
as a man pleads for his friend.

Christ Himself is witness to all of this. He is the advocate, the intercessor, the friend. He pleads with the Father on behalf of His own. This is what I will be praying for Susan and her children- that in all the confusion and pain that they would be able to know Christ is Head over all and interceding in the midst of these difficult circumstances. That would be a Comfort greater than anything.

It's a Kashi Kind of Day

I just bought 2 cases (48 boxes) of Kashi cereal from for (drum roll please) $25.00!!!!

Go here and use this product code ( KASHI5OF) at the checkout and you, too, could be eating GoLean Crunch well into next spring.

Thanks again to Money Saving Mom for making our budget a lot happier.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Homeschool Family

For all you homeschoolers out there this ones for you:

Hopefully it will make your school day a little brighter.

Winter Family Fun

We've been taking school at about half pace since the kids have polished off some of their books for the semester. I really need to get to ordering and planning again. It's been good to take a breather and it will be even better when Sean gets his 80 labs graded and semester final grades turned in this Friday:)

But we've been staying busy nonetheless:

Bowling with our homeschool group

Getting haircuts at the local beauty school

Playing Vet clinic

Making gingerbread bears with big eyes

Making yummy messes

Practicing Basketball and cheerleading

Playing in the snow

And getting warm again