Friday, December 31, 2010

Hello Friends!

Hi. My name is Kayte. Do you remember me? I used to blog almost daily. Nowadays, I am surprised to post weekly.

There are a few reasons for this:

1. I am busy. Laundry... need I say more?

2. Most days, I find myself genuinely fulfilled in keeping my home and caring for my family. Not to say that I don't need you anymore... but I don't. ☺ Okay I'm being funny. I never needed to blog. But it did help fill some need I had. A need to talk, share, relate... have friends. I still do need those things. But I know someday when my children are grown and I have oodles of free time to sit and talk, share, and relate to the point where I may talk, share and relate so much that no one wants to be my friend. And then I'll have to get a fluffy pampered little dog to torture with endless babble. In the meantime, I'm feeling very satisfied with the tasks that occupy my hours. And they are occupied, indeed. (Laundry, remember?)

3. Life here is bit...hmmm... searching for the right word... unsettled? Changing? In transition? My mother in law's graduation to Heaven has changed our lives. That is how it goes when someone important dies. And so we have been adjusting. My mind is full of thoughts on all this... and well... it is a big jumble still. So to sit and write what is truly on my heart is difficult. And I'm afraid it wouldn't be helpful. It may actually be hurtful to share too much. Our family is still smarting from the loss. Our church is still reeling as well. And yet, time goes on. Life continues whether we are ready or not. So the messy, emotionally charged input from me would not be the best idea.

We've enjoyed a nice holiday season. It's really been fun this year since the girls are old enough to really become enthusiastically involved. Christmas was great... I'll post pictures soon. My camera has about 1.3 million photos on it and I haven't the time/desire to sort through them all right now! I de-decorated our home on Wednesday and I tell you what: I love de-decorating. My house looks so nice and bare... just the way I like it. ☺ Honestly, I start to feel claustrophobic by the end of December! It's the perfect opportunity to give the living room a good cleaning. Love the smell vacuumed up pine needles make. I have big plans for Spring Cleaning. I have never officially done spring cleaning before... there was never a need. But with THREE whole children (those of you with more, please refrain from rolling your eyes...) to clean up after, the deep down stuff has been neglected. So my hope is to devote one week to each room to sort through every item, wipe down every wall, floor board, door and window frame, wash every window, scrub every corner, dust/launder every curtain, de-clutter, reorganize and make spic and span. I want to start in January (even though Spring is a loooong sad loooong way off) so that by the time every room has had it's week of cleaning glory, I'll be able to spend time working outside when the warm weather arrives. I'll let you know if any of this grand plan ever come to fruition.

The girls are fighting little colds right now but are otherwise fantastic. I am beginning to think Maddie is ready to learn to read... but am oddly fearful of jumping in and starting. I guess I just really hate starting something without knowing if it's definitely the right time. Eden is just about the funniest and cutest little girl you ever saw in your life. She talks with her hands a lot these days and seems to know just how to tilt her head and inflect her voice to maximize her cuteness. She "wuvs" everything and uses cliches in the wrong way all day long. I wuv it. ☺Leila is turning out to be a great little baby. For a few weeks in the beginning, I thought we might have gotten a lemon. (joking!) But really... the crying is much less. She is smiley and "talks" more and more everyday. She is so soft and squishy and cuddly. The bad news is that she is balding. The worst news is that so am I.

My husband has been using the Christmas vacation from school to remodel the ladies' bathroom at church. Basically I picked everything out (wallpaper, paint, curtain, etc) and told him what to do with it and he did. It's turning out great (pictures soon). I think this system of "do exactly as I say" works well and we should try it in every area. Or maybe I'm high off the paint fumes. Really, I'm so proud of him. I think he has a real talent in carpentry and all things related. He's pretty awesome. I wuv him, as Eden would say.

At the end of every calender year, I revise our church directory. I had been focusing on the sadness of losing a few members. But when I sat down and prepared 2011's directory, I realized that I was adding many more names than I was deleting. Looking back over this year, I can clearly see growth. I'm thankful to God for this blessing. Our church and doing whatever we can for the cause of Christ is all Seth and I care for in this life. The Lord used the task of updating the directory to remind me that He has got everything under control. It's His church and He is more than capable of taking care of it. When our church is healthy, it makes me happy.

Picture posts will be coming soon. Looking at all this text with no picture of a cute kid here and there is hard on the eyes, huh?!


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Born To Die

Do you know this song? It may not be an official "Christmas song" but the theme couldn't be more relevant.

Born to Die

On the night Christ was born, Just before break of morn,
As the stars in the sky were fading,
O’er the place where He lay, Fell a shadow cold and gray
Of a cross that would humble a King.

Born to die upon Calv’ry,
Jesus suffered my sin to forgive;
Born to die upon Calv’ry,
He was wounded that I might live.

Jesus knew when He came He would suffer in shame;
He could feel ev’ry pain and sorrow.
But He left Paradise, With His blood He paid the price -
My redemption to Jesus I owe.

Born to die upon Calv’ry,
Jesus suffered my sin to forgive;
Born to die upon Calv’ry,
He was wounded that I might live.

From His throne Jesus came, Laid aside Heaven’s fame
In exchange for the cross of Calv’ry;
For my gain suffered loss, For my sin He bore the cross -
He was wounded and I was set free.

Born to die upon Calv’ry,
Jesus suffered my sin to forgive;
Born to die upon Calv’ry,
He was wounded that I might live.

Dearest Lord, evermore May Thy cross I adore
As I follow the path to Calv’ry;
Of Thy death I partake, My ambition I forsake -
All my will I surrender to Thee.

Born to die upon Calv’ry,
Jesus suffered my sin to forgive;
Born to die upon Calv’ry,
He was wounded that I might live.

Words & music by Ron Hamilton

I also really enjoy this one:

Ring the Bells
Words and Music by Harry Bollback

Ring the bells, ring the bells, let the whole world know,
Christ was born in Bethlehem many years ago.
Born to die that man might live, came to earth new life to give,
Born of Mary, born so low, many years ago.
God the Father gave His Son, gave His own beloved One,
To the wicked sinful earth, to bring mankind His love, new birth.

Ring the bells, ring the bells,
Let the whole world know
Christ the Savior lives today
As He did so long ago!
Ring the bells, ring the bells, what a glorious morn!
Men and angels worship Him, singing, Christ is born!
Born to die on Calvary, born to set His people free,
God Himself in human form, tell it! Christ is born.
He has left His royal throne, He has come to claim His own,
Christ the Lord has come to earth, go spread the news of Jesus' birth.

Ring the bells, ring the bells,
Let the whole world know
Christ the Savior lives today
As He did so long ago

So thankful for the birth of our Saviour. Happy Birthday, Jesus!


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Don't you just love...

naked babies? ☺ I do.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Love, dipped in chocolate: Peanut Butter Balls

You'll never guess how I spent most of the day yesterday....

Mmmm-hmmmm. That's right. Holiday baking. Love it.

I made a batch of Oreo Truffles and tried a new recipe: Chocolate Chip Biscotti.

And a family favorite: Peanut Butter Balls. I received this recipe from my mother in law, who got it from a long time family friend. {Korina, tell your Mom she has made it to the big time: her recipe is on my blog. Like three people are probably going to read this. Tell her to hire a public relations consultant. ;)}

So here we go...

Peanut Butter Balls

2 C. peanut butter/ 18 oz. jar
2 C. powdered sugar
4 T. melted butter
3 C. rice krispies
2 C. Choc. Chips
1/2 bar paraffin wax

Mix PB, sugar and butter. Stir in rice krispies. Roll into 1 in. balls. Refrigerate for 2-3 hrs. (or overnight). Melt chocolate chips and wax in a double broiler (I grate the wax to make it melt faster. I fake a double broiler by placing a glass bowl over a saucepan with simmering water in it.) Dip balls into chocolate using a toothpick. Place on wax paper and immediately cover toothpick hole with sprinkles. Chill to set. Makes 52.

We love these. I literally put my retainer in my mouth to keep me from snacking on a few while platting them for neighbors. One neighbor isn't home today and their plate is sitting on the counter beckoning me to nibble. But I won't. Not today. Soon enough, my little chocolate friend. Soon enough.

What are YOUR favorite holiday treats?


Friday, December 10, 2010

Money money money!!!

Are you spending lots of it this month?

I'm not.

I've really been putting effort lately into saving money at the grocery store, and Christmas gifts. Coupons have been my friend for some time, as well as generic products and planning my meals around what foods (especially proteins) were on sale. A friend of mine recommended a site which has really been helpful to me:

Krazy Coupon Lady

Have you ever heard people celebrating their shopping trip where they walked away with $120 of stuff and paid $4.23?? Well this site explains how that kind of huge savings is accomplished. (Though I personally haven't gotten a deal like that yet! My best week was a little over $70 of stuff with about $13 out of my pocket.)

So I wanted to pass that nugget of info along to you in case you too are always looking out for ways to help your family's finances. It does take an investment of time. I would say about 1 hr. of planning for grocery trips... you have to look over the sales, find coupon match ups- either in the paper or online at the particular store site, or coupon sites. The Krazy Coupon lady does much of the match ups for you at the national stores but for my local grocery store, the "leg" (actually finger work!) work is up to me. I've also gotten great deals for Christmas gifts:

Bath and Body Works: FREE item (up to $13 value) with $10 min. purchase
and my BBW was having a buy 2, get 1 free sale, so I paid for 2 and received 2 FREE! =)

Hallmark: $5 off $5 purchase
and yes, I was that ultra cheapo hunting around for an item as close to $5 as I could find. = P Last week, I had two $10 off a $10 purchase, so I got a beautiful baby's first Christmas ornament for Leila for just a couple of bucks. Fear of 3rd child not having a traditional ornament and needing years of therapy to cope with the feelings of neglect....alleviated. ;) (TOTALLY JOKING!)

I've really gotten the biggest discounts at RiteAid. By combining manufacturers coupons, RiteAid coupons, either clipped out of the weekly flyer or from the Video Values program, along with the UP+ savings, I have really been stretching my weekly budget. And when you watch 20 Video values, you receive a $3 off a $20 coupon. Last month it was $4 off, and here is hoping that it goes back up in Jan.! Watching videos does take time (they are about 30 sec.s each)... but it produces real savings AND I can do this while nursing and cuddling Leila. In addition, RiteAid offers a special program for December "Gift of Savings" in which it's very easy to earn a $20 RiteAid gift card. Mine is in the mail already. There is also their single check rebate program. SO between allllll of that, I have been doing all my toiletry and household buying at RiteAid and been paying much less than even generic at WalMart. I have a family of 5 (fun to say that!) and have $80 weekly to work with. We've got to all be fed, cleaned, diapered etc. for $80 a week. So getting free toothpaste, cheap (but nice brands) shampoo, free razors, and diapers for at least 50% less than normal price is sooooo helpful.

The Krazy Coupon Lady, and I know many other sites, do a great job of breaking it all down for us so I won't go on any further. Just wanted to enlighten anyone who didn't already know that we can spend less!! It's takes time and prior planning. But the savings are significant and well worth it!

One last thing: every week that I do this, I get better at it. Just like everything else, practice makes perfect... so don't be discouraged if you don't save 75% on your loot at first. After you get home, take out your receipt and calculator, and figure out where you saved the most and where you didn't. ANY savings is better than none. But it's only a savings if you actually use/need the item. Don't buy something your family doesn't use just because it's cheap.

I think this is fun. And rewarding. I love coming home with my arms full of bags, but money still in my pocket. I figure out my exact savings and brag to my husband. He's really impressed with me. Every penny I save is one more he can spend on taking me on a date. =)


Monday, December 6, 2010

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree...

On Saturday, our family went to a Christmas Tree farm to pick out and cut down our tree!

They provide a sled to lug your tree back down the hill with... also makes a nice way of getting your youngin's up the hill!

What I want to know is: Where is MY ride??
It was a pretty big hill...

Quickly, we found a winner!

Truth is, I was freezing cold with 60 seconds of getting out of the van and declared that we would be chopping down the very first decent tree we came upon. So at the first cluster of trees, we found this one. And ya know what? It really is a nice tree! I'm thinking people just pass by the first ones to go exploring and really "experience" the Christmas Tree farm. But this California girl would rather experience the heater in the car. ☺Seth tells me that growing up, they'd spend hours looking for just the right tree. His mom liked fat trees. Our first year getting a real one, we did hunt and hunt. I'm not too particular now though. The best part of natural trees verses artificial is the irregularities. At least that is what I told myself instead of just admitting that I did not dress nearly warm enough and couldn't feel my ears, toes or fingers.
Kayte = wimp

Seth = not a wimp and good at sawing down trees.
Maddie = would rather go gallivanting in the snow than pay any attention to the task at hand

Eden = cold like Mama.

All set and ready to lug our tree down the hill!

Down the long, long hill.

Long, muddy hill.

Really, really long hill.

We made it! Yeah!

Maddie and I did most of the decorating. (So fun now that she is big enough to really participate in traditions!) Seth had the honor of placing the angel (we bought on our July honeymoon....) and Eden went around examining every ornament, declaring them beautiful. "Howee Cow! I wuv that one!" Holy Cow! I love that one! in case you don't speak toddler.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Leila Baby

Here she is at 6 wks.

She is now almost 2 months old. I can NOT believe how fast this is flying by. I need to take more pictures!!!!

Leila is terrific. She is beginning to sleep through the night... 6-7 hrs. stretches. Oh YES! This week she discovered how to coo and make all sorts of throaty baby noises. Smiles are becoming more frequent every day. ☺

I would have to say she has been my fussiest newborn yet. If you read my Thanksgiving post, I mentioned that she had a cold. It seems that as soon as she recovered from that (which only took a day or two) she has turned a corner in the fussy department. She still isn't too pleased with being anywhere but in loving arms, but she will tolerate lounging on her own or in the swing for small portions of time now without frantic crying. With only my older girls to use as reference points, I'm not sure Maddie was even given a chance to fuss... we just held her all the time because we enjoyed it. Eden was very easy going. I remember taking her to a youth conference at 6 wks. and she was a dream. Never had to leave a service; she was silent and happy in my arms the whole time and even slept well in the hotel. Leila would have gotten us kicked out of a youth conference. Maybe even the hotel. ;) LOL Thankfully, I am getting pretty good at functioning one handed.

She is BIG. She's fitting 3 month size clothes quite well. As the nurse told me at a weigh in, I have no need to doubt my milk supply! She also is a professional diaper dirtier. We're making good use of the big box of wipes I thought would last for months and months! And I think she is very strong. She holds her head up independently and is pushing herself up with her arms. So maybe Seth will get a little football player after all. (Over my dead body...)

Maddie and Eden are still thrilled with her. I have not seen any signs of jealousy. It's funny how everyone just assumes that will happen. Maddie didn't have any trouble when Eden was born, either.

I am really trying to consciously enjoy every minute... every nursing opportunity, every diaper change, every bath. Her baby soft skin, her ever growing rolls, her fuzzy hair, her tiny toes. Her little ears and perfect nose. There's just nothin' like a baby. ♥