Sunday, January 31, 2010

Organization: Philosophy & Purpose

I’ve been reading all the books I can get my hands on about organization in the past few weeks. As I shared in my post about my new year’s resolutions, I have a few areas of my home that I can never quite get organized and KEEP organized. The KEEP is the important issue for me.

One such area is my basement. This is where my laundry hook up is and the primary storage. Being from California, basements are yucky and scary to me. I’m told that I have a nice basement for an older home in upstate NY. It has concrete floors and is fairly dry. But those same qualities that appeal to humans apparently appeal to spiders, too.

Me = no fan of spiders.
Basically I use the fact that my basement is dark and scary and has a weird little room where I’m convinced the previous owner held some creature or ugly child captive as a reason to never clean and do anything down there other than grab my laundry and run back up the stairs. (Anyone saw that old movie “Goonies”? I do not recommend the movie but that might explain the deformed child living in the basement theory.) And then of course, there was that one night a few years ago when a giant mutant rat snuck up on me while I was doing laundry. Okay well, in actuality it was a frightened cat that had squeezed through a gap in a window somehow. But as I saw nothing but a black tail weaving its way through my brother in law’s junk, I made the only obvious assumption: giant mutant rat.

Anyway, the time has come to finally tackle my hard to organize places. And while I’m at it, I will share with you all the handy tid bits of info I have been learning. Some are ideas I’ve been employing for a while, some are new to me that I plan to use and some I do not plan to use but thought they might be beneficial to someone else. As stated before, I’m not an expert by any means. These organizational posts are served buffet style… you can take whatcha want and leave whatcha don’t! Read my disclaimer to learn my feelings about "how to" posts such as this.

Perusing throughout the home section at Barnes & Noble’s, I was surprised by how much philosophy and belief systems were involved in organizing. The term “fung shui” came up numerous times. I do not wish to sound critical but reading about fung shui makes me suddenly crave a bologna sandwich. ;) Get it? Bologna? As in fung shui sounds like a bunch of it? It was usually paired with phrases like “have faith that the universe will replace the object if you truly need it”. This, to me, sounds like a prime example of worshipping a creation rather than the Creator.

Having said that, there is no doubt that our surroundings, which is most often our home, have enormous influence over our attitudes and emotions. Some of us are more sensitive to our environment than others, and perhaps different senses are more astute for some than others. I believe that I am a visual person. Paint colors really have an effect on my mood. My husband is very tuned in to the fragrances and odors around him. My sister in law plays music virtually every second of every day. I think everyone would of course enjoy having ALL of our senses stimulated in a pleasing way all at once. For each person, that scene would be different. My idea of the prefect sense experience is relaxing on a soft couch, wearing my comfy jammies, with my new cozy blue blanket wrapped around me while drinking a Chai Tea, or eating some potato soup (or whatever food craving I’m having at the moment) with an encouraging song playing on the girls’ CD player and my house smelling like lavender and vanilla while soaking up the view of a nicely decorated room. Nowhere in my scenario is clutter and piles of junk or stuff hanging around everywhere. But I know some people actually enjoy many knick knacks and trinkets. It makes their home feel more "homey". What you prefer isn't important...but learning what puts you in the best frame of mind is important. Study yourself.

I think the approach we take to organizing has been be rooted in our personality. For one person, an idea can be exciting and hopeful but that same idea to another person could instantly invoke stress. My point in saying all this is that if the thought of alphabetizing your books by author sounds like cruel punishment, then don’t do it. If the first thought you have is “Well it would be nice to be able to find the book I want without having to look for 5 minutes or more” than it’s worth trying. The degree to which you are organized is up to you. My observation is that most people are craving more organization, regardless of being “uptight” personalities or more "laid back". It's just a matter of finding "laid back" organizing techniques or "uptight" ones... whatever you happiest!

What’s the purpose to organizing? It’s NOT:

- To meet expectations of others

- To be able to say “My home is organized.”

- To take a picture to record the moment because it will never happen again.

- To impress your mother in law (Don't worry, I'm sure she already is thoroughly impressed with you!)

So what IS the point?

- To make life smoother. To relieve stress, NOT CREATE IT in the pursuit of organization.

- To save money (ever had to buy something again because you lost the first one?)

- To make it out the door, on time, with everyone dressed and you have not blown a fuse in the process (reminds me of Sunday mornings...)

- To save time by not needing to search for items.

- To make your home the comfortable, peaceful haven we all need.

There are few things in life that irritate me to no end. Not being able to find something I need right away and forgetting things are near the top of my list. Both problems can be attributed to a lack of organization on my part.

Organization is not a goal in of itself. It’s a means to bigger, more meaningful goals. Being organized should enable us to accomplish more with our resources. Ultimately, that means being closer to the Christian, wives, mothers, etc. that we strive to be. We are not here to serve our houses; our houses are here to serve us. They are not museums. People (gasp!) actually live in them, and some of those people are mess making munchkins who require whole lotta stuff. The “stuff” and the “messes” can threaten to take over. Creating maintainable, realistic systems and methods to keep our house from interrupting our day to day enjoyment of family life, and effectiveness outside the home, is what organization means to this mommy.

My organizing philosophy is that organizing your home should remove stress, not create it. It should save money, not cost it. It should work with your personality, not against it.


"How To" Disclaimer

I’m preparing a few posts on the topic of organization but I want to preface them first with a disclaimer.

I love “how to” posts on other people’s blogs… I am just that kind of girl who is always looking for someone to teach me something that I don’t already know. I’ve sat and read books and articles about how to do a huge variety of subjects, even when it is something I never intend to actually do myself. It’s fun. Even though it’s probably a ginormous waste of time for me to read about rock climbing or refurbishing a hot rod, because if any of you know me at all, neither of those events will ever happen. Ever. Never ever. But I’m just weird enough to still be interested in reading about any subject. Sometimes I read stuff like that so that I don’t sound like such a huge nit-wit when talking to Seth and someone else who may want to have a conversation about something OTHER than diaper rashes and cookie recipes. But if the "how to" post is actually pertaining to things I will indeed use in real life, I’m completely pumped and elated to find it.

However, on the few occasions when I have sat down to write a “how to” post about something I want to share, I always feel a bit presumptuous. I just want to tell each and every person who reads my how to posts, which I am going to post soon, that I am not an expert at… well... really anything. In my very best arenas, I am a B, maybe a B+ in something like, washing dishes! ;) And I am okay with that, in fact. I’d rather be a B in everything than an A at one thing while being a C at everything else. Make sense? No? Yeah not me either.

I am not an original person. Just about everything I know that is good has been taught to me by more experienced wiser people. I am just relaying their info in my own dorky terminology.

So let it be known throughout the lands than I do not have it all together. But I do read a lot (when I should be just getting my ducks in a row rather than reading about how to get my ducks lined up in the exact right way) and merely want to be the tiniest bit helpful to anyone who might actually read my “how to” posts.

You know, women, in particular, are really hard on each other… and sometimes on themselves. We put a lot of expectations on ourselves rooted in comparison and efforts to “measure up”. The very, very last thing I would ever want is for someone to read a how to post on, for example, organization (since I’m about to post a few of those) and instead of feeling encouraging and energized to become bit more organized, instead feels discouraged and that she will never attain the level of organization that I describe. It’s a sad thing to me when one woman makes another woman feel inadequate. I believe that happens sometimes among Christian woman, albeit it can be self inflicted at times. I’ve been on that side of it , too!

We all have our strengths, and we all our weaknesses. I’ll forgive your weakness and you forgive mine, deal? And while we’re at it, share with me your strengths and I’ll try to share with you mine.

As I post a few “how to” posts in the next few days, no comparing amongst ourselves is allowed. Just look for ideas that could help you and work in your life and ditch the others.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Terms of Endearment

If you notice in the side bar, I started a little poll about what name your kiddos call you. Go ahead and vote! I'm curious what the winner is!

Our kids haven't settle yet on whether I am "Mama" or "Mommy" or "Mom". I am referred to by all three. Is that weird?

We are weird when it comes to terms of endearment. Maddie especially... but then again, she's three years old. When she is bizarre, it's considered cute. When I am bizarre, it's just.. well... bizarre.

Maddie's strange nick names and outburst habit is attributed to her father. (It's so convenient to have another parent to blame stuff on. That's probably the whole reason God required two people to create children. ;) ) Back when Maddie a tiny tot, Seth's coming home each day was a huge event to her (still is). She would enthusiastically run to meet him at the back door. He started calling out "Hey Bubbalicious!" or "Hey Maddie-licious!!" which she thought was hilarious. Soon she started calling out whatever random nick names she could think of. I recorded the following when she was just over two years old:

Hey Turkey Toes!
Hey Candy Bar! (This one she still uses. Who knows why.)
Hey Meat Roll!
Hey Chicken Crocodile!

Notice that they all pertain to food?

It must be a family characteristic, and this one, I must accept credit for. My first term of endearment for Seth was Cheese Head, remember?

And I call Eden "Strawberry Shortcake". Yum. I love Strawberry Shortcake.

Now that I think of it, I also have a tendency to call people "fruit cakes". I really don't mean it as derogatory. My poor sisters in law receive this label from me most of all. I think my definition of "fruit cake" is "you are quirky and funny and I like you".... which is illogical since fruit cake is not something I like. But it is quirky and I guess a little funny... as funny as cakes be I suppose. I think I should just get it over with and invent my own language. One in which sister in laws are called Fruit Cakes and husbands are called Cheese Heads.

We've come a long way from "What do your children call you?" haven't we? Right about now you should be seriously concerned about yourself for reading my blog. But thanks for doing so despite my weirdness. Ya'll are peaches. ;)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Winter Woes

Winter is wearing on. And on. I'm trying not to complain. For one, because it really irritates my husband when I do. You know, as naive as it sounds, when I was dating/engaged/single and dying to meet Mr. Right (and those are not in chronological order!) I heard a missionary preach. In his sermon he described some of destitute living quarters he and his wife called home and many things they went without. He said that he had NEVER heard her complain. Not once in their long married life. Sitting there soaking up his every word, I mentally put "Never complain" on my to do (or to don't) list and vowed right then and there that my future husband would be able to say the same thing about me someday.

Um... well....

Maybe that man had a really bed memory?

Or maybe she actually didn't ever complain. She's my hero. But I am sorry to say that Seth can never truthfully tell anyone that he has never heard his wife complain.

The first few winters in upstate NY I gripped quite a bit. (I'm a California girl, in case you've missed that.) And eventually Seth let me know that all my complaining did not warm the external (or internal) temperature in the slightest. You should know that Seth is a man of few requests. I think as long as I had clean white undershirts for him and just gave him a kiss every day, he'd be as happy as clam. Ramen noodle for dinner? Not a problem to him. He'll eat whatever I serve. He'd live anywhere. He's a very contented person. But since he makes few strong opinions or preferences known, the no complaining about the weather edict is one I try to follow.

So can I complain to you instead of him? Okay, that's actually NOT what friends are for, so I will refrain. Just know that I haven't felt my toes since October and they probably won't thaw until April.

The second reason I really shouldn't complain about this frozen tundra environment is that we did have a wonderfully warm extended fall. Although those days seem long gone now, they were so appreciated at the time. It was almost like we were stealing those blissful extra days of sunshine and park visits.

More than the cold weather outside, I admit to you that I've become a bit unfocused and listless meandering around inside. Cabin fever, I suppose. I've read the same 3 books to Maddie roughly 1,878 times this week. Which is great.. I'm glad she likes stories. Because the other favorite activity here is DVD watching. I'm expecting the poor DVD player to start smoking and burst into flames from over use at any moment. And it would probably be a good thing. I always feel guilty when the girls watch videos so much. As if every minute they sit transfixed at the TV is robbing them of attention span and brain cells.

So my options are to:
a. sell an organ illegally to buy a second car so that I could go out and do fun things outside out the four walls of our home.
b. find fun activities to do inside

Although at times option A sounds like the easier route, I really do like all my organs... well- is a nose an organ? Because I don't really like that one. But I am certain no one would want to buy it. So option B wins.

A long time ago, I printed this list from Daily Pleasures of Amy's many suggestions for occupying preschoolers. This was way back when I first starting reading blogs and this post probably sealed the deal for me that they were not just a giant waste of time and cyber space. I felt like I had found the Holy Grail. It is time for me to dust my printed list off and reevaluate which ones my girlies would enjoy, replenish the simple craft supplies and hunker down for some messes.

Hoping that you stay warm and non-complaining! =)

Green Tea, anyone?

It is supposed to be wondrously healthy. And it was prepared with a great deal of love and enthusiasm.

You wouldn't turn down a cup of green tea made by two cuties on the bathroom floor while their mama took a shower, would you?

I didn't drink mine either.

And is it just me or does play dough smell horrible?And please excuse the fact that Maddie is wearing the same pajamas in every single piture I post of her. She just so happens to love them and I just so happen to wash them every day. I guess that makes me an enabler.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

God's protecting hand

I was reading over journal entries from 2009 and came across this little incident that happened just about a year ago. I remember this day but am glad I took the time to write the details down so I could remember more fully what had happened and thank God once again for His protecting hand. Eden was 9 months old and Maddie was just over 2 yrs. old, as you can see in this older picture.

February 9, 2009.

In the rush trying to get out the door to church, Seth was going out the back door to put the diaper bag in the van and get it warmed up. Our kitchen has a back door, which opens to a very small landing, three steps then another landing from which you can either go out the door to the driveway or down a full flight of stairs to the basement. There is no door on the basement- it's just open. Maddie wanted to go out to the car with him (she and Eden were playing in the kitchen; I was finishing up in the bedroom). Seth told her she couldn't go out. He leaves, closing the kitchen and back door behind him. Maddie had a pesky "sin nature flare up" and she decided to follow him outside despite her daddy's "no"... but she left the doors open. And so of-course, Eden follows her. Seth soon realizes Maddie has followed him, and then hears Eden screaming. He comes to the back door to see Eden at the bottom of the first set of stairs on her back about to roll over... PRAISE GOD he got her before she headed down the full stairs to the concrete basement. By now, I come to the kitchen and see Seth holding Eden, who has stopped crying. Surely she didn't just fall down the stairs, I think. Seth tells me what happened. My first thought is that were are not going to church but rather the ER. I snatch her away from Seth (because that's what mommies do when their baby is hurt!) Not only is there the fall down 3 steps to be concerned with but those steps are in BAD shape. Ripped up linoleum, jagged metal strips... they are wood and jagged and I've always thought if a baby fell down these, their face would be ripped up. There are one of 2 things left in the house that need remodeling. But as I carefully look her over, Eden is completely unharmed. She stopped crying as soon as Seth picked her up, she has no scratches or bruises and no bump. I've seen her get more upset by me putting a bow in her hair. I keep looking her over and over all day and monitoring her behavior and she is perfectly unharmed.

It makes absolutely no sense, apart from God's protection being displayed. She is one tough redhead and God is a
good God! It was even a little convicting to me because I was in such a foul mood all morning! Basically, I would rather be sleeping than getting ready for church! And then God protects my baby like that. Humbling.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mission Impossible: Oragnizing kid rooms

My new year's resolution of organizing every inch of my home has caused me to step back and consider what really works in keeping my home organized and what does not work. For a long time, I think I approached organization backwards. That is, I would go shopping for containers and systems before taking a hard look at at what I was needing to get organized. (I think retail therapy made me feel more organized even though I really wasn't.) The reality is that truly being organized requires more thought and planning. So before tackling those areas that I feel need improvement, I'm evaluating the rooms that are in a working organized manner to see why they are working for us and how to get the same results in the harder places.

And people call be over analytical! Ha! ;)

Our girls share and small room: 8' and 12'. Amazingly though, it is almost always in decent condition and every item has a home. Hmmm. That seems to be critical in every room and closet: Everything has a specific home.

Lately it seems that I am in competition with myself to write the most boring post ever. Sorry. But look at the title. Yada Yada Yada. I never claimed to have anything interesting to share! So this is what ya get! Really, when I was an expectant mom, I think I would have appreciated a post like this. (If I read blogs then... which I didn't.) You see, I created a cute little room for newborn Maddie with the goal of making it look like it came out of a magazine. (A budget minded magazine anyway!) But the thing about babies is that they don't stay immobile newborns for very long. And while I thought I just needed to think about diapers and clothes, the major issue in a kid's room is the TOYS!!!! The ridiculous amount of toys they accumulate by age 3!!! I believe we have personally bought like 4 toys for our children. The rest were all gifts. We're grateful for them but we could be buried in them without some organization.

So here is what works well for us. A working organizational system is all about what works for you and your family. The girls, yes even Eden, know where things belong and when it's clean up time, they can do a great job. In these pictures, you'll see that their room does not look like it should be in a magazine. It's a real room lived in by two real little girls. I didn't go through and "prettify" things. There was dirty laundry in their basket. Which I did not take a picture of. You are welcome. The things on top of the dressers looked messy because the girls had been pretending those bears were their babies and when they put them back, they didn't take the time to artistically arrange them. I'm okay with that. The sheet on the bed does not match a thing (we had wet through situation last night!). Life and budgets and practicality have over ruled any picture perfect ambitions of mine. I think you could find thousands of beautiful immaculate rooms on HGTV or other sites so here is just our reality. And we like it.

This is Maddie's drawer. The spring loaded dividers are my favorite invention other than the dish washer. We have them in everyone's dresser. See her cute little undies! Maybe someday she'll be irate at me for showing the world her unmentionables. I have a label maker that I used to make it clear to any random stranger who happens to be helping put away laundry (ie. Seth) where everything belongs. And I tell myself that it's helping the girls learn to read since I say to them "These go where it says 'tights' ". The clinical study is still in process.
This shelf was a great buy. I think we got for like $15 while pregnant with Maddie. It is above Eden's dresser, which is also the changing table. That hanging hair clip thing was a gift from a friend who used to sell them on etsy. It's basically a quilt square with ribbons down in. Very handy. I used to keep all baby medications in those little canvas bins and then those that didn't fit went in their closet. But not only can the girls climb up and get into them, but it's been much better for me to just keep all medications for man, woman and child in one location. For us, that is in empty baby wipe tubs the kitchen. Keeping pills in our bathroom was leaving them sticky from the dampness and there really wasn't enough room to keep them ALL together in there.

The girls have a super small and awkward closet. There is a bin that you can not see that holds toys that are "out of the rotation". When I see them bored with their newer toys, we'll bring those ones back out and swap. I buy in advance for the girls so the shelves in the closet are full of the next sizes they'll need in shoes and clothes. I am a clearance rack addict.

When the girls were younger, I used this neat little dividers in their closet.

And here is the last of the toys... the bulky things get thrown into the ottoman in our living room. Makes for easy clean up.

This has nothing to do with organization but is this piggy bank not the cutest thing you ever saw?

Clearance find! A insanely expensive children's boutique was going out of business and I found this hand painted little guy.

Look at his little tail!!!!! Oh he's completely ridiculously adorable!!!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Chicken Riggies

Chicken Riggies, or as the locals here call it, "Riggies", is a Utica exclusive. I'd never heard of it until moving here, along with a few other unique to the area food items (half moons, tomato pie, greens, etc.) The area is predominantly Italian so if you don't like Italian food, I do not recommend that you move here! I've never been a huge pasta eater but I'm learning that I do really like certain pasta dishes. And when feeding a family, it can be easy and cheap!! Woo-hoo!

I'm slightly hesitant to post my Cicken Riggies recipe because well... I'm not Italian. Not even a little bit. I can just imagine some life long Utican, reading this post with the Wheel of Fortune playing in the background, shaking their head at my recipe. I'm sure that the way I make this dish would seem queer to some, so I sometimes call it "An Irish Girl's Version Of Chicken Riggies", just as a disclaimer. The traditional Riggies has mushrooms and olives. I don't like olives and Seth doesn't like olives or mushrooms. Also, many recipes call for white wine which I just don't keep in the house. And the final reason that I arrived at this recipe: it takes less pots to make. One less dirty pot and I'm sold for life!

Before getting into the recipe, this is a good time to discuss the fact that our kitchen walls are almost the exact shade of beige as our counters and it looks boring and drab in all my recipe post photos. It was a mistake. A mistake we have choosen to ignore for 4 yrs. and counting. But I have a pink Kitchen Aid mixer and a few other brightly colored little things here and there so, I'm okay with the beige-beige thing for a while longer.

And now, without any further ado, Chicken Riggies Ala Irish Girl:

3-4 Tbs. of butter (or margarine or veggie spread)
2-3 fat chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1 medium green pepper, chopped
1 medium red pepper, chopped
1 medium - large onion, chopped
2 cups water
2 tsp. chicken bullion (or two cubes)
   or substitute the water and bullion for 2 cups of broth
1 8 oz. can of tomato sauce (1 cup)
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. dried parsley (I guess you could use a Tbs. of fresh if you want..add last minute)
1 Tbs. crushed red peppers
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 Tbs. corn starch
1 lbs. rigatoni, cooked and drained

Variations and tips:
It may go without saying, but if red peppers are crazy expensive, just use two green. The extra color is nice but I always just do what is economical. I've been told you can buy red or green peppers when they are on sale, chop them and freeze them. Haven't tried it myself yet...

Since we already talked about how anti-extra dishes I am, when it is time, go ahead and pour the tomato sauce in and use that 8 oz. can to measure the water and heavy cream. 2 cans full of water, one can full of cream.

If you happen to actually like mushrooms and olives, you can include them, of-course! Saute fresh mushrooms with the other veggies (I like that myself but Seth does not), or add canned mushrooms and/or olives during the simmer phase.

And in case the crushed red pepper throws you off, this is what it looks like:
It is not really hot, just robust flavor. Start with less if you're a scaredy cat. This brand was found in the condiments aisle by the olives and pickles. Another brand, Cora Imports, can be found with the Italian foods (in my store, that is near canned tomatoes and pasta sauces). I love this stuff. If you were to order Riggies in a restaurant, it usually comes with whole cherry peppers, or maybe roughly chopped ones. That is delicious as well. I just think this jarred crushed stuff is cheaper and easier, and for my husband who isn't big on spicy stuff, this is a gentler way to get the flavor pop I want. But you have options, people. Do whatever your heart desires.


In a large pot, melt butter and add chicken. Cook over medium heat until tender- not brown. (This is a good way to cook chicken for any recipe... it doesn't get dry if you don't over cook it and use enough butter). Add peppers and onions and cook until tender, about 5 -7 minutes. By now, the chicken is just about cooked through. Add all other ingredients except corn starch and pasta. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. In a small bowl, mix corn starch with 2 Tbs. of cold water until it dissolves. Add to the sauce/chicken mixture, and stir it real real good. Give it a few minutes to thicken up a bit. It's a good time to corral the wild animals, um.. I mean family to the table. Drain your pasta and stir into the big pot of sauce. Serve with some grated Parmesan on top, if ya like!

Add salad and Italian bread to sop up the extra sauce and you got yer-self a right fine supper. That last line wouldn't make sense unless you said it with a hill billy accent. Go ahead and reread, this time with honky-tonk in your voice. Why are we talking like honkies while cooking an Italian meal? I dunno. This is the part where the life long Utican is really shaking their head.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Just some yada yada yada

I really have nothing spectacular to write about today... just feeling chatty, I guess!

I had our van today thanks to Seth taking some extra effort this morning to come get us in the middle of his work day. He leaves at 4:45am so you can bet that I do not get up to drop him off in order to have the van! Most days, the girls and I just stay home. But I confess that I really do like to get out. I'm not the home body type by nature. I see the value of teaching the girls to be happy at home and not need to get out, but I think they are already like me and greatly appreciate going somewhere- anywhere- for just a little while every day. During good weather we go for walks to the park virtually every day. The winter months, however, leave us with a bit of cabin fever.

We went to a preschool story time at Barnes & Nobles. The local library also has great story time and craft times that are totally free. I would be at one every day if I had the van more! The girls just love it! Eden is so funny to watch as she struts around during the stories. She usually ends up sitting down right next to the lady reading. She seems like enjoy having everyone looking at her! The little ham!

I made a big batch of Sweet and Sour Chicken for dinner tonight, with plenty for lunch tomorrow. I decided to revise the recipe I put on here a little just clarify the most important ingredient since it may be unfamiliar to most people.

Today was the day that Eden's last bottle was thrown out. I know: 20 months and still has a bottle for bedtime?!!! Yup, she way too old by current opinions. She was very embarrassed to still have a ba ba. Don't let the huge grin and enthusiastic "BA BA!!!! BA BA!! BA BA!!!" fool you; she was quite ashamed. ;) Now she is 100% on sippy cups. *sigh* She is so big.

Maddie had been on "gum restriction" for a few weeks but since she made improvements in the area that she is rewarded with gum privileges in (going potty independently), she was allowed to accept gum from aunts or nursery workers or Nana yesterday. But I adamantly told her not to ask for gum, but rather could accept if she was offered. So what does this little clever girl do? Went around to people sweetly saying "You can offer me gum!"

Have a great evening! God is so good. We have so much to be thankful for, don't we? I'm going to go relax with one of God's bestest gifts to me, my husband, right now.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Blanket Time

I first heard about the "Blanket Time" concept in one of the BabyWise books... it might be "ToddlerWise". One in the series anyway...

The basic gist of it is your baby is trained to sit on a blanket (or whatever) for anywhere from 5 minutes to a half an hour. For a person with no room for a play pen, and my children associate being put in the crib or on their bed with punishment for misbehavior, I like this idea. I remember when I was reading this in the "ToddlerWise" book and thinking that I should get Maddie in the habit of playing by herself for a little while each day. But somehow, it never happened with her.

Okay, I"ll admit it. I was a big squishy softy with her.

A few weeks ago, I picked up the Duggar Family's book at the library. Whether you agree with their convictions or not, you've got to admit that a woman with 19 children probably has a few tricks up her sleeve! It was a really easy, fun book to read. I don't have cable so I've only seen maybe 2 episodes of their show, but their book was chucked full of humor, down to earthness (I think I just invented that phrase) and good solid ideas.

She presented blanket time as "a play pen in your purse". The way she explained the method was a bit more user friendly and realistic. She had a basket of special little toys that her baby/toddler could choose from and then sit on their blanket until instructed to get up. They baby had to SIT on the blanket, not stand or jump around. (As you can see in my picture, I am just fine with the baby laying around and pretending that she is a beaver and her tea cup is a tree trunk. But that's just me!) Mrs. Duggar made it sound to the child like a fun thing and was very enthusiastic about the whole thing. Young kids learn what is fun by our voice tones and facial expressions! If the child threw their toy, they simply didn't have a toy for the remainder of blanket time and they soon learned to keep a hold of their toy.

When I first reading her describe her routine for blanket time, my initial reactions were:
1. That sounds wonderful.
2. My kids will never cooperate.

But, I decided to try it anyway by virtue of necessity. I was trying to make dinner, both girls were whiny and under foot every second and it was just a stressful time of the day!! So I thought, It can't get any worse; might as well try it. So I got out a blanket and a favorite toy for each girl. I plopped Eden down on the blanket and Maddie was told to stay in a chair until I said to get up. As I fully anticipated, neither were a big fan of this idea. But dinner was burning so I left them fussing in their individual areas and went about my work. Eden got up once, was reprimanded and put back. In typical Maddie fashion, Maddie stayed put while exclaiming that she was obeying while Eden wasn't. Na na na boo boo. (She didn't say that exactly but that was her attitude!) Eden fussed for another 5 minutes and then it suddenly occurred to me that other than food sizzling in the pan, the house was quiet. I looked into the living room to see both girls engrossed in their toy.


So this has become a regular thing in the McCoy house, especially while I cook dinner or do something else that requires my full attention. As cheesy as it sounds, and as much as I was skeptical, Maddie actually gets a bit excited about "Chair Time" as she calls it. I think she has figured out that this little block of time lets her play with a special toy, like her key board, without a certain little red head coming by and banging on it. And I actually think Maddie just likes having me direct her activities. She doesn't like to be aimlessly wandering around looking for something to do. For Eden, it's still 50/50... half the time she still fusses, but then gets over it and plays well. But half the time she takes her cue from Maddie and I and settles into blanket time happily.

My two cents for making it effective:

Remember that it's not time out... it's not meant to be a punishment but rather an "activity". A time for each child to play alone without having to share their beloved toy. Sometimes I am tempted to declare blanket time when they are being naughty but then it's dreaded and it is so much better if it is is seen as a fun thing. It's better to punish naughtiness, give it a few minutes, then declare blanket time.

It's probably obvious but this idea will not work if the toddler hasn't been learning to obey in general. It may be good "practice time" for them to learn to obey mommy and stay put.

All day every day can't be blanket time! Ah shucks! I save it for the times when I really need them to be independent for a little while. My girls can handle around 25 minutes well (we set the timer) at this point. But oh, the things I can do in 25 minutes!!! The first time we did this, I set the timer for 10 minutes, which was perfect. They could manage it and weren't dying to get up by the time the timer rang.

So far, we have only done this at home. I'm hoping that next time I have a double appointment at the pediatrician's office, this idea saves me the embarrassment of one kid hanging from the ceiling while I try to discuss the other child with our doctor! Our last checkup did not go so smoothly!!! Maddie was doing Evel Knievel moves off the firetruck examine table while Eden was being looked over.

Aside from simply giving mommy as little time to get something done, an expected benefit arose from doing blanket time. The girls ENJOY their toy and are content with that one toy for a time. I really like that. The typical play routine is for the girls to get out a bunch of stuff but not really play with it. Maybe it's having SOOO many options they are too distracted to actually focus on one item. It just seems like it's good for them to be calm and quiet and self entertaining for a small stretch of time. So there- it's not COMPLETELY selfish! ;)

Well this turned out to be a long post on a simple subject! Enjoy your day!

Monday, January 18, 2010

My Latest Addiction

Nutella spread thinly on crackers. Oh yeah. It's real real real real good.

What makes this addiction blog worthy is HOW my introduction to the velvety loveliness that is Nutella came about.

It's all my in laws fault. We like to blame our in laws for everything, don't we. But really, in this case, it's so totally true.

It all started because this year we celebrate Pastor and Mrs. McCoy's 25th year pastoring our church. During one month's festivities, we asked church members to bring some of the McCoy's favorite things to form a gift basket. My father in law has a long lost of favorite foods so thinking of items to include that would thrill his heart was easy. My mother in law however, is harder to buy for in general.

I thought we would still have something special just for her in the basket because I have this very vivid, detailed memory of my mother in law standing in her kitchen telling me about how wonderful Nutella was and how much she loved it. I can picture where in the kitchen she was standing and can see her facial expressions as she waxed eloquent in rapturous adoration of Nutella.

So as we prepared this huge gift basket I made sure to tell anyone who cared to listen to me (and I'm sure some that didn't care to!) that Mrs. McCoy loves Nutella. And so I was quite pleased that the finished basket held a massive tub of Nutella. I could just imagine Mrs. McCoy's delight, knowing that this treat was included with her specifically in mind.

However... that's not the way things went down!

When opening up the basket loaded with fruit, nuts, gift certificate and of course, Nutella, my father in law, said "Oh? N-ut-ella? What's this?" And I waited for Mrs. McCoy to say "Oh that's my all time favorite food ever! Hand it here!" But that's not what I heard. Silence. So I, in the goodness of my little heart, decided to fill him on the fact that his wife absolutely loved the stuff. "She does?? I never seen her eat it!" Then my dear mother in law herself confirmed that she'd never had it before.

"WHAT?!!" By now my husband, father in law and mother in law are looking at like I am a green alien. It's a look I've earned on numerous occasions so it's not enough to stop me from enlightening them all. I went into the details of my memory of my mother in law proclaiming her love for Nutella. Apparently, this was not a memory but a fictional vision. Not a single McCoy as far back as Ireland has ever had Nutella. But my ever gracious mother law busts open the jar right there and give it a try. She assures me that she likes it and we laugh at my not so reliable memory.

And so that massive jar of Nutella sits in their cupboard. And as is our custom, I always rummage through my mother in laws cupboards looking for sustenance when I'm hanging out there waiting for Seth (one car = a bit of time spent waiting on one another). I'm not really sure if my in-laws mind our mooching off their food but it's become a way of life for us. It started when we were starving newlyweds and until they file a restraining order, we have no plans to stop.

Thus began my addiction to Nutella. It's escalated to the point that I actually own a jar of it myself in my own home. Not that this means I won't be eating my in laws, of course. Let's not be ridiculous.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

My Silly Girl

Maddie has been really cracking us up lately. She is so chatty and full of interesting three year old logic.

She never misses anything and soaks up every word said to her and contemplates it. Sometimes the info gets jumbled up in her mind and out will pop very ridiculous things such as "The Devil wants us to go pee pee in our underwear, but I'm gonna try real real hard not to. I'll do my very very best! I tell you the truth!" or, as she often says to her grandma, "When you were a little girl, I used to hold your hand and make you snacks!"
As I dried her off after her bath, she said, "Look Mom! I have polka dots!"
"No," I said, "Those are called freckles."
"Oh. Just like you have freckles?"
"Yup. Mommy has freckles too."
"Yeah! You have a lot... everywhere."
:/ Thanks.

One day I talked to her about the bad habit of annoying people. She had been purposefully doing things to bother me, her sister or anyone within a 50 mile radius. The word "annoying" then became her favorite adjective. Coming into the nursery after church, another parent asked the nursery worker about their child's behavior to which Maddie cheerfully let them know about how annoying they had been. Every parent that walked in that day got a full report from Maddie about their little darling's annoying behavior. We later had a discussion about minding one's own business.

My Maddie is a complicated mixture of sweetness and stubbornness. She can be so helpful with laundry and easy household chores. She can also be a wonderful companion for her little sister but often chooses not to be. At some point during the day, Maddie almost always suggests that it is Eden's nap time. And almost as often, she is asking when it's time to go get Eden out of the crib so she can play.

If Maddie had her way, we'd eat cookies and juice all day long and watch Milo and Otis or Veggie Tales or even Sense and Sensibility all day, only breaking to occasionally color or paint. Her way of asking for a craft to do is "Let's do something really really cool!" And when Daddy is home, the wrestling match is on! And I thought having girls would avoid the whole wrestling thing...

This afternoon, she has been singing (very loudly) part of that popular children's song "Father Abraham". Except where the words are supposed to be "I am one of them, and so are you! So let's just praise the Lord!" she has been singing "Money in the bank! And so are you! So let's just praise the Lord!" Not sure where she got that!

She's such a silly girl and I love her to pieces!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Haiti: A Miracle

I imagine that all of us have seen some horrific images and heard devastating accounts of the earthquake in Haiti. There is much suffering there right now.

There are a few missionary families that I know of in Haiti, some I'm more closely acquainted with than others. Being concerned for them, I poked around on facebook trying to discover if they were okay or not. I want to share with you a miracle that unfolded on Wednesday.

Biz and Erica Lerisse, along with their children, are missionaries to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. This letter was written last Saturday, before the earthquake.

Dear Praying Friends,

I remember hearing in Bible college over and over again about the evil days that would surely come to every believer, and especially to those attempting something for God. So it has never been a surprise to us when things went wrong or contrary to the way we prayed or planned. I have seen the inside of the Haitian jail twice. I have had thugs stone our bus. I have seen our church property vandalized and demolished. We have been lied about; accused by Haitians of having voodoo powers to get people into the church and accused by American bothers in Christ of "all those people did not really get saved." We have fought severe asthma in one child, and have fought worms, parasites, salmonella, and malnutrition in others. My wife and children have been in a near death accident and walked away unharmed. Along with these wrestlings from without we have had our wrestlings from within - those evil days of our own making.

But recently we were confronted with news that we never expected to hear. My wife has been extremely ill with acute bronchitis and weight loss in her 7th month of pregnancy. Upon taking her to the doctor and an ultra sound being done, it was found that our little baby Steven Ray has fluid on the brain and a disconnected spinal column that is known as spina bifida. We will not know the severity of the complications until the baby is taken by C-section on January 18th in Santo Domingo. Immediately upon delivery, surgery will be performed to cover the exposed spine or vertebrae, and surgery will be done on the brain to implant a shunt to drain the fluid. Of course we covet the prayers of all of God's people. We know that God is able to correct these problems before the due date, and of course we are praying to that end. But more than we want these "problems" corrected we want His will for our lives, His grace and mercy to be demonstrated to unbelievers and weak believers, and we want to be more like Him; and to that end we pray.

In the midst of these days, we have seen victories in Saint Marc and what seem like defeats. While out of town a few weeks ago, the people opposing us for the church property came and demolished the foundation we had raised for the wall. A few days later they came to the property with the city commissioner to sell a portion of the land. We still have possession of the front part on which the church stands, but they have taken possession of and sold the back. And yet, in the Living Baptist Church of Saint Marc souls are still being saved and baptized, and young men are preparing for Bible College. God has allowed me to see over 35 souls saved this month in personal soul winning, and our second church is growing.

Pray for us. Pray for my Beloved. Pray for our precious children. Pray for the ministry and that God's perfect will be done in His perfect way. Pray for the finances that we need in the starting of this Bible College: for dorms, furniture, meals, and curriculum. Pray for the expenses we are about to accrue with the birth of our little baby Stephen and the special needs that he will have. Pray that God would give me wisdom and understanding. Pray that through all these things Christ's kingdom would be enlarged and our family would become more like the Master.

We love you, and we thank you in advance for your effectual, fervent prayers.

Biz Lerisse

This letter is so poignant. I can feel the raw emotion and am reminded again that our missionary friends are just regular people like us. Not to minimize their great faith and sacrifice for Christ; I truly admire them. I only mean to say that they are afraid just as we would be. They get homesick and lonely and discouraged and sad. They worry for their children's health and safety just like any one of us would. They are not some super breed of Christian who are not affected by all the persecution and hardships. Missionary wives don't hate huge bugs in their cupboards any less than I would! And yet, they go anyway. They stay anyway. Their lives are not their own but the Lords. And we don't have to have a foreign address to live the same way.

After reading this and learning of the diagnosis in their unborn baby, I felt such sadness for the Lerrises. I don't know them well; they attended the same college I did but were a couple of years my senior. They do however have a reputation among anyone who does know them of being very humble and sincere servants of God. Thinking of all the trials they've been enduring and then the earthquake hit, I and many others, held them in prayer on Wednesday that somehow they were safe.

On Wednesday evening, I decided to check facebook before going to bed to see if there were any updates on the Lerisse's and other missionary families for which I was concerned. It was then that I learned about a miracle God had done!!!

The c-section, which took place in the Dominican Republic, had been changed from the date given in the prayer letter to the 13th. Wednesday. The day after the earthquake. The Lerisse family was safe and not even in Haiti during the earthquake. Not only this but....

The baby does not have spinal bifida. The baby is fine.

"Praise ye the LORD. Praise ye the name of the LORD; praise him, O ye servants of the LORD." Psalm 135:1

Of-course, they and all the missionaries down there need our continued prayer.
Their churches are hurting, people are devastated, supplies are hard to come by and violent people are trying to take advantage of the situation. Haiti is spiritually in darkness and even before the quake, it was a hard place to labor.

And lastly, here is an article written by one of my friend's young brother. He, with his parents, are missionaries in Haiti. All those faceless thousand who are injured or killed have faces and names to them. They knew them and loved them. Kasey Baker can tell you better than I.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Good news

Eden has returned from her space voyage and is no longer radio active. Confused? This will grant you clarity.

I've been having way too much fun figuring out PE8. I have totally neglected house work and cooking to do so but I'm not feeling guilty enough to stop yet. Okay not really. I just so happened to have planned very simple meals this week. I should do that more often!

Also, the wheels on turning on the house situation. We're expecting a closing date to be set in a week or so. So my mind is beginning to turn to packing and remodeling and paint colors and frankly, it makes me hyperventilate if I ponder it for long.

I'm feeling very snarky today. I'm not exactly sure what "snarky" means but I heard someone use it once and going just off the context, it means a bit sarcastic and a bit snooty, and a bit snippity. Now I'm not going to define "snooty" and "snippity". Just rest assured that I want to be in my jammies right now and eat some very dark chocolate. Which I have none of. I mean, I do have jammies but not dark chocolate. Do you ever NOT buy goodies when you are grocery shopping because your will to eat good was strong at that moment and then regret it later...when your will wasn't so strong anymore?

And now I will leave you with the cutest thing in the universe: my little girls.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A new trend in toy storage

It seems that I am constantly looking to improve the way we organize and store the girls' toys. And after Christmas, this becomes a down right priority! I guess Eden has taken notice and wants to help. When I hoisted her up to get her diaper changed, I notice that her jammies were snug. Oh no! I thought! These are brand new! And then I saw how lumpy her body was. Oh no! She is covered in tumors! Okay, I didn't really think that. I'm a crazy mom but not THAT crazy!

As I unzipped, I realized that Eden had stuffed as many toys as possible into the legs of her footie jammies. Just when I thought I had found the last one, there would be another!

She was quite pleased with herself, as you can see in this (gritty) picture:

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Photoshop. It's hard.

It's 11 p.m. And I'm up. Not good.

Why? Because I'm really really trying to figure out Photoshop Elements 8. It's fun but it's hard. At least for me. I think I used to be smart. But my babies stole my brain cells. It's okay. They were worth it.

Here the original photo. Isn't she pretty? She's mine. She stole my brain cells.

Now what I wanted to do was make the curtains in the background all soft and blurry and put all the focus on Eden's pretty eyes. But somehow, I ended up making it night time in the background with an unnatural glow around Eden. It looks like she's floating through space after being dipped in nuclear power plant waste.

The good news is that I have figured out how to remove pimples from people's faces. That's a mighty handy trick to have when you're a youth pastor's wife who takes oodles of pictures of teenagers!! (Of-course only the stinky boys get zits around here... the young ladies never get, ahem, blemishes, right girls?)

So if anyone wants to be a pimple free, toxic glowing, space floater, let me know!! I'd me happy to take your picture!

New website

Our new church website is up and running. There are still a few things to finalize (such as setting up the email accounts) but I thought I'd go ahead and share it with those who would be interested. We've had a website for a couple of years and have had several guests stop by church as a result!!

What else have I been up to today? Hmmm....

Lots of laundry, took the girls out for a few hours to give Seth a quiet house so he could study (he is preaching tomorrow night instead of our Pastor), roasted a big ol' turkey for dinner then went out for our weekly date to Barnes & Nobles while Nana (my mom) watched with the girlies. I bought the turkey right before Thanksgiving... even though I wasn't hosting Thanksgiving, it was so cheap and I've only cooked a turkey once before so I wanted another whack at it. I did a brine yesterday (this recipe) and roasted it today using Alton Brown's technique. I think it came out really well, if I do say so myself!! (Humility is one of my best attributes.) ;) Making gravy is not my strong suit, since I don't make it often (it's super fattening and although Seth loves it, it does not love him back and leaves him with terrible heart burn if he eats it often). Today was probably my best gravy ever. I used chicken broth and I think that was the difference. I had always just used fat, drippings and flour and was never thrilled with it. Today's gravy was just how I wanted it: flavorful, not too thick, not to thin, no lumps, no gnarly pieces of turkey particles. Just perfect. Why am I going into such great detail about gravy?!!

Okay if you've lasted this long into the post, you deserve a prize. Each one of you go to your cupboard, get a handful of crackers and smear some Nutella on each and every one. Sit down on your couch with a blanket and gobble them up before any family members come requesting that you share. Since I lasted this long as well, I shall do the same.

G'night, you turkeys!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Wait on the Lord: My theme for 2010

This, for me, is one of the harder to define terms in the Bible. I feel a little vulnerable publishing this post. Maybe I’m the only one who has trouble wrapping my mind around the meaning of “waiting on God.” I have looked up all the variations of wait, waiting, waiteth or waited in Scripture. Here are the most common lexicon meanings:

Hope, look for, expect
To tarry, to wait or to hope for (it always amuses me when a word is used in its own definition)
Inspect, examine, hope, wait upon (as in a restaurant waiter who takes your order)
To be silent, to be still, die
Webster’s 1828 defines “wait” as:

WAIT, v.i. [The sense is to stop, or to continue.]
1. To stay or rest in expectation; to stop or remain stationary, till the arrival of some person or event. Thus we say, I went to the place of meeting, and there waited an hour for the moderator or chairman. I will go to the hotel, and there wait till you come. We will wait for the mail.
2. To stay proceedings, or suspend any business, in expectation of some person, event, or the arrival of some hour. The court was obliged to wait for a witness.
3. To rest in expectation and patience.
All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Job 14.
4. To stay; not to depart.
Haste, my dear father, tis no time to wait.
5. To stay; to continue by reason of hindrance.
6. To lie in ambush, as an enemy.
Such ambush waited to intercept thy way.
To wait on or upon, to attend, as a servant; to perform menial services for; as, to wait on a gentleman; to wait on the table.
To wait on,
1. To attend; to go to see; to visit on business or for ceremony. Tell the gentleman I will wait on him at ten o’clock.
2. To pay servile or submissive attendance.
3. To follow, as a consequence; as the ruin that waits on such a supine temper. [Instead of this, we use await.]
4. To look watchfully.
It is a point of cunning to wait on him with whom you speak, with your eye. [Unusual.]
5. To attend to; to perform.
Aaron and his sons shall wait on their priests office. Numbers 3, 8. Romans 12.
6. To be ready to serve; to obey. Psalm 25. Proverbs 20.
To wait at, to attend in service; to perform service at. 1 Corinthians 9.
To wait for, to watch, as an enemy. Job 15.

Phew! That’s a lot to digest!! Need a minute? Me too. Putting on the tea kettle and I’ll be right back!

Okay. Now… how does this fit into my theme for the year?

I’m a goal oriented person. A task oriented person. I want a job to do all the time. I can only handle so much free time before I get annoyed, or even depressed because after a day of doing nothing with purpose I’ve convinced myself that I’m wasting my life. I know- I have issues. I don’t know why I’m like this or how I came to be the psycho that I now am. Really, this blog is a result of my need to be doing something. I know that many people view blogs as just a giant time waster, and I’m sure many are- even this one sometimes. But it makes me feel like I’m being productive. To record the days happenings, to establish or strengthen friendships, to be inspired by other’s writings, to develop my own writings, hopefully be an encouragement to someone, or at least make them smile as they think “this girl is whacked”, to relay helpful information, yada yada yada. It’s not curing cancer but hey, it’s not watching TV or reading a corny Janette Oke book either. Not that I’m anti-Janette Oke. I think I’ve read all of her books. It’s like setting your mind on cruise control and loosing yourself in the world of perfect heroes and elegant ladies roughing it in the Canadian frontier. How did we get on this subject?

Focus, Kayte, focus!

I am in a really calm season of life. Most of my time is spent inside my home, keeping a small house clean and 2 small girls clean. And fed. Yes, the law says we have to feed them, doesn’t it? Of course there are days when just accomplishing those deeds is quite enough to keep my plate full. But I get to feeling restless. I want to DO DO DO!!! (My sister in law who is 30 going on 13 would be laughing right now because I said “doo doo”.)

I am far too inclined to get ahead of God. To decide for Him what I should tackle next or what direction our family or ministry should go. I happen to think all my ideas are brilliant. Until I figure out that they are not.

A while back, I made this silly looking wheel to represent a Christian’s life. Don’t laugh at it… circles are hard for me! The spokes are showing a few of the areas in a Christian’s life (of course we have many more than what I included on this visual aid) and the hub, or center of our life, is Christ. As we go about our life or just each day, we might be tempted to jump to the spoke that we most enjoy or think most needful at the time. Or to add spokes according to our own wisdom. But that is not the recipe for success. Now obviously there are spokes to every Christian's life that we don't have to wait for a specific directive from God to add; the Bible tells us what spokes we should ALL include in our lives. But there are some spokes that are more specific to each individual and what God has for them. The point is that before going on to the next spoke, or adding or removing a spoke, we need to go back to the center. Returning to the center (Christ) to find our way to the next spoke is what I'm calling "waiting on the Lord."

I gave part of my lesson from the story of Cushi and Ahimaaz running to tell David important news. (I Sam. 18) Ahimaaz ran very fast and reached the king first, but he did not have a complete message to relay. Meanwhile, Cushi approached shortly after and had all the details David needed to know. I am prone to be an Ahimaaz. Seth is prone to be a Cushi. He’s much slower to get his engines in gear but when he does, he is confident that it’s a job from God and is right to do. I’m more of the let’s just get started and if it is not right, we’ll just figure that out on the way. And then like Ahimaaz, I'm tired and out of breathe and wondering why all my efforts weren't productive. Because I didn't wait long enough for God to lay out the plan for me.

So for me, what this theme of “waiting on the Lord” means is both the waiting like a waiter waits on your order, “God what do have for my life today?” and patiently waiting for His answer. Both of these contexts are against my natural strengths. Probably most of us don’t like taking orders, or being patient while the orders come in. I was struck by the word “silent” in the definitions from the lexicon. Keeping my soul quiet so that I may hear what God has to say to me.

“My soul, wait thou only on God; for my expectation is from God.” Psalm 62:5

“Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” Psalms 27:14

Most of this has been philosophical but now I’m going to be practical and pointed. The things I’m specifically working on waiting on the Lord about:

- Our ministry. I want to see growth, both in number and spiritually. I can occupy myself for hours thinking of sure fire ways to do this but ultimately, this is GOD’S church and GOD’S youth group and He will give the increase. I know this may seem like a statement the youth pastor might say and not his wife but what can I say… I’m whacked.

- Our housing situation. Since May ’09 we’ve been on the verge on moving to a different parsonage… but well… it’s a long ol’ boring story. Basically, we’re just praying for God to make his plan for our living arrangements known.

- Our personal financial future.

Maybe some of what I’m getting at is just simply “plodding”, as I’ve heard others call it. Just cheerfully going about the day to day mundane nose wiping and mess cleaning and story book reading and laundry folding while NOT feeling like I’m doing wasting my life or am making no real impact on the world. I in no way mean to diminish my role as wife and mommy. I’m working on viewing the less than glamorous aspects of domestic life as being God ordained and of utmost importance… because it truly is.

My lay person definition of “waiting on the Lord”: letting God direct my steps in His own time. Not allowing frustration, impatience or preconceived ideas to hinder Him.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Professional taste tester

Here she is: my professional taste tester. Today, she was quite a busy girl and ate an entire tube of chap stick. She had the plastic tube cleaned completely out. Then later, the girls were helping me clean up after dinner and I thought putting the dishwasher tablet in it's place would an easy task for Eden. So I unwrapped it and handed it to her while saying, "Put it right in- NO NO NO!! Out of your mouth!!!!!" She thought I wanted her to taste it, I guess. She's so helpful like that.

Madison got over the urge to put every object on earth in her mouth at a much younger age. Especially things that don't taste good. Eden, however, thinks this is her occupation in life. She's almost 20 months old... doesn't it seem a bit old for this??

This past summer, the girl ate as much sand and dirt as she did food. Blach! And even worse... oh, do I even admit this?? Ohhhhhh. About 6 months ago, she made a discovery on her diaper.... it was a little brown ball. Apparently, she thought it might belong in her mouth too. The horror of that scene still haunts me. I think I literally cried.... and just about drowned her "washing" her mouth.

So there is a lovely thought to leave you with tonight. Pleasant dreams.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

My resolutions for 2010, finally

I've been meaning to post my new year's resolutions for days now but have still be contemplating. I may have actually been procrastinating posting them being that when I do, there is a level of accountability. But here I am, a few days late, but taking the plunge.

In no specific order:

1. Drink more of that clear plain stuff people call water. I had always been the habit of drinking lots of water until having little ones around. Half the day will go by and I am just getting around to coffee, let alone water! So more water. I'm aiming for a full class with every meal.

2. Get this house organized from top to bottom. I think many people regard me as a fairly organized person but I feel quite the opposite lately. There are specific areas that I have never gotten under control for longer than a day. The typical course is that I ignore it and ignore it until I'm disgusted by it, clean it and tidy it but there is no working system in place so it falls into disorder quickly. I consider being organized more than just buying a bunch of bins and shoving stuff into them. They may be tidy and neat, but my idea of truly being organized is that at any time, I can desire an item and know exactly where to find it. I'm on the hunt for effective solutions to my specific problem areas and I'm sure I'll be sharing my discoveries with you later as I find them.

3. Read more Bible. I've always been a slower reader when it comes to the Bible. I like to take my time and digest and look up meanings and cross reference. I'm not planning on stopping that because that is how I take something away from my Bible time. For years I've set the goal of reading through my Bible in a year and have never made it... maybe once in college by accident through all the required reading but never in my personal devotions. I'm not setting that goal for 2010; I'm setting it for 2011. So I'm easing into getting more chapters read each day so that a year from now, it's a more attainable goal.

4. Cultivate better reactions to my daughters' misbehavior. Anger has no place in child rearing. Sighing and irritation are not ingredients to effective training of little ones. Yet so often I find myself falling into these habits. This article was very convicting to me and has been replaying in my head for a week or so.

5. I'm officially declaring myself the Smile Enforcer of the McCoy house hold. My job description is to make conscience deliberate efforts to produce as many smiles on each member of my family throughout the day. I'm a the text book definition of a "task oriented person"; a Martha not a Mary. My natural tendency is to be very focused on duties and not so much on relationships. By putting smiles on my mental "To Do List", I hope that they are elevated to their rightful priority.Our children will not remember if the pantry was alphabetized, if the dust bunnies were eliminated, if they could read by age 6, if dinner was gourmet, but they will remember if there was joy in our home. Even being perfect Christians and teaching them all the character we could would not mean nearly as much if we lacked joy. The joy of the Lord is our strength, right?!

And I haven't forgotten about my theme for 2010, "Waiting on the Lord". I just haven't had enough quiet moments to devote to a post about it!

Happy Thursday, everyone! It seems like it was just Sunday! Time is flying by faster than I can keep up. While holding Eden today, she laid her sleepy head on my chest and I closed my eyes to record the moment in my memory. She is almost 20 months old already. We're getting close to her 2nd birthday!! But she was just born! How can it be?!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Why Christian College?

I read the following post (in blue) on Mrs. Fink's blog today and felt it was really worth reading. I'm including it on the bottom of this post, with her permission.

Before her excellent post, I'll just add a few of my own thoughts.

Seth and I in 2002 saying good bye as we left for Christmas break

I completely realize that not every Christian young person is called to the ministry. But hear me out: Bible college is not just for full time ministry workers. Whatever career a person earns a living at, I hope they still seek to be a minister for the Lord in some fashion. Many different career paths can be used in great ways to honor the Lord and increase His kingdom.

Us with Ray and Debbie Young, the co-president and his wife. She was my teacher one semester in a huge class but she always remembered my name. I *think* this is also 2002. I actually still have that shirt; just wore it on Sunday to church!

I know of a youth minister who has several sons. One of his sons did not feel led to be in full time ministry, and for a time the idea of Bible college seemed like a big waste of time since he didn't plan to work for a church on staff. He had leanings toward practicing law, and felt that he could do a lot of good as a Christian lawyer. And boy, don't we need more godly, Christian lawyers... and butchers, bakers, candlestick makers! Any secular field you can think of that is of noble origin can be a great place for a Christian to be a shining light in our dark world. (By "noble origin", I mean that no Christian bar tenders quite fit the bill!) Finally this young man made the commitment to go to a Christian college for one year, and give it his best while he was there. His reasons were:

1. To give God more time to work in his heart. This was his way of giving the Lord one more year to call him to preach if that was what God had in mind.

2. To please his parents.

Even is #2 had been his only reason, I think it would have been a good one.

He finished his year. He did not feel God calling him to preach but actually felt more sure than ever that law was the direction he should go. So he transferred to an appropriate school one year older than if he had go directly after high school.

While sitting in a huge class, the university professor began to blaspheme God, Christianity and Christians. The young man could hardly believe his ears. When the class discussion was opened, he respectfully stood in front of hundreds of students and declared that he was a Christian and didn't appreciate the untruthful slander the professor had just said. From that moment on, for the rest of his law school days, this guy was "marked". Everyone knew he was a Christian.

He later said that if it had not been for that year of Bible college, where his faith had been increased, he knows he would not have had the courage to stand up for his faith in that way. He would have done the easy thing of sitting quietly.

Bible college is not just for full time ministry workers. When our daughters are old enough, are we going to demand that they marry preachers or be Christian school teachers? Absolutely not. Our goal for them is to simply do whatever the Lord has in mind for them, whether it's be a missionary wife on a far away continent or be married to a godly business man... whatever it is that God wants for them, we want for them. We will be encouraging them to go to a Christian college because it's a great foundation as a young adult begins their life. Mrs. Fink's post to follow explains it so beautifully.

Also, I don't want anyone to think that I believe everyone should go the same Christian college that I attended. The issue should be a matter of serious prayer. My Sunday School class consists of 13 yr. old - 15 yr. old girls and something that I am constantly drilling into them is the importance of walking with God right now so that by the time they are of age to make important life choices such as what college, or what field to pursue, or who to marry, they are already used to hearing God's voice. You really don't want to wait until you are 17 or 18 yr.s old before experiencing first hand when the Lord speaks to your heart. Letting God direct your steps will never be regretted!

Lastly, I want to add that attending a conservative Christian college can be very hard. You're broke, you're tired, your room mate used all your toothpaste, you hate the food, and even more, you hate the rules. Can we all just accept that no matter where we go or do, there will be things we do not like. I am not exempt. Seth could tell you of the (unfortunately) many times I had a bad attitude about a rule I didn't understand or agree with or a teacher that was curt with me. (He however, NEVER bristled under authority one single time that I have witnessed, and I've known him a good long time now! Do you know how annoying it is when you have a rotten attitude and the person you are with all the time has a humble, submissive attitude? So often I could just stick my tongue out at him and say "Fine! You be a good Christian then!") Anyway... I'm just saying rules exist everywhere. Deal with it. It's almost funny (except that it's not really funny at all) to see people get so miffed at Bible college rules, leave school and then join the military. Um... there's no rules in the military? Every job you have, every school you attend, there will always be elements that get under your skin. It's nothing worth quitting over, or getting bitter over. Looking back now, I wish I would have seen the value of submitting with a better spirit. It's such a short season of life, after all.

Okay, enough ramblings from me. Here is Mrs. Julie Fink's post:

She Was So Glad

It was the winter of Sabrina's senior year when we took her with us up to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. My husband was preaching for our friend Dr. Noonan, and after the special event, we all climbed into his Suburban and enjoyed a leisure drive around the city.

Cities are such beautiful places at night, especially in December around the holidays.

I was sitting in the back seat with Sabrina, and as we passed by the secular college campus that sits smack in the middle of the city, Sabrina stared out the window with curiosity. I'm not sure she had ever really seen what goes on around secular college campuses ~ this was a new sight for her to absorb and consider.

After a few minutes of looking at the young people doing their thing up and down the streets of that campus, she laid her head on my lap and said, "I'm so glad that you and Dad sent me to a Christian College. I'm so thankful that you didn't send me to some place like this."

Sabrina really is such a grateful and tenderhearted girl, and when she said this, I just smiled at her and hugged her real tight. She and her sister are very precious to us, from the time they were very young girls, we had made the decision to do the best we could to provide what was right for them. And sending them to Christian College is something that we definitely knew was right for them.

The Bible reminds us of this in Psalm 1:1-2, "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night."

The college years are filled with getting counsel, and standing and sitting with others. And if we expect our young people to be influenced in the right manner, it is important that we make sure that they are given the right kind of teaching and leading during this time.

Oh, I know what some of you are thinking. You know so and so and their faith made it fine in secular college. And I'm glad they did, but according to the Bible ~ they are the exception to the rule. And it has never been my desire to raise my children to live as an exception to God's rule.

God's Word makes it very clear that we are affected by the evil associations that we have, and I'm not going to encourage my children to believe that they are better than the teachings of God's Word. "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners." I Corinthians 15:33

We live in a day and age where many Christian folks believe that they are above obeying God's Word. They seem to make it their goal to live in a way that challenges the truth of it, rather than live in a way that supports it.

I'm not going to live that way. And I'm not going to encourage anybody else to do it either.

A good Christian College is the place for a young person to go after high school. Not because it's a perfect place, because it's not. There are sinful people in every sector of society ~ even in the church. But just like the church, a good Christian College has been established for the purpose of strengthening the wisdom, knowledge and understanding of the young person that is preparing to serve God for the rest of his or her life ~ whether that be in full-time Christian service like my daughter Sabrina and her husband Jeremy are in, or full-time as lay people working in the world like me and her Dad did for so many of her growing up years.

We can never be prepared enough to fight our enemy the devil. "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." I Peter 5:8

Sabrina was so glad . . . on that cold winter night as we drove through Milwaukee and she had the opportunity to witness a little bit of the secular college life . . . that her parents were nice enough to send her to a Bible believing Christian College for her to get her post high school education.

And you know what? Her parents are so glad that she was mature enough to appreciate it.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Just a reminder....

...of how very much God loves you.

He loves you (and me!) when we are unloveable. On our good days and our bad days. He loves us.

He loves you because He loves you. Period.

Ya know how 'cum I know?

The word "love" appears in the Bible 311 times. Here's a small sampling:

" covereth all sins." Prov. 10:12

"...his banner over me was love." Son of Solomon 2:4

"Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back." Isaiah 38:17

"In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them, and carried them all the days of old." Isaiah 63:9

"...Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love..." Jer. 31:3

"I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love:" Hosea 11:4

"I will heal their backslidding, I will love them freely..." Hosea 14:4

"As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love." John 15:9

"And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which was given unto us." Romans 5:5

"But God commended his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? ... Nor height, not depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:35 & 39

"But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith hi loved us," Eph. 2:4

"And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge..." Eph 3:19

"And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us," Eph. 5:2

"And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God,..." 2 Th 3:5

"Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us,..." 1 John 3:1 (couldn't help but sing the little tune to this verse as I typed!)

"...God is love." 1 John 4:8

"In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." I John 4: 9 & 10

"We love him because he first loved us." 1 John 4:19

Get the point? ;)