Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Super Salads

I just had a wonderful tasty salad for lunch. I love, love, love a huge entree salad-but usually only at home! It is one of the few things that I feel like I can make better than a restaurant. My love affair started when I realized how tasty lettuce is when it isn't iceberg! I only use iceberg for tacos (and that on rare occasion because I rarely have it in the house). We usually either buy what we jokingly refer to as "the box of weeds" (mixed spring greens) or the artisan lettuces that they sell at Costco. I don't usually eat Romaine, either, I find it too hard and there is a lot of waste because the core pieces are bitter. I have found that I love:

-oak leaf
-curly endive (those are the ones that look like seaweed)
-red leaf
-red tip (this is not the same as red leaf)
-spinach (this is considered to be a type of lettuce)
-any type of leaf lettuce
-mesclun (sometimes also called "spring greens" or "baby greens", has dandelion greens, etc.)

I do not like:
-arugula (they say this is "peppery" but I think it is just yuck!)
-radicchio (this is the "red cabbage" that is so bitter)
-Romaine (it is okay in Caesar salads, but we don't have it often at home)
-iceberg (I never use this in a salad at home)

Two good sources for discussing types of lettuce are here and here. The lettuce is definitely the most important part of any good salad. I used to buy the bagged mixes but those are ridiculously expensive. And does anyone else still feel the need to wash the pre-washed lettuce? So they didn't save time, either! Now I only buy those when I want Caesar salad because I don't keep Caesar dressing on hand. My favorite tip for preparing lettuce for salads is to use my kitchen shears to chop it. It is so much quicker and cleaner than using a knife and cutting board. I just snip it right into the bowl. Speaking of bowls I strongly recommend you buy the shallow wide bowl/plates for your salads. It gives you better distribution of ingredients than a narrow, deep bowl and helps to mix the dressing better than a plate. The one in the photo above is perfect!

So now you have your lettuce in your bowl, what next? Then you get to add all the fun stuff!
For veggies I add:
-cucumbers (it is all in how you chop them. Trying slicing them in quarters, cutting out the seeds and chopping into small pieces. Removing the seeds makes them less soggy and bitter)
-tomatoes (I remove the seeds and "gunk" in these, too and Romas are my favorite)
-carrots (I prefer to remove the skin and then peel them into my bowl, rather than chop or grate)
-onions (I like thin half slices, Joel prefers chopped)
- baby yellow, red and orange bell peppers
-celery (that is one of my favorites!)
-olives (prefer them sliced)
-pepperochinis (especially in the salad at Olive Garden!)
Recently I have gotten more adventurous. I don't usually prefer fruit in my salad but I do like:
-apples (these are especially good with bacon and ranch dressing)
-dried blueberries (these are AMAZING with a fruity vinaigrette)
-strawberries (in small quantities)
-craisins (also in small quantities)
For protein:
-pepperoni (I quarter a stack of these with my kitchen shears and that makes them bite-sized)
-deli ham (I just snip it with again, my beloved shears)
-roasted chicken
-chicken fries or nuggets (if you haven't tried these, they are really good! Just chop them up.)
-boiled eggs
-bacon (I like to cook it myself and put it on warm, rather than using bacon bits)
- certain nuts (walnuts, pecans not almonds or peanuts)
For cheese:
-sharp cheddar (my current favorite)
-colby jack
-feta (I have to buy some of this soon!)
For dressing I like:
-ranch (I am such a traditionalist at heart!)
-Vidalia onion
-Sundried Tomato
-Balsamic Vinaigrette
-Honey Dijon (especially Kraft's light version)
-oil and vinegar
-Zesty Italian
-Strawberry Vinaigrette
I am not a fan of tomato based dressings like Catalina or French. I will try pretty much any type of vinegar/oil based dressing. My mom and my sister like to heat their dressing sometimes and it kind of "wilts" their salads. I do love a good wilted spinach salad with a sweet dressing. I am not that adventurous when it comes to dressings because I don't want a whole bottle of something I might not like sitting around my house. Anyway, if you are wondering what salad prompted this it was pretty simple:
-Butter, red leaf and curly endive lettuces
-grated sharp cheddar
-chicken fries
-ranch dressing
Yum! I also enjoyed spring greens, roasted chicken, apples, onions,bacon and ranch over the summer. I like to have ham, bell pepper, onions, spinach and honey dijon, too. I just usually grab what is in the fridge and throw it in. I know, not really that exciting but I was thinking about it so I thought I would share. What are your favorite salad ingredients?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Purse Person

Just a short little thought for you. I have noticed that there is quite a number of women who carry Coach purses. I do not have a problem with Coaches, I do not even take issue with the price. It isn't something that I chose to spend my money on (I would much rather have a $100 pair of jeans- something that makes many people gasp!) but I do not think it is "wrong". I think that barring the price if it is something that will bring you long-term happiness then if you break it down, it is probably worth it to you. So you ask, why do I have a picture of a Vera Bradley(albeit a very tiny one!) at the top of my post?

Because it is something that makes me happy. My dear sister just sent me a Vera Bradley "Morgan" in Puccini- the same purse pictured above. She got it for a steal (although I think I owe her for it)and I love this purse. As a matter of fact, I already had the same one in a different pattern (Mod Floral Pink, in case you were wondering). I never feel that my Veras are inferior to $300+ Coach purses. Maybe I only paid $20 for mine (trust me, for a Vera, that is a great price!) but I don't think of it in terms of dollars. I think about how I use it, how I love the coordinating accessories, the fact that they are washable, and the cheerful patterns. I personally don't want a purse that "matches everything". I don't change my handbag with my outfit-I carry ones that make me happy.

And I am content with it. It is mine, I chose it, I handpicked it to serve my needs. I could have chosen a Coach, or a Dooney and Burke, a Burberry or even a simple one from Walmart. All of them would hold a wallet, keys and some chapstick. But I wanted this one- it made me happy. And you know what? I think that is how God feels about each of us. We are perfect for the purposes He selected. He could have chosen anyone in the world, but for the jobs that I do, He picked me. I may not be the most godly, the prettiest, the smartest, or the most expensive, but He knew what He wanted and, get this: I make Him happy! He rejoices over me, sings over me, and holds me in His arms. He is content with the way He made me.

I struggle with contentedness. I know that doesn't please the Lord. But I am conquering my jealousies and inadequacies with His help. I was thrilled to discover that when it comes to purses, I am happy with what I have. I don't crave someone else's bag, no matter the cost, or prestige, that accompanies it. I am thankful for what I have. I am also thankful that I serve a God who has a place for every handbag person who serves Him and He loves us each as if we were His only one. And He is content with us. I want to be content serving His purposes. I am content with what I have in the way of purses, at least, although I am now on the hunt for a Puccini wallet...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Lovely Ladybug Tutu

I posted our fall photos the other day. I don't know if I mentioned that I made the tutu for Jocelyn's costume. Josie knew that she wanted to be a ladybug for our church's fall festival. We had seen a photo of a costume and she decided that she wanted one like that. I had been contemplating making a tutu for her for a while, she loves to dress up. I had seen several homemade ones online, but I could not find any good directions for one! I had seen a how-to in an issue of Family Fun. The directions that I followed for the most part are found online here.

I started with tulle from Hobby Lobby. I purchased 2 rolls of red tulle and one of glitter black. That gave me 50 yards of red! I thought that would be far more than I needed but I was wrong! If you add in the red and black ribbon and the 10 yards of black tulle, then altogether it was 65 yards of fabric. Trust me, if you want a nice full tutu for a 4 year-old, you will need that much!

One of the best pieces of advice was to use a binder for tying your tulle onto your elastic. I simply took my elastic and wrapped it around Jocelyn's waist and made sure it was snug, then I sewed the ends together (nothing fancy, just a needle and thread). I slipped the circle of elastic over the binder so I had something to pull against so I could get the pieces tied on tightly.

I used black elastic so it would blend in better with my color scheme. It worked really well. You can see the sparkle of the black a little better in this photo. I am glad that I did not use only that kind because that glitter gets everywhere!

There was no science to tying the pieces on. I wanted a really full skirt, and I did not want it to be short. Even though she is wearing leggings underneath, I did not want it to be see-through. Another handy tip (I made these with my friend, Patti) is to use a ruler and wrap your tulle around it. We used an 18 in ruler and wrapped the tulle around it (the tulle is 6" wide and comes in one long-25 yd.- piece) continuously. Then you cut through all the layers on one end and you end up pieces of tulle that are each 36 inches long.

Then you take two of those- the photo above shows how thin each separate piece is-and tie them on together. You just treat the two pieces as one. I wouldn't try to do more than that at a time, because you want it to stay even and not be fuller, or run out of tulle before you have covered all your elastic.

Now you can see the two pieces together.

Make a simple loop.

And then tie a knot. Easy-peasy! Now repeat, a whole bunch of times! I tied on all the red, and then because I had so much less (and I also didn't want it to look goth) I strategically placed my black pieces and tied them on. The really nice part is that if I want Josie to be able to wear it for something besides her ladybug costume, I can just take off the black pieces and the ribbons.

I did the same thing with the ribbon, except I only used one piece at a time. This is when the binder is especially handy because you can make sure you have an even number of pieces on each side. I loved how full the finished product is! I think it just makes her costume perfect. And I made it all myself! I think the possibilities are endless, but since I purchased my tulle and ribbon at half-price at Hobby Lobby it was pretty cheap (about $8 with the elastic) I can definitely see these making great birthday gifts. I think Jocelyn will definitely be able to extend the life of her's beyond just her costume. I just hope Carson doesn't want one!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fabulous Fall Week

We started off the week with a fun costume photoshoot with our friend, Patti, of Inspired Studios.
She did such a fabulous job! Even though the kids were all dressed up, she caught their personalities, not just their adorable smiles. I posted quite a few of these photos on my Facebook page, so I won't put a bunch here to bore you.
But I couldn't resist a couple. They are just so stinkin' cute!

Joel had Tuesday off (he had to work a 24 hour shift Sunday and missed the Monday holiday, so he was given Tuesday). We were having cool, wet, wonderful fall weather. We decided to make a trip to Denver and stopped for lunch at this great little hotdog place.

They had a really great menu of hotdogs and both my kids chose to eat...grilled cheese! I was not passing up a hot dog opportunity, though. I love me a good dog! I had a traditional Chicago dog. Joel tried the Atlanta dog first, it had coleslaw and chili-sounds gross, tastes great! Then he tried a Memphis dog, the one above. It had bacon, coleslaw and bbq sauce with onions and bell pepper. They also had AMAZING chili cheese fries. I would go back just for the fries....

Joel enjoying his hotdog. The Atlanta dog was fabulous, I even liked it better than the Chicago dog! If you know anything about me, that is saying a lot.

Carson exclaiming over his sandwich. Notice the absence of fries? He likes grease drenched potatoes almost as much as I do. He ate all his fries and some of his sister's!

After finishing lunch we headed over to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
We were excited to go there for the first time. We had heard good things about it and it turns out they were true. We started out in the Astronomy area.

The picture above this one is of the really cool map thing they had. As you twisted it one way or another you could zoom into a map of the whole world! It was super detailed (just like Google Earth, if you have ever used that) and above Joel is pointing to our house! Crazy, huh?

I really liked this quote. I really don't think the author is talking about God, more about aliens, or other "lifeforms". I don't believe in those, but it doesn't matter. The universe is staggering-God's creation is beyond amazing.

Both of the kids enjoyed the various preschool play areas. This one was dedicated to space. Carson had a terrific time trying to pick up "moon rocks" and put them in the "moon crater".

Jocelyn dressed up like an astronaut.

Carson loved all of the animal displays. He made up a story for each one and acted like a little tour guide. I loved them because, unlike the zoo, each animal was perfectly photo-worthy and there was no smell!

Jocelyn learned that deer ears function independently (like satellites) and she looked adorable trying them on.

Joel's favorite was the walruses. We had no idea that they were so big!

Both of the kids loved the Discovery Zone area. This was a really fun high-powered fan that they could use to move scarves, whirlygigs and pinwheels.

They had an exhibit on the Amazon. This huge boa constrictor looks amazing real, doesn't it?

There were several fish tanks in that area as well. Aren't they so sweet all squished together in that bubble?

My favorite part was the Egyptian area. I looooove anything related to that period. Jocelyn also thought it was cool, since she knew about many of the things from VBS this summer.

I am absolutely fascinated by mummies. You can see this woman's face through her wrappings. I could have stayed in that room much, much, longer but the kids and Joel were starting to get a little creeped out. When we went on our cruise last year, we went to a cemetery in Mexico that was a highlight of our trip for me, and the graves in New Orleans strongly appealed to me. I think that is when I realized I have a morbid fascination with...morbidity! Even as a child I constantly borrowed a book about mummies from the library. So yes, I had to be dragged out of this room. I spared you the rest of the photos I took.

Carson's favorite part was the "fine-o-saurs". He wandered around with his neck craned trying to take it all in. He kept roaring and growling. I am sure he would have climbed into the exhibit and kissed them if he thought he could have gotten away with it!

We ended the day with a trip to the sweetest little cupcake bakery. If you follow Bakerella at all, then you might have caught where she took a trip to Denver. This is the "Lovely Confections" bakery that she visited! She tried the honey and lavender cupcake called the "Bees' Knees" but I wasn't feeling that adventurous. I tried the "Salted Caramel Chocolate", Joel chose plain 'ol coconut and the kids shared a strawberry and vanilla one. Aren't they beautiful? And I HATE sprinkles, but they were so pretty on these! I feel like a traitor for saying that, but they were the prettiest sprinkles I have ever seen. And we got to meet the owner, just like Bakerella!

We hung out at home on Wednesday, after all the excitement of Monday and Tuesday. On Thursday we had Bible study (which I am absolutely loving!) and Awana. Then on Friday we were able to go to the pumpkin patch with some friends from church. Don't our kids make precious flowers? Do you like how my son is trying to climb through the cut-outs? Never content to be ordinary, that one!

There was lots to do there. Both of them loved the hay slides. Josie had to go down "the big one". She waited so patiently in line. And had such a blast she did it 4 more times! She helped her friend, Bailey, go down to. And it was a pretty tall slide. I was standing on the ground when I took this shot.

There she is on the way down. I thought she might be scared but she was smiling the whole way. I took about 200 more photos (yes, really) but this post is already long enough. If you would like to see more of anything just email me! Just kidding... except for you, Mom. We had a great week. I will post about our trip to the other pumpkin patch another day. I don't think we could have packed another fun thing into this week! I think all of this is why I love fall so much!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cheapskate Complaints

I don't consider myself to be overly frugal. I do think that I try to be a good money-manager, but I have a long way to go in that area. There will always be people who do a better job than I do; and always people who waste more than I do. I was over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and she posted on the differences between being "cheap" and "frugal". I do not take offense at the word cheap, and I like to consider many of my purchases to be frugal. However, she did point out that cheap means "stingy or miserly", so I guess if you go by actual definition, it is an insult. I tend to think of cheap as gaining something you paid less for than its actual value. That seems to be more the definition of "frugal". In that vein, the majority of the clothes I buy, and many other things, do qualify me as frugal. I will say, some of my pet peeves are cheap people. Some of my top "cheap" people gripes are:

1. People who collect Halloween candy for their infants (3 months or less). If you offer them candy and they accept it, that is one thing. But to ask for candy "for the baby" who won't even be able to eat it in 6 months is ridiculous! We aren't fooled, we know who will actually be consuming those treats.

2. People who don't chip in equitably for a gift, but want equal recognition. If everyone is giving $5 and you only give $2, that is wrong. Cough up the other $3-it won't break the bank, or don't give at all. On the other hand, don't expect money for common courtesies. If you are eating dinner in my home, don't demand that I reimburse you for the soda you brought. Think of it as a hostess gift.

3. Re-using gift bags until they are trashed. I routinely re-use gift bags. Especially baby shower ones! However, if a bag is wrinkled, torn or otherwise "used" looking, I pass. I have received several gifts in seriously used looking packaging. Why not just skip the gift wrap and add a bow? Try harder to keep it nice, or don't re-gift it.

4. People who manipulate the system. If you can use coupons and get something for free, terrific! But don't try to bend the rules (example: stacking coupons at stores where they do not do that). Also, people who would be irate if they were overcharged, but don't try to rectify it when they are undercharged. Be honest- many times I will tell a clerk that something I purchased cost more and they will just tell me not to worry about it. I have been honest and still received the lower cost.

5. People who use old carseats. If you are poor, I am sorry. You can get good deals on new carseats. I am not talking about dirty carseats, but the really old ones. I saw one the other day that had to have been at least 7 years old. That is not safe. Carseats have a 5 year expiration date for a reason: they are constantly updating the safety standard. And they wear out! Find a good used one from a friend, ask your church for help, get one from the hospital. I am sure they have charities for this type of thing. It is too important to not use caution!

6. People who lie or deceive to get a better deal. Don't say your 12 year old is 10, just so they can eat off the kids' menu. Don't pretend you have someone with you so you can get an extra free sample. Don't eat 3/4 of your meal and then claim there was a problem (when there wasn't) so you can get it for free. Ugh!

7. People who don't tip on a service for what is it worth versus what they paid for it. If I get my hair cut at the salon academy I tip on what I would normally pay for that kind of haircut ($30) instead of the $12 I am actually charged. I still get a good deal! Also, if you are at a restaurant and you split a meal, pay for a tip based on the cost of the whole meal-not just half. Your waiter had to do just as much work as for two meals, even though you ate less. You will still save money (and calories!).

Do you have any pet peeves about cheap people? I know I will think of more, but these are the ones that came to mind. Frugal is good; cheap, I guess, is just rude!

P.S. Due to an abnormal amount of spam, I've closed commenting on this post. Please leave some comment love on a different one if you are a real person. Thanks!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Of Mice and (Wo)Men

I have a problem. Okay, I have lots of problems, but this is a particularly troublesome one. I hate to admit it. It is a problem we have had in the past. Every time we conquer it, I pray that it won't come back. But it has. With a vengeance.

We have mice. I don't know if you have ever struggled with this particular problem, but we have. More times than I care to count. I am becoming something of an expert, actually. The first year we lived in this house was when it all started. We had a particularly cold fall and "they" moved in first thing. They have no concept of personal space. I vividly remember putting Josie on the sofa after she woke up first thing in the morning. She was not quite 2 at the time. She snuggled and watched some television and then wandered upstairs. I went to straighten the sofa pillows and lo and behold, curled up under the one Josie had been laying on- was a sleeping little mouse! On my sofa! Under my daughter! Asleep! I caught that little guy in a cup- how else do you remove a sleeping mouse? And "disposed" of him.

After we caught nine mice I finally had someone come out and set traps and then spray insulate everything. Guess what? We did not catch one mouse in the professionals traps- not even the outside ones. However, we did not see any more mice after that.

Fast forward to last year. We saw a single mouse at the beginning of winter and after pulling out the whole arsenal (snap, glue AND bait traps) we caught three and that was the end of that. We didn't see anymore. I left the traps behind the stove and fridge and didn't think too much of it.

Then, this summer, I started smelling a funny odor. I looked and looked and did all kinds of things. However, the smell did not dissipate. I finally decided to pull out the stove to see if some food had fallen in between the counter and the stove and was rotting. Ummm, it wasn't food. Trying cleaning THAT off the floor! I set all the traps again and didn't catch another one. I have no idea how long the renegade had been there but we didn't see any more.

Until Wednesday. I was sitting in the living room floor when I saw something run from near the front door into the coat closet. I squealed, a very unusual reaction for me. I am not afraid of mice. I think they are kind of cute- but NOT in my house. I worry about the diseases they can carry, and I don't want them to bite the kids. Also, they leave their disgusting waste wherever they please. Anyway, I yelled because it surprised me. We pulled everything out of the closet and Joel finally was able to smash the little booger with a shoe. We immediately went to set up the two traps we had- still behind the stove and fridge. We discovered we had caught another one behind the stove. So if you are keeping count, that's 2.

We caught another one behind the stove on Friday. On Saturday, Joel went to bed before I did. As I was sitting on the sofa, I saw something move by our bookcase. I knew instantly what it was. I yelled for Joel and another one went by way of the shoe. We are up to three now!

On Saturday we purchased an additional 4 traps. That may not sound like a ton, but in the past we have never used more than three. I have only ever seen them in our kitchen and living room/dining room. Also, we have a very inquisitive son, so we can really only set them where he can't reach them. There are not too many places to do that. Anyway, again, I am sitting on the sofa. And I hear a rattling sound. I keep hearing it, and I think it is Carson. Then I realize he is sitting on the sofa next to me. Josie is sitting on the floor, so it isn't her, either.

I realized it was coming from the dining room. I went over to investigate, fairly certain I would find another furry "friend". I armed myself with the trusty shoe- were you aware that is an excellent rodent weapon? I started moving things. Then I saw a very sad sight: a little mouse pulling a trap along behind him. It had caught his foot and he was very definitely not dead. He had dragged the trap all the way from behind the fridge into the dining room. I took mercy on him and put him out of his misery. That puts us up to 4.

Then as I was resetting and moving the traps I found another on the trap behind the stove (in our house that is their favorite spot).That makes 5. In four days. Yuck! Now please don't think that we are filthy. Mice are often attracted to dirty houses because of the availability of food, but that is not the case in our house. We live in a 6 plex and most of our neighbors have dogs. Mice naturally avoid those homes. We also have a large field that backs the highway directly behind our backyard. So, when mice start to look for warmer homes in the winter, ours is the first one they reach. The pest control guy that came actually said he was surprised we didn't have more!

Anyway, we have not had any more mice-yet. It is a problem that clearly requires constant vigilance. In that way, it reminds me of those sneaky temptations we all face. It really is a great analogy. Every person faces temptations- even believers. We have "clean" hearts, but we still have to keep an eye out for pests. We are not immune based on our righteousness in Christ. But we don't have to succumb. If we take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) we can be successful in keeping the pests from overtaking our lives. That means being watchful, and not leaving our traps unattended! I think some of a believer's best "traps" are: daily quiet time, surrounding yourself with people who hold you accountable, filling your thoughts with good things (Philippians 4:8) and prayer. These things show us what we personally should be looking out for.

Temptations, like mice, will make their home anywhere they can fit their ugly heads in. And that is only 1/4 of an inch for mice- I think it is less for temptations...

"Then after desire (temptation) has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is is full-grown, gives birth to death." James 1:15 (NIV)

Pretty scary, huh? If I leave the mice be, "because they are really not hurting anything" I will be sorry. Mice can reproduce 8-10 times A YEAR! With 5-10 mice in each litter: 8x5=40, conservatively, or at the extreme, 10x10=100. Yikes! And that doesn't even include the babies having babies, and on and on. Quickly mice, left unattended, would take over my home. With their diseases, and lack of concern for using proper bathroom facilities. And so it is with temptation. Give into it and you will be sorry. Leave it unattended, it will fester, grow and reproduce. Leaving behind sorry trails of waste, and taking over before you know it.

It is easy to set my traps and think I have done my job. But that isn't all. I have to make sure my doors stay shut (not let temptation in), keep checking my traps (make sure that I am doing what I should to kill the temptations I have) and sometimes I have to hire a professional! I must maintain my traps at all times- I think with the mice that has been the hardest lesson to learn. I want to believe each time that they are eradicated once and for all. But with mice and temptation, that is never the case. I have to keep my house clean, and limit the things the pests feed on. Only with constant watchfulness can I keep each problem from taking over my life.

"No temptation has seized you, except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so you can stand up under it." 1 Corinthians 10:13

He will not make me get out. He will provide a way out. I have to take it. It is my choice. But I hate mice-they look cute, but can bring death- and I want to feel that way about temptation, too. They are not safe, or friendly. They only want to provide for themselves, they do not have my best interests at heart. But God is faithful...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Stand Up and Sing!

I was a few minutes late to service this morning. That is not unusual. Joel had to work, so it was just me. You would think it would be easy for one person to find a seat, but what was unusual was how crowded it was! I finally squeezed into the back row. I didn't really pay much attention to who was sitting on my left side, until we started singing. I really don't have a terrific voice (although I love to sing) so I try to sing rather quietly, so as not to disturb those around me. Well, the little boy sitting next to me certainly didn't have that fear!

He was standing on the chair, singing at the top of his lungs. Off key. Off beat. And adorably. He had all the words right and was lustily singing along with his whole heart. He did not care who heard him. He was praising the Lord! His dad futilely tried to encourage him to sing more quietly, but finally the dad just gave up. I have to say, I am glad his attempts failed. Listening to that little guy praise the Lord was so uplifting to me. During the song "Mighty to Save" he leaned over to his dad and "whispered", " We learned this in VBS, Dad. I love this song!" And you could tell.

I guess I want to be like that. Not afraid to praise the Lord, no matter what others might think. The Lord doesn't care if I am perfectly in tune, or on key. He just wants me to stand up and sing- to Him! I shouldn't care if anyone else is paying attention, but if they are, the only thing I want them to take away is how much I love singing His song. I want to be proud AND loud- not to offend others, but just to take joy in praising my King. Both with my actual singing and in life. Because He is not something to be ashamed of, and He has made me to praise Him.

After the service ended, I decided that I wanted to encourage this brave little singer by complimenting his enthusiasm. So I turned to my left and realized he was a little boy who was in my VBS class. His mom had warned me that he was ADHD (and I think she said he had some other learning disabilities, too). She thought he might cause some problems. Well, he was very lively during class, but one thing I took away was how earnest he was, and truly joyful about the Lord. But he was not a problem, and I think, judging by his performance this morning, that he won't have any difficulties. He knows the Truth and it has really set him free. He doesn't hide behind his problems, or his inadequacies. And I don't want to either.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Cleaning Conclusions

I would love to have an immaculately clean house. I long for a day when I can open my door at any given time and everything is perfectly picked up- nary an item out of place. I have tried all sorts of methods and programs, but my house stays pretty much the same. Moderately picked up- usually clean. The norm to get it "company ready" is about 2 hours. Not bad, especially considering that I have pretty high standards. However, I would love to just have it ready at a moment's notice (or at least clean enough to invite the Schwan's man in without apologizing). I was discussing this very subject with a friend on Saturday. I came to a few conclusions:

1. Most people who have perfectly clean houses (although I think the word I am looking for is acutally "tidy"- my house is clean: vacuumed, dusted, bathroom wiped down, etc.) have either fewer children than I have , or they have much younger/older ones. That is: people who have infants, or no kids, or kids 7 and up, usually have a little more help or not as much mess. I have to say: when I just had Jocelyn my house was clean all the time. She was not quite the destroyer Carson is, nor did she need as much direct supervision.

2. Owners of tidy homes are not as inclined to participate in many activities. We have three regularly scheduled activities a week (4 if you include Sunday church) and a multitude of other one-time occurrences (this week we had dinner with friends twice, I had drop-off and pick-up for the JBF sale, I went to the outlet mall-twice!, and a couple of other things I am pretty sure I am forgetting) I could trim back the number of times we are out of our house, but I am not sure that at this point that I am willing to make that sacrifice.

3. They usually have exceptionally neat AND helpful husbands. I have a helpful husband, but he is not neat. He is horrible about leaving clothes anywhere and everywhere (the bathroom, dining room, living room...) He will do anything I ask, but he is not particular about putting things where they go. If they are in the general area, or out of the living room floor, he is happy. I don't believe he has ever put away the kids laundry and if he can't figure out where something from the dishwasher goes (he has emptied it twice in the past three months) he just leaves it on the counter. However, he is great at vacuuming and also motivating the kids to be useful . So, I'm not complaining, just explaining.

4. They have more rules than I am willing to commit to: no shoes inside, no food outside the kitchen (we can't eat in our kitchen), only water for the kids, etc. We do have rules, but I don't have one for everything- I couldn't remember them all! It is not in my personality to be that regimented.

5. They have much more regular schedules than we do. It is 12:00 pm as I am writing this and Joel has already been home twice. That usually disrupts anything we have going on. This happens quite a bit, but not every day. I have a routine that I try to follow but I have to be flexible. I can't be a slave to the clock.

Basically, I realized that unless I am willing to make drastic changes to my lifestyle I will probably never have a constantly show-ready home. I have decided to make some small changes to see if that will help me to be a little more welcoming to random people who come to the door. I recently instituted a rule that the kids can no longer bring "upstairs toys" downstairs. I am working at doing more quick tidying of the front rooms, rather than deep, totally organzied cleaning. For some reason, everything in the house gravitates towards those areas!

I also have to say that I am sure that there are people with lives similar to mine who have cleaner houses. But, I am learning to balance the desire to have a "perfect" house with having a wonderful family and a busy life. I think that I can have some of both, but I will never have all of either. It does make me feel better though, when on a day like today, my house is clean, schooling is done and my Bible study and Awana lessons are planned. Almost makes me feel like I can do it all...almost.


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